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23 February 2010 @ 04:22 pm
Miracles Fic: Death and Consequences  
Posted to miracles_fanfic


Title: Death and Consequences
Pairing/Characters: Alva, Paul, Evie, Poppi, Matty, Kenneth Webster, OCs
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Series
Summary: As Evie takes Matty home Alva must deal with the consequences of Paul's decision (Paul is Dead Post-Ep/Alternate Ending)
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ


Once Evelyn left the motel with Matty, Alva noticed Paul slump, as if he could no longer maintain the charade that he was fine.

"Paul?"

"Can we go now?" Paul asked abruptly.

Alva nodded and followed as Paul headed for the car. As he neared the passenger side door, Paul leaned heavily against the car for a few seconds then his legs gave way under him and he crumpled to the ground.

"Paul!" Alva ran to his side to find Paul pale and shaking. "Paul, can you hear me?" he cried, grasping him by the arm frantically.

Paul's eyes fluttered and he mumbled something unintelligible.

Alva quickly opened the car door and managed to lift Paul up and get him inside before racing around to get in the driver's side. He started the engine, taking a second to feel for Paul's pulse at his neck. "I knew I should have taken you right to the hospital," he said, admonishing himself angrily as he peeled out of the parking lot.

^

Alva paced the small hospital room restlessly, casting anxious glances in Paul's direction whenever there was even the slightest change in the beeping of the heart monitor attached to the sleeping man's chest.

He'd lied - to the doctors and the police, but only about his and his friend's involvement in Paul's purposeful near death experience. He pretended to have asked Paul for specifics once he found out what Paul had done and handed those over to the doctors treating him, knowing they needed to know what he'd just gone through.

The doctors, as he'd known they would, had called the police and the police had questioned him about whether Paul was suicidal and whether he thought this so called friend who had helped Paul was practicing medicine without a license. Alva had stonewalled them, giving them what they could check out - Paul's information on Matty's kidnapping. He figured that would keep them busy long enough to brief Paul when he woke up.

Only Paul wasn't waking up.

With every hour that passed, Alva grew more worried. Death wasn't something one played with and perhaps Paul really had been gone too long to fully recover.

^

The hand on his shoulder probably would have made him jump if it hadn't been so soothing.

Alva looked up to see Poppi's face looking down at Paul, not at him.

"How long has he been out?" he asked softly, crossing himself.

"Seven hours," Alva responded, hands clasped as he sat beside Paul's bed. He'd called Poppi at first light, knowing he'd have wanted to know if their positions were reversed.

Poppi pulled up a second chair and sat beside Alva rather than on Paul's other side.

"What you told me over the phone… That Paul died…" He shook his head. "He knew the seminarian who tried that didn't make it back. I can't believe he'd put himself at risk like that!"

"He fervently believed," Alva said solemnly, "that it was the only way to find Matty. He felt responsible. Matty was taken on his watch."

"Still…" Poppi's gaze at Paul's still form was pained and Alva could sense the man's love for his surrogate son. "To die…"

"He'll be fine," Alva assured him, not sure where the strength came from when he had enough of his own doubts. "Paul's strong - you and I both know that. We just have to be strong ourselves - and wait."

^

Alva looked down and realized yet another cup of vending machine coffee had gone cold in his hand. He felt weary - exhausted by the stress of Matty's kidnapping, Paul's death and the aftermath that lead to Paul's collapse. He hadn't even catnapped in the hospital overnight and now only his anxiety over Paul's condition kept him from dropping off.

"You should get some rest." Poppi took the cup from Alva and put it in the trash bin. "I can keep watch for a few hours."

"I can't leave," Alva muttered.

Poppi eyed him. "This is like Paul, isn't it? You feel responsible for Paul like Paul felt responsible for Matty."

"Can you blame me?" Alva blurted out. "I helped him do it!" He glanced at the hospital room door, which was thankfully closed, yet still lowered his voice. "I may not have wielded the needle that ended his life, but I certainly put it in the man's hand, so to speak. I brought Paul to him."

"And if you hadn't," Poppi stressed, "Paul would have tried this on his own and not made it back! Paul would likely be dead if not for your intervention."

Alva waved a dismissive hand.

"I should have taken him right to the hospital afterwards," he said, shaking his head. "And nothing - nothing you say - can free me from the blame of that mistake."

^

The soft murmur of Poppi's prayers lulled Alva's bleary eyes closed. He held Paul's hand with one of his and kept the fingers of his other hand on Paul's pulse even though the heart monitor kept a constant cadence under Poppi's rhythmic voice.

Alva laid his head down on the bed beside their joined hands and let his lips move, silently saying the prayers along with Poppi.

His prayers were so ardent he found himself unconsciously clutching Paul's hand tighter and tighter, not realizing until he felt what he prayed was movement.

Releasing his hold, he lifted his head up abruptly and looked between Paul's face and his hand. His face showed no signs of life, but his fingers twitched ever so slightly.

"Paul…" Alva took Paul's hand again, lightly this time, then gave it a brief squeeze.

As Poppi looked up, their eyes met and their gaze jointly turned back to the joined hands.

Alva felt joy and relief bubble up inside him as he watched Paul's hand squeeze back in answer.

"He's waking up!" Poppi exclaimed, turning back to Paul. "Come on, kiddo! We need you back here."

"He's waking up…" Alva echoed the words, but put his head down again, hand still clasping Paul's. This time he said the prayer on his own, without Poppi, but with deep gratitude.

^

As Paul's eyes finally fluttered open, Alva and Poppi stood on opposite sides of the bed, hovering in Paul's line of sight, each holding onto a hand.

Paul's eyes seemed to take a second or two to focus then looked at Alva and at Poppi in turn.

"Must be bad…" Paul forced out. "Both of you here…"

"I'd say dying is pretty bad," Poppi scolded. "And yes, Mr. Keel told me what you did. Don't think you're getting out of a pretty serious lecture, young man. I'm just giving you a rain check until you're well enough for the wrath of Poppi."

"Ooh scary," Paul joshed lightly. He turned to Alva next. "Sorry if I scared you."

"If?" Alva scrubbed his face in his hands. "Paul, I'm certain Father Calero has an excellent lecture planned for you, however I retain the right to give you one of my own. You scared the hell out of me."

"I'm sorry," Paul told him. "I really am. But I had to do it."

"And now you have to get well," Poppi stressed. "That's an order."

"Why do I get the feeling you're going to make sure I follow it?" Paul said, cracking a smile.

"Both of us are," Alva told him, sharing a glance with Poppi. "And we know there's no way you can go up against the two of us and win."

^

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Evelyn had her hands on her hips and her most adamant face on, but Alva stood firm.

"Evie, your son had been taken from you. You'd been through a traumatic event. Your son needed your full attention on him. I was absolutely not going to burden you with Paul's hospitalization at a time like that. Besides, he's going to be fine."

"He died!" Evelyn cried. "It's not like he had the flu for a few days. He was dead!"

"Only for a few minutes," Alva countered. "Monitored by a physician the whole time."

"Well forgive me if I don't think much of your physician if Paul ended up in the hospital just a few hours later."

"That's more my fault," Alva admitted. "I was aware that Paul should have been checked out afterwards, but he was so adamant that we get the information from Tommy to you and save Matty. And we all got so caught up in the lead…" Alva let out a long breath. "Like Paul all I could think about was Matty."

Evelyn nodded. "Matty's fine. To him it was all one big adventure." She fixed Alva in her determined gaze. "Now we need to be thinking about Paul."

^

Alva shrugged his coat off as he walked through Paul's apartment door, listening to Matty's giggling from the bedroom.

"King me!"

"Good job, Matty!" Paul was sounding more like his old self, his strength returning slowly but surely.

Evelyn walked out carrying dirty dishes from lunch on a tray.

"You're early," she said to Alva. "Your shift with Paul doesn't start until 4."

"Slow day at the office," he teased. "I figured I'd relieve you and Matty while there was still enough daylight for a trip to the park for you two."

"Thanks," she said, smiling. "I'll have the dishes done in a few minutes then we'll pack up and go. I brought soup in again; there's plenty for you and Poppi so let him know when he comes for the overnight shift."

"Will do." More giggles came from the bedroom this time mixed in with Paul's laughter. "Any change?" Alva asked her, lowering his voice.

"He's still trying to hide how tired he gets," she admitted. "And he's still not talking about what happened with Tommy while he was gone."

Alva let out a long breath.

"So we wait."

^

"Checkmate."

Paul blinked at the board then groaned.

"I did not see that coming."

"Clearly you're off your game," Alva pointed out as he started returning their pieces to their starting points.

"I suppose."

Abandoning the process, Alva took the board and pieces off Paul's bed and moved to sit on the edge, looking at Paul.

"I'm aware that Father Calero is your confessor of choice, however I feel compelled to offer my services as a less judgmental listener."

"What are you talking about?" Paul asked.

"You haven't talked to anyone about those minutes you were dead and it's clearly affecting your recovery. Now, you can't talk to Evelyn because she has been up front about her experience - she saw nothing during her period of clinical death. You can't talk to Father Calero because he's bound by the constraints of the church when interpreting whatever experience you went through. I, on the other hand, can listen with an impartial mind and hear what you have to say without adding my own layer upon it."

"Can you really?" Paul looked doubtful. "And you're not as impartial as you say. You're not only my employer you also have your own beliefs about the end times and my role in them."

"You left one critical factor out," Alva cautioned.

"And what's that?"

"That I am also your friend and as your friend, I'm ready and willing to listen." Paul turned his head away on the pillow signaling the end of the discussion. "Whenever you're ready."

^

Paul dropped off early and Alva sat reading a book as he kept an eye on him beside the bed. His sleep was often fitful, but when he started to thrash more than normal Alva put his volume aside, brow furrowing in concern.

Paul's murmurings were unintelligible, but clearly frightened.

Alva was considering waking him when Paul bolted up, eyes wide with terror.

"No!"

"Paul! It's all right!" Alva reached for him and found Paul suddenly clutching him in a desperate embrace. Stunned, Alva managed to return the embrace, rubbing Paul's back soothingly. "It was just a dream, you're fine."

"It wasn't," Paul muttered into his neck, his voice muffled. "It's real, just like Tommy said. The darkness… It exists. I felt it!"

"You were having a nightmare," Alva explained.

"That's not when I felt it," Paul buried his face in Alva's shirt as if afraid to look up. "I felt it when I was dead."

Alva's breath caught in his chest and he held on to Paul as he shook in his arms, knowing there was no comfort to offer, just patience and his presence.

^

It took a while to calm Paul down, but Alva finally got him settled back under the covers. He was more subdued, but clearly still shaken.

"When I was on the other side," Paul began haltingly. "Tommy said I shouldn’t be there. He said something wanted me to stay. There was a shadow in the room, but it wasn't made out of a lack of light. It felt like a thing in itself: palpable, real, alive… If that's even the right word." His eyes met Alva's, almost childlike in their fear. "It felt evil."

"You're safe now," Alva tried to reassure him. "You're alive."

"But if it wants me dead…" Paul started breathing faster and Alva put his hands on his arms to steady him.

"Breathe with me. In… And Out…" He made Paul follow his slowing breaths until he was back to normal. "Now, we've got both SQ's resources and the church's to look into this issue with the darkness, but for now, the best thing you can do is focus on getting strong again. If there's a fight to be fought, you need to be at top strength for it - understood?"

Paul nodded. "Yeah." He looked a bit bashful, but he managed a little smile. "Thanks."

"Try to rest…" He got Paul settled again and as he fell back asleep Alva was left alone with a room full of shadows that suddenly seemed far more ominous than they had earlier.

^

Alva took the kettle off the burner as it was about to whistle to prepare his cup of tea when he heard a noise. Looking up Paul was trying to make his way out of the bedroom only having trouble staying upright.

"You're not supposed to be out of bed!" Alva rushed to his side just as Paul started to crumble, putting an arm around him and taking most of his weight to keep him upright.

"I don't get it," Paul mumbled. "I was walking around just fine right afterwards."

"You were running on the syringe of artificial adrenaline the doctor pumped you full of trying to get your heart going again," Alva chastened. "And I'd imagine from fairly real adrenaline as well." He got Paul into bed again. "What did you want anyway?"

"I didn't want to be alone," Paul admitted. "I thought perhaps you'd left."

"Paul…" Alva gave him a patient look. "I'm here from four to midnight. Father Calero's here from midnight until eight. Evie's here from eight to four. You're not alone even a minute."

"But at some point that's going to end."

"Yes, which is why we need to talk about what's bothering you!" Paul turned his head away again. Alva laid a hand on his arm, not expecting him to turn and look. "I understand you're not ready, but the demon we need to fight right now is in your head. We can't help you unless you talk to us."

Tea abandoned, he took his place in the chair by Paul's bedside, waiting for midnight.

^

For reasons Alva himself wasn't even certain of, he couldn't seem to leave once Poppi showed up for the overnight shift.

He made excuses for not leaving and settled down on the couch to rest while Poppi dozed in the comfortable chair beside Paul's bed in his bedroom.

Alva slept lightly and fitfully so when Paul's nightmare woke Poppi it easily woke Alva as well and he rushed in to see Poppi try to awaken Paul.

"It's all right, Paul. It's just a dream…"

As Alva watched Paul's eyes flew open as a jolt went through his body, making both he and Poppi startle.

Once Paul saw both of them in the dim light he shrank back, sitting up with his back to the headboard, trembling.

"What's wrong?" Alva asked gently, sitting on the edge of the bed as Poppi did the same on the other side. "What did you see?"

Paul just shook his head, arms wrapped around himself in a pathetic attempt at self-comfort.

"He might be in shock," Alva mused. "I could get him some tea."

"Forget tea," Poppi huffed. "He needs something a bit stronger." He pulled a flask out of his bag and offered it to Paul who took a sip then coughed, but some of the color did come back into his face.

"What now?" Alva asked as Paul stayed silent and protective.

Poppi kept the flask at the ready. "We wait."

^

After a few minutes Paul finally loosened up his tight arms and accepted the flask a second time from Poppi, taking a longer drink this time and wincing at the apparent burn of the hard liquor.

"Can you tell us what you saw?" Poppi nudged.

When Paul balked, Alva put a hand on his arm. "It won't stop until you face it. Let us help you."

Paul looked reticent for a while then finally nodded slightly.

"After Chad killed the God is Nowhere people… When we were in the back of the police car right before he killed himself... He told me there were nine of them, not six. That meant there were three for me - four if Kenneth Webster survived."

"Three for you to what?" Poppi asked.

"Kill," Alva supplied, a chill going through him at the idea. "He thought you were on his side."

Paul nodded again. "He said Tommy came to him to, that all the people who got the words wrong had to be stopped, that they were the darkness. He'd seen 'God is Now Here' in his own blood so in his mind that made him one of the good ones."

"Chad Goodwell was insane," Alva stressed.

"Was he?" Paul shot back. "He saw Tommy, I saw Tommy. Does that make me insane too?" He clutched his hands into fists. "He said God's voice came into his head and told him to kill those people."

"But you've never heard God's voice," Poppi pointed out.

Paul wouldn't meet their eyes when he said "No."

"But something else happened," Alva surmised. "Something that makes you think you might eventually travel down the same crooked path as Chad." He covered one of Paul's fists with his hand. "What is it, Paul? Tell us."

It took a while, but Paul's hand finally loosened a little and he spoke.

"When Kenneth Webster was in the hospital I envisioned myself killing him."

"But that's wrong, you wouldn't have done it," Poppi scoffed.

"I didn't do it in reality," Paul said darkly. "But in the vision, it didn't feel wrong. It felt right."

^

After Paul's confession, they got him to settle back down in bed and Poppi pulled Alva into a corner for a whispered conversation.

"I'm not liking what I'm hearing," Poppi admitted.

"Nor I," Alva agreed. "I told Evie once before that the worst thing that could happen to Paul was to plant the idea that he's predestined for evil. I was very careful to hide any sort of evidence of predestination from him, but it seems my efforts were thwarted by a single conversation with Chad Goodwell."

"We have to find a way to disavow Paul of this notion he's going to wind up a murderer."

"I'm open to suggestions," Alva said, splaying his hands out. "Such a thing, once known, cannot be unknown."

"There has to be something we can do." Poppi glanced back to where Paul lay, a troubled expression still on his face even with his eyes closed. "I care too much about Paul to see him hurting like this."

"We'll do all that we can," Alva said with a sigh. "But I fear the answer has to come from within Paul, not without."

^

"How long has he been there?"

Poppi glanced over to where Paul sat in an empty pew praying.

"I called you when he hit three hours," he answered Alva. "He won't talk to me. He just waves me away whenever I get close."

"And you think he'll talk to me?" Alva asked.

"I think you're likely to be more persistent in a house of God," Poppi huffed with a crooked grin that held no mirth. "Paul knows I won't argue with him in church. I think that's why he came here first thing once he was well enough to leave the apartment."

"I think he came because he's worried," Alva mused. "As irrational as it is, Paul's now obsessed with this idea of evil seeking him out."

"You'd think Paul would feel safe in a church of all places," Poppi muttered.

"Paul doesn't even feel safe in his own mind so I doubt a church offers him much comfort." Alva turned away from Paul just long enough to give Poppi an encouraging look. "I'll do what I can."

^

"Leave me be… Please…"

Paul didn't even look up from where his head was bent over his hands in prayer.

"That may work on Father Calero, but I'm not so easily swayed."

Paul looked up at the sound of Alva's voice, clearly expecting it to be Poppi again.

"Please…" he repeated. "Can't a man pray in peace?"

"Evidently not when he has friends who care about his well being." Alva waved his hand around. "This is not the confessional, but there's nothing stopping you from confessing to whatever it is you feel compelled to offer penance in advance for."

Paul frowned at him. "How did you…"

Alva smirked. "Then I was correct then." He edged closer. "Paul, the fact that you are here, the fact that you are praying to be good means that you are good! A righteous man may be tempted, but free will ensures that mankind makes their own decisions! You can choose not to follow Chad down the path of murder and suicide! It's your life, destiny be damned!"

"That's not what you said before," Paul countered.

"Destiny merely puts us in a specific place in a specific time with a specific choice to make. It doesn't make the decision for us," Alva told him. "You can load a gun and put it in someone's hand for them, but they still have to pull the trigger."

"What if…" Paul let out a haggard breath. "What if Chad was wrong? He said the people who saw God is Nowhere were part of the darkness, but look at what he did while none of them harmed anyone! So what if he was wrong and it's not the God is Nowhere people who are the darkness?" His voice lowered, tremulous. "What if it's the God is Now Here people who are the darkness? What if it's me?"

"Paul…"

"Now I see why something wanted me to stay dead, to spare the world me living."

"No!"

Alva grabbed Paul by the arms, shaking him.

"I will not allow you to talk about yourself like that!"

^

Poppi was beside them seconds later.

"What's going on?" he asked, concerned.

"Paul here is having thoughts of sparing the world his existence," Alva said brusquely. He regretted the tone a second later when Poppi faltered, having to put out a hand at the shocking news.

"Paul, tell me it's not true." His voice was a desperate whisper.

"I don't know anymore," Paul lamented. "Good, evil, God, Hell, the darkness… Any of it! I see the most heinous things behind my eyes when I sleep and I couldn't live with myself if they came true! I fantasized about killing a man for no reason at all other than the fact that Chad Goodwell said he had to die! Now I can't trust myself - what if I'm like him? Like Chad?"

"Is that it? You need proof you won't suddenly go off and murder people?" Alva said, rising.

"That's absurd!" Poppi protested.

"Fine, come with me and I'll arrange your proof."

Paul looked at Alva, perplexed. "How?"

"By taking you to see Kenneth Webster."

^

Kenneth had moved and changed his name - again - but he'd kept in touch with Alva and agreed to meet them at his old house in Oregon since it hadn't sold yet.

Paul had barely spoken the whole journey, staring out both the airplane and the rental car window with an unreadable expression.

After a short stopover at a rare book dealer friend of Alva's they'd driven from Portland to Estacada, arriving at Kenneth's bungalow by nightfall.

A second car was parked there - also a rental car, so wherever he'd moved to, it likely wasn't close by. That or he was worried enough to not risk his plate being traced.

"Are you ready for this?" Alva asked as he killed the engine.

"No, but you seem to think this is what I need," Paul said, his tone a little sullen.

"'Blessed is the man that endureth temptation,'" Alva quoted, "'for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.'"

"What happened to 'lead us not into temptation?'?" Paul asked wryly.

Alva opened his car door. "Sadly some of us must be tested for the greater good." He started to get out. "Come, Job. Your trials await."

^

"The doctors said I'd probably still hurt a bit…" Kenneth refilled both Paul and Alva's drinks. "But past a few aches and pains, I'm basically recovered."

"I'm glad to hear it," Paul told him. "I just wish I could have prevented it, that's all."

"I should have told you what Kenneth looked like, his age…" Alva said. "That way you'd have known something was off."

"Well, you told me they'd arrested someone in Denver," Kenneth pointed out. "So how could you have known they had the wrong guy?"

Paul just shook his head. "I know, but…"

"You tried to save him," Alva pointed out. "Kenneth would likely have died had you not shown up."

"That kid was crazy." Kenneth took a drink then set his glass down. "Killing people because they saw 'God is Nowhere' written in their own blood!"

"He believed you were evil." Paul put out his hands, gesturing the futility of trying to understand. "We may never know why or what led him to believe that, but he believed it fervently to kill over."

"If anyone deserved to die," Kenneth scowled, finishing off his drink, "it was him for murdering so many good people."

^

"So…" Alva wrung his hands, his voice tentative. "The situation, for lack of a better word, that we discussed over the phone…"

Kenneth turned to Alva, giving him his full attention. "You seriously believe that I need to give Paul the chance to kill me?"

"Yes, I do. If he has the opportunity and doesn't kill you then he knows he's not Chad Goodwell, he's not going to follow in his footsteps."

"Fine." He turned to Paul. "I owe you my life so I can't really say no to this."

"I appreciate it," Paul said. "I'm sure it's just a silly formality."

Alva rose and pulled an item from his bag - a large kitchen knife - which he handed to Paul.

"That should be sufficient to kill a man, don't you think?"

"Please, don't joke about this," Paul said under his breath.

"You should probably step back, Mr. Keel," Kenneth pointed across the room. "Paul's not going to try anything unless you're too far away to intercede."

"Paul's not going to try anything," Alva stated. "I have faith in him. Nevertheless…" He walked to the opposite corner of the room.

Kenneth stood with his arms out in front of Paul.

"Take your best shot!"

Paul held the knife in his hand, mostly staring at it, then finally put it down on the coffee table near Kenneth.

"I can't. I won't."

^

Alva let out the breath he'd been holding as Kenneth picked up the knife.

"You couldn't do it," Kenneth mused, looking at the blade. He turned it back in forth in his hand, letting it catch the light, then abruptly plunged it into Paul's stomach.

"No!"

The following seconds seemed to go in the most horrible slow motion. As Alva fumbled in his coat pocket he watched Paul's face look down at the knife buried in his body - shock and surprise overwhelming even the pain in his expression.

Kenneth's lined face was screwed up in concentration, pushing hard to dig the knife in deep.

Alva acted on pure instinct. He drew the gun, aimed and fired.

Kenneth fell to the ground, a spray of red on the wall behind him, but the knife remained in Paul's body.

Paul fell to his knees then crumbled to the floor as Alva raced across the room. Tossing the gun aside, he pulled out his phone and speed dialed a number he'd set in advance.

"Come now!" he yelled into the phone. "Hurry!"

The siren of the private ambulance he'd arranged just in case - Alva almost laughed hysterically at that thought: he'd hired them out of fear Kenneth would be hurt. He never imagined it would be Paul.

He pulled the knife out and pressed a handful of gauze from his pocket into the wound.

"Stay with me, Paul," he murmured as the EMTs rushed in. "I can't lose you. Not again."

^

Paul was already in recovery after surgery by the time the police let Alva go. They didn't like his story, but the stealth video recording Alva had made from his bag had revealed the truth of his story: that Kenneth had already stabbed Paul by the time Alva shot and killed him. The justification of defense of another - airtight.

His friend, the rare book dealer, had come and admitted that he loaned Alva the knife and gun. He was given a fine for letting someone else borrow his handgun, which Alva paid for him gratefully.

Once at the hospital he called Poppi, forgetting the three hour time difference in his grief and weariness. It was too late to get a red-eye, but Poppi told him he'd be on the first flight out in the morning.

When they finally allowed him in to see Paul he was ghastly pale, even more so than after he'd died. They were still transfusing blood into him; he'd lost quite a bit on the trip to the trauma center.

Alva took up his position at his bedside for an all too familiar overnight vigil.

This time he didn't have Poppi to say the prayers for him.

So he said them aloud himself.

^

Paul woke unexpectedly about four in the morning, startling Alva in the darkness as he came to with a violent start and eyes wide with terror.

"Shh…" Alva told him, putting a calming hand on his arm. "It's all right. You're safe."

Paul's monitor raced and a nurse rushed in to check on him.

"Mr. Callan, you need to calm down." She turned to Alva. "Sir, you should leave."

"No!" Paul reached out to Alva. "I need him to stay!"

Alva grasped hold of Paul's extended hand. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Breathe slowly," the nurse instructed and Paul complied, the machines slowing down to a more normal pace. "I'm going to get a doctor to check on you. I'll be back."

She departed and Paul turned his attention to Alva.

"Kenneth… He stabbed me…"

"I'm so sorry," Alva told him. "I never saw it coming. I never imagined…"

"He tried to kill me…" Paul's words were chilling, the realization behind those words more so. "But I didn't kill him. I could have, but I didn't kill him."

"No," Alva said solemnly. "You didn't kill Kenneth. I did."

^

"Paul!" Poppi rushed across the room and wrapped Paul in a careful yet ebullient bear hug.

"Poppi…"

Alva stood back and watched Paul sink in to the comfort of Poppi's loving embrace, letting out a sigh of relief. This whole trip was supposed to bring Paul peace, yet it had made it all worse - almost cost him his life.

"I was so worried when Mr. Keel called me," Poppi told him, offering Alva a nod in greeting and gratitude which Alva returned.

Paul grasped Poppi's hand as he let go and stood up. "Poppi, I know now."

"Know what kiddo?"

"I had the chance to kill Kenneth Webster and I didn't do it. I didn't even want to. No visions, no voices, no compulsion… I couldn't do it and I didn't want to!"

"I already knew that about you," Poppi scoffed.

"Yes, but I didn't," Paul countered. "And now I know. I'm not like Chad." His face darkened. "But Kenneth was."

"It makes no sense," Poppi protested. "If Chad tried to kill him, why would he end up like Chad?"

"I don't fully understand it," Paul admitted. "But it seems like the God is Nowhere people and the God is Now Here people are pitted against each other, as if we're representing some larger power who wants us out of the way and is willing to sacrifice these people to get the job done."

"Larger power?" Alva and Poppi exchanged a glance. "Are you talking…"

"I don't know," Paul told Alva. "But if I'm right? There are three more people out there who want me dead - the same people Chad told me it was my job to kill."

^

Alva opened up Paul's apartment door to more of Matty's giggles and shared a smile with Evelyn who was doing dishes in Paul's kitchen.

"Early again?" She gave him a wry smile. "What, eight hours of baby sitting isn't enough for you?"

"This coming from a woman who is a mother twenty-four hours a day?" Alva teased.

Evelyn pointed to the counter. "Poppi found some new flavors for Paul's liquid diet. Now that he's sick of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, he's got raspberry - which he had earlier and liked - and the exciting flavors of dulce de leche and butter pecan."

"What a smorgasbord of delight," Alva mocked. "I bet he can't wait for his next glass."

"His doctor's office called. They need to push his Thursday follow up appointment back to 3:30."

"I'll take him," Alva volunteered. "No sense you dropping him off and me picking him up."

"Okay. Just call me and let me know what the doctor says, okay?" She glanced back to the open bedroom door where her son was laughing even louder. "I worried the first time. This time? I'm worrying more."

"He's going to be just fine."

"I know." Evelyn chuckled. "It's like you said. The mom thing is twenty-four/seven. Can't turn off the worrying."

^

"Check."

"Oh ho!" Alva looked at the board, impressed. "Clearly you're recovering well if you managed to get me into check."

"So I'll be fully recovered if I manage to win a game?"

"At least when it comes to your mental faculties," Alva teased, moving away from the check. "I'd imagine pain medication dulls the intellect somewhat."

"I should be off it soon enough," Paul said, moving a rook. "Maybe another week or so."

"Don't rush it," Alva cautioned. "The body heals better when it's able to rest, not when it's straining." He flicked his eyes to Paul's face. "So… Anything you want to talk about?"

"Like?" Paul prompted.

"Oh, anything at all. Anything that might be, you know, bothering you."

"What makes you think something is bothering me?"

"Because it's one of the few things Father Calero and I agree on." Alva raised his eyebrows at him. "Evelyn too, for the record." When Paul wouldn't lift his gaze from the chessboard, Alva waved a hand to get his attention. "Paul, please… We went through this the first time you…" He let out a breath. "Please, just talk to me."

Paul shifted to fold his hands in his lap, his gaze going to them.

"I hoped I was wrong, that I just hallucinated it…" he began shakily. "But when he stabbed me, Kenneth whispered something to me."

"I didn't hear anything," Alva said. "And I watched the tape, I didn't hear him speak."

"It was quiet, but I heard it. I'm sure of that now and that? That scares the hell out of me."

Alva laid his hand over Paul's.

"Tell me. What did Kenneth say?"

Paul's eyes turned to Alva and he felt a chill go through him as he spoke the words aloud.

"'Your father said you'd be trouble.'"

^

Alva was in his office when he heard Evelyn open the door to admit Paul.

He didn't rise, he just sat and smiled, listening to their joyful reunion.

When Paul knocked on his door, he gestured him in, pleased to see him back at work finally.

"Come, sit! We've got an exciting new case to discuss!"

"Please tell me it's not a six hour bus ride away," Paul moaned, clearly playful.

"It's barely over the border into Connecticut," Alva pronounced. "It won't even take a full tank of gas to get there. Do you remember the talking walls? Well, we've got ourselves a talking chimney! It seems the residents hear voices coming from the flue even when there's no one else in the house."

"A talking chimney?" Paul raised his eyebrow.

"Is it any harder to believe than civil war soldiers in a convenience market?"

"Touché."

"So, are you ready for a road trip?" Alva asked.

"I am." Alva rose and Paul did as well, but he put out a hand to halt him. "Keel… About the three other people…"

Alva stopped and faced Paul. "There's no need to even bring that up. If anyone can find them, it is I, and I shall. Just give me time and trust that I am withholding information about them from you and about you from them for a reason. I want everyone safe and alive. Do you trust me?"

Paul looked him in the eye.

"With my life."

"Good. Then go about that life knowing you have people working to keep you safe." He picked up his coat and gestured to the door. "So, our talking chimney awaits! Shall we go?"

Paul graced him with a relaxed smile, one that spoke of his trust and his faith - in Alva and himself.

"I'm ready."

^^
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on February 24th, 2010 12:25 am (UTC)
Confession
In January of 2006 I attempted my first ever Miracles (my favorite show ever) fic.

I failed so hard (didn't finish it until 8/08) that it took me a year and a half to even try again.

On 7/10/07 I successfully wrote and completed a Miracles ficlet called A Beacon in the Shadows. On 7/12/07 I wrote a slightly longer ficlet called Other Voices.

On 7/13/07, filled with hubris from my success, I started a Paul is Dead post-ep hurt/comfort opus, giving it the pretentious name of Death and Consequences.

And promptly returned to fail mode.

It would be December 2007 before I even attempted another Miracles fic and January of 2010 before I finally finished Death and Consequences.

Only when I finished it? Oh my. It went places I never dreamed - more than once!

So this fic may have taken years to completed, but I'll be damned if the final story didn't kind of blow my mind. (Not unlike my Yuletide fic God is Now Here.)

This may not be my best written Miracles fic ever, but for the pain it caused me, I forgive it, for there ended up being quite the story in there. I just had to be really patient for it to come out.

Alva's quote is from the bible - James 1:12 (King James Version) - as is his Job reference.

Very special thanks to betas melissima, t_vo0810 and sailorhathor for their assistance with this fic.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
deejay/"alvafan": miracles naughty and nicedeejay on February 24th, 2010 02:47 am (UTC)
Yaaaay, new fic FTW! \o/
laurel: skeet - paulsailorhathor on February 24th, 2010 08:13 am (UTC)
Ah! I saw the first few paragraphs of this story a really long time ago, and wondered what happened to it. Good to see that you finished it after all this time. :) I'm not sure how I helped, though, since I saw so little of it. ;D