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Discovering Things out of Darkness
#3 - The Darkness behind the Veil


King James Bible, Job 30:26:
"When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness."


That night, he dreamt again. He dreamt he watched himself sleeping in his bed at home, deeply, evidently exhausted. The pillow and sheets next to him were mussed, they looked like another person had slept next to him. A movement drew his eye. Slowly, a human figure stepped out of the shadows of his bedroom. Something gleamed in his hand like silver. A knife. The sharp blade descended. In the instant the knife entered his sleeping-self's flesh, he was suddenly joined with his other's body. The enormity of the stabbing, slicing pain was so great he couldn't even scream. Just a heartbeat before he woke, he recognized his killer's face in the muted light from the busy street outside. It was Paul.

Keel sat up gasping, pressing his hands frantically against his upper chest. His flesh was whole. Wet with sweat, not blood.

Afterwards, he sat a long time at his desk in the dark; not moving, trying not to think. Until he finally gave up and switched on the lights, took his journal out of the hidden, locked compartment in his desk, and started writing.

"God is now here," Alva whispered, "Perhaps that is indeed true, despite all evidence to the contrary. But -- why would he be here? Why now?"

During his high school and later college years, Keel had been a firm believer in the theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke who'd theorized that God had created the world, but then left it -- and His children -- to struggle for themselves. Until Keel had tried to kill himself and had seen the blood flowing from his wrists forming into words.

Thinking back to the events a few weeks prior when Paul had broken into his files at the office, he was very glad he'd kept his own journal at home and not in the general storage at their bureau. There were definitely things Paul was not ready to face. Callan had learned of the six people in the Sodalitas Quaerito's files who'd had these dreams -- dreams of actual events that had happened in Paul's life, and others that hadn't happened... yet. So far, he didn't know that there had been, to Keel's knowledge, seven people -- when he added himself. Keel's dreams had started shortly after he'd started teaching Comparative Religion at Harvard, and had been detailed and intense enough to be written down of their own right even if Keel hadn't had his very own experience with hemography before that.

Still, the circumstances surrounding his attempted suicide were a topic Keel had never spoken to anyone about, and didn't ever intend to. He regretted that he'd had to tell Paul a fabricated story about his mother and about hearing her voice on tapes that shouldn't have contained anything but records of bird songs. At that moment, though, he'd felt keenly that he either unveiled at least part of his own motivations -- true or not --, or Paul would never trust him again. Thank God, at least Paul had believed him to have been sincere and had, again, not noticed how he'd evaded all his other questions, both the spoken and the silent ones. No, Callan wasn't ready yet and maybe he'd never be.

Alva believed firmly that too much information was counterproductive, if not outright dangerous. Especially in Paul's situation. Still, the old knowing-about-future-events-turns-the-future-into-predetermined-fate argument had tasted a bit weak in his own mouth even the moment he'd used it when facing Evelyn. As an explanation, it was a little too simplified. But he hadn't been able to break the silence of years and tell her about his dreams. Moreso, ever since he'd first met Paul Callan, he hadn't wanted to accept what part of his dreams had told him. "Predestined for evil" was not an option, and besides, Alva Keel didn't believe in fate. Every person's destiny lay in his or her own hands and was definitely not set...

He sighed and yawned at the same time. Lately, he had been going to bed later and later as well as sleeping restlessly. He'd have to stop this; insomnia impaired thought processes at least as much as alcohol. In just a few hours, he'd have to face Paul again.

He lay back, rubbing his eyes. God, how he longed for not having to think ever again.

***

The next morning, Keel was reading avidly and therefore barely aware of his surroundings when a stack of paper was thrown down in front of him.

He was going through a collection of newspaper articles that dealt with Fanconi's Anemia, the rare blood disorder little Tommy Ferguson had supposedly suffered from. The possibility of a re-enactment of the Ferguson case didn't let him rest. It was already after 2 a.m., but he felt no compulsion to return to his dark, solitary apartment. In about four hours little Emmanuela, the neighbors' daughter, wouldn't be able to resist feeding Orange on her way to school, so it wasn't as if his cat would have to starve. Besides, Orange, the traitor, seemed to like Emmy more than him these days anyway. Which reflected quite clearly how much time he spent in the office or on the road, chasing down supernatural occurences, and how little at home. Home. Home, what a laugh!

He sighed and looked up.

Of course it was Paul; who else. Evie, the only sensible one among them, had gone home hours ago. He blinked.

It was a Paul he'd never seen before, though. For a short moment the expression on Callan's face reminded him of his dream, but the similarity was gone in a heartbeat. "Paul?" he asked tentatively, rubbing his fingers over his eyebrows, trying to chase away the tiredness that surely made him imagine things.

Over the last three weeks, Paul had rarely spoken to him. Come to that, he'd also taken special care to never spend any time alone in Keel's presence, always hiding behind Evelyn, never staying late, never instigating a conversation that wasn't solely business-related. Ever since that fateful night in the cinema.

But now -- Paul was still here, and he was smiling. Only with the barest life of the corners of his mouth, but his eyes were warm, so that constituted as a smile in Keel's book. //By God, when have I become that desperate//, he wondered.

Perhaps Paul was finally over his bout of self denial, and wanted... what? //A relationship with you?//, his inner voice asked mockingly. //Not bloody likely.//

He winced. //You're a good ten years older than Paul, you're skirting the edge of 'overweight', you're short in comparison, you're odd, and you like to wear clothes that were 'out' even at the time your professors wore them in Harvard. And the last time you had sex before the cinema was... when? So long ago it doesn't even register. Great catch.//

Still, Paul was now smiling at him, his stance for once not defensive. "Alva."

Keel blinked again. He hadn't heard his first name on Paul's lips in weeks.

Paul had visited St. Jerome's Emiliani Orphanage School about one week after the... incident... and had come back even more withdrawn and closed off. Keel had been willing to wager a substantial part of his slowly depleting inheritance that Callan had confided in Calero, his paternal mentor, and equally willing to bet that he'd come back just as conflicted and helpless as before. The Catholic Church had never been good at answering questions; it just shrouded them in mystery and pretended all answers lay with God who didn't hand out enlightenment supposedly until after a lifetime of genuflection and surrender of self.

Still, Paul seemed to have come to a resolution at last.

Keel wondered what it entailed. A 'I have confessed as to the wrongness of my deeds, repented, been absolved and now forgive you for your part in them'-speech was surely the most likely outcome.

He wasn't prepared for what Callan said instead, though. "You know, I decided to stop thinking about the last time when I finally admitted to myself I wanted there to be a next time. Like, here, now."

Keel could only gape like an idiot.

"I promised Evelyn I'd see to it you went home today -- ok, rather yesterday -- at a reasonable hour. I think she wanted you to get some rest. You're been awfully tense these last weeks, and you don't look like you've slept much. I could help you relax."

Keel finally found his voice again. "Paul, are you out of your mind?! You can't tell me you're suddenly comfortable with this--this thing."

"You can call it by its name, Alva. Sex, as in homosexual sex. Between you and me." And Paul smiled. His eyes were dark, and his lips looked like they had in all those dreams that hadn't later starred the flash of silver.

"So you can beat yourself up over it again afterwards, treat me like a leper and wear out your knees in prayer?" Keel pressed out, nettled and angry.

Paul looked away for a moment. When he turned his head again to face Keel, he was calm and determined. "I told you once that I took a temporary leave of absence from my work for the Archdiocese because I felt my faith was faltering. Then I encountered a true Miracle when Tommy healed me. Whatever power is responsible for that, it shows that there are things that can't be explained but by Faith, not by the Church who dismissed my account. I still believe in Him, I just won't follow the Church's rigid rules anymore."

Something in this statement sounded false, but Keel didn't have time to figure out exactly what, for Paul was still speaking: "I refuse to deny myself something that feels this right. For all these weeks, I've wondered about one little thing, Alva -- what your beautiful mouth would look like wrapped around my cock."

Keel sat, frozen; his mouth opened and closed silently. He couldn't believe his ears.

Callan stepped closer, reached out. His outstretched fingers touched Keel's lips, traced their shape. Keel's eyes had closed at the contact; he was trembling visibly. Otherwise he'd have seen the victorious smile that looked a bit out of place on Paul's face, or the way his eyes had darkened even further. He could still hear, though, how deep and rough Paul's voice had become, as it related dreamily: "I've lain awake at night, beating myself up over how I couldn't forget the little sound you made when you came, how you gave up control so entirely as soon as I had your cock in my hand. I've been watching you a lot these days, how your eyes flash and your hands move when you're all into solving a case; the shape of your lips as you form word after word. You've got a pretty mouth, Alva, a pretty, pretty mouth."

Keel's hands gripped the edges of his desk so hard they pressed into muscle and bone, but at this last softly uttered sentence they shuddered one last time and let go, defeated.

He refused to acknowledge that he was getting hard. Or that it would require just one... little... touch...

Said touch came, and Keel, like a puppet, was led obediently to his feet, facing Paul. The hoped for, secretly dreamed of kiss didn't come, but Keel felt Paul's hands in his hair, on his face, tracing his mouth in ever-widening circles. He didn't dare reach out on his own, afraid the sensations would prove to have only happened in his imagination. But then, the sure fingers were too solid to be a dream. Not hesitant in the slightest, they brushed his nose, cheekbones, eyebrows, combed through the fringes of his hair. Then they wandered down over his ears and neck until they reached his shoulders, and pressed down suggestively.

Keel's knees bent almost of their own volition. The incoherent thought that Paul smelled of something he knew flickered through his mind.

A heartbeat later, halfway sure the world had just turned on its axis, he found himself kneeling in front of a standing Paul Callan, with his nose all but pressed into the other man's groin. The hands that had petted his face and hair now opened and removed Paul's belt by pulling it through the loops, and didn't even fumble once. He swallowed and looked up.

He encountered no tenderness and that left him shaken, but the lust he saw there heated his own blood. Still, Paul made no move to open his trousers, instead clearly leaving the final decision to him. To willingly participate in his own seduction -- or in whatever else this between them was -- or to do nothing, get up and leave. But Keel couldn't leave; not a hair's breath away from the fulfillment of his own fervent imaginations. Instead, he stared at the clearly defined bulge right in front of his nose, wanting nothing more than pet, stroke and lick the hot flesh underneath. Unconsciously, he leaned forward a little and nuzzled the swollen mound. Before he could reach out with his tongue and taste, though, Paul's fingers were in his hair again and pulled his head back.

He stared into hot, dark eyes, transfixed, and was told: "Nice, but not where I want that pretty mouth of yours." A small, secret smile: "I'm sure you know what to do."

And Keel did. Staring at the small wet stain in front of him, the one he'd been eager to sample, he finally reached out (his hand was trembling, he noted absently), opened the button clumsily as it were from the wrong side, pulled down the zipper and spread the material apart.

The white cotton briefs he encountered had somehow never played a role in any of his fantasies, but he just hooked his fingers in their elastic and tugged them down carefully, just enough to free the cock and balls he'd dreamed of. Paul was cut, unlike himself. He took his time, just looked his fill. Paul's steady breathing got a little bit ragged above him, and Keel smiled just before he finally leant forward to get his first taste. His lips had barely gotten the chance to learn the shape of the beautiful erection in front of him before he felt fingers in his hair that forced him forward before he was ready for it. Blinking away sudden tears and breathing painfully around the hard flesh in his mouth, he finally couldn't lie to himself any longer. Still, he chased the realization away immediately and instead concentrated on another one that was no less true -- how much he had wanted this. Paul's cock in his mouth, Paul's taste on his tongue, Paul's moans in his ears.

He shifted a little to get a better angle and felt the constriction of his own erection. He gasped, repeated the movement, but stopped immediately when he heard Paul's roughened voice whisper: "Alva, stop this. Your cock's mine. I want to be the one to make you come, screaming my name. This time, there are no other people around; this time you don't have to hold back. Come on, take me a little deeper." Keel, half-crazed at the image those words painted, complied helplessly. He choked a little, but couldn't stop. Paul's taste flooded his mouth, his sinuses, overwhelmed everything else. The cock in his mouth was hard, hot, slick with his own saliva and a hint of precome. He cautiously licked around the part of it in his mouth he could reach, and felt a whimper building in his chest.

Oh, this was paradise, the garden with the apple tree, the bite into that red delicious fruit, the hissing of the snake in the background. No wonder Adam hadn't been able to resist. He swallowed again and again, felt his throat ripple around the foreign hardness in his mouth, and felt the taste of precome getting stronger. He closed his eyes and sucked harder.

Suddenly, he felt transported back into his freshman year at Cambridge. He had roomed with Kenneth Barston there. Kenneth, he loathed being called "Kenny", had been the star of his High School basketball team and had soon earned a similar place in the one at Cambridge. Despite Keel's soon established nerd status, they'd gotten along amazingly well. Future doctor and future pro player, they'd thought up and executed a lot of practical jokes and pranks which, in Kenneth's case, had hooked him up with a lot of easily impressed girlfriends. Still, when Kenneth's parents had died in a car accident, it had been his friend Alva he'd turned to, and not Tamara, Holly or Mary-Ann. They'd spent a comfortable two, three months this way until Kenneth had broken it up. They still wrote to each other semi-regularly, but Keel had despaired of finding the same closeness to another person, the same instant attraction, the same wanting to touch and be touched in return. Charles Jergensen, a friend of Kenneth's, had indicated a willingness to step in, but they hadn't been able to stand each other well enough to proceed beyond an aborted semi-drunk exploration and a lot of embarrassed silence.

He was brought back into the present by Paul's fingers once again yanking his hair painfully. He opened his eyes, feeling dizzy. "I don't want you thinking of anyone else but me, Alva; not God, not the rest of the world."

Keel made an assenting noise in his throat and resumed his task with new vigor. Not that it was hard to do so; Kenneth was a pale memory whereas Paul was undeniable reality. Staring into Paul's eyes that had turned almost entirely black with arousal, he determinedly relaxed his throat a little bit further and soon felt his nose brush coarse hair. He had to pull back almost immediately to get some air back into his lungs, but the expression of almost painful ecstasy on Paul's face had been worth it. Nonetheless gagging a little, he let Paul's voice wash over him, he consciously didn't attempt to listen to the words, just concentrated on the feeling in his chest, stomach and groin. His own erection had long since become painful, but he blocked it out with the firm resolve to at least feel Paul's hand on it again before he came.

Another thrust down, a bit more suction, and his mouth was suddenly, shockingly overflowing with thick, hot liquid. Paul's face was thrown back, contorted in climax, so beautiful he couldn't tear his gaze away from the line of sweaty, working throat, flushed skin, stands of brown hair falling into eyes clenched shut in rapture.

Pulling back a little, this time gagging for real, Keel finally allowed himself a taste of Paul's seed and swallowed again, his throat feeling rough and a bit sore. Musky, overwhelming and satisfying as he'd never let himself imagine. He brought a hand up and wiped the excess from his mouth that also felt swollen. He shifted a little on his knees and the pressure against his cock almost finished him off. He bit his lips and contemplated getting up.

Paul had pulled himself together a little, the dark wild look in his eyes now a little less desperate and slowly did up his pants. He then helped Keel up by gripping his hand and tugging. Keel winced; his knees hurt, his head swam a little.

They now stood so close together they could have kissed by a mere five, ten centimeters, but neither made a move. Keel instead stared at Paul's lips, filling out his field of vision, moist and red and bringing back full force his own fantasies.

"Now it's your turn," he said breathlessly, annoyed at how husky and rough and yes, needy, his own voice sounded.

Paul's eyes glittered -- desperately? -- and he made a step backwards. His earlier confidence seemed to be faltering. Or was it that old Catholic guilt coming back? Keel contented himself with words when trying to hold him back: "It's your choice, you have to know that, but I won't let this become one-sided. We're either in this together, or we aren't together at all. I already felt like I had taken advantage of you the last time despite you bringing me off, but this... I'm not your toy, and you can't put me back on my shelf once you're tired of playing. What do you want, Paul?"

Instead of an answer, Callan backed him up against his desk. A flutter of anticipation in his belly he felt immediately ashamed of, Keel let him and widened his stance upon bumping against the wooden ledge, uncaring of the chaos that this made of the carefully sorted piles of paper cuttings on its surface.

"What would you like more, Alva? My hands, like last time, or my mouth?" Paul smiled down at him, pressing a knee between Keel's open thighs. Keel whimpered inadvertently and trembled a little.

A scene from his fantasies floated to the top of his mind: Paul, on his knees, that unruly brown hair falling forward, almost obscuring his intense eyes, sucking Keel with abandon, his cheeks hollowed, his chin wet, lips red and swollen.

He heard a low, unsteady laugh in his ear and saw Paul fumblingly open his constricting black cords. Then, he finally, unbelievably, felt these hands on him again, pulling out his aching dark red flesh, and just like he'd envisioned, Paul went down on his knees in front of him.

The sensations were unbelievable, divine. Wet, hot suction, apparently inexperienced, warm hands gripping his legs, holding his sagging body steady against the comforting solidity of he desk. He stroked everything of Paul he could reach, his face, his throat, the soft skin over his collarbones vulnerably revealed by the open collar of Paul's white shirt. Keel faltered for an instant, almost didn't go through with it.

The abandon in Paul's brown eyes tore at him, screamed to let it go, that he was imagining things, but deep in his heart, he knew he was right. That bite of the apple came with a price, he remembered. And before he could give in for real, he pulled Paul's face away from his aching, needy cock screaming for release, and choked him. Harder and harder he pressed, his fingers like bands of steel -- //Can't hesitate, can't fail.// --, directly on the big veins pumping blood into the brain. The soft skin grew clammy, slick with fearful sweat, the body under his hands began to thrash, attempted to get up. Paul's fingers bit into his legs, scratched at the cloth of his trousers, leaving trails of fire. He still held on, not even realizing the tears coursing down his contorted, determined face.

Unbelievably, the body under his hands still found air and determination enough to speak: "How... did... you... figure it... out?"

Keel let all the suppressed thoughts and feelings of the last half hour flood his conscious mind, and saw the wide, now bloodshot, bulging eyes grow wider still. Paul's face turned blue. "You were way too... forthright," Keel pressed out, "Paul would have never taken the lead so aggressively. And the way you talked about his Church was just -- wrong. Paul believes. He may sometimes think that he doesn't, but alone the fact how he acted these last weeks proves that he won't just say good riddance to his faith, not even -- or perhaps especially -- over this, Mr. Friendly."

Keel bared his teeth in something nobody would have called a smile. The smell of tar he'd desperately tried to ignore so far now became stronger whereas the struggle of Paul's body under his hands grew weaker; it was more than doubtable that the entity could still hear him. Words continued to rush over his tongue nonetheless: "You always try the same trick, don't you? Offer your victim what he desires the most, and by giving it to him, you slowly turn around his deeds from good to merely good-intentioned to bad, don't you? Well, you can never offer up the real thing, now, can you? Only a pale imitation. I want the real Paul, not a puppet fashioned after my dreams. I want him with his guilt, with the core of darkness he's not yet aware of, but most of all, I want him because of his heart, the one thing you and your brethren will never be able to touch. Nature versus nurture; Paul wants to be a good man, and I swore to help him on his way no matter what. Even if I never see that look on his face again. The one in the cinema. The unconscious smile, the fascination, the open-mouthed wonder, the... tenderness." His voice broke at last. He stared down at the limp figure in his clenched, locked hands, and the coldness in his heart spread out and encompassed his whole being.

The faint smile on Paul's purple lips was disconcerting and chilled him even further, but its sight also loosened the paralysis that had held him immobile for precious seconds. He counted further under his breath, let go of Paul's neck and let him slide to the floor carefully, a hand on his wrist. The pulse under his fumbling fingers was barely there as it was, and finally stopped entirely. The open, staring eyes closed halfway, then opened again, blind. He held a wet finger to Paul's nose and mouth. He wasn't breathing.

Torn, panicky, clenched in cold sweat, Keel continued to count. What if the Unterweiler had intended exactly this? What if Keel had killed Paul for real, wasn't able to bring him back without the malevolent intruder?

His mind refused to dwell on this possibility, instead dredged up for the second time in less than half a year the figures he'd had to learn during the first four semesters of his medicine studies.

Finally. With barely shaking hands, he opened Paul's mouth and tilted his head back at the appropriate angle.

The next minutes were spent in an agonizing nightmare of compression--breath--compression--breath. He felt one of Paul's rips break under his hands and would have cried could he have spared the air and time. Instead, he continued with his resuscitation efforts, mindlessly counting, waiting for that first little cough, or a tremble in the chest underneath him, anything.

He'd almost given up hope when it finally came. An out-of-sync flutter of the lungs he was compressing, a tiny move of the mouth under his own. He drew back, hyperventilating, black dots dancing in front of his eyes, and checked Paul's vitals. Dear God, he had a pulse! A heartbeat. And he drew in a breath of his own.

Keel sat back on his haunches, staring at the utter miracle of Paul Callan being alive, and wept like he only barely remembered he'd ever done before, that day he'd been told of his mother's death. He kept his fingers around Paul's reassuringly beating pulse and just kept drawing deep breaths.

An eternity later -- it could have been a minute or perhaps ten, he became aware of the fact that he was still half unclothed, and quickly did up his trousers. All dreams of sex were far from his thoughts and the sight of his limp cock, slightly sticky, just caused disgusted self-loathing in his jumbled mind. Then he proceeded to slap Paul's cheeks carefully and tried to elicit a conscious response.

Paul groaned, and his eyes opened to little slits. At first, he didn't seem to know where he was, but slowly his still red eyes became clearer; awareness of the here and now returned as visible in the elevated raspy breathing and his frantic attempts to sit up.

Keel pressed him down firmly with a hand a good distance from the broken rib, and leant over him. Paul stared at him with wide, panicked eyes and opened his mouth.

"Don't try to talk, please, Paul, and for God's sake, don't sit up. I don't think I did any lasting damage, but you've got one broken rib and your brain was without oxygen for quite a while. I'll call you an ambulance in a minute. Do you understand me?"

Paul stopped struggling to lever himself up, but licked his lips. Keel's gaze was inadvertently drawn to them, and they both blushed. Keel looked away, feeling sick and guilty. He guessed his punishment would be to never know how much of Paul's actions in the last half hour had been an acting out of Paul's own dreams, and how much the maliciously drafted seduction by the entity.

Paul surprised him by whispering: "I am so sorry, Alva. I saw Tommy; he said he was scared. He had brought someone else; she said she was my mother. Tommy left, but she got me talking. I..."

"Shhhh. It doesn't matter."

A painful croak: "It does matter! Only when I felt her pass through me I knew who... what... she really was, but by then, it was too late. He... he looked inside of me and -- smiled. And shoved me aside like I didn't matter. Then he grabbed my research of the Anderson case, stepped outside, dumped it on your desk and..." Paul had tears in his eyes.

Keel shook his head and locked his feelings away deep inside his self. It wasn't as if he hadn't had enough practice. He stared at Paul again, silently begging him to keep quiet, and miraculously Callan did.

Then he called an ambulance.

***

About fifteen minutes later, Keel wordlessly offered thanks to all saints and evangelists that the ambulance and the expected black-and-white arrived without Evelyn in tow. She still had lots of friends on the force and among the EMTs, so that had to constitute as a small wonder.

Still cold and sick to his heart, he clambered to his feet, floundering a little. Once again he had lost all feeling in his legs.

Paul and he had endured an uncomfortable silence until the ambulance had arrived; Keel hadn't even been able to look Paul in the eyes anymore.

He sighed inaudibly. A moment later, he felt his eyes widen a little as he recognized Detective Krantz, but betrayed no other outward sign of distress. Krantz strode closer, his coat billowing around him, looking thoroughly annoyed. The detective just nodded in greeting and offered a terse: "Gentlemen, I happened to be in the neighborhood."

They watched wordlessly for a moment as Paul was loaded onto a gurney and fitted with a neck brace. "Detective Krantz," Keel then greeted the other man, "what can I do for you?"

"Well, for starters, you could explain to me what happened to Mr. Callan to make him require a trip to the hospital." The detective's face was calm, but Keel thought he detected an excited glimmer in his eyes. "He looks like he was strangled, and you told the ambulance on the phone that you'd carried out CPR. Don't tell me it's a story that again requires at least two or three hours to be told, and don't tell me it has something to do with words written in blood and dreams, alright?"

Keel looked down at his hands, already seeing the handcuffs snick closed. He wouldn't resist, and he was too tired and too emotionally exhausted to think up a good explanation. Perhaps Paul didn't even want one to be told but the truth... "I... it was..."

"An attempted robbery," a weak, scratchy voice threw in. "I had just left the building; Mr. Keel had remained a few steps behind to lock up. Two people stepped out of the alley to the left, a man with longish dark hair, dark eyes and a pale face, about fifty perhaps, and a woman in her early thirties with brown hair. They asked me for fire, then the man suddenly strangled me. The woman just stood by and looked. I fought, but he was too strong. I remember I heard Alva's steps on the stairs, he called something, then I blacked out. I can barely recall how I got up here with Alva's help, but I think he feared they might come back if we stayed down in the street."

Krantz just regarded him with a frankly incredulous stare. "A nice... story, Mr. Callan," he drawled, "and how well it does... not... fit all the facts. Still, I don't suppose I'll get you -- or you," an angry stare at Keel, "to change it, won't I? If you feel the pressing need to amend your statement or later provide us with detailed descriptions of the so-called perpetrators, don't hesitate to call me. I trust you've still got my card lying around somewhere -- both of you." A sarcastic smile and the detective left with a barely civil nod, banging the door on his way outside.

The EMTs just continued readying Paul for transport. Paul's fingers twitched. Keel leant down immediately, his ear to Paul's lips, and heard a quickly breathed: "I won't allow you to destroy your life over this."

Keel clenched his hands to fists so hard the nails bit into his palms. //Infuriating, contradictive boy!//

The barest shadow of a smile lifted the corners of Paul's lips, "I described the face I've seen three or four times now; Tommy's darkness, and my mother how he showed her to me. Don't worry; I didn't say too much just like you told me the last time. And I promise we'll talk later."

The EMTs carried him to the vehicle waiting outside. Keel followed them absently, standing on the steps outside leading up to the warehouse floor housing the Sodalitas Quaerito, and felt both dejected and elated in a measure he'd never encountered before.

He wished fervently he knew how much Paul remembered of everything that had transpired. He shook himself out of the black mood he felt coming over him, and went in search of his jeep. So far, he hadn't encountered a hospital staff that didn't let him in no matter how late the hour, and the team at the Massachusetts General Hospital wouldn't be any different.

***

Six miles further north in the city, a small tabby cat carefully used its paw to push against a brown, leather-bound journal lying atop a desk in a dark bedroom. It fell open near the beginning and showed a photograph of the remnants a red-splattered shirt bearing the words "God is Nowhere" written in blood as well as pages after pages of neatly written entries in Alva Keel's accurate left-handed script.


"Miracles" story by allaire mikháil, 5.812 words, Alva Keel/Paul Callan, drama, Keel POV, rated NC-17, set after "Know Thy Own Heart". Spoilers for episodes 1.01 to 1.06. Third in the Discovering Things out of Darkness series.

The show and its characters belong to Richard Hatem, David Greenwalt, Zack Estrin and several other people as well as to ABC, not that ABC deserves them. Cancelling the show after merely broadcasting 6 (!) episodes of 13 is a slap in the face of all its loyal fans. This story belongs to me.
I'm afraid the muses decided to compensate for the lack of sex in Part 2, "Know Thy Own Heart". I blame Egypt, the sun and the Red Sea. And Angus MacFadyen's mouth.
Many thanks to crosswalk.com; bible quotes are again from there. Also, parts of this story dug up fond memories of my religious education in 12th grade. And finally, for the truly curious -- the title of the series comes from Job 12:22, "He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death." which sounds... fitting.
If you love "Miracles", please got to www.miraclestv.com and help attempt to save this wonderful series.
I'd also like to thank once more John from [Rareslash] for a beta job extraordinaire; without you, this story wouldn't have been posted.
For ljmareen as well as for my favorite librarian, ljmabiana.


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