Evangeline's blouse felt wet, and she couldn't catch her breath. She could hear the screaming in the other room, but time seemed to stretch out before her like a child's summer.

God, she couldn't breathe. John was heavy on her body. She understood his need to protect her until the danger was over, but he was forcing the life out of her. She shook his shoulder. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't breathe.

"John, you've got to I can't catch my breath," Evangeline said, pushing him again.

Evangeline said his name two more times before she realized he wasn't moving. He wasn't talking to her. He wasn't ordering anyone around. He hadn't dragged her to a corner so that she would be safe. Oh God, he wasn't moving. She turned him over, and she shivered as air chilled the patch of wetness on her upper left shoulder. It was blood. John had a matching patch on his right shoulder. It was John's blood on the both of them.

"Michael! Michael," Evangeline screamed, as she checked John's pulse.

She put her head on his chest to listen to his heartbeat. She'd done it so many times before, after they'd made love or when they were on the couch watching ESPN together or on Sunday morning when they'd lay in bed together, eating croissants and John eating the Galtee Black Pudding he would sneak and order online. This time, this time, she didn't hear anything as she listened.

"John, don't leave me. You're the only one, the only one I've ever loved," she whispered into his ear.

Michael came rushing over, and Evangeline moved aside as much as her heart would allow. Marcie helped Diana over. Evangeline's mother was limping from falling to the floor in fear. Nora hurried over and touched John, telling him it would be alright, and then she told Evangeline the same.

Evangeline couldn't hear any of it. She could only see her life slipping away, as he lay on the floor bleeding.


John could feel the morning sun warm on his face. It was still early. He knew this because the children hadn't yet jumped into bed with him and Caitlin.

He smiled as he felt her arm resting on his shoulder and her fine, long fingers running through his hair.

"Do we have time for each other before the children come in?" Caitlin asked, knowing the answer.

As if by command, the boys, Patrick and Killian, came bouncing into the room. Patrick leapt into his mother's waiting arms, as he always did. Both of them shared the same fair skin, wavy brown hair, and delicate bone structure.

Killian stayed at the edge of the bed, playing with the corner of the quilt Aunt Bridget had sent over from Ireland. His green eyes were wet, and John reached out for his son. The little boy wouldn't come.

"Killian, what's wrong? Son, come here. Come to daddy," John said, looking over at Caitlin, who was preoccupied with Patrick.

The despondent boy stole a glance at his mother to make sure she wasn't looking. When he saw Caitlin tickling Patrick to the floor, he took a step closer to his father and put his hands around his mouth, like blinders blocking a horse's vision of other choices besides the road ahead.

"Daddy, you don't belong here," Killian whispered.

John felt a sharp pain in his chest. He closed his eyes, his son's words echoing in his ear. Little Killian. Killian.

When he opened his eyes again, he was in the hallway of the courthouse. He had forgotten. He was supposed to testify this morning. That must have been what Killian meant.

His son's name suddenly seemed curious to him, and for a moment, he felt ridiculous questioning it. Patrick had been named for John's father, but Catilin's father was named Declan. Why did they choose the name Killian? He'd ask Caitlin when he got home.

"Agent McBain, are you ready?" the prosecutor asked him.

Nora Buchanon stretched her hand out to greet him. She flashed John a kind smile, and he felt as if he had known her for years.

"I'm as ready as I'll ever be," John said. He couldn't remember exactly which case this was regarding, but he was confident the memories would kick in soon enough. He was a good FBI agent. He knew that, if he didn't know anything else.

His mind turned to his son again. Killian. The little boy's words repeated in his mind, and there was new pressure in his chest. He would call home when he was finished testifying.

John walked into the courtroom after Ms. Buchanon. He caught sight of the defense attorney. Whoever she was, she held an alluring posture. Her long, black hair broomed the shoulders of her light, blue suit.

Nora whispered in his ear: "Watch your step with her. She's brilliant, and she's never lost a case."

John nodded, and Ms. Buchanon went toward her table in the front of the courtroom. His heart stopped as the defense attorney turned around.

She was looking at someone else, and it broke his heart. Even though he didn't know her, had no right to even think of her, and even though he had Caitlyn, this woman in blue looking at someone else broke his heart.

John followed her line of vision to the left corner of the courtroom. There was a serious Hispanic man sitting there. He was dressed in a fine, Italian suit, like he was some kind of upstanding, European gentleman. John knew the young man from surveillance pictures. Tico Santi. How could the woman in blue even consider being with him? She couldn't know the truth about him. It wasn't right.

John knew her. He felt he knew her, before she'd even turned around. She was far too good for the likes of Tico Santi.

"She belongs with me," John said to himself, immediately questioning where that came from. He had a wife. He had a family. And they were all happy, except for little Killian. Killian. Daddy, you don't belong here.

His heart clenched again, so violently that the pain brought him to his knees. He was on the cool marble floor of the courtroom, and he heard the judge instruct the bailiff to call for an ambulance.

Ms. Buchanon was at his side in an instant. She told him everything was going to be alright. The woman in blue came over and loosened his tie. The boys had gotten him the overly wide, black tie for Christmas. He couldn't die in it. They would never forgive him, especially Killian.

John could barely breathe. The woman in blue was talking to him. He loved the sound of her voice, the intimacy of it, and he was too afraid to close his eyes because he knew he'd lose her if he did.

"What's your name?" John sputtered, gripping her hand tightly. He would have been writhing in pain, if he hadn't needed to know her so badly.

"Evangeline," she said, turning John's world to a gauzy white.

John found himself standing beside Caitlyn, both of them dressed in white. They were at the beginning and the end of everything, of everywhere.

"We could have had a beautiful life, John," Caitlyn said, leaning over to kiss him on his cheek.

"I don't understand. Where are the boys?"

Caitlyn caressed his face with longing. "You didn't choose us, my dear heart," she said, softly.

With a wave of her hand, Caitlyn showed John the mortal world where his body lay dying for lack of spirit.

Michael was working feverishly to save him, yelling at John to stay. Evangeline was on her knees, shaking and crying. Daina was with her, as were Nora and Marcie all of them touching Evangeline and trying to soothe her somehow. Yet, she seemed so alone, and seeing Evangeline in that much pain hurt John deeply.

"You have chosen her. Now go be with here, and I'll wait like I always have," Caitlyn said, grabbing John for one more kiss, for a lifetime of kisses lost.

"What would happen if I stayed with you and the boys. What would happen to Evangeline?"

Caitlyn shook her head and disappeared. In a flash, John knew what he had brought to and what he would bring to Evangeline's life. He'd always known that his own life wasn't much without her he'd lived that life of gray, endless days, feeling nothing and never knowing anyone deeply and never being known.

John hadn't known how well his love had affected Evangeline. He hadn't known that her days had merged into one long, tiresome day before he had come along with the fire in his lips.

If he had not chosen Evangeline over Caitlyn and the boys, Evangeline would never again have given a giggling kiss to anyone, would never have allowed herself to cry at a sentimental movie again, would never have trusted love again. Her mother would have moved in with her and passed away five years later, leaving Evangeline alone once more. Evangeline would have lost touch with Michael because he reminded her too much of John.

If he had not chosen Evangeline, if he had chosen to leave her life at this moment, she would have divided herself into two people one, the seemingly happy Evangeline, who would still go to Carlotta's diner for burgers with Nora, the Evangeline who would pretend to be healing so her friend Antonio could concentrate on his newborn twin girls, the Evangeline who would laugh at her friend Killian's jokes so he would feel as though he had brought her some joy; and the other, the eternally grieving Evangeline who sometimes couldn't get out of bed, the Evangeline who couldn't fool her friend Todd into letting her alone.

John would have to make a note to be more kind to Manning. It would have been Manning who would have pushed Evangeline to be brutally sad with him, to allow her to be angry at the universe for taking her love away. It would have been Manning to always drag Evangeline away from John's grave at three or four in the morning and convince her that his death was not her fault.

He wondered briefly if all this would be forgotten with the urgent actions of reacquainting spirit with body, and as soon as he completed the thought, he was mired in the clay of humanity. His lungs were sputtering with new breath, and his heart leapt to action, forcing life-giving blood to critical areas. He couldn't speak, but in his mind, one name broke apart and reformed and pulsed again in his brain until his mind shut down from the pain. Evangeline.


Evangeline sat in the dark of John's hospital room, holding his hand. Bo had returned from hiding Killian away with Todd, from convincing the two of them that they would put Evangeline into more jeopardy should they have returned to protect her. He had assigned a police officer to John's room around the clock. Antonio was investigating who could have been behind the shooting, and Nora was getting something that Evangeline wouldn't eat. And Evangeline was waiting.

She saw his eyelashes fluttering. It had been hours since the surgery, long hours since Michael had emerged from the operating room as an observer and said his brother had come through alright. Now John's eyelashes were fluttering, and Evangeline was filled with such hope and anxiety that she began to cry.

"Evangeline," John said, his voice a gravelly plaint.

"Yes, honey," she said, moving to sit at his beside.

"I love you," he said, smiling at nothing.

"Open your eyes."

"What? You don't trust me?"

Evangeline couldn't resist the urge to peck his cheek with small, dear kisses. "Open your eyes. I've been denied that beautiful blue for too long," she said.

He followed her command, and the sight of her filled him with peace and love and waves of every other emotion ever imagined by the human soul. "We're O.K.," he assured and asked in the same breath.

She nodded affirmatively and took his face into her hands to give him a long, deep kiss. "I love you, John," she said, when their lips parted briefly. "Don't ever scare me like that again."

"We've got to find out who is behind this. We've got to find out who's after Killian," John said, closing his eyes, trying to focus his mind on thoughts of something beside his love.

Evangeline sighed. She sighed because she knew the words she was about to utter could set John off on a full-throttle investigation before he could even begin to recover.

"What is it?" John asked.

"Antonio thinks Killian may not be the only target."

"The shooter tried to take me out because he thought I was Killian," John insisted, trying to sit up.

Evangeline quieted him. "Stop, John, before you hurt yourself," she said.

"I've got to get you to a safe place," he said, with all the urgency he had deep down in his bones.

"Bo said he would hide take me to Killian and Todd, but I don't want to leave you."

John pulled her close to himself because he couldn't sit up again. "Death couldn't keep us apart. Go with Bo and be safe, and I will find you. I will always find you," he said.

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