And In the End. by Eppie Black

Disclaimer: I make no money off this. The characters belong to Martin Scorsese and a bunch of other people. Including, of course, themselves.

Amsterdam Vallon

I think that I was unconscious for some time laying there in the middle of Paradise Square, but I hadn't clue as to how long for the smoke of a thousand fires separated New York City from the sun. Then the haze began to part for a figure silhouetted against it. Next thing I knew I was in Jenny's arms and we cried together.

Presently though, she began to get practical again.

"Are you hurt bad?" she asked fearfully.

"No." I replied, voice hoarse from the all the dust, "you're just gonna have to patch me up again." I tried to smile for her benefit. She began to look me over some and we discovered that I could still put weight on one of my legs, a definite mercy considering what Bill had done to my knees. It suddenly occurred to me that he could have just as easily slit my throat.

She was thinking on Bill too. I saw her glance quickly over at his still form several times.

"Yes, he's actually gone." I said. "I saw him die."

She made a short high-pitched strangled noise as if a sigh of relief and a keening wail had got caught up in her throat together and neither would let the other out. Finally she settled for saying, "I can't believe anything could actually kill him."

I sympathized with this sentiment.

All my senses, physical and otherwise, settling into a numb haze I continued to sit in the middle of the street trying to not think about what the other small groups of injured-bleeding-grieving-dying people which must certainly have been nearby were doing. Jenny knelt now beside Bill Cutting's body. She put a hand on his chest to feel that his heart had indeed stilled then composed his limbs, carefully crossing his arms over his chest.

Then she did something very startling. She brought her own hand to her mouth and licked her first two fingers. Then, drawing the sign of the cross with these fingers on Bill's forehead she said, "If there's any spark of life left in you, William Cutting, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."

This struck me as being wrong on a multitude of levels. But what wasn't wrong about that day?

"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, Save us from the fires of Hell, Lead all of us souls into Heaven. ESPECIALLY, those MOST in need of Thy Mercy. Nomine Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Amen." She finished.

Then she helped me up and we hobbled away together. Leaning on her brave comforting weight to hold me steady I said to her, "You know Jen, it's a sin to baptize a dead thing and he wouldn't have wanted it anyway."

"What harm could there be in hoping for the peace of any soul?" she asked plaintively.

"None, I suppose." I said.

I then crossed myself and united my prayers with hers, not just for Bill but for the other dead and injured of the 5 Points. Including myself.

...................................................... MEANWHILE ......................................................

It was the worst fight Bill Cutting could ever remember being in. Out of the smoke and haze came a multitude of people. Screaming, moaning, wraith- like, they clawed him and grabbed at him. He took the knife in his hand and slashed out at the figures emerging from the haze. He slashed and punched at kicked and fought until he could no longer remember to feel the weight of the knife in his hand or the fall of his own footsteps or the sweat pouring down his back. He didn't realize that he himself was crying out now himself.

Then suddenly someone grabbed a hold of him. He struggled but this was no wraith of the fog and his struggling was to no account. Then he became aware of a voice, calm, strong. A litany of questions. "Do you remember your name? Do you know who you are?"

Still he struggled against this new enemy. He struggled in his mind to remember the answers to the questions. He struggled to remember who the owner of the voice was, so familiar. Then he remembered, himself anyway. "William Cutting. I'm William Cutting." he proclaimed himself.

"Good. Good." said the voice, a touch of relief audible in the foreign inflection of the vowels. "Now look at me. Who am I?"

William Cutting looked up at the being holding on to him and found himself looking into the intense blue eyes of...

"Priest Vallon." he murmured, remembering. In his head his life ran backwards from the last ghostly floating feeling of the son's, Amsterdam's, hand grabbing his own as he fell into dust of Paradise Square for the last time, backward, backward all the way till he came to the first moment his eyes ever met those of a man not willing to back down, the father.

"Right." said Vallon again. "Now you're going to have to pull yourself together, you contentious Yankee bastard. Welcome to Purgatory. You and I need to find somewheres to talk.

The End.