Disclaimer: I don't own anything except my ideas and some R&H DVDs :-)

A/N: As you've probably guessed this is based on the Reeves & Mortimer series and not the one from the 70s :-) I wrote this a few years ago when R&H was actually being made.

Near Miss

The day started the same as every other morning; Jeff arrived in for work an hour after Jeannie did. He had spent the whole journey to the office thinking up excuses as to why he was late for the third morning in a row.

As it turned out, he needn't have bothered. His "Morning, Jeannie" was accompanied by the realisation that there was a client in the office with Jeannie. He was a brown haired man who looked to be in his late thirties. Jeannie gave Jeff a glare of disapproval but he hardly noticed. Here was a client and they were badly in need of money. He shuddered as he recalled the mound of brown envelopes that were swept under his desk.

"Hello, I'm Jeff Randall. What can I do for you, Mister...?"

"Smith. John Smith."

In a pig's eye, thought Jeff. He had never, in all his years of being a private detective, come across anyone whose real name was John Smith.

"So what can I-" there was the clearing of a female throat "we do for you, Mr. Smith?"

"I want you to investigate my employer. I have reason to believe that he is involved in criminal activity but I feel that I am not up to the task of uncovering his dirty doings myself."

"Why don't you go to the police, Mr. Smith?" He might be broke, but Jeff was still the consummate professional. He smiled gratefully at Jeannie as she handed him a cup of tea. She smiled back, her earlier annoyance forgotten.

"I don't have any evidence, Mr. Randall. The police would hardly investigate one of the wealthiest men in Europe on the say so of one of his employees."

"And who is your employer, Mr. Smith?"

"Peter Kensington."

Jeff nearly choked on his tea. Kensington was a well-known public figure. He was stinking rich but he also did a lot of charity work, raising money for cancer research and other worthy causes. He could hardly believe that Kensington would need to resort to criminal measures for anything.

Jeff was speechless and was only saved by the ever-professional presence of Jeannie. "What, exactly, do you suspect Mr. Kensington is involved in?"

"Well, Miss Hurst, I have limited information but I believe he is responsible for the importation of illegal refugees. He takes them for every penny they have and then transports them in articulated lorries with no care about their safety."

"But why would he do that? Surely he doesn't need the money; he's a billionaire for God's sake!"

"There have been rumours that he uses the refugees in clinical trials of newly developed products that are created in the labs his charity work pays for. The money he takes from the refugees is just an added bonus. I, of course, can't prove any of this and that is why I want to hire you. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do something to stop this barbaric practice."

"We'll do everything we can to uncover all his secrets Mr. Smith," said Jeff as he stood up to show him to the door. "We'll let you know the minute we find out anything."

Jeannie waited inside the office for Jeff to come back. "So what do you think of that, Jeff?" she asked as he re-entered the office.

"I don't know, Jeannie. The only thing I can think about at the moment is that at least now I'll be able to pay a few of those bills it seems I've been collecting."

"Stranger things have happened, Jeff," she replied.

Meanwhile, Marty was in limbo. He was stood at an imaginary bar, drinking an imaginary cocktail with an imaginary umbrella in it. Afterlife didn't get much better than this, unfortunately. Marty was sick and tired of his afterlife. Nothing exciting ever happened in limbo. It was just as boring when he was down on earth with Jeff though at least down there he could keep an eye on Jeff and make sure he didn't get too friendly with Jeannie. He was always worried that Jeff would get together with Jeannie and not need Marty anymore. Who needs a ghost when you've got a girlfriend?

Marty decided to return to earth to see what Jeff was up to. Who knows, maybe he was working on an exciting case!

"Hiya Jeff."

"Marty! What are you doing here?"

"Saying hello to my best mate?"

"Not now, Marty! Can't you check beforehand if it's safe for you to appear?"

Marty looked around him for the first time and realised that Jeff was sitting on the toilet. The only thing preserving his modesty was the newspaper spread out on his lap.

"Christ, sorry!"

Marty rematerialised in Jeff's kitchen and waited for him to come out of the bathroom.

When Jeff reappeared he was glaring at Marty. "It wouldn't hurt, you know, if you could make sure I'm decent before you appear. It's very embarrassing sometimes."

"I'm sorry, Jeff, but I can't do that. I only know what you're doing when I appear and sometimes it doesn't even occur to me then that you could be embarrassed. I'll try harder in future, ok?"

"Ok Marty," Jeff replied, looking slightly placated.

"So what case are you working on, then?"

"One John Smith has employed us," Jeff grinned at Marty's snort of disbelief "to investigate Peter Kensington."

"The Peter Kensington? Peter 'My pockets are bulging with my billions' Kensington?"

"The same," Jeff said, enjoying Marty's stunned look. It didn't last long though.

"This is bloody typical. You wait until I die and then you get all the interesting cases."

"I didn't do it on purpose, Marty," Jeff said reasonably. "Anyway, we got asked to look into him because one of his employees fears that Kensington is bringing illegal refugees into the country to conduct medical experiments on them."


"Exactly, Marty."

"So how far have you gotten in your investigation, then?"


"Oh, Jeff! Please tell me you've started."

"Of course I have, Marty! I was just wondering if you could, perhaps, you know... sort of hack into his computers and see if there's anything there is all..."

Marty just looked at Jeff as he squirmed for a while. "Of course I will, Jeff, but on one condition."

"What's that?"

"Keep Jeannie out of it as much as possible. I don't want her getting caught up in anything that's too dangerous."

"And of course you couldn't give a toss about me," muttered Jeff darkly. "I'll try my best Marty, but you know what Jeannie's like. She's worse than you are sometimes!" Jeff said a bit more loudly.

Marty just glared at him then disappeared to hack into Kensington's computers.

Later on that day Jeff was back in the office following up on some of the leads Marty had given him. Jeannie came back in and looked over Jeff's shoulder at what he was doing.

"I must say I'm very impressed Jeff. Where did you get all this in the space of a few hours?"

"I do have my sources, Jeannie," Jeff replied as he gazed adoringly at Jeannie, not that she noticed.

"Yeah, but I think I've gotten everything that's important already," said Marty as he materialised in the office of Randall and Hopkirk Deceased. "No more dazzling displays of skill for you to show off to Jeannie, I'm afraid."

Jeff limited himself to just glaring at Marty. He was getting better at hiding his reactions to Marty when he was with other people.

Jeannie, unaware of the other presence in the room, smiled at Jeff. "What do you want to do first? Do you want to check out his home or-?"

"The first thing I want to do Jeannie," Jeff interrupted "is go and get something to eat. I'm absolutely starving!"

"You know Jeff, I'm a bit peckish too. Why don't we go somewhere together to get a bite to eat? Then we can come back here and decide on a plan of action."

Jeff, realising it meant time spent with Jeannie in a non-work environment, leapt at the offer.

Jeff and Jeannie got into Marty's car and set off to a pub that had a delicious menu and was ten minutes away. Marty sat in the back of his car and listened with half an ear to the conversation between Jeff and Jeannie. It wasn't very exciting so he looked out the window instead. It was as he was looking out that he spotted the black Ford Escort that seemed to be following them. He shrugged; it was probably just a coincidence that it was going the same direction as Jeff.

Thirty seconds later he realised his error. The Ford suddenly picked up speed and swerved so it was now beside the Mercedes that Jeff was driving. A masked man leaned out the window of the back of the car and opened fire with an automatic weapon. Bullets sprayed into the side of Marty's car. Jeff, who had been shot in the chest, lost control of the car and crashed into the row of parked cars along the side of the road.

The last thing that Jeannie remembered was Jeff saying, "Marty, I think I'm dying mate. Least now you'll be able to go to heaven..."

Marty paced frantically outside the operating room as the surgeons fought to keep Jeff in the land of the living. Jeannie had already been wheeled off to the ICU. She wasn't in a very bad condition but they wanted to keep her under observation. They were far more concerned about Jeff; he was very much touch and go.

Marty went through the wall and into the operating room but the sight of his best mate cut open and bleeding turned his ghostly stomach and he wasn't long returning to the corridor. He turned his face into the wall and prayed for his friend.

He glanced up hours later when the doors of the operating room finally opened. Marty didn't think that Jeff was dead because he had been told that he would know if Jeff died but he wouldn't be happy until he saw his friend alive. It turned out that he wasn't happy even then. Jeff looked very frail as they wheeled him out of the OR and up to the ICU. Marty was very worried that his Chosen One might yet join him in the afterlife.

Suddenly Marty felt very weak. He had been down on earth for a long time and he now needed to return to limbo for a few minutes to recharge.

Wyvern was enjoying an imaginary cup of tea when Marty Hopkirk suddenly materialised in his humble abode.

"Hello Marty. How are you today?" asked Wyvern genially.

It took Marty a few seconds to reply; he was still slightly in shock.

"Wyvern, something terrible has happened. Jeff and Jeannie were shot at and now they're both in hospital!"

"Surely that's not so bad, Marty? Unless Mr. Randall was seriously injured, of course. It would have major ramifications for you if something caused you to loose touch with your Chosen One."

"Wyvern, I think Jeff might die." Marty burst into ghostly tears at the very thought of his friend dead. He began to understand what Jeff had felt when he had cried at Marty's funeral.

"Mr. Hopkirk," said Wyvern gently "do you believe that your friend will die?"

"I don't know, Wyvern, I really don't know. When I was down on earth and watching over Jeff when he was being operated on I got the feeling that I'd be seeing him here very soon. I don't want him to die, Wyvern!" Marty started sobbing quietly.

"All you can do Marty, is hope for the best and watch over Mr. Randall as much as you can," murmured Wyvern sadly. "Go to him, Marty."

The first thing that registered on Jeannie's senses was the beep of the monitor that watched over her heartbeat. Slowly other things crept in, like the smell of the flowers that were near her bed. As her brain got working again she began to wonder where she was. She could remember being in the office and talking to Jeff. They had decided to go out for lunch, hadn't they? More images went through her mind as she recalled the events leading up to the shooting. As she remembered that particular detail she gasped out loud. They had been shot at! In broad daylight! She remembered the car crashing as Jeff lost control and hearing his voice saying "Marty, I think I'm dying mate. Least now you'll be able to go to heaven..."

When she recalled that her eyes snapped open and she called out "Jeff?" An elderly nurse who had been in the ICU hurried over.

"Look who's awake then! The doctors will be ever so pleased that you've regained consciousness. We were a bit worried there for a while." The nurse's kindly face beamed down at Jeannie.

Jeannie moistened her lips before she tried speaking again. "What about Jeff? Where is he? Is he okay?" Jeannie was nearly stumbling over the words, she was trying to get them out so fast.

"Is Jeff the young man who was in the car with you?" the nurse asked, quite unnecessarily to Jeannie's mind.

"Yes." Jeannie nodded weakly.

"I'm not supposed to tell you anything. The doctor wants to be the one to talk to you."

Each word the nurse uttered was an icy knife stabbing into Jeannie's heart.

"He's not..." she couldn't complete the thought; it was too horrible to even think about.

"Oh my, I've really made you begin to worry, haven't I dear? Your friend's still with us" Jeannie relaxed her death grip on the bedclothes "but the doctor would like to talk to you. I'll just pop out now and tell him you're awake. I'll be back in a jiffy."

Jeannie watched the older woman slip out of the room. One thought kept on echoing through her mind. Jeff is alive but the doctor wants to talk. Jeff is alive but the doctor wants to talk. Jeff is alive but...

After a few minutes of this thought echoing through Jeannie's mind a young man in a doctor's coat followed the elderly nurse to Jeannie's bedside.

"Ah, Miss Hurst. You gave us all a nasty scare. How are you feeling?" asked the man who looked too young to be a doctor.

"I feel fine, really I do. I just want to know how Jeff is and where he is." Jeannie looked up at the doctor uncertainly.

"Was Jeff in the same car as you?"

"Yes! Why does everyone ask me that? I'd hardly be asking about someone else, would I?" Jeannie was really irritated but her worry for Jeff out-weighed her irritation.

"We just wanted to make sure, Miss Hurst. The incident only happened a short while ago and your family has yet to arrive. We found your wallet on you so we had no trouble identifying you but your friend had no ID on him. Jeff you said? Could you tell us his surname?"

"Randall, Jeff Randall. We work together at Randall and Hopkirk Deceased Security Services."

"Right. That should be enough for the moment. I can take John Doe off the medical charts," murmured the doctor to himself.

"But how is Jeff? Is he ok, doctor?" Jeannie's eyes begged the doctor for good news.

"Well, Miss Hurst, to be blunt you can probably guess. Mr. Randall bore the brunt of the attack the two of you suffered. He's been shot in the chest and legs. He banged his head on the steering wheel of the car and suffered a concussion and lost a lot of blood before the ambulance arrived. We had to operate when the two of you first arrived and we removed his spleen. At the moment it's pretty much touch and go, I'm afraid."

"Jesus, Jeff..." Jeannie's world nearly collapsed as she listened to the doctor cataloguing Jeff's injuries. A distant part of her mind wondered what exactly the spleen was for and why it always has to be removed after a car crash. She shook off these musings to ask the most important questions on her mind. "Where is he doctor? Can I see him?"

"Actually Miss Hurst, it won't be too difficult to see your friend. He's in the bed next to yours. Here, I'll just raise the front of your bed." As the bed was raised up Jeannie looked to her right and there was Jeff. Her heart nearly froze there and then. He looked like death. There was no colour in his face and there were tubes sticking out of him everywhere.

"It's a miracle that he's still alive," Jeannie whispered.

She spoke too soon. No sooner had the words left her mouth then Jeff suddenly flat lined. Alarms went off all around his bed and doctors rushed in to try to get his heart beating again. As a nurse ran by Jeannie heard her say that this was the fourth time Jeff had flat lined.

Jeannie was worried sick as she watched the activity around Jeff's bed. After what seemed like an eternity she heard the reassuring sound of Jeff's heartbeat. She heard another sound as well but at first she thought she was imagining it. It was a person giving out to Jeff! All the doctors and nurses had now left so she was sure that it was her imagination. Gradually she realised that she recognised the voice. It was Marty's!

Jeannie raised her head again to look over at Jeff's bed and sure enough, Marty was standing over Jeff and giving out to him!

"What do you think you're doing, Jeff? Do you really want to join me in the afterlife? I told you, it's really boring. It's much nicer down here. You can taste down here, and touch! I would do anything to be alive again, really I would. Besides, Jeannie needs you. You wouldn't do anything to upset Jeannie would you?" This question for some reason was accompanied by a significant look at the still figure in the bed.

"Marty?" Jeannie barely heard herself but the ghost looked straight at her. "Is that really you?"

"Jeannie, you can see me?"

"Yes, yes I can Marty," said Jeannie in a wondrous voice. "Are you real?"

"I'm a ghost, Jeannie. I've been haunting Jeff since just after I died. He is, or was, the only person on earth who could see me."

"And I thought he was going mad... But maybe it's me who's going mad. Maybe you're just a figment of my imagination."

"God, I went through all of this with Jeff! Doesn't anyone believe in ghosts anymore? It's not as though it's an alien concept," Marty said irritably. He was worried about Jeff and was now taking it out on Jeannie.

"I'm sorry Marty, but you're dead!"

"Doesn't mean I'm gone," Marty said touchily.

"No, I suppose not. But Marty; how come I can suddenly see you? I've never even suspected you were present before and now I'm talking to you. It's a bit odd, surely?"

"I'm not certain Jeannie but I suspect that it's as a result of your close brush with death. I'll have to ask Mr. Wyvern when I see him again."

"Who's Mr. Wyvern?"

"He's kind of a guide. He teaches me how to do things, how to control my abilities. He also gives advice and guidance," Marty explained to a captivated Jeannie.

There was a moment's silence as Jeannie absorbed all that had happened to her recently. As she gazed at Marty in his dazzling white suit she came to the realisation that she no longer loved him; or at least she didn't love him in a mature and adult sense. He was like the brother she never had to tease her. Looking across at Jeff in the adjacent bed she finally admitted to herself that she truly loved Jeff, that he was her soul mate and not just the friend that she kept on telling herself he was.

Marty, who had been looking at Jeannie the whole time, sighed. "You love him, don't you? And not just as a friend."

"I do believe so, Marty. This incident has just made me realise it. I love Jeff. He's everything I want in life and I don't think I could bear it if he died. I don't care if he doesn't return my love, I could take that. Just don't let him die!" Jeannie was nearly sobbing as she said that last sentence.

Marty looked at her and, surprisingly, felt no jealousy at the transference of her affections. He only felt sadness that he could not guarantee Jeff's continued existence.

Jeff was in a world of his own making. He had retreated into his subconscious mind and he wasn't aware of the outside world. Here he could do whatever he wanted and there was no more pain to be endured. He floated high in a cloud dotted sky.

Marty and Jeannie talked for hours as they watched over Jeff. They talked about the old days and all the adventures the three of them had had. Every so often a shadow would cross Jeannie's face as she remembered that very soon she might be the only living member of the trio.

"What do we do now, Marty? When Jeff gets better, I mean." She couldn't allow herself to think of the other possibility, that he wouldn't get better. "How are we going to handle things from now on?"

"I don't know, Jeannie. But we'll think of something, don't worry." Marty stared at Jeff in his bed. He looked so pale and worn, it was a wonder that he was still hanging onto life.

As he stared at his friend Marty noticed a ripple run through Jeff. He frowned for a second and then comprehension dawned. Sure enough, a few seconds later, alarms went off all around Jeff's bed as he flat lined yet again. Marty watched in fascination as the spirit of his friend left his body and floated just above the bed.

"Jeff? Can you hear me?" Marty asked tentatively. He was quite surprised when Jeff turned to look at him. A slight smile hovered around his lips.

"Hey Marty, this is fun, isn't it?" Jeff watched as the doctors and nurses scrambled around his bed as they tried to bring him back.

Jeannie, who had been struck dumb on seeing Jeff's spirit, finally found her voice.

"Jeff! Oh God, I..."

"Jeannie? You can see me?" Jeff asked in a puzzled tone of voice. "How's that possible?"

"Jeff, I don't know what's happened to her," Marty replied "but she can see me now, too."

"Oh. Well there you have it then. Marty and Jeannie, together again," Jeff said dejectedly.

"Jeff, what do you mean?" asked a puzzled Jeannie. She was concerned at the look she saw on Jeff's face. It looked like the light had gone out in his eyes, but why would that have happened? Nothing had changed, really.

Marty, who was a bit more attuned to Jeff's emotions, was reading his face like an open book.

"You don't have to worry, Jeff. I'm still a ghost so we can't get back together or anything. You'll still be getting the best parts of Jeannie." Marty was trying to be reassuring but Jeff just got more and more withdrawn from Marty and Jeannie. Marty suddenly realised that there was only one thing that could totally reassure Jeff now.

"Jeff, she loves you!" Marty said desperately.

Jeannie nodded vigorously to show her agreement.

Jeff just stared at them blankly.

"She loves me as a friend. She loves me like a brother. She has never loved me as a man and she never will. I can't take anything less anymore. I'm not strong enough..."

Jeff smiled sadly as he said this last bit and then his spirit vanished.

Jeannie gasped in horror and burst into tears. She didn't stop until she realised that the monitors hooked up to Jeff were bleeping again. She glanced up at Marty and shared a look of relief with him.

"Marty, what did Jeff mean when he said he couldn't take anything less anymore? I don't understand."

Marty sighed heavily. "Jeannie, I think there's something you should know about Jeff. You've obviously never noticed but Jeff has loved you for years. Ever since he met you, in fact. He never told you because of us. Even after I died he didn't say anything out of loyalty to me. And the fact that I wouldn't stop nagging him to leave you alone... For years it was enough for him just to be near you but that's obviously changed!"

Jeannie just stared at Marty in wonder.

"Jeff loves me? He really loves me? But how is it possible that I never noticed? I must be blind."

"He hid it from me too, Jeannie. I wasn't sure of his feelings until after I died and then I did everything I could to keep him away from you. I didn't want to loose the two of you to each other." Though if he was being truthful, Marty hadn't wanted to loose Jeff to Jeannie. Jeff was all he had had.

"Well, I have to return to limbo now, love," Marty said reluctantly. "You'll be alright, won't you?" Marty asked the slightly shell shocked Jeannie.

"Uh huh," Jeannie replied. She looked up at Marty and smiled. "I'll be fine, Marty."

When she glanced up again Marty was gone. She turned her stare on Jeff and gazed at him thoughtfully for some time.

Marty materialised in Wyvern's room. He looked around but he discovered that his mentor was no where in sight. He sighed heavily and sat down on one of the chairs that were a permanent fixture in the room. Alone with his thoughts he dwelled on the situation between Jeff and Jeannie.

As he thought about things with nothing to distract him he realised how much he minded the relationship that was forming between his best friend and his former fiancée. He had told Jeannie that he didn't mind but the truth of the matter was that he did mind. He minded a lot! With nobody to talk to his selfish streak was coming out again. He thought darkly about friends who stabbed you in the back when you were down.

It was just as well that Mr. Wyvern appeared in his room just then.

"Marty! How wonderful to see you again so soon. I trust Mr. Randall is doing well?" As he gazed down at his charge Wyvern realised that something was wrong with Marty. He hadn't even taken in the presence of his tutor. He was hunched over and by the look on his face he was not in a good mood.

Wyvern observed him for a few more moments before trying to catch Marty's attention once more.

"Mr. Hopkirk? Marty? MARTY!" Wyvern had to shout in his ear before Marty realised that he was there. Marty jumped off of the chair and started pacing around the room. Wyvern watched him cautiously for a minute; then decided that if he wanted to know what was wrong he would have to ask.

"What's troubling you, Mr Hopkirk?" Wyvern asked gently.

Marty stopped and glared at him for a few seconds then lowered his head and resumed his pacing. Eventually he stopped pacing altogether and stood in front of Wyvern.

"It's Jeff and Jeannie. Jeannie loves Jeff and he loves her but he doesn't believe that she loves him yet," Marty paused and ran that last sentence through his head again. Did it make any sense? He shook his head in irritation. It didn't matter, Mr. Wyvern would understand what he was saying. "I don't know, it must be a delayed reaction or something. When Jeannie told me that she loved Jeff I didn't feel jealous. I even tried to tell Jeff that Jeannie loved him. I think I was even happy for them. But now, ever since I came back up here, all I can feel is jealousy."

Marty looked at Wyvern, confusion written all over his face. Wyvern breathed in deeply then sighed. He walked over to the bookshelf. He selected a thick book and flipped through it briefly. The book made no difference to his reply but it gave him time to form his answer and make it as painless as possible.

"You'll have to learn, sooner rather than later I hope for your sake, that you should not envy the living. Do not make them feel guilty for moving on just because it is impossible for you to do so. Try to find contentment in the knowledge that your best friend and the woman you loved are happy and have found someone that they can share their lives with. Would you be this upset if they had found other partners?" Wyvern stared at Marty until he was forced to shake his head and look away. "You feel betrayed because they are together. I know that this won't be easy on you but try to accept this change. It'll be easier on you in the long run."

After a minute of reflection Marty disappeared back down to earth. It was only then that Wyvern realised what Marty had said.

"Jeannie told me she loved Jeff..." Wyvern murmured to himself. He was intrigued by the notion that Jeannie could now see Marty. "That'll make life interesting in the Randall household in the years to come!" Wyvern chuckled to himself then pulled out a book and settled back in one of the chairs to read.

When he returned to the hospital Marty discovered that Jeannie had been moved from the ICU. She was well enough now to be in the ward. Marty looked at her wan face and forcibly damped down the jealousy that he was starting to feel again. If he really loved Jeannie, and Jeff too, then he should try to be happy for them.

Jeannie looked up and saw Marty looking at her. She smiled sadly at him and was about to say something until she realised that there were other people present. She had more self-control than Jeff had in the beginning. She just settled for the smile.

Marty had no such inhibitions. "I'm just going to go up and see Jeff, make sure that he's ok." As Marty dematerialised Jeannie thanked him with her eyes as they glowed warmly at him.

Marty looked down at Jeff's face. It was still grey and drawn. Another ripple went through Jeff and the monitors bleeped madly. Marty was ready for Jeff's spirit as it left its body. He caught hold of Jeff and dragged him over to the bottom corner of the room, away from the frantic activity going on around Jeff's bed yet again.

"Now listen here Jeff, Jeannie really loves you," Marty stated passionately. He was a bit concerned as Jeff just stared back at him expressionlessly. He ploughed on regardless. "Do you think I would be saying this if it wasn't true? You know my feelings on this matter!" Jeff's expression changed to one of reflection.

"Marty, I realise that you're trying to help and I appreciate it, I really do, but I don't believe that Jeannie loves me. Maybe you think she does, maybe she even thinks she does but I know in my heart that the only reason she wants to be with me is because I remind her of you." Jeff gazed at the floor sadly. "I couldn't be happy with her, knowing that I'm a substitute for you."

Jeff's spirit suddenly disappeared like it had before and the beeping of monitors heralded his spirits return to his body.

Marty gazed at his friend in bemusement. It looked like he would have to prove to Jeff that Jeannie loved him. How the hell did you prove love? Marty shook his head in bewilderment. He returned to limbo with the beginnings of a headache.

Wyvern was still sitting in his chair when Marty reappeared in his room. He took one look at Marty's face and came to the conclusion that Marty still had some major problems.

"Welcome back, Mr. Hopkirk." Wyvern greeted Marty. "How are you feeling now?" He was glared at for his trouble.

"I've got a bloody headache. How can I have a headache? I'm dead for God's sake!" Marty paced back and forth across the room. Wyvern let him pace. He had learned that Marty usually couldn't keep things in for long.

"It's Jeff!" Marty exclaimed. "I've resolved my feelings on the matter. I've decided to be magnanimous, he can have Jeannie, I won't interfere. And d'you know what he says? 'I don't believe that she loves me.' I couldn't believe it! He seemed to think that she was using him as a substitute for me."

Wyvern indicated the chair across from his own. "I think you better sit down and go through the whole story, right from the start, Mr. Hopkirk."

When Marty was finished Wyvern just looked at him. After a few moments Marty started to fidget nervously like a child at school who's being stared at by a stern teacher.

"Let's see if I have this straight, shall I, Mr Hopkirk?" Wyvern leaned back in his chair. "Mr Randall is, quite understandably in my opinion, uncertain about Miss Hurst's sudden change in heart. He believes that as she can no longer have you she'll settle for him. Now, you believe that if her love is proved to Mr Randall then he'll get better and stop having his near death experiences. Am I right so far?" At Marty's nod he continued. "I agree with this idea. Mr Hopkirk. Your chosen one is between worlds at the moment and I believe that unless Miss Hurst's love can be proven to be unquestionable then you will no longer be alone in limbo. Good luck Marty."

Marty cleared his throat in embarrassment. He didn't have a clue how to go about it but Wyvern obviously expected him to know what to do.

After a few moments Wyvern sighed. "You don't know what to do, do you?" At Marty's shake of his head Wyvern sighed deeply again. "Think it through, Marty. Miss Hurst, because of her traumatic experience can now see you. She can also see the spirit of Mr Randall when he is out of his body."

Wyvern looked at Marty closely and could tell by the blank expression on his face that Marty didn't understand what Wyvern was getting at. He sighed again. "Did she see any other spirits, Marty?" Marty shook his head slowly. "Did you yourself see others in the hospital while she was looking at you?"

Marty thought back over the times he had been talking to Jeannie in the ICU and when he had briefly visited her in the ward. There had been others, powerless spirits stuck to the scene of their death, not accepting what had happened to them.

"There were others. I didn't really pay much attention to them. They seemed like they were part of the background."

Wyvern nodded slowly. "And did Miss Hurst see them? This is important Marty."

Marty thought back on it again. "No, she didn't see them at all. She only saw me and Jeff."

Wyvern smiled in satisfaction and looked at Marty expectantly. Marty shifted uncomfortably. "What difference does that make?" he asked in a puzzled tone of voice.

Wyvern rolled his eyes in exasperation. Whenever he thought he was making progress with Mary Hopkirk something happened to illustrate how far Marty had to go to becoming a sophisticated ghost.

"Marty, the reason that Miss Hurst can only see you and Mr Randall is that she needs a connection to the spirit in question. A very specific connection," Wyvern prompted gently. Marty still stared at him in confusion.

"She has to love the person to see them!" Wyvern exclaimed impatiently. "Not just any kind of love either. She had a deep love for you though that is no longer the case, however the resonance of that love is enough for her to see you now. Mr Randall is her soul mate. Their connection is so strong that she can see his spirit even though they have never been, how shall I say, intimate." Wyvern sat back in satisfaction. Marty stared at him for a few moments longer.

"So what you're saying is that if Jeannie didn't love Jeff then she wouldn't see his spirit? I mean, really deep, head over heals love?" Wyvern nodded at him.

"Oh." Marty said, then disappeared.

Jeff was floating through the sky again. His mind was fully occupied with thoughts of Jeannie. He wished that he could believe that she was in love with him but he had spent too long watching her loving, and then mourning, Marty Hopkirk. He could feel his will to live getting weaker with every day that passed. He almost welcomed death at this stage.

Time passed and Jeannie was discharged from the hospital. She went home to shower and change then returned to the hospital to be by Jeff's bedside. It had been weeks since the accident and Jeff seemed to have stabilised. He no longer went into arrest every few hours. However Jeff was still in a coma and the longer it lasted the less hope there was that he would come out of it. Jeannie almost wished that he would flat line again so that she could talk to him. She was also missing Marty. He had hardly talked to her since the last time Jeff had flat lined.

As if he had heard her wistful thoughts Marty chose that moment to materialise in the ICU. He gazed at her thoughtfully for several moments before he let her know that he was there.

"Hi Jeannie," he said softly. She jumped slightly then looked back at him and smiled softly. "Look, I've been thinking love," Marty said seriously. "And I think I've come up with a way for us to wake up Jeff."

"Do you really mean it Marty? We can bring him back to us?" Jeannie barely dared to believe it was possible after all this time that she would have a chance to be with Jeff.

"I think my plan will work but I can't guarantee anything." Marty didn't want to raise her hopes too high.

"Well, lets hear this plan of yours!" Jeannie said anxiously.

"First of all..."

"Are you ready Jeannie?" Marty asked anxiously.

"As ready as I'll ever be, Marty," Jeannie smiled grimly. She sat down next to Jeff in the uncomfortable chair the hospital had provided for visitors. She calmed her breathing and with Marty's help she went into a trance. She was able to astrally project her spirit in much the same way Jeff had done when he was flat lining. Jeannie stared around in wonder at first but then she remembered why she was doing this. She took one deep breath. "Ok Marty, bring us in."

Marty looked at her in concern but she seemed to be holding up alright. He murmured a quick prayer then concentrated on getting Jeannie and himself into Jeff's mind.

Jeff was sat in a corner of his own mind. It was very peaceful there and he had nothing to worry about; no Jeannie who didn't love him, no bills and no Marty appearing suddenly. He was totally relaxed and didn't want to leave the only haven he knew of. He suddenly got the feeling that he wasn't alone anymore. He turned his head and saw Marty and Jeannie appearing just behind him. He turned and waited for them to fully materialise.

"Jeff!" Jeannie exclaimed when she saw him. He was looking like he always did; fit and healthy instead of the way he looked in that hospital bed.

"Hello Jeannie," Jeff smiled gamely. "Hi Marty." Marty nodded back at him.

"Jeff, you've got to wake up!" Jeannie said passionately.

"Why?" Jeff had a puzzled look on his face. "Why should I want to do that? I mean, if I wake up then I have to start worrying about things again. I'll have to watch you pining for Marty and listen to him give out to me if I try to go near you. I'm sorry Jeannie but I'm tired of it. I just can't face things going on like that again. I'd rather stay here if it's all the same to you."

Now Jeannie was puzzled. "But don't you love me Jeff?"

Jeff looked at her patiently. "Of course I do Jeannie, I've loved you for years. But you don't love me. I believe that it's just because I nearly died that you think you're in love. It'll wear off in time Jeannie, don't worry." Jeff smiled at her again.

Marty was astounded that Jeff would so willingly reveal his feelings to Jeannie. He was trying to figure it out when he realised that they were inside Jeff's mind. Jeff had no reason to hide things in his own mind so everything he said was the plain and honest truth. Marty looked at Jeannie. She was starting to look a bit weary of trying to convince Jeff that she loved him. Marty realised that there was only one chance of convincing Jeff.

"Jeff, I can prove that Jeannie loves you!" Marty shouted desperately at his friend.

Jeff and Jeannie both looked at him in surprise. "How?" They asked in unison.

"You know that Jeannie can see me, right? And that she could see you when you were a spirit?" Jeff's face began to darken as Marty reminded him of that. "But what you don't know," Marty continued "is that she can only see the two of us. Wyvern explained it to me. She sees me because she loved me and that created a bond, but she sees you because she loves you deeply. The forever after kind of love!" Jeff gazed at Marty for a few moments without seeming to take in the enormity of what he had just said. Then his face broke into a huge grin and he turned his head to look at Jeannie.

"Is that true?" Jeff asked hopefully.

"Yes, it is!" Jeannie cried. "I wouldn't lie to you Jeff."

Suddenly Marty and Jeannie felt a tremor go through them. Next thing they knew they were in the hospital room again. Jeannie ran over to Jeff's side and for a moment nothing seemed to happen but then all of a sudden the bleeping of the machines changed. A moment later a nurse ran in through the door. She took one look at the monitors and gasped. She then ran out of the room again. Jeannie was holding Jeff's hand in hers when a doctor came into the room accompanied by the same nurse that had been in and out a few minutes earlier. The doctor looked at the monitors and his tense face relaxed into a smile.

"Good news, Miss Hurst! Your friend is out of his coma. He's sleeping normally now and should wake up in a few hours." Jeannie turned a relieved face on the doctor. She smiled gratefully at him them turned back to watch over Jeff.

A few hours had passed when Jeff opened his eyes for the first time in weeks. It took him a while to get used to the brightness of the room but when he could focus his eyes properly again the first thing he saw was Jeannie leaning over him with a huge smile on her face.

"Hi Jeannie," Jeff said in a low voice.

"Hi Jeff," Jeannie replied. She then leaned over him and gave Jeff a huge kiss. Jeff grinned at her.

"I guess I wasn't dreaming then," he said hesitantly.

"No Jeff, it wasn't a dream." Jeannie smiled at him warmly.

Jeff suddenly looked panicked as more memories came back to him.

"The shooter? What about him?"

"It's ok, Jeff. The shooter was caught weeks ago while I was still recovering. From the information I gave the police thanks to Marty they were able to catch him in a few days. Best of all, they also got Peter Kensington. The shooter sold him out as part of a deal with the police."

"The shooter was working for Kensington? But why shoot at us so soon?" Jeff asked in a puzzled voice.

"It seems that Kensington was having our friend Mr Smith followed. When he was told that Smith had employed private detectives he panicked and ordered that we be gotten rid of. The irony of it all is that if Kensington hadn't panicked he probably would still be free now! The police hadn't a clue that he was involved in anything criminal. And the best part for us is that Mr Smith paid us twice the amount of our agreed upon fee because he felt so bad about us being shot at."

"I wonder what we'll do with the extra bit of cash," Jeff mused to himself.

"Well, it'd go a long way towards an engagement party," Jeannie grinned cheekily at Jeff.

"An engagement party? Who's getting engaged?" Jeff asked with a twinkle in his eye.

Jeannie shook her head and laughed.

Marty, who had chosen that moment to materialise in Jeff's hospital room, took in the scene then decided to make himself scarce again. He was happy for them and was relieved that Jeff had finally woken up from his coma.

Jeannie sat down on the edge of Jeff's bed and gave him another big kiss. She snuggled into him and said "Think of all we would have missed out on if you had died, Jeff."