Months past and the trial they all knew had to come … came and was to be held out of town.
The Trial Judge was of the old school had a mind of his own when it came to lawyers and DAs and decided to hear all episodes as one case and that nothing could be left out by either side. The DA sighed knowing this would take a while and it would not be the short case they'd hoped for.
After the jury had been sworn in the DA insisted Tyus gave his evidence about Derek's power over Ben regarding the headaches and the possible life threat. On close questioning he had to agree that there was no firm medical proof, it was only Ben's say so. The Judge nodded noting his concerns and promised to keep it in mind and expected no tricks from either side as they would be counted against them. He then looked round the court and eyeing the members concerned explained that having a witness on a tv screen would make things look and feel like a soap opera therefore everyone would appear in this court so that the jury could get a real feel of what was supposed to have happened between the accused and the twin.
So the past years were put under the microscope and the murders on the island were remembered and the police statement that they thought Grogon had committed the murders as well as the fact they had no hard proof that Derek did them were read and churned over. Tim's statement about Mark's last words, and the injuries to Derek caused by Tim were supplemented by notes found in Tim's room covering the months up to his death and helped to shed light on some points and shed light on why he died.
These fragmented notes led to the speculation being tossed around by the defence that it was Tess who actually killed Tim and was now blaming Derek for it to save her own skin. As Eddie's part in the kidnapping was brought to light so was his murder and the fact it was still an open through lack of evidence. And it was left to the DA to reiterate that Derek had the most to lose should either Eddie or Tim had gone public on what was or had happened then or they wanted more for their silence so was a threat the group and had to be disposed of. As the twins had the same DNA that evidence got twisted till the Judge got tired of it and put it to one side.
Understandably a ripple of shock had gone through the jury as they heard the past history; the kidnappings, murders, the deceit, the phone message, saw the videos of Seattle, at Dana's Point, and the photos of Ben's injuries.
They were relieved when it was clear that Ben had recovered because Meg using her married name and obviously expecting took the stand and gave her evidence. She gained their respect particularly when she remained calm as the defence lawyers tried to twist her actions to their advantage as they went through her past with Ben.
Through it all Derek, Maria, Jake and Tubs sat silent showing little or no emotion, they had refused to make clear statements against one another or about anything that had happened. When it was clear none of them were going to take the stand the Judge eyed them and insisted that their statements as confusing or boring with 'No Comments' would be read out by the officers who took them.
After that Tess who'd pleaded guilty to some charges was escorted into the court to give her statements against the other accused. She faltered at first then carried on and the Judge warned the accused lawyers to stop harassing this witness and at the end told her to leave the court but she would return at the end of the trail for sentencing.
Now as the case was drawing to a close there was a mixture of relief and anticipation as everyone waited for Ben to take the stand. As they waited from his advantage point John hoped they had covered all angles, each day everyone had been searched on entry as the Judge insisted that there would only be the usual guards and that non of the accused would be shackled as that would be prejudging the outcome.
The doors opened and Ben walked through the court to take the Stand beside the Judge. As he did John felt the ripple of surprise that ran through the people in the courtroom and realised they had expected a victim to enter. Someone who felt threatened and unsure of himself, but Ben wasn't that, he walked in, smart, handsome, very much in control of himself and with a friendly aura.
John noted the twins wore the same coloured shirt and type of trousers and not the standard white shirt and dark trousers and as neither had been in contact with the other it had to be a twin thing. He also realised that most of the people in the court hadn't seen the twins together and were surprised to see they were actually identical.
When Ben passed Meg, who was siting in an aisle seat, no one could miss the love and strength that passed between them as they smiled a brief greeting to each other.
John could see both twins and noticed the subtle change in Derek as soon as Ben had entered the court. It was more a sense of alertness and tension he picked up from the twin and it reminded him of a cat who waiting in the shadows had just spotted it's prey and was now sitting absolutely still for the right moment to pounce, knowing a movement would give everything away. He saw Maria lean over and whisper something to Derek and got no obvious reaction, he also noticed that neither brother looked or acknowledge the other and hoped Ben was not getting the headache Derek could give him.
He felt the tension rise in his body, it was the same kind that he had when he sent an agent into a very dangerous situation. And knew without a doubt that this was what Derek had been waiting for - a chance to get close to his brother again and to finish the job off properly this time. As Derek was unarmed he knew there was only one way Derek could achieve it.
Ben stayed focused as he took the Stand and was sworn in then sat and looked into the well of the court. He knew his brother was there but ignored him and was relieved but also a little worried that there wasn't a splitting headache that he'd expected knowing his brother could get to him that way. There was instead a slight ache, which he'd had on waking and knew that was just normal tension, just like anyone else facing the court. He concentrated on answering the questions by both lawyers and the DA regarding his treatment in Seattle as well as everything else.
Through out it all his quiet charm and control was not lost on the press or court as a whole.
As Ben finished feeling as though he'd been there for days rather than an hour or more everyone relaxed and the Judge gave a nod of satisfaction, knowing he had been right to make Ben take the Stand here in court. He knew everyone had understood the fear he must have felt and saw how he had coped and knew without a shadow of doubt what the verdicts would be in spite of the defence lawyers twists and turns. He would have liked to have had the other twin take the stand to see if he was as calm as this one as well as having the other put through the mill to see their reactions. He knew he couldn't and nodded again to indicate that Ben could step down and the lawyers and DA would realise the summing up was next.
The court room was silent and John saw Meg was on edge and could not blame her, it had not been easy to hear it all again from Ben's point of view. Trusting his gut feeling he kept watching Derek as Ben got up to step down from the Stand.
Taking a step away from the Stand Ben shook his head once to clear the splitting headache that had suddenly come on.
As he did so there was a quiet short sharp command from across the court room that cut across the silence. "Time to die Ben."
It took a moment for people to register what and who had said it recognising the voice that should have come from the person who'd just been on the Stand.
In that moment Ben stumbled, put a hand to his head, gasped and collapsed unconscious onto the floor.
It was that quick ... that easy.
Just as he landed on the floor, Meg got out of her seat and started to walk quickly towards him, feeling dread and everything else but trying to keep command and love in her voice as she called out. "Ben listen to me! It's Meg stay with me! Ben listen to me. It's Meg stay with me! ....."
The guard nearest Derek on the other side of the court automatically moved towards Ben as he fell and in doing so passed Derek.
As soon as the guard was moving Derek was ready knowing it would happen and was out of his seat getting the guard from behind and grabbing for the guard's gun. It was now or never … all or nothing.
Maria had also been waiting and moved towards the other guard to keep him out of Derek's way and give them another hostage. The guard saw the movement and turned to meet the threat.
The guard that Derek was using as a shield was shorter and heavier build than Derek, and started to drop as a dead weight. Knowing his job and thereby leaving Derek's chest exposed.
In that short time John, brought out his gun and aimed for Derek's chest and fired. He knew a head shot would be difficult and dangerous there were people behind Derek and the guard. Leg shot impossible too many of them.
As the bullet left his gun he fleetingly hoped he would miss the guard and prayed that Tyus was right that Derek would lose control if dead or unconscious and would not take Ben with him.
Derek staggered, let go of the guard and collapsed bleeding and gasping for air and feeling the pain start to cloud his mind.
The guard rolled clear and stayed down, checking for his gun and watching Derek. He knew getting up could cost his life so staying down and watching to move later was better.
As John watched gun still aimed he remembered Ben's words in the early hours of the morning when they had met in hotel corridors because neither of them could sleep properly. "When Derek tries something, don't miss and help Casey look after Meg if it goes wrong." He'd said it quietly, not in fear; it was a statement giving him (John) permission to do whatever he had to do and accept whatever happened without guilt.
As soon as Derek was shot Maria had collapsed in tears calling his name and went to him the guard she had knocked over forgotten. The guard knowing the dangers made sure he was okay before getting up in such a way he could act if need be. The other two accused and lawyers sat still knowing a movement could cost them their lives.
From the other side of the courtroom keeping out of the line of fire Dr Richards who had been with Tyus, moved towards Derek, Tyus and Sara followed Meg to Ben. Both doctors wore protective jackets and had taken small first aid kits with them, just in case and knew what to do.
The Judge sat silent shocked but alert and when it was obvious to him it was safe tried to clear the court with an order. But no-one moved or made a sound they sat quietly waiting ... hoping. The doors opened and the paramedics came in quickly and after a while it became clear to everyone that Derek had died.
On the other side of the court Tyus and a paramedic were still trying to revive Ben. Meg sat awkwardly beside him holding his hand talking to him.
As he watched a stray thought flashed through John's mind, 'all it needed now was for the baby to come early and then there would be utter chaos.'
He felt a hand on his shoulder; it was Casey with a police officer and he came back to what he had to do and done. Knowing it had been the only thing to do he gave the officer his gun, and then walked with Casey out of the aisle so that the stretcher could come through. He realised that time had slowed only in his mind it had only taken a few minutes and remembered the way the group had insisted they staying together. It was as if they were protecting and getting strength from each other, now they were back together again giving Ben strength he needed.
As he and Casey approached the group he saw Tyus looking concerned moved back from Ben, saying something to quietly Meg before he moved back and removed Ben's breathing mask. For one moment John thought the worst had happened and felt his heart sink. But then that flicker of hope as he saw Ben move slightly, then open his eyes and look towards Meg and started to say something. He saw Tyus look over towards Derek and give a yes answer and knew what had been asked and felt relieved – they had been right Derek couldn't take Ben with him.
They joined the group Casey went to Sara and in doing so touched Ben's shoulder and said a quiet word and saw the nod from Ben. John didn't want to intrude but knew Ben wanted him close so he stayed to one side still getting over the shock he always felt when a person was killed. He watched Ben as he tried to get up and saw Tyus put a hand on his shoulder to slow him down and quietly insisted he sat on the floor. He was not surprised it didn't take much persuading to keep Ben where he was and that Ben put his arms around Meg and knew it was a case of protection and getting strength as the paramedics had now transferred Derek's onto the stretcher and were ready to take him out of the court room.
As the body passed them Ben was still coming to terms with what had happened and felt the deep sadness and lose. He knew also it was mingled with relief that it was over and he hoped that his brother though bad was going to find peace. He looked at the shroud and quietly said goodbye and felt Meg's reassuring hand over his and felt her love again.
Then he felt another hand on his shoulder and heard Tyus's quiet voice telling him it was all right to get up now and then sit on the chair and he wanted him in hospital for a check up. He nodded and said firmly. "South Bay not the one here." he wanted to go home and be with Meg and their family.
Tyus nodded happy with that.
As Ben steadied himself he knew John was beside and looked at him and could see the pain and said quietly. "Thank you. I know it was hard for you … in some ways I think it was for the best. He can't hurt anyone or be hurt."
John nodded and helped him sit down, the group gradually dispersed ready to collect the cars for the journey home.
The court room was quiet now that a distraught Maria had been lead away, the people still sat and waited and the Judge looked at them and said. "This court will be adjourned till the morning when the closing speeches and verdict will be heard. Members of the press you know what went on here and so do the views so don't make a meal of it."
Everyone quietly left the court knowing there would be a lot to talk about it had gone out on the local court television channel and would have been on the other channels as soon as Ben had collapsed.
The next morning in court there was an air of anti-climax, after all nothing could top what had happened yesterday. The press and tv crews tutted with annoyance as they realised Ben and Meg were not there they had tried the hotel and got no joy and thought they would be here. The annoyance turned to worry as they realised that Casey and the FBI officer and team were they only ones there. Then their attention was taken as the defendants and lawyers walked in and took their seats. Everyone noted that it was just the two men and Tess and started debating whether Maria was still too distraught to attend and would be given details of her sentence in her absence. Everyone knew what the outcome would be regardless of the summing up.
The Jury and then Judge arrived and shushed everyone with a look as he sat down he waited a moment for complete silence then said gravely. "Mr and Mrs Ben Evans are all right and will not be attending the court. Members of the Press once you leave this court you will leave this family totally alone. Members of the Jury the closing speeches from both parties will include Derek and Maria's part in this affair, but you need to deal with the guilt or otherwise of the other defendants.
It is with regret that I have to inform you and this court that this morning that Maria Torres died in her sleep during the night. There were no signs for foul play or suicide and there will be a post-mortem carried out later today. This must not cloud your minds as you come to your conclusion."
As the buzz went round the court, John remembered what Maria had said about Meg being Ben's rock and that Ben would not have survived her death. And wondered if Derek had been Maria's rock and she had been fighting not only for her love but her life. Everyone started to settle down again and he caught Casey's eye and saw a nod and realised he'd most probably been thinking the same and knew Ben and Meg would be closely watched by family and friends.
The speeches from the lawyers were short and the jury did not take long to come to a guilty verdict in all cases. The Judge told them that in view of the circumstances the length of the prison sentences and where would be announced at a later date and added the two men would face other charges for previous crimes.
John and Casey sighed and looked at each other, it was what they had wanted and hoped for and then waited till everyone left the court before making their way back to Sunset Beach.
A week later, the police made sure that the small family funeral was kept private. Father Antonio took the service while Ben, Carmen and Ricardo watched as Maria and Derek were laid to rest side by side, next to Maria's father.
A couple of months later family and friends gathered at Ben's house to welcome the proud parents home from hospital with their baby daughter Sophia Joan Evans, named after the two grandmothers.
Six months later, there was a grand exodus of the Cummings, Mitchums and Evans families as they all went to Europe for a holiday to celebrate a new beginning. Joan got her drive round Paris in the red convertible with Hank. Meg, Ben and Sophia had their trip to Venice and Sara and Casey enjoyed exploring everywhere.
Sophia was joined a year later by John Richard Evans, named after the people who had saved Ben's life and were now firm friends (Tyus was godfather to both children). The children were pure mischief and had good looks that melted people's hearts and the whole family had a connection that meant they knew when the others were in trouble. Sara and Casey took the fast track and had twins a boy and a girl and Hank and Joan well they enjoyed being the doting grandparents.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it … Would love to know what you thought of it.
(Wrote in 2000 and revised 2006)