Eli woke up in the hospital bed. He could remember a few things, and the rest was fuzzy.
Nate said he was just like dad. Eli remembers his heart pounding in his chest, ringing in his ears, and then he saw an expression on Nate so drastically different from the loathing that was there moments before. He felt the cool trickle from his nose, and brought his hand up to wipe it away. Nate ran to the phone and dialed 911 as Eli fell into the couch. His eyes closed, his breathing slowed, Nate was looking at him from his kitchen counter and was running over to him. "Eli, stay with me, Eli…"
Eli looked around the ambulance. Nate was holding his hand, he had something in his nose, and an oxygen mask covering part of his face. Sweat was trickling down his forehead, but for a moment he thought it might have been blood. His heart started racing as he wondered what was going on. The ambulance stopped, and two young paramedics pulled him out on the stretcher. His eyes were only part of the way open, making everything else a blur—Nate's face, the red lights of the ambulance, the pale white lights coming from within the hospital doors. He went out of consciousness again.
While he was off in another world, he saw his dad. "He doesn't mean it, Eli". He was twelve years old. Nate had just yelled at Eli for not caring about him because he had spilled milk all over Nate's new comic book. "Come here." His dad told him to sit next to him on the couch. He gave him enough money to go buy Nate another comic book. "Go when I take him to the game tomorrow." Eli felt upset too. His dad always took Nate. "Why can't I go?" "You don't even like them. We can go skating sometime." Eli knew that wasn't likely. His dad drank too much to skate hardly at all. At a baseball game, being drunk was almost encouraged.
Eli came to for a moment when Nate was signing something. "I won't sign the DNR." Nate told the doctor, glancing over at Eli. He had almost killed his brother six months ago. That wasn't going to happen again. The doctor took the forms.
This time was different than last time. There was no near death experience, although it was a very dangerous experience. Eli was alive the whole time. The surgery went smoothly, the aneurysm was mostly fine.
"Eli." This time he woke up to a room with just his brother. "The others are in the waiting room. I thought I should talk to you… about… something." Nate had a slightly crazed look in his eye, like the first and only time he had gotten a vision and told Eli about it. Eli smiled weakly. "Now, Nate?" Nate nodded. He was now up, standing next to his brother's bed. "The doctor's say you're very lucky… they say that a blood clot, caused by the aneurysm, was caught between the blood-brain barrier and your skull. They say that if you hadn't gotten the bloody nose, you would have died within a day or two."
Eli watched his brother, confused. "What does that have to do with anything?" He was mumbling, sounding a bit nasally because of the oxygen tubes in his nose.
Nate smiled. "If we hadn't been arguing… if all this with Beth hadn't happened, if I hadn't said you were like dad… you'd be dead." Eli tried to process this, but he wasn't quite getting the connection. Nate smiled broadly, and his eyes sparkled with repressed tears. "Eli, your blood pressure sky rocketed because of our fight. That caused the blood to flow too quickly to get through the area that was clotting. That caused the excess blood to bleed from your nose."
Eli looked at his brother, understanding. The argument saved his life. "Should I thank you, then, for everything?" Eli wasn't exactly fond of the big guy up stairs at the moment. Things had gotten so bad between him and his brother, and he had almost died, or he thought he had.
"No… well, maybe. Eli, I'm not sorry about being upset. You would be too." He took a deep breath. "But, I am sorry that I… that I said what I did." Eli shook his head. "Nate, even when you try to hurt me, you save my life. Don't apologize. You don't need to." He smiled, a strong, healthy smile. Nate wiped his eyes. "Do you want to see anyone?" Nate rested his hand on Eli's shoulder as he asked him. Eli looked up at him.
He was about to ask for Maggie, when he got a vision:
George Michael walked into his hospital room, wearing a dark grey suite with a soft blue shirt underneath. He looked at Eli, then motioned for him to follow. Suddenly the two were standing in a huge house, George Michael at the piano singing the following lyrics as a scene unfolded.
well it looks like the road to heaven
but it feels like the road to hell
when I knew which side my bread was buttered
I took the knife as well
posing for another picture
everybody's got to sell
A young man runs down the stairs, an older man yelling from the top of the stairs. "Damnit, Jeremy, you need to do this! You need to! They are counting on you!"
but when you shake your ass
they notice fast
and some mistakes were built to last
that's what you get
I say that's what you get
that's what you get for changing your mind
and after all this time
I just hope you understand
sometimes the clothes do not make the man
"Do, dad, I'm done with this lie!"
I'll hold on to my freedom
may not be what you want from me
just the way it's got to be
lose the face now
I've got to live
"Jeremy, you're going to make a difference!"
"Not if I walk away!" The young man left the room.
Eli was back in his hospital bed. "No, Nate. I need to rest and get back to the office." His brother smiled. "It was a vision, right?" Eli simply nodded, but it was obvious from his face that he didn't feel up to talking about it just yet. "Ok, I'll tell them you're ok and tell the nurse to keep people out of here."
"Thanks." Eli laid his head back on his pillow and stared at the ceiling until he fell asleep.
*TWO WEEKS LATER*
Eli walked in, avoiding Patti which was getting harder to do in the small firm. "ELI!" He heard her call, and hurried up the stairs, calling down. "Meeting, with Jordan, new client!" Patti shook her head, holding Eli's coffee mug and resting her free hand on her hip.
Eli entered Jordan's office. Jordan stood up, looking at Eli with a smile. Eli knew that smile well enough. It was an "one of us almost died but didn't" smile. He knew it from the first time he woke up after major surgery, and then again when he had saved Jordan's life. Three times is more than enough of that smile.
"Eli, glad to see you back and ready for more." Jordan would have given him a hug if he wasn't so professional. Eli nodded, smirking. "Can't get rid of me sir. So, new case?" Jordan nodded. "Yes, a Mr. Jeremy Stiels."
Eli stared at Jordan, mouth slightly open. Jordan raised an eyebrow "Yes, Eli?"
"Nothing sir." He replied quickly.
"It's Jordan, Eli. We talked about this. And you need to keep it in mind when we meet with our new clients. They want to know a competent partner is taking on their case." Jordan's tone was a bit more casual than usual, but there was still something stern in it that Eli couldn't help but feel inferior.
Eli smiled. "Right. Where is he?" "Waiting for you in the conference room." Jordan's eyes trailed Eli out of the room. He smiled, this time more of an I wish you were my son sort of smile, but Eli didn't catch it.
Eli entered, seeing the young man from his vision. "Hello, Mr. Stiels." The young man shook Eli's hand. He was dressed nicer than he had been in the dream. Instead of washed jeans and a dark red button up shirt, he was now clad in a beige suite and a light green shirt with a dark green tie. Eli half-expected Jeremy Stiels to say "Please, call me Jeremy" but he didn't. Eli wanted to know who exactly he was dealing with. In his vision, he looked like any young man. Now, he looked purely professional. Business man? Lawyer?
"How can I help you, Mr. Stiels?" Eli took a seat at the conference table. He was glad to be back at work, yet curious to see how his vision would play out this time around.
"I'm suing my father's party." Eli raised an eyebrow. He wasn't sure how some rich young man suing a group of family friends could help. Was this guy just some snob? Why then should he be helped?
"Party?" Eli asked.
"His political party, Mr. Stone." Jeremy looked at Eli, an eye brow raised. Eli nodded.
"What happened?" Eli looked intrigued now, resting his elbows on the table.
"Well, my father was a congressman in Oklahoma. I'm now running for office by the same backers he had next year." Jeremy was talking like a man who could command a crowd. Eli's vision about 'Live Brave' came to his mind, but he let it drift quietly away. "They don't want me to come out until after I leave office." Eli raised an eyebrow, "You mean you're—" "Gay. Yes Mr. Stone."
"I'll see what I can do, Mr. Stiels." Eli stood to shake his hand.
"Thank you, Mr. Stone. This means a lot to me." For the first time, Jeremy seemed almost personal. Eli nodded. "I know." It wasn't Eli's first time with a case that was close to the heart of those he represented. It seemed his visions always brought him into people's lives rather than bringing money to his pocket book. Eli returned to his office to start rummaging through case files.
Maggie followed Matt around the second floor of Posner & Klein. "Come on, Matt. It's high profile! You love that stuff."
Matt turned a corner, quickening his pace. "No, Maggie. I have enough cases for now, thank you. I don't need to continue with your humanitarian efforts. That is why I decided to leave, remember?"
Maggie thought about why she decided to leave for a moment – Eli. The last time she had seen him, they had fought about the "tricks she pulled" in the courtroom, as he put it. The thought was forced out of her mind, however, when she glanced at the blue envelope in her hand. "It isn't just humanitarian. It's politics."
"Isn't everything?" Matt's snarky comment went unanswered as Maggie persisted. "Come on, Matt. It's about the up and coming congressman Jeremy Stiels." Matt paused, and looked over at Maggie. "Mr. Stiels wants us to represent him?" Maggie's smile faltered for a moment. "Not exactly… his political party wants us to."
"On behalf of him?" Matt raised an eyebrow, his eyes were piercing Maggie for a moment, as though he already knew the answer. "Well, no. They are challenging him."
Matt smirked. "Ok."
"Really? I thought you liked Jeremy?" Matt shook his head. "Can't stand him. But you're right, this is high profile." He took the folder and entered his office, closing the door in the middle of Maggie's "Thank you!"
Eli checked his cell phone. "Nate" read across the screen. He answered. "What?" "Eli… have you thought about it? About what I said?"
Nate had told Eli before he went back to work that he would need to get regular check ups from now on. The amount of time that Eli already spent in the hospital had been enough for him. "Yes, Nate." "Good, so see you this Friday?" "No." "Eli! Come on, you know you need to." Nate was sitting at his desk in his nice new apartment, feel up on the smooth wood top. "Nate, stop telling me what I need to do. I need to get to work on this case. I have a meeting. Bye." "Eli…" Eli hung up. Nate hung up his phone. Someone needed to speak some sense into his brother and quick.
Eli had not thought about what Nate said in the hospital. He made up his mind then and there that if he was going to die, then it would be something sudden. If God had something more for him, then he would live to do what needed to be done. Wasn't that the way with all the prophets? He had re-read Jonah's story. God saved him by being eaten by a giant fish for three days. He went from a storm, to a fish belly, to an enemy country. Yet, God's way prevailed. Maybe he was just a bully after all, but still, whether Eli liked it or not, God's way prevailed.
Maggie and Dowd sat on one side of the table with two elderly men, Eli and Jeremy on the other.
"Of course we'd go up against you. Another plot, you know. Another trick." Eli looked dismayed to see Maggie against him, and this slightly cruel comment of his felt completely justified.
"No. I chose this one. I had no clue who the opposition even was when I chose this case." Maggie stared at Eli, willing him dead with her eyes.
Matt chuckled only slightly awkwardly. "Look, Jeremy, these are your backers. Don't you think you owe them?" Jeremy stared at Matt. "Mr. Stiels." Eli interjected, before Jeremy's reply. "Don't you think the voters deserve to know about a homosexual running for office?" He stared at the two old men. One was looking down at his thumbs, the other staring back at Jeremy.
"Why? They don't know that politicians cheat on their wives. They don't know that so-and-so is in the middle of a divorce. They don't know a lot of things. Only your politics matter, Jeremy." Eli gave up this time. Jeremy wasn't fighting to be respected, not here. It seemed a bit intimate already. Eli glanced at the man staring down, and realized who he was. "And you, Mr. Stiels?" Eli asked the man. Jeremy's father looked up. His eyes found those of his son. "We don't want to fight you, son. We just want you to keep it a secret until you leave office. We just want you to—"
"To hide it, dad?" Jeremy glared at him. "Yes." His father replied shamefully. "Why?" Jeremy persisted. "So you can manipulate me into doing what you want?" "No, Jeremy, so people will listen."
"If they don't listen now, I don't want them to listen ever." Jeremy retorted, and left the room. Eli looked at Maggie, then at Mr. Stiels. "We'll be taking you to court. Your party. Those who back this." Eli walked out after Jeremy. Maggie stood up and followed while Matt turned to his clients to explain what would happen next.
"Eli!" Maggie chased after him. "Eli, please." Eli stopped, and turned around. "What? Do you want to argue with me again? You always think I want to argue with you Maggie. I don't. For once, I'd like you to be on my side."
Maggie looked at him. "Your side, Eli? Like I have been from the beginning?"
Eli shook his head. "Not personally, professionally. You always challenge everything I do. When will it stop?"
"This isn't about you, Eli. This is about the case."
"My point exactly!" Eli had one hand resting on his hip now, the other motioning in front of him.
" Jeremy could do a lot of good. His political party does a lot of good. People listen to him." She pleaded.
"Except his own father, his campaign manager, you." Eli's words cut deep. Maggie was tired of his accusations. She believed he could see things, but she also believed in depending what she thought was right. She didn't share his visions. How could she know what he saw?"
Eli stared at her. "What did you want?" He said, his voice tired and slightly apologetic.
"Nothing." She was frowning now, her bright eyes a little duller than normal. She was starting to lose the spring in her step, the laughter in her voice. She was starting to lose to the twisted ways of Posner and Klein.
"Maggie…" Eli wanted to apologize for everything, but couldn't find the words. "Maggie… can we get coffee some time, to talk. Outside of cases and away from work, like we might have in the past to take a break?" He tried to smile, but he knew what he was asking. He wasn't asking for a date, like she might have wanted. He wasn't asking to be just friends, either. He was asking for them to trust each other, and she had lost that ability when he kissed her and never followed up.
"Maybe." She mumbled. "I'm glad you're better. Thanks for telling me, by the way." She turned and left, meeting up with Matt to drive back to Posner and Klein. Eli watched her walk away. She had been the only person he wanted to see when he woke up, but then he had a vision and it was back to The Big Guy's plan. He was getting tired of all of his desires being back seat. He wanted to drive his own life. He went back to working on the case in his office.
Eli was working late. Everyone else had gone home, except for Jordan. It seemed that since his divorce, he spent more time at the office than even during the separation. Eli took a drink of coffee, and pretty soon he was holding it while looking out over a crowded room listening to him speak. He glanced at the coffee, and it was a Styrofoam cup with water in it. He set it down at the pulpit, and glanced over his right shoulder. He could see next to him signs that said "Jeremy Stiels for Senator." Eli snapped back. He smiled and yelled "Yes!" They won! Not only did he win this case, but Jeremy went on to become a Senator after serving in the House of Representatives! Eli smiled, and decided that the affirmation was enough for him to go get some sleep. As he was walking out of his office, he shouted in the empty building "Good night, Jordan!" "Night Eli!" Came the reply. Eli smirked and practically skipped to his car.
Jordan, meanwhile, was playing a game of solitaire while skimming case files. He was working with a privately owned company that wanted to build a clinic on government land.