They were watching. Each and every one of them. Believe me, trust me. Eli's words were hanging in the air, drenched with the same earnestness and desperation that was laced through his expression as he too, watched.
But Taylor's mind was on her father. Her father, buried underneath hundreds of pounds of stone and dust, slowly suffocating, slowly starving, slowly bleeding, slowly dying. And without a thought besides the image of her father, the words sprang from her mouth, natural and easy (because it was so hard to say otherwise):
"I can't," she whispered. Eli's face slowly fell, his eyes filled with some terrible pain—
Unable to watch, she turned away, into Matt's arms, and he led her down the steps of the courthouse.
She couldn't believe. She just couldn't.
Eli spent the next 7 hours calling everyone—the fire department, architects, judges, construction crews, the mayor. Taylor didn't know what he said to them. She couldn't find it in herself to ask, to care. Eli had burned his bridges in that courtroom, making sure the whole damn world knew he was slowly spiraling away from reality. He had announced to the open air that he believed his visions were from God, (What had he said? Divine power?) sounding like yet another crazy religious megalomaniac passing himself off as a prophet.
Follow me. Believe me. I will show you the way.
Four days passed. 96 hours. 5760 minutes. Painful, foggy, as if she had been walking in a dream.
She got the call.
She knew what he would say even before she heard the words. The sympathetic sentiments, the gentle tone, they all passed her by. All she heard were the facts.
We found your father.
He was in the stairwell.
I'm sorry, Ms. Wethersby, for your loss.
Dehydration, accompanied with complications from a head trauma. Yes, they had found him. But too late.
Eli wisely (probably at the advice of someone much wiser) stayed as far away from Taylor as possible. She didn't want to see him. Her heart already ached far, far too much. Trust me. Believe me.
Her father had believed him. Her father had loved Eli. His son, the one who changed the firm, made them all 'see'. Jordan Wethersby would have never doubted him.
And that thought brought even more pain.
Matt found him after work, in the late hours, while Eli was working on another pro bono case with Maggie Dekker. Taylor had brushed him off yet again, distant, distraught. As much as Matt liked to think of himself as a 'roll-with-the-punches' kind of guy, there was only so much he could take. Taylor was in too much pain, not only from her father's passing, but from what she could have done (and didn't do) to stop it.
Eli found himself halted by a sudden wrenching of his shoulder. He looked down, saw a hand, and looked up to see the face of a furious (and exhausted, red circles under his eyes) Matt Dowd.
"Why did you do it?" he demanded. Eli's red-rimmed eyes stared into Matt's own.
"Do what?" he replied, in a tired voice.
Matt felt his throat closing, seeing Taylor as he had left her—staring blankly out of the windows of her apartment, blanket around her shoulders, mug of long-cold coffee in her hands. "I don't…I don't know. Asking her to believe you. Putting her on the spot. You know how she feels about your mumbo-jumbo shit." Eli glanced away with an almost imperceptible flinch.
"I was trying to save Jordan," he murmured.
"Yeah, well, so were the rest of us!" Matt snarled. "Taylor was out of her mind with worry, doing everything she possibly could, then you came along and told her you could miraculously know exactly where her father was and expected her to believe you!"
"I asked her to believe me."
"What possible reason did you give her?" Matt cried incredulously, barely noticing the presence of Maggie Dekker down the hall, peering out of a doorway with wide eyes. "You had no proof! You had no possible way of knowing! Why in God's name would she believe you?"
Eli looked up, and Matt noticed for the first time how different this man had become. There was something eternally heavy weighing on his gaze, on his expression, as if he had seen and faced a thousand horrors all at once. His eyes were sad and blurred, his mouth perpetually twisted in slight anguish.
Taylor hadn't been the only one suffering.
"Faith," he whispered.
Matt let go.
"Not everyone can keep their faith as easily as you," he whispered back, the anger returning to his gaze. "Or you!" he shouted suddenly at Maggie, who was still standing in the doorway. "Why do you have faith, huh? Why do you believe?"
The young woman stared, obviously disturbed by Matt's disheveled appearance and dangerous turn of mood. Then she lifted her chin. "Because I choose to," she replied defiantly. Her eyes were suddenly lit, her posture straighter, prouder. "Sometimes it's hard—but only the most worthwhile things in life are." Her voice became gentler, as she added, as an afterthought: "If it's hard to keep, Matt, it's worth keeping."
Matt Dowd looked defeated. Beyond defeated. He looked as if the world had just come crashing down around him.
Eli hesitated for a moment, the anxiety clear on his face, then said: "Tomorrow, wake Taylor up at 6:18, and have her look outside her bedroom window."
Matt blinked. He stood there, staring, speechless, for almost a minute. From outside her bedroom window, she could see…"Why?"
He looked sadder than ever, his shoulders hunched with grief. Maggie gently laid a hand on his shoulder. "Because more than anyone," Eli said, tears rising to his haunted eyes, "Taylor needs faith. She always did."
Matt stared at the numbers on the clock beside the couch. 6:16. Two minutes.
He glanced over to the bed, where he could see Taylor's sleeping form in the morning light. Indecision made him falter—should he? Should he not? What was Eli trying to do? He had already destroyed her heart.
…the word 'faith' appeared in his mind, unbidden. And with an exasperated growl, he threw off the blankets and got off the couch.
"Taylor," he whispered, shaking her shoulder. "Taylor. Wake up."
Together, they walked to the window of her bedroom. He took the heavy curtains, parting them, revealing the sight they had hidden for days.
The twisted carnage of what was once a bank.
Taylor gripped his hand hard. "What did you want to show me?" she asked, her voice hoarse, quiet, and flat. Matt looked around.
"Wait. Just wait. We'll see."
See what? He had no idea.
The clock turned to 5:18.
Even as they watched, something began to happen in the air above the rubble. It appeared to sparkle subtly, quietly. Then—
"Oh, my God."
A rainbow suddenly became apparent, bright and shining in the endlessly blue morning sky. Every color was clear and defined.
And it appeared, by an illusion of perspective, to be rising from the rubble itself.
Matt wrapped an arm around Taylor's shoulders, even as she put a hand to her mouth, her eyes beginning to water. He stared at the rainbow until he felt his own eyes burn, and his heart clench with wonder.
He leaned over to whisper in her ear: