Final Chapter.

Fear seized him as he awoke in a hospital gurney, his fingers tightening on the steel rails around his bed.

I'm back at St. Claire's. He sent me back.

"Morning, sleeping beauty," came a familiar, cheerful sentiment, and Walter nearly cried out. Peter smiled at him from the foot of the bed, and Olivia looked up from her magazine. Walter blinked. What was this?

"Walter, there was an accident," Olivia explained before he could ask, and she came to his bedside, circling his cold fingers with her warm hands, "Lightening struck a telephone pole, and we slid off the road. But you're okay, now. You're at Brawley Medical Center. How do you feel?"

Walter considered a few moments, and Peter and Olivia exchanged glances, "Confused," Walter finally answered.

"You should be," Peter answered, "You got rattled around back there pretty bad. A concussion, broken arm, a few cuts and bruises… Yes, I told them you have bad knees… but the doc says you'll be alright in no time."

Both seemed confused and slightly alarmed as Walter continued to stare at them, "I saw you die," he whispered.

"What?" Olivia questioned.

Walter raised a hand to touch the bandage on her bruised chin with a wry smile, "Nothing, my dear, nothing at all. I'm only grateful that you're alive." Olivia only looked further confused and further alarmed.

"Why don't we let you get some sleep?" Peter offered.

"I'm never sleeping again,' Walter replied seriously.

Peter snorted, "Sure."

"Peter, could I speak with you a moment?"

Obligingly, Olivia departed with a smile, and Peter cautiously approached the gurney. Walter reached out to tentatively touch his hand, "Help me to sit up, please." Peter moved to assist him, and Walter trapped him around the shoulders with his good arm, "I've got you, now," he murmured softly.

"Walter, what the hell?" Peter questioned flatly, attempting to pull away, "You're acting weird. I mean, weirder than average."

"I never want to come to this god-forsaken part of the planet ever again," Walter replied, "I didn't want to embarrass you in front of Olivia. I know how much she means to you."

Peter grimaced, "Whatever. Let go."

"Okay. Sorry." and Walter released him, "I'm glad that you're alive, too," he smiled tearfully.

Peter appeared unable to do anything with himself, "…Yeah, me too. Stop being weird." he turned toward the door, scratching the back of his neck, "Get better, and we can go see Lake Pontchartrain, it's on the way. I hear it's teeming with crawfish, this time of year."


Peter looked over his shoulder, "Huh?"

"Not a chance in hell."