Title: You Found Me
Author: Cassandra Mulder
Classification: Eli Stone, Eli/Maggie
Spoilers: Flight Path and Sonoma, to a lesser degree.
Disclaimer: None of this belongs to me, particularly the portion lifted directly from the series finale, Flight Path. It was just kind of necessary to what I was trying to do here. It all belongs to the geniuses Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, to whom I will forever be grateful for giving us this show, brief though it may have been. No infringement is intended.
Written: July - September 6, 2009
Word Count: 5540
Author's Notes: My fic writing, or writing in general, has been sporadic the last two years. But this show has awakened my imagination and made me able to do things I haven't done in quite some time. This came to me not long after seeing the television airing of the series finale, and I was spurred to finish it when I bought the DVDs. I wish we could have seen a little more of an expansion of things being wrapped up, but since we didn't, this is my decidedly poor attempt at it. Since fic will be all we have to live on now, I hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don't, comments as to why are always appreciated. ;)
Even though Eli had foreseen his own death, for some reason the cause and the consequences had never even crossed his mind afterward. His entire focus had been getting to the airport before Maggie could board the plane that would take her from him forever. He hadn't thought far enough ahead to consider what would happen to her if he dropped dead before he got there.
He hadn't thought at all, really, and yet here they were, both alive in spite of his disregard for his own vision. In the effort to save her life, she had saved his as well, because no one else in that airport would have known what was really wrong with him. He would have slipped away at the terminal and her plane would have taken off and later crashed. Neither of them would be where they were had it not been for his visions, but he still couldn't reconcile that with how unfair the consequences seemed to be for others.
Perhaps his was not to reason why, but he seemed to have to ask the question more often than anyone in the direct service of God should.
When Nate left his hospital room, Maggie simply took his hand and squeezed it. She didn't say a word, because they both knew words couldn't fix the sadness, confusion, and anger he was feeling. Anyone else would have tried to say something to make it right; Maggie knew to just be there.
"You don't have to stay, Maggie," he said finally. Secretly he was hoping not to be left alone in his condition, but he didn't want her to feel obligated to sit with him.
"No, I don't have to, Eli. I want to. No more of that pushing me away stuff, okay? I just… today has made me think there's really something to this. I'm sick and tired of fighting with you and lying to you. That's all we've done for months, and that's not what I want.
"So, I'll start with the truth: I lied when I said I was over you." She took a deep breath, and even though she looked like she would prefer to run out the door, she kept her eyes on his.
"I love you, Maggie," he said simply. He couldn't figure out a way to tiptoe around the truth any longer anymore than she could. It felt good to finally be honest with her; with himself.
He couldn't tell if she was stifling a cry or a laugh, but she put one hand over her mouth and her eyes welled up, and he just hoped they were happy tears this time. He had caused her enough of the other kind to last forever.
"I love you, too, Eli," she said, and the tears fell down her cheeks. "You should have seen me in the waiting room earlier. I held it together at the airport and in the ambulance, but after that? Nate found me crying hysterically in the corner of a couch, and he just sat down and put his arm around me while I cried hysterically some more."
Eli smiled sympathetically. That was so Maggie.
"Anyway," she said with a sniffle, "as soon as I shut up enough to hear him again, he told me the procedure was over and you were going to be okay. Then he brought me here, so I could sit and stare at you, willing you to wake up."
"I'm glad you were there," he said with a squeeze of her hand. "I'm glad you're here now."
"I was so scared, Eli," she said, almost in a whisper. "I have been so terrible to you lately and we've lost so much time. I was afraid I was going to lose you and you would never know how I feel and how much you mean to me. I just knew that if you didn't wake up, I wouldn't be able to live with myself."
"Maggie, you haven't done anything wrong. I haven't exactly been the easiest person to deal with, and you didn't choose to get involved with someone going through one hell of a crisis. I wasn't fair to you at all, and I get that you couldn't take being with the jerk I've become lately. And I'm so sorry for that, Maggie. I never wanted to hurt you, and that's all I did because I couldn't be honest with you. And right now I really can't remember what I was running from to start with. You're the only thing that's made any sense in the last year and a half, and maybe that's what really scared me. You are one scary individual, Maggie Dekker."
"Oh, I am not. You're just too stubborn and prideful for your own good. You have to let someone be there for you, Eli. You can't expect to do this alone, or go through life alone because of this. You're just making yourself a whole lot more miserable than you would have to be. If you had just let me be there for you and take care of you like I wanted to, we wouldn't be in this mess right now, now would we?"
"You're probably right," Eli conceded with a grin. "But then, you usually are."
"And don't you forget it," she said with a laugh. "Now, what do you need from me? No refusals. The new Maggie doesn't take no for an answer."
"Old Maggie better stick around," he said. "As I recall she didn't take no for an answer either. Ever. In the history of mankind…"
"I get it, I get it…" she said. "I am an annoying person."
"No, you're not. I don't love annoying people."
"I really hope this is not just the drugs talking, because I'm kind of hinging everything on the fact that you mean that right now."
"Every word, no drugs."
"Good to know, because you need to get better so I can start making you pay as soon as possible."
"I might be looking forward to that, depending on what you have in mind."
"I think you'll just have to be surprised," she said with another squeeze of his hand. She sighed and cupped his face with her free hand. "I know you might not want to hear it, though I don't know why you wouldn't, but I have to say I'm sorry. I didn't want to be the way I've been lately, but every time you opened your mouth I knew something wonderful might come out, and I was scared so I threw out whatever block I could think of. I tried to hide behind Scott when I first realized I was in love with you, and I tried to hide behind Posner and Klein when I couldn't do that anymore."
Eli felt his eyes getting wet and he was tempted to stop her self-flagellation, but he knew she had to make her peace the only way she knew how - babbling. He smiled slightly to himself, and hoped she took it as encouragement to go on.
"I hated myself after I slept with you, and I was glad whenever we were against each other in court because then I could take it out on you. I have never felt that mean and spiteful in my life, Eli. I never knew I could be, and every night I'd go home and hate myself more for trying to hurt you. It wasn't your fault if you didn't feel the way I did," she said, her voice starting to break, "but I just couldn't seem to help myself."
"Maggie, I understand. You were hurting, because of me. You know I can't handle anything right to save my life. There's no need to apologize. I got what I deserved, because I've been hurting because of you for the last month. I wanted so badly to make things right, to tell you how I felt, but you insisted you didn't feel that way anymore, and it was killing me. I had finally found the only woman I wanted, and she didn't want me back."
Maggie let out a strangled sob, and ran her fingers into his hair. "Oh, but I do. I always have. No more hurting each other, Eli. I just want you to be happy, you've suffered so much lately."
"I don't think that will be a problem as long as I have you," he said, sliding his hand across her wrist. There were so many places he would rather be with her than a hospital room, but it would have to wait. He just wanted to make up for all the time he had wasted; he wanted her to make him forget all the things he couldn't change and the anger he felt because of it. She was his calm in the constant storm that now seemed to be his life. He only hoped that his tumultuous existence wouldn't take her down with him.
"The only thing I'm afraid of, Maggie," he started, really afraid that he would never get it out if he didn't say it now, "is what being with me will do to you. I saw how being with my father totally tore my mother apart, how it tore all of us apart for a really long time, and I can't do that to you."
Maggie shook her head. "You're not getting off that easy, Stone. You aren't your father. You can handle this, you don't depend on alcohol to handle it for you. You have an amazing support system, if I do say so myself, and we won't let you down. You know more about this than your father did. He could only try to cope in the only way he knew how because no one understood him or believed in him. His was the total opposite of your situation, and even if it wasn't, I would never let you go there. Even if, in the end, I am the only person who believes in what you can do, Eli, I am not going to leave you alone. So don't try to be a stubborn ass and make me, because it's not going to work. You know you don't want to be alone. You've tried the total isolation lifestyle, and I think it almost killed you. Instead of trying to save everybody else all the time, just let someone save you, okay?"
Eli swallowed hard, but he could no longer hold back the tears fighting to escape his eyes. He only nodded, because he couldn't articulate how he felt, how it felt to know that someone finally loved him not only in spite of his condition but maybe even a little bit because of it. Just like Taylor said, Maggie had been there, loving him all along, but he had been too wrapped up in his own problems and throwing himself the pity party of the millennium to notice. He didn't deserve her, he knew, but he knew he was willing to spend a lifetime making it up to her.
"Come on, Eli, don't cry," she said, wiping a thumb across his cheek. "You're going to set me off now," she teased, her eyes filling up.
"I'm sorry," he said, turning his head to kiss her hand. "It's been a really hard day."
"I know." She rubbed his arm gently back and forth. "I'm so sorry about Diane. Nate told me how hard you fought for her, and he thought the stress might've made the aneurysm burst. I know you want answers…"
"Sometimes I think there aren't any answers." He felt himself growing angry, and he didn't want to subject Maggie to that.
"I don't believe that," she said quietly. "There's always an answer, sometimes we just don't, or can't, know what it is. And I know," she said, holding up a hand off his look, "you want the answers, that's who you are. But you ought to know better than anyone that sometimes they don't come right away. They do come when or if we're supposed to have them, though. And you can make all the cliché cracks you want about that, but that's how it goes."
"That may be true, but it doesn't mean I have to like it."
She smiled and shook her head. "Don't get grumpy on me now, Eli."
He sighed. "I'm sorry. I just don't know why I did what I did to save her if she couldn't be saved."
"There's always a reason, Eli. Even if we don't like it, there had to be a reason. Otherwise you never would have gotten the message. Just be patient, okay?"
He nodded, suddenly very exhausted.
Maggie must have seen it in his eyes, because she stood up then, bent over, and kissed him softly on the lips.
When she stood back up, he smiled at her. "I just blew one aneurysm, are you trying for the other?"
"Shut up, Eli," she teased. "You need to rest, so I'm going to go home and toss my luggage in my bedroom, take a shower, and come back for the night."
"You don't have to do…"
"No protests. I should be back before you wake up -" She paused at his look. "Don't even try that, I know you're exhausted right now."
"What don't you know?" he cracked.
She narrowed her eyes. "You don't want to try me on that either. Now, I'm serious, get some rest, and I'll be back before the nurses can give me the visiting hours excuse."
"I've really done it now, haven't I?" he said, a bemused smile on his face.
"Oh yeah, buddy. It's over. You're never gonna get rid of me now."
"Do you see me trying?"
"No, and I better not." She leaned over again and kissed him quickly.
"Geez, twenty minutes and you're already bossing me around."
She just smirked over her shoulder as she walked out the door.
Eli sighed. Maybe it was that easy, maybe it wasn't. But he knew what he wanted now, and too many of his visions of late had been Maggie-centric to deny it even if he wanted to. They would both have to try to be a little less stubborn, but they would make it work. He would fight whatever battles he had to in order to keep her.
He tried to relax and get some rest, which was something he had been sorely lacking recently, but none of his attempts to nod off would take. After a restless half hour, he called the nurse, who called his brother and Eli asked Nate if it was all right for him to get up and move around. He didn't want to take any unnecessary risks.
Nate approved of him taking a short walk around his ward of the hospital, but no further. Eli didn't argue, as he had been surprised to obtain that much freedom.
As he walked down the hall, he spotted a snow globe on one of the coffee tables, and it contained a startlingly familiar scene. He picked it up and was instantly transported inside. Snow was blowing all around him, and instead of his robe and pajamas he was wearing a suit. A parka would have been nice, but he had about as much control over his vision wardrobe as he did his visions.
"It seems like such a long time ago, doesn't it?"
Eli heard a voice, and turned around, surprised that he was not alone. It was his father.
"It's beautiful," Jeremy Stone said.
"Is this heaven? Am I dead?" Eli asked. He wouldn't have been shocked by anything, the way his day had been going.
"It's the Panchchuli Peaks. I thought you'd recognize them. Could be heaven, though," his father responded, staring out over the mountains that surrounded them. "Just as beautiful. I always wanted to see them."
Eli knew; that's why he had spread his ashes there.
"Are you my dad, or…"
"God?" Jeremy finished for him.
"It's complicated. Don't push too hard against that," his father said.
Eli nodded again, not really sure what to do in a situation where he was either talking to his father again or directly to God, or some amalgamation of the two. He was almost at a loss. Almost.
"Well, I missed you," he finally said.
"You've done well for yourself, Eli. Both you and Nate. No father could be prouder. And I know how hard it's been. I know you get angry sometimes."
"Like now," Eli jumped in, not able to contain it any longer. "Diane wasn't supposed to die."
"Says you. You don't know. You're not God, Eli."
"I broke my promise to Diane, and I might have destroyed that girl's family… for nothing," Eli said, the tears in his eyes from anger as much as sadness.
"Not for nothing," Jeremy insisted. "For Grace."
"The… the person?" Eli asked, incredulous.
"Grace is in San Francisco," his father informed him. "She was waiting for the right time to reconnect with you, and then she… Her heart gave out. She needed a transplant, and as it turned out there was a viable heart." His father gave him a knowing look. "It was for your soul mate.
"Mysterious ways. And yours is not to reason why."
"Well…" Eli was struggling with this information. "Yes, it is. I'm happy for Grace. I'm happy and I'm thankful, but if you or God or whatever, you want me to keep doing this, it has to be my way. Especially when people that I love, people like Maggie, are on the line."
His father only looked at him like he knew what he was going to say before he said it, and he suddenly remembered what had been so infuriating about him when he was alive. Not that he wasn't grateful for the chance to talk to him now, but it was still frustrating.
"And by the way, just cut that crap out," he said.
Jeremy just laughed, unable to speak, but he conceded with a nod of his head. "People wonder why God gave man free will."
Eli hmphed victoriously, for lack of anything better to say.
"And don't think I didn't notice how you said you loved Maggie just now," his father said. Like he didn't already know years before Eli had ever met her.
Eli nodded emphatically, suddenly overwhelmed and unable to speak. "Was this a test?" he managed finally, with a shrug of annoyance.
His father closed his eyes and shook his head, before opening them again, his serene blue eyes resting on his son. "Everything's a test. Life is a test. You… You, my boy, you're passing with flying colors. I couldn't be more proud."
Eli really felt like he was going to lose it with that declaration. His father just smiled as Eli's tears finally fell, and Jeremy walked away into the mountains.
The next thing Eli knew, he was back in the hallway of the hospital, clutching the snow globe while people passed him by and gave him odd looks.
He carried the globe to the nurse's station, and waited until a pretty blonde looked up at him.
"May I help you, sir?" she asked.
"Uh, maybe." He was worried about sounding like a crazy person, but since he usually did he decided to let it go. "I just found this snow globe on a table in the hallway and I was wondering if it belonged to anyone."
The nurse frowned, but she wasn't quite to the point of looking at him like he was nuts. "No, I think it was left behind by a patient some time ago and we just left it out here as decoration. Why? Would you like it?"
"Actually, I would. It reminds me of someone and somewhere I've been." It seemed like such a silly thing, but he felt like he was meant to keep it, as a reminder of his dad.
"Then it's yours, Mister…"
"Stone," he said. "Eli Stone."
"If it means that much to you, then by all means, take it, Mister Stone," she said with a warm smile.
"Thank you," he said gratefully and turned to go back to his room before something else he didn't own suddenly took on great meaning to him.
When he got back to his room, Maggie was perched on the edge of the bed flipping through a magazine. He set the snow globe down on one of the two dressers in the room.
"You scared me," she said, but she was smiling. "But you're lucky the nurse came in to change your sheets the same time I got back. She told me you'd just gone for a walk."
"I'm sorry. I tried to sleep, but I was feeling restless. You got back fast."
"Yeah, I only spent about half an hour at my apartment, dumped my stuff, got a shower. Called my parents and told them I wasn't going to Italy…"
"Ah," Eli said, nodding. "But did you tell them why?"
Maggie grimaced. "Not exactly. I'm not sure they're quite ready for that."
"Well, that should be fun," he said, in a tone indicating it wouldn't be at all.
Maggie laughed at his typical pessimism. "I don't know, Eli, they might be easier than you think. They're very devout Catholics, they believe in signs." She sighed. "It's just been a long day and I wanted to get back to you. Plus, they've been really worried about me since I broke off the engagement, so I figured tales of near-death experiences could wait for another day."
"Just as long as you're not ashamed of me," he said, his face straight, but there was mischief in his eyes.
She rolled her eyes. "Not in a million years." She stood up and crossed the short distance between them, and slipped her arms around his waist.
He pushed her hair behind her left ear and let his hand rest on the side of her neck. "What would I do without you?"
She closed her eyes and sighed dreamily. "It's a good thing you don't have to find out, that's all I can say for you."
"I kind of already found out. Let's just say I don't recommend it."
She laid her head on his shoulder, and he wrapped his arms around her tightly.
"Are you going to be all right?" she mumbled into his robe.
"I suppose so. Nate hasn't given me all the news yet, but I'm guessing I shouldn't be any worse off than before I got the second aneurysm." He rubbed slow circles into her back, which made her make a low humming noise, which made him laugh.
"What?" she said.
"Are you… purring?" he asked, barely able to contain himself.
She frowned. "What? No!"
"I think you might have been, Maggie."
She shook her head. "It just felt good when you did that. I don't know what I was doing."
"Wow. I feel very powerful right now…" he teased.
"I bet you do." It was Maggie's turn to laugh. "We'll see about that when you get better."
He leaned in and kissed her like he had been wanting to every day since she had left him in Sonoma.
When they broke apart, she smiled at him wickedly. "You better cut that out, Eli."
"Why?" he challenged.
"Because otherwise I will have you right there on that hospital bed, regardless of pop-in nurses or your delicate condition."
"And everyone thinks you're such a nice girl," he said and kissed her hard on the mouth.
She came up gasping at the intensity, both of his mouth and his gaze. "Well, you certainly know better than that, now don't you?"
"I certainly do. You've already taken me in a hotel room far away from home, I wouldn't put anything past you here."
"I'll try to contain myself," she said with mock sheepishness.
Eli sighed. "Disappointing."
"My list is no good if you're not alive," she said with a shrug. "We're just going to have to deal with that."
"I suppose so." He leaned his forehead against hers. "Thank you for staying with me," he said.
She smiled. "I'm never leaving you again." She stepped back and took his hand, leading him toward the bed. "You really should get some rest, though. I'll be right here."
He walked with her and sat down on the edge of the bed, looking at the chair they'd brought her to sleep in. "You're going to sleep in that?"
"It's a recliner, it'll be fine, Eli," she said, sitting down in it.
Eli frowned, stood up, and pulled off his robe. He tossed it on the end of the bed, pulled back the sheet, and grabbed Maggie's hand, pulling her back into a standing position.
She raised an eyebrow. "What are you doing?"
"You're not sleeping in that thing."
"Well, I'm not taking the bed when you're the one that tried to bleed to death today."
He got in bed, still holding her hand. "You don't have to take the whole thing, but you do have to take some of it."
"You're crazy," she said, but she was fighting a grin.
"It's been said."
She reluctantly kicked off her shoes and he almost pulled her on top of him. She was about to start giggling like a schoolgirl, but she stopped. "This bed cannot hold the both of us," she said.
"Sure it can."
She shook her head, but she started wriggling around, trying to find a place to fit. "Neither one of us is going to be able to walk after we wake up here," she said.
"I'll take that chance," he said, sliding over as far as he could to the edge of the bed without falling off.
Maggie finally managed to settle somewhat comfortably between him and the bedrail, and she rested her head on his chest. "Is this okay?" she asked, settling her left arm across his stomach.
Eli smiled into her hair. "Perfect."
She sighed. "You are so stubborn, what am I going to do with you?"
He wasn't going to be goaded now, he had her right where he wanted her. "You'll figure it out."
She rolled her eyes and settled in a little closer. "How are you feeling?"
"I don't know, okay, I guess. I had a vision while I was out."
"You don't get a break, do you?" she asked sympathetically.
"What was this one about? I hope we're done with plane crashes for awhile."
"No planes," he said, stroking her arm up and down. "It was my father." He heard her sharp intake of breath.
"We were at the Panchchuli Peaks in India, where I spread his ashes last year. He told me he was proud of me, he was proud of Nate. He said that Grace, this girl I met a few months ago, was back in San Francisco and she had needed the heart that I thought was Diane's." He didn't really mean to rush the information, but he felt he needed to share it with someone else before it got any fuzzier in his memory.
Maggie swallowed hard. "Was Grace… I'm sorry, it's stupid," she said.
He wrapped his arm tighter around her. "No, it's not. I thought maybe… I didn't know what to think at the time. I thought maybe she meant something more than she really was. I liked her, don't get me wrong, but a guy who is constantly going around getting signs is bound to misinterpret every now and then. I think it was like she said, that we met to prove to each other that there was someone else out there like us. She had a heart condition that could've killed her anytime. It almost did… it would have if not for that girl's heart.
"My dad called her my soul mate, but that's one thing he's wrong about. I made it perfectly clear that I love you. He seemed pleased, like he knew it all along and was just happy that I finally did. Maybe he'd seen you in my future. I don't know, he didn't say."
"That would be weird, if he knew everything about your life before you ever did."
He smiled. Maybe reminding her about the journal could wait for another day.
"I hope he did. At least, about you. He would've loved you, Maggie. You have all the qualities that all the people in his life that failed him never did. Except maybe Frank. He was always there when Dad needed him, even when the rest of us weren't. He was the son Nate and I should have been."
Maggie lifted her head to look straight at him. "Don't do that to yourself, Eli. It sounds like your dad understands that you all couldn't understand. That's not your fault, and you've been through enough with the same condition that you should get that now. You have to forgive yourself for that, because I don't think he would ever expect you to have to. I'm sure he felt bad enough for what he put you through for the both of you, so you have to let it go. You have enough to deal with, without letting that grief and guilt eat you up for the rest of your life. I may not have known him, but I do know he wouldn't want that. And I think that's what he finally came to tell you, himself. Even if it wasn't in so many words, he wanted you to know that you were loved and anything you felt about the way your childhood went wasn't your fault, and he understood. Don't you think that after everything you've gone through in the last year and a half God thought you deserved to know that so you could get on with your life?"
"You're probably right."
She scowled, which shouldn't have been so effective on such a sweet girl, but it was.
"You are… You are completely right," Eli conceded.
Maggie smiled. "I know. You just had to believe it."
He shook his head. "When did you become such a badass, Dekker?"
She shrugged. "There was this guy… Really did a number on me."
"Sounds like a real moron," he said.
"Eh, he has potential, we'll see." She dropped a kiss on his lips and laid back down. She played with the hem of his t-shirt, scrunching it up in her hand and smoothing it back out, and it was several moments before either of them spoke again.
"What now?" she asked.
"We live happily ever after?" Eli joked.
"Okay, Cinderella. How do you suppose we do that?"
"Trust. I think you need to learn to just trust me again, and we'll be okay. Not that I'm always going to be right or anything, but we need to have each other's backs. We're a team and we work better when we believe in each other."
"I know that. But that assumes that we're going to be working together," she said.
"I want you to come back to Wethersby Stone, but that is completely up to you," he said. He couldn't imagine her anywhere else, but he didn't want to force her into working with him.
She let out what he took to be a sigh of relief. "I am really glad you said that, because I kind of told Paul I quit Posner and Klein when I got off the plane. I didn't know what I was going to do after that, but I just couldn't do it. They were turning me into someone I'm not, or at least they were trying. I just couldn't do it anymore. I knew whatever was telling me to get off that plane was also telling me not to go back to the reason I was there in the first place. Nothing has felt right for a long time, but it's finally starting to."
"I know," he said. "I feel the same way. I should've known the answer all along, because the only time I ever felt normal was with you."
Maggie laughed. "Wow, that's a new one. I guess I should be flattered."
"You should be. I mean, it's not like you don't make me crazy, but in the good way."
"Glad to hear it," she said dryly.
He ran his fingers through her hair, gently massaging her scalp.
She moaned. "You have got to cut it out, Eli. I was not kidding about my total disregard for the nurses and your health."
He sighed dramatically. "Okay. It'll have to wait."
"Hopefully not too long," she said mischievously.
"Fiend," he teased.
"You have no idea the effect you have on people, and I am not just alluding to the effect you have on me."
He laughed. "I should hope not everyone's in love with me, Maggie. I don't know where I'd find the time."
She slapped at his stomach. "Are you always going to be so difficult?" she asked.
"Not anymore than usual."
"Then we should be okay."
"Something tells me we will be," he said with a smile. Apparently all they had to do was have a little faith.