The lights finally came back on.
Marv gave up trying to fix the icicle lights and went back in the house, taking off his coat and shaking the snow off it before hanging it up.
Then he brushed snow from his hair and heard Harry go back into the kitchen.
"I finally sorted out the fuse box." He called out, "You didn't plug those lights back in outside, did you, Marv?"
"No," He called back, "I couldn't fix 'em anyway..."
Then he went back into the front room.
"Okay, Billy?" He said.
Billy didn't answer him.
Marv went over to the couch, his blue eyes got wider as he looked at Billy, who was slumped motionless on the couch resting on pillows with the blanket around him. The matchbox was open and the contents spilled onto the carpet.
Three burnt out matches were lying on the table.
His eyes were closed, his face was pale and he wasn't moving.
"Billy!" He said in alarm.
He still didn't move.
Marv sat beside him and took him in his arms, shaking him gently.
"Billy!" He said again.
But Billy just lay there not moving.
Marv drew in a frightened breath.
"DAD!" He yelled out.
Harry came into the room and saw the scared look in his son's eyes as he cradled Billy in his arms.
"Oh no..." He said in a hushed voice.
Marv gave a sob.
"I don't think he's breathing..." He said tearfully.
Harry blinked back tears as the shock hit him.
"Let me see."
He pressed his fingers to his throat, trying to feel for a pulse. He didn't have a clue how to do it properly and he just wanted Billy to be alive, he just wanted Marv to stop crying and everything to be okay.
"I don't know, son...I can't tell..."
Marv gave another sob and held him tighter.
"Please don't die!" He said as he held Billy in his arms, "Please..."
Harry grabbed the phone.
"I'm calling an ambulance." He said.
Vera and Billy were still standing in the snow.
"So what are you going to do?" She wondered.
Billy looked into her eyes.
"I'm going back, Vera. I want to see my kids grow up."
Vera's eyes shone with joy and she jumped up and down in the snow.
"I love my job!" She exclaimed, grabbing hold of him and hugging him tightly and then giving him a kiss.
"Your job?" Billy wondered.
Vera let go of him and looked into his eyes.
"Okay, you're going back – now I can tell you everything. But I have to be quick because you have to go soon. Those pains you've been getting in your chest, it's a reaction to one of your meds. It's putting a strain on your heart and because you're so weak it's given you a mild heart attack – but the doctors can stop it happening again, they can change your medication and then everything will be fine. You'll get over this – you just have to start eating properly and getting stronger, Billy. It wasn't your time to die today – you don't have to think about dying for a long time, you won't get sick again that's over!"
He breathed a sigh of relief.
"You mean I can just get on with my life now? I don't have to worry any more?"
Vera smiled at him.
"You have to live." She promised him, "That's why I'm here - because I love you, because I didn't want you to die before your time."
They were right outside the apartment now.
Billy suddenly thought of something.
"Why the hell is Marv so rich in the future?"
"Because Irena's getting very old and when she passes away she leaves everything to him." Vera explained, "Marv gets the lot – her mansion, her money, the stocks and shares, the company..."
"Her late husband's business." Vera told him.
"What kind of business?"
"Oil." She told him, "Marv's going to be a very rich and powerful man; she leaves everything to her favorite grandson!"
"She doesn't leave Harry anything?" Billy wondered.
"She leaves him enough money." She replied, "But he's not too bothered, he's going to be very happy with Kate. And Irena thinks of you in her will too – she doesn't leave any body out. But it's Marv who gets most of it. He gets to live the kind of life he's always dreamed about – and he'll marry a centerfold model and have two kids with her!"
"Is there anything else I need to know?" He wondered.
"Mack's going to show you how much he cares about you soon. I'm not telling you what he's done, but you'll get it, you'll understand. I'm not telling you anything else; you want to have some surprises in the future!"
Then her smile faded.
"I have to go and so do you. You'll see me again some day, but not for many years, Billy."
And she leaned closer to him.
Billy wrapped his arms around her and they kissed for the last time.
As he let go of her he thought of one last question.
"Are you an angel?"
Vera smiled as a glow surrounded her that lit up like the sun.
"I am now." She told him.
"I'll miss you, pumpkin." He whispered.
"Bye, Billy." She said softly, then she shimmered, her image became starlight and that light seemed to cover him, warming him, making him breathe again.
As he reached for her he grabbed at nothing, but he was sure he saw that golden light illuminated her one last time and beautiful wings of white feather seemed to unfold behind her.
Billy blinked and then she was gone.
Suddenly it was hard to breathe again.
Harry was waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
He glanced back into the front room.
Marv was still holding onto Billy gently rocking him in his arms as he stroked his hair.
"Please don't die!" He said tearfully, "Please, I love you, Billy...don't die now, you can't die...you're better now, please don't go away and leave us..."
Harry felt like his heart was breaking; Marv was desperately begging Billy to hold on -but it looked to Harry like Billy was already gone, if not, he was certainly almost gone...
Marv held him closer, kissing his cheek.
"Come on, Billy." He said, "Please wake up, please..."
Billy's body moved with a sharp jolt and he dragged in a breath.
"Billy?" Marv said, "Billy, come on stay with me..."
He breathed again, this time it was easier and the pain was easing off.
He slowly opened his eyes.
The lights were back on and Marv was anxiously holding him in his arms. Marv had been crying, he looked scared.
"I'm okay." Billy whispered weakly, "I'll be fine..."
Harry stared at him.
He went over to the couch and grabbed hold of his hand.
"Oh thank God!" He said,"We thought you were gone..."
"I was." Billy said weakly, "But I'm okay now... I will be okay..."
He tried to sit up but Marv carefully eased him back down onto the pillows.
"Don't move. Paramedics are on the way, they need to check you over."
"It's my meds." Billy said, "I know it is, I have to come off one of them...it gave me chest pains."
Marv's eyes clouded in confusion.
"How do you know that?"
"I just know." He replied.
A short while later after the ambulance had arrived and the paramedics had taken a look at Billy and confirmed he had suffered a reaction to his pills, Marv felt stunned as he wondered how Billy could have known that.
He offered to go with him to the hospital but Billy insisted he would be just fine – and seemed very sure about that, too. He had told Marv to stay at home with Harry and wait for Ruby, because he didn't want her to worry. He had also said it was important that Daisy wasn't upset. He said she mustn't know about this and he was very sure of that.
But all the same, Marv knew Ruby would worry when he told her what had happened.
Marv picked up the phone but Harry snatched it from him.
"I'll call her." He said, "I don't want that girl getting upset and crying all the way to the hospital – Billy's going to be just fine."
And he rang her cell phone.
"Hi Harry." Ruby said.
"Hi Ruby." He replied, "I don't want you to get worried –"
"Oh no what's happened?" She said as her voice filled with panic.
"Nothing!" Harry said sharply, "Billy's fine now. He had a reaction to one of his meds and he's had to go to the hospital to get it sorted out. He said he doesn't want you to worry, he doesn't want to ruin Christmas Eve for Daisy – he said if she thinks her Daddy's sick again it might upset her and she might never forget it, especially because it's Christmas time – and I make him right. So just bring Ruby home, put her to bed and then you and Marv can go to the hospital and see Billy. He's okay; he's going to be fine. He said it's important that Daisy doesn't know about this."
Ruby took a deep breath.
"He's probably right about that." She replied, "She could get really upset over this. I don't want that for her. Are you sure he's okay?"
"Billy's fine." Harry promised her, "So don't get upset, okay?"
"Okay, I'm coming home soon." She replied, and hung up.
Harry put the phone down on the table.
Marv was still sitting on the couch, thinking about what had happened.
"I thought he was gone." He said quietly, "I thought he was dead."
"So did I." Harry replied, picking up the three burnt matches and looking at them thoughtfully.
"I don't know how he just revived like that. I thought we'd lost him too."
Marv was still thinking.
"He was so still, I couldn't even feel him breathing. And then it was like he suddenly came back."
Then Marv got a sudden idea.
"It was like a miracle!"
Harry smiled and shook his head.
"It was just the reaction to his meds, he was weak and he got a bad reaction and then he came out of it again. He's been lucky, that's all."
"I think it was more than that." He said, then he suddenly looked at the picture of Billy and Vera on their wedding day.
"I wonder if Vera was watching over him..."
Harry gave a sigh.
"Marv, she's gone! She died a long time ago, son. Billy had a bad reaction to his pills and he was lucky enough to come out of it again. As soon as the paramedics knew which one of his meds caused it they gave him a shot to fix the problem and he was fine, he was totally fine in around ten minutes. He's only at the hospital to get checked over and get his meds changed."
"I still think it was like a miracle." Marv stated.
"Its not, Marv!" Harry insisted, "He had a bad reaction – he's got to go on some medication to keep his heart working properly until he's over it. He's coming off the other meds soon, he's going to get stronger and better and he's going to be fine."
"But I felt it." Marv said quietly, "I felt him come back, Dad."
Harry looked into Marv's eyes and felt sure he still saw a trace of the child he used to be.
"Son," He said, "It's just life. There are no miracles. You've got to stop thinking stuff you see on the TV is real, you've always been the same!"
Just then a blaze of light lit up the night sky, lighting up the heavens and then disappearing again.
Marv was looking out the window like an excited kid.
"Did you see it? A shooting star!" He exclaimed.
"Yeah, I saw it." Harry replied, "It was pretty."
"Isn't it supposed to mean a new angel's just got their wings?" He wondered.
Harry gave a sigh.
"Marv, it was on the news today. There's a satellite burning up in the atmosphere and pieces of it are falling all over the place. As they burn up they look like shooting stars. There's supposed to be quite a few of 'em tonight. And you're wrong about that anyway – it's not when you see a shooting star, they say a new angel gets their wings when a bell rings."
Suddenly a tinkling noise filled the air. It was coming from a Christmas decoration that hung over the fireplace, above the photos on the wall.
The bell was fixed right at the end, right beside Billy and Vera's wedding picture, and that bell was ringing like crazy.
Harry and Marv exchanged a glance.
As the ringing stopped Harry got up and walked towards the door.
"I must have left a window open somewhere." He muttered as he left the room.
"No you didn't..." Marv whispered, and he smiled as he looked at Vera's picture.
Billy recovered quickly from his reaction to the medication.
He had been in the hospital almost four days and was due to go home the next day when Mack called in to see him.
Billy was surprised he had turned up at all; it was just after the Christmas holidays.
"Don't you have anything better to do at this time of year?" He wondered.
Mack pulled up a chair and sat next to his bed.
"I couldn't think of anywhere else I'd rather be." He told him, "Ruby called, she told me what happened. Are you sure you're okay now?"
"I'll be fine." He said confidently, remembering everything Vera had told him.
The he caught a flicker of worry in Mack's eyes.
"What?" He wondered, "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Like you want to cry! You know I hate it when people get upset over me!"
Mack took a deep breath and tried to handle his emotions a little better, even though he felt like grabbing hold of Billy and sobbing and telling him he was so glad he was going to be okay.
"I just want you to know that I'm glad we're friends." Mack said, "I want us to always be friends, Billy. And I've got a surprise for you. But you can't have it for a couple of months yet because it's not ready."
Billy looked at him.
"What are you talking about?"
"Irena found you and Ruby a really nice place to live. It's all on one level so there's no problem with your chair. And there's lots of room for you and Ruby and Daisy – and more kids if you decide to have any."
Billy felt stunned. Then he thought about the house he had seen, the one that Vera had showed him – the one he didn't recognize. That was going to be his new home?
"Irena found it for me?"
"She bought it for you." Mack said, "And I'm helping out with some improvements and when they're finished, you can move in. Ruby already knows, she's seen the place- she loves it! But I wanted to be the one to tell you. I had an idea to do something that might help you out and that won't be finished for a few more weeks yet but as a soon as it's done, you can move in."
Billy just stared at him for a moment or two as the the news sunk in.
"She bought me a house?"
"She bought you a house." He confirmed, "And when you see it when you see what I've done to it I hope you'll like it."
Then Mack hugged him.
"I'd better go now." He said,"I'll see you again soon, Billy."
As he left the room Billy rested comfortably in his bed and thought about what he had just been told –everything Vera had said was coming true - now he knew why he would live in such a nice house, when Vera had showed him that he had wondered how he could have afforded it, but now it made sense.
As Billy thought about the future he smiled, knowing for sure he had plenty to live for and a lot to look forward to. He knew he was going to be happy with Ruby – and most of all, he knew he couldn't wait to meet his twin daughters when they came along...
The time passed and soon it was early spring.
Marv woke up and looked out the window and felt a little bit sad that today was the day Billy was going to see the new house for the first time – he was happy for him that he had a nice place to live, but he knew he would miss him, even if he was only living a couple of streets away...
His cell phone rang and he turned over in bed and grabbed it.
"Hi Mack." He said in a tired voice "It's early, Yes I know...I'll be there with Billy at nine o'clock...see you soon."
The he cut off the call and decided to go back to sleep for a little while, because it was early in the morning and he was sure Billy wouldn't be getting up just yet, he never got out of bed while Ruby was there beside him...
If Harry had been home, he would have got up and made some coffee and talked to his Dad for a while. But Harry often spent the night over at Kate's, he spent most of his time there now Kevin was happy about him seeing his mother.
Marv was pleased to know his Dad was happy, but he knew it meant seeing less of him. And he knew for sure he would miss Billy when he moved out, he loved the guy so much he hated being away from him.
Just as his heart started to ache for the things he couldn't have, Marv thought about how much had changed for Billy: He was over his illness, he was happy with Ruby and he had told him he wanted to talk to her about having more kids in the near future, too. He was happy for him; he knew there was no point thinking about the past because it was gone.
But to him Billy would always be the brave ex soldier who had helped to save his Dad, who had got him through those water filled tunnels... and he would always be his best friend, the guy he went crazy with when they'd stayed at the mansion. He would also eternally be his ex lover, the only guy he had ever loved...
He turned on his side, gave a sigh and shut his eyes, deciding today was one of those days when he just had daydream about Billy again...
Billy wasn't thinking about Marv.
He was in bed, on his back while his hands slid up Ruby's hips and she gently moved against him, as his breathing got heavier he opened his eyes and looked down, watching her body join with his, then he looked up and smiled.
"I love making love to you!" He said, "Don't stop..."
She slid down again and he grabbed her hips, keeping her there as he lost himself in a moment of pure satisfaction.
Then he pulled her down beside him and held her tightly, kissing her as he got his breath back.
As they lay together embracing Ruby looked into his eyes.
"Its not so bad, is it?"
"What?" He wondered.
"The way things are." She replied, "We can still make love."
"We sure can, I don't mind you being on top!"
Then he thought about the new house.
"I can't believe Irena did something like that for me! I've said thank you to her so many times and she just acts like its no big deal!"
"Well she can afford it" Ruby pointed out,"She's a rich lady."
As she said that Billy thought about the future and what he already knew. He felt sad that the old woman wouldn't be around much longer- but then he thought about what she would be leaving to Marv and how much that would change his life. He just couldn't imagine it –Marv Merchants, oil baron?
Billy laughed softly.
"What are you smiling about?" Ruby wondered.
"Nothing." Billy replied, "I was just thinking about how life turns out – it never goes the way you expect it to, does it..."
Then he held Ruby tighter and looked deeply into her eyes.
"When we move into the new house," He said,"I'd like us to have a family."
She looked at him slightly confused, a half blank look in her eyes that reminded him of Marv and made him love her all the more for it.
"We already have Daisy." Ruby said,"She's our family."
"No, I mean more kids – you and me having kids together."
"I'd love to do that, Billy." She told him, and they kissed again.
A few hours later, Marv parked the car outside the new house.
Ruby got out of the car and then got Daisy out while Marv helped Billy into his wheelchair.
Once he was comfortable in the chair, Billy wheeled it across the driveway and looked at the house: This was definitely the place that Vera had showed him.
He smiled as he thought about the life he would have here – and this was the place where him and Ruby would raise Daisy, and their twin daughters who were yet to be born...
For a moment he felt overwhelmed by it all and he looked up at the morning sky, saying a silent thank you to Vera for making sure he was still here to be living this new life. As he did that he felt sure that where ever she was, she knew he was thinking of her – and he felt certain she was happy for him, too.
Then Mack's car rolled up the drive and he parked it and got out.
He smiled at Marv and Ruby, who looked at him like they knew something Billy didn't.
He turned his chair around and looked at them.
"What?" He said, "I know something's going on..."
Marv just smiled.
"You'll find out in a minute." He said, stepping back and standing with Ruby and Daisy while Mack finally got to give Billy something to show him how much he cared.
"I've got something for you." Mack said.
Billy looked up at him from his wheelchair.
"Where is it, then?"
"You can have it in a minute. I just wanted to say something to you first."
Billy looked back at him and recalled what Vera had said, that Mack had a big surprise for him, just to show how much he cared...
"Okay," He said to Billy, "I'm listening."
Mack looked at the house, then back to Billy.
He blinked away tears because he knew Billy hated him crying over him, but he was so glad to see him looking so well again. Billy had put his weight back on, he was off the medication now and he could handle that chair with no difficulty at all. He had got over everything, he had recovered as much as he ever could recover – but Mack still wanted to do something to help him out.
"I know you can manage okay." He said, "But when Irena said she wanted to buy you the house I got an idea, I thought of something that might be useful to you, something that will help you out a little bit."
Then he paused, gathering his thoughts.
"And I hope you understand when you know what it is. I hope it always reminds you that we're friends. We didn't start out that way all those years ago but we're friends now and I hope we always will be."
And Mack took something out of his pocket and handed it to him.
"There you go," He said quietly, "I think you remember what that's for?"
Billy looked at the voice control in his hand and suddenly felt choked up.
He could still remember the pranks Mack had played with the voice activated controls in Natalie's house...
He smiled and blinked away tears.
"You got this place fixed up like Natalie's house?"
Billy still felt a little choked up as he spoke again; now he understood what Vera had meant about Mack doing something special for him.
"You did that for me, to make my life easier?"
"Yes. I hope you like it."
"Like it?" Billy said, "Of course I like it, I love it, come here!"
Mack leaned over him and Billy gave him a big hug.
Then he let go and wheeled his chair closer to the front door.
He glanced at Ruby and Marv, then looked at Daisy. "Watch this," He said to his daughter, "Daddy can tell the house what to do!"
And he spoke into the control.
As the front door swung open, Daisy gasped in surprise.
"Was that like magic?" He asked his daughter.
"Magic!" Daisy echoed.
Billy looked up at Mack.
"Thanks." He said, "This does mean a lot to me. And you're right – it will make my life a lot easier."
Mack smiled back at him.
"I'm glad you like it. I couldn't think of any other way to do something special for you."
"You're a good friend." He told him," I mean that Mack – you're my friend and you always will be."
And they hugged again Billy knew for sure the past had been laid to rest forever, and that felt good to know.
Then he looked at his wife and daughter.
"Let's take a look inside our new house." He said, and went inside and Ruby and Daisy followed.
As Daisy ran off excitedly up the hall and Ruby chased after her, Billy watched them with a smile on his face as he sat back in his chair and looked around and suddenly realized something:
He didn't need to look around this place- Vera had already showed it to him.
And thanks to her, he knew something else too – he had something to look forward to that had been missing for a long time - he now had a future to look forward to, and he knew it was going to be a good one.
It felt more than just a second chance.
He knew it in his heart, this was how his life was meant be, and from now on it would all be okay.
He knew it as sure as he knew that some where, up there, beyond the sky and beyond this world, there was an angel watching over him now and forever - and that angel's name was Vera...
Note from Author:
This is brings the trilogy to an end.
It's the first time I've put characters from Home Alone 1 and Home Alone 4 together and I hope it makes a good read -I know I've enjoyed writing it.
I may be writing more of HA4's Vera&Marv in the future, but this story brings this trilogy to an end - Aline Riva.