Dark Winds - final / epilogue

A loud moan and a gasp caught Jeannie's attention as she stared out the hospital window onto the parking lot ten stories below. The young woman turned to face her father; his pale complexion had become the norm these last few days. "Steve, no!" he shouted, still with his eyes closed. The young woman rushed over and enveloped his hand with hers. Mike had been in a restless sleep, but now he was beginning to come around. She waited patiently as he opened his eyes..

"Mike, it's okay. I'm here." She sat on the edge of bed, touching his face and providing comfort. The heat from his fever was nowhere near as warm as it had been, she realized.

"It was terrible, Jeannie." Mike said as he looked around. "Where am I? The hospital?"

"Yes, we brought you in a couple of days ago. You've been very sick." Jeannie was exhausted in her own right, having stayed by her father's side for what seemed like countless hours.

"No, don't worry about me. It's Steve." Mike wanted to tell his daughter of how his partner teamed with Tan Choi to fight something from the dark side, but he couldn't get out the words. Tears formed in his eyes. "I'm so sorry. He was so important…"

"Daddy, what are you talking about?" Jeannie looked at her father with measured concern; she understood he'd gone through a traumatic time in the hospital.

"Steve. My buddy boy. Sweetheart, I know what he meant to you. He was family." Mike's voice wavered.

"Meant? Mike, he's…" Jeannie began to explain as a familiar figure walked through the door.

"Hey, you're awake! That's a relief," Steve said as he greeted his mentor. He walked near his bedside and rested his hands on the rails.

Mike didn't say a word, but stared at his partner. The young man looked like he could use a shave and a shower. His shirt was wrinkled and he'd taken off his tie and jacket.

"You look like you've seen a ghost," Steve observed. To Jeannie, he asked, "Has he said anything?"

Jeannie realized that perhaps Mike did indeed think he was seeing a ghost. "Daddy, did you think something happened to Steve?"

"No, I…no. I don't know." Mike was flustered. "It just seemed so real."

"What?" Steve asked, with a slight smirk.

"You. It was crazy. You tried to help this girl but she passed this horrible thing on to you."

"Girls are my downfall," Steve cracked as he looked at Jeannie. Jeannie squinted in response. Steve became straight-faced once more. "What thing? Will I need to get a shot or something?"

"You were possessed by this spirit. It was called a Yon. Tan Choi had a brother and sister who died from this evil spirit. It was going after you. You spoke Chinese."

"Chinese? Have you been watching 'Kung Fu' again?" Jeannie asked her father.

"He thought I was possessed, so I think there's more to it than that," Steve surmised. "Confucius say man who sees "The Exorcist' before catching a virus will have horrible nightmares.."

Mike remained silent for the second time.

"You did! You went to see 'The Exorcist' and it scared the daylights out of you."

Mike ignored his partner and refused to admit he'd seen The Exorcist with one of the men from his church only days before. "I got sick, didn't I? It was all a dream," Mike then recounted what had happened in more detail to the pair. He ended by saying to Steve, "You died in the dream."

"Died, really? How?" Steve pulled up a chair to hear more about his demise.

"This is all very morbid, Steve. Why don't we just drop it?" Jeannie had heard enough. She was not used to how her father and his partner could talk sometimes so coldly about death.

"No, I want to know. Was I shot? Strangled?," Steve held his hands up to his throat. "Or was it like a vampire, where I got a stake through the heart?"

With the last question, Mike shuddered as he nodded his head. "Something like that," he began as he described the death scene in vivid detail. While only a dream, it was clear to the pair that whatever Mike saw subconsciously was disturbing.

"Oh, that sounds bad," Steve conceded.

"I told you to stop," Jeannie whacked Steve on the shoulder.

"You two been here a while?" Mike asked the pair.

"You caught a bad virus. The doc said it was a rare flu. You've been out of it for a couple of days. She never left your side," Steve said as he nodded to Jeannie. He looked at her with a deep sense of appreciation.

"Looks like you've been here a while, too?" Mike asked his partner.

"I figured Jeannie could use the company. After all, you weren't saying too much."

"Thanks," Mike said as he fidgeted with the blankets.

"I'll get Doctor Trundle. He'll want to get your vitals," Jeannie announced as she walked out the door. Mike jumped at the hearing the name. He must not have been too deeply asleep.

As Jeannie left the room, he turned to his partner. "I'm doing better now. Take Jeannie home and make sure she gets some rest. You too."

"We will. We'll make sure you're okay, though. All right?"

The doctor checked his vitals and it was clear that Mike past his point of crisis.

"Now, you two go get something to eat and then go home and get some rest." Mike ordered.

"You got it, Mike." Steve said as he looked over to Jeannie. "Get your coat and we'll grab some dinner on the way back to your place."

Jeannie nodded as she reached for her wrap on the chair. "All this Kung Fu talk has left me hungry for Chinese. How about it?"

"Sounds good." Steve agreed. "Mike, we'll be back in the morning. You take care."

Jeannie reached over and gave her father a peck on the cheek. "I'm so happy you are doing better, Daddy."

"Be careful," Mike called out. Jeannie was several steps in front of Steve and waved her hand in the air as she walked out the door.

Steve turned back to Mike. "Meiyou biyao danxin. Zhaogu." His eyes were dark and uncharacteristically focused. He then smiled and gave Mike a wink.

Mike swallowed hard as he watched his partner leave the room.