A Gift From Above
Note: This takes place after Willie finds out that Maggie is still alive and is living at Windcliff as a patient.
He had to see her again. Maggie Evans was alive and, with that knowledge, the terrible guilt over helping Barnabas Collins keep her prisoner in the Old House began to dissipate. The images of her in the cell had haunted him relentlessly, making him sick with regret. Willie Loomis thought for sure that he and Barnabas were the reason Maggie had died because of the hell they had put her through. He figured that the trauma must have given her a heart attack or something. However, there was still the lingering fear that she would remember her kidnappers and cause trouble for them all. Then, Barnabas would have to kill her. The thought was more than he could bear. He could not grieve for her again - the beautiful woman he had fallen in love with. Dr. Julia Hoffman had said that she would ensure that her memory would remain absent, but he had his doubts. She seemed to be a smart doctor, but what if she wasn't as good as she claimed?
Barnabas Collins was sitting at his desk, writing furiously. As soon as he was finished, he handed a monogrammed piece of stationary to his faithful servant. "Now, here is the list of supplies you will need to finish Dr. Hoffman's laboratory, along with some items that I will require. Do not forget to take care of this today. Do you understand, Willie?"
"Yeah, Barnabas. I understand."
"Good. Now, the sun will be up soon and I am going to retire for the day."
"Okay, Barnabas." Willie started to shift nervously.
Barnabas exhaled in frustration. "What is it, Willie? If you are going to ask me a question, please get on with it!"
"Yeah, um, I was wonderin' if I could have a little extra money?"
"What do you wish to use it for?"
Willie cursed himself for not thinking up a good story before he spoke. It didn't take long for Barnabas to figure out what he planned to do.
"You plan to go to Windcliff to see the Evans girl, don't you?"
"I gotta see her, Barnabas," Willie said simply.
Willie knew that Barnabas already had the answer to that question. Willie knew, for some twisted reason, that Barnabas enjoyed making him speak the truth, especially when it made Willie look like a fool. "You know why. Besides, don't ya wanna know for sure that she don't remember anythin', or are ya gonna trust Dr. Hoffman's word?"
Barnabas thought it over for a moment. "Perhaps you're right. I still do not trust Dr. Hoffman completely. However, I'm not sure I can trust you to keep your emotions in check."
He studied the vampire's face, resenting the veiled insults that he continually threw at him since the day he became his slave. Hardening his expression, just like he used to when he was in a poker game with Jason McGuire, he replied, "I'm gonna sneak inside. No one's gonna know who I am."
"You cannot let anyone see you. We cannot take any chances."
"I got a plan. You're gonna hafta trust me."
"You will have to excuse me, Willie, but the fact that I had to re-write the list of supplies that you were supposed to buy yesterday does not give me much confidence in you."
"Look, the wind blew it outta my hand. I couldn't remember what was on it!"
Barnabas exhaled in frustration again. "Alright, Willie. I will give you the extra money. Find out what she remembers and report back to me this evening."
"I will. Thank you, Barnabas."
Willie stared out the window of the bus, watching the changing colors of the sky as the sun rose. The bus was fairly empty, only a few other passengers that thankfully didn't pay any attention to him. He wondered what it would be like to watch the sunrise with Barnabas, if Dr. Hoffman was able to cure him. Would he even want to? He figured he would, just to make sure that the cure had really worked and that he was really free of him. How amazing that would be, he mused to himself, to pursue a normal life with Maggie, if she would have him. He had to try. Windcliff soon came into view - a dark silhouette against the pink and golden sky. As he got off the bus, he looked around to try and find an employee entrance to the building. Once he found it, he managed to sneak in when another employee entered with their key. A laundry closet was thankfully nearby, so he made his way to it and found a uniform to wear, inhaling it to make sure it didn't stink. Willie saw a board hanging on a wall that had the names and room numbers of all the patients. He saw that Maggie was in room 308. Carefully, Willie made it to the third floor and to Maggie's room. The door was open and she wasn't in there. He walked in and spotted a sweater laying on the bed. Holding it close to him, he could smell her and envisioned her in Josette's wedding gown. Despite her terrified expression, she still looked beautiful to him. Then, the echoes of her begging him to let her go began to torture him. He put the sweater back down quickly, as if it would pose a danger to him. Then, Willie saw a schedule posted on her wall. Looking at his watch, he realized where she was: the Chapel.
His heart began to pound as he approached the girl with a long auburn ponytail that sat on her knees at the altar, hands folded in prayer. Luckily, no one else was in the Chapel and Maggie's nurse was seated in a little room with a window where she could watch her patient. However, this nurse was busy reading a novel and totally unaware of his presence. Shaking, he knelt next to her and assumed the same position. He could hear her whispering, but could not make out her words. "Are you Miss Evans?" Willie said quietly. He tried his best to mask his accent, but he failed miserably.
She didn't look at him. "Yes. I'm not ready to go back to my room yet, if that's what you want to know."
"No, Miss Evans. I just wanted to ask if you were okay."
"I'm tired of all the questions. I still can't remember anything."
Willie was relieved. "Do you want someone to talk to?"
"I'm talking to God right now. He's my only hope."
They both prayed in silence. He assumed that she was praying for her memory to return so that her kidnapper would be behind bars and she could return home. He prayed that Dr. Hoffman would find the cure for Barnabas. He also prayed for Maggie to be safe, in case the cure didn't work. He also prayed for Maggie to forgive him, maybe even learn to love him someday. It was a long shot, but he had to try. Then, he prayed for forgiveness and redemption for the life he lead before becoming Barnabas's servant. After a moment, he gazed at her as he turned his head slightly sideways. He watched her long, dark lashes as she blinked several times. Her hair seemed to be a lighter shade under the altar lights. To him, she looked like an angel and he found it difficult to look away. She must have felt him staring at her because she glanced sideways back at him.
He searched her face, hoping that she wouldn't recognize him. Her brown eyes met his blue eyes and there was no recognition at all. A wave of relief, but also a little sadness, washed over him.
"Are you a doctor," she whispered.
"No, I'm just a worker here. Today's my first day."
"You've already got a stain on your shirt."
Willie looked down at the white uniform and, sure enough, a pink stain was right in the middle of his chest. He came up with a quick fib. "I was tryin' to give this lady a shot, an' she fought me so hard that I got it on me instead."
Maggie chuckled quietly. "That's because you're too skinny. You need to build up some muscle to work here."
Willie chuckled in response. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Are there any gyms around here?"
"No, you have to go to Collinsport..." Her gaze shifted back to the altar and she became quiet.
"Are you from Collinsport, Miss Evans?"
She looked back at him. "Yeah, I think so."
Willie felt bad for her as he watched the confusion cloud her face. "You okay? Do I need to get a doctor?"
"No, I'm tired of talking to doctors. It's almost time for breakfast. Would you like to join me?"
He smiled eagerly. "Yeah, I would."
They got up and she held to his arm, making him smile. Maggie tapped on the window and got the nurse's attention. She mouthed the words "breakfast" and pointed to Willie. Seeing that she was with what seemed to be an employee, she nodded in return and motioned for her to go ahead. Willie was on top of the world as he walked the halls with his favorite girl on his arm.
They went to the cafeteria and sat down with their food. He had a flashback to when she was in the cell and he would carry her breakfast to her on a tray. He always tried to include a pretty flower for her, not that she seemed to notice.
"Hello? I asked you what your name is?" Maggie's voice brought him back to the present.
"Oh, my name is...William."
"William..." She took a sip of her juice. "It's nice to meet you."
"You said you're tired of talkin' to doctors. What's wrong with your memory?" He took a sip of his coffee, trying to keep his nerves at bay and avoid another stain on the borrowed uniform.
"Oh, I don't know," she replied with great frustration in her voice, "I've been told that I was kidnapped, but I can't remember a thing."
"That's terrible, Miss Evans." He stared at her, still not seeing any indication of recognition. Then, she surprised him by placing her hand on top of his.
"Please call me Maggie." She smiled at him, making Willie smile in response.
The two finished their breakfast, enjoying idle chit-chat. Then, Maggie placed her hands on the table and exclaimed, "I don't want to go back to my room yet. Will you take me for a walk?"
Willie couldn't be happier. Beaming at her, he extended his hand and escorted her outside.
It was quiet in the garden. They walked down the path and stopped in front of the small pond with a tiny waterfall. "It's pretty here," Willie said quietly.
"Yes, it is. Very peaceful." Still holding to his arm, she rested her head against it. "It's nice to have someone to talk to. I feel like I could tell you anything."
He closed his eyes as his mind began to play out different scenarios of how he could respond. The thought of taking her in his arms and kissing her was the first. Or, he could confess that they know each other. No, too risky. He decided to simply cover her hand with his and whisper, "I'm glad you trust me." The sound of the rippling water combined with the gentle breeze that blew through the garden painted the perfect picture of peace for Willie. He wished he could stay here with her forever. His heart longed to tell her how much he loved her and that he would happily rescue her from this prison and take her far away to keep her safe. He wanted so much to be her knight in shining armor.
She raised her head and looked up at him. "Why do I feel as if I know you? When we were in the Chapel together, I said that God was my only hope and you said he was yours too. Why do I feel that we both are involved in something so powerful that's way beyond our control?"
He looked down at her anxious gaze, desperately trying to figure out what to say to her. Swallowing hard, Willie responded. "Because we are." Seeing her confused expression, he quickly added. "You said you were kidnapped, right? Well, I'm bein' held against my will, too. Just in a different way."
Maggie's eyes widened. "You're not a patient here, are you?"
"No, no! I got a friend who's real sick. I hafta take care of him, which means I don't really get any time to myself, see. That's why I got this job, to help pay the bills." His ability to stretch the truth surprised him.
She was quiet for a moment. "Oh, I see. You were praying that he would be cured so you could have a normal life."
He exhaled with amazement at her ability to speak the truth without realizing it. "Yeah, how did you know?"
"That's what I prayed for, too - for me to have a normal life. I want to get out of this place and, I don't know, start over, I guess."
The sound of approaching footsteps caused them both to look back. Maggie's nurse was still carrying her novel as she told her it was time to go back to her room and take her meds. Maggie nodded in response, then looked at Willie.
"Thank you, William. I really enjoyed our visit." She extended her hand and he gently took it. It was warm and he didn't want to let it go.
"You take care, Maggie." He gazed into her eyes and, for a brief second, thought he saw a glimmer of recognition. Taking it as a sign, Willie decided to abandon all reason and do the unthinkable. He cupped her face in his hands and placed his lips on hers, deepening the kiss at her immediate response. As suddenly as he started, he abruptly pulled away, knowing he had eyes on them. Giving Maggie a final grin and, happily noting her surprised smile, he ran past the nurse and found his way back to the entrance of Windcliff. If he wasn't mistaken, he heard Maggie calling after him, calling him "Willie," and a feeling that God had listened to his prayers swept over him, telling him that maybe he was forgiven for his sins after all.