Title: Duane T. Banbury
Author: DebC
E-mail: debchilson@yahoo.com
Rating: PG
Challenge: Spirit/Need/Life
Keywords: post-episodic, One of Us
Disclaimer: Mysterious Ways belongs to Lions Gate Television, PAX, CTV and others.
Summary: Sometimes the miracle is greater than the explanation

"Duane T. Banbury"


Declan was busy grading test papers when a knock came at his door. He looked up to see a plain-faced teenager with short, dark hair and thick glasses standing in his opened doorway.

"Yes? Can I help you with something?" he asked, waving her inside. "Sit, please."

"A-are y-you P-professor Dunn?" she stuttered, casting her eyes downwards.

"Yeah, I am. Hey, you don't need to be afraid of me. I'm not going to bite."

"I-I'm n-not a-af-fraid. I-I st-s-stutter a lot." She looked up, pushing her glasses up onto her nose as they slide back down.

Declan smiled. "I had a cousin who stuttered. Aunt June was always making him take speech therapy lessons." The girl gave a shy smile. "Anyway, what can I do for you?"

She held out a folded up newspaper to him. It looked worn. Unfolding it, Declan saw a picture of him at the Duane Banbury memorial on campus. That had been two months ago.

"I don't understand. Did you know him?"

"H-he w-was my b-br-brother," she forced out along with a sob.

Declan was stunned. "I'm sorry. I should have..." He looked hard at her, only now for the first time seeing a resemblance between this teenager and the student who'd been killed so recently. "We tried to locate family, but Duane didn't have any listed in his school records."

"H-he w-wouldn't. He's d-dead."

"Well, yeah. I know that. I was there."

She shook her head. "N-no," she told him. "Duane d-died o-ver a year a-ago." She pulled a newspaper clipping from the backpack she carried with her, handing it over as well. It was yellowed and the image faded, but Declan recognized Duane T. Banbury as he had looked the first day he arrived in his classroom.

It couldn't be possible. "This can't be possible. I saw him in my classroom."

The girl shook her head sadly. "I-I w-wish it w-eren't."

~*~

"Dead?" Peggy asked incredulously. "That's not possible, Declan. At least not at the time."

"I can't explain it, either, Peg. But I read the newspaper articles, called the school. It's true. Duane T. Banbury was all ready dead *before* he was shot here," Declan reiterated.

"So why was he here?" Peggy inquired, still doubtful.

"Maybe there was something he needed to do before his spirit could rest," Miranda said, leafing through the articles Declan had brought with him.

"Like?" the psychiatrist pushed.

Miranda shrugged. "The paper's said he did it because the football player was harassing him for dating a pretty girl. Jealousy or something. He snaps under the pressure and takes a gun to school. Kills half the football team and then himself."

"Wait a minute! I get what you're saying." Declan jumped in. "His spirit got sent to NOU by the Big Kahuna to help stop something similar from happening here?"

"Or to show people that life is too short to let their differences divide them," Miranda said quietly.

The three friends--each different from each other in many ways--exchanged thoughtful looks. Declan smiled sadly. "Here's hoping someone was paying attention to him this time around."

~End~