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1. "Who said it was God?"

The first time Alva thought about it, he considered the idea carefully. He couldn't quite remember how it had first occurred to him (had someone whispered it into his ear?), but that didn't seem to matter: the plan had merit. And it would be so easy. Paul was dying anyway; the train had rammed into him with incredible force, shattering fragile human flesh and bone, spilling bright red blood over broken glass. It wouldn't have taken much, no violence at all — he would only have to gently lift the boy up, taking him and his healing gift away from Paul.

Alva was, by nature, a careful observer, swayed more by fact and reason than emotion. He tended to choose his words carefully, deliberately; he avoided the inherent hysteria of labels like "apocalypse" and "armageddon." All the same, all the signs he had been tracking - and their number had increased greatly in recent years - all the signs pointed towards a...hmm...significant event of some kind looming on the horizon.

An event that had Paul Callan at its center.

Was Paul the instigator of the event? The catalyst? An innocent pawn? Or something else altogether? He'd been observing Paul Callan closely for quite some time, and he truly believed that Paul was a person who cared deeply about the world around him, a man concerned about the welfare of his fellow human beings. He found it hard to believe that such a person could contribute in any way to the gathering darkness.

At this, a voice seemed to hiss in the back of his brain, demons loved to corrupt the pure of heart. And Lucifer burned the brightest of all the angels in heaven before the Fall. And he knew this was true.

Alva moved closer to the twisted wreck of metal and glass, and the life slowly bleeding away inside. He could stop it now. He could put an end to it before it even began. He knelt down behind the boy and looked inside the car. All he would have to do was take Tommy away. Simple. Kind, even. Paul would probably thank him for it, if he could.

Alva considered it. And then Paul lifted his head and met his eyes.

Later, he told himself that had nothing to do with it. It didn't matter what he'd seen in Paul's eyes, glimmering behind the pain, the shock, and the confusion of the accident, the bewilderment of approaching death. It had been a purely rational decision. Alva was not a player in the event to come. He certainly was not a murderer. His part was not to act, but to observe. He was the scribe, the historian. He would watch events unfold, and he would record what he saw. He would not interfere.

And any light, any goodness, he'd seen in Paul's eyes was completely beside the point.

Still, he wondered what Paul saw in that moment when he looked at him.


2. "It uses your deepest doubts and fears to destroy you."

The second time he thought about it, he dismissed the idea immediately. It obviously wasn't a thought that had originated inside his own head. Murdering Paul would serve no purpose right now; in fact, it would be actively counterproductive. He hadn't come here to hurt Paul, but to help him. Why would he ever want to hurt Paul? He didn't want to pick up the fire extinguisher lying on the floor, to bash it against Paul's finish the job....

No. That wasn't an idea he would have had on his own. Clearly, the thought had been planted by an outside source.

Quietly, calmly, Alva locked the door of the hospital room. Then he moved towards the respirator keeping the demon's host alive.

It wasn't Paul he needed to kill.


3. "Paul's a very interesting young man, isn't he?"

The third time he thought about it, it was in retrospect, completely after the fact. At the time, it never even crossed his mind. As soon as he knew what was happening, the very second he understood the situation - that if Paul was talking to the apparition known as Little Miss Lost, and if she brought fatal disasters with her whenever she appeared, then all of their lives were at risk at that moment, including Paul's - he tried to stop it.

Almost before he finished processing the idea, his feet began to move. He ran across the grass towards Paul, heart racing, trying to warn him, to save him, to save them all - trying, in fact, to prevent events from unfolding in their proper sequence. He didn't even think twice about it. He just acted.

It wasn't until days later, after the whole affair was concluded and done with, that it occurred to him that his behavior had been a bit out of character. Before he'd met Paul, he would never have tried to interfere like that. He wouldn't have tried to stop Little Miss Lost from manifesting; he would have simply watched from a safe distance. Maybe he would have taken some photographs of the subsequent bodies to document the aftermath. Then he would have written up his notes and observations, and filed it all away.

He wondered who he was changing into.


4. "It led me to you."

The fourth time, Alva felt a sickening combination of guilt and relief churn in the pit of his stomach. Paul was alive, thank God. He'd survived Chad Goodwin's attack on him, but it had been close - far too close for any sort of comfort. If Paul had died, he would have...would have.... If Paul had died, Alva didn't know what he would have done.

Paul didn't blame him, and rightly so, because it wasn't his fault. But it was his responsibility. He'd given Paul that address, thereby sending him into Goodwin's path. Paul was recovering from yet another vicious head wound as the direct result of a choice that Alva had made.

He didn't know what to do anymore.

He used to be absolutely certain that his role should be one of noninterference. Not for him to influence events, not for him to set wheels into motion. And so he'd kept certain things from Paul, hidden information from him. He'd deliberately chosen not to share what little he knew about Paul's destiny. Paul had been furious when he'd found out, and that anger had spurred him into action.

By attempting not to influence events, he'd influenced them greatly. And Alva felt guilty for something that wasn't his fault, something he'd sworn he'd never feel again.

And his relationship with Paul was in tatters.

He wished he knew why that mattered so much to him.


5. "I'm not going to help you to do that, Paul."

By the time he actually went through with it, he wanted more than anything in the world not to. But he did it anyway.


Alva pulled the car up alongside the curb and slowed to a stop outside of Paul's apartment complex. Paul was relaxed in the passenger seat, eyes closed, resting. It had been a long, difficult day, despite the happy outcome. He wasn't surprised Paul was exhausted.

He was smiling a little in his sleep.

Alva felt something inside him snap. He sagged forward as the strength drained from him; he came to rest with his forehead against Paul's shoulder. He didn't try to move. He didn't have the energy. He just lay there, and tried not to shake.

He felt Paul stir a little underneath him. "What? Keel...." Paul's hands touched his back, holding him steady. Alva closed his eyes. "Are you all right?"

After a moment, he managed to say, "Don't do that again. Please."

He could practically feel Paul's confusion. "Alva, you're not making any sense. Do what?"

That was just too much. He sat up and glared at Paul. "Do what? You asked me to kill you today!"

"Oh," Paul said. "That."

"You were so willing to just, just throw your life away! You wanted to die! And I helped you!"

"It was necessary."

"Don't say that! It was not necessary."

Paul frowned at him, the beginnings of anger appearing on his face. "It worked, didn't it? Didn't you want to find Matty?"

"Not if it meant murdering you, you idiot!"

"Oh." Paul blinked in apparent confusion. Or perhaps...realization? "Oh."

"If we hadn't been able to wake you...if you had died...if I had killed you...." Alva ran out of words. He didn't even know what he was trying to say anymore.

Paul seemed to understand anyway. "It's all right. Alva, it's okay. I'm fine."

He took a deep breath. "Just...don't ask me to help you kill yourself ever again."

"I won't," Paul promised.

"Okay," Alva said. "Okay." He opened the door and got out of the car.

Paul followed. "Where are you going?"

Alva eyed him with exasperation. "If you think I'm leaving you alone for one second after the trauma you put yourself through tonight, you're sadly mistaken."

"You're staying the night with me?"

"Yes, Paul," Alva said in tones usually reserved for the slow-witted. "I'm staying with you."

Paul smiled. "Good," he said, and they went inside together.


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