Here are the beginning of the last two chapters. Yay! Almost there! Enjoy the cross-over chapter...

- Thumper


Chapter 22
Aftermaths

For the second time that week, Melinda found herself in an unfamiliar LA hospital surrounded by nurses, doctors, and family members that walked up and down the halls, not to mention the occasional spirit that passed by. The only difference between this time and the last was that she was the patient.

She was sitting in one of the small rooms the nurses and paramedics ushered her to, waiting for Jim to come. Her head pounded in time with the beat of her heart even though she had been given painkillers and an ice pack. But worse than that, she was till… afraid. Melinda felt like if she turned around he would be there, gun in had, desperate, furious eyes. She couldn't seem to shake that feeling off no matter how hard she tried. She stole another glance in back of her for good measure and shivered, but not from the icy water that had leaked out of her ice pack. Melinda wished Jim to come a little faster.

There was a clock on the wall that told Melinda it was just after one o'clock. It almost seemed impossible to her that it was already in the afternoon. Everything after eleven thirty was a blur in her mind. It seemed like she had been trapped in that house forever, but then again it seemed like she was never there. It was like a dream that had terrified her and left her with the aftermaths of worry and confusion.

Melinda wasn't even sure that she remembered was right toward the end. There was so much pain and colors and noise. At one point she had been positive she was at the beach, since everything was so bright and sounded like the ocean through her muffled hearing. She had managed to drag herself partly back to reality though and had heard Rolands screaming out the door. A few seconds later, she could hear someone else talking to him. It was still to foggy to make out, but Melinda could put what Rolands was yelling together and figure out it was the police. She had a moment of sudden relief before she was yanked off the floor and pushed hard into a bright light.

It felt like she was floating into nothingness after that. It lasted so long Melinda had begun to worry she had actually died. She had been just able to see a shape running toward her and a pair of hands grabbed her arm. The person whose hands probably belonged to said something to her, but Melinda had been unable to focus on what he said. He had repeated it, but a sudden burst of noise drowned everything out. People yelled, sirens blared, and cars roared to life all at the same time. And as quickly as it had come, everything was quiet again.

Her vision had become clearer to the point that she could make out what was surround her. There wasn't many people there, or cars. A couple of ambulances were parked on the street along with a black SUV, but that was it. Melinda could see the still hazy figure of Emily a few feet away from her, being led by a couple of people in black vests to an ambulance on the street. Emily glanced over in her direction and began running to her.

"You were right," Emily babbled when she was close. "You were right. Stacy saved us."

For some reason, Melinda was alert enough to catch the questioning look the agents shared with each other. She couldn't find her voice though, so she gave Emily what she hoped was a nod and smile.

After a few minutes of sitting in the ambulance, all of Melinda's senses had come back to her. They had taken her to the hospital, gave her something for the pain, done a few tests, called Jim, and left her to figure out what had just happened. Nurses had been coming in and out, one right after the other so she would never be left alone with her thoughts for an extended period of time. Right now, Melinda was thankful for it.

She heard Jim's voice before she saw him. Just the sound of it calmed her more that any of the drugs she had been given. She stood up as he practically ran into the room and threw his arms around her. They hugged and cried into each other for a long time, neither one of them ever wanting to let the other one go. Finally Jim took a ragged breath and whispered, "I knew something was wrong. You weren't answering your cell, I knew it."

The last time Melinda had seen her phone was hen it had been thrown into the yard of the little house. She sniffed loudly and blubbered, "I'm sorry," into Jim's shirt. And she was sorry, sorry about everything that had happened that weekend and now this week.

"Shh, it's alright," he murmured in a soothing voice. He loosened his embrace so he could look at her. "Are you hurt?" he asked.

"Concussion," Melinda told him, touching the back of her head just slightly as she did so. She watched as Jim's expression went form concerned to horrified to sympathetic, to angry. "It could be a lot worse," she added meekly.

"If I ever get my hands on that guy-"

Melinda put her hand to his lips to stop him in the middle of his threat. "They caught him. It's over." She said, "He's going to jail."

Jim sighted and shook his head. "It's not good enough," he said.

She nodded and took a gasp of a breath as she fell into a wave of tears again. Jim held her closer and after a while, he said, "We're going home."

Melinda shook her head and started, "I have to-"

Jim cut her off with an irritated sigh, "No, Melinda, I'm tired of this. I thought I was okay with what you've been doing here, but you almost died today. I want to put all of this behind us and get out of here. Now."

"No, I know," Melinda told him. "Start packing everything up. I know how to end all of this. And I can do it tonight."

There were absolutely no second thoughts running through Melinda's mind as she made her way purposely down a slightly familiar hall of CalSci. It seemed almost like Stacy was following her, right behind her even though she wasn't in sight as Melinda walked to the classroom she was searching for. It was a day of truth and apologies, and she could tell just by the atmosphere that Stacy finally wanted to make things right.

Down the hall, the old professor who Melinda recognized from a few days ago was looking at her. A trickle of students was coming out of a nearby doorway, unaware that he was even there. The professor raised a hand to wave and smile at her before disappearing. A small grin formed on Melina's lips when she saw him, and she wondered if Eli had been to Boston yet.

She let someone with a backpack and ear buds in his ears pass before Melinda glanced into the room. When she saw him, she knocked three times on the open door. Charlie looked over from here he was erasing the chalkboard. When he saw her, mixed emotions ran over his face, but surprise was not on of them. A moment passed before he put down the eraser and dusted off his hands. "I had a feeling I'd see you again," he said.

Melinda stepped into the classroom. "I promise this will be the last time," she replied, "You just need to help me and… help Stacy." The last part came out hesitant because she knew that mentioning Stacy was almost tabooed around him.

But to her surprise Charlie didn't force her to leave right then and there like she half expected he would. He only gave her a tired yet determined look and said, "I can't believe that Stacy's spirit is here. It's just not possible for me."

"I think I can deal with that," Melinda told him. Usually the non-believers came around in the end, but she figured that she could work with this the way it was if she had to. Melinda didn't believe it was necessary to push the subject onto him for this one.

She took a quick glance around the room for Stacy, but found nothing. That ticked her off a little. Melinda had felt Stacy's energy since she had entered the school, like a push of excitement shoving her down the hallways. Now she was no where to be seen. She held back an irritated sigh as she slowly said, "I've been told mostly what happened." Charlie didn't look surprised, so Melinda continued. "But there's one thing I don't understand. Do you know something about an e-mail?"

He looked up at her with a confused expression. "A what?" he asked.

"An e-mail," Melinda repeated more perplexed than ever, "Stacy-" she stopped, thought, and backtracked, "I was told that she sent an e-mail to you, telling you where she was."

Melinda watched his reaction that brought no end to what she was feeling. Charlie seemed totally stunned by what she had told him. It was almost like he was fighting a battle within himself, part of him not willing to believe her and part of him desperately wanting to. "I never… I never got an e-mail," he finally said.

In her peripheral vision, Melinda saw Stacy standing in the corner of the room. She looked the most confused of all of them, her forehead wrinkled and doubt clouded her eyes. For the first time Melinda saw her, Stacy looked almost stricken. "I don't understand," she whispered quietly, calmly, "I'm sure it sent. I know it. I mean, he only left me alone for a minute and as soon as I sent it he came in the room, but… it had to go through." Stacy raised her eyes to Melinda's questioningly, desperate for an answer.

Melinda returned her stare for a moment before turning back to Charlie and repeating the conversation. "Stacy does- she… I don't…" Melinda stopped and let out an inaudible sigh. I was hard work trying to dance around the whole ghost issue and finally she gave up altogether. "She doesn't understand why you never received it."

If Charlie had any opposition against mentioning Stacy, he didn't show it. He only hesitated for a second and then spoke thoughtfully, "Amita was able to look over Rolands' personal computer and found a number of high-tech security systems that required passwords. The e-mail could have had one of those systems programmed in it."

Melinda glanced back to where Stacy was standing for a quick look to see how she reacted. "I feel so… so stupid," Stacy admitted, "I don't know how I could have gotten so idiotic and selfish, and… angry."

"You were confused," Melinda told her. She cast a sideways look to Charlie, but he wasn't looking at her. She spoke softly anyway. "You didn't know what happened, and you were cared and in denial. It happens a lot, actually. More than you'd think."

Stacy gave a small smile. "It doesn't excuse what I did though." She paused and said after a moment, "Tell him I'm sorry. For everything."

Melinda nodded and turned back to Charlie, only hesitating for a split second before relaying the conversation to a simple point. "She wants you to know she's sorry for everything that's happened," she told him.

There was that inward battle again as he struggled to find the right way to act and the right thing to say. Finally he just settled for a simple nod that didn't seem ungrateful. But Melinda wasn't sure if that would be enough to let Stacy cross over. She looked back over at the ghost, trying to figure out her next step as the messenger. To her surprise, she saw Stacy staring into the middle of the room admiringly, tears beginning to glisten in her eyes.

"I see my daddy," she said wonderingly, "And Grammy." A smile launched itself on her face that made her look alive for a moment. She took one small step, but stopped.

Melinda was confused, "What about forgiveness?" she asked, because that was what most ghosts wanted when it came down to it.

Stacy looked at her like remembering a dream. Then she laughed. "I spent two and a half years in Professor Eppes' classes. I know this is the best I'm going to get. Besides," she added "He still doesn't believe this is really real, so in a way, he doesn't blame me for what I did anyway."

Melinda though about that for a minute and nodded. It did make sense to some degree.

Looking back to the center of the room, Stacy began to walk to where she saw the Light. She stopped suddenly again and looked back toward Melinda. "Can you tell him one more thing?" she asked.

Melinda nodded.

With a mischievous grin, Stacy said, "Tell him thirty-four would have lead to a car dealership."

She nodded again, only a little puzzled over that. In silence, she watched Stacy walk a couple of ore steps before completely disappearing for the very last time. A feeling rose in Melinda that she couldn't quite explain afterwards. She turned back to Charlie after a couple of seconds, not sure what to say to end this. "It's over," she finally said, and left it at that.

Charlie still held onto that look of confusion that was present since the beginning. But now awe and something else that could only be described finality touched his features. "It really is," he said. And it sounded wholesome. He sank into the desk chair looking like something important had just happened to him, but he couldn't quite recall what.

She turned to leave, but paused before she made it to the doorway. "Can I ask you one question?" Melinda asked him

Charlie blinked a few times to revive himself from his stupor. "What?" he asked hoarsely.

"Why didn't you just throw me out as soon as I came in here talking about Stacy?" she questioned.

He thought for a little bit before replying, "I thought about it and talked to a couple of people and…" he paused, "We're both adults. I needed to start acting like one." A small grin lit up his face, "besides, I knew you'd never leave me alone if I didn't start cooperating."

Melinda smiled and got to the doorway before she remembered what Stacy had told her to pass on to him before she left. She turned around, "Oh, Stacy wanted to tell you something else."

Still in the chair, Charlie swiveled around to face her, "Oh yeah? And what was that?"

Just the tone in his voice made a smirk force its way onto Melinda's lips. He sounded doubtful and full of half-feigned interest. It almost reminded her of how someone would ask a child what Santa Clause had brought them for Christmas even though they had bought the gifts. At that instant, Melinda realized that it would have been a losing battle if she had tried to force Charlie to believer that dead people still walked the earth. Her smirk grew wider as she thought of what Stacy had told her. It had to have some kind of hidden meaning that he would understand. "She said thirty-four would have led you to a car lot."

Melinda only watched long enough to see Charlie's face go from the somewhat cocky expression he was wearing, back to confusion, to wonder and then some mix of the two. She left him sit there, mouth half open, lost in his own thoughts as she slipped out of the room. A huge smile escaped from her lips as she almost bounced down the hall. She could hardly remember a time when she felt better than she did now.