Time After Time
Justin Lord was dying. Walter didn't have to look at the fancy medical monitors of the intensive care unit to know this; he could feel Justin's life force seeping away. Justin teetered between coma and death, only his enormous physical and emotional strength keeping him alive. But that strength was fading, his will to survive exhausted.
Walter blinked tears, bent over Justin in the hospital bed, and took the limp hand unencumbered by tubes in his hands. "Don't die, Justin. It's not your time. You have years of happiness to live through and good acts to do. A wife and children waiting for you in the future, lives to touch."
The air quivered. Dull fluorescent light became the gold of May dusk on a perfect sunny day. Cleaning fluid and sickness smells transformed into the scent of apple blossoms. The gold light coalesced in the room's corner. A door opened from beyond.
Her hair still pure auburn, the wrinkles on her kind face only around her twinkling eyes and smiling lips, a lovely woman in her late golden years stepped through the door into the room.
Relief surged so intensely Walter forgot his usual snippy comments about her fondness for grand entrances. "Celeste!"
"Oh, Walter. I came as soon as I felt his danger." Celeste hugged him. "We'll find a way to save him."
Walter stepped back and swiped away tears. "How is she?"
"I left Alexa well guarded by her late mother's guardian spirit. Alexa feels something is terribly wrong."
Walter nodded. "These two have always been so close in all their lives. They feel each other even before they meet."
"Such a pair they are, hard-headed and adventurous. They make our jobs quite a task, but they do love each other." Celeste smiled fondly up at Walter. She traced his graying moustache and the distinguished gray at his temples. "Very stylish and handsome, Walter. I like the look."
He beamed, and his hands settled on the lapels of his conservative gray business suit. "I prefer the styles of the period we're working even if they don't usually see us."
She chuckled and straightened her gold silk walking dress from the Gay Nineties. "And I don't." She nodded as if she'd given him just the right amount of teasing to ease his grief, then turned to Justin. The blue twinkle in her eyes dimmed as she examined the slash surgical incisions across his broad chest and the smaller web of scars down his legs and under the two leg casts. His black curls had been shaved off. A long gouge wound ran across his scalp. "Oh, Walter, what's been done to him?"
Walter stiffened defensively. "I did everything I could to stop him from flying the plane. I just couldn't stop him."
Celeste shook her head. "Sometimes they won't listen to the intuitions we give them. Especially this one. He's avoided every hint and opportunity we've given him to meet Alexa. He's wasted years of their lives together. If he'd met Alexa, you could be certain he'd not have come to this terrible pass."
"I had to hustle to get medical help there to save him. A dozen of us worked frantically that day to save him."
"He's such a handsome man, and his face glows with his unique proud spirit. Alexa will love him at first sight."
"Not as usual. Remember Gerard and Aurelia?"
Walter chuckled. "Who could ever forget that reincarnation. I thought we'd never get those two properly bonded. Over eight years before they admitted their feelings!" He smiled fondly. "Still, they have always been favorites."
Celeste nodded. "The harshness of their early years made the sweetness later so much sweeter."
"This time he just doesn't have the strength to keep fighting."
Celeste held her hand just above Justin's head and concentrated. "Not his strength, he has some strength left, it's his will that weakens."
"And from someone so hard-headed, too. He's fought so long. I've run out of ways of keeping him fighting. I'm losing him."
Celeste's face softened as if she were trying to reason through a solution to their problem. "Thinking of all their lives... It's strange how some of the same patterns and events occur in each one."
Although she knew the answer already, Walter prompted, "They're the same people whatever life they're living. They need reminders and lessons to reaffirm their strengths and fight their weaknesses."
Celeste grabbed his wrist. "That's it, Walter. A way to give him a will to live. Remember Gerard?"
Walter stroked his moustache with his thumb. "I don't understand."
"The boy was going into the priesthood so he'd never meet Aurelia, never be able to wed her, and you changed his mind."
"By sending him a dream of her waiting for him in the future! I could send him a vision of Alexa, and..." Walter sighed. "Rules! I can't use certain knowledge of his future again."
Celeste sagged. "You're right. The thousand-year time limit isn't quite up."
"A measly seventy years." Walter considered other possibilities. His moustache quivered with excitement. "I've got it. Not the future, the past. I'll return his memory of his past lives. He'll remember her in all the past lives and know she's here now waiting for him, needing him desperately."
"Brilliant! He'll be fighting for her as well as for himself. No obstacle has ever stopped him when her life and safety were involved."
Walter pondered the possibilities. "Knowing him, there will be terrible problems caused by this. We may be destroying their relationship in the future."
"At least there will be a future. We'll save the relationship when problems come."
"If we can. Even guardian spirits can't create miracles." Walter pondered some more, but he could see no other way to save Justin. "We'll save the present and hope for the future."
Celeste beamed. "We haven't failed these soul mates yet."
Walter bent over Justin and rested his palm on Justin's head. "This is your past, all of them, Justin, and the woman who shares your soul and your heart. Please live to find her in the future."