Punishment: Epilogue

Somewhere in the back of his mind Emil became aware of a voice saying his name. He focused on the voice, even thought he had a vague feeling that he was imagining it, and the more he focused on it the more aware of it he became. Suddenly someone tapped him on the shoulder and his eyes snapped open. He looked around, his curiosity getting the better of him. Everything was fuzzy.

"Dis don' seem right..." He said, but even his voice seemed fuzzy. "Am I dreamin' dis?"

"Matter of fact...yup." The same voice who'd been trying to get his attention was right behind Emil and he jumped. He turned around and blinked in shock.


"Boy you're swift tonight." Questa laughed.

Emil was confused. He didn't understand this at all, and it baffled him. "I'm confused, mon ami...you're dead...ain' you?"

"Yeah. Nothin' hurts anymore. It's kinda cool, actually." Questa explained. "But Tante Mattie tol' me I had to talk to you. Dat's why I'm here right now." He tapped Emil's head. "In your dreams. Jus' dis once."

"But do de others know...?"

"Non. To dem you're on de verge of dyin', in critical condition in dat blasted MedLab. What do you remember?"

"Everythin' started hurtin' a lot more 'gain...like it did b'fore...I could hardly bear it it hurt so bad...an' den I couldn' breathe anymore an' de monitors went wonky an' Dr. McCoy freaked out an' dat's it. I passed out I guess..." Emil said. "How long 'go was dat?"

Questa made the attempt to do the math and ended up laughing again. "He operated on you for three hours b'fore he was done...dat was twelve hours 'go...so if my math is right you got worse 'gain fifteen hours 'go. An' I been tryin' to get you to get into dis dream for awhile. You're stubborn."

"Why're you here?"

"I'm here b'cause I have to tell you a couple of t'ings, an' apparently I'm de only one who can do it." Questa explained with a shrug.

"Okay...so...?" Emil asked.

"Well, personally, I'm real proud of you an' Gris for agreein' to work t'ings out an' stuff. An' all dat stuff Tante Mattie used to tell us 'bout de spirits of de dead keepin' an eye on us...it's true. I mean heck, I'm proof of dat right now I guess, but seriously, I've been watchin' an' dey never, ever leave. I've seen so many people from bot' Guilds, hoverin' an' keepin' an eye on all'a you guys since I died...I couldn' believe it. But it's true." Questa smiled.

Emil sighed. "An' now you're one of 'em...an' I s'pose I will be too b'fore de day's out...my own stupid fault..."

Questa frowned and cuffed Emil across the arm. "You injured yourself even more so you could sit wit' me. You did it b'cause you weren' sure de others would be dere in time an' you didn' want me to die alone. Dat is prob'ly de nicest t'ing anyone has ever done for me an' I don' wan' you to call yourself stupid for doin' it. 'Sides, you ain' gon' die."

"How do you know?" Emil asked.

"Remember when I asked you if I was gon' die? I already knew de answer, I jus' wanted verification, I guess. But I knew, b'cause Momma, Tante Mattie, Marius an' Julien came an' told me. I had enough time to write dat note by dat point, but dat was it. Dere ain' no one from your fam'ly here to take you wit' dem, an' everyone 'round here's been sayin' it ain' your time. You still have a job to do in life."

"So I gotta get better an' wake up an' stuff..."

"Exactly. An' when you wake up for long periods of time, b'cause we both know you won' for awhile at first, you gotta make sure you do everythin' Dr. McCoy says an' be good so you'll get better. Only maybe get someone to get you a laptop instead of dat paper an' pencil."

Emil laughed. "Yeah...hey, uh...is dere anythin' you want me to tell de others...I mean we're all really upset an' all...an'..."

Questa grew sober and sighed. "I know. Been watchin'. An' I guess all dey really need to know is dat dey ain' alone. None of you are ever alone. Dere's so many people who never leave you. Take comfort in dat. Live one day at a time. I gotta go now..."

"Okay..." Tears welled up in Emil's eyes. "Uhm...I guess...uh..."

"Goodbye, Emil. Thank you for bein' my friend."

With that, the dream ended and Emil found himself waking up in the MedLab with Hank standing over him, a concerned look on the furry blue face. The tears that had begun to fall at the end of the dream were making a steady stream down either side of Emil's pale face and clogging his ears.

"Welcome back, Emil." Hank said. "You gave us quite a scare there. I'm glad you're awake, that shows me you're going to get better, and hopefully this time you'll do as I say. But why on earth are you crying?"

Emil picked up the pencil and wrote a note to Hank. "Questa came to talk to me in a dream I just had. Told me I still have a job to do here, so I have to get better. Told me other things too..." He shoved the pad over to Hank and put the pencil down again.

Hank read the note and sighed. "No wonder you're crying...well you try to get some rest. We can all discuss everything later. There's plenty of time for that."

Emil nodded as best he could and closed his eyes. Hank, satisfied his young patient was going to be okay, went into his office and sat down behind his desk. He pushed a button on his intercom, waited for a connection and then said,

"Remy? It's Hank."

Remy was upstairs in the kitchen with the remaining Guild members. They all jumped up in alarm when they heard Hank's voice. "Is everythin' okay, Hank?" Remy demanded.

"Yes, fine. I didn't mean to startle you. Emil woke up a few minutes ago. He's going to be just fine. There's no need for any of you to worry about him."

"How do you know?" Genard asked.

"He told me himself. So please, all of you try to get some rest. He's going to need you all to be here to help him recover." Hank said. He didn't want to upset them by mentioning Questa, and he figured if it made Emil cry, it would make them cry as well. Emil could tell them all about the dream at a later time.

"Okay Hank." Remy said. "Thanks for lettin' us know."

Hank ended the communiation and leaned back in his chair, looking thoughtfully out at the main room of the MedLab, where Emil was sleeping peacefully. The road ahead of them was a long one, with so much pain and grief flowing through the members of the Guild, but Hank knew they were strong enough to get through it. They were proving their strength over and over as the time went by and somehow, Hank knew if they started to lose their way, the spirits protecting them would step in and put them back on the right track, just as Questa had done for Emil.