Remix: Family Ties (The Heart Stopping Remix) [Alva Keel, Evelyn Santos, 300 words, rated PG-13], by emmademarais
Once Paul was settled with a cup of hot tea, Alva brought a cup of coffee to Evelyn, pressing it into her shaking hands.
"They'll find Matty," Alva reassured her, keeping Paul in his peripheral vision as he sat beside her. "They'll find the woman who took your son, I'm certain."
"How can you be so sure?" Evelyn looked at him, forlorn.
Alva laid a hand on her arm. It was foreign to him to be physically reassuring, but if the kidnapping of a friend's child wasn't the time to let go of his standoffishness, there wasn't one.
"I know because Paul got the information about her from Tommy."
Evelyn frowned. "Tommy appeared to Paul?"
"No." Alva's hand tensed despite himself. "Paul went to him."
"How…" Evelyn blinked, confused.
Alva lowered his voice. "Paul died, Evie. For you, for Matty. He made me arrange to have a doctor stop his heart, to kill him, so he could seek out Tommy in the spirit realm and ask him about Matty."
Evelyn's hand went to her mouth as she gasped. "No…"
"He was gone over four minutes." The memory, still fresh, made Alva's own chest clench and he glanced briefly at Paul, needing that reassurance. "We almost couldn't get him back."
"Oh god…" Evelyn's stoic mask crumbled. "All those hurtful things I said to Paul before… I just said them because I was upset. Paul knows that doesn't he? He knows he's family, right?"
Alva let Evelyn follow his glance to where Paul sat huddled, still ashen pale.
"Perhaps it would be good for you to tell him that."
Evelyn nodded and rose, but before Alva's hand could fall away she took hold of it, giving it a squeeze.
"Alva, just so you know…" She managed a heartfelt smile. "You're family too."