Disclaimer: I dont own the few lines taken from the X-Files at the end of the story but the other characters are mine!!

... where in ancient starlight we lay in repose.

Life sometimes seems to be too good to be true

Although it had been very cold for weeks, it had only started snowing yesterday - two days before the 24^th December. It was much colder this year than all the ones before.

A young man wearing a thin coat was waiting in front of a cheap pub. He was standing in the light of a streetlamp and in the falling snow he looked somehow like an angel. But he was just an ordinary man around 25 who was freezing and coughing from time to time. It sounded rough and tortured. His face was pale, only his lips were blue from the cold. He was waiting for his wife, who was working in the pub, although being highly pregnant. He had wanted her to stop but she had said they would need the money. Milk and diapers would cost a fortune nowadays, so they should earn as much as they could before the baby's birth since his pay as a handyman wouldn't be enough then. He still didn't agree with her still working but he could see her point.

The young man coughed again. His hazel eyes were looking tired and he seemed to be ill. He knew he hadn't been well for some time now but it had become worse this day and he realized he wouldn't be able to hide this from his wife any more.

The door of the pub was opened and a female figure with a huge belly appeared in the light shining through the entrance.

Leo lifted his head and looked at her. It was his wife, who had finally finished her work. She came towards him and he opened his arms to hug her tightly. She wasn't tall, her head came to rest on his chest. He stroked across her back and her long, dark brown hair was warm under his fingers. "Kiara", he whispered in her right ear, "how are you both?" Leo could feel her smiling. "We are okay because I'm with my beloved husband now". They kept standing there, held each other, but suddenly Leo had to cough again. He turned his face away from her and covered his mouth.

"What's wrong with you?" Kiara's face expressed her concern. She touched his forehead, it was hot against her palm. "You're running a fever, let's go home, you shouldn't have stood here in the cold. Why didn't you come in?"

"I was afraid your employers might fire you if I came in, so I decided to wait here."

Kiara smiled. "They haven't been at work today. You could have come in without any problems. How long have you been standing there?"

"Um, a couple of hours, I didn't have many assignments today." He smiled weakly and felt really sad because she had deserved so much more than a handyman whose pay wasn't enough by far.

After half an hour they came home to their small apartment. It was cold inside, they didn't have the money to heat every day. "Leo, lay down a bit, take an aspirin, I will bring you some soup so that you will be back on your feet soon."

His only reaction was a slight nod and he went to their bedroom where he lied down slowly. He didn't feel well and he had the feeling that his condition had been getting worse the last half an hour. However, he fell asleep at once.

Kiara was in the kitchen, heating some soup for her husband and thinking about their future with the baby. She knew it would be a happy one: A loving husband at her side, a wonderful child and they would manage everything although Leo sometimes thought she would be unhappy since he didn't earn that much.

A heavy coughing from the bedroom interrupted her thoughts. Kiara ran towards it and what she saw terrified her badly: Her husband was lying on the bed, curled up like a small child and his head was red from the racking cough. His chest was raising and falling rapidly and he seemed to be in agonizing pain.

Kiara helped him to lie down in a normal position and touched his forehead again. The fever seemed to be a lot higher than before, surely more than 40°C. His shirt was soaking wet but he was calm again when she took it off together with his shoes and pants. She carefully covered him with a blanket over and gave him another one, too.

"I think, I should take you to hospital... You're not looking well."

"No, no", Leo replied weakly, "Ill be better soon, you're gonna see that. And after all, I should be taking care of you. You're pregnant and I just have a little cold."

"It's okay, honey, you've done so much for me.... You wanna have the soup now?"

"Id like to."

Kiara brought the soup, helped him to sit up again, gave him a few pillows to have it more comfortably and started to feed him the soup. He ate almost everything and she thought that this had been a very good sign.

"Ill bring some cold water to cool you down a bit. Are you okay with that?"

Leo nodded slowly. "Would you mind if I slept some time? I can't tell you how tired I am."

"Honey, how can you ask if I do mind that you want to sleep? It will only help you to get better again."

Leo smiled weakly and tried to lie down but his strength wasn't enough to put away the pillows behind his back. His wife had to help him and she was full of concern again. What should she do if his condition worsened? They didn't even have a phone - it would cost far too much. But then Leo was a strong young man and there might be no problem, it might just be a little cold - like he had said.

Kiara was looking at him again. He was sleeping peacefully right now and no coughing seemed to disturb him. She turned and left the room to get a bowl with cold water and a small towel.

When she came back a few minutes later he appeared to be fast asleep. He only coughed lightly from time to time. Kiara sat down next to him, wet the towel and put it on his forehead. She did that periodically every 20 minutes and it really seemed to make the temperature go down.

But real life is different

Four hours later, around 4.30 a.m., she wanted to wake her husband to check on him.

"Honey, wake up, darling", she whispered in his ear, but Leo didn't stir. Kiara shook him a couple of times, slapped him lightly against his cheeks, but without any success: He was just lying there, breathing somehow irregularly and didn't respond to her tries to wake him up.

"Leo, come on, wake up now. Sleeping time is over, sleepyhead." Kiara tried to sound cheerful but it was useless. Her husband didn't wake up and showed no sign of hearing her.

"What can I do now? I must take him to hospital! But how without a phone? I must wake the neighbors!"

Kiara rushed out of their apartment and over to the next door. She hammered at it and after some minutes the door was opened and a women around 55 dressed in a bathrobe was standing in front of Kiara.

"Mrs. Rutherford, you must help me, please. You must take me to hospital!"

"Young woman, if you are in labor, you'll have to ask Leo to take you there. Um, Leo is still with you, isn't he?"

"Of course, he is. But I'm not in labor, that's not the problem", Kiara cried, "Leo's ill! He's just lying in bed, I can't wake him up, he doesn't even stir and I know he's not breathing normally!"

Mrs. Rutherford turned to her husband who was just coming out of the bedroom, also dressed in a bathrobe.

"Anthony, please take our neighbors to hospital. It will be faster than calling the ambulance first!"

Kiara was sitting in a chair in front of the room Leo had been taken into. The doctors were still with him and they had said that she should wait outside until they would have finished the examination. She was very afraid. Leo hadn't regained consciousness till half an hour ago - the last time she had seen him and she felt that this wasn't "just a little cold".

She didn't know if she should call her sisters or just wait here until morning. But only five minutes later she dialed her sisters number since she realized she couldn't deal with that situation by herself.

After what seemed like an eternity to her, she heard Marisa's sleepy voice: "Davis."

"Marisa, this is Kiara. I'm sorry for calling at this time but Leo's at hospital and I really don't know what to do. He's been unconscious for at least one and a half hours.... Please come here. I don't want to be alone right now."

"Leo's at hospital?" Marisa's voice was suddenly concerned. "Do you already know what's wrong with him?"

"No, the doctors are still examining him and nobody told me how bad it is so far."

"Don't worry, Kiara. Leo's young and strong. He will win this fight, I know. But, of course, Sandra and I will come immediately. We'll be at the hospital in half an hour at the latest."

Somehow Kiara felt better at the thought of her sisters coming soon and she knew that it would be easier for her to take the truth about Leo's sickness with them at her side. They had always had a very good relationship since their mother had died soon after Marisa's birth and although their father had left them not much later and they had to grow up at their grandma's, they had had a great childhood with a lot of joy and fun.

Kiara knew that she could always count on Sandra and Marisa and that they would help her with everything, but they were "only" sisters. Not her husband whom she loved even more than them.

Suddenly the opposite door was opened and one of the doctors came out of the room. Kiara stood up, she was trembling as the man approached her.

"Good morning, lady. My name is Ben Jacobson. You are related to Leo Reeves, aren't you?" the doctor wanted to reassure himself.

"Yes," she answered, "I am his wife, Kiara Reeves. How is he?"

"Well, Mrs. Reeves, I'm sorry that I have to tell you that your husband is suffering from pneumonia. It's not sudden, it must have had time to develop, and now it's quite late to treat it efficiently. Of course, we will do our best to help him and to heal him, but I really cannot promise that he will get well again soon... and I can't even tell you that he is certain to survive."

Kiara was shocked. Pneumonia. He must have hidden that from her for quite a long time. Why hadn't he said anything? She could have helped him, at least she could have taken him to a doctor. Didn't he trust in her? No, that hadn't been his reason, for sure. and I can't even tell you that he is certain to survive...` The doctor couldn't have said something like this some moments ago, could he?

"Dr. Jacobson, you haven't just said that my Leo might die, have you? I think, I misunderstood you...."

"No, Mrs. Reeves, you haven't misunderstood me. I said there could be the possibility that Mr. Reeves might die, but we're not expecting the worst, since he is a strong young man who...." the doctor glimpsed at her belly, "...certainly has every will to fight. How far along are you already?"

Kiara smiled. "Eight months and one week. Leo and I can hardly expect the baby's birth. Well, can I see him now?"

"Yes, you can. But although he regained consciousness about 15 minutes ago, I want you to be prepared: He is very weak at the moment due to the high fever, which hasn't gone down much till now, his breathing is labored - thus we have given him an oxygen mask to make it easier for him to get enough air, and he will be very tired - so don't try to keep him awake. Sleeping is the best thing for him at the moment. And of course, he's getting all the required medication to improve his condition quite soon."

Kiara opened the door to the room Leo was lying in. Seeing him, she came to a dead halt. Although Leo had an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth, his breathing still sounded labored - like the doctor had said. He was looking pale and appeared to be sleeping. An IV was going into his right hand and the heart monitor was beeping - about 60 beats per minute.

Lying within all those machines, he looked small and thin. But still like the angel she had met 5 years ago.

It took a great effort to make the few steps towards his bed and she could hardly stop herself from crying. Leo had always been such a strong man and now this! The thought that he could really die came to her mind for the first time.

She sat down next to him and took his left hand. His skin was clammy and she discovered beads of sweat on his forehead. His fever was still high. With her free hand she brushed a few strands of his blond hair out of his face. It crossed her mind that he would need a haircut when he was out of hospital again.

... and I can't even tell you that he is certain to survive...`

This sentence just wouldn't get out of her head! Why couldn't she simply forget that?

Suddenly she felt a slight movement of his fingers against her palm. Immediately she looked at his face. Leo was waking up! Kiara saw that it was a great effort for him to open his eyes but finally he managed. His eyes were wandering around the room and then focused on his wife. Leo gave her a weak smile and tried to say something, but Kiara couldn't understand anything since the oxygen mask still covered his mouth.

"Honey, wait a moment. Ill help you." Kiara stood up and took the mask off his face.

"How are you feeling? You're tired, aren't you?"

Leo nodded slowly, his voice was rough as he answered. "Yeah, I am. But how ... are you and the baby? ... I would never be able ... to forgive myself if something ... happened to you both because of ... me."

"Don't worry, darling, everything's okay. Nothing's wrong. Now, try to sleep again. Don't tire yourself."

He nodded again and closed his eyes. Kiara leaned forward and kissed him on his lips. Then she put the oxygen mask over his mouth again and he fell asleep some moments later.

Kiara felt somehow relieved. There had been no sign to be worried and she believed he would get well soon. She settled back in her chair, kept holding his hand and was ready to sit there for the next hours till he would wake up again.

Five minutes later she glimpsed at her watch. "Well, Sandra and Marisa must be arriving soon. I wonder why they aren't here already. They might have needed more time than they had thought."

But then her thoughts turned to her peacefully sleeping husband again. She had no doubt that he would be able to come out of hospital soon and that they both would raise their child together. Kiara chuckled. It had come to her mind that they still didn't know if it was going to be a boy or a girl. They hadn't even chosen a name yet.

About 10 minutes later she suddenly felt a sharp pain ripping through her.

"No, not now!" she cried. "Leo should be at my side when the baby comes!"

Life is a wonderful gift

In the meantime Sandra and Marisa had come to the hospital and were looking for their sister. They had gone to the emergency room but nobody could tell them where Leo and Kiara were at the moment. The nurses there hadn't even heard of them.

"Marisa, are you sure, that Kiara did really call and it was not just a very realistic dream?" Sandra, who was more than three years older than Kiara and two more years older than Marisa, slowly got impatient.

"You're asking that for the third time now. And for the third and last time: I am completely sure and I was fully awake. We just have to ask someone else!"

A doctor was running past them, he seemed to be in a great hurry, but this was of no matter to Marisa and she caught him by his arm.

"Excuse me, have you heard of a patient called Leo Reeves and his wife Kiara?"

"Kiara Reeves? I think, I've heard this name. Um, not very tall? Long, dark hair?"

Marisa glanced at Sandra with an I-was-right-look and grinned. "Yes, exactly, that must be her. Where is she and her husband?"

"Sorry, I don't know where Mr. Reeves is, but Mrs. Reeves is giving birth at the moment and I must really go and see her. You know, I'm a doctor," he added sarcastically. Then he turned and left.

"Have you heard that?! The baby's coming! I'm so excited! Do you think, it's a boy or a girl?" Marisa was very nervous. You could almost think, it was her own child.

"I don't know. Come on, let's go and have a look for her!"

They rushed to the information desk to get to know where the delivery room was. None of them thought about Leo anymore. The reason why they had come to the hospital was forgotten completely.

"The baby's been in great hurry" a doctor with a broad smile all over his face told them after Sandra and Marisa had reached the delivery room.

"How are they both? Are they okay? Is it a boy or a girl? How tall is it? How...?" Marisa desperately wished she had more than one mouth to ask all her questions at once.

"Both are well, there's nothing to worry. The boy is sleeping - it was very exciting for him, everything's new" the doctor grinned, "and surely you can understand his mom is with him right now. You want to see them, don't you?"

"How can you ask? Of course! We've been waiting for this moment for almost nine months now!"

"OK, it's room no. 412. You have to take this direction", the young doctor pointed to the right, "and then take the next turn to the left. There is it, you'll find it...."

Easily, he had wanted to say. But the sisters had already left. The relation between them must be very close`, he thought, its always good to have some friends around you`. But then his cheerful smile turned slowly into a sad one. Why can't her husband be the same like them? Why isn't he at her side instead of her sisters? I cannot understand men like him!` He was almost angry now.

Of course, he couldn't know that Leo was fighting for his life at the moment, not very far away from his wife, being at her side with every thought - unable to do that physically.

Sandra and Marisa knocked at the door carefully since they didn't want to frighten the newly born boy and his mother. Silently they came in and looking round the corner they could see a very happy Kiara sitting in her bed, with the boy sleeping in her arms.

"Hey, congratulations! How are you?" Sandra asked in a low voice.

"Well, I'm great! I'm just great! Isn't he a cute one?" Kiara was lifting the baby a bit to give her sisters a chance to look at him since he was almost entirely covered by a light blue blanket.

"Oh my God", Marisa chuckled, "he's the sweetest thing I've ever seen on earth! What's his name?"

"I haven't given him one yet. It must be one Leo likes, too, thus I should to talk to him first..."

At mentioning Leo's name Sandra shot a nervous glance to Marisa. It seemed to say Sh... we've forgotten him completely.`

However, Kiara didn't appear to have noticed that glimpse since she continued to speak: "Have you seen him in the meantime? How is he? I hope he's better now, he didn't feel too well when I had to leave."

After a moment of complete stillness, Sandra finally began to speak: "Um, Kiara, um, it's quite embarrassing to tell you this, but, um, you know, it's very exciting, when your sister's getting a baby and, um, ...."

Marisa blurted out: "and we just forgot him."

"What?! What did you say? You forgot Leo?! Oh my God! He's the reason why you came here! I just don't understand you! OK, Marisa, go and find a wheelchair! I want to see him right now. Sandra, you help me with the boy!"

"Kiara, you've just delivered a baby. You can't stand up now and just walk around..."

The young mother shot an angry glance at her. "You have to be quiet. YOU forgot my husband. And after all, I ordered Marisa to get a wheelchair. What do you think it is for? The baby's still too small to win a race against the nurses!" Kiara was in rage now. She just couldn't understand her sisters. Leo was be the last thing she'd forget!

Luckily, Marisa came back just in time to stop the argument between her older sisters. She knew they shouldn't have forgotten Leo. It was ashaming, especially since she felt for him like for a real brother.

Life turns into death

Sandra was pushing the wheelchair Kiara was sitting in, holding the baby, who was still sleeping peacefully. The sisters had made it up, after all, at the moment Leo was more important to Kiara than having an argument with Sandra.

Marisa opened the door to Leo's room and Kiara passed her.

Leo's condition had to have become worse in the last hours. He was hooked up to even more machines and to Kiara it seemed that her husband looked paler and more exhausted than he had before. His small form almost disappeared in the huge bed.

"Hey, darling." His voice was hoarse and quiet but Kiara jumped. She was surprised. She had thought him to be fast asleep.

Quickly she answered: "Leo, sorry, I didn't want to wake you, but someone desperately wanted to visit you." Her voice became softer as she lifted their son so that Leo was able to see him. "Look, honey, that's our son."

This was the last thing Sandra and Marisa could hear since they had decided to leave the room to give the couple some time to be alone with their child. Seeing Leo, they had been shocked. They hadn't ever thought his condition would be this bad. Now they could understand why Kiara had been in such a rage when they had forgotten to look for him.

Inside Leo was holding his baby. He somehow had found the strength to sit up and he'd never felt happier. This was really his child! He still couldn't believe it although he had spent almost seven months dreaming of this moment.

"Honey, have you already been thinking about our son's name?" Kiara asked, but Leo didn't say anything for a long time, he didn't even lift his head to look at her. He just kept holding his son closely. He somehow seemed to be in another world - far away from her, the hospital, the doctors. Only his child appeared to be with him.

It was almost impossible that Leo could have sensed the coming events but he somehow knew he had to keep this moment forever. This moment of complete happiness and joy with his child. He felt this would be the last time he would be able to hold his son, the last time to be with him. He was strangely certain that he would never be able to see him walking the first steps, going to school and finally getting married and what hurt him most: He wouldn't be the one his son would turn to when he needed help.

Leo knew with great certainty that he was going to die.

Dont cry` he told himself. This is not going to be easy, neither for Kiara nor for me.` Leo felt that the last strength he had gathered began to leave him and so he finally returned to reality.

Kiara was relieved. She had thought his behavior to be strange, but now it seemed to her that it was just a father's usual reaction when he saw his child for the first time.

"Isn't he cute?" she asked proudly when Leo returned the boy to her. She didn't repeat the question about his name and that was something she would regret for years.

"Yeah, he's the most beautiful boy I've ever seen in my life." Leo replied while he was lying back. He was too weak now to keep sitting in bed and he was glad when his back touched the sheet again.

"Kiara, please listen carefully now to what I have to tell you." He paused, then continued to speak. "I know, I'm not going to survive this day, maybe not even the next hour. And...", he grabbed her hand and tried not to start crying, "...let me tell you this: I've been loving you since the minute we met and I've never stopped loving you. I love you with all my heart and soul and ... I beg you to go on with your life. There are other men in this world waiting for you to make you happy. And I know that you will raise our son well and that he's getting the best mom ever...."

Leo stopped speaking since it had become difficult and exhausting and because he knew that nothing he could say would be able to ease his wife's pain.

Kiara was staring at him in disbelief. She didn't trust her ears anymore. But slowly his words sunk in and she realized he had meant it the way he had said. However, she tried hard not to cry.

"Leo, what are you saying? The medication makes you to say strange things. Don't believe you're going to die. The doctors had told me otherwise. You'll be able to leave hospital in a few days."

Her husband shook his head. "No, Kiara, I desperately wish it would be true but I know it for sure....I'm so sorry." His voice trailed away and his eyes were closing but he managed to reopen them some moments later and tried to speak again.

His voice was quiet now and Kiara found it difficult to understand him though she had bent over him to hear the last words he was going to say in his mortal life.

"Kiara, love can't be killed by death. I know, we'll see each other again. In another time, in another life. I just leave my body here and then I will meet the others who have already left earth. We'll be reunited in no time." Leo squeezed her hand. "I will always love you."

Then all of the remaining strength left him, his muscles relaxed, a shiver ran through his whole body and his eyes closed. Leo was gone.

He died on the 24^th December, on Christmas. A day that is celebrated because 2000 years ago someone came to earth to give people hope that death wasn't the very end.

For Kiara Christmas would never be the same again in her entire life.

Life is stronger than death

It was cold this evening. Cold and quiet. Snow was covering the grass and the trees. And also the tombstones all around her. She was alone now. Leo had been buried this afternoon and now she just wanted to be alone, with no one by her side. Only her child was with her. She had named him Kevin, since she knew, she wouldn't be able to call him Leo as she had wanted to first. It would be too painful for her. So she had chosen Kevin - the name Leo had liked best.

In the last few days Kevin had been the only one who had been able to enter her world of grief. Only in the moments he had been with her she'd managed not to cry, she'd even managed to smile a bit. After all, he was Leo's and her boy. The touchable legacy of her husband, a child of their love.

Kiara had decided to return to the cemetery since she didn't want to be at home, where everything reminded her of Leo. Now she was taking her way through the graves until she came to a small part of the cemetery which was surrounded by huge trees. Leo had always loved trees, he would have liked this spot. In summer it would be cooler here than in the sun and now she was protected against the cold wind and the snow.

Leo Daniel Reeves

28.9.1975 - 24.12.2000

Loved in eternity

This was it. His tombstone. She still couldn't believe that her husband was dead. Even not with this touchable sign in front of her. He'd just been 25 years old, far too young to die. Far too young to lie buried in the cold earth now. She desperately wished he had been right: That it was only his body which was lying here and that his soul somehow had survived and was in another place now. Wherefrom he could watch her and see that she'd never forget him, the love of her life.

In this moment little Kevin started to cry. He seemed to be hungry. At looking at his small face Kiara realized that life went on. There was someone who needed her and she turned to leave her husband's grave. She would always love Leo but like he had said before his death: Life went on, it hadn't died with him.

FINISH

They said the birds refused to sing and the thermometer fell suddenly as if God Himself had His breath stolen away.

No one there dared to speak aloud, as much as in shame as in sorrow. They uncovered the bodies one by one. The eyes of the dead were closed as if waiting for permission to open them.

Were they still dreaming of ice cream and monkey bars? Of birthday cakes and no future but the afternoon? Or had their innocence been taken along with their lives buried in the cold earth so long ago?

These fates seemed too cruel, even for God to allow. Or are the tragic young born again when the world's not looking? I want to believe so badly; in a truth beyond our own, hidden and obscured from all but the most sensitive eyes...

In the endless procession of souls... in what cannot be destroyed and will not be destroyed.

I want to believe we are unaware of God's eternal recompense and sadness. That we cannot see His truth. That that which is born still lives and cannot be buried in the cold earth. But only waits to be born again at God's behest...

...where in ancient starlight we lay in repose.

[X-Files; Closure]

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