Mark and April were on I – 80 heading back to New York City. They had left Wilkes – Barre, Pennsylvania almost two hours earlier where they had met a THRUSH informant who handed over a list of local politicians in several Northeastern states who were allegedly being bribed if they were amenable or blackmailed if they weren’t into proposing legislation beneficial to THRUSH’s business ventures.
The radio was playing and they were just starting to pick up WABC again when a car in the passing lane about six car lengths ahead of them experienced a blowout of its right front tire, causing the vehicle to swerve into the car next to it and causing that vehicle to leave the highway and slam full force into a tree.
“Blimey!” Mark shouted as he swung left to avoid what was happening and then immediately swung right once he cleared the accident to pull onto the shoulder. “Are you all right, April?”
“Yes,” she replied as she assembled her communicator. “Open Channel Q, Section 4 desk. Emergency!”
“This is Miss Jones.”
“Agent April Dancer here. Lock on my signal and direct police and EMTs to my location immediately; there’s been a terrible car accident. Agent Slate and I are going to see if we can help before they get here. Dancer out!” She turned on her homing signal and left the device in the car.
Mark had already exited the vehicle and was checking the driver who hit the tree. “She’s unconscious, but breathing!”
April ran to the passenger side and noted a hole in the windshield. Oh no! She looked around on the ground and her heart sank when she saw the body of a young boy lying face down in the grass just past where the light reached. She knew before she knelt down, but she checked for a pulse, anyway. “Oh Mark, this little boy…Oh, sweetie.” Her heart broke for the child and the mother. She slowly rolled him over and cradled him in her arms. “I am so so sorry this happened to you,” she whispered. In the distance, sirens could be heard fast approaching.
Mark hunkered down next to her. “C’mon, Luv, there’s nothing you can do for ‘im,” he said. The medics jumped out of the ambulance; one ran to the driver’s side and one came to their side. Mark helped April up, “Let them do their job.”
They walked back to their car and one of the responding officers joined them. “Did you see what happened?”
They told him what they saw. “Is that driver okay?” Mark asked.
“Physically, yes. He’s devastated that he’s caused the death of a child. He’s inconsolable.”
“I can imagine; it wasn’t his fault,” April said. “We really need to get going, Officer. Do you need us for anything else?”
“No, you’ve been quite helpful. Thank you.”
“Let me drive, Mark. I need to concentrate on something else for a while.” She took the keys and they restarted their journey home. It was after nine at night and she just wanted to get back to UNCLE HQ, hand over the list to Napoleon and go home.
They crossed the George Washington Bridge and got on the Westside Highway heading south. She exited at 42nd Street and began to drive across town to the East Side. She glanced in the rearview mirror, gasped and slammed on the brake, causing the car behind her to almost hit them.
“April, what’s the matter?” Mark shouted as he looked behind him. Not seeing anything wrong, he said, “Pull to the curb, Luv.”
She did and put the car in park. “Talk to me, Partner, what is the matter?” He was shocked at how pale she had become.
She turned to look at him. “I checked the rear mirror and…he was sitting there staring at me!”
Mark’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Ooo was staring? Sitting where?”
“The child from the accident! That little boy! He was in the backseat!”
“You better let me take the wheel back, Luv, we’re almost home.”
She slid over as he got out and walked around to the driver’s side. When he got in she said, “Mark, you have to believe me!”
He rubbed her shoulder with his right hand as he eased back into traffic using his left. “I do believe you, April. We’ve been through too much together for me not to believe you.”
They got back to Headquarters, parked in the underground garage and took the elevator to the CEA’s floor. Mark knocked and they heard Napoleon tell them to enter. The door slid open to reveal both Napoleon and Illya at their desks. “I thought you’d be back an hour ago,” Napoleon said as he accepted the package from Mark, “Is everything okay?”
“No, it’s not,” Mark said and then he told the senior agents about the accident they witnessed.
“That is horrible,” Illya said, “The death of Innocents, especially a child, is hard to accept; especially when it is a senseless death like you described.”
“Something else happened, too,” April added, “but I prefer not to discuss it here. Could you meet Mark and me at my place tonight?”
“Sure, we’re all off tomorrow,” Napoleon agreed. He looked at his partner. “Okay, Illya?”
“Of course. We can go there now. I was just keeping Napoleon company while he waited for you.”
Napoleon and Illya sat on April’s couch while she and Mark sat on the easy chairs facing them while she recounted what had happened to her and the child, whose name the officer on scene had told them was Nathan Barnes. “I swear to you, that little boy was sitting in the backseat!”
Illya asked, “Was he about six years old and wearing a plaid shirt and dungarees?”
April turned shocked eyes to the Russian. “How can you know that?”
“I am part Roma. My grandmother used to tell me when I was a child that I had Second Sight, that I am sensitive to certain things. I guess that is why I see Nathan standing behind you.”
Mark’s head whipped around. “I don’t see a bloody thing! Do you, Napoleon?”
The CEA shook his head no. “I believe Illya, though.”
“So do I,” April said, “But why is he here?”
Napoleon said, “I’ve heard that sometimes spirit attaches itself to a person. You offered Nathan comfort and kind words at the end of his life, so maybe that’s why. I think, maybe, because he was so young, he doesn’t know what to do and since his mother survived, you’re the closest thing, so he followed you.”
Tears stood in April’s eyes. “Oh, the poor baby! What can we do?”
Napoleon leaned forward. “We can pray for Nathan’s soul.” He looked at his partner. “Let us know what happens.”
Napoleon made the Sign of the Cross while Mark and April clasped their hands together. “Receive in peace the soul of Your little servant, Nathan, for You Yourself have said, "Let the little children come to Me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.”
“Amen,” Mark and April said.
“Amazing,” Illya said. “A bright light appeared behind Nathan and he turned to it and held out his hand as if to take someone’s hand and then, stepped into the light. He is gone.”
Napoleon made the Sign of the Cross again and breathed out, “Thank you.”
“I hope he’s truly at peace,” April said.
“I believe he is, Luv. Would you like me to stay over tonight?”
“Yeah, Partner. I don’t want to be by myself. Thanks.” She got up and hugged Napoleon and Illya. “Thank you seems so inadequate, but it’s all I have. Thank you for helping Nathan find his way.”
“You’re welcome. Illya and I will be on our way. Goodnight, guys.”
When they got down to the sidewalk, Napoleon draped an arm around the smaller man’s shoulders and said, “Come hang out with me at home so we can talk this out over a drink or two.”
“Or three or four. That sounds good to me.”
The next morning, Napoleon’s phone began to ring at eight – thirty. He answered it on the fifth ring. “Hello?”
“Good morning, it’s April! I just wanted to tell you that I had the most beautiful dream last night!”
“Yes! I dreamed this woman was speaking to me and she thanked me for taking care of her great – grandson and she wanted me to know that they were together and he is at peace. It felt so real; I believe it really was a message from the Afterlife!”
“I choose to believe that, too, April. I have kind of a big head this morning, so I’m going to get off the phone, but I appreciate you letting me know.”
“Take care, Napoleon and thanks again.” He heard a click as she hung up.
“Why was April calling so early?”
“Forget that! Why are you in my bed?”
“We were talking and drinking and then I fell asleep.”
“Oh. Well, be quiet, I need more sleep.”
“I was not the one on the phone.”