Imagine: The List
Fic posted by members of Vo's Imaginings YahooGroup
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(submitted in 2/99, for submission to a P:TL zine that
did not happen. Rated R.)

For Need Of The Darkside, The Light Will Not Shine
As Brightly.

Philip stood in front of the Arch Bishop's Desk.
"Your Excellency? I'm ready."

The Arch Bishop had been dreading this moment
since he had heard the vivacious young Priest
had asked for his release papers. "Yes, my son, I
know. Are you sure this is what you really
want? To leave your calling, to become a normal
man again, to leave all you have known for
almost ten years now?" He pulled the papers out of
his desk, and laid then in front of Philip.

"Yes, sir, it is wha' I wan', wha' I need ta do." Philip
bent over, and looked over the papers. //If I
told you, you would hate me, and I don't want that.
Besides, you're better off not knowing about
it, it's safer, trust me.// He picked up a pen, but the
Arch Bishop's hand on his wrist stopped him
from signing.

"Why do you want and need this Father Philip? Tell
me, maybe there is another way." He looked
kindly at the young man. "It would be a shame to
lose one of our best, and most caring, priests if
we didn't have to. Make me understand your

"Father, I canno' tell you. I made a promise, but it is
for a goo' reason. I'm leaving ta help
someone in their darkest hours." Philip smiled at the
older man. "And I'll miss you too, Father.
Our friendship has been one of the mos' importan' in
my life. I'll miss it when I'm no longer here."

"Then you're leaving the area? Not going to work
with your friends on the island?" He released
Philip's wrist, letting the man sign his calling away.

Philip signed the forms and handed them back. "No,
sir, I'm no'. They canno' help me in this.
And even if they could, they wouldn'." Philip stood
tall. "Is there anything further I have ta do?"

The Arch Bishop looked at the signature and sighed,
sadly. "No, my son. Your things are in the
hall, waiting on you. We have your collars and
vestment robes. You have the presents from the
parish with you?" Philip nodded, making himself not
cry in front of his friend. "Good. We'll miss
you Philip. I'll hold these for the thirty days that I
must, but I know you're too stubborn to change
your mind about this." He stood up to walk around
the desk and enfolded Philip in a tight hug.
"Go in peace, my son," he whispered into the
younger man's ear.

Philip hugged him back, not able to speak. He didn't
want to cry, wouldn't cry. It was a worthy
reason he was leaving. He would be sad, would miss
his life and his friends, but he couldn't go
back. He let the Arch Bishop go, stepping back. He
gave his friend one last smile before leaving
the office, and his life, behind.


Nick bounced into the control room. "Hey, did you
hear? Philip's coming over today after
lunch." He sat down beside Alex, who laughed and

"It's about time we see our long lost brother here."
She pulled Nick into a quick hug, letting him
go after Kristen cleared her throat.

"Philip? As in Callahan? As in the sometimes rogue
priest and occasional member of this house,
even when it breaks the rules, Philip Callahan?"

"Yes," Alex told her. She turned around to face the
newest member of their house. "He's been
back for almost two months, but he hasn't come out
to see us yet. Why? Have you met him?"

"No. I've heard things about him while in Boston.
They used to talk about you guys a lot there."
She smiled at the two researchers. "Jane wasn't very
nice about your ... 'antics' as she put it. Said
this house was going to be the ruin of all of them,
and your resident priest wasn't doing his job to
train you three right." She smiled to take the sting

Nick laughed. "Sounds jealous to me." He typed in
a command, letting a monitor show the
outside of the house. "There, now we'll know when
he gets here."

Derek walked through the hologram. "Kristen, I just
got a call from your brother, he wants to see
you in town right away. He said it was about some
kid that needed your help." He handed over
the message before walking behind the computer
station to check on Nick and Alex's work.
"And how is our work coming?" He patted Alex and
Nick's shoulders, leaving the hands
afterwards. "I see you've already heard about our
guest coming."

"Well, guys, it looks like I won't be here when he
comes. Tell him I said 'hi'." Kristen walked out
of the room.

"Yes, Nick told us." She turned to watch Kristen
leave the house. "She," Alex pointed at the
screen as Kristen drove by the camera, "told us about
what the Boston house used to say about
us. Did you know that we were 'going to bring down
all the other houses because of our antics'?"

Nick laughed, startling the two others. "Yeah, but
we have more cases done, more fun doing
them, and less property damage as a result. The New
York house has been rebuilt five times in
the last twenty years." He turned to face Derek.
"We've only had to have some remodeling done.
Our house is the oldest standing, original building in
the Legacy." He shrugged and turned back
to his monitor.

"Wow, Nick, where'd you hear that?" Alex laid a
hand on his arm. "I've never seen that

Nick shrugged. "I just picked it up at the last Legacy
conference. Some old British sounding guy
was bragging about how his house was still standing
after their last case, and Sloan told him that
to shut him up." He turned to look at Derek. "He
even sounded proud of us for it."

"I'll bet he was, Nick, I'll bet he was." Derek smiled
at his two younger colleagues. "Sloan told
me once that 'smiling at the thorn in your side makes
it hurt less'." He walked out of the control
room whistling softly under his breath.

When he was gone, Nick and Alex collapsed into
giggles. They rolled around on the floor, letting
the silliness out. Alex was the first one up, getting
back into her chair. "Oh, that was priceless.
Absolutely priceless." She giggled again. "I can just
hear Sloan telling Derek that over one of
those lunches that they attend every year." She
wiped her eyes.

Nick pulled himself back up, letting himself fall into
his seat. He smiled at Alex, letting her know
he agreed. "Back to work now, before he has to
come and smile at us some more," he said. Alex
ran out of the room, holding her sides. Nick laughed
and got back to work, checking the
monitors every few minutes.


Philip stood outside the castle's front door. He took
a deep breath, centering himself before
raising a hand to knock. The door opened under his
hand, and he was pulled inside by Alex and

"Philip." Alex hugged him, then handed him over to
Nick for another. "Are you back for a long
time, or just a visit of a few days?"

"Neither, I'm afraid. I jus' came out ta tell you
good-bye." He put a hand around Nick's shoulder.
"I couldn' leave without seeing you three one las'
time." He let Nick lead him into the living
room. He sat in a chair, facing the couch they were
sitting on.

"Philip, you're making it sound so ... final. Is
something wrong?"

"Yeah, buddy, let us help if you need it. After all,
who's going to teach me how to cheat as soccer
if you're gone." Nick smiled at Philip, who returned
it weakly. Nick stood up to pace. "You
can't leave us, you really can't. At least not for

Derek walked into the room, pulling Philip up into a
hug. "I'm glad to see you, my friend." He let
him sit down again, taking Nick's spot on the couch.
"Now, why are you leaving us?"

"I have ta go ta somebody tha' needs me. I probably
won' be back this way for a long time." He
didn't hang his head like he wanted to, instead he
looked Derek straight in the eyes. //Can't tell
them why I have to go, they'll stop me.// "I came by
ta say good-bye before I lef'."

"Philip, is something wrong with your family," Alex

"No. They're fine. Why?" He sat back, trying to
look casual, but knowing the three people in
this room knew him better than anybody, and could
tell he was upset over his non-choice.

"Then why are you leaving the order?" Derek leaned
forward, trying to touch Philip's leg, but it
was pulled back when Philip sat up.

"Excuse me?" Nick stood in front of Philip, making
him sit up to look at him. "You're leaving
the Church? For good?" Nick sat on the coffee table
in front of Philip, shocked.

"Yes, Nick, I'm no longer a going ta be a priest in
thirty days from today when my paperwork
goes in." Philip hung his head. //I didn't want you to
know about that, it'll just hurt you more.//
"It's importan' ta me. Tha' imprortan'." He looked
back at Nick, his eyes begging for
understanding. //Please don't ask, I can't tell you. I
don't want you hurt over this.//

"Is it *that* important? Important enough to throw
your life away on? To throw everything that
you've ever wanted away so you can do this?" Nick
took his hands, but when Philip nodded, he
let them go and stormed out of the room. "I ... I
have to go do ... something," he threw over his

Philip wanted to run after Nick, explain it to him, tell
him he wasn't leaving him alone again,
assure him that his 'brother' would always be around
for him, but he knew he couldn't. "I didn'
wan' ta hur' him," he whispered. Alex walked out
after Nick, going to calm him down and bring
him back.

Derek got up and started to pace. "Philip, we're
friends, aren't we?" Philip nodded slightly. "So
you would tell me if this was something that you
needed our help with, right?" Derek saw the
hesitation in Philip before he nodded again. He had
thought it might be something that Philip
didn't want to bother them with, but now he knew.
He sat down on the coffee table, mirroring
Nick's earlier pose. "So tell me, make me understand
why you're leaving your life behind to do
this." He took Philip's hands in his, holding them
clasped between his. "We all need to
understand this."

Nick and Alex walked back into the room, sitting
together on the couch. Nobody mentioned the
tear stains on Nick's face, or the helpless look in his
eyes. Nobody wanted to bring the lost
looking man out of wherever he was lost, afraid of
what would come back with him this time.

"Philip," Alex began, again, "is this something that
*you* have to do? Alone? Not something
that we can help you with?"

"No. It's something tha' I have ta do by myself and if
you're there it would only hurt you more."
He leaned over and kissed Derek on the cheek. He
stood up, walking over to Alex, kissing her
cheek also. Nick shook himself and stood. "Walk
me ou'?" Nick nodded and they left the house

Nick looked at the rental car Philip was driving. He
leaned against the driver's door, not letting
Philip get past him. "Explain it to me," he said.

"I can', Nick. I... I ... jus' can'." //Please don't make
this any harder. I can't take losing you, but I
have to. I have to do this to protect you.// Philip
tried to move him, but Nick was going to be
stubborn. He pulled Nick into a hug. "You're like
my brother, and I love you, bu' you can' help
me with this," he whispered into Nick's ear. "I'm a
big boy, and I can take care of myself now. I
don' need you ta come rescue me this time." He
pulled back to look in Nick's eyes. "Trust me
this one time, please Nick."

Nick didn't move from the door, but he did hug Philip
back. When Philip asked for his trust, he
knew he would give it. He wouldn't like it, and he
would track Philip if he could, being ready to
step in and save him if he needed. "Okay, but you
still have to explain to me why this is so
important that you're leaving the church for it." He
still didn't budge, Philip wouldn't get out of
there without giving him some answers.

"I can', Nick, I really can' tell you." Philip sighed and
leaned on the car next to Nick, facing away
from Derek and Alex at the windows. "I have ta help
someone who needs me, and I have ta do it
alone. I promised them I wouldn' tell anyone wha's
going on, so I can' tell you." His shoulders
slumped. //Not the whole truth, but not really a lie.
It is getting so easy to do this. Too easy.//
"Don' make me break a promise, Nick, please."

"I don't want you to break a promise, I want you to
make me understand why this is more
important than the calling you knew you had when
you were ten. Why it's more important than
the house, and your life, and all of us, me. Tell me,
make me understand what is so strong that it
could break our friendship." Nick swore to himself
that he wasn't going to cry, he wouldn't use
that to hurt Philip any more than he already was. "I
*need* to know," he whispered, "what's so
important that you'd break your promise not to leave
me like you did the last time."

Philip turned his head, looking sharply at Nick. //Oh,
God, I forgot about that.// "I wouldn' be if
I didn' have ta, Nick. I don' wan' ta go. I don' wan'
ta leave the house, or you and Alex and
Derek. But I have ta. If I don' go, then someone I
care abou' will be hur' very badly." //Damn,
no, shouldn't have said that. Too close to the truth.//
"Jus' let me go, Nick, and I'll explain it ta
you when it's over."

Nick heard him, heard the pain, and knew that Philip
was doing something to protect the house,
but also knew that he couldn't stop him from it. "I
want to come. I want to help you help
whomever this is that needs you. I won't let you go
into a dangerous situation without help." He
turned to stare into Philip's eyes. "Friends, and
brothers, don't do that to each other."

Alex walked out carrying a bag, handed it to Nick,
and walked back inside, leaving them alone to
fight it out. She knew what Nick would do, had told
Derek what would happen, and had packed
it for him. She even remembered his wallet and car
keys in the front pouch.

Nick took the pack, knowing that Alex knew him and
what he would need. He hefted it, hearing
the sound of his keys jingle, and felt the shifting
weight of his gun. "Come on, we'll take the
'stang. It rides better." He pulled Philip towards the
garage, bringing the keys out on the way.

"Nick, I'm sorry, but you can' come with me. I have
ta do this alone." Philip tried to pull away,
but the ex-seal had too firm a grip on his arm.

"Then I'll wait in the car while you do whatever.
Don't argue. We'll get your stuff on the way
out." He shoved Philip into the car, pushing the
child-proof lock button down. He had gotten it
to safe guard Kat, but it would have another use
now. He got in the driver's seat and started the
car. He let it warm up, not listening to Philip, and
pulled around beside the rental. "Keys." He
held out his hand.

Philip was muttering about Nick's background under
his breath. "Here. How will it get back?"

"Alex." He got out to get Philip's things from the
trunk. He loaded them into his car, then laid
the keys on the roof of the rental vehicle. He got
back in, listening to Philip swear in French. "I
can understand that now, so watch it." He smiled at
Philip. "Where to?"

"No, Nick. Le' me out." He tried the door handle.
"Wha' happened? It's no' working." He tried
it again. "Nick, come on, le' me out." //I won't
panic, I won't panic, I won't panic and tell him
about her.//

"No. Where to? And stop it before you break it. It's
a child-proof lock, it can't be opened from
inside the car and that window is broken." Nick was
calm, driving out of the grounds and to the
ferry dock. He parked the car, waiting for it to show
up. "Where are we heading once we hit the
city?" He would stay calm, would ignore the hurt
look on Philip's face, would not let the guilt get
to him.

"North." Philip slumped into his seat. //Why is he so
stubborn. I tried to tell him no, but he won't
listen. He's treating me like a child. I love him for it,
but it's aggravating sometimes.// He closed
his eyes, not letting Nick see the happiness in them.


Derek watched Nick load Philip's things into the car.
He felt Alex come back in and watch them
with him. They had shared the same vision when
Philip had called to set a time to come out:
Philip standing over Nick with a knife, Nick shooting
at something, a woman giving her infant to
someone. They knew it would work out, neither
foresaw a death, but they were worried anyway.

"It'll be all right. Won't it, Derek?"

Derek didn't answer, he couldn't lie to her.


Nick pulled up outside the address Philip had given
him and turned off the car. "Okay, we're here,
now what?" He turned in the seat to look at Philip.

Philip had his eyes closed, leaning back. If you didn't
know him, you'd think he was relaxed,
maybe even asleep, but they both knew that he was
really tense and on edge about this. "Now,
you get out and stay here while I go fix this situation
for them." He opened one eye and rolled his
head to look at Nick. "And I mean it. You. Stay.

"Not gonna happen and you know it. Now give and
lets go." He relaxed into the leather, letting
Philip know he could be just as stubborn as any Irish
Priest could. "Tell me now. We're here,
away from the house, it can't hurt anybody, and if
you don't I'm going to start being mean about
it." Nick smiled one of those 'evil,
"Now give. Before I let your worst nightmare

"Wha', you're going ta turn me inta a soccer ball and
use me for prac'ice?"

Nick laughed. "No, there are worse things than
being turned into a soccer ball and used for
practice." He grabbed Philip's chin gently. "You
forget how long we've known each other. I
know your worst weaknesses, and am not ashamed
to use them at this time." He kissed Philip on
the cheek and let him go. "Now tell me, explain to
me what is important enough that you have to
leave your life behind to do it. And I want the truth."

Philip's eyes got bright from the tears he refused to
shed. "I told you I can' tell you wha's going
on, Nick. Just let me do it." He didn't turn away, so
he couldn't miss the look come over Nick's

"No," was all he said, with a disappointed look in his
eyes and a sad smile as he released his
seat-belt and reached for Philip. He grabbed the
priest's hands with one of his, and with the other
tickled him until he was squirming and ready to talk.

"Nick.... no.....please stop it.....It hur's... please
Nick....anything jus' stop it.... please... I can' tell
ya....jus' stop Nick.....No...nonono...." Philip was
gasping for breath, trying to talk and laugh and
cry and not double over in cramps at the same time.

They were thrashing around in the car, but Nick
gained the upper hand by sitting on Philip's' legs
to hold him still. "Tell me, or it'll get worse," he
threatened. He started tickling with harder and
deeper pokes.

Philip was gasping for breath, the tears running freely
down his face. "This ...... is .... no' fair,.....
Nick, .... let me ..... go!"

Nick didn't say anything, but Philip knew he could
stop it. He relaxed into Nick's touch, letting
him think he had won, but in truth he was working a
hand free. //Damn, he's strong. He never
used to be able to do this to me.// A particularly
fierce tickle was administered to his chest, and
he started to struggle again. He did the only thing he
could think of to stop it, he kissed Nick,
trying to shock the younger man into letting him go.

Nick smiled under Philip's mouth. He deepened the
kiss, letting Philip delve into his mouth,
fighting just as fierce a battle of possession with their
tongues as they had a minute earlier with
their hands. The kiss broke down into smaller pecks,
getting smoother and smoother as they
tapered off until they weren't touching anymore.

Nick stopped long enough for him to catch his
breath. "Not good enough. Tell me what's going
on, or it'll get worse." He hadn't let Philip's wrists
go, so he was rubbing a thumb across the
sensitive flesh of his wrists even as he was letting
Philip relax. "Two minutes."

"Nick .... I can' tell you abou' it, I promised them."

"There's a good place to start, whose this 'them'
you're talking about?" He leaned over to lay his
head on Philip's shoulder. "If you don't tell me, I
can't help you beat this thing," he whispered into
Philip's ear. "And I know you don't want to do this
alone, so tell me, let me make it all better.
Let me be there for you this time, let me in, Philip."

Philip turned his head slightly, hugging the younger
man cheek to cheek. "If I coul', then I woul'
have already, but I can'. I won' let this thing hur' you.
I can' let that happen to you," he pushed
his head over in a squeeze to Nick's head. "You're
too importan' to me."

"Am I?" he whispered. Philip nodded. "We aren't
there yet, are we?" Philip shook his head.
Nick let his hands go, "So tell me where I'm going
to." He reluctantly released his friend, not
asking about the kissing, but not wiping the extra
wetness off his lips, letting Philip see that he
hadn't been adverse to the kisses.

"Out of the city, towards the state line. A little town
abou' five hours away. We need to be there
by tomorrow night." Philip sighed and leaned over to
Nick's side of the car after he had gotten
back in his seat. "I'm sorry abou' tha'."

"What? The kisses?" Philip nodded his head. Nick
smiled, a beautiful, peaceful smile lighting up
the car. "Not a problem. I've wanted to do that for
years." He started the car and pulled back
into traffic, Philip not saying a word.


Nick pulled into a little motel off the interstate. He
got out and checked them in before coming
back to release Philip from the car. Nick opened the
door, standing in the opening so Philip
couldn't get away from him. "Bad news, Philip, they
only have one single room left."

"Single room?"

"Room with only one bed." He smiled at the
shocked look on his best friends face. "Don't worry,
I don't cuddle in the middle of the night, and you
don't have vows anymore." He held out a hand,
helping Philip out of the car. He led the way to the
room and opened the door, letting Philip enter

Philip looked around the room, taking in the large
king size bed, the cheap furniture, the door that
must lead to the bathroom. "Oh, my," he whispered.
"Nick," he turned to face his friend that was
locking the door, "we can' stay here."

"Yes, we can, Philip. Don't worry about it. If you're
that scared of sharing the bed with me, I'll
sleep on the floor, okay?" Philip bit his lip and
nodded. Nick took him in his arms, cuddling him
against his chest. "Don't worry, I don't bite, that's
Alex." He smiled into Philip's hair. "Or didn't
you hear about that."

Philip shivered from the air on the back of his neck,
but he didn't step away. "No, wha'

"Well, you see, Alex was ...." Nick told him the
story about Alex almost turning into a vampire,
easing him into the room and into a chair. "So Derek
and I saved her, blowing up that community
and saving the city once again. And this time all
before breakfast."

Philip was laughing at the story. He could just see
Derek asking Nick whether or not he
remembered how to use the explosive; he could
picture Nick hanging by his wrists, telling Alex
she owed him a nice present for this. He could see it
happening, just like Nick had said. "Oh,
tha's a goo' one, Nick. I never imagined something
like tha' happening. Oh, poor Alex." he
sighed, letting the laughter fade away. He sat back,
studying his friend. "I feel bett'r now,
thanks." He smiled at Nick, who gave one back.

"I'm glad. Now you can hold it over her head when
you come back after this is all done." He
looked hard at Philip, who had turned gray. "You
aren't coming back, are you." The statement
rang in the air, neither wanting to talk about it.

Philip let his head fall forward. //Nick, I always
thought you were the pessimist of us two. How
can I tell you what will happen, what I have to do?
You'll hate me, send me away and go back
home. That might be for the better, but I *want* to
spend time with you before I change over, I
need to bring us to a comfortable closure so you
won't hate me in ten years when this stops
hurting. How can I do this to you for *him*?//

"How about some food? The manager said there was
a little family run restaurant down the road
about a mile, we could go there, or the fast food
places we saw a few miles back. Which would
you like?" Nick was fidgeting on the bed, sorry now
that he had mentioned the topic.

"Nick, si' still, we have to talk," Philip said quietly.

Nick sat still and looked at his friend. "I was right,
you aren't coming back."

"No, Nick, I won' be able to. Derek would have ta
do something very bad to me if I tried." Philip
sighed. "I can' tell you, but know tha' I'm protec'in'
the house and my family."

"Huh? Why would Derek hurt you after this?" He
got up and kneeled between Philip's feet.
"Tell me what's going on, please? I *need* to know,
want to know, hell, I have to know."

"Nick, I canno' tell you. I *promised* her tha' I
wouldn' tell anyone."

"Okay, so now it's a her instead of a them, right?"
Philip nodded reluctantly. "So, is she in
trouble, or are you blocking trouble from getting to

"Neither, but both." He got up and went into the
bathroom, knowing he was hiding.

Nick let him go, knowing the retreat for what it was.
He could get the rest of the story out of him

Philip slumped to the floor, leaning his back against
the door. He made himself take a few deep
breaths, calming the panic. //Oh, God, I nearly told
him. I love him, and I nearly destroyed his
life by telling him.// He banged his head against the

He could hear Nick's question, but didn't want to
answer. "Philip, are you all right?" was yelled
from the other room.

//Depends. Physically or mentally?// "Yeah," was
the tired sounding reply. //Physically, I've
never been better. I'm healthy, my fondest dream
happened today. Nick kissed me// "Why?" he
whispered. "Was it jus' a way to make me tell 'im?
Or did he wan' it like I did?" //Please let it be
real for him.// He laid his head on his upraised knees.
//But if it's real for him, it'll hurt him
terribly tomorrow. Why couldn't this have happened
years, months, weeks ago? Why today? Is
this some sort of sign saying I shouldn't do this?//
"God, I know I lef' my calling, but I nee' some
guidance. I'm so confused." The prayer came out
quietly. He didn't know if it would be heard,
but he needed some help with this.

He sighed, pushing himself off the floor. He brushed
his face and opened the door, walking into
Nick's chest. "Hmm?!?" He looked into the
concerned eyes of the man he thought of as his
brother. "Oh, hi." He tried to move away, but Nick's
arms came up to hold him.

"Sshh." Nick kissed Philip's forehead. "Tell me and
I'll help. I promise I won't let either of us get
hurt." He pulled Philip to the bed, laying him down
and curling up beside him. "Let me help,
love, tell me so I can fix it," he murmured into
Philip's ear.

"Nick, I can'," he sighed. "An' we shouldn' do
anythin' more." Nick moved Philip's head, letting
him nuzzle the sensitive area behind his ear.

Nick licked the tender spot, blowing hot breath
across the area to make the older man shiver.
"Yes you can. All you have to do is let go, trust me
with this. Let me be the big protective
partner here." Nick nibbled on the earlobe, sucking it

Philip pulled away, rolling over to face his best
friend. "Why are ya doin' this, Nick? Are ya doin'
this for me ta tell ya what's goin' on?" He felt Nick's
hand slide under him to caress his back. "Or
do ya wan' this?"

Nick smiled, putting Philip's fears to rest. Her kissed
the willing mouth, showing Philip without
words why he was doing this. "I've loved you since
the incident with Anna. Your self-torture
over her cruelty touched the protective part of me,
but you crying in my arms touched my heart."
A long, slow, deep kiss, meant to explore the new
found areas with tenderness. "When you left, I
broke. You hurt me so much; I was so angry. Alex
tried to put me back together, but all the
pieces didn't fit." Nick laid his head against Philip's
chest. "She tried really hard, but I was never
the same. Until Julia came along and showed me
how to start healing." Nick sighed, letting the
tears flow, grieving for the empty spot in his life.
"When she died, I was still so angry; at you, at
the Legacy, at the house. I took it out on you and
Derek, him mostly." Nick looked up, gazing
into the bright eyes of the only person he would ever
trust with his full heart. "That day, the one
in the workshop, I didn't mean those things. I was
lashing out, trying to punish you for something
that was my fault." A tender kiss. "You don't know
this, but right after you took the sepulcher, I
went to the gym and tried *so* hard to hurt myself
for saying those things to you." He buried his
head in Philip's neck, trying to hide the pain from his

"Oh, Nick." Philip pulled him in tighter, rocking him
until he calmed and the tears stopped.
"Love, sshh, I'm here, and you're safe. I won't leave
you again if I can help it. Sshh, love." //Oh,
no, now I have to tell him. I *have* to leave him,
and he'll be destroyed this time. Nobody will
be able to put the pieces of his soul back right.//

Nick calmed under the soothing words, regaining his
control. "You asked me if I wanted this, or
was it just to get you to tell me what's going on." He
looked back into Philip's eyes, a small smile
reappearing. "I want this, you. Hell, I want us.
But," the smile got wider, "if you suddenly
become talkative, I'll listen."

Philip stared at him for a minute before laughing.
Nick giggled with him, rolling them over until
Philip was on top. He waited until the laughter
softened before kissing the former priest. He
swiped his tongue briefly along Philip's before
releasing him. Philip started laughing again, harder
after Nick frowned at him.

"What?" Nick gave him a dirty look.

"I... I slep' with Anna ta prove ta myself... that I was
normal." He stopped long enough to catch
his breath. "Oh, we shoulda ta'lk'd abou' this. Nick,"
he took the younger man's hands, "I slep'
with Anna ta prove ta myself that I was a normal man
who couldn' poss'bly be in love with his bes'
friend." He laid a tender, chaste kiss on his beloved's

Nick's hands came up to cover Philip's. "You mean
you allowed yourself to be seduced? To
prove you weren't feeling things for me?"

"Almos'. I ... I did love 'er, or at leas' I though' I did.
I was destroyed by guil' when she drowned
herself. Tha' was real. Only the reason I opened
myself ta her seduction was differ'ren'." He
kissed Nick again. "Love, I've wanted you since the
firs' time ya wen' off somewhere,
half-cocked, ta protect all of us. I love your
overprotective side." He kissed the edible tip of
Nick's nose.

Nick laughed, a full bodied-side grabbing laugh, and
hugged Philip to him tightly. "You love my
over-protective side? Really?" A small kiss. "Then
I'll just have to protect you more often."
Nick plunged into Philip's mouth, exploring the tastes
of his loved one.

Philip pulled away, or tried to, but Nick's lust was
stronger. They rolled back to their sides,
caressing the body next to them.

A knock sounded at the door. "Mr... Mr. Boyle, sir,
I have a message for you, sir."

Nick groaned, a hand coming up to cover his face.
"Coming." He pushed himself up with a
chaste kiss to Philip's cheek, and went to answer the
door. "Yeah," he said, pulling it open. The
other person handed him a paper and left. Nick
looked at the slip of paper, then blew out a hard
breath. He grabbed his jacket, patting down the

Philip handed him the phone from the bedside table
and rolled onto his back, watching his world
crash around him.

"Yeah, bossman, you yelled?" A long pause, every
long. "Are you sure that's who it was?" A
short pause. "Okay, yeah, I will, thanks." Nick
pushed the 'off' button very slowly, each
movement careful and controlled. He turned to look
at Philip, all traces of the last hour gone.
"Philip, would you like to tell me why Victor Arkadi
called the house, looking for you?"

"Oh, God," Philip whispered. He rolled onto his
stomach. //I can't tell him now, it would kill
him. But I have to tell him, even if he does hate me.
Besides, I can't lie to him.// He shifted
slightly, getting comfortable for the ordeal ahead.
//If Victor called the house, then I can tell him.
He already knows enough to be in danger. I love
him, but I can't do this to him without telling
him something. I can't follow through, knowing that
after tomorrow night he won't want me.
This'll kill everything he ever loved about me.// "But
maybe that's for the best," he whispered,
making his decision. "Nick?"

"Yeah, I'm still here." He was sitting in the chair
next to the bed.

"Do ya wan' ta know now, or after supper?" He was
trying to buy some time, but he could see by
Nick's frown that it wasn't working. Philip rolled
onto his side so he could face Nick. // Not that
much has changed in the last day; this feels like

"Philip, to be honest, I don't think I could eat right
now if I was force fed."

"Would ya rather I..."

"Just tell me already!"

"Okay." Philip stopped to gather his thoughts. "Mr.
Arkadi came ta see me a few months ago.
He pulled me out of the church, makin' me walk with
'im." Philip's accent was getting thicker as
he got more nervous. "I tol' 'im I didn' wan' ta talk ta
'im, but he ins'ted."

Nick broke into the recitation. "Calm down, Philip."
He started to reach a hand over but pulled it
back before touching him. "Slowly and with less
accent please. I can't understand what you're

Philip calmed himself, sat up, and looked at Nick.
"He told me a story. About tha' blonde Derek
was dating abou' a year ago."

"I remember her. A Doctor of some sort, right?"

"She's a Doctor of Sociology, yes, and she's Victor's

"Oh, shit!" Nick got up to pace. "Does Derek
know? Did she do something to him?" He
stopped in front of Philip. "Why did he tell you?"

"No, he still doesn' know who she is. Yes, she did
somethin' to him. An' I'm involved because it
takes a man of deep faith to stop wha' she has

"So, Victor Arkadi, arch-enemy number one of the
Legacy, and especially our house, comes to
you to stop his half-sister. Great, just great. This
just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?"

"Yes, Nick, it does." He pulled his feet up under him
and sat up. "Derek's a father and his son's
being offered to the dark side for training."

Nick stood there, mouth opening and closing; doing
his trout impersonation. "I need a drink."
He grabbed his wallet and keys, leaving Philip in the


Nick slammed the door on his mustang and walked
into the bar.

"Keys," the bartender held out a hand until he got

"Is it that obvious?" The bartender nodded. "Beer
please. Guinness or a good stout if you've got
it." He slumped onto a stool and the bartender
handed him the first beer of the evening, and a


Philip finished the letter he was writing, laying it on
the pillow. He looked around the room,
memorizing every moment for recall later before
picking up his jacket and opening the door. He
turned one last time, whispering, "Bye Nick" and
walked out into the uncomfortable presence
waiting in the car.

"Do ya know where he is?"

"Yes, Father, and we'll get you things on the way."
Victor Arkadi nodded, and his driver started
the car, pulling Philip away from the only real love in
his life.

The car pulled up beside Nick's and the driver got
out, going inside the bar. He motioned the
bartender over. "Hey, do me a favor?"

"Sure, what?"

"See that guy?" He pointed to Nick and laid a large
bill on the bar. "I'm buying him a bottle of
Gliddenfich, or if you don't have that, a good Irish

"Okay... Is there a message attached?" He pulled
out a bottle for approval.

The driver nodded at the bottle. "No, no message.
He just needs it. His lover's leaving him."

"She must be pretty special for him to be like this."
The bartender tried to give back the change,
but the driver waved him off.

"You have no idea." He slid a piece of paper to the
bartender. "Here's where he's staying, make
sure he gets there, okay?" He turned and left without
waiting for an answer.

"Man," the bartender said as he put the bottle beside
Nick, "this is your lucky night. The owner
said this one's free. Said he 'feels your pain'."

"Thanks." Nick poured some into his ale.

The driver approached the Mustang, pulling
something out of his pocket. He kneeled in front of
the door, letting himself in. He grabbed Philip's
things, transferring them to Arkadi's trunk. He
went back one last time to re-lock the door. When
he climbed back in, he turned to Arkadi.
"Home, Sir?"

"Please. Sit back and relax, Philip, you're safe here."
He gave Philip the smile of a man who had
just been given almost everything he had ever wanted
on a platinum platter by the most gorgeous
slave in the world.

When they got to Arkadi's temporary residence, the
driver showed Philip to his room. "Here you
are, Father. Rest, relax, and prepare. You have until
sundown tomorrow." He set Philip's things
down and closed the door behind him, leaving him
alone to contemplate the future.


Nick stumbled into the motel room, flipping on the
overhead light on the second try. "Philip?"
When he heard no answer, he checked around the
room. //NO! He left me! Again! He promised
he wouldn't, hepromisedhepromeisedhepromised.
Nonononononononono!// He sat on the bed,
laying a hand on the letter. //He wrote me a 'Dear
John' letter? But my name's not John.// Nick
burst out in laughter, the alcohol still having control
of him. He fumbled it open, moving closer
and farther away until the words came into focus.
He read it once, then read it out loud, trying to
make it make sense.


//That's me.//

I've left, but I'm not abandoning you.

//Yeah, sure you're not. That's why you're not here
right now where you belong.//

I've explained everything on the other pages. Forgive
me eventually, and don't think about me too
much, or you'll just get more mad.

Nick separated the pages, leaving his note on his

Arkadi's half-sister seduced Derek, the Doctor of
Sociology I told you about, knowing what she
wanted. She blocked him, or drugged him one night
- he wasn't clear on that part - so she could
get pregnant. She dumped him after she was sure it

Now she's offering the child to the demon who
controls/protects Arkadi. If she does, and he
lives, the boy will come back to ruin the Legacy,
starting with our (scratched out) - your house,
before going after Arkadi himself.

He's asked me to step in to save the child, mostly out
of self-interest, but I can't let him go over. I
can stop this, and will, by myself with an alternate

//Oh, hell, no he won't offer himself up, I'll kill him if
he does. That is so like him, throwing
himself, and us, away because someone asked him
too. And this time, it's not even a *good*

Nick, I love you totally and wholly. I want you to go
home, but I know you won't, so I won't

//Didn't you?//

I will ask that you remember me in your heart, but
forget me in your head.

If the timing had been different, I know we would be
together right now instead of you drunk and
me preparing to change sides. That's why you can't
come for me, or try to stop it. I couldn't bear
to hurt you any farther.

Arkadi promised to leave the child alone, letting it go
to a private orphanage, one for the
unwanted children of rich people. He said he'd set up
a trust fund for him, but wouldn't ever go
near him. He said he's his father's son too much for
him to take an interest.

He also gave me a blood oath to leave the house
alone. He said he wouldn't hurt you, or the
others, again. I know you can't trust this, but a blood
oath is a powerful thing, and I believed him
when he did the ritual. He even promised me to not
hurt you if you found us before we stopped
her. He said he'd only knock you out, but not hurt
you any further.

I don't want you hurt, so Nick, don't try to find me,
rescue me. I love your protective side, but
not this time. You will only get hurt if you try to
interfere. I know I don't deserve it, but trust me
on this. I won't suffer for long, but we can't be
together after tomorrow night. I can't drag you
with me into the dark, and couldn't stand it if you
shattered again if I didn't make it over.

Go home love, and good-bye,


//Son of a ... Not a chance! He doesn't know me
very well if he thinks I'll forget about him and
go home just to be *safe*.// He pulled out his cell
phone and dialed a number from memory.
//I'm not letting you go, Philip, you'll never get rid of
me for doing something like this. I'd follow
you over first.// "Alex?"

(Nick! Where are you? What's going on? Are you in
trouble yet?)

"I'm fine, but Philip's gone. He.... he left me a... a
letter." He started to break up, giving way to
the emotions trying to come out. "Oh, Alex, what
am I going to do?"

(Nick, calm down, okay?)

Nick nodded, then realized Alex couldn't see him.
"Yeah. I'm calmer now."

(Okay, now fax the letter to me.)

"Can't. Car's not here." (hiccup, belch) "It's in front
of the bar." (sniffle) "Why now, Alex. He
loves me, told me so himself, we kissed, a couple of
times even, so why now of all times?"

(Nick, have you been drinking?)

"Yeah." (burp). "Sorry 'bout that."

(No problem. Okay, read it to me.)

"But it's got personal stuff in it." //Don't want to
share him, not even with the others in the house
or you.//

(Just tell me the important stuff!)

Nick knew she was getting frustrated. "Just come
and help me, Alex. We have until tomorrow
night to stop him from doing the stupidest thing in his
life, and mine." (sniffle, soft moan) "Alex?"

(Yeah, Nick, we're on the way.)

"Alex," he whispered, "he's going to turn over to
save us. I can't let him go, ican'tican't.... Alex?
Help me?"

(Oh, Nick, I'm so sorry that this had to happen.
Don't worry, I'll get him back for you. We'll save
him together. Okay?)

"Thank you, sis." Nick yawned, "I mean Alex."

(Nick, hang up and sleep it off. We'll be there soon,
in a couple of hours. It'll be Derek and I,
Kristen had to fly back to Boston for something or
another at her old house.)

"Yes, ma'am. See you soon." He hung up, holding
the letter to his chest, and slipped into sleep.


Alex hung up the phone, taking a deep breath before
grabbing her robe and heading down the hall
to Derek's room. She raised her hand to knock, but
Derek opened the door before her fingers
could hit the wood. He stood there fully dressed,
looking at her robe and frowning.

"I'll go get ready. Are we flying or driving?" She
turned, going back to her own room.

"Flying. I traced them earlier by Nick's credit card.
It's too far away to drive and get there in

Alex turned around, raising an eyebrow. "What did
you tell him when you called?"


"Because he's been *drinking* and Philip left him."

Derek ran a hand over his face, groaning.

"Derek, he sounded like he was ready to cry. Oh, my
God!" she grabbed Derek's arm, shaking
him. "You *did* know they were in love! You
knew, and you let it happen this way anyway."

Derek got free, kissing her on the cheek. "I know I
did. That's why, and how, he'll stop Philip."
Derek walked past her and down the stairs.

"You bastard," she whispered. "You better not let
them get hurt, or you'll deal with me, and I
promise to make a demon look nice, pleasant, and
gentle." Alex went back into her room to get


Nick woke to the knocking. He groaned, getting up
to shuffle to the door. He opened it to Alex,
who was dangling his keys from her thumb. He
grunted, opening the door further, and let her in.
He started to close the door on the painful sunlight,
but Derek's hand stopped him.

"Nick." Derek walked past him, moving to sit in the

Alex handed him the keys and sat on the bed facing
Derek. "Bartender gave 'em to me. Said if I
was his lover and I had left him, he'd drink too."

"Huh?" He sat next to Alex on the bed, pulling a
pillow over to lean on.

"The bartender said some guy came in, bought you a
bottle, and told him your lover left you last

"Philip maybe?" Derek asked, but Alex shook her
head. Derek leaned over, touching Nick's leg.

"Yeah?" He was looking down at the floor. Alex
pulled him in for a one armed hug. "Thanks."
He kissed her forehead, acting brotherly before she
let him sit on his own. Nick looked around,
searching for the letter. When he found it tucked
under the pillow he handed it to Alex,
wordlessly, slumping when she took control of it, and
the situation.

Alex arranged the pages, skimming the contents. She
handed Nick back the short first page,
watching him smooth it out and reread it. She turned
her attention back to the rest of it. "Oh,
my. Nick is this who I think it is?" she pointed to
the first paragraph.

"Yeah, the blonde Sociologist." Both of them
watched Derek's color drain.

Alex read the rest of the letter, going back to some
parts twice. "Okay, it looks like Philip and
Arkadi have a plan to interrupt whomever, or
whatever, she's offering the child to, giving the
demon someone else in return; and knowing Philip,
it's him." She looked over at Nick, silent and
slumped beside her. "I'm sorry, Nick. We'll stop
him." She rubbed his arm. "Why don't you go
shower while I fill in Derek"

"Need to get..." He grabbed for the keys where he
dropped them on the bed, but Alex got them

"I'll get it. Now, go, you smell like a brewery." She
nudged his shoulder with hers.

Nick smiled, confident that Alex was in control and
followed her orders.

She waited until he had closed the bathroom door
before folding the letter and taking it with her
to get his bag out of the car. When she came back
in, Derek was tapping a foot impatiently. She
laid the bag in front of the bathroom and returned to
perch on the bed.

"So, Derek, tell me more about that wonderful,
caring woman who was really interested in your
Egyptian theories."

Derek gave her a nasty look, holding out a hand for
the letter. Alex shook her head 'no' and
shoved it farther into her pocket. "Alex," he warned.

"What? It's a private communication between the
two of them. I'll tell you the salient parts, don't
worry, but I won't betray his trust." She waited until
he was done fuming and had accepted the
situation. "Okay, it seems that you and she have a
child, a son, together, and that Arkadi's his
half-uncle or whatever you call your mother's
half-brother these days. She's going to offer him up
to Arkadi's protector demon, for training. Philip and
Arkadi are going to stop her."

"By Philip offering himself." Derek shifted, suddenly
uncomfortable with the situation.


Nick opened the bathroom door, letting steam
escape, and looked around for his bag. He
grabbed it, and retreated to the bathroom.

"Now all we have to do is find them, stop *both*
groups, and bring Nick and Philip someplace to
fight this out."

"Alex, about them..."

"No, Derek, stop right there! It is *none* of our
business and we *will* stay out of it!" She
stood up, towering over her Precept to intimidate

Derek laughed mildly. "Goot try, Alex, buy you
aren't mean enough. Besides, I wasn't going to
interfere between them. They have a right to be

"I mean it Derek. If you do *anything* to come
between them I *will* make your life a living
hell. And you have *no* idea what I'm capable of."

She walked around the room, pulling out drawers.
"Ah, here it is." She pulled out a phone book,
flipping to the blue pages. She wrote down
something and put it back. "City Hall will be open
already. Nick and I will go down and search for
properties either of them might own."

"Fine, I'll check out real estate agents for rentals. I
doubt Victor would have bought a house here,
but Michelle might have." Derek stood, stretching.
"I'll take our rental, you two can use Nick's
car. We'll meet here around two for lunch, all right?"

"Yeah, it's not nine yet, so that should give us
enough time." Alex walked over to look out the
window. "Derek, I mean it. If you screw them up,
you'll loose all three of us."

He walked up behind her, hugging her to his chest.
"I wouldn't 'screw them up' as you put it. I
want to see Nick happy, desire Philip's happiness. I
want all of you to find true love and
understanding from the right person. That's the real
job in life, to find your own happiness." He
kissed her hair. "Now, if only you could find the
right one..."

"Derek, if I find someone, they would have to be part
of the house so I don't have to choose.
You know that." Alex turned in his arms. "I can't
choose between the Legacy and my personal
life, which doesn't exist." She kissed the cheek
beside her. "But if you would somehow recruit
someone for me, I wouldn't object." She pulled
back, giving Derek a teasing smile.

He squeezed her lightly. "All right, but only if I an be
a Gotfather to your children."

"I can see it now, you trying to explain why a
person's being haunted to a two-year old." They
spun to see Nick leaning against the bathroom door
frame. "Or how about why we have to go
and sprinkle water on some people so the other
person in them goes away."

"Nick, scare a girl, why-don't-ya." Alex laughed,
slipping from her teacher's arms. "Ready to hit
City Hall?"

"Sure, am I driving?"

"Yep. Meet you beside the 'stang." Alex went to the
bathroom, trusting the men to behave.

Nick watched Alex close the door behind her before
walking up to Derek. He grabbed the keys
off the bed, and his wallet off the night stand, and
stepped closer to his precept. "Know this,
break her heart and deal with me. Even if I have to
come back from the dead to do it, I'll hurt you
if you hurt her." He picked up his jacket on the way
out the door.

Derek stood, shocked. "At least they'll protect each
other if something happens," he said to
himself. He shrugged into his jacket and pulled the
door behind him. He decided that before
leaving he should head towards the office, he and
Alex would need a room too.


Nick climbed into his car, starting the engine. He
leaned back in the seat, blowing out a deep
breath, not noticing when Alex got in.

"Did you want to talk for a while?" Alex laid her
head on Nick's shoulder.

"Yeah, but no offense, you aren't him." He closed his
eyes. "I mean, one minute he's telling me
he won't leave me and the next he's gone to offer
himself to a demon to save Derek's son. What
am I supposed to think, to believe, to.... to trust."
He swatted the steering wheel, hitting the horn.

"Nick, in the letter it said he wouldn't be leaving now
if he could help it."

He *can* help it!" Nick opened his eyes and shook
her off, staring at her. "No where is it written
that Philip Callahan has to throw his life away to save
a child that was conceived for a dark
purpose! No where is it chiseled in stone that he has
to die to protect us! Why can't he let
someone else do it," he whispered, seeking comfort
from Alex.

"Nick, he knows that, and I'm sure that if he knew
some other way he would take it." She pulled
him close, offering the comfort and warmth he
needed. "We *will* find him and you *will* save
him. We'll do it together, as a family, and we'll get
him back. I promise you that we won't let him
sacrifice himself." She patted the back of his head
one last time before sitting him up. "I will not
watch you lose someone you love again."

"Thanks, Alex." He pulled himself together and
backed the car out, leaving the motel behind. A
series of thoughts started to run around in his head.
//Sacrifice himself... I can save him...
alternative offering... Philip said. Maybe if I ...
Should look it up, but under what? Oops, passed
City Hall, gotta park.//

"Ah, Nick?"

"I know. I'm looking for a parking spot." He
parallel parked and shut the car off. "Let's go." He
checked the traffic and got out.


Derek walked into the motel's office. "Hello?"

"Yes, sir, do somethin' for you?" The clerk stepped
into the room.

"Yes, I need to get another few nights on Mr. Boyle's
room and two adjoining ones for myself and
a colleague." He pulled out a credit card, shoving it
across the counter.

"Yes, sir." The clerk pulled out a new card, handing
it to Derek while he looked for Nick's.
When he found it, he ran the card through the
machine, waiting for it to print a receipt and
handing them both to Derek and taking the cards

Derek handed him back the paper, getting his copy of
the receipt and tucking it away in his wallet
with the card. He started to turn around, but
remembered why he was there. He leaned across
the counter, creating an air of closeness between
them. "Do you, by perchance, know where I
could find a friend of mine? She's a petite blonde
with an infant, a son. She would be relatively
new to the area."

"She's a friend of yours, you say?" The clerk leaned
in, thinking about the inhabitants he knew in
the small town.

"Yes, Mr. Boyle and I are associates of the father of
her child and he's been hurt. Not badly, but
we need to find her, today if possible." He gave the
clerk a smile. He didn't like lying, but he
considered it necessary on occasion - this being one.

"Hmm. The only woman I know that fits that
description lives in a big ol' house on the edge of
town." He quickly drew a map. "Jus' follow that and
if that's her, you'll find her easily." He
smiled and left the office with a nod.

"Thank you," Derek called after him. He left, going
on about his part of the mission.


Alex walked up to the counter, looking around for
the clerk. "Hello?"

A woman stuck her head up, "Yes, may I help you?"

Alex smiled her most winsome. "Yes please. I need
to know any properties that either of these
two are on record as owners." She picked up a piece
of paper and wrote both Arkadi's and his
half-sister's names on it, handing it to the woman.
"I'm researching them for a private investigator
who's trying to find them for an inheritance."

The middle aged woman looked at it, frowning. "I
haven't catalogued anything with their names
recently. How far back do you need?" She peered
over the top edge of her glasses, standing up,
holding a messy pile of papers. "We only have the
last five years in the computer so far and none
of the last six months in yet."

Alex leaned on the counter. "That's good. It
probably would be in that frame, but could we look
through the last six month's paperwork? We could
do that while you run the searches."

The woman beamed. "Of course." She bent back
down, brining up more disorganized papers,
which she laid in the pile with the first. "Sorry, but I
had just dropped them before you came in."

"That's okay. We can straighten them up, in order of
date if that's okay, while we look through
them." She motioned for Nick to help her, and they
grabbed the papers, taking them over to a
table, when the clerk nodded her ascent and thanks.

Nick looked at each page, scanning it for pertinent
names, before placing it in a pile. He
separated ones he wanted to look at closer from the
others, placing everything else into monthly
piles. When he got through his stack, he started in
sorting the month piles into order.

Alex watched Nick, noticing his system. She
followed it, integrating her second look pile with his
and putting the sorted ones back into the folder. She
walked back the papers they didn't need,
taking her time to watch Nick scan each page in

Nick came to a page, stopping cold. He started to
shake, letting Alex take the paper. //That son
of a bitch! A deed for a cemetery plot. In Philip's
name. // He moved his hands until they were
clasped on the table. //She can't take him away from
me, she can't, I won't let her! She won't kill
Philip, can't kill him. I've got to stop her.// He
twisted his fingers together, trying to feel the
contact. //NO! I can't let this happen.//

Alex looked at the paper she had taken out of Nick's
fingers. She watched Nick while reading the
deed; watching fear, desperation, anger, and the urge
to escape flow across his expressive eyes.
"Nick," she said softly. No answer, just hands
wringing together. "Nick, it won't happen. You
won't let it happen like that. None of us will let him
die here, I promise." She grabbed his hands,
calming him with her touch, giving him the contact
he needed to ground him. "Come back, Nick,
I can't do this alone."

Nick slowly came back to reality, following the
warmth that held onto him. "I... I'm here, Alex,
thanks." He squeezed her hands. "Sorry about that,
just spooked by it I guess."

"S'okay. I understand. If I saw yours or Derek's, I
would have done the same thing." She patted
the strong hands that held hers. "I found some things
too. Seems like there are two new trusts in
my pile. Both for male children, Rayne's by last
name. One's for a Philip Derek Rayne, the other
for a Nicholas Victor Rayne. Both with the same
birth mother, one Michele Arcandis."

"Hold it, she had twins? Philip's letter only
mentioned one."

"Nope, one is for a yet to be born infant." Alex
handed him the papers. "And I know Derek
hasn't seen her since she left him."

"So how..."

"Artificial insemination, she said, from a husband
that's gone," the clerk said, coming over to the
table. "That's what I asked her too." She gave Alex
a paper. "I could only find three listings on
her, none on the other name. Hope it helps."

Alex handed her the deed to the cemetery plot. "Do
you know if there's anything else with his
name on it?"

"Nope, just that one. A man, tall, dark, dangerous
and smooth looking, filed that one, not a week
ago." She gathered up the remaining papers.
"Thanks for straightening this for me." She smiled
at the pair, and went back to her computer.

Alex and Nick left, Nick dragging slowly behind.


Derek picked up his cell phone, "Hello?"

(Derek, it's Alex. We found three possible sights:
two residential and one warehouse.)

"Why do I feel that there's something more?"

(We - Nick - found a deed to a cemetery plot in
Philip's name.)

Very faintly (It won't happen, I won't let it, even if I
have to kill Arkadi myself to stop it.)

"Oh, Got, no. Is Nick all right now?"

(We're fine. Do you want us to split up and check

"No, meet me back at the motel.. I'll pick up some
lunch and we'll plan our next move."

Asides from Alex to Nick and back:
(IS there anything he should get you for lunch? You
didn't eat breakfast.)

(I dont' want to eat, it'll waste time. We can eat on
the way to the sites.)

(No, Nick, we're going to sit down and plan our
strategy with Derek at the motel.)

(Have fun.)

"Give Nick the phone, Alex," Derek ordered. He
waited for a few seconds. "Nick, we all are
care for Philip just as much as you do, even if we
don't love him like you do. We are going to
find him; together, as a team."

(Yes, sir.) Nick hung up.

Derek put his phone away, worrying because the
young man gave in to easily to him. "At least
we can follow him if we need to."


Nick laid his head on the steering wheel. Alex had
went into a small restaurant to get them some
coffee. //I've got to find a way to stop this, him.
Gotta ditch Alex, and that will make her mad,
but I'll apologize when, if, we come back. Oh, well.//
He smiled, reassured in his actions. //Derek
always did tell me I was better at actions than at
waiting,// he thought as he pulled quietly out of
the parking lot, leaving her stranded.

"Good bye, my friends. Be happy together and find
one a way to make each other happy. I'll
bring him back, or we'll both go together, but we'll be
together, and therefore happy." He pulled
out on to the main road, and quietly left to find his
love and what may become a new life.


Derek let the curtain fall in the room. He had picked
up Alex almost an hour ago, and still no
Nick. "I hope he finds him."

Alex pressed herself against his back, needing the
comfort of his touch. "He will. He wants it
more than his own life right now." She hugged him
hard. "He'll stop Philip's death and bring him
back to us, or they'll be together. We have to trust in
the strength of their love."

"I know," he scrubbed at his face, weary with all the
fighting. "Nick had that look before he left.
They'll both turn, or ..." He didn't want to think of
the other option.

"They'll be together no matter what." She turned him
around so she could rest in his arms. "I
believe that they'll come back to us. And that
ceremony that we left for him to counter it says that
he has to conquer it with love. Only he can do that."

"I know, but I'm still worried." He stroked her back.
"But you're right, they'll come back to us."
He pulled he closer, needing her strength. He looked
up, whispering so softly that she couldn't
hear him. "Please, Got, let them be all right." He
squeezed her again and let her go, turning back
to the window and the tracking monitor that he had
placed on the sill.

Alex brushed off her tears and grabbed her laptop to
do some research.


Nick pulled up in front of the town's library.
//Research; gotta find a way to stop him.// He got
out of the car and headed for the front desk.

The two Librarians watched the young man walk up
to where they sat talking. The elderly
woman patted the younger man's arm and walked
over to help Nick. "May I help you?"

He have her a charming smile. "I hope so. I'm a
grad student passing through and I need to do
some last minute research on the internet real quick."
He tried to give her an

She chuckled and handed him a sign-in sheet. "I
need to hold a credit card and see an ID, please."

He signed and dug out his wallet, handing a card
over and flipping it open to show her his driver's

"Thank you, young man." She opened a drawer,
filed his card and handed him a cardboard
number. "It's around the corner, in the alcove." She
pointed and patted his arm. "You'll have
privacy and you won't bother anyone when you
mutter to yourself." She patted his arm again and
walked back to her co-worker.

"Thank you," he said and tapped the card a few times
before going in the direction she had
pointed. He rounded the corner, almost walking into
the potted plant that hid the computer
alcove. He pushed past the leaves to sit down in the
chair, swinging it side to side while waiting
for it to boot.

He logged onto the internet, loading the Luna
Foundation homepage. He entered his researcher's
number to get into the database and initiated a
search, using what Philip had told him as the
parameters. He checked his mail, not reading
anything but, composing a letter to adopted family.

My Family:

Don't laugh, Alex, all of you have become my family
over the time I've been there. I will miss you
all, but my love for Philip is stronger.

I'm going to stop him and if I can't, I'll follow him
over. I'll miss you all. Tell Derek I'll send my
phone and anything else that belongs to the house

I'll miss you all and I'll try to write, we both will. If
something happens, make sure we're together.
I know I can't rest beside Julia, but make sure we're
together someplace nice.

I love you all,

He took a deep breath, hitting the send key to send it
to Alex, then opened his mail. He found the
ceremony she and Derek had sent to him, complete
with instructions. He printed it, folding up the
pages and putting them in his pocket to read later.

He logged off, shutting down the computer, and
headed out after getting his card back. He had
the ammunition he needed now, and Philip would
*not* leave him.


Victor Arkadi finished casting the circle around
Philip's robed and kneeling body. "Okay, Father,
it's almost time." He put down the knife and sat on
the floor, outside the circle. "Are you ready
for this?"

"Yes, I guess." Philip tugged on his robe.

"Father, relax. It's for the greater good." He stood
as a very pregnant woman entered.

"What are *you* doing here?" She looked over to
where Philip was. "You can't stop me, they're

"Isn't that for me to decide?" The voice came from a
dark corner of the empty warehouse. A
shimmering light came forward. "Michelle, why
should I deny my favorite pet this?"

"Because I offer you two children from a powerful
line; a line of your enemy." She patted her
stomach, and pushed the infant forward. He was
bundled up, but not crying. "Here is the first
one, the other is to be born any day now."

Victor walked over and took the baby from her.
"But, they'll still need raising; and when they're
older, they may decide to switch sides." He brought
him over to where Philip sat. "I offer an old
enemy of you and many of your brethren. A thorn in
your side for many years now. He is willing
to turn to save the children, so they can make their
own decisions."

"Hmm, but still two children against one priest, even
Father Callahan my not be worth that deal."
The light drifted over to Philip. "Father, why do you
do this? Why give up all those you love,
your entire life, to save a child you don't know." The
light/demon settled on the floor waiting.

"I can' let an innocent get hur' an' I can' let either of
them come back ta hur' my frien's."

"So you're willing to give up true love, your family,
your friends, and your calling within the
Church and the Legacy to stop these children from
acting in twenty or so years?" The light
wavered slightly, producing a tinkling, broken glass
sound. "Oh, Father, you amaze and amuse
me. So be it, start the ceremony. Victor will put the
children someplace safe, I'll take you
instead." He waved a part of the light.

"Wait!" Nick shouted. "Take me for the other child,
it'll be a fair trade, and all I ask is that you
never come to them again, even if they call you
personally." He walked in, clothed in a brown
cotton t-shirt and jeans, no shoes or anything else,
carrying a lit candle, sprinkling herbs onto the

"Ah, true love rears it's ugly head again. Welcome,
Mr. Boyle. Are you willing to give yourself
to me as he will to save them from me in the future

"Yes." He walked over to where Philip was, glaring
at Victor until he picked up the knife and cut
an opening in the circle to let him in. He settled
himself in a similar position to Philip's, not
looking at the older man. "Make it even and take me

"Nick, no!" Philip shouted, not able to move, the
demon had frozen him in place. "Ya can' do
this. Go now, please!" He started to panic, he had
done this so his love wouldn't be hurt, and
now here he was, offering himself beside him. "Ya
can'! I don' wan' ya there with me. I wan' ya
safe an' at home with the others."

"Shut up, love. I told you that I would follow if you
left me again." He turned to Philip, taking
his face into his hands. "I *love* you. So much that
I can't imagine my life without you being
there. I won't live without you, so I'll follow where
you lead. No matter where that may be."

"Aaahh, " Victor and the demon said together.

"Victor, did you plan this for me?" The demon
solidified into a very handsome blond man.

"I could lie, but you would know. No, I had no

"Hmmmm." The demon turned to watch Nick and
Philip fight quietly. "It's just like they're
married." He turned to look at Victor. "You know
they won't make it across if they fight for
each other, it's in the ceremony. Love is the only
thing that can save them from me, but they
know that even if they die, they'll be together,
somehow." He thought for a minute. "So be it."
He pointed a finger at them, making a golden rope
appear around their wrists, binding their hands

"What?!?" Both men tried to get it off, but it
wouldn't budge.

"That proves it, we can't bring them over." He sat
down on thin air, letting it hold him up. He
ran a hand through his hair, thinking quietly while
watching all the parties. "Victor, come here for
a minute. There's still a way, and a deal to be made."

Victor walked over, slowly. "Yes, sir?"

"What do you want more than anything?"

"Power, wealth, the Legacy disintegrated from

"Nothing too major." The demon smiled. "How
about immortality?"

"I haven't really thought about it." The demon gave
him a disbelieving look. "Okay, so I have,
but I was thinking about offering myself to become
your apprentice with one of my last gasps."
He shrugged. "I thought it would be best. Why?
Are you offering it to me now?"

"Well, sort of. More like your apprenticeship idea.
To put it in crude layman's terms, you're
going to become my bitch and I'll teach you as long
as you continue to please me." He smiled, a
deep and menacing one. "I would have complete
control over all you do, have, say, and get."

"What's the catch?" He raised an eyebrow when the
demon laughed. "I know there is one."

"Victor, you've heard it already. You're going to
become my plaything, my sex toy if you will.
Your continued existence will depend on how well
you pleasure me." The demon rubbed himself,
stretching his pants over his bulge. "I know it's not
your thing, but I'll teach you everything. You
don't have to enjoy it, and won't, I guarantee, the first
few times but all you have to do is serve me
physically and I'll teach you to become a minor

Victor thought hard. He could have the power, and
whatever else he wanted. Not right now, but
after a while. He *could* wait for a good cause, and
this was one. He didn't like the idea of
having sex with his demon, but if that's what it took...
"Okay, but I want to make a plea."


"That you give me some leeway for giving you
pleasure until I've learned. I don't want it to end
because I'm not learning fast enough, or because I
haven't learned to do something yet."

"That's fine. But I also have to warn you, demons
are ... bigger than humans. And in the
agreement it will state I can loan you out to others
for favors if it'll help me get what I want."

Victor took in the words, letting them sink in.
"You'll heal me if I get hurt from them or you?"

"If it suits me." He smiled. "Sometimes it may not.
Also, you will be technically dead to
humanity. Your *entire* life, and it's length, will
depend on how well you give me what I want."

"Fine, deal. What do I have to do to start it?"

The demon laughed, "Nothing dear boy, not a thing.
Let me gift the happy couple, have
someone pick up her and the children to get them
someplace safe, and into their father's arms, and
we'll be gone. Say your good-byes." He walked
over to where the two young men were back to
fighting. "I won't release you until you declare to
each other your love. We've been watching
you, and it seems like you're already married to our
humble biases."

Nick looked at Philip, seeing if he knew a reason to
not say it. Philip shook his head no, he didn't
know any, so Nick smiled at his lover to be. "I love

"And I you, even if ya are infuriatin' sometimes."

"Hold it, I thought you loved my protective side."

"Oh, I do, even now." He leaned over, planting a
chaste kiss on Nick's mouth.

"Good, by the powers vested in me, you're married.
May you live a long happy life, and may you
never darken *my* life again." The demon turned
away from the shocked men. "You'll see proof
of my gift to you in a while." He walked over to
where Victor and Michelle were fighting.
"Michelle, I'm granting one of your fondest fantasies.
You always wanted to be like your brother,
now you will. I've called one of my associates, one
who's been watching and waiting for you to
say those magical words. He's going to come and
get you soon. He'll take the children to their
father," he said, waiting until her scream of "NO!"
quit echoing around the empty warehouse.
"and you'll be his to train and love." He pulled on
Victor's sleeve. "Time to go."

Victor kissed his sister on the cheek and followed his
new master out through the corner,
disappearing together into the ether.

Nick and Philip watched as The Warden popped in,
and walked around the trio. "Hello again.
Too bad I'm not here for you." He tried to touch
them, but the shield around them sizzled. "Very
much a shame." He picked up the infant, who cooed
at him, and took Michelle's nerveless hand.
"Shall we, my mate?" She didn't say anything, so he
shrugged and made both of them disappear
in a cloud of smoke.


Nick and Philip sat there, wondering when Derek or
Alex were going to come and release them.
They couldn't do it without the knife that sat outside
the circle, so were trapped.

"So," Nick said turning to his lover, "do you think he
meant it?"

"What?" Philip said, frowning to show he was still
mad at him for almost getting himself killed
too. "An' tha' was stupid, riskin' yourself like tha'.
I'm no' worth tha' sacrifice, you're too

"Love is worth it, Father," the demon said, showing
up in a shiny portal that looked very much
like a mirror hanging in mid air. "He came because
he knew love was one of the fundamental
forces in the universe. It alone can change destinies
and rule the world over it's objections. He
also knew yours was one of the strongest seen in
centuries, I would guess."

"Release us." Philip said.

"Not just yet. The Warden is still hanging around
until dawn to see if he can't get you both. I
couldn't let you be taken, not when your love is so
strong." He smiled at Philip. "Be thankful.
His love is the only thing that saved you from
becoming my toy tonight. He loved you enough to
let himself be used in your place, even if you died, so
you wouldn't be hurt." He motioned for
someone out of the picture to come over. "Victor
got what he wanted, Michelle did too, as did
your Derek. You two got each other, the deal is a
good thing all the way around." He smiled as a
naked Victor came over to lay on him. "Say hi, love,
and let them see just what they narrowly
missed." Victor nodded. The demon raised a hand,
brushing it across the portal, making it a
wider shot.

Victor uncovered his master, making Nick hiss when
he saw the endowment on the demon, and
sat himself down, grimacing in pain as he was split by
the enormous cock.

"Yes, that's a good virgin." He thrust up, making
Victor sob. "Sit still for another minute and it'll
hurt less." Victor slumped onto the demon's chest,
letting the pain wash over him. "Okay, now
for your wedding presents. And yes, Mr. Boyle, I
meant it. According to all we hold dear, you
are married, and Hell will officially recognize it." He
smiled down at his lover, stroking his back
and reducing the size of his penis. "You're going to
be so good to teach. Just remember that you
need me to fill you at least once a week for you to
continue." He looked back at Nick. "Your
present is that for however much time he goes on, it
will be added to both of your lives."

"We don't want it or need it," Nick said, grabbing
Philip's arm. "Don't bother."

"Oh, but you don't understand. It won't taint you, and
you can't refuse it. I'm sending someone
back who will explain it to you and will get you out
of trouble. Besides, it'll cause more confusion
if you *don't* accept it. Father, your gift sits under
your paternal Grandfather's favorite tree in a
small wooden box. Two of your nieces have the
same gift as you, have one of them get it if you
can't. Again, it's yours, you can't refuse your
heritage; and again, it'll cause more problems if you
don't go dig it up."

"We still don' wan' it." Philip said, straightening out.
"We wan' nothing from you an' yours."

"I know, that's why I'm doing this. They can *never*
touch *either* of you again. If they do, it's
instant destruction to any one who tries." He smiled.
"You see, I'm fallen by my own choice.
Heaven was boring, I wanted to be among people, to
feel love again. I couldn't do that as an
angel, so I fell. I'm giving you what grace I have left,
and hope you take it to use for the
protection of those who need it. You'll both find
others like you, a few select guardians, who will
fight the same battles. For now, yours are going to
be with the Legacy, but not forever. When
that time comes, just remember that balance is the
only acceptable outcome for all. It'll switch
things so that it's fair to all, even him," he waved a
hand at Victor. "But that's in the future, and
my emissary will be able to tell you more. Trust me
on this, the Legacy will want you there, just
because you're you and your love is that strong.
They need it." He waved a hand and the portal

Nick looked at Philip, sighing. "How are we going
to tell the others?"

"We're no'. No' until we figure us out firs'."

"Philip, I don't know about you, but I like the idea of
being tied to you for forever." He smiled to
take the shock off his face. "I love you. Enough to
risk my life to save yours. I came tonight
because I couldn't live without you if you left me, not
even if you still lived."

"I don'..."

"Don't. I'm not asking you to feel that way about
me. If you do some day, then I'll be happier, if
that's possible, but I don't think so. Just having you
as mine, that's what I always have wanted.
You. The stubborn Irish priest that guilt-trips himself
sick and does shit like this to save others.
The only man to have broken my heart twice when he
left me for a calling I could have no part
of." He kissed Philip's lips, softly caressing them
with his own. "You're all I ever wanted in life.
And now you can't leave me, so I'm happy."

"Nick, I love ya. I really do, but we can' do this."
He took his hands, looking down at where they
were entwined. "I can' do this."

"Why? Because you're a priest?" Philip nodded. "But
you're not anymore. No more vows. Not
unless we write some together."

"But wha' abou'..."

"Then, if we have to leave the Legacy, we'll get a
nice little house and you'll teach languages and
I'll go to college and we'll be happy for how ever
long we have together. We can stay near Alex
and Derek if you want, and they can visit." He
smiled. "How do you feel about three bedroom
houses with a good kitchen, a big living room, and a
library? I saw this great one the other day on
the real estate show off the public access channel."

Philip laughed. "You have it all figured out, don'
you?" He hugged the younger man. "Tha' soun's
goo' to me. As long as tha's wha' you wan'."

"I have what I want in my arms." He pulled Philip
close, hugging him to his side. "Nothing is
more important than this."

Philip blushed, unaccustomed to being told he was
special, let alone being told he was the most
important thing in someone's world. "If ya say so."

"I do," he said and kissed his mate. "You're mine and
I'm yours." He kissed him again, letting his
tongue dance against Philip's. He pulled back
enough to look in his eyes. "Do you think Alex will
give me away if we get married at the house?"

Philip laughed, hugging him tightly. "No' a chance,
she's givin' me ta you."

"Okay, then. It's settled."



Nick carried Philip over the threshold of the castle.
They were back from their honeymoon in
Europe, Derek's present to them, and were waiting
for someone to notice them being there.

"Nick, Philip!" Kat yelled, coming down the hall.
"We missed you, how was your trip?" She
jumped into Nick's arms, hugging him and leaning
over to hug Philip too. "Did you have fun?"

"Yeah, kiddo we did. Where's everyone else?" He
put her down, letting her take their hands and
pull them into the library.

Derek, Alex, Kristen, Rachel, and William Sloan sat
around the big table, discussing a box that
laid before them. Alex jumped up, giving each of
them a hug and kiss on the cheek, pulling them
to their new seats next to each other, next to
Rachel's. Rachel smiled and patted their joined
hands. Derek smiled, showing how happy he was to
have the pair back. Kristen wasn't smiling,
but she wasn't frowning anymore either.

"Well, how was the trip?" William asked, looking
around to see why no one else had asked.

"Oh, good. We saw a few museums, some artwork
and statues. We met some interesting people,
and Philip stopped in to see some people he knew at
the Vatican."

"We," Philip added, "brough' each of ya a souvenir
from each place, and they're in the car still.
We loved it, thank you Derek."

"Well, your honeymoon is supposed to be special and
memorable," he said, glancing down at the

"Now if only we could convince you to take one,
Derek," William teased, getting dirty looks from
around the table. "I'll convince you that marriage is
an honorable institution yet."

"Yeah, but who want's to be institutionalized,"
Rachel said, making everyone laugh.

Philip looked at the box, translating the Summarian
on it's side. "Come to bed, love," Nick
whispered from behind him. "I'm waiting for you."
He ran his fingers through Philip's hair on the
way out, making sure he knew exactly what he

Philip smiled after his husband, putting the box aside
and following Nick to their room. He
locked the door behind him, pulling off his clothes as
he walked to the bed.

Nick was laying on the bed, naked, drawing little
figures on the covers while he watched Philip
with impatience. He held out his arms, letting his
husband fill them. They kissed, passionately
consuming each other with the frenzy of newlyweds.
Philip pulled himself away for air, resting his
head on Nick's shoulder.

"Mine tonight."

"Nope, not even." Nick smiled and tickled him for a
few strokes. "I want you in me tonight."

"Nope, mine, my firs', las', and only."

"Does that mean I can't do it again?" He smiled,
stoking the firm flesh over Philip's shoulders.
"Not even if you like it?"

"I didn' mean tha', and ya know it." He smiled,
coming back up for another kiss. "This is my firs'
time, and you're my las' and only lover." He kissed
Nick again. "Tha' is, unless ya don' wanna be
inside my body."

Nick rolled them over, getting the top position. "Oh,
not even close love. You're right, you're
mine tonight."

Nick gently made love to his husband, showing him
how good even a first time could be as long
as they were together. He rocked Philip gently when
he cried at his release, then went on to
prove their love a few times that night, each getting
to connect with the other on the most
fundamental levels.

They fell asleep together, curled and entangled, just
like their life threads were always meant to
be, knowing that forever wasn't just a word, but a
promise of the faith and love shared between
them and all those lucky enough to be in their lives.

The End.
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