by Cairistiona -

    Derek came awake in a sweat. Wringing his hand through his wet hair he sighed, looked around to be sure of his surroundings, and sighed again. He had always been able to take the after effects of one of his visions, but it was much harder when they came during his sleep. Getting up and stretching out his stiff limbs he quickly freshened himself up before going downstairs to get something to eat, hoping that would ease the agitation. Entering the empty kitchen, Derek idly grabbed a piece of fruit and took a bit to quell the morning cravings of hunger, but then frowned. "Wonder where everybody is," he murmured to himself as he leaned back and took another bit before setting it aside, easily loosing taste and interest. It wasn't uncommon for him to be up before the others, but he almost always could hear some kind of activity in the house, even if it was just the servants going about their business. Today, though, the kitchen lay undisturbed and the house silent, not even the winds outside made a single whistling noise. It was too quiet for him.

Derek left in search of someone, anyone. Who he found was not someone he had ever expected to see again.

"Hello Derek," the young woman with soft long flowing hair greeted with a smile as he entered the library, but she only gave him the barest amount of attention as she went back to reading the old cover bound volume. "I was wondering when you'd be up this morning," she murmured to him, preoccupied with the words before her, and then commented drolley with a quick glance up, "Last night's events finally get the better of you?"

"Not likely," Derek heard himself say almost in automatic response.

The woman smiled, but then frowned, "Derek, what's wrong?"

Derek suddenly realized he'd been staring at her, disbelieving his eyes, "Alicia?"


Derek shook his head, that couldn't be, she was dead, or maybe he was just crazy. Deciding to divert his confusing thoughts he refrained from what he was going to say and asked instead. "What are you doing?"

Alicia Summers smiled again. "Well, if you must know, I'm reading up on Navaho practices." He looked at her questioningly and she turned the book so he could read it as well, but when he looked down at the words on the paper, nothing made sense. It was as if the letters were all jumbled up and moving about, just looking at them was giving him a migraine and Derek involuntarily clutched at his temples. The woman who was previously sitting at the table was up on her feet in front of him instantly. "Derek!"

Stepping back a step Derek squinted his eyes shut wishing the pain would just end. "Derek!" The voice called out him name again but it was twisted and unclear through the resounding throb in his head. Then, just as suddenly as the headache had come, it vanished and he opened his eyes relieved. Derek's middle aged father stood in front of him concern written across his face. "Derek! You okay, son?"

Derek nodded mutely and his father's worriment for his own flesh and blood quickly vanished, leaving behind only his passion for his work. Derek glanced around feeling lost, he was still in the library, but the woman was gone. "Where's Alicia?" He demanded in alarm.

His father gave him a sharp look as a reprimand for the tone of voice Derek had used but after a moment asked, letting it slide, "who's Alicia?" He suddenly grinned as if a thought had just occurred to him. "She a girl you met a school?"

"No," Derek said hesitantly, he felt confused, or mystified, he wasn't sure but knew this wasn't normal. He wanted to clutch at his head again, What the bloody hell was going on?

His father it seemed took Derek's hesitation to portray something entirely different and briefly grinning stated, "you can see her again on Wednesday. Now go and pack, we need to be leaving in an hour."

Derek turned obediently only to find himself directly facing a young brunette haired child just inside the doorway. "Katherine," Derek exclaimed in surprise and recognition. The girl giggled uncharacteristically and turning, sprinted out of the room. "Kat!" Derek called out to her, quickly following. "Wait!" Rounding the corner at the end of the corridor, Derek skidded to a halt.

Katherine was standing in the middle of the hallway, her hands connected to the hands of a young boy, his dark lops of hair bouncing as they jumped with glee. Another boy whom Derek also did not recognize, but for some reason couldn't fix a description of in his mind either, was turning in circles between them. All three were completely transfixed in their playing, the sounds of their giggling resounding with an almost magical quality in Derek's ears as they chanted the nursery rhyme 'London Bridges are Falling Down' over and over again. All he could do was watch. Then when it was finished, Kat turned to Derek meeting his eye, and winked.

His vision was immediately encompassed by white light as he suddenly awoke, sitting straight up in bed. A think sweat hung over him and his breath came in ragged gasps which he spent considerable time slowing to an even breathing. Looking out the window and finding that the sun was well above the horizon now, Derek hastily rose. The feelings of deja vu and it's accompanying hysteria were quickly rising, but he somehow forced himself to take the time to shower and dress before leaving.

Derek entered the Control room to find Rachel pouring over some books laid out on a counter. She looked up at him with a smile, "hello, Derek. I was wondering when you'd be up this morning." Then commented, "last night's events finally get the better of you?" Derek froze in his tracks, a look of shock or fear, Rachel wasn't sure, passing across his face. "Derek, what's wrong?"

Just then Nick came out from the adjoining room, absently talking as he scanned once more over the papers in his hand, "You were right, Rachel. It's nothing but a counterfeit. It's just an old..." he stopped when he noticed Derek's face and immediately asked, "what's up? You look as if you've seen a ghost!"

The sensation was like zoning back in as reality made itself prominent and secure once again. "Nothing," Derek automatically replied schooling his features back to normal. "But it looks like you two've been busy," he stated trying to distract them as much as himself.

Rachel shrugged. "The London House sent us a package today. Since it looked American Indian, they were wondering if we wanted to deal with it. They couldn't place it at all and we've got better connections."

"But then Rachel got the impression that it was nothing but a fake so we ran a carbon dating test on the paint used. It came out two years old!" Nick added to Rachel's summery of this morning's events.

"Where's the package now?" Derek asked acting interest. Rachel pointed across the room to the light table. Sitting on it was an obscure piece of stone covered with carvings and painted designs. Derek walked over and frowning reached down to pick up the curious object but stopped suddenly and spun around at the eerie sound of Kat's giggle from behind. Standing inside the Control Room was Katherine, but she shouldn't have been able to get through with out the alarms going off. It was only then that he realized Rachel and Nick were no longer there. "Kat, what is going on?" Derek demanded of the girl.

She just giggled once more and stepped back out of the room through the wall. Derek immediately chased after her but she was already gone by the time he had reached the portal like exit. Resolutely he stepped through, gasping at its unexpected difference. This time it had felt more like he was actually walking through a wall somehow. Sure enough when he turned back he discovered a completely different painting on the other side and reaching out, found canvas, nothing more.

Noises at the end of the hall drew his attention away and Derek, making a face, went to investigate. He stopped in shock at the scene before him. A familiar old face was in rage and yelling at the boy standing a few steps away. Derek looked to the boy, it was the same kid from his previous dream, or whatever, the one with the dark hair who'd been holding Kat's hands. Yet neither seemed to notice Derek, it was as if he wasn't even there.

Veins popping out of his neck, the middle aged man yelled, "You get back in here Nick!"

"No!" The kid screamed in the man's face, he had a reddened eye that would for sure later develop into a bruise. "I can't take it anymore!" Then sprinted off down the hall.

Derek couldn't believe what was happening, in my own house! He looked at Jonathan, stepping up to him a little annoyed and angry but Jonathan just looked right through Derek and turning around slammed the door shut. Derek turned with a frustrated sigh and leaning over the railing called out to the fleeting boy, "Nick!" He ran down the steps to try and catch up but stopped when he realized Nick hadn't heard him either but had slipped out the front door with out a single look back. Stunned and standing still in shock in the middle of the front hall, his attention was suddenly drawn upward to the banister railing above.

A more current version of Nick stood there looking angrily down, "A Legacy member who leaves the house can never return, I thought those were the rules!"

The precept felt himself repeating the words he had spoken once before, "So did I. But in spirit he never really left."

Nick just replied testily, "his spirit's not much good to us with out his body, is it?" He paused, but when Derek didn't readily reply, continued, asking, "what if Philip decides to turn his back on us again?"

"And what if we decide to turn our backs on him?" Derek countered.

Turning angrily, Nick left then, leaving the Precept where he stood. A hand laid itself on his shoulder causing Derek to jump.

Nick looked at him concerned. "Derek, you okay? What happened to you? With one look at that object you just rushed out of the Control Room as if possessed!"

Derek wanted to shake his head to see if that would clear any of it up, but he had a suspicion nothing was going to help this. "I don't know," he finally said. "Let's go see that object again."

Nick patted him on the back, worried. "Sure."

As they started walking back Derek idly questioned, "where's Alex?"

Now Nick really did look worried. "She's visiting at her grandmother's, remember?" But all he got was a blank face.

"No," Derek consented, finally coming to terms with it for himself as much as anything. Together they entered the Control Room and Derek was assaulted by Rachel's quick questions which he eventually fended off.

"And this isn't the sight?" Nick asked from the chair he had flipped around backwards to make more comfortable.

Derek shook his head no. "They don't come in the form of a vision at all." He rung a hand through his damp hair again, a very uncharacteristic action for him which Rachel immediately noticed.

"Derek, maybe you just need some R and R. Stress can do many things to a person. And seeing things like old memories, or even familiar faces like Kat..."

He cut her off giving Nick a hesitant look. "Kat wasn't the only one." Then he told them about the scene between Nick and Jonathan, something he had hoped to get around mentioning.

Nick's face briefly darkened but he shook his head, saying, "you know about my past, it could have just been a way for your inner mind to express some feelings." Nick didn't really look like he fully believed the words he was speaking, but seeing his precept like this was distressing enough.

"Nick's right," Rachel persisted. "And since there doesn't seem to be anything any one of us are really working on right now, I'd suggest taking the day off. If only to read a book, something, anything!"

"Ya Boss!" Nick smirked, "we can handle the house work here."

Derek eyed them both, still wondering how he'd miss that Alex was at her grandmother's, but finally consented. I could always brush up on my Latin, he thought amused. "Okay, but if something comes up, you better inform me. This is still my house you know!"

"Just go!" Rachel ordered, smiling widely.

Derek sulked away. In truth, as much as the prospect of relaxing sounded inviting to him, this had all brought up a lot of old feelings he'd hoped to forget. And something else, he just couldn't figure it out, but he knew it was staring him right in the face. For a moment he remembered the reason for having gone back, to look at that item again, but decided to wait a bit until Rachel and Nick were finished and gone. He didn't like worrying them so much and instead decided to wander the halls of the castle, contemplating over it all, or just to wait to see what would happen next. He didn't have to wait long as a deathly stillness encompassed everything. Derek turned down one hallway to find that it only spread out into three others, none of them familiar. Looking around to see the exact same at the other end, he wondered if he was even still in the same mansion. Derek decisively went down the one and taking a right at the first turn came to another fork taking the left, but nothing changed, it all looked identical, same wallpaper, same lights, even the same paintings. At the next intersection of placid hallway, Derek stopped and standing in the stillness for a minute considered it.

Taking out his pen the precept drew a little arrow on the wall of the hallway he was in and turned right, following the hallway until it broke off, taking a right every time he came to a new turn. After four turns Derek checked the area where he had left the mark, but the wall stood untouched. "What kind of treachery is this?" He questioned the identical hallways in frustration, his voice ringing out as if from a hollow cave. What was this all supposed to prove anyway?! Then from within the echo resounded the child sung nursery rhyme 'London Bridges are Falling Down', the children's voices ringing true as they had before.

"Kat? Nick?" Derek called out but the song didn't brake and he took off down the hallway, following the noise, turning right, after right, after right, the voices getting louder every time he turned a corner, but the hallways continuing to stretch on forever. In his mind he counted it to be ten times running down a new passageway in what could only be a circle. Quenching the feelings of frustration that rose with the increasing sense of impossibility, Derek pushed on until finally the hallway abruptly came to a dead end, the singing at it's loudest.

Derek reached for the door handle that blocked the passage right as the singing stopped as paused. He listened for a few more minutes but there was only silence, and with a determination and sudden desire to meet this to the end, pushed the door all the way open stepping through.

The door vanished the moment it closed. Before him lay a simple, large, walled chamber about 20 feet by 20 feet, probably a perfect square, and a good three stories tall with an almost completely disintegrated roof, leaving the sun to glare down at him through a cloudless sky. Derek looked around for Kat or anyone else, but there was no one but him in the strange room and he moved about examining the walls, seeing the ancient makers' hand prints still left in its sides from packing the stone like mud in place. One wall had what looked like some sort of spiral design imprinted in it. He reached up to trace the line, and behind him the world flashed white.

Spinning around Derek found himself now in the well familiar library of the mansion. He shook his head, wondering if that would make a difference, induced a spell, call up a vision, evoke a spirit, change the world, anything. Derek sighed, everything felt normal. It all felt normal to him, and at the same time he knew it shouldn't. This isn't normal, either, he promptly reminded himself. The rustling and scrunching of paper drew Derek's attention upward. At a small table by the window in the back corner sat Philip, dressed not in his usual Priest garb, but something much more comfortable looking, although he did not seem to notice as he sent yet another crunched up paper ball flying towards the little pail. Derek sighed as he looked over toward his distressed friend, wishing he could help the priest sort out his feelings, but Derek knew only Philip and God could sort this one out.

Philip glanced up with rueful eyes as Derek approached, saying, "well, it's not Sanscrit, Arsinarian, nothing recognizable. But there's something uncomfortably familiar about it." The priest's eyes strayed to where Derek put down the book he suddenly realized he was carrying. "What's that?"

It was an automatic reaction, Derek would know the book anywhere. "It's my father's journal. I thought it could help us." He sat down, his mind a little bewildered. The sense of Deja vu increasingly distinct as he struggled to find the words he knew he'd rather say, unable to remember.

Philip sighed. "Derek, listen. I'm not sure I'm going to be much use here. I mean," he struggled for the right way to express his feelings but ended up instead with, "this sort of thing takes a lot of time!"

Derek could only smile comfortingly, feeling sympathy for his friend. "I know, the effort is much appreciated." Philip stood up frustrated once again and showed the excuse of finding another reference book. Derek seemed not to notice, or more pointedly acted as if he hadn't. Grinning, he stated, "Philip, it's good to have you back! Strange, but, you don't know..." his voice trailed off as his eyes darted to the strange writing they were trying to decipher, only it wasn't strange at all, it was Latin.

"Can you read it?" Rachel inquired, coming up behind him.

Derek turned his head, a frown crossing his brow. For some odd reason he thought Philip should be there, but that was ridiculous, Philip's in Ireland! He shook his head mutely at his own confusion and glanced back at the ancient book before him, an ironic half smile crossed his face as he turned again to answer her. "Well, with a little time."

Nodding slightly, Rachel slowly moved back to the hidden statue only now uncovered. "The statue's peculiar. It's crude, almost primitive." Her hand reached out to feel the texture of it, surprise lighting her face. "Huh! I don't think it's carved, I think it's plaster!'

Derek only half heard her as his mind raced with possibilities and struggled with an only half remembered extinct language. His hand carefully pulled back yet another page, only to find a slip of paper beneath. "Look at this! There's a notation on the inside. Dated March 3, 1834. Now loosely translated," he said as Rachel came to read over his shoulder, "it calls the statue an abomination." The last word came out sounding almost as ancient as the work itself with his accent.

A look of puzzlement crossed Rachel's face and she turned to gaze at the statue perplexed. "Christ an abomination?"

Derek merely continued reading, worrying about one thing at a time. "A blasphemy against God and all that he stands for."

"No," Rachel interrupted shaking her head, "that can't be right. This is clearly a religious icon! Not blasphemy."

Shrugging, Derek picked up the book, saying with a smile, "well obviously my father's right. My Latin's even worse than it used to be." He turned but Rachel was gone and the voices of Nick and Philip drew closer from down the hall. Within seconds they had entered the library, an amused smile on Philip's face and a characteristically ambitious one on Nick's. It stopped the moment they spotted Derek standing there, the book open in his hands. It wasn't easy to miss the look of concern that immediately crossed both of their faces.

"Uh, Derek. Sorry if we were disturbing you," Nick hesitantly said.

"Nonsense!" Derek countered giving them a warm smile, keeping his own angst to himself. "Philip!" Derek greeted. "When did you get into town?"

Philip's face was even more concern encompassing than Nick's, dispite both of their apparent efforts to hide it. "Ah, two days ago."

"Oh," Derek sighed, but determined not to let this bother him he asked conversationally, "so what have you two been up to?"

Nick gave him a forced grin, "Well, I'm trying to convince Philip to come flying with us. Alex wants me to show her how to fly the helicopter and I thought it'd be good for Philip here to know as well."

"Oh, than Alex is back as well!"

This time the two younger men went so far as to give each other a worried glance. "Um, she's been back for a week now."

"A week?" Derek couldn't hide his shock, and gazed at them, at first thinking they were purposely lying to him, but all he saw in their faces was honest concern.

"Derek, do you feel okay?" Nick quickly asked.

"Ya, maybe we should go see Rachel," Philip added stepping closer to Derek as if to help in some way, but Derek refused him, smartly snapping the book shut.

"No, I'm fine. I just need some rest," he told them quickly sliding the book under his arm and moving between them, his eyes daring one of them to just try and stop him. He gave them a quick grin, saying, "You two have fun flying! I know I always enjoyed it!" And quickly left moving down the hall to his bedroom. Bewildered, he silently muttered as much to himself as to the silent walls, "maybe I do need some rest. A whole week? Where was I ?"

The soon becoming quite familiar giggle answered him. Derek spun around looking everywhere, straining his ears for any other sound, but none followed and the halls were silent and empty. The hairs on the back of his neck rose and Derek cautiously continued on his way. Things were getting stranger with every moment. He more than half expected something to change yet again before he'd made it to his bedroom, half relieved that it didn't, and hurriedly shutting his bedroom door, flopped down on the bed exhausted. "Maybe I do need some rest," he murmured.

His eyes furled, no, this wasn't like him to think that what ever was happening was merely from a lack of sleep! "A whole week!" He absently turned his head and noticed the book he'd assumably been reading. Again his eyes furled as he read the binding's title and flipping it over, opened the leather bound book.

"What on Earth am I doing with an edition of the New Times Series on the Old West!" Derek exclaimed completely exasperated, snapping the book shut and disgustedly getting up. This is deffinantly not what I was looking for! He bitterly thought tossing the book back on the bed and making for the door again. No sooner had he reached the handle then Kat's strange and mystic giggle echoed through the room. Looking around for her to appear, Derek wasn't surprised this time to find nothing there, nothing but the book. Shaking his head, Derek sighed and grumbled to himself, "when are you going to learn just to play along." With one long arm he snatched the book up, quickly leaving. He personally didn't feel like staying in his room anymore, he felt too closed in, trapped.

After checking the hallway for any other peculiarities Derek slowly made his way towards the front door. The garden would be a good place to read, to find some peace and quiet. As he turned a corner, he saw Nick sliding on his jacket and storming down the hallway ahead of him. Wasn't he going to go flying? Flying? No, he's off to kill Davis!

"Nick, you can't go off like this!" Derek called out, alarmed by this turn of events, the book long forgotten.

"Just try and stop me!" Was the seal's only reply. Nick didn't stop walking and Derek had to hurry to catch up.

Resolutely he tried something else, maybe reasoning would work. "What about your military training, eh?" Derek demanded not so kindly. "The planing, waiting for the right moment to strike?"

The words hit home and Nick spun around to face Derek, his face contorted in a justified anger. "The moment is now!" He stated to his Precept, the pain clearly marked across his face. "Before another innocent person is carved up!"

Derek understood how deeply this had all effected Nick and told him soothingly, worrying more about his colleague than anyone else. "You can't function when your head is clouded with angry revenge."

Knowing Derek would never consent Nick made the instantaneous decision that he'd have to do it on his own and turning away bit out, "I function just fine!" No sooner than he'd said it then the front door flew open and a gust of wind with a magical force flew in, throwing everybody back. Derek clutched at the wall he was by for support, unable to do anything as he watch Nick hit the floor hard, but the young exseal wasn't beaten and together, they watched as Tom Davis, or who used to be Tom Davis walk slowly in through the maelstrom of power, dressed in black robes and smiling victoriously. At last the doors closed behind him and the wind died down.

The figure of Tom looked about the interior of the house and spoke reveling in the sound of his own unearthly voice. "After all these years. It's good to be back!"

Derek glared up at him, speaking slowly in recognition of this deadly foe. "Levon Soltair."

Tom turned and grinned, meeting Derek's eyes. "The Legacy." Then glanced about the house again as if he were of no concern, saying, "with this very island, with it's stone walls, wash and reptitude will become a heaven for my new flock!" He spread his arms dramatically to emphasis it's entirety.

Nick stood, his gun coming instantly out. "Over my dead body!" he growled, but before he could fire a bust of energy sent the gun scattering across the floor and then brushed Nick back again against the wall.

A possessed Tom menacingly drew forward, an evil grin stretching his lips as he gazed down at Nick. "Your father who killed me. Sweet irony. This house and everything in it will be destroyed leaving only the hollow echo of your pitiful existence!" He spit out, showing once again a show of his new found powers, reveling in the fear it evoked. Yet, through the magical storm the door behind him opened and Stan Davis slipped in, calling out to his brother, momentarily ending the rain of evil.

Turning in shock, the small part of Tom left surfaced, the words falling from his mouth. "Stan! I thought..."

"Thought I was dead?" Stan bit out, but his face immediately softened in love and concern for his brother.

Sadly, it wasn't enough to turn the spell as Tom's voice darkened once more. "You should have stayed away, Stan. Now you'll have to die along with the rest.

Derek called out, knowing it was futile, but trying none the less, "Tommy fight him! Don't let him take you over like this!"

The possessed figure didn't even phase a bit. "Tommy's gone! This body is merely a vessel."

Stan stepped up to him, holding Tom's gaze. "He's there. I can feel him."

Tom's face contorted in anger as he sent his brother flying back into the door. In the back ground Derek cried out, "don't do it Tom, he's your brother," but Tom wasn't listening and a fatal pulse of energy engulfed Stan even as the possessed Tom angrily replied, "my brother is the Dark Priest!"

The energy pulse left Stan gasping, but in the few moment of life he had left, he still called out to his brother. "Don't give in to him, Tom."

Derek watched from beside Nick, helpless. They exchanged looks wondering what would come next, but then Derek noticed the full suit of armour and whispered to Nick, "Nick, the spear."

Nick turned right as Tom inwardly convulsed, the real Tom fighting one last time before giving in to the powers of the Dark Priest, and arose in a burst of power. "Let his will be done!"

They couldn't afford to wait any longer. Derek called out, "now, Nick!" And stood, bracing himself against the wall. He watched as Nick grabbed the spear off the armour and raised it to throw, pausing as full reality of what he was about to do hit him. Then the spear soared through the short space of air and gutted Tom Davis, ending the maelstrom of evil power, as well as the man's life.

Tom fell close by his brother, and the real person inside emerged, his eyes filling up with tears as he lay dying. "Stan," he choked out in one last plea of forgiveness. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you."

Stan attempted a weak smile and managed, "I know, Tommy." Then together, almost as if that was how fate had decreed it, they died, leaving the house in a mournful silence.

Quietly Nick stepped over them and picked up the medallion. He turned back to Derek, his face pleading. "How did this happen? Here in our own house?"

Derek took the medallion in hand looking at it with a sad countenance. "I promise you we wont make the same mistake twice," he declared meeting Nick's eyes, then looking around again, said more solemnly, "we should have destroyed the medallion years ago. I'll make sure it will never see the light again."

Turning to head back to the Control Room Derek suddenly remembered his book and stopped, looking down at his empty hands as if expecting it to be there. Shaking off the slight disorientation he began to search the empty foyer. "Maybe I should ask Nick," he murmured to himself wondering where Nick was right then. Cleaning up the mess? What mess? That's when Derek paused, straightening and looking about the still empty foyer. "Maybe he's flying," he suggested to himself, questioning that reality as well. He didn't have a chance to answer as the door opened and Alex walked in pulling her luggage in behind her.

"Here, let me help you with that!" Derek immediately jumped forward relieving her of several bags.

Alex smiled, her cheeks briefly blossoming. "Thanks Derek." She was going to say something more but then the butler appeared and took the bags from both of them dispite protests and left with a curt, "welcome back Miss. Moreau."

"Uh, Thanks," she replied to the disappearing black and white figure. She turned back to Derek the both of them lost. "Uh," Alex began hesitantly, giving her precept an oddly concerned look, but Derek thankfully filled in the gap.

"So how was the, uh, trip?" He quickly asked, keeping the question vague and at the same time relieving the odd tension.

Eagerly taking the proposed subject, Alex smiled warmly, saying, "It was great. Gramma Rose sends greetings and some of her special tea for all."

Chuckling, Derek replied, "I'm sure almost all of us will enjoy it, too." Alex's smile broadened, knowing who he was referring to, and Derek continued, "I'm glad you had some time to relax, it's been quiet around here, too."

"Actually," Alex deferred, "I was so busy down there with my cousin's wedding , I don't know what I'm going to do with myself!"

"Well, you could always get Nick to teach you how to fly the helicopter. I would myself, but to be honest, I'm not very good at it," Derek told her, the words coming out of his mouth before he knew it. Alex's eye brows shot up, first in shocked surprise, then with that excited determination she gets with a goal in sight.

"That's a great idea, Derek! Thanks! I'll go find him now." She paused. "Are you...?"

"Oh, don't worry about me, I'm just going out to read. Need some peace and quiet," he responded almost automatically. Alex gave him one more concerned look, but nodded and left.

In the silence, Derek stood there for a moment murmuring, "oh, no. Don't worry about me." His eyes began sweeping the room for the book once again. I bet Rachel called her, he thought wryly, but then, right now he didn't have a clue what day it was let alone if Alex had come back early or not, and right now he didn't think he should dare ask anybody or they'd think he was crazy for sure! Derek paused in his reflections. "I'm not crazy, am I?"

At last he spotted a book, it wasn't the same book, but it was a book, and grabbing it from off the chair, quickly left. Making it to the garden unhindered, he sighed hearing the sounds of the fight long before he broke through the bushes. "Hey! What's going on?" Derek demanded of Nick and his son. Son?

Nick looked at the acclaimed son of Derek with obvious mistrust. "Just a friendly discussion on the finer points of Martial Arts." He picked up the towel sitting off to one side of the clearing and tossed it the young man.

"All right," Derek said watching his son wipe the blood form his mouth and gave Nick a warning look, but not wanting to spur any more fighting stated, "I was coming down to invite both of you to lunch. Nick?"

"I'm okay," Nick quietly replied, turning down the offer for peace between him and the boy.

Derek's mouth tightened, but he didn't push it. "Fine then. Lucas." He turned waiting for his son to follow. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Lucas throw the bloodied towel back at Nick and join him at his side. Lucas, his son. No, not his son! His son died at birth! This was a demon impersonating his son! Derek turned to apologize to Nick, but Nick was no longer there and Derek suddenly realized it was just him and the book again.

Sighing Derek looked down at the book. The title, 'The Genesis' was embedded in the leather covering. A crack of lightning thundered across the cloudless sky above and the wind picked up, carrying upon it the nursery rhyme that had followed him since this all started.

Turning in the deafening wind he found himself no longer in the garden, not even on the island, but on a large grassy plain. The clouds thundered and rolled above, the wind pushing at his back. Derek looked down to find himself in the center of a circle of rocks lined up on the ground to form the pattern of a nine pointed star. Then, a noise as loud as the storms quaking around him, rolled across the horizon and the horrific image of a giant surfaced on the other side of the plains.

Derek almost took a step back at the sight, but he somehow knew sanctuary resided in the star and dared not leave it. The giant held an evil looking sword in one hand and a primitive club in the other, but wore no armour for protection. It's dramatically deformed head opened and let loose his challenge.

"Am I supposed to fight this thing alone?!" Derek incredulously asked what ever powers had brought him here.

"Never alone." The voices spoke in unison as the two children appeared behind him from a previously nonexistent mist. He watched in awe and fascination as the one boy grew into the Nick he knew well, and the girl into a beautiful woman he had yet to watch grow up. "You are never alone," the older version of Kat repeated.

A grin trickled upon Nick's face as he added, "there are always more who are willing to fight!" With that his form changed once again, but this time into the form of a grown puma, tail raised and flickering back and forth in anxious anticipation.

Kat stepped into the circle and put her hand on Derek's shoulder, turning him toward the nearing giant. "Come, Derek. We can only go on together." Then, with a smile, she changed as well, forming the agile puma cat in preparation of battle.

Derek just looked up at the giant that had nearly reached them. He no longer felt fear, or apprehension of the monstrous creature and left the safety of the circle at a full run.

The run blissened his soul, and soared through his entire body as his hoofs carried him powerfully forward through the darkened mist. He throw back his head and neighed loudly in challenge to the very elements about him as he charged down along the river bank. His white mane billowed wildly back while his shinny white coat glistened with the thin mist of the air.

Cresting a large rock, Derek paused to rear up and let out the challenge once again, snorting his superiority. The sound of another stallion called out from the other side of the river and its black image galloped out of the forest trees. He reared up once in response to Derek's call and ran ahead.

The rush of anticipation caught Derek up as he jumped straight down from the top of the small rocky cliff and galloped full beet to catch up with the other stallion, and for a moment the two mimicked and frolicked across the river in a show of mighty power. Then the black stallion pulled forward towards the head of the river where the rocks formed a path across.

At first the thought of an intruder on his land enraged Derek and he reared his muscular white body up in protest, but the black stallion did not slow and having crested the waters trotted easily to the single ringed circle of rocks lining the ground. Then Derek knew again this stallion was not a threat, but a friend, and he, too, entered the circle of gathering, of peace.

"Derek, this is a surprise," Sloan said sitting down in his usual office chair across from the monitor. "I thought you were..." he broke off making a face, more at himself then Derek and as if shrugging it off asked instead, "how are you?"

"Me? How 'bout yourself, you don't look so good, Sloan," Derek returned, sliding into a chair in the empty control room.

Sloan sighed, his eyes dancing about nervously and tiredly. "You're right. We recently had a situation here at the house. It's put a lot of stress on the members, and Caroline's run off, we can't find her anywhere." Sloan put a hand to his forehead for a second. "I don't know, Derek. Sometimes I wonder..."

Derek didn't let him finish, he knew where his friend was going, he'd been there several times himself. "William, dispite what many think, one person can make a difference. And if one can make a difference, just think what many can do!" He smiled comfortingly, "I'll always be here if you need me old friend. You're never alone."

Sloan chuckled and a smile jumped to his lips as he regarded one of his most closest and oldest of friends. "Thanks, Derek. I guess I'm just worried about Caroline, I don't know if she'll make it on her own and I don't' know where to find her."

Dispite the seriousness of the situation, Derek almost chuckled at the thought that occurred to him. "Have you tried the Bridge?"

For a second there was just silence, but then Sloan's eyes began to glisten with enlightenment. "That's it! Derek, I've got to go, I'll talk to you later!" He was up out of his chair and turning the screen off before Derek could even fathom a good-bye.

With another chuckle for this entirely crazy situation, Derek leaned back and folded his arms, waiting to see if something else would change. Only the soft sound of Katherine's soft giggling echoed in the silence and with a mirth filled smile, Derek rose to look for the foreign object he was sure had started it all. He found it sitting idly on one of the counters in the adjoining room.

Picking it up and turning it over in his hands he examined the fine workmanship for such a strange creation. It was as if it twisted and twined with out ending, but not with a visibly obvious knot or pattern. He turned it over again and spotted the carved design as if it were the maker's signature. It was the same design he'd found in the clay made room, a simple coil. The symbol of cintinuality, no end, no beginning, yet at the same time everything changes, nothing is exactly the same.

Touching the symbol, the same white light engulfed his vision as it had before, only this time when his vision returned, the scene before him was like nothing he had ever seen. Derek stood as if in the midst of space itself, a mere path of glistening space dust to hold him up. He stumbled back in shock, but he didn't fall and after a second he finally relaxed enough to just let himself stand erect where he was, trusting to the magic of this dream. Turning in awe, he watched the sun practically right beside him burn with endless beauty. He could not feel it's heat, but he felt no cold either, even as he looked to the moon so large and close he swore if he'd just reach out he'd be able to touch it. That was how it was everywhere he looked, it was as if he could see so much more then just twinkling lights in the sky, he saw the actual stars themselves.

"This is incredible," he murmured completely awestricken by the sight.

"It is." Derek turned to see a boy, the one Derek had not recognized playing with Kat and young Nick. As the boy drew nearer, he grew older, his entire countenance more radiant than that of the universe about them. He continued walking towards Derek, the trail of star dust stirring with his every step. Derek felt locked in place, too shocked and filled with awe to move. The young man spoke gently, his voice ringing as if from the stars themselves, "a simple change causes much beauty in the fabric of the universe."

At last Derek felt he could speak as the shock of everything bursted out in a display of uncanny but honest words. "Is this what all this was about? A simple phone call?"

The man merely smiled and reaching forth laid a hand on Derek's shoulder, guiding him to look about. "There the sun rests, providing it's warmth and growth. And the moon, with it's shelter at night. There also lay the challenges," he turned Derek to look down the star ridden path to see the turbulence of many things within creation blocking it's way. "And the guilds to accompany you through." Two stars moved from there place in the havens to shine brightly through the mists ahead. At last Derek turned back to the man, his face contorted with confusion, but the radiant being shook his head to deny Derek speech, and said, "every person lives and grows in their own time. But know, the best source of life comes from within."

With that the being moved his hand form Derek's shoulder to his chest and Derek felt a burning, not of pain, but of joy, radiate there until it encompassed his entire being and the white light enveloped his complete vision.

Derek opened his eyes to stare up at the few clouds that dotted the blue sky. He lay on his back in the middle of a clearing he used to go to when he was younger, just to look up at the sky and watch the clouds go by. He briefly wondered when the last time he'd done that was and smiled at the thought. For a while all he did was lay there, actually, he wasn't even sure if he could move right then. The burning that had entered him was still there and fading slowly.

In the near distance he heard Kat call his name and a minute later she came in the clearing eagerly bounding over to sit down on the lawn next to him. "There you are!" She stated as if she had found a great prize. Derek just chuckled.

Kat's face scrunched up, having expected him to get up. "What are you doing?" She finally asked plaintively.

Smiling deeply, Derek easily responded, "I'm watching the clouds."

"Oh!" Kat found this idea very plausible and made herself comfortable next to him staring up at the sky.

His smile deepened. "You know, I used to do this for hours when I was your age. It's amazing what mysteries the clouds can hold."

Just then Kat giggled, a sound Derek was coming to know and like quite well. "That one looks like a cat drinking a bowl of milk!" She happily told him and they both laughed.

"Kat! Kitty-Kat!" They heard Nick calling out her name and Katherine sighed exageratingly making Derek laugh all the harder. Then Nick broke through the bushes and seeing them, first hesitated, then smiled, saying as he approached, "so that's where you've been! What have you two been up to?" He asked smirking.

"We've been looking at the clouds!" Kat told him eagerly.

Nick looked up and smirked again, reminiscing, "I used to do that." Then told them, "well, I came to get you for dinner." Derek nodded and Nick crouching down added, looking to Kat, "want a piggy back ride back?"

She didn't pause a second as she agily rose to her feet scampering up on his back. Nick stood, turning back to Derek questioningly.

"I'll be right there, you go ahead," Derek said giving him a reassuring look, but before Nick left called out, "Nick?" The young man turned back. "What's the date?"

"April 6."

"Thanks," Derek said but then quickly added before Nick could turn away again. "Um, Nick? Did you teach Alex to fly the helicopter?"

"Um, ya. Last week." Derek nodded and Nick moved to leave but paused, turning back once more, his face filled with a soft concern as he asked, "is it over now?"

Derek met his eyes and smiled sincerely, "Yes. Yes I think it is."

Nick just smirked again and with a bound left with Kat bouncing gleefully on his back.

For a few minutes Derek continued to stare up at the sky, then slowly and surely he sat up looking around the small meadow he knew well from his youth. he was about to stand up when his hand brushed against a leather book resting beside him. Cautiously Derek picked it up and opened it pages. The cover was unmarked but the pages inside were unmistakable. It was a book Derek had seen his father read several times in his youth but had forgotten as he himself grew older. Fondly Derek looked through the old book, reading silently it's lyrical words written in Latin as if it were music of the heavens themselves. They were the stories of old, born from the time of creation itself and spread through the world today.

With a reverent sigh, Derek stood, clutching the prized book in his hand as he left the soft meadow, looking back only once and promising to soon return and always remember it's childlike magical quality.

End, The