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The rest of the weekend was spent in similar leisurely fashion. Other than finding their clothes from the night before folded neatly outside Derek's door, they didn't see another soul (living or dead). With no one around, it was easier for them to be completely at ease with one another. Together, they talked, took long walks along the water, and made love in front of the fireplace.
"Derek? Are you asleep?"
"Hmmmm? No, not quite yet" he replied, allowing himself a feline stretch, his arm coming to rest around Leigh's shoulders. Her head was resting on his chest.
"Where did you get this?" her finger gently traced a small white scar on the left side of his chest. "I know you got this big one here last year, but I don't think you've ever told me about the other." She looked up at him expectedly.
"Umm ... Chile, I think. About seven years ago. Why?"
Ignoring his question, she touched a spot just beneath his jaw, barely visible in the candlelight. "What about this one?"
"Madagascar" he said, grabbing her hand and placing a kiss on her open palm.
"Say that again. I love the way your accent makes it sound."
Leigh responded by turning his hand toward the dim light. "And this? I think that one hurts you sometimes..." she asked.
Derek held up his elegant hand and regarded the thin white line that went down the side of his hand past his wrist. "That one was in New Orleans. Aren't you the curious one?" he said, smiling at her.
Grinning up at him, Leigh sat up and pulled the sheet a little lower, continuing her search. "Now, that one" she said, looking closely at a jagged scar just beneath his ribs, "looks pretty old. And it looks like whoever did it meant business."
Derek laid his head back on the pillow and closed his eyes, remembering. "That was while I was in college...and yes, she most definitely meant business..." He opened one eye a crack and looked at her, chuckling at her surprised look.
"I don't think I even want to hear about that..." Leigh was shaking her head, smiling. "You're a regular Indiana Jones, aren't you?"
Still laughing, he pulled her more tightly against him, he whispered against her cheek "If you're really interested, you can always ask Will Sloan. He was there. I'm sure he'd be more than happy to tell you that entire story. But later..."
Later, walking along the seashore, Leigh told Derek about how she had been raised by her parents out-of-state, but had spent the summers with her Aunt Lydia in San Francisco. Those summers had been her salvation, for her parents had had very definite ideas of what life should be like for their only child -- ideas that Leigh had often rebelled against. After college, her parents wanted her to return to Baltimore. "They wanted me to start shopping around for a husband -- someone from a good family who was considered a 'good catch'" she told him. But she had insisted on staying in California.
She told him about her nightmares -- about the man and the boy. But when she went to show him the journal, it was gone.
For his part, Derek talked of his childhood, of how he had spent most of the year in boarding school in Europe, and about how he would see his father while on holiday from school. His feelings were mixed regarding Winston -- he loved his father desperately, but had always known that everything (including him, his sister, and his mother) took second place to his commitment to the Legacy. It hurt him to think that Winston seemed to look upon him as nothing more than his successor -- someone who must be trained at all costs. Even so, Derek had cherished their time together and was devastated when Winston died.
And by the end of their few days alone together, Leigh and Derek had shared some of their most intimate thoughts and feelings. Where this would lead, however, they didn't know. Inevitably, though, their solitude ended -- Alex and Rachel each returned from their trips, and about a week later, Nick and Philip arrived from Canada (where, Leigh made sure to point out, nothing unusual had happened).
It wasn't exactly the same, of course. The subtle shift was obvious. Although Leigh and Derek tried to be very quiet about this new step in their relationship, it didn't take long for the others to realize what was happening, even without the casual touches and frequently missed breakfasts. Rachel seemed to be the only one surprised that they had become lovers, but even she had to admit that Leigh was able to be with Derek in a way that she was not.
This new level of intimacy was not without its hardship, however. With distant thoughts of Alicia and Julia in his mind, Derek found it difficult to think about Leigh's role in the Legacy. Some nights, as she slept in his embrace, Derek lay awake, softly tracing the line of her body.
Although her education had centered on language and science, Nick was an excellent tutor and Leigh quickly became quite an expert with their computer network, and spent many long hours doing research for The Legacy, and that was Derek's reason for her to remain on the island. Leigh recognized his trepidation for what it was, and tried to let him sort things out for himself, but she was starting to feel a bit trapped. But she had a sinking feeling that he might not be able to resolve the issue by himself.
So it was that when Nick was headed upstate to Ukiah to check out the stigmatic child faith healer they had heard about, Leigh was eager to join him. Derek was closed up in his office on a conference call with to London, and Leigh never considered what he would think when she offered to accompany Nick.
"So, this is how you usually spend your evenings? Driving God-knows-where to check out something only to find out it's a complete sham?" Leigh shifted in her seat to turn and look at Nick.
Nick grinned, as he turned drove his car down highway 101 back toward San Francisco. "Yeah, well, so this time it turned out that way, but it's not always like that. What, you think we should've asked that girl and her brothers out for a beer?"
"No way! Those guys were real goons -- four punks cut from the same mold." Leigh shuddered. "And obviously not too bright. I can't believe that they were trying to pass that girl off as a child -- she had to be at least 17 or 18!"
Nick shrugged, "They've used her to cheat a lot of people out of money over the last few years, but I guess how she's getting a little too old to pull off the 'fake stigmata' routine. And that crucifix?? Nothing but cheap plaster." He looked in the rear-view mirror, and squinted -- someone was shining their high beams at them. "I guess I shouldn't have pointed all that out to that congregation, though. Her brothers were really ticked off." He frowned, and gave her a quick glance.
"What is it, Nick?"
"Um, I think we might have company," he said as he adjusted the mirror to get a better look.
That was when they heard the gun shot and, almost simultaneously, the sound of breaking glass.
Derek was pacing, nervously massaging his hand and muttering under his breath -- the only clear words being "stupid", "reckless" and occasionally "careless". A call to Nick's cellular phone had been answered by the Mendocino County Sheriff's department. Nick's car had been abandoned outside of Ukiah -- keys in the ignition and the headlights still shining. The phone was found on the floor, ringing when Derek tried to get in touch with him. They had reported that the back window had been shot out, but that the car was otherwise driveable. There was no sign of Nick and Leigh, but there was blood on the front seat.
His head jerked up at the distant sound of the front door. He could just make out Nick's voice, joined by Leigh and Alex. "Thank God."
He noticed that his hand was shaking, and he braced it against the desk in an effort to steady it just as Nick walked through his office door. "What the hell happened to you, Nick? Where have you been?" he snarled. Before Nick had a chance to speak, Derek fired off another volley of questions, ending up with "and where's Leigh?"
Nick was leaning wearily against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, listening to Derek's tirade. When Derek finally stopped to take a breath, Nick said tiredly, "She's upstairs changing out of her bloody clothes."
Derek's eyes grew a bit bigger at that statement, and he shook his head, saying, "Would you care to tell me what happened?"
Nick shrugged. "I guess those guys didn't appreciate my ruining their meal ticket. Things got out of hand, but I never expected them to go as far as shooting at us. After they did, well, it didn't seem like a very good idea to wait around and wait for them to swing back around, so we took off into the woods."
"You did WHAT?"
"We left the car, and disappeared into the woods" he continued tiredly. "There's no way they were going to follow us into there, it was too dark."
Derek was shaking his head. "What in God's name did you think you were doing?"
Nick's eyes narrowed dangerously, and his hands dropped to his sides, fists clenched. Slowly, he approached Derek, until they were just inches apart. Looking up into Derek's angry face, he said tightly, "I was doing my JOB..."
That's how Leigh found them a moment later. "What on earth is going on here?" As if she couldn't tell - the arrogant tilt of Derek's head and Nick's angry jawline spoke volumes. It didn't take a psychic to see where this situation was heading. She stepped between the two angry men, and shoved Derek back away from Nick. "What are you doing, Derek, jumping all over Nick like that -- before he even had a chance to explain. And did you bother to ask him if he was all right?"
Belatedly, Derek noticed that Nick was quite pale as Leigh helped him to remove his leather jacket. Most of the blouse she had been wearing earlier was wrapped around his bloody upper arm. She tossed his jacket on a chair, and turned him toward the door. "Go on, I'll fill him in on the rest. Alex is finding Rachel so that she can put a proper bandage on that arm. Do you need some help up the stairs?" Nick hesitated, but shook his head slightly. Giving Derek one last icy look, he headed for the stairs.
As she watched Nick head out the door, she said "I tried to get him to stop at the emergency room, but he said that he's rather have Rachel stitch it up for him. Lucky for him, the bullet went straight through without hitting the bone, and it looks worse than it..."
Leigh felt Derek's hand on her arm, and he roughly jerked her around to face him. His angry green eyes were glittering like emeralds, and his furious expression caused her heart to skip a beat. "D-D-Derek, I'm sorry. I didn't think..." her adrenaline was slowing down, and for a moment, she found it hard to formulate a complete thought.
"No, you didn't. And neither did Nick." Unconsciously, his grip on her arms was getting tighter. "How did you get back here?"
"Derek, let go, you're hurting me!" Leigh shook off his hands and took a step back, rubbing her arm. "We caught a ride back to the dock and brought my car over."
"You did WHAT?" Derek found himself saying for the second time that evening.
"Well, I wasn't going to let him hang around in the woods bleeding, Derek" she continued patiently. "So we caught a ride with a truck driver. I know that's probably not a great idea, but at the time, we didn't think we had any other option."
"I can't believe he would put himself and you at risk like that." Derek wearily rubbed his temples.
"Nick was only doing what he thought was necessary. It was my idea to go with him. And you know that there is now way he could've seen this coming." She stopped, crossing her arms together and continued quietly. "I'm sorry. You're right, we probably could've done things a little differently."
Derek arched one elegant brow. "A little?"
Leigh frowned at him, and said pointedly "I've already apologized...twice. And it's not like you've never made mistakes in the field." She gave him a steady look. "What is this really about?"
"This is about Nick dragging you out on one of his independent fact finding missions. And without anyone even knowing where you were! That is careless, irresponsible behavior."
"Well, you might think so, but I'm glad that I was there to back him up." She shook her head tiredly, and looked out of his window overlooking the bay. Though still dark out, the sky was starting to lighten. "Derek, you can't always keep me from danger. I'm not Alicia, and I'm not Julia, and you can't always be there to protect me. You've got to let me take care of myself -- that's what I did before I met you."
"Oh, and is that what you were doing last year when I found you languishing on your Aunt's divan? I saved you then." Derek's words were sharp, and he immediately regretted them -- especially since it was painfully obvious how much they hurt her.
Leigh stared at him in disbelief, at a loss for what to say. Finally, she responded, with a small, sad smile. "Yes. Yes, you did -- thank God. If you hadn't, I'd be dead now. Or worse, locked up somewhere." She paused, and then continued quietly. "But you know what? There is no pay back for that, Derek. Ever. And if you think there is ... if that's what you've been expecting ... then I guess I don't know you as well as I thought." and she brushed past him and fled the room. She had almost made it to her room before her tears started.
Derek resisted the urge to chase after her, and stomped around his office for a bit. He sat down at his desk, but after picking up the same piece of paper for the third time without really looking at it, he realized that he wasn't going to accomplish anything until he got some sleep.
Miserably, he switched off his monitor, cut the lights, and headed upstairs. Passing by Leigh's closed door, he paused, holding his breath. He could feel her on the other side of the door, and raised his hand to knock. But he didn't. Instead, he sighed and continued to his own chambers, muttering under his breath "God, I can be such an idiot..."
He spent quite a while tossing and turning before finally falling asleep. But even his sleep was restless and full of images that made no sense. It was incredibly late before he finally got any rest at all, and even later by the time he got up and dressed.
Nick was downstairs at the kitchen table with the San Francisco Chronicle sports page as well as The Sporting News spread out in front of him. He was just finishing up a banana, and his empty coffee cup was sitting on a picture of Ruben Sierra. Engrossed in the box scores, he didn't even notice Derek come into the room until Derek reached over and re-filled his coffee cup.
"'Morning, Nick" Derek said casually. "Arm all right today?"
Nick looked up. "It's closer to afternoon, you know." He flexed his arm experimentally, and winced slightly. "It's all right -- just a little stiff."
"It'll probably be sore for a day or two." Derek was shuffling through the newsprint on the table, and finally settled on the front-page section of the Chronicle before settling into a chair across the table from Nick.
Turning his attention back to the sports page, Nick muttered something noncommittal, and they remained that way for some time. Derek finally lowered his paper, and folded it neatly on the table. "Nick...about last night. I didn't mean for things to turn out like they did."
"Yeah, I know." Nick looked up and gave a tentative smile at Derek's anxious expression. He shrugged. "It's okay -- really. I understand. In fact, I think that we understand you better than you think we do!"
Derek let out a relieved sigh. "Good, now for the hard part. Has Leigh been downstairs yet?" but Nick was shaking his head. "She left a while ago...something about taking her aunt not feeling well. She wanted to take her to Mass."
Disappointed, Derek finished off his cup of coffee, poured himself a refill, and headed for his office. He remained in his office the rest of the morning, channeling his frustration through the mountain of paperwork on his desk. When he didn't emerge in the afternoon, Rachel brought him a tray, but he waved her away impatiently after asking again about Nick's arm.
After attacking the stack of work for several hours, He finally made it to the bottom for the first time in quite a while. "Alex will be surprised," he thought. "And pleased to get these documents to London early for a change." He stood up and stretched, looking about for any remaining unfinished tasks. Not finding any, he headed back up to his rooms. "Maybe some exercise will do me some good."
It wasn't until several hours later that Derek's body was tired enough to calm his mind. He was breathing heavily and walking slowly to cool to keep his muscles from cramping up. It had been some time since he had exercised himself into a state of exhaustion. Finally sitting down on one of the wooden benches that lined the walls of the attic gymnasium, he looked wearily at his epee waiting patiently for him to clean it and put it away. No self-respecting swordsman ever left his blade unattended, but he was seriously considering having Dominic do it just this once. He leaned his head back against the wall, closing his eyes so that he didn't have to look at his fencing dummy. Although it hadn't been in the best of shape to begin with, it was now in tatters.
As Derek's body relaxed and his mind began to drift, he felt a sudden shift in perception and his mine was assaulted with a series of violent images. He saw the all-too-familiar images of his father dying in his arms in that dark cave in South America. He saw the shadowy figure of a man keening over the figure of an obviously dead child. And he saw Leigh running away from him down a long hallway - he was frantically trying to stop her from doing something. He was filled with a feeling of overwhelming sadness and despair.
"Derek? Derek?" he mind barely registered the soft voice calling him. "DEREK."
His green eyes fluttered open, and he looked down to see a pair of blue ones looking up at him. Big, blue ones that were cloudy with concern. "What is it? What did you see?"
Derek gave his head a slight shake, and tried to focus on the woman in front of him. Leigh was crouched down on the floor with her hands resting on his legs. Without answering, he reached down to touch her cheek, and then roughly pulled her against him, lowering his mouth to meet hers. When he finally released her, he whispered softly in her ear, "Something's going to happen, but I don't know what it is."
"Well, when we find out, we'll deal with it, now won't we?" she whispered back.
"Leigh, about what I said ..." His voice trailed off.
She shook her head. "I forgave you the instant you said it."
"Yeah, I suppose must have." He smiled slightly. "You came back."
"Did you think I wouldn't?" She sat back on her heels and regarded him seriously. "I wouldn't just run away without saying anything, Derek. I wouldn't do that to you." She paused.
His smile faded. "But...?"
Leigh twisted her hands together nervously. "Oh, Derek, this is hard to say..."
"So just say it." He rose and went to the window. They always leave...
"Derek, you know I can't stay here. Not like this." She moved and sat down on the rough bench. "I love you, Derek, and I want to be with you. But as your partner, not as your responsibility."
Derek stood silently at the window, his hands tightly gripping the windowsill. Again...
Leigh went to him, pressing against his back and wrapping her arms around him. She lay her cheek against his shoulder and whispered, "Can you ever possibly understand?"
He drew her arms tighter against him and raised her hands to his mouth, and gently kissed the fingertips. "Yes" he said softly. "I hate it, but I understand." He turned and pulled her against him, tilting her head up so that he could see into her eyes and gently kissed her. "We're good though, don't you think?"
She ran her fingers up into his hair, pulling at the curls and smiled. "Yes... yes we are."
Leigh opened her eyes and looked around. "Derek's room? Oh ... oh, yes." She smiled, but when she reached across the wide bed, she was disappointed to only feel cool, empty sheets. It was then that her mind registered the fact that she could hear the shower running in the adjoining bathroom. She smiled again. I wonder how he'd feel about some company in there?
As she got up from the bed, however, she heard the water being shut off. Damn. Bad timing. She instead pulled on a pair of her jeans that had somehow been left in his room. But she couldn't seem to find her blouse. She located one of Derek's shirts in a drawer and slipped it over her head. Catching sight of her reflection in the mirror on his bureau, she frowned and attempted to comb some of the tangles out of her hair with her fingers. It was then that she noticed Derek's precept ring sitting there. She couldn't recall ever seeing it anywhere other than on his hand, and she picked it up to get a closer look. Turning if over in her palm, she noticed that it was a bit heavier than she had thought and that it felt almost warm to the touch. Curious about the size, she slipped in onto her left index finger.
Derek emerged from the bathroom wearing a pair of loose drawstring trousers and a T-shirt. Although he had combed his wet hair back, a few rebellious curls had managed to spring back out. He was still carrying a wet towel. He saw her studying something intently, but didn't realize what until he saw her begin to slip the ring onto her finger.
He instinctively realized that something terrible was about to happen. He tried to voice a warning, but was unable to force the sound out of his throat. His legs felt leaden as he moved toward her.
The instant that Derek's ring slipped on her finger, Leigh felt the room spin and go dark. Her body stiffened, as she was no longer in Derek's luxurious bedroom in San Francisco. Instead, she was in a wet, dark cave watching in horror as an indescribably evil creature mauled a helpless man. My God, I know that man! As she watched, her mouth hanging open in horror, the battered, bloody man was dragged toward a casket. A young boy (Derek?) was hanging on trying to keep him from being pulled into the box. She saw the boy return the evil thing to its casket using a key, and then saw him weeping as the bloodied man handed him the ring and then died in his arms.
All of this transpired in the few seconds that it took Derek to cross the room. He grabbed her roughly by the shoulders and looked into her eyes, but saw nothing there except pain and horror. Leigh's hands were clenched tightly, and he was unable to remove his ring from her finger. Realizing that he had no choice, Derek closed his eyes and allowed himself to be pulled into the swirling vortex of her vision.
Pulling them both back out was as physical as it was mental, and Derek was left gasping for breath. Even now, 27 years later, being in that dark cave again was unnerving. He shook his head to clear it, and looked around to see that Leigh was in a crumpled heap next to him on the floor. He gently reached for her hand to remove his ring, but she clutched her hand to her chest. "That was your father, Derek? I didn't know...I mean...it can't...I've got to find out!" She leapt to her feet, pushed past him, and rushed out the door and down the stairs.
By the time Derek caught up with her, Leigh was in his office - feverishly rustling through the papers on his desk. He entered the room as she was pulling at his desk drawers (which were, of course, locked). "Leigh? What..."
He made an attempt to stop her as she brushed past him through the doorway, but she shook off his hand. In the library, she started frantically pulling books off the shelves - rousing a sleeping Philip from his place on the sofa.
"What the..." Philip rubbed his sleepy eyes and stood up slowly. He looked at Derek, who shrugged his shoulders at him.
"It has to be here...there must be one somewhere...bloody books..." The two bewildered men looked on for a moment while she continued her frantic search. Finally, Derek stepped forward and grasped her wrists.
He gently reached up to wipe the tears from her cheek, saying soothingly "Leigh, Leigh. What are you doing? Tell me so that I can help you."
"It's your father, Derek" she said helplessly. "I think I saw him...in my dreams. I must find a picture of him. Don't you have one... somewhere? We need to know!"
Derek frowned at her, but then turned his attention to the shelf of books in front of them. "I must have one somewhere..."
"Derek - to the left on that second shelf" Philip called out to him.
Derek pulled the volume from the case, and flipped it open. Inside was a picture taken of him and his father in Peru immediately before Winston died. They were both rumpled and dirty, and young Derek needed a haircut, but they were both smiling into the camera.
He handed her the picture, saying "Here, Leigh. This was my father."
She backed away, gingerly holding the photograph, until she reached the sofa. She was shaking as she sat down where Philip had just been sleeping. "Oh, Derek, I am so sorry. I had no idea."
It was that moment when she realized that the Captain's chair behind them was no longer empty. In it was the same woman that Leigh had seen many months ago - the one that gave her the book. She looked the same - soft, feminine clothing with her dark brown hair pulled back in a single braid. She still looked sad, but now she had a small smile on her lips.
Leigh, Derek, and Philip stared at the woman - not knowing what to say. She cocked her head slightly to the side, regarding them silently. Finally, she spoke. "Derek, do you have no idea who I am? I'm disappointed. I'm sure that father had shown you my picture."
Derek shook his head slowly, but still had a gnawing feeling that he had seen her before. She looks so familiar. She spoke again, gesturing at him to move closer, smiling at him again. "It has been so very many years since I have seen you, boy. Come here, and let me get a better look at you."
Derek looked at questioningly at Philip, who wore a very odd expression - a sort of shocked half-smile. He had spent many hours doing research for the Legacy and recognized the woman. He urged him forward, saying "Go ahead, Derek, I think it's all right."
The woman smiled warmly at Philip. "You know, don't you, Father?" Her gaze returned to Derek, and she said a little more sternly, "Well? Don't just stand there gawking, boy. Come here. I'm Camille." She reached out her hands to Derek.
Derek gently took both of her hands and sank to his knees in front of her. "Grandmother?" he asked weakly.
She smiled again. "Bright boy! I told your grandfather that you would remember me, but he wasn't so sure." She gently brushed the hair back from his forehead. "Some things never change. You're still too thin - and you need a haircut!"
Derek shook his head. "Why are you here? Why now? And what does this have to do with her?" He looked toward Leigh who was still sitting wide-eyed next to Philip on the sofa.
Camille's expression became more serious. "Well, Derek, I need to speak with you about Winston."
Derek frowned slightly. "Father? What about him?"
The older woman sighed. "Oh, Derek. I know that Winston wasn't the best father in the world, but I know that you loved him. And I know that he loved you too - he just couldn't always show you."
"He's been dead for 27 years, Grandmother" Derek said quietly.
"Of course" Camille nodded. "Dead, but not at rest." She shifted uncomfortably in her chair. "He always meant to tell you, Derek. Your mother Barbara would never speak of it - she still can't." Camille paused and looked at Leigh. "Did you tell him about your dreams, child?"
Leigh nodded. "Yes, I told both him and Philip everything, but I don't have that journal anymore." Although she was still leaning on Philip for support, Leigh's face had lost its vacant look and some of the color had returned to her face.
"That's because I have it right here. It's really for you, Derek. You know who the people in this journal are, don't you?"
Taking the journal from Camille, Derek opened it slowly, read the inscription, and gently raised the picture of Winston and his family to the light. He looked sadly at the woman before him. "That man was my father? And the child?"
"Your older brother, Derek. You were just a babe when he died. Your mother never forgave Winston for what happened in Macedonia. But her feelings were nothing compared to the guilt he heaped upon himself, and he spent the rest of his life trying to run away from it. But no matter how many lives he saved, or how many people he helped, he still had that hollow place in his heart that was left by his eldest child."
Camille placed a hand gently on his shoulder and continued. "But as you grew older, Derek, he was so proud of you! He was so hard on you because he was determined to teach you everything he could -- so that you would be ready to face whatever challenges presented themselves to you. For him, losing another son was unthinkable."
"Well, if that was his intention, I would say that he was pretty much successful - but it made my childhood a lot harder." Derek closed the book, but continued to grip it tightly. He glanced again at Leigh and Philip, and then back to Camille. "So, why now? And why her?"
The woman smiled benevolently down at her grandson. "Why Derek, you've never been interesting in hearing unpleasant things about your father - no more than any son. But then you brought Leigh here, and she was so receptive that it just seemed like the right time."
She paused and looked expectedly at Derek. "There's something else, isn't there?" he asked her, but she only nodded.
"It's the mace, isn't it?" Philip interjected, his mind racing trying to remember if he had ever seen it in the castle. "King Marko's mace is here somewhere, isn't it? "
"Yes! Of course! I've seen that mace before, but father would never tell me anything about it!" Derek nodded at Camille. "I think I remember where it is. What about it?"
"It needs to go back where it belongs, Derek. Winston always meant to do it himself, but he could never bring himself to go back there." She sighed tiredly. "Don't judge him too harshly, Derek. He has so many regrets - like we all do."
Camille slowly stood up, and looked down at Derek. "And now that you know what to do, it is time for me to go." She nodded toward Philip and Leigh on the couch. "You have these two to help you, as well as the others here. Good luck, Grandson, we're all so very proud of you."
Derek nodded and embraced her, his head resting against her middle - and one of her hands gently stroking his hair.
Derek looked up from the papers on his desk as Nick walked quietly into his office. The next morning, Philip had filled Nick and Alex in on the details of Derek's conversation with his grandmother and they were all trying to give him whatever privacy he needed to deal with the encounter, but days had gone by without comment from him regarding their journey to Europe.
"Everything is all set, boss. That artifact is all boxed up and ready to go, and I'll take you to the airport whenever you're ready to go - the airline tickets are waiting for you there." Nick paused and then continued. "Just one return ticket to San Francisco? Are you sure that's what you guys want?"
The corner of Derek's mouth twitched slightly. "That's right - Leigh will be going to the Lisbon house after everything is settled. It's all arranged. Will Sloan took care of everything -- as usual. We thought it was best for her to ... um, get away for a while." He looked back down at his desk and resumed writing.
But instead of leaving, Nick took a step closer to Derek's desk and leaned on it. "And that's it, Derek? You're just gonna let her leave?"
Derek continued writing without looking up. "Yes."
"And you're okay with that? Derek?" Nick couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"No, Nick, I'm not okay with it." Derek finally looked up at him and Nick could see the weariness on his friend's face. "But that's the way it's going to be." His expression softened a little. "It'll be all right. Thanks, Nick."
The wind blew roughly across the plains, carrying bits of grass and dust with it. Derek stood, shoulders hunched against the cold. Leigh stood quietly with him, holding one of his gloved hands in her two. She blinked her eyes to clear them of grit. Surely, this must be one of the loneliest places on earth.
The grave before them was small and was marked by nothing more than a plain, weathered wooden board bearing the name "Rayne" and the year 1954. It was obvious that the residents of the monastery of Giorni Sveti Ilija tended carefully to the souls laid here to rest, but the small grave seemed lost amongst the others.
Leigh turned her attention to the efforts of the older Gypsy man and his son, as they carried the load from their wagon. They maneuvered the unwieldy bundle toward the small grave, and unwrapped the stone.
Derek and Leigh watched silently as the men moved the stone into place, gently removing the wooden plaque so that it could be replaced. "Dobro, Krali, sega k'e te molam da ne ostavis' sami (Very well, Krali, now please leave us alone)" Leigh said softly to the Gypsy man, who drifted back toward his wagon.
"So you have come to lay your brother to rest? Good."
Derek and Leigh looked up at the sound of the old monk's voice. Seeing him standing there, his robes whipping in the wind, Leigh knew immediately who he was. She turned to him, saying "Brother Petar, thank you for answering my letter."
The old man nodded and smiled. He placed a shaking hand on her arm for support as he joined Derek by the grave. "It is good that you have come." He studied Derek carefully. "You favor your father strongly, don't you? And your brother also."
Derek smiled at the old priest, and gestured toward the wagon. "Thank you, Brother Petar. We've brought the mace back - so that it can be returned to its rightful place. It's what my father wanted."
"Of course, my son, of course. I will see that it is replaced properly. Now let me see what else you have brought."
The three figures turned toward the small grave. Chiseled into the stone were the following words:
Beloved Son and Brother
1943 - 1953
Fides Fidelem Veritatem Vult
The old man finally broke the silence. "You father became a tortured and driven man. I have prayed for him these many years."
Derek was surprised. "You have? Why?"
"Because he was also a good man, Dr. Rayne. And because he spent the rest of his life trying to fight the same type of evil he discovered here." The old man paused and then continued. "Evil is a part of life, Dr. Rayne. It is everywhere, and men like your father make sure that it doesn't gain the advantage. You are this way also, are you not?"
Leigh gave Derek's hand a tight squeeze which he returned. "Yes, Father. Yes I am. That is one way in which I am just like my father."
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