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AFTERMATH by Deb T.
(follows the events of Doppleganger)
Alex could feel her heart rate slowly returning to normal, as she tried to calm Philip. He repeated, less insistently, "Please, Alex...you have to help me. We have to find my translation." The researcher nodded...first, however, she had to get him propped up. She pulled a chair over from the table and Philip clung to it.
"All right...I'll go up to where you were working and see if I can find it," Alex replied. She gently squeezed Philip's shoulder and lightly raced up the stairs to the table where Philip had been working only twenty minutes earlier. It took her only five seconds to ascertain that the translation was, indeed, gone. She ran back down the stairs. As soon as she reached the first floor of the library, Philip tried to get to his feet using the chair. However, he turned an alarming shade of green, his legs giving way, and Alex grabbed him around the waist.
"I'll help you, Philip, but you have to take it easy. Okay? So just lean on me and we'll tell Derek, all right?" the young woman asked. Philip's head bobbed ever so slightly, which obviously didn't help his aching head or dizziness. Alex glanced at the library stairs and she could imagine all too well what had happened. She took a deep breath, then removed her left arm from his waist. Alex whispered, "So far, so good?"
"Yes," Philip answered very softly. Alex could feel his legs trembling, however, and she stabilized them both by taking his left hand. He clung to her hand, reminding Alex of a frightened child. It hit her, then, what had happened. A frightened child who had been murdered over three thousand years earlier by a priest in her sleep...confronting a priest of the modern day. No matter that he was eons away from that long-ago monster in faith and in soul. He was still a priest. Oh dear God, Alex thought, it all makes sense now! And despite her terror when she entered the library to find Philip unconscious, despite her fear for her friend, Alex nonetheless felt pity for that lost child.
She continued, "Then we'll warn Derek. He needs to know that Kat's in danger." Again, Philip gave an unsteady bob of his head, his dark brown hair falling into his eyes once more. Alex glanced at him worriedly. He seemed to be having a hard time focusing his eyes. I'll ask Rachel to take a look at him, she resolved, once Kat is safe.
One step after another, they drew closer to the control room. It was but a few paces from the table in the library where they met each morning, but tonight, the short journey seemed to take forever. At last, however, Alex reached the retinal scan which would give her access to the control room. She could feel Philip trembling, and she murmured as they passed through the hologram, "Only a little further, Philip, not far now. Just stay with me...we're almost there."
Everything happened quickly after that...once Philip mentioned the book 'Anubis,' Derek must have realized what the small princess Senephra had wanted with the translation. However, Alex paid little attention to the others...her concern was all for Philip, who had collapsed against the paneling as soon as his message was delivered.
As Derek, Rachel, and Nick raced to the vault, Alex helped Philip up the remaining steps of the dais and into the chair. He collapsed once more, burying his face in his hands. Alex knelt at his side, gently massaging the back of his neck, and murmured, "How do you feel? You'll let me know if you plan to be sick, won't you?" Philip barely raised his head, but managed a weak smile anyhow. Alex added, trying to make that smile broaden, "Well, I'm glad to hear that!"
Philip managed another very weak smile, then buried his face in his hands again. Alex started to speak, then thought better of it. Instead, she continued to massage the back of his neck gently, saying, "We'll wait here until the others get back. I know you want to make sure Kat's all right."
"Thanks. I couldn't break free...I couldn't even tell her to run," Philip said. Alex gently hushed him, enfolding his trembling body in her arms. She whispered over and over that it wasn't his fault, hoping that he believed her.
In the vault, Derek, Nick, Rachel and Kat watched in silence as the little Egyptian princess Senephra was guided to the Afterworld by Anubis. All were silent for several moments, but at last, Derek said, "We should make sure Philip is all right. Rachel, would you mind taking a look at him?"
Kat froze at the mention of the priest's name. She cried out, "Philip! Cally hurt him!" Rachel tried to calm her obviously-frightened daughter, but Kat repeated, "Cally hurt Philip! She hated him because he's a priest, and she made him fall down the stairs. I told her that I would help her, so she wouldn't hurt him any more!"
Derek went to the child and said very gently, "We know, Kat. Alex found him and helped him to tell us that you needed us. We'll go back and make sure he's all right. Rachel, can you...?" Rachel nodded. That was the least she could do. The young priest should have been in bed, but he had chosen to warn them about the danger to Kat instead.
"You bet I will. C'mon, Kat, we'll go see how he's feeling," Rachel answered. Reassured that Philip was alive and more or less intact, Kat began calming down. Poor kid, Rachel thought, she adores Philip...she must have been terrified when he fell down the stairs.
They reached the control room moments later. Philip was sitting at the computer, his face in his hands, with Alex at his side. Her arms were around the back of his shoulders, one hand gently massaging his neck. She looked up warily as their footsteps sounded, ready to protect him if necessary. She looked relieved when she saw them and asked, "It's over?"
Rachel said, "Yes. Philip, how do you feel?" The young man raised his head and managed a wan smile. He was still very pale, but some of his color had returned. Rachel went on, trying to sound cheerful, "Well, let's get him to his room and I'll have a look."
"Not necessary, Rachel, I'm fine now," Philip said as he tried to get up. He turned white and started to collapse again and Alex grabbed him around the waist. Philip grasped her forearms, clinging to her. Nick bolted up the dais and together, he and Alex eased Philip back into the chair.
"Slow down," Nick said, his green eyes filling with concern, "the danger to Kat is past, Philip, so let us look after you. Now, take it easy or I'll carry you myself!" He rested his hand lightly on the other young man's shoulder. A weak smile lit the priest's face.
"You throw me over your shoulder, Nick," Philip replied, "and I'll be sick all over you." Nick laughed aloud and very gently helped Philip to his feet, draping one of the priest's arms over his shoulder. Alex stood by watching in silence, her brown eyes anxious, while Derek went to Philip's other side. Philip protested weakly, "That's not necessary. I got to the control room from the library with Alex's help."
Rachel rolled her eyes. She had seen how Philip could barely walk, and was on the point of saying so...but Derek said, "This isn't up for debate, Philip. Ready, Nick?" The former SEAL nodded and together, they helped Philip from the room, with Rachel, Alex, and Kat following. Once they reached Philip's room, the young man collapsed onto his bed. He closed his eyes and Derek said urgently, "Philip..."
"I'm here, Derek," Philip answered softly. Derek took his hand and Philip continued, "Katherine, please don't be afraid. I'll be all right." He opened his eyes to look at the child, who had stepped closer to his bed. He added, "Come around to the other side." She did as he asked, and he touched her cheek with his free hand, murmuring, "It's all right, Katherine...it's not your fault."
Kat was close to tears as she said, "I was so scared when you fell, Philip. I wanted to stop her, but I didn't know how." She stopped, shaking from head to toe. Philip's hand dropped from her face to her shoulder, and he pulled her closer. Kat sat down on the bed beside him, and snuggled as close to him as she possibly could. Philip put his arm around her shoulders, as Kat whispered, "I'm sorry, Philip, I'm so sorry Cally pushed you down the stairs and hurt you."
"You're forgiven...even though it's not your fault. Don't you know how much I love you, Katherine?" Philip asked very softly. Kat raised her tear-stained face to look at him, and Philip continued, "If I had a little sister, I couldn't love her more than I love you."
Kat kissed his cheek and said, "I love you, too, Philip." She gently stroked his dark brown hair, which drew a weak smile from the young priest. Rachel smiled softly. She glanced at Derek, and her smile faded as she saw his shaken expression. He was, she guessed, just now realizing that Philip could have died in the fall.
Rachel said, "Kat, honey, why don't you let Alex take you to your room? I need to check Philip over and make sure he didn't hurt himself really badly. Derek, I think we should get Philip to the hospital...if he has some bruising or swelling on his brain, it will show up on a CAT scan." However, Philip was already shaking his head, wincing.
"No," he said weakly, but adamantly. His vehemence startled Rachel, and she glanced at Derek. The young priest continued more calmly, "No, not the hospital! I'll be all right, just some bumps and bruises. Derek, tell her." The psychic hesitated, and Philip repeated, a note of desperation entering his voice, "No hospital! Please, Rachel...I just need to rest for a little while, that's all. I promise to stay in bed for however long you deem necessary and behave myself. But no hospitals."
"All right," Rachel answered, now concerned with keeping the young man calm, "all right, no hospitals...for now. But if your condition deteriorates, then what I say goes. Derek, promise me that if he gets worse over the next few days that you'll fly him to the hospital immediately." The psychic nodded without speaking, his eyes filled with concern, and Rachel began her examination. Most of Philip's injuries were bumps and bruises. It was his head injury which caused Rachel the most concern. She had seen earlier that he could barely walk into the control room, even with Alex's help. And, Alex had told her on the way upstairs that he could barely focus his eyes. I wish he would back down on this thing about hospitals, Rachel thought, but I don't believe that will happen...he's too much like Derek to do that.
At last, she said, "I want you to stay in bed for a week, Philip. Get plenty of rest, and do as you're told. I'll leave instructions with Derek before I leave tomorrow morning. If you have any nausea or start getting dizzy again, I want you to call a doctor immediately. None of this macho 'I can handle it' thing. You're smarter than that. All right?" Philip nodded, wincing, and Rachel kissed his cheek gently. She said softly, "That's for helping us to save Kat. You risked your own welfare to warn us."
"How could I not?" Philip answered weakly. After a moment, he added, "Derek, could you please stop lookin' at me like that? I'll survive this." Derek responded by placing Philip's hand on the bed and touching the young priest's hair instead. It was a paternal gesture...Rachel had seen her husband touch their son's hair in a similar way many times. Still, it reminded her of just how much Derek loved this young man. Philip closed his eyes briefly, then opened them as Alex returned to the room. He smiled and said, "Thank you, Alex. I couldn't have made it without you."
The young woman joined Derek and Rachel at Philip's side and leaned forward to kiss his forehead. She replied, "You're welcome. Just be careful around those stairs in the future, okay?" Philip nodded, wincing, and Alex stroked his hair back from his eyes, adding, "Enough talking...rest."
"I've received my orders from the boss lady...I should probably obey. You're going to stay here just to make sure I do rest, aren't you, Alex?" Philip asked with a smile as he closed his eyes again. The young woman squeezed his shoulder and Philip murmured, "Thought so. Rachel, tell Katherine it's not her fault. I don't think she believes me." His voice trailed off with a sigh as he drifted into oblivion. Alex sat down in a chair beside his bed.
"I'll stay with him, Derek," she promised. The precept nodded and once more touched Philip's hair tenderly. Alex hesitated, then said, "Look, Rachel and I can check on Kat. Nick, you should probably secure the vault." Rachel began to protest, then nodded, following Alex and Nick from the room.
Alone with the sleeping priest, Derek sat down in the chair which Alex had just vacated. He whispered, "You could have been killed today, Philip. I've fought so hard to keep from losing you again, and a vengeful spirit nearly took you permanently." Derek shook his head, a lump forming in his throat, and continued, "I didn't have time to think, you know. Once I realized what Senephra wanted with that translation, I knew there was no time to lose. Alex would look after you, while Nick, Rachel and I rescued Kat. I didn't even allow myself to worry about you...not until Kat was safe and we had you safely in your own bed, in your own room. And then I..." He couldn't go on.
After a moment, Derek whispered, "You are like my own son, Philip Callaghan. You mean more to me than you will ever know. I love you, Philip. And nothing will ever change that. Do you understand me? Nothing." Derek fell silent, still stroking Philip's hair, then he rose to his feet. He gently squeezed the young priest's hand and murmured, "Sleep well, my son. This world still has need of your light and your faith." And then he left the room.
The next morning dawned bright and beautiful. Kat was out of her bed as soon as the sun rose, and she ran to Philip's room, still dressed in her nightgown. She discovered Alex sleeping in a chair beside Philip's bed and thought her friend looked terribly uncomfortable. However, Alex awoke as Kat approached Philip's bed and said with a sleepy smile, "G'morning, Katherine. Come to check on Philip?" Kat nodded and Alex continued, smiling at her, "Well, just don't wake him, all right, honey? He really needs to rest. You can give him a kiss if you like."
Kat stood on her tiptoes and did just that, gently kissing his forehead. She would have liked to kiss the back of his head, since that was where he was hurt, but that would have woken him up. The child said, "You'll take care of him, Alex? Mom and I are going home today, and I wanted to make sure someone would take care of Philip."
"I'll take very good care of him, sweetheart," Alex promised, "You need to get dressed, and if you see Derek, tell him that Philip is all right. He even mumbled in his sleep a little last night. Bet you didn't know that Philip talks in his sleep, didja?" Kat shook her head in disbelief.
"You're being silly, Alex! But if I see Derek, I'll tell him. He really loves Philip a lot, doesn't he?" Kat asked and Alex nodded, growing serious once more. The little girl kissed Philip's cheek, then scurried to Alex's side, giving her other friend a hug. With that accomplished, Kat ran from the room. It was time for her and Mom to go home.
Princess Senephra hadn't left her mother's arms since the reunion with her parents. She snuggled closer to the queen, who kept whispering, "Oh my little one...my sweet, sweet baby." A kiss was pressed against Senephra's black hair, and after a moment, the queen pulled back to say solemnly, "There is one thing you must do, precious child. You apologized to little Katherine, even if you didn't say the words. Now you must apologize to her friend Philip." Senephra made a face.
"Must I apologize to him, Mother? He's a priest!" the little princess replied, disgust obvious in her voice. The queen stared at Senephra, then waved her hand. Senephra's eyes widened as she watched the images below them. Images of a gentle priest as he cared for Kat and other little ones. She saw him tumbling down the stairs, and landing with a thud on the floor. Then she saw him heading to warn the other adults of the danger to Kat...weak, barely able to stand, but determined to protect Kat, no matter the cost.
"You see, little one...Katherine was right to love and trust that boy. He has a good heart and a gentle soul. He is not the monster who kept you from us for so long," the queen said gently. Senephra lowered her eyes, remembering Kat's terror for her friend Philip. 'Cally, I promise I'll help...please, just don't hurt him, please!' the other little girl had sobbed.
"Mother, will his God allow me to apologize to him?" Senephra asked in a small voice. She didn't like to apologize, not even when she did something wrong. The queen nodded, and Senephra swallowed hard. She continued after a moment, "Mother, what if he doesn't forgive me? I almost killed him...I would have killed him, if Kat hadn't stopped me." The queen just smiled sadly and Senephra sighed. She had to apologize to Kat's friend, if only in his dreams.
Philip was drifting in a warm place. He wasn't aware of much, just of warmth and peace and an utter lack of pain. The silence was broken when he heard someone softly calling his name. Philip blinked and turned to face his companion. At first, he thought that Katherine had joined him, since the other person was very small, no more than seven or eight years old. Then he saw that the child's hair was raven, rather than chestnut, like Kat's. And then Philip saw the little one's face...his heart nearly stopped. It was the child from the library, the little girl whom Katherine had called 'Cally.'
The little girl who had screamed that she hated priests just before knocking him down the stairs looked different. She was dressed in full Egyptian regalia, complete with the head- dress, rather than a nightgown. Philip pulled back instinctively, looking around for Katherine. I have to protect her, he thought, I won't fail her this time!
However, the little girl put her hand out and said, "Please don't be afraid...I won't hurt you. I came to apologize for hurting you. I didn't know that you were nice. I should have listened to Kat." For the first time, Philip realized what else was different about the child...her eyes were that of a little girl. Not an angry little princess, but of a small girl who was free to be a child once more. Philip forgot about the painful tumble down the stairs, about the terror for Katherine, and thought instead of a little girl who had been torn from her family first by her death, then by the hatred of a long-ago priest. The young priest sat down and said, "Come here, little one." The little girl paused, then scrambled onto his lap. Without even thinking about it, Philip wrapped his arms around the child. He continued, "Would you like to tell me about when you finally went home to your mother and father?"
Before Senephra began, she said hesitantly, "I'm sorry for hurting you. Can you really forgive me?" Philip nodded, smiling, and Senephra threw her arms around him. With that out of the way, she began telling him all about her reunion with her parents and sisters.