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This story is basically about the first introduction of Philip Joseph Callaghan and Nicholas Patrick Boyle to their calling as members of the Legacy.
June 5, 1975
Derek Rayne stood silently at the window of his father's study watching the small boy poke at something he'd found in the grass outside. It was funny, his father had been dead for seven years now but this room still felt like his father's study, not his. Get over it Derek for all intents you're a father now yourself. He smiled and shook his head ruefully as he turned back to the desk. Philip was quite safe under the gardener's watchful eye and his young godfather had a desk full of work waiting for him. As if he didn't have enough to do studying for his degree and working the occasional case for the Legacy. Still, he knew he wouldn't trade Philip for any of these things. If someone asked him to choose between the seven year old in the garden or his education and the Legacy Philip would win easily.
There was a light knock on the door before Professor Washburn poked his head inside. Derek glanced up only long enough to see who it was before calling, "Come on in. I'm almost done here."
Seeing the dark head bent over his work the gray haired historian came over to the desk to peer over Derek's shoulder as he worked. "Term paper?" He asked, scanning the page in the typewriter.
"Yes, this one's the last. After next week I'll have three weeks off before the summer term starts." He rapidly keyed in a few more words before pulling the sheet out and tucking it into the folder that held the rest of the paper. He smiled up at his Precept. He was looking forward to a little time off from schoolwork. Time for the Legacy. Time for Philip.
The old man was frowning thoughtfully at the twenty-one year old. When the silence had lasted long enough for Derek to get nervous he spoke. "Seven years ago when I agreed to be Precept here after your dad died we all figured you'd be taking the job over and letting me retire about now. Today I'm not so sure you're ready for it."
Seeing the stunned look on Derek's face at the surprising remark Washburn continued. "Oh, I don't mean you aren't responsible enough for the job, son. Just the opposite. You've just taken on an enormous job raising Philip alone. You're pushing to finish your degree early and you're an active member of the Legacy. It's too much Derek."
"I don't think I understand." Derek told him, stalling to gather his wits. Actually he was afraid he understood too well. That his idle thoughts a moment ago by the window had been preparation for a choice he didn't really want to make.
"Probably not." Washburn smiled. "I'm saying that maybe you should slow down on the course work. Take a couple extra years to get the degree. We could put you on a kind of emergency standby in the Legacy for a while. You wouldn't be out of the loop. After all this is your house, you'd still be here for everything. I only run the Legacy assignments. The rest of it is your show."
"Because I don't think you understand what you've taken on here. That little boy outside is so traumatized by what happened to his parents he still can't talk and it's been over two months. From what you told me the grandmother didn't help matters. He needs your time more than we do." He studied the man at the desk, wondering if he should continue. Derek wasn't going to like this next bit. Alicia's death and the subsequent rift it caused with Randolph had been hard enough for him. The tribunal that followed had made Derek doubt every decision he had made on that assignment, despite his acquittal on the reckless endangerment charge Hitchcock had brought against him. It was all just too much. No man could be everything to everyone no matter how hard he tried. Not even Derek Rayne. "You need time too. You're not in great shape yourself these days. You're still having the nightmares about Alicia's death aren't you?"
Derek rose to his feet, hazel-green eyes narrowing slightly as he faced the older man. "Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. Are you saying you feel I'm not fit to do my job?"
Washburn turned away and went to sit on the couch, defusing the moment. He wasn't about to let Derek turn this into a confrontation. "I'm saying don't take any classes this summer. Hang around the island. Take Philip camping before he has to start school. Read a book that wasn't written by somebody with three degrees after his name! I don't care. Just give both of you a chance to heal. Think about it Derek. I have to go find Jonathan before he leaves for Kenya."
Derek was still thinking about his old friend's suggestion that night as he stood in Philip's doorway watching the child sleep. It might be fun to take the boy places this summer and show him his new home. The Legacy wasn't really involved in much right now. With Jonathan Boyle gone on the Kenya expedition nothing else was really going on and all the others had left for their own homes and families. The old house felt strangely empty with no one working in the lab or researching obscure texts in the library. Since Christie got married in March and moved out he was the only member of the Legacy House actually in residence anymore.
"It's just you and me tonight I guess." Derek whispered. He drew back, afraid he'd woken the child when Philip turned over in his sleep. But no, the blue eyes were still closed, though the boy's brow was creased with his dreams. "Sweet dreams only little one. That's an order." Derek smiled before turning toward his own room down the hall, leaving Philip's door ajar just in case he needed something in the night.
Hours later Derek jerked upright in his bed to the sound of his own screams. He flopped back down, throat aching from the screams, feeling his heart hammering to escape the horror of the reenactment. The full mouth curved into a bitter smile as the first saltiness of tears touched it. It was a good thing Professor Washburn had his own place on the mainland or he would have known the nightmares of Alicia's death were still with him far too often.
His eyes flew back open at the light touch on his shoulder and he turned his head to find Philip watching solemnly at his bedside, his blue eyes bright with worry, brown hair tousled from sleep. "What's the matter Philip? Did I wake you?" He asked reaching out to pull the little boy onto the bed to sit beside him. He didn't really expect an answer and so wasn't disappointed when Philip simply snuggled in close to his side and began patting his shoulder gently.
Fresh tears stung his eyes as he realized that this small boy he had tried so hard to comfort for the past month since he came to Angel Island was trying to comfort him. Derek reached across the boy and pulled back a corner of the covers. He invited Philip in, as he knew Thomas and Maeve Callaghan would have if one of their sons woke in the night from a fright such as his screams must have given the boy. "Climb in then. We can protect each other from the nightmares tonight."
His reward was a glowing smile. Soon they were both settled for the night with Derek's godson nestled contentedly asleep against his shoulder. Sleep was something that eluded Derek for several more hours as he thought about the small treasure in his arms and wondered how the child's grandmother could hate him enough to scar him so.
He hadn't quite believed it when the boy's grandfather called asking him to come get him a month after the double funeral that followed that fatal plane crash. That anyone could tell a small boy who had lain for hours in the wreckage beneath his father's body, waiting for rescue, that it was his fault the plane crashed because he was a bad boy was beyond his grasp. He had known it was true only when Philip threw himself into his arms, shining with joy and half crying from relief at the news he was going to live with Derek in America. Philip would have gladly fled that house right then in the middle of the night to escape the agony of his grandmother's hate. That night Derek had seen an evil truer than any he had encountered in the Legacy. The willful destruction of a little boy's spirit. If Philip needed him home that was where he would be from now on. Nothing would stop him from winning the battle for this small soul.
The next morning Derek woke to the delightful scent of fresh coffee nearby. Opening his eyes He found Philip, smiling, still in his pajamas on the foot of the bed with a plate of toast and jam and fresh coffee. "Good Morning!" He pulled himself upright, delighted by the rare treat of breakfast in bed, as Philip scrambled carefully forward with his offering. "Did you make this yourself?" He asked seeing that there was more butter and jam on the plate than on the toast. At a closer look it was apparent at least part of the meal had wound up on the boy. The blackberry jam made an interesting contrast to the brown hair but did go rather nicely with the blue pajamas. I'll have to get him washed up before I leave this morning. To his surprise Philip actually nodded in acknowledgment, his smile growing shyly pleased at the question, before he climbed down and ran off toward his own room.
Derek spoke softly into the empty room. "You've brought me more than breakfast this morning, I think." Philip had unknowingly brought him the key to drawing him out of his shell. The child needed to help people. To prove his grandmother was wrong about him being bad.
At that moment the alarm by the bedside caught his eyes. His first class of the day was in only an hour! Philip must have shut it off so he could sleep. Someone else would have to get the boy cleaned up. He didn't have a prayer of getting to class on time but if he didn't get out of here in the next twenty minutes he'd miss the class completely. And the deadline for his final term paper with it! Derek gulped down the coffee as he hurried for the bathroom to get dressed. He planned to withdraw from the summer term today but he still had to get through the rest of this term before he could devote himself to his new plan to draw his godson out. Now if only Jonathan will hurry home so I can ask for his help!
He nearly knocked Professor Washburn down as he ran out the door just fifteen minutes later. He turned his head to talk to the man as he ran for his car. "Sorry Professor! I decided to take your advice and take the summer off but I have to run now."
The professor merely stared after the whirlwind that had nearly run him down until he felt Philip crowd into the doorway beside him. He looked down at the boy careful not to touch him. The child still pulled away from anyone but his godfather and he didn't want to frighten him when he'd come this close. "Between the breathless hurry and that Dutch accent I can't be certain but I think you're going to be seeing a lot more of your godfather soon. In the meantime why don't you and I go inside and get to work?" The professor cocked his head for a better look at the boy as they went inside. "You know I missed breakfast this morning, maybe we should stop by the kitchen for some toast to go with that jam all over you."
June 17, 1975
Jonathan Boyle tucked the phone securely between his shoulder and ear when his oldest daughter, Jenny, handed it to him and continued to apply pressure with a towel to the tear in his son's scalp trying to stop the bleeding. "Hello?"
"Jonathan, it's Derek. If you have a minute I need to ask for your help. It's about Philip."
"Shoot. Is the kid okay?" He cautiously let up on the cut and was satisfied to see the blood that had been gushing a few minutes ago had slowed to an ooze. This didn't look like it would need stitches after all.
"He's fine. Listen, I think I know a way to draw him out but I'll need you, or at any rate your son."
"Nick?" He asked in disbelief, staring at the individual in question perched on the edge of the kitchen sink. He quickly looked away from the fearfilled eyes, ashamed of what had happened and loosened the grip he'd maintained on the back of his son's neck to hold him still. He gently spread some ointment on the cut and slapped a bandage over it, securing the gauze square with two long strips of medical tape. He lifted the boy down, letting him run to his sister. "How can he help?"
"I was thinking you could bring him with you to the museum's fund-raiser tonight and let him spend the night with Philip. All his friends are in Ireland and he needs other kids around."
Jonathan wiped up the blood from the counter, thoroughly confused but willing to listen to this kid he'd come to admire. Derek's ideas usually went somewhere if you gave them time. Though this one was sounding a little harebrained at the moment. "I don't see how he can help you Derek. Philip turned seven in March. Nick won't even be four until September. They aren't exactly peers."
"But they are! You always say Nick plays too rough chasing after the bigger kids and Philip is so withdrawn right now he probably couldn't handle another boy his own age. Nick being so much younger is actually a help in this. It would boost Philip's confidence if he felt like we were counting on him to look after Nick during the party. You could come early so they can get acquainted."
"I don't know if that's such a good idea. He's never spent the night in a strange place without his mom before." Jonathan tried one last time to discourage this. He really didn't want anyone asking about Nick's injuries and he knew even if Derek was too wrapped up in his own affairs to notice, Professor Washburn would certainly question him on the matter. They wouldn't understand why the kid had been running from him and Nick was too little to be very good at keeping secrets. Get real, even if he says something to Philip that might be misunderstood the kid doesn't talk!
"You could bring her with you, you know. The girls too."
Jonathan had to laugh at the man's persistence. Derek really hated taking no for an answer. "Enough! I'll do it, but it'll just be me and Nick. I wasn't even going to come tonight. Christine left this morning to visit her sister in Ohio. She's having a baby and her husband's in Japan on business. She didn't want to be alone. The girls have their own plans. Maureen's been bugging me to let her go to Big Bear with a friend's family this weekend and Jenny's got baby-sitting."
"That's perfect! I'll tell Philip you're bringing him a friend this afternoon."
Derek hung up without further formalities once he'd confirmed that they would come sometime after lunch, leaving his friend chuckling to himself as he unwrapped the phone cord around his neck and went in search of his family.
An hour later Jonathan Boyle sat in the living room with a glass of whiskey in his hand. He'd checked every room in the house. He'd even checked under the bed in the spare room where Nick liked to hide when he thought he was in trouble. He looked at his watch ruefully. It was barely nine o'clock. He'd been alone with the kids for a little over two hours and he'd already lost all three of them.
He downed the shot of whiskey and looked longingly at the bottle before setting it aside. If he was going to the Legacy House tonight he'd better stay sober. He'd already had a couple uncomfortable encounters with Professor Washburn about his drinking. He laughed, running a hand through his short brown hair. If I don't get the oil filter changed on the car the only thing I'll have an encounter with tonight is a tow truck.
When he came into the house to wash the oil off his hands at the kitchen sink Maureen was at the fridge pulling out sandwich makings. He wrapped his arms around the thirteen year old, careful not to get his oily hands on her shirt and kissed the top of her head. "There enough there for your dad to have some?"
"Ich!" Maureen squirmed away. "Mom left lots of stuff easy to fix if you don't have disgusting junk on your hands. Get washed while I make lunch."
"Yes ma'am." He obediently went to the sink while his daughter started cutting up leftover ham. "Where're Nick and Jenny at? I've got good news for you guys."
"Jenny had a date with Joey Walker. I think she took the shrimp with her. I wouldn't take him on a date with me." Maureen trailed off as she turned to get the mustard and caught sight of the anger on her father's face.
"You aren't allowed to date yet and don't call your brother a shrimp. He's just small for his age." He corrected her automatically. He headed for the table in the entry hall where he kept his wallet and keys when he was home, lunch forgotten. "Do you know where they went?"
"To the high school to watch a practice game. After that I think they were heading to the park for ice cream." Maureen was starting to get scared. She tried to recapture the mood her dad had been in earlier. "What was your news? Did Aunt Katie have the baby already? Is Mom coming home early?"
"No. I have to go in to work tonight. That means you can go camping with the Carlisle's. I already called them and they'll be here to get you at three." He was interrupted when his daughter squealed and threw her arms around his neck.
"Thank you Daddy!" Maureen let go when she caught sight of the clock in the front hall. "It's already after one! I've got to call everyone before I leave. Kelly is gonna be sooo jealous I'm going after her folks said no. Honestly Dad! You should have told me earlier!"
His mood was considerably less grim watching his youngest daughter fly up the stairs to get her gear together. "Nobody was here earlier!!" He shouted up the stairs after her. He smiled and shook his head as he headed for the door. At least one of his kids was easy to please.
He was thankfully spared the daunting task of trying to find the other two. When he got outside Jenny was coming up the driveway with the Walker kid beside her carrying Nick on his shoulders. He simply stood there and stared as the kid swung his boy to the ground and said good-bye. Jenny tried to slide past him into the house without looking at him. Still mad at me for yelling and scaring the kid this morning.
Jonathan grabbed his son's hand as Jenny led him past effectively pulling both kids to a halt. He and Nick had a long drive ahead of them to reach Angel Island. He didn't have time to argue but he couldn't let this slide. "We have a rule around here, remember? You clear dates with your mom or me. You don't just disappear and you don't take your brother without telling someone. For all I knew some nut snatched him out of the yard!" For the first time he noticed Nick now sported a heavy ace bandage around his left wrist. "And what happened to Nick?"
Jenny glared through her long blond bangs but kept her voice down, not wanting to start something with her brother caught in the middle. "He sprained his wrist when he fell running away from you this morning. Since it wasn't bleeding I guess you didn't notice." The girl dropped her eyes, beginning to get a little nervous about pushing her dad so hard. "The coach bandaged it but he said you should take him in for x-rays just in case. I told him Nick fell in the back yard."
This day just keeps getting better. First Chris's sister wants to know why I won't let the kids come to Ohio with her, now the high school baseball coach thinks I neglect my kid, he thought, annoyed at the number of people getting involved in his family problems. "He did fall in the back yard. Look, I'm taking him to Angel Island with me overnight. I'll check it there. I want you to stay with Mrs. Davis until I get back. She's expecting you by ten when you get through baby-sitting. I will call to make sure you're there." He warned her.
Without waiting for an answer he grabbed the overnight bag he'd packed and left in the hall, not stopping when he felt the slight catch as she kept her hold on Nick's other hand. Rather than risk her baby brother getting hurt in the tug of war Jenny let go, biting her lip and trying to smile at the worried little boy looking pleadingly at her as their dad dragged him out to the car.
Jonathan swung Nick up over the door on the passenger side of the old Chrysler convertible grinning at him to try and loosen the kid up a little. "There's a bag of chips on the seat for lunch if you don't tell Mom that's what I got you. She wouldn't understand. Guys need junk food sometimes when they're working. We'll eat healthy some other time." That's got him! Jonathan thought as the kid's eyes lit up at this breach of the rules. Thank God for mood swings! I'd never survive this one without them. He couldn't help but grin at the thought of his youngest's erratic temperament.
"You're not gonna tell on me when she gets home, are ya Trouble?" He asked as he pulled out of the drive. Nick still wasn't talking to him but at least he shook his head in vigorous denial as he dug in the bag.
After lunch Derek led Philip to the study and sat the boy on the desk in front of him for a serious talk. Philip was taking the meeting so seriously in fact that his godfather was hard pressed not to laugh at the child's solemn expression. He had to tease just a little. "I suppose you'd like to know what I wanted to talk to you about, don't you, Philip?"
Philip nodded very seriously, his brown hair flopping down into his eyes, worried that Derek had gotten tired of taking care of a bad boy like him and was going to tell him he had to go back to his grandparents. After the funeral his Grandma had pulled him away from Derek and told him he was a difficult boy to care for and that his American godfather was much too busy to deal with the likes of him. She'd said a wealthy, attractive young man like that didn't need a little one dragging him down when he wanted to be out at parties with his friends.
"You know that we are having a party tonight for the Luna Foundation don't you? That means everyone is going to be very busy tonight." He told the little boy, brushing the errant forelock back so that he could see Philip's expressive eyes. Those eyes made it so much easier to figure out what was going on inside his head despite his continued silence.
Philip blinked hard, determined not to cry and cause his handsome young godfather any more trouble. He'd been dreading just such a meeting as this ever since he came to live here and now it was happening. He'd hoped when Derek came to Ireland and asked him to come live with him in San Francisco that his Grandma had been wrong. He'd tried so hard to be good!
Derek was alarmed when he saw the tears welling in the frightened eyes and pulled Philip close for a hug, resettling him on his lap where he could still look at him. He thought he understood all too clearly what was going through that little head and regretted causing the misunderstanding. "I am not sending you away Philip! I promise I won't ever send you away." He watched a moment as the worry faded, wishing it would take the lingering doubt with it and cursing Nuala Ryan, for probably the hundredth time since Thomas and Maeve Callaghan died, for what she had done to the boy. He wondered again as he wiped away the tears that had gathered in the corners of Philip's eyes if his grandmother's cruelty was closer to the heart of his silence than the plane crash was.
"I need your help. You know who Jonathan Boyle is don't you?" Derek waited until Philip nodded confirmation for him. "His wife is away for a while and so he's bringing his son, Nick, with him tonight. Nick is a very little boy, only three years old, and he's never been away from his mother before. I was hoping you'd take care of him for us tonight during the party. Do you think you could handle that?"
Philip thought about it. No one had ever asked for his help before. He was always the one somebody had to take care of. It could be fun to be the one doing the taking care of. He wasn't ever going to let Derek down the way he let his parents down. If Derek needed him he'd do whatever had to be done. He gave a determined nod hoping Derek understood what was in his heart. It still hurt too much for him to put words to all the feelings spinning inside of him.
When Philip cocked his head to one side and doubtfully held up three fingers Derek laughed hugging the boy hard. "He's almost four. You'll find something you both like to play I'm sure. You're a clever little boy Philip. Never believe anyone who tells you anything else." He set the boy on his feet. "Now why don't you go make sure your room is ready for company to spend the night. Maybe pull some toys out to play with?"
Philip smiled at him then ran out of the study, starting to get excited at the idea of a sleepover even if it was just a baby spending the night!
Derek simply sat there smiling for a few minutes. Philip actually asked a question! Sort of. This nonverbal communication was a new step for the boy and he was certain now that this plan was the right way to draw him back into the world. Who knows? Before the weekend is over I might wish I could shut him up. The smile widened to a grin. Not that he could imagine ever wanting to shut the boy up once he started talking again.
By the time they reached the ferry to Angel Island Jonathan had Nick convulsed in giggles at his silly jokes, no longer pressed tightly against the passenger side door as far from his father as possible. When his dad suggested they go stand at the rail to watch the ships in the bay Nick jumped up on the threadbare seat waiting anxiously to be swung over the door to his father's broad shoulder. He knew better than to get out alone. That was a sure way to get a whipping! He wasn't allowed to walk around on the ferryboat since that time he nearly fell overboard last summer. He still got mad when he remembered that nobody had believed Maureen pushed him. Not even Jenny!
"Daddy!! Where the tastle? We goin' ta the tastle?!" Nick remembered the huge place his dad showed them from the road when they came to the state park for picnics and was excited at the idea of staying there for the weekend.
"That's where we're going. To the castle." Jonathan Boyle carefully emphasized the hard kay sound Nick still hadn't managed to grasp. He swung his son down to sit on the rail, careful to keep one arm securely around the kid's waist as he sighted down his arm to the point of land the castle would appear around. "Just keep you're eyes on that spot right there."
He took advantage of the break from the long drive to check that wrist, unwrapping the heavy bandage and flexing the swollen joint until Nick flinched and started to squirm, crying quietly. It was sprained all right but didn't seem broken. He re-wrapped the wrist, getting it good and tight. "That hurt much?" he asked.
Nick stared out over the water watching for the castle his eyes blurring with tears again. "No, sir." He lied, his lower lip trembling, not wanting his father to remember his anger from the morning. He'd been hurt worse and learned that crying about it only made everything worse. Still, it was hard not to cry sometimes and it really did hurt.
Jonathan didn't miss the lie but didn't push it either, allowing the child his fragile dignity. "Well, how about we see if Derek has something we can give you if it does start to hurt later on?" He brushed the baby fine hair back out of Nick's eyes. Gonna have to shear the kid soon or he won't be able to see. "He's got a kid of his own you know. His godson Philip lives with him. We figured you two could play together while we do grownup stuff. Okay?"
"Otay. How old is he?" Nick asked suddenly interested.
"Seven." Jonathan swiveled Nick around to look him in the eye. "Listen to me Nicky. Philip's parents died a little while ago so he's really sad and doesn't talk. You're gonna have to find things to play that won't make him feel bad about not being able to talk. Can I trust you to do that for me?"
Nick didn't know how to answer. He'd never seen his dad look at him like this but he didn't want to let him down. He tried to look as serious as he knew how. "Uh-huh. I tan be good, promise."
"Yeah, you can be, when you want to." He paused to be sure he still had his son's attention, tilting the boy's chin up to look into his eyes. "If anyone asks how you got hurt I'm just going to say you fell and not tell them about you breaking that bottle on the bar. We don't want Derek thinking you're a bad little boy. He might not want you around Philip if he thought that. He might send us both away. Then Daddy could lose his job and we don't want that do we?" Jonathan felt a little guilty manipulating Nick like that but he had to make sure the kid didn't say anything that might give his coworkers the wrong idea.
Nick felt a flash of fear at the idea. Losing a job was a very bad thing and Mrs. Davis already thought he was a bad boy. She made him stay in his room and be quiet when she watched them for Mommy sometimes so he knew what his father said could really happen. He didn't want this new person to think he was bad. He threw his arms around his father's neck in a tight hug. "Nooo...." That would be bad.
Jonathan hugged his son tight feeling like slime at how grateful the kid was that he wasn't going to tell anyone he'd chased the three year old all the way to the backyard until the kid fell after Nick broke one of his whiskey bottles. He kissed the windblown brown hair, so like his own. "I didn't mean for you to get hurt this morning baby, bad things just happen sometimes. I promise it won't happen again."
"I'm not a baby!" Nick declared, picking up only on what he thought was an insult and getting a little cranky at the suggestion. "I'm a big boy! Mommy said!"
"Sorry, I forget sometimes." He turned the boy upside down tucking him under one arm as he headed back to the car. He hoped it would distract the kid and avert one of the famous temper tantrums Nick could pull when he hadn't had a nap after a busy morning. I should have tried to get him to sleep on the way here. He was up way too early this morning. "You're always gonna be my baby though!" He teased, tickling him and turning the little boy's shriek to giggles as he dumped Nick into the passenger seat.
The boy was still all giggles, tantrum successfully derailed, when they pulled up outside the brooding gray walls of the Legacy House. Derek was waiting on the steps, obviously having heard the old car approach, and if he wasn't mistaken Philip was hiding behind the man.
Derek pulled Philip forward by the hand to introduce him to his guest. "Philip, I want you to meet Nick." The seven year old nodded a solemn greeting, still holding tightly to his godfather's hand.
When Nick just stood there staring Jonathan decided to prompt him a little. "Why don't you ask Philip to show you the castle?" He looked up at Derek. "He was really excited to see this place." To his chagrin the living contradiction beside him decided on this moment to get shy and grabbed onto him, hiding his face against his father's leg.
"It seems he isn't anymore." The Dutchman's eyebrows quirked with amusement as he turned to show his guests inside.
Jonathan picked Nick up so that he could bury his face in his father's neck and carried him inside. "I'm really sorry about this Derek. He was up at five this morning to go with us to the airport and hasn't slowed down since. Sometimes he still needs his nap I guess." He could feel his face flushing with embarrassment at Nick's behavior. "Are you sure you want us to stay? He can be a real monster when he doesn't get a nap."
"Of course we still want you. Don't we Philip?" Derek could see he wasn't going to get any help from this direction. Philip was staring dubiously at his little guest, plainly not sure if he wanted company after all. "In fact it might be a good idea if they both took naps." That caught his attention quick enough! Derek frowned down the protest on Philip's face. "That way you can stay up later tonight and maybe slip down to try some of the treats the kitchen staff made for the party tonight."
Jonathan carefully stifled the laugh that threatened to escape. He wasn't the only one around here who had to resort to bribery it seemed.
In short order the men had the two boys settled atop the covers of the twin beds in Philip's room and they headed for the lab to begin examining the casket brought back from Kenya.
"Are you sure Nick is going to be all right?" Derek asked, still a little concerned by the bandages on the little boy's head and wrist, and by his colleague's request for some kind of painkiller for the child before he put him down to sleep.
"Yeah, he'll be fine. He's always hurting himself somehow." Jonathan tried to keep his tone light as he dismissed the concern in his friend's voice. "He was running around this morning and took a header into the planter. I think it's something magnetic when they're that age. As soon as they get in range of something that can split their skulls in two, down they go. Just be glad Philip is past that stage with all the stairs you've got around here!"
Philip listened to the men's voices as they trailed off down the hallway. His eyes wandered, slightly disgusted, to the other bed. The baby was already asleep, one of those stuffed Wally Gator dolls from that afternoon cartoon show clutched in his arms. Bet he sucks his thumb too! Philip thought, resentful at the indignity the small interloper had caused him. He turned over, letting his head and arms hang over the side of the bed so he could draw pictures in the texture of the carpet with his fingers.
He snuck another look across the room to be certain the baby wasn't awake and reached under the hanging edge of his bedspread to finger the velvety ear of the stuffed Dalmatian hidden there. He was too big to sleep with dolls anymore. Soon Philip drifted softly into dreams of home, his head still hanging over the side of the bed, fingertips lightly touching his beloved Spot.
He could hear his parents talking quietly in another room, careful not to wake him or his brother Michael. Philip climbed down from the bed, smiling, when he heard his mother call him. "Ma! I knew they were jus' foolin' when they said ya weren't comin' back!" The boy began to chatter happily about all that had happened in his dream about going to America to stay with his godfather.
In the world outside Philip's dreams Nick Boyle came awake with a start when somebody started talking right by his ear. He sat up, knuckling his eyes, to stare at the funny Irish kid. "Hey!!": He demanded, not at all pleased to find he'd been lied to. "Daddy said you didn' talt!"
The other kid didn't answer him. He just wandered out of the bedroom talking away to the air. His words were so funny sounding Nick didn't understand half of it but he climbed off the bed and gamely followed, Wally Gator clutched close, to see what would happen.
When they had been walking all over the old house for the longest time and nothing happened but the strange boy talking to the air Nick started to get cross. He'd been up and down more stairs than any house should have and his legs were getting tired. He stomped his feet and sat down in the middle of the hall. He'd had enough of this. "How tum you're taltin' ta your fols? They're dead. My Daddy said so!"
Philip never even heard him. He just kept walking. Making plans with his Da to go watch the boats come in to Belfast Harbor at the end of the day. He was happy just to be home again, the strange dream of a life without his Da and Ma and Michael was scary and he wished it wouldn't come so often. It was fun to be with his godfather in the dream though. He looked up at his father as they walked down the hill by the church, forgetful of his footing for the moment. "Da? Can Derek come visit sometime?"
Nick scowled at the funny question, starting to lose his temper. "STOP IT!" He yelled, almost ready to try and find his way back to the bedroom alone when Philip lost his balance near the foot of the stairs. He made quite a racket the rest of the way down.
The small ceremonial casket Jonathan had brought back from Kenya had been a disappointment. Once the seal was broken it was found to be empty of anything but a fine dust, any scrolls placed in the container for use, presumably, in the afterlife had disintegrated long ago from a fault in the wood that allowed contaminants to enter the vessel. It was intriguing in it's similarity to artifacts found far to the north on the edge of the Egyptian Empire. Nothing like it had ever turned up so far south to their knowledge. They carefully placed the vessel in a glass case before retreating to the study to argue about the implications of the find.
In the quiet confines of Derek's study the shout and banging sound from the hall was loud enough to draw the two men out of their drinks and their argument about cultural contamination versus spontaneous invention in the early world. They hurried into the hall to find Philip sitting at the foot of the main staircase just beginning to cry at his painful awakening.
Derek went down on his knees and gathered the boy into his arms. "You're all right now. I have you, Philip." He held the child a little away from him, searching for injuries when Jonathan pulled the boy away and set him on his feet.
"Relax, Derek. I've had a little more experience at this than you have. Let's see what we've got here." He gently probed Philip's head and torso, moving all the limbs to make sure nothing was broken and watching Philip's eyes for the pain that would tell him something was wrong. "I've got three kids. One of them accident prone. He's just bruised and scared, I think he just slid down from a few steps up."
Philip moved back into his godfather's arms, shaking from the shock of the sudden transition from his dream world, as Jonathan's eyes were drawn to the small figure just easing down the last step, Wally Gator held before him like a shield. He stood looming over the child, little doubt in his mind what had just happened. He'd heard the anger in Nick's voice just before Philip's tumble. He grabbed hold of Nick's shoulder, hurting with his grip, and demanded, "Why did you push him?"
Nick could only stare, too frozen to cry, at his father's angry eyes. He could smell the alcohol on his father's breath and knew nothing he said would stop what was about to happen. He knew he'd been bad and deserved to be punished. He broke the promise he had made on the boat. Now Derek thought he was bad and Daddy would probably lose his job and it would be all his fault! His eyes moved to Philip, hoping the bigger boy would tell what had really happened. Maybe they'd believe him. Maybe.
Philip's face was buried against Derek's shirt. His tears were more from the hurt in his heart than from the hurt of his fall. It had all seemed so real! He didn't understand why he was in the entry hall or why Mr. Boyle was yelling at his little boy. He only wanted his parents back.
Derek stroked the back of the child shivering in his arms and stood up to carry Philip into the living room where he could sit down with him, leaving Jonathan alone to deal with his child, too concerned for his own little one to see the terror in Nick's eyes. Jonathan followed him still gripping the little shoulder painfully tight. There would be a dark bruise there by bedtime.
"I'm really sorry Derek, but I did warn you he could be a regular monster sometimes. I think we'd better just go and give you a chance to settle Philip back down before any of the others get here." Jonathan fought hard not to let his anger show in his voice. He'd deal with Nick later, right now he had to make this man who was going to be his boss soon enough understand how sorry he was for what the kid had done.
"I think that would be wise." Derek agreed, deeply disappointed that his idea had caused his child such pain.
Philip heard that disappointment and looked up, afraid that he had done something terrible again. The first thing he saw was the raw fear in Nick's face. Philip felt like he'd just been hit hard in the chest by a ball in the schoolyard. There wasn't even breath in him to cry a protest. He didn't know what had happened but he could tell the little one was being blamed for it. Tha's no right! Forgetting his own fears Philip pulled loose from Derek's arms and climbed down to throw one arm over Nick's shoulder.
"No." Philip hoped desperately that Derek really did love him as much as he said. That he wouldn't be punished for talking back like a bad boy. He couldn't just watch while a little one was frightened so, whatever he had done!
It was only one small word but it was more than any adult had heard Philip say in over two months. Derek was almost afraid to look at Philip. The doctor had said not to make a scene when Philip finally spoke. They didn't want to scare him and make him any more self-conscious than he already was. He looked hopefully at Jonathan, his eyes pleading for the other man to let the boy have this thing that he wanted badly enough to break his silence and ask for.
Jonathan let go of Nick and crouched down to Philip's eye level, his voice grown gentle. "No? Well I suppose if you aren't gonna hold a grudge we can't. You guys slept til nearly five. What say we get you an early dinner and you two find something quiet to play upstairs before Professor Washburn and the others arrive to get ready for the party?"
Philip nodded slightly, grown shy again at his own daring. He peeked sidelong at Derek to see if he was mad. His godfather smiled at him, eyes shining with a love Philip had only seen in his parents' eyes. He smiled back and took hold of Derek's hand for the walk to the kitchen, keeping hold of his new little friend with his other hand. For his part Nick hung on tight not quite believing he was safe yet. Philip had made a friend for life with that one word that saved Nick a beating when he got home.
By the time the party was in full swing Jonathan Boyle wished Philip had remained silent just a little while longer. Derek had been bursting with his good news and had repeated the story to each member of the Legacy House as they arrived. The look in the professor's eyes had been hard and contemplative as he joked that Philip must be a crusader for the underdog.
So it was no surprise when the old man spoke up at his elbow later in the evening. "Jonathan I'd like to see you in the library please." It was clearly an order not a request as Washburn turned and walked out of the room without waiting for a response.
Once they were alone Washburn rounded on him. "Do you want to explain to me why Philip felt such a strong need to protect Nick?"
"He's a sensitive kid. Who knows, maybe he felt it was his fault Nick was in trouble." Jonathan paced to the far side of the long study table, wanting to put some space between himself and his superior.
"Bull! I was just upstairs to say hello to the kids." He focused coldly on the man, wanting to see his reaction. "Molly, from the kitchen, had the pair of them in the tub getting washed up for bed. Nick had an awful lot of black and blue marks and bandages on him if you ask me."
Jonathan met his precept's eyes nervously, starting to sweat. "He fell this morning like I told you."
"There's a handprint on him, Jon! Did he get that in a fall?"
"He pushed Philip down the stairs! I was just trying to keep a hold on him so he wouldn't take off. He's a pretty strong little kid you know." He was getting angry now but stayed where he was, a little guilty at his own fear of this old man who had such power over him. "What do you know about it anyway? You don't have any kids."
"You're wrong there. Who do you think mostly raised Derek when his father was too obsessed with those damn sepulchers to see his son's heart withering away from neglect?" Washburn remembered how wistful Derek had been as a child always hanging on the edge of things hoping to be noticed. The Legacy was founded on protection of the innocent. To Washburn that job wasn't being done as long as the Legacy was allowing it's children to be brutalized in each new generation. He remembered Jonathan as a child too.
"Nick is only three. You're thirty-seven. There are better ways to deal with him than the ones your father used to deal with you." The professor no longer had the heart to yell at the man. This one had been yelled at enough in his life. That was part of the problem. Derek was breaking that brutal cycle with Philip if only Jonathan would learn something from his friend before he destroyed his own son the way his father had done to him. "Grow up Jon. Don't make your kids keep paying for your own lousy childhood. Don't make me take them away from you."
Jonathan sank heavily into the chair as the professor left wishing he'd stayed home with the kids this weekend like he'd planned. God I need a drink.