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The Return of Shamus
Derek looked up at the main computer screen, his expression one of surprise when he met Phillip Callahan's somber expression.
"Well, hello Phillip," he greeted the younger man "I thought you would be here by now. I was just checking on your flight arrival."
The hologram entryway sounded behind the Precept and Derek knew, just by looking at the sudden shift in Phillip's countenance that Sara Logan was one of the people that had entered.
"To what do I owe this honor?" he asked, hearing the team stop behind him.
"Phillip!" Sara was the first in the group to greet the priest, only to frown and ask cautiously, "What is it?"
Phillip looked at them, at Sara and frowned. There was never a time that he could remember that the woman hadn't been able to pin down his mood. Now was no exception.
"It's," he admitted with some difficulty as he quickly slipped Rachel a look "Shamus Bloom."
Rachel gasped and took a 1/2 step back. She numbly accepted the hand Sara immediately slipped into hers.
"What about him?" Nick asked with a protective frown.
The team fell silent as the emotional shock wave hit them.
It was Derek, a full minute later and not in his usual all-calm/somber tone, that spoke next.
"Are you sure?"
The priest nodded, his dark eyes, even through vid-cam, showing the effects of his own personal meeting with the demon.
"Aye," he told them unwillingly "I'm positive. He - came to me."
Sara mentally shook herself and really looked at him, seeing the new tenseness about his eyes and mouth "Are you okay?"
He just looked at her, telling her more with that look that he could in words that, whatever it was that happened between the priest and demon, Phillip was still shaken up.
Then, he blinked at looked at the others, "He - told me that he had been sent back to break us, to destroy the San Francisco House."
"Then why," Alex found herself asking the question as she held onto Rachel's other hand "hasn't he come here?"
"Because," Rachel answered the question quietly, "It will hurt us more to return to Ireland to battle him."
No one said anything to discount what she said -- her words rang true.
"Well then," Derek cleared his throat and regained his composure "We'll be there shortly. And Phillip?"
The priest lifted a weary brow.
The young man ended the transmission.
Derek made a fist, his arm on the computer console. He counted to ten, tempering his reaction, and then turned to his team.
"I would understand," he told them solemnly "and not hold it against you if you don't go. Especially you, Rachel."
Rachel looked at him, her expression determined "I'm going."
The others took a step toward her, closing ranks as well as giving them her support.
Derek understood, but he had to point out a very real concern and knew Rachel would not like.
"But what about Kat?" he asked, "I feel you're right to go. You know Shamus will be going after you and you would be better protected staying together with us, but wouldn't Kat also be better protected as well?"
Rachel swallowed the first, instinctive cry of 'no' and thought about it.
"Yes," she whispered, hating the fact Kat would have to be subjected to it all again "She would be safer with us."
Derek met her gaze, his own apologetic "I'm sorry, Rachel."
Rachel straightened and took a deep fortifying breath "I'll go pick her up from school."
Alex offered to go with her and, after conferring and agreeing on a take-off time, they left.
Derek looked at the other two and then silently turned back to the computer. He had to make arrangements for their stay in Ireland, and he knew just the place that would insure their solidarity as well as the safety of the Irish people.
Sara and Nick went to pack and get the helicopter ready.
They approached the landing field next to the old castle.
Nick watched as, having given the lead on flying them for this mission, Sara guided the chopper to its point and landed. He had been teaching her how to fly the helicopter and had known she could handle it-- it was the tight expression she wore as she looked at the old but well-kept building that drew his attention.
The others were distracted with unfastening their belts and answering Kat's stream of questions. He looked at the building she was now looking at and then back at her, his words more of a statement than a question; "You've been here before."
She looked at him with a sad smile and began shutting down the engine. She had been there before - right after Julia's death to be exact. She cleared her throat and told him as much as well as, "Mickey was nice enough to let me stay here while -"
Nick reached over and squeezed her hand. She didn't need to say it. He could see the remembered pain in her gaze. Damn, none of them wanted to be there. He figured the only thing - other than the obvious of having to stop Shamus that made it bearable - was that Sara would see an old friend.
Sara smiled softly and squeezed his hand back before, reluctantly, letting go and turning to the others, "Okay, ladies and gentlemen, we're here. Watch your step and thank you for flying Logan's Air."
The others chuckled, as she had intended for them to do, and opened the door to get out.
Nick got out on his side and went around to help the ladies down.
Sara just sat there and stared at the place that had been her home for a year, trying to somehow come to terms of her return and that - Shamus of all people - had been her reason for returning.
"Okay," Nick opened her door when the others had been deposited to the ground and already on their way to meet their host "You're turn, Hotshot."
She grabbed a hold of his hand and hopped down, grinning impishly, "Hotshot, eh? Cool."
He chuckled and touched her cheek, only to inhale slowly as the touch became something more.
She ducked her head with a nervous laugh and turned to get the small duffel bag she had stored underneath her seat, "Better not keep Mickey waiting, being Irish and all."
Nick swallowed and ran the pad of his thumb over the fingertips that had grazed her cheek. If he wasn't careful, he was going to embarrass himself -- and totally screw up his friendship with her. He had to get his emotions in check -- and keep them there.
He went and caught up with the others.
"Sara!" Daniel McInnis' red-peppered beard split as he grinned and held his arms out to her "How've ya been lass? Yer a sight fer sore eyes! Even mer beautiful then I remember."
Sara hugged him and chuckled at his overstatement "Fine, Mickey. I see you're still full of blarney."
She then looked at the house with a small frown, "Where's Phillip? I thought he would be here."
"Ach,lass," McInnis nodded to the front double doors "He is. He's in th' main study hall. Ye should go in an' talk te him."
Sara looked at the others and then left to do just that. They had discussed it on the ride over and they all had felt Phillip would open up to her about what had happened to him before he would anyone else.
Nick watched her go and then looked at Derek, "I'm gonna go ahead and lock 'er down and unload the equipment."
Derek nodded and McInnis pointed back to the house, "I cleared ye some space fer yer contraptions. Ye'll see the doors open on yer right when ye enter."
Nick nodded and went to work.
McInnis chuckled at the ladies and Kat, giving Derek a mock-lecherous grin, "An we kin give these lovely ladies a tour of me home."
Phillip watched her from the front window as she approached and then entered the front double doors.
He turned toward the doorway to the sitting room as, seconds later, it opened and Sara entered.
He inhaled slowly and met her concerned gaze. The images of what he had seen in the confessional began to invade his thoughts.
His breath caught as he turned away, ashamed. He squeezed his eyes closed and clenched his fists at his sides.
He almost jumped out of his skin when she touched him.
"What did he do, Flip?" she asked him gently "Tell me."
He swallowed hard and told her, albeit brokenly because of the shame he felt, "He - he saw us, Sara. On - Angel Island -"
He shook as he remembered the things Shamus had said, at what Phillip had felt and seen.
Sara hugged him, not knowing what else to do. It was obvious he was in pain and struggling with whatever Shamus had done to him.
"I wa' in th' chapel." Phillip found his voice and started to tell her what had happened, "An' heard th' confessional door shut. I - I went te' hear the confession - and I' was him!"
"I couldnae move." He whispered, finding himself returning, no, holding Sara as a kind of anchor as he went on "He laugh'd an' then asked me --."
He had to swallow, and touched her forehead with his own as he admitted roughly, "I reacted to tha' kiss, Sara. An' he knew wh' I wa' thinkin'. He knew I ha' found pleasure in it! I'm sorry, Sara!"
She sighed and moved to place her cheek on his shoulder, "Oh, Flip. I was possessed by a freggin' succubus. The Pope would have found pleasure in it!"
Phillip's jaw clenched, and his tone was low as he stressed, "But it was you, Sara!"
"And you're letting him get the best of you because of it, Flip. You are way too hard on yourself!"
He watched as she turned and plopped down in the nearest chair, a disgruntled look on her face.
"Sara -" he started, going to kneel in front of her.
She looked at him with pursed lips and then asked, "So I'm supposed to feel guilty now, right? Making my best friend, who just happens to be a Priest, lust after me because I was possessed by a demon lover?"
"No! Of course not!"
"Well, you do and it was me who kissed you, not the other way around. And," she admitted slyly, "It wasn't as if you jumped me afterward or anything. Jeesh, Flip, it was a kiss -- and don't give me that 'I'm - a - priest' line either! You didn't do anything wrong!"
"Bu' it was you!" he whispered in horror, unable to look in the eye. The images flashed again in his mind's eye and he squeezed his closed.
Sara touched his cheek, "Open your eyes, Phillip."
He did. She never called him by his Christian name.
"You can relax, Padre." She gave him a sympathetic smile "I'm not going to run from the room in a panic just because you're human and neither is God. No matter what Shamus put into your head, you regret it you can ask forgiveness. Isn't that what you're always telling me? Have repentance in your heart and God'll forgive you of anything."
"And anyway," she finished with a mock flip of her hair "I don't think I look that bad."
He actually chuckled and sat down on the floor, laying his head on her knee. He believed her. They both felt the weight of his guilt fall off of his shoulders as he exhaled and breathed a small prayer.
"You see?" she kissed him on the crown of his head when he was done "Just remind Shamus of who you really work for. It gets him every time."
Phillip chuckled and she grinned.
The images began to fade.
Derek and the others walked in almost an hour later. Everything was set up record time and the trio had already begun the research process, and Phillip looked much more at each. The latter was walking back and forth next to the large oak table the equipment had been fixed up on reading from an old ledger .McInnis' old journal if Derek saw correctly .and the other two were busy typing on their separate laptops. Derek was impressed.
Kat went over to Phillip and hugged him tight.
The priest returned the hug and watched with a humorous expression as the growing-up girl went to sit in a chair next to Sara.
"What're ya doing?" Kat asked both Sara and Nick, noting with a curious expression that there was a cable joining their different laptops before another cable went somewhere beneath the table.
"Hm," Derek added as the others also sat in the chairs surrounding the table "And what do you have?"
Both Sara and Nick looked and winked at Kat, but it was Nick that answered, pointing to Kat with her answer and then pointing to Derek with his, "Researching the bad guy, and a lot of foot work."
Derek chuckled and sat back with a nod at the three "Then why don't you start on that end of things. We can take over here."
The trio looked at each, with Sara giving Kat a wink.
"Okay." both men shrugged.
"But," Nick added as he stood "I would like to get a quick look around before we go."
"That would be my queue" Sara mock-whispered to Kat before McInnis could tell her "Mickey only does one tour per week."
McInnis laughed and gave her a wide grin and winked, "Ach, ye know me too well."
"And that," Sara teased him as she stood "Is a scary thought indeed, eh?"
"Yer a wicked one, lass." McInnis called after her as she left with the others "Wicked!"
Later that night...
They came in, careful not to make too much noise as not to wake the others. Their search for Shamus Bloom's past had lasted all day and the other Legacy Members had gone on to bed. It was exactly where they were going themselves. The trek had only come up with the usual grade-point-average kind of information.
Sara couldn't help it, she felt disgruntled. She tossed the manila folder full of information they had gotten and rubbed the back of her neck.
Nick put his hand over hers and rubbed the point just below her skull, "We'll find something soon."
She sighed and leaned her head forward, unable to stop the thought from whispering in her head, Yeah, but will it be too late?
"Come on." Nick guided her into the study and sat her down. She was tense, worried and her shoulders were stiffer than hell.
He had called the others and had told them that they, Phillip, Sara and himself had been hitting dead-ends. He figured they were all suffering a kind of frustration/flight lag.
He remembered Phillip's earlier comment when Nick had talked to Derek about those dead-ends.
"More like brick walls," the priest had sighed "An' at full force."
Nick totally agreed.
He sat back next to Sara and continued rubbing her neck and shoulder. They had been in Ireland for more than 12 hours and no sign of Shamus. Nick did not like that.
"Mmmm " Rachel turned in her sleep, dreaming of the first Christmas she had spent with Patrick, at their cabin.
She smiled in her sleep, seeing Patrick leaning over her, waking her with his kisses
"Hello, honey .."
Her eyes shot open in sudden realization, her eyes filled with terror as she met Shamus' evil glare.
She tried to scream, but Shamus already had his hand over her mouth, stifling any sound she may have wanted to make.
"Wha'?" he asked her with a cold leer, pressing himself into her "Didn't ya miss me?"
She tried to push him off of her, only to moan when he merely laughed and asked her to continue.
She started to shake and closed her eyes.
Oh, God, she prayed, help me!"
Sara was starting to fall asleep, her head lolling toward Nick's shoulder.
She sat bolt upright, startling Nick and Phillip, who had eventually followed them into the study.
They called after her as, reacting to the physic cry, she literally jumped over the couch and ran out of the room and up the stairs.
"Son of a bitch!" She hissed to herself as she took the stairs two at a time and then the hallway at a dead run.
Wood splintered seconds later as she charged the locked bedroom door and through.
Shamus swung up and off of Rachel and roared at the intruder. Then he saw who it was and glowered.
"You bitch!" he started toward her.
Sara stood her ground and went into a fighting stance, "Bring it on!"
Rachel, her mouth no longer uncovered, let loose a long, piercing scream.
Nick and Phillip made it to the door just as Shamus, realizing he would soon be out-numbered and not strong enough to face them all, charged out of the already open window.
Rachel's room was soon filled with every Legacy Member and her daughter and pandemonium.
Rachel looked at Sara, her gaze frightened and still shaken.
Sara nodded once in silent acknowledgment and then turned to Nick, her voice low so Kat wouldn't hear, "Look after her, okay? I'm going to go take Kat -- somewhere -- so Rachel can get herself together."
"Not by yourself, you're not." Nick told her with a scowl.
Sara rolled her eyes and held out her hand, "Then give me your gun and I'll have Phillip go with us."
He took his gun out from the waist of his jeans and gave it to her, "Be careful."
She put it in her own jean waistband and nodded, "We will."
She then walked over to Rachel and held her hand out for Kat, "Come on, kiddo, we're going to let your mom get cleaned up and then come back for a sleep over, okay?"
Kat looked at her mother and then nodded. Nick would watch over Mom and Sara and Phillip would watch over her. She wasn't as afraid anymore as she was when she heard her Mom screaming earlier.
Nick lay on the floor, his gun - Sara having given it to him when he had gathered all of the women in her room to sleep - beneath his pillow.
The girls were up on the king-sized beds and the others, the guys, were asleep in the next room.
"Comfy?" Sara whispered after she crawled out from between Alex and Rachel and went to the foot of the bed. She couldn't sleep. Visions of Rachel getting hurt, Julia's death, and Shamus himself kept running through her head.
She sighed and tiredly returned his grin.
"Comfy pillow." He quipped, Sara having given it to him. He was just as wired and knew he would probably be awake for the rest of the night.
But, that didn't mean she had to.
"You need to get some sleep." He said.
She propped her chin on her arms, "So do you."
"I will - when Derek takes over."
She looked at the door, pursing her lips thoughtfully "I wonder if Flip's awake."
"You're staying here."
She dropped her gaze to his serious expression. What was with him? He wasn't too happy with her idea.
Checking on the others and careful not to wake them, she crawled out of bed and sat on the floor next to him.
"Is it what's happened tonight that has you biting my head off," she whispered humorously "Or what?"
Or what, he thought to himself with a grimace as he turned to his side to look at her. He didn't want her to leave -- especially to go running to Phillip. And, he tacked on to give some kind of reason to his perverse thinking, he didn't want her out of his sights until Shamus had been taken care of. He told her the latter part.
"Ah," she said without conviction, looking toward the door.
"I think," she decided as she started to get up, still keeping her voice a low whisper "I'll go find out. Maybe I can talk him into a game of --ummph!"
Nick grabbed her by the waist and gently flipped her over, making her land on her back beside him and with a startled expression that said she had not expected that move.
"Dont go." He somehow managed to keep his voice low as he held her. Her gaze changed from being startled to being thoughtful and searching.
He felt like she was looking all the way into his confused soul -- and finding something that he couldn't even begin to comprehend.
"I'm sorry. I --" he tried to explain, only to sigh when, just like she had when she had been possessed by Karen, she touched his lips to stop him from speaking.
Except, his body cried as his pulse began to pound, it was all Sara, and he still felt the fire.
"Ssh." She said as her fingers trailed to his cheek and jaw, then to the nape of his neck, drawing him to her.
Their eyes closed as their lips met and then melded. He slanted his mouth over hers and deepened the kiss.
Then he heard someone moan.
Sara heard it too and they pulled apart, getting up to check on Rachel.
The woman was having the beginnings of a nightmare.
Nick sat down on the bed next to her and gently shook her shoulder, "Rachel."
The woman's eyes flew open and a gasp was on her lips. Then she saw the two and looked beside her. Kat lay sleeping right there beside her, Sara's teddy bear in her arms and oblivious to her mother's distress.
"Sorry." Rachel whispered sheepishly, laying her head back down with a heart-felt sigh.
"Nothin' to be sorry about." Nick replied "I was - awake - anyway."
Rachel smiled crookedly and looked at Sara, "You need to get - some sleep."
Sara grinned softly, watching as the older woman's eyes drooped closed and she fell back to sleep.
Nick sat there for a little while longer, so many things running around in his head.
He still wanted Sara-
He was there, in Ireland, where Julia had been killed-
They were facing Shamus - the one that had murdered Julia and even tried to kill Sara -
Rachel and Phillip had already been attacked, in their own ways by Shamus-
And he, Nick, still wanted Sara.
He heard a noise and looked at where the two of them had been laying.
Sara had pulled up a chair and now, with the pillow and his gun on top of it, she looked at him.
"Go take a shower, Nick." She nodded toward the bathroom "It's going to be a long night."
The next morning...
They were just finishing breakfast, Nick having made his flapjacks, when Sara finally came down. The others greeted her and Nick met her gaze.
She looked at the mug sitting beside him and smiled tiredly. She'd bet her bottom dollar that it was French vanilla.
The corners of his lips twitched as she accepted it and practically inhaled the mug's contents.
"Mmm," Rachel pointed her fork in the direction of the bottle sitting next to Sara "Need more syrup, please."
"Heads up." Sara told them as, a familiar act between the ladies, she got the plastic bottle and under-hand tossed it to her.
Rachel caught it easily and grinned at her daughter as she poured some for both of them.
Sara sat on the stool at the island Nick was cooking from and accepted a her own plate of pancakes and another mug of coffee, "Thank you, master chef."
She then looked at Rachel. The woman tossed the bottle back at her and went on eating her breakfast.
"She's feeling better." Nick commented as he brought his own plate over and sat next to her "Are you gonna share that?"
Sara looked at him sideways, fully aware that they had an audience, and handed it over, "Sure. You did, after all, cook for all of us."
"Too bad I couldnt find any chocolate muffins." He said under his breath as he fixed his stack the way he liked it.
Sara picked up the fork and started to eat. "Hmm."
"Yer not goin' te like this." Phillip entered the kitchen just then, carrying the morning paper with him and McInnis following quietly behind.
The priest gave Derek the paper.
The Precept took only seconds to read the story and to pass it around to the others. It ended up at the island with Sara and Nick.
Nick frowned and accepted the paper, automatically reading it at an angle so Sara could also read it.
She set the coffee mug down with a dull clank and looked at Derek "He's killed someone."
McInnis was the one to answer, solemnly, "Aye. T'was an old chum of his too - Teddy Barnett. The paper says he died o' mysterious causes and th' officials are blamin' it on too much liqueur. You see he died beside an old mine so they figured it ha' somethin' te do with it."
"He was feeding." Sara's tone was low as she studied the photo the article gave of the corpse. It was barely recognizable as a human form, all dried up, as if all of the man's moisture had been sucked out of him.
"Yeah," she added thoughtfully as the others listened "I remember seeing the mines in the report too."
Nick nodded and looked at Derek "It's an old mine that struck fool's gold. Has three different tunnels running in it."
Derek looked at the duo, his own gaze thoughtful, "And you think it has relevance to this, that maybe Shamus could be hiding there now."
"Yes." The both said.
"Then I suggest we look." The Precept decided with a look at the rest of the team, and most especially at Kat. Gott, he hated seeing her so worried.
"At least in daylight we have a chance to catch him in stasis or sleep."
The team nodded, as did Kat, and they got up to get ready.
Sara remained behind to put the morning dishes in the sink to soak, her thoughts and stomach churning with the possible consequences their next actions could bring.
She jumped when Nick put his hands on her shoulders and then relaxed.
"Sorry." She mumbled as she turned around.
Nick looked at her, concerned, but not only because of what was about to happen with the mine hunt.
"I'm not going to say I'm sorry for kissing you." He told her when all she did was look at him "Because, I'm not. I just want --"
Sara went into his arms and hugged him. She wasn't sorry either but she also knew they were way too confused right now to make sense of what it was they were beginning to feel for each other.
"Me too." She mumbled into his shirt collar as he returned her hug and caressed her back in a soothing motion "And you don't need chocolate muffins all the time."
Nick shook with silent laughter and held her even closer.
It was going to be okay.
In the foyer...
Kat looked at them with worry. She knew where it was they were going.
Rachel went to her eye level, gaze loving but serious.
"We have to do this, Honey. We have to stop him before he hurts anyone."
Rachel hugged and kissed her daughter and stood, "I love you."
"I love you too." Kat told her before looking at Sara.
Sara returned her gaze, looked at Rachel a little curiously, and then back at Kat.
Rachel was as stumped as the others and just shrugged. It was obvious Kat wanted to speak to the younger woman.
Sara went down on her haunches and met the girls gaze.
It was true, since Sara had first entered the San Francisco Legacy House that she and Kat had been drawn together. She felt the draw even now.
"What is it?" she asked softly, brushing the bangs from Kats eyes as the girl regarded her.
Saras fingers stilled on Kats brow. She heard the words in her mind and smiled. It didnt really surprise her.
She reached up to her own neck and unclasped Julias necklace; a delicate gold chain with a small crucifix Julia had given Sara when they had been younger. It was the last physical link she had to her sister.
"I will." She promised, fastening the necklace around Kats neck.
Kat smiled and touched it; awed that Sara would trust her with it. She knew as well as the others that Sara never took the necklace off.
She felt their link strengthen as she caressed the small cross.
Sara brushed at her bangs stood and grinned. She felt it too.
Phillip, nodding to them with a silent wish for their safety, went to stand behind Kat.
"Well be back soon, Kitty-Kat." She winked at them both before standing.
Kat actually giggled and winked back. Her father used to call her Kitty-Kat. She didnt mind Sara using the pet name at all.
The others waved and call their good-byes as they left.
"I think you just made honorary aunt status." Rachel congratulated the younger woman as they entered the van.
"Yeah," Nick grinned as he got in and scooted over for them to sit down "Welcome to the club."
Derek got in on the drivers side, Alex on the front passengers. Rachel was last to get in and did so to sit beside Sara.
The equipment they needed for their search was packed in the back.
Sara got in and gave Nick a quick look before sitting next to him, "Ohh, comfy."
He didn't mind the close quarters at all and gave her a silent but significant look as she was then pressed to his side to make room for Rachel. His hand itched to settle on her leg.
Oh, man, she thought in total agreement. She wouldn't mind her hand finding it's way to his leg either. She cleared her throat and schooled her features and thoughts. With her luck, She thought wryly, Kat was probably listening in.
Rachel chuckled, settled in and for a different reason, and looked at how crowded they were.
"New aunt and already were joined at the hip."
Sara grinned and started to lean her head back just as, to try and make what room he could, Nick lifted his arm and draped it on the back of the chair and ended up laying it on his arm.
She started to look at him, only to snap her attention to Derek as he spoke.
"We remember the plan, right?" he asked, looking at his team in the rearview mirror all except Alex because she was in the passenger seat and to his left.
Sara felt Nicks arm tense and lifted her head to nod, mumbling an apology to him for bumping his arm.
"Sure," she quipped, directing the answer to their Precept "Alex monitors, the other women stick together, and the men go their merry, lonesome ways being the manly men that they are."
Both men laughed.
"Actually," Derek told her with a good deal of seriousness even though his lips were still twitching from the teasing remark "I want Rachel with you. You seem to be our resident Shamus expert right now and know more about defending yourself against him than the rest of us."
Saras gaze dimmed but she nodded as she accepted her new responsibility. The seriousness of their trip settled about her shoulders.
The others fell silent.
"Were here." Derek told them minutes later, turning on to the dirt road that led immediately to the abandoned mine.
He parked at the mines opening and turned off the ignition. Because it was daylight, they didn't need the headlights.
The others got out and went to the back of the van.
Nick opened the doors and, as soon as Derek joined them, passed out the supplies. He was passing out the halogen lamps when he looked at Sara and tilted his chin toward the extra gym bag he had packed.
Sara went and unzipped it, easily and efficiently taking each piece and snapping them together.
When she was finished she had two 9mms loaded, safeties on, and 2 locked and loaded Stoner 63 A's.
She was still holding one of the latter ones when she noticed the others had stopped to stare at her all except Nick who grinned proudly.
"I see, er, Nicks influenced you some." Rachels lips twitched as she studied what the woman had done.
Sara grinned and wiggled her eyebrows "Hooyahh."
"Oh, Gott," Derek breathed in mock horror "Next thing we know, shell be drag racing the Mustang."
Alex and Rachel laughed, Alex handing out then trim headsets/microphones they would use to keep in contact.
Sara rolled her eyes. Nick, let someone drive the Stag? Derek had to be cracked!
"And anyway," she completed her thought aloud as she accepted the headphones, one-handed, and slipped them on "All of you have had influenced me. I call it my six-step-beat-the-demon-program."
"Oh this," Alex chuckled as she climbed into the van and flipped on the sound/tracking equipment "I have got to hear. Give me a voice check."
Sara handed Nick the gun she was holding and picked up a 9mm "Okay. Step One: Study the in obvious and perceive the obvious, a.k.a. Derek. Step two: research the hell out of it - pun intended - a.k.a. Alex. Step three: try to reason with it, a.k.a. Rachel. Step Four: if it gets ugly, try and beat the hell out of it and then shoot it full of holes, a.k.a. Nick. Step Five: if for some reason the thing is still standing, grab the holy water and give it a bath, a.k.a. Phillip."
They were ready to go in, Rachel with the halogen lamps they would need further down the tunnel, and Nick and Derek with their own lights, and armament."
Derek looked at Sara with a lifted brow, taking his voice-check.
"Testing," he spoke into the small microphone at his mouth "And what prey tell is the a.k.a. Sara?"
"Oh, I can answer that one." Nick drawled, tapping the microphone and taking his own voice-check.
Alex shook her head and turned back to the read-outs she was receiving.
"Our dear, sweet Sara here wouldn't drink her morning coffee," he teased her "and then face it."
Sara chuckled low in her throat and pulled the chamber to the 9mm back with a mock-threatening growl.
Nick actually took a step to his left, grinning as Derek was then standing between them.
The teasing banter than stopped between them, in a unified moment of silence.
Derek looked at his team and nodded once, "Let's go."
Alex began tracking them and Derek started toward the mine's opening, Rachel behind him.
Sara gave Nick the second gun, their finger grazing each other as he took it.
Their gazes locked.
"Be careful." Sara told him, letting go and taking a step back.
"You too." He murmured in return before, with a quick look at Alex to see if she were watching and reluctantly breaking the gaze.
They then turned and joined the others.
"Okay, ladies and gents," they heard Alex's voice sound in their ears "I've got you in my sights. Good luck."
They went into the mouth of the mine and then to their designated tunnels.
"And," she added as an after thought "Hooyahh."
The others smiled and returned the soft Seal call. Alex looked at the mine's opening and saw that they had already entered. She prayed a little prayer that this mission would go off without a hitch or anyone getting hurt.
Back at the Castle...
"Okay, Kat," Phillip smiled at the girl as she hopped back into Sara's bed "Don't ye think ye should -- ?"
"I'm still tired, Flip." Kat returned his smile and snuggled down into the comforter "And I want to hang out in here. Please?"
She was still holding the teddy bear Nick had won for Sara months ago and tracing the small crucifix Sara had given her to wear.
Looking at her Phillip knew he wouldn't be telling her 'no' -- and that yet another adorable female had tagged him with the nickname that used to drive him mad. All in all, he mentally shrugged another one that had tied him around their pinkie finger.
He also noted Kat was feeling a healthy dose of hero worship for the one that had started the 'nick'.
Kat had good taste.
He closed the door and headed toward the make-ready control room and a chess game McInnis had waiting for him.
At the mine...
They had been traversing the old mine shafts for a good hour, periodically checking in with Alex as they went.
Sara looked at Rachel and noticed the woman's tight but intent expression as she moved the halogen lamp along their path.
It was Sara's turn to check in with Alex.
She kept her gaze on their surroundings.
"So far, so quiet." She reported, also concentrating on that sense that had served her well against Shamus in the past "Maybe he's not --"
The line suddenly filled with static and then cleared, but not with any of the Legacy team's voices.
"And maybe," Shamus hissed "he is! Hello, Sara."
Her senses exploded and, already moving her gun in the direction she knew he would be, Rachel's light caught Shamus' form.
He stood no more than ten feet away, eyes flaring red and face eaten away by the nest of maggots still climbing over his rotted flesh.
He opened his mouth and let loose a wave of demon fire.
Rachel screamed and dropped the lamp.
"Sara!" Nick's yell was drowned out by the sounds of the sharp staccato of gunshots as Sara opened fire.
Shamus charged them and, making sure Rachel was safe before she did anything else, she pushed the woman aside and then faced him.
Shamus was almost on top of them. She released the now empty clip and jammed another one home, barely hesitating as she again opened fire on him.
Shamus howled in both pain and rage as he slammed into her and sent her crashing into the mine's wall and its old support beam.
His eyes once again flashed as she slumped limply to the floor.
The ceiling of the mineshaft began to crumble about them.
Shamus growled as he looked at the coming destruction.
Sara moaned and struggled to her feet, the gun once again aimed at him.
"Bitch!" the demon hissed before, knowing the others were on the way and that it was not yet time; it left in a flash of demon fire.
Sara had made it halfway up and ended up falling toward Rachel's already extended hand.
Rachel unharmed for the most part, scrambled up and over to help Sara stand.
The ceiling started to fall in earnest.
Rachel caught sight of the guys - of Nick's frantic gaze and movements as he charged ahead to get to them - and of Derek who was further behind.
Nick stopped at Sara. Her head had been cut open and was bleeding!
"Get -- Rachel!" Sara managed to growl as she struggled the rest of the way up "Hurry!"
Derek caught up to them and took Rachel.
"I'm not leaving you." Nick growled right back, literally scooping her up and into his arms and turning to the others "Hurry- it's coming down!"
The men ran through the tunnel, the rocks and debris falling all about them. Nick flinched when an especially large stone struck him on the side of the face, but other than that, he ignored it and used himself to cover Sara as they ran out of the mines.
The fear he had experienced when he had first heard Shamus still spurred him on. He was still shaking.
The mine began to groan.
They made it to the opening and dived.
Sara choked off a cry of pain as they hit the ground and rolled. Nick took the brunt of the blow before they stopped several feet away and in a pile of bushes.
They heard the others' frantic cries as they called out to each other.
Nick raised up to his elbows and looked down into Sara's pain-filled gaze.
She saw blood on his temple and reached up to touch it tentatively, her voice a bare whisper "You're hurt."
He looked at her for a long moment, all the emotions crashing together before his mouth swooped down and took hers in an almost brutal kiss. He had been as scared as hell that he had almost lost her!
"Sara!" Derek and the others called out to them frantically, unable to find them. "Nick!"
It was the calls and the sudden screams of terror that made them jerk apart.
"Why can't you just DIE?!?" Shamus' disembodied voice yelled at them as Sara and Nick charged toward their teammates.
Nick ran toward the others as a dark red/white aura began to surround them.
Sara heard their cries, as the aura seemed to burn them and shouted at the demon.
"Shamus, you bastard!" she drew the demon's enraged attention "You can't do a damned thing right!"
His body, still unseen but the aura glowing and even angrier red, turned to her.
"NOOooo!" Nick yelled as her body stiffened from the aura/Shamus' attack.
"You are a thorn in my side, Bitch!" Shamus screeched before he noticed what was missing "Where's your sister's cross?"
The area where her necklace usually lay began to burn, making her gasp in pain.
She squeezed her eyes closed as Shamus laughed evilly. The others were too far away to help her and Nick was already charging toward them.
Red-hot light exploded behind her eyelids and her gaze shot open as she Saw what Shamus planned.
"You leave her alone you son of a bitch!" she screamed as his laughter grew louder.
She grabbed the back of her neck and fell to one knee.
Just as suddenly as the attack happened, Shamus was gone.
Nick's hands grasped her by the shoulders as he finally reached her.
There were tears in her eyes as she scrambled up and pulled him with her.
"We've got to get back to the house -- NOW!"
Back at the castle...
Kat sat bolt upright and looked around fearfully. She clutched the bear to her and hopped off of the bed. She had actually fallen asleep.
"Phillip?" she went out into the hall, her voice tremulous. She touched Sara's cross and started toward the stairs. Sara wouldn't be afraid.
She was halfway down the stairs when, suddenly and viscously, the front doors crashed open
She squealed and squeezed the teddy bear even harder.
"Phillip!" she cried out, the house suddenly filled with cruel laughter.
Both McInnis and Phillip rushed out of the study, gazes frantic.
Phillip saw her, called out her name, and started toward her.
Shamus' flesh-eaten, bullet-ridden form appeared in the doorway.
"I don't think so, Padre." He growled with a negligent wave of his hand.
Phillip was picked up and slammed back into the room by an invisible force.
McInnis growled and charged the demon.
Shamus made it 1/2 way to the stairs before he caught the Irishman easily by the throat.
He lifted the man, one-handed, and then turned to the girl "Come here, Katherine."
Kat shook her head, starting to take a step back.
Shamus tightened his hold on the man he held. Sara's friend.
"Come - here!" he repeated himself as McInnis began to sputter.
Kat approached him.
"What do you want?" she asked with only the barest tremor in her voice.
Shamus reached and snatched Sara's necklace.
"No!" Kat cried out in horror.
Shamus grinned cruelly.
"Tell her I'm not finished yet." He chuckled with a growl as he shoved the necklace in his coat pocket "I WILL destroy the House -- and I owe Sara Logan a big one!"
Kat began to shake in fear as well as anger.
"She'll beat you!" she yelled at the demon "Just like last time! You can't hurt her!"
Shamus hauled off and threw McInnis into the same room as Phillip, enraged by the girl's charge.
Tires squealed outside.
"You tell her what I said!" Shamus growled at her before, with the same aura of red fire he turned and vanished.
"Kat! Phillip!" the Legacy members' cries sounded from outside "McInnis/Mickey!"
Both Rachel and Sara charged through the still-opened front doors, their gazes frantic.
"Mom!" Kat ran down the stairs and toward them "Oh, Sara!"
She hugged them both, tears running down her cheeks.
Derek and the others passed them and went to go check on the others.
Rachel dropped to her knees and hugged her daughter "Are you okay?"
"Yeah - oh, Sara -- I'm sorry!!"
Sara had been glancing in the others' direction, worried about Phillip and Mickey. Now she looked at Kat's tearful expression.
"What, hon?" she asked, only to have Kat throw herself at her and despite her body's protests and injuries picked the girl up and held her "Sssh, it's okay Kit-Kat. Really."
But Kat wasn't listening and started to really shake, her tears trailing down her cheeks and onto Sara's torn shirt full force.
"I lost it! I- it's gone!" Kat cried into her shoulder "You're necklace. He took it!"
Sara frowned but comforted her. Why would Shamus take the necklace? She remembered how her neck had burned and brushed Kat's hair aside.
It was also burned.
The others, with a still wobbly Phillip and McInnis, exited what remained of the room.
"It's okay, Sweetie." Sara told Kat, gently lifting her head to meet her gaze "Look at me, Kat."
She did, her lips trembling.
"All I'm worried about is you, okay? Forget about the necklace. Did he hurt you?"
Kat touched the welt about her neck and saw that Sara had one as well.
"No." she frowned "He didn't hurt me."
Then she saw the injuries
and asked Sara to let her down. She hugged the bear to
Sara lifted a brow "You did what?"
"She yelled a' th' bast' er," Phillip concurred before correcting his language with an apologetic look at Rachel and Kat "Shamus."
"I told him you'd beat him and that he couldn't hurt you anymore." Kat elaborated, still miffed.
Sara sighed and looked at the others, then met Kat's determined and sure gaze.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence." She smiled lopsidedly and beginning to feel the physical pain Shamus had inflicted on her "But right now I'm going to ask your mom to look us over."
It was Sara, McInnis, Phillip, and Nick that needed the immediate attention so Alex and Derek offered to start the clean up in the make-ready/study.
Rachel took her charges and daughter into the formal living room.
"Come on, Kid." Rachel put her arm around Kat's shoulder as the went "You can help me."
For a reason they couldn't fathom, they knew they had, at least, a few hours before Shamus would return to them. They would heal and regain their strength in that time. A few hours reprieve.
"You haven't slept." Nick whispered to her, as he stared up at the ceiling.
They had all ended up crashing in the formal sitting room, each on different couches and makeshift chairs/foot stools.
Because Rachel had had to tape an ugly gash on Sara's left hip, Sara had gotten the main couch. Nick had taken his self-appointed post on the floor in front of her.
His gun was out and lying on his stomach. He had spent the past four hours listening to her breathing -- and remembering those kisses.
She turned her head and looked at him, "You haven't either.
"And," she added wryly "That line sounds vaguely familiar."
"You know," she said after a slight pause, almost sympathetically "We could always chalk it up to being in danger."
Nick looked at her, his gaze earnest; "I don't want to."
Sara swallowed and lowered her gaze. Then, because she had to - she had to know, she looked back at him, searched his gaze.
"Do you?" he asked, his voice an almost whisper. What if she did want to chalk it up to an adrenaline rush?
Now it was Nick's gaze filled with uncertainty.
Another pause and then, almost hesitantly, Sara whispered a question of her own.
"Why did you kiss me, Nick?"
He reached out and touched her cheek.
"Because," he told her honestly "I was so scared that I had lost you. It still scares the hell out of me when I think about it."
"And this scares me." He admitted "What I'm feeling right now. I don't want to lose you."
Sara smiled softly; refusing to show the sadness his words brought her. He wasn't ready. Not yet.
She put her hand over his and gently kissed his palm.
She stiffened and started to whirl around
The room once again filled with the evil light that was Shamus' presence, a sudden gust of wind blowing all about them as Nick and the other Legacy members made it to their feet.
Sara actually flinched when the front doors once again slammed open; sudden rainstorm lighting up the still nighttime sky and rain pouring into the foyer as the strong wind blew it in.
"Oh, God, no." she moaned low in her throat, almost desperately.
Dear God, she prayed, not again.
Shamus chuckled and held up the necklace that Julia had given her.
"Sara?" she barely heard Nick's concerned tone - or the other's behind him.
She just knew what she'd see -- and turned her stunned gaze back toward the doors.
"Oh, my Gott!" Derek breathed in horror, as he too became aware of what - whom - happening.
Julia Walker, dressed, as she had been four years ago and soaked to the skin, met her sister's stricken gaze from across the room, her own eyes filled with confusion and even fear.
"Sara?" Julia asked in a small voice. Even she knew she wasn't supposed to be there.
Sara looked at where Shamus was supposed to be, her knees -- her whole being -- shaking with what he had done.
Shamus -- and the storm were gone.
She looked back at Julia and had to lock her knees before she passed out.
Julia looked between her and Nick, her gaze sad.
Sara became aware of Nick's hold on her waist, barely there but enough to support her if she needed it.
She stepped away from him and, not meeting his gaze, walked toward Julia.
Shamus, outside and unseen, smiled with evil delight as he stepped away from the window.
The bitch's weakness had been re-discovered, recreated.
He had enough time to regain his strength.
He looked down at the necklace in his hand and then grinned, putting it safely in his coat pocket as he left.
Soon, bitch, he thought maliciously, soon. The San Francisco House will be mine!
Sara looked into her sister's blue gaze and with a steadier hand than she gave herself credit for, she reached out and touched her dark, almost black hair.
Julia smiled tremulously and raised her own hand up to touch Sara's sun-kissed cheek.
"Night and Day." Julia repeated the old adage that had described their physical traits to a 'T'.
It had also been their own personal joke and Sara gave her a wobbly smile as she finished it "But we both say tomato (toe-may-toe)."
And then it happened, as gentle as it had always been but just as strong, the link reformed between them.
The women blinked as each felt the psychic bond materialized.
Sara turned toward the stairs, looping her arm through her sister's.
"Let's go get changed." She said before looking at the still-silent group "We'll be back in a few."
Nick tucked his gun into the waistband of his sweatpants and looked at Derek. Send me with them, he silently urged him.
Derek nodded "Go. Shamus is still loose out there, somewhere."
Yeah, Nick thought as he left to catch up to the women, that too.
Julia entered Sara's room and looked around. She knew this had been the place her sister had stayed after her death.
Nick stood off to the side, silently watching them.
Sara went around her and opened the chest at the end of her bed, pulling out a pair of jeans and a sweater.
Julia went to her and accepted it, going into the bathroom to shower and change.
Sara watched the door close and closed the chest. She was alone with Nick.
She inhaled deeply and slowly turned to him.
He was already standing behind her and she actually flinched when she realized it. She started to take a step back and ended up losing her balance as the back of her legs connected with the chest.
Nick caught her before she fell and inhaled sharply when the same familiar heat leapt between them.
Sara pulled away from him and the damned chest. She was shaking all over again.
"Don't." Nick choked out raggedly "Damn it Sara -"
She whirled on him, her gaze stricken "Don't what, Nick? I don't know what else to do! I'm scared!"
She wasn't the only one!
"Let me hold you." He said, his gaze pleading with her "I need to hold you. Sara, I --"
She was his friend above all else and she cared too much for him and knew he was just as lost as she was.
She swallowed her own insecurities and fear and stepped into his arms and held him.
Nick shuddered and pulled her close.
Oh, God, he wondered, What was he going to do? It was no mystery he loved Julia -- but the way he felt for Sara --
"I'm scared too." He whispered into her hair, just as Julia opened the door and came out.
She saw them and started to smile -- and then choke.
"Reunion's over!" Shamus' voice suddenly boomed all about them.
Sara looked over at Julia and cried out her name.
Shamus was there -- his hand around her sister's throat -- grinning evilly at the couple that stared back.
Everything in the room began to shake.
Both Sara and Nick started to charge the demon -- just as every glass and window imploded on them.
Nick had just enough time to push himself on top of Sara as they hit the floor before shards of glass cut into his back and arms.
"Nick!" Julia cried out when she saw the blood beneath his torn T-shirt.
Shamus pulled her to the nearest window and growled at the two that were already getting back up.
"You know where to find us!" he snarled before he leapt, taking Julia with him.
"NO!!" both Sara and Nick yelled as they ran toward the window.
There was nothing -- and no one -- on the ground below.
Sara looked up as the lightening and rain began again.
She could feel Julia's terror.
It was happening all over again.
In the field, moments later...
"You won't win, Shamus! Give it up!" Julia yelled as he threw her to the ground -- in the exact same field he had caught and killed her in over four years ago.
He growled and temporarily morphed into his demon form. Then, he laughed and yanked her roughly up by her hair.
"Tell me Julia," his hot breath hit her in the face "Can she feel us now? Do you think since she's here this time, that she really would trade places with you?"
Julia's gaze widened as she realized his plan and she renewed her struggles against him.
Shamus merely laughed and tossed her back to the ground.
A pair of high-beamed headlights flashed across his face as the Legacy team finally caught up to them.
He growled and tossed his hand toward Julia. She was thrown up against the makeshift crucifix he had made for her; just for this occasion -- the end of the Legacy.
"We're gonna do things a little differently this time 'round." He chuckled cruelly as he went to crucify his first victim.
The storm grew even worse.
"NOOOOO!!" Sara yelled out as the team rushed to help Julia.
Oh, God, not again! She cried inwardly, feeling everything her sister did as she ran toward them.
Julia cried out in pain as a railroad spike was driven through her hand, only to turn, with rain and tears pouring down her face, to look at Sara, "NOO!! Get out of here!"
Shamus turned with an evil growl, his eyes flashing red "I don't think she will, sister. She's already lost you once she won't let it happen again."
Julia sobbed and actually struggled against the nail as he fought to hammer the other one in, but not for herself. Sara was getting closer.
"For God's sake, Nick!" Julia yelled to the one that she knew would try and stop Sara "Save her!"
"SHUT -" Shamus growled loudly, his voice a demon's guttural hiss "- UP!"
He slammed the other nail in.
Sara cried out and fell to her knees, only to struggle back up and swipe the hair from her eyes and choke on a cry as Nick grabbed her by the waist.
"Let go! He's killing her!" she fought against Nick's hold, slipping on the slippery ground and jabbing him roughly in the ribs.
Nick lost his hold on her and fell to one knee, but he was desperate he knew what Shamus would do to her if the demon got a hold of her. He growled and dove for her.
Both Sara and Shamus roared, Sara trying to reach her sister and Shamus because Sara had been stopped.
The time was coming! Shamus thought with a quick look at the moon above. He had to take her soon!
He threw out his hand out to the ones that had almost reached her and laughed victoriously when they were all thrown back several feet away.
Too bad the Priest wasn't there, he thought, probably watching the brat!
He would have liked to take care of the brat, too!
Sara growled and straightened to meet the demon "Leave them alone!"
Nick was scrambling up behind her, barely missing catching her arm.
Sara met her sister's gaze and felt that draw the same one Julia had fought to sever four years ago but, more powerful, because Sara was there.
Blood ran down Julia's hands and arms, but she ignored it and concentrated on her sister.
"Don't!" she begged her "I'm already dead! Dont let him take you, too!"
"She's alive, Sara!" Shamus hissed "At least for now. And you can save her -- you know you can! Take my hand!"
Sara stopped just short of reaching him; her gaze confused as she looked from Julia, to him, and back again.
"You can take her place for real this time." Shamus continued "Nick can love Julia the way he always wanted to."
Sara met Julia's gaze, the doubt in her eyes. Julia shook her head, concentrating on their link //You can't do this, Sara! He wants to destroy us!//
"Sara, no!" Nick choked out, rain running down and into his eyes as he tried to reach her.
Shamus looked at him, his gaze flashing red.
Nick groaned, as he was pushed down by an invisible force and unable to reach her.
//I'm dead, Sara!// Julia tried again, desperately. She couldn't let this happen! She knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that she would not survive the night her time had already come. She sure as hell wasn't going to let Sara sacrifice herself. And Nick .!
Julia looked at her friend, seeing that he was still struggling against the force that held him down. He wasn't giving up.
"Come on, Nick." She urged him "Sara needs you!"
Sara shook her head, feeling disoriented. She didn't hear Julia, but she felt her .and the other Legacy members were stirring and calling out to their teammates.
Shamus growled and started to turn toward them.
"No." Sara reached out and grabbed his hand.
The demon cackled and, instantaniously, started to glow.
"That's all I needed, Sara!" He growled, feeling her willingness to sacrifice herself for the other's safety.
A tear, and the rain, ran down her cheek as her lifeforce was being drained from her.
"Nnnoooooo!!" Nick roared from where he was with new desperation and was able to break free of the hold Shamus had had on him. He dove hard toward Sara and broke the demon's hold, sending Sara crashing up against the crucifix that Julia still hung from.
"You - " He growled at the demon as he replaced Sara's hand with his own "Cannot have her!"
Shamus screeched and clawed at the young man's hold, only to laugh in triumph as Nick fell to his knees as his own life-force began to be drained.
"Look, Sara -- he's dying!" Shamus roared with the justice of it all. He knew the bitch would do anything to save the whelp in front of him "And it's all your fault!"
Sara struggled up to her knees, blood running down the side of her head as she tried desperately to pull herself back toward them.
Nick clenched his teeth together and squeezed his eyes closed.
"No, Nick." Julia whispered, almost gone and sagging against the crucifix she was nailed to.
Nick seemed to hear and opened his eyes, only to glare up at Shamus.
"You're wrong." He gasped through his suddenly stiff lips "You - cannot take - a soul - by force!"
Shamus felt the change in the man and howled in outrage.
Nick Boyle wanted to live.
"Go back to hell!" Nick growled, the light between them suddenly changing from red to a bright white.
Shamus felt himself losing strength and his knees began to buckle. He fell to kneel before Nick, both men on their knees.
"And tell your boss," Nick pulled the demon's face close "That The Legacy said 'hi'."
The light shot through and burst from Shamus rotting corpse. The demon gave one final dying cry and, with Nick falling the rest of the way after it, slumped to the ground.
Sara lost consciousness.
"Oh, gott, Nick!" Derek was the first to reach the young man before he looked frantically at the two women a few feet away "Rachel?"
The doctor limped toward them.
The rain drew to a sudden stop -- and Julia stirred.
"S-Sara." She gasped.
Rachel looked up in shock and started to call out the younger woman's name.
Julia's body began to glow gently, a soft white, her hands lifting effortlessly from the nails that had once bound her as she caught sight of her sister.
Rachel watched as the younger woman then, in one ethereal step, reached the ground and went over to where Sara lay.
Julia touched her sister's forehead and sighed.
Something passed between them. Rachel was sure she saw the same white mist that permeated Julia's form go to and through Sara's own.
Sara stirred and started to come around.
Julia looked once at Rachel and then went to Nick. Rachel had the uncanny feeling that the woman's time was drawing near, yet again.
Julia made it to Nick's side and knelt beside him, the others backing up to give her room.
She took Nick's head into her lap and stroked his rain-soaked hair away from his face.
"Nick," she whispered "Wake up."
His eyes fluttered open and slowly met hers "Where -? S-?"
"She'll be alright." Julia assured him with a slight smile "And so will you."
Nick nodded and closed his eyes, a clouded memory suddenly coming to light. "I - remember."
The others looked at Julia with a measure of curiousity, wondering what it was Nick was talking about.
Julia merely smiled a soft, almost sad smile. She knew that the memory would fade when she did.
"You - told me." Nick continued in a bare whisper "That - there was more."
He was talking about a time - not so long ago but before Sara had joined them. The Legacy had barely escaped their own home from a woman that had been possessed and had, in fact, killed Nick in her attempt at trying to maintain the power of an evil artifact - a ring that had given her all of the demonic power that had eventually killed her. Julia had shown herself to him then, telling him that he couldn't give up on life then - even though he was more than ready to at the moment - that, in fact, he had more obligations to fulfill, more things to live for than he had known about.
"You - were right." He whispered, grimacing in pain "Is she -?"
"She's waking up now." Julia reassured him "And I have to go."
Nick met her gaze, staring into her eyes for a long moment before finally nodding. He reached up a shaky hand and touched her cheek.
"I love you." He whispered to her as, kissing her fingers, she placed them on his lips.
"Ditto." She smiled and started to gently lay his head on the ground before she took his hand and pressed something into it. She then turned her gaze once more to her sister and stood. She looked back at him and smiled softly, "I'll see you at the lake."
His hand tightened around the object she had put there and nodded once.
It was okay, Nick thought as he watched her walk away. He still loved her, always would, for who she had been for in his life but now, watching her leave and knowing it was for good, it was -- different.
He caught sight of Sara and started to push himself up by his elbows, "Sara."
His friends helped him the rest of the way and watched as, walking through the coming dawn's fog, Julia continued to walk away.
He was half-way up when, as gentle as Julia's touch had been, the memory once again faded.
Nick touched his head, feeling the dried blood there, and winced. The memory was gone within a blink.
But his determination to make sure Sara was okay was not.
Sara was looking at the now empty fog, a single tear rolling down her cheek as she said her own goodbye. She was sitting up and in Rachel's arms.
Nick made it to her side and took Rachel's place, his hold gentle.
"It's okay, Sara." He murmured into her still-wet hair "She - she went back. Where she - belonged. Shamus is gone."
Sara closed her eyes and sighed.
San Francisco two weeks later ..
Derek Rayne sat at his desk, looking at but not seeing the Legacy Journal which held his newest entry.
He heard the laughter from outside and found himself walking to the window to see the others at play.
He then walked back to his Journal and read what he had written:
" .As I write my entry, I hear the others outside. Only weeks ago we faced an almost certain destruction from a demon we thought long destroyed.
He attacked what was supposed to be our weakest points -- to try and bring us down. Fortunately, those weakest points became our strengths, and he failed.
I listen to my team as they play various games with one another outside, having a picnic on such a clear spring day; Alex and Phillip are playing chess, Rachel and Kat are playing shadow-tag, and Sara and Nick are playing with the frisbee. They are calling out to me now, waiting for me to join them. I believe I will .
Precept of the San Francisco House,