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Turning Point by TalgoM

Kat resolved her mind to focus on the task at hand no matter what tried to distract her. She wasn't going to pay any attention to the fact that she still desperately needed to get some sleep. She couldn't face another round of the nightmares that she knew now were just going to get worse. She didn't remember many specifics from them, just that the pictures were horrible. Filled with deaths in inconceivable numbers. There was blood painting the whole world that waited for her. She couldn't face it again so soon.

So she tried to keep her mind on the history chapter which she was reading. Not that it did much good since the history she was reading about was the last world war when so many places had been engulfed in just the sort of carnage she pictured. She told herself that was where the dreams were coming from. She had been hearing too much about it lately and her mind was using it as material to scare her. She looked up at Alex who sat on the other side of the table working quietly on something. She knew that she should be working and leave Alex alone but she couldn't focus.

"Alex, can I ask you something?" Kat's hesitant voice broke into the quiet of the library. The woman looked up with a smile and put down her pen to show Kat that she had her full attention. She never made Kat feel like she was interrupting anything even when she was. "We're studying World War II and I was wondering what makes a man like Hitler? Why would he do that?"

"Well Kat he believed…" Alex started to explain her answer but Kat shook her head.

"I know all about the Arian race thing. I want to know what makes someone kill. What made all those soldiers kill for someone else's ideas?" Kat asked the question earnestly and it was obvious that she desperately needed an explanation. Unfortunately Alex didn't know if she could offer her one that would really work.

"I think they also believed what he said. And those who didn't just got caught up in it. We got involved because what he was doing was wrong so people fought against him. There were plenty of people on both sides that didn't want to be involved but if you're forced into a battle situation you try to do what you can to survive even if that means killing someone else." Alex answered hoping that it helped.

"But that doesn't make sense. We knew what he was doing was wrong so we sent people to kill him, which is also wrong. How can you be doing something good if what you're doing is wrong, you can't do both." Alex should have seen the question coming and wondered if Kat ever thought about how closely what the Legacy did paralleled her concerns. The Legacy was dedicated to fighting evil in its many forms but in order to stop it often had to do something evil. That had always been the most difficult obstacle for Alex to get over but she knew that in the end the greater good they accomplished would outweigh their sometimes less moral acts.

"Nothing is simple Kat, I'm sorry that's the best I can tell you." Alex was genuinely sorry that she couldn't offer Kat a better explanation. This was the type of thing children needed to believe in. Goodness triumphing over evil. But if it was accomplished in war it appeared to be tainted and at Kat's age things shouldn't yet be marred by ugly reality.

"I understand we had to stop him I just don't like the killing. I don't like it." Kat raised her eyes to meet with Alex's and the warning there was clear. Alex was surprised to find a chill going down her back under the girl's gaze. Kat didn't necessarily frighten her but made her worry about something in the future. The same sensation that she spoke to Rachel about. Something was coming and by the signs she was receiving she felt certain it was powerful.

She turned her head away from Kat not able to handle the stern look or the omen she felt it carried. It was threatening to her and with Kat's warning about her feelings towards the killing, Alex's mind once again jumped to their work in the Legacy. It felt like Kat was trying to tell her they needed to stop the direction they were heading, that they would only be tolerated for so long.

*****

"Just so you know the patient is doing fine." Rachel announced walking into Derek's private office. She used it as an opening because it felt like the best way to go in without upsetting him with prying questions.

"She was wandering around yesterday I'm glad to hear that didn't drain her." Derek nodded closing the file on his desk in a manner Rachel found suspicious. He shot her a guilty look reconfirming her feeling.

"She's still exhausted but she's also getting stir crazy, don't let her push herself too hard." Rachel offered the best doctor advice she could think of that hadn't already been dispensed. "Do you need any help with what you're working on?" Rachel asked with a glance at the folder.

"This is nothing really." Derek indicated and pushed it away from himself.

"Still compiling the history?" Derek caught her eye. "She told me she found you working on it yesterday. I agree with you that it is necessary." Rachel explained taking a seat in the chair on the opposite side of the desk from the precept.

"I'm surprised to hear that." Derek could recall many occasions when Rachel had grown upset with him for prying too much into her life. He doubted that she did really agree with him doing the same thing to Tangye.

"If you can uncover anything about her gift it would be good for her. What was it again that Charles died from?" Derek started to say something to her but caught himself. He opened the file as if to look for the information. None of the papers within it held such a detail but Rachel didn't need to know what he was really doing and he thought this might appease her.

"Heart failure." He answered.

"He wasn't that old was he? Late fifties? Do you want me to take a look at the file to see if I can figure out if perhaps something caused it or if there's anything suspicious?" She started to reach out across the desk for the file but Derek's hand fell upon it.

"Not necessary. The Legacy checked out everything when he died, it was entirely natural." His voice was tight, as if he just got caught in some activity he shouldn't have been involved in. Rachel sat back in the chair noting the behavior to herself. Alex was right; something was going on with him. Something he clearly did not want to discuss with any of them. "Is everything okay with Kat? I ran into her this morning and she seemed out of sorts." Rachel grinned at him recognizing his ploy to distract her. She had ridden over this morning with Kat and knew she was fine. Tired in the early morning but she was frequently grumpy when she had to get up earlier then usual.

"I had to swing by the hospital on my way over and she wasn't happy about it." Rachel offered the words as a means of explanation. Derek nodded though the reasoning didn't convince him. He had been around Kat enough to know when she was tired or if there was something more going on. He didn't doubt that Rachel knew the girl better then any of them but sometimes when Rachel was so desperate to avoid the weirdness about their lives she made herself ignore things. But he didn't yet have enough to go on to argue the point with her so he resolved himself just to keep an eye on Kat.

"I guess I should go check on her." Rachel stood up realizing that Derek was not going to let their conversation go any further. She did agree with Alex that something was going on but had no answers yet about what it could be. "Derek, you know that if you need…"

"Of course Rachel." Derek nodded cutting her short on the offer. She gave him a quick smile and left him alone in his office. He leaned back in his chair rubbing at his eyes wondering why everything felt so strange to him, like the world was waiting to go mad.

*****

Kat couldn't quite say what brought the sudden surge of emotions to the surface. They had just been there all of a sudden and even after the fact she couldn't explain them. For a moment the feeling had been very clear.

She had hated Alex.

She had looked across the table while the woman attempted to explain why atrocities were done in the name of justice and the emotion had been there. She knew with every bit of her soul that Alex had done just what she described and that they all might call it na´ve but she knew what they did was wrong. It was easy to hate when you disagreed with someone on such a fundamental level. Away from the situation and company Kat realized that the feeling had been passing and equally wrong.

Alex was her friend. Someone who cared for her deeply and would do whatever she could for her in any way. There was nothing within Alex to hate yet for a moment Kat had. She just couldn't help it. After the torment of the dreams her tired mind was left raw. She couldn't look at anything with much logic as sleep left her further and further behind. All she knew was that the dreams had terrified her and if anyone had ever been a part of such a thing they were evil. They deserved to be punished.

With some time away from it Kat was able to see more of the other side. If killing was the only way to stop another killing then that did make it right to a certain extent. If killing was the only way to keep the darkness Derek told her about at bay then what choice were any of them left? Still Kat felt that there was a lingering injustice about the decision.

"Kat are you in bed?" There was a light knock on the door. Kat's head jerked up and tension filled her small body as she was interrupted. Her mother stepped into the room quietly smiling at her daughter. "Good girl, didn't even need to be told." Rachel crossed over to the bed taking the book from Kat's hands. The girl didn't say a word in protest having not been able to concentrate on the story anyway. She did want to argue with her mother for some reason and had a difficult time keeping the reaction under control.

"Mom, can I ask you something?" Kat was glad that she could keep the annoyance she felt out of her voice. Rachel nodded. "You're a doctor and you've promised to protect life right?"

"As a doctor and with the Legacy, yes." Rachel found the question strange. The grumpiness that Derek mentioned and she dismissed had continued at dinnertime tonight. She was surprised Derek didn't call her aside to speak with her about it but assumed he wanted to stay out of the line of fire. She couldn't overlook the behavior but also did not have an explanation for it.

"But you don't really do that do you?" The accusation was strong and it hurt Rachel to even hear the words. "I mean in the Legacy you kill people, you damn them…"

"Kat I don't think you know what you're saying." Rachel defended herself lamely due to her shock over the anger in her child's voice. Kat had a temper, there was no point in denying that, but that usually came out as silence or snipping remarks. This emotion was new and unsettling. Kat actually sounded like she was angry with Rachel for something that she had done and creeping towards being able to hate her for some reason.

"With the Legacy you've killed mom. I know that. I just don't see how you can say you promised…"

"Katherine let me make this clear. I have never killed anyone." Rachel insisted on that point not wanting Kat to think such things about her. The way Kat was saying it made it sound as if Rachel was some serial killer who enjoyed the suffering she caused.

"But you've damned them and that's not really much different is it?" Kat's large eyes caught her mother's.

"I think we can talk about this in the morning, when you've had a good night's sleep." Rachel let her own voice grow stern. She was sure that Kat didn't understand how hurtful she was being and she didn't want to leave her daughter time to say something she might really regret.

"Why don't you want to answer me?" Kat pushed her point. She wanted to ask her mother what she was ashamed of but held the question knowing that saying such a thing would put an end to their talk. She desperately wanted an explanation to this question to go to bed with in case the dreams were waiting for her again. She wanted something to hold on to during that madness and her compulsion told her this had to be it. But her mother's obvious desire to evade such questions left her little hope that she would hear what she needed to.

"Because Kat when we talk about this we really need to talk and you need to listen but I don't think you'll do that right now." Rachel reached out picking up the music box that Nick had given to Kat. She would have to talk to him about spoiling Kat. He used any little opportunity as another reason to buy her a little gift and Rachel didn't want Kat using him. She wound the small knob on the bottom but clicked the song into the holding position. "Kat you understand that don't you?"

"Not really." Rachel was shocked by the answer as much as anything. Even when Kat didn't understand something she had always been reluctant to admit that. She would always say that whatever it was she was okay and then wait to another time to bring it up.

"I wish you would try. I promise Kat first thing in the morning we'll talk, okay." She leaned over and kissed the top of her daughter's head regretting that she didn't feel comfortable doing more then that. She just wasn't ready for these sorts of questions from Kat yet and needed some time to think about what she would say. She knew that a child's confidence could be fragile, not just that judging themselves but that which they directed outward to the people they cared about. She didn't want to risk such a thing with hastily given answers.

Kat nodded begrudgingly as her mother released the bird's song and stood. She waited for Kat to slide down on the bed and under her covers before turning the lights out and leaving the room. As soon as she was gone, Kat popped out of bed and crossed to listen for a moment at the door. She didn't know what drove her to do such a thing but she couldn't help herself.

"Nick you aren't going to bed are you?" Rachel looked up surprised to see Nick going into his room at such an early hour. No one in the house really spent too much time in their respective rooms, choosing instead to occupy the common areas.

"I thought I'd work out for awhile." Nick answered her causally.

"Could you do it in the gym, Kat's in bed." Rachel indicated the door behind her with a nod in its direction. Nick shrugged at her request and reached again for the doorknob. Rachel stared hard at the young man for a moment making the sudden connection between him and the questions her daughter was asking. "Nick when you and Kat were cleaning yesterday did she ask you anything about your time in the Navy?" Rachel blurted out the question out so quickly it almost surprised Nick but he caught the outwardly reaction. He recognized the stress in her voice and turned to look at her more closely.

"Nope nothing, why?" Nick leaned against his door curious about why Rachel would even think that Kat might do such a thing.

"She was just asking me about killing. About how I could resolve the things I do in the Legacy with my oaths to protect lives." Rachel shook her head still confused about the reason for the inquiry. Even more disturbing then that was the anger she had clearly heard in her daughter's voice.

"What did you tell her"" Nick questioned.

"I said we'd talk to tomorrow. Truth is Nick I don't know what to tell her." Rachel's eyes pleaded with Nick for an answer that would be acceptable.

"I don't know that any of us would Rachel." Nick said sympathetically. He could see the fear that this was causing Rachel. The last thing that she wanted to do was lose Kat's respect and it felt threatened to her right now.

"What do you tell yourself Nick?" Rachel reached out and caught his hand before he could leave. Nick turned to her stunned by the question. "She asked me if I've ever killed Nick and I haven't directly…"

"But I have, got it Rachel." Nick wanted to pull his hand away from hers. He wondered for a moment if this was what she thought of him. Did she look at him and merely see some well-trained killer or was she honest whenever she claimed to see more in him? "I do what I have to do Rachel. I may not always be right and if that's the case I'll pay for it. But I do what I think is right and I don't enjoy it."

"Still, you decided to be a solider. You let other people make the decisions for you and followed orders." Rachel finally pushed the point too far with Nick. He definitely didn't like what she implied with that last statement. He may not have looked back and been pleased with everything he had ever done or every order that he had followed but the final decision was always his. Solider or not Nick would not follow an order that he knew to be completely morally wrong.

"Rachel I think maybe you should just let this drop. If you're so uncomfortable with the things I've done don't tell Kat about them. She doesn't know and she doesn't need to." Nick yanked his hand back from her cold grip and slammed his door open. Rachel couldn't possibly understand how offensive the things she was alluding to were to him. He loved Kat dearly and he didn't want to think that she could look at him the same way Rachel just was. Rachel could easily pass that on to her daughter if the explanations were up to her. Obviously she thought very little about Nick's history in the military, possibly even the things he had been a part of under Derek's direction disturbed her. He could only imagine what Rachel might say to Kat that could destroy his image in her eyes. He didn't want that but he also didn't want to confess any of it to Kat himself. It was over as far as he was concerned. They were all dead now and should be left in the past. He had abandoned that role years ago and he had never looked back.

Kat slipped across the room silently. She couldn't believe what she had just heard. Nick was her guardian, her protector; there was no way he could be a part of what her mom was implying. Not Nick, Kat's mind again refused the thought. She sank down into her bed pulling the covers tightly around herself to protect herself from all the unpleasantness that existed in the world.

*****

Nick sat down on the edge of his bed his thought of working out slipping away. He couldn't believe what Rachel had just done to him or that he had given in and reacted. Nick wondered again if Rachel saw him as little more then someone to sweep in and take care of the dirty side of the business. He had to admit that was the role he was often cast in but it did not define him. He was not the monster that he felt she was seeing him as. He looked up at the medals proudly on display on his dresser with a sigh.

They were important to him. He had worked hard to earn them. Like he had admitted to Rachel he was not proud of what he had to do to earn each of them but the accomplishments they spoke of were…

What Nick? The voice in the back of his mind suddenly spoke up. Can you really justify the past to anyone? If you look at it from the outside doesn't it make you just what Rachel thinks? Ever since leaving there you have been adamant about making your own choices why is that? Because you feel so good about the orders you followed? C'mon Nick, you don't have a lot of respect for that obedient side to yourself. You can feel good about the strength you showed but do you deserve to feel right about how you used that dominance? Tell yourself that you did what you had to do, but try believing it. Tell yourself you don't enjoy it, but don't forget you do like the power. You like being strongest.

Nick shook his head annoyed that he let the thoughts go so far. He stood up from the bed going into the bathroom to grab some more aspirin. He would risk taking a few more if it meant defeating the headache he had. He opened the cabinet over the sink reaching in for the bottle of pills but remembered suddenly that he had thrown away the empty container earlier. He didn't want to go ask anyone else for some knowing that questions would follow about his health and he didn't want to talk about how he felt. He started to shut the cabinet deciding to take a hot shower to relax the tense muscles but another bottle caught his eye halting his motion.

He eyed the bottle cautiously not proud of what he was thinking. He reached out slowly plucking the bottle from where it had sat for several years. Rachel had prescribed the pills for him during the period when he was having difficulty sleeping due to nightmares. "Rachel wouldn't have given them to me if they were dangerous." He reasoned lifting the top off. If he could get to sleep he might wake up free from the pain at the base of his neck. If he didn't induce sleep he doubted that he would actually get any.

He checked the dosage and decided to cut it in half just to be safe. He wasn't sure just how potent they were and he didn't want to risk surrendering too much control. He washed the small pill down with a gulp of water and then went back into his bedroom clicking the lights off as he went. He dropped his sweatshirt on the floor by the door and kicked his shoes in the general direction of the closet. He flopped back down on the bed grazing his head against the headboard. "Dammit." Nick sat back up in the bed rubbing the back of his head.

The house was almost entirely silent but Nick could hear some small noise. At first he couldn't place what it might be then he recognized the tune. He had heard it only twice that he could recall. Seven years ago and yesterday. He suddenly pictured the tiny little village's merchant. A small worn man who stood with a crouch. Nick had not even seen him approach with the cart; he was just suddenly there. Nick had been with two members of the team but when the little man looked them all over he had settled his attention on Nick. Later his unit had mocked him as being chosen as an easy mark which in hindsight he probably was. The man had been very pleased with his wares and attempted to sell Nick on countless useless items but Nick wasn't even interested until the man revealed the music box. He held it up with such reverence then looked Nick in the eye and told him it would make a nice gift for the mother back home who was so worried, a nice way to show he was alright. He then wound it up playing its soft song and when it was finished Nick couldn't help but purchase it. Less then twenty-four hours later he had been loaded in a chopper with a bullet in his arm and a broken gift in his pack.

He was glad to think someone could make use of the foolish purchase years later. He couldn't even imagine anymore what he thought he was doing.

*****

Kat's mind cried out to her not to act, to stand her ground and hope that she could go unnoticed. Logic dictated a certain survival instinct into all people and her mind was demanding that she obey hers. It was easy to ignore when one took into consideration her upbringing. Kat was shown and taught never to stand by, to act in the defense of those who could not defend themselves. There were no impossible odds, not so long as you refused to acknowledge them.

Kat took a moment to look down at the board in her hands, nausea sweeping over her as she faced what she had just done. Then there was the sudden sound of Tangye's anguished cry. Kat's stomach muscles lurched again to imagine that somewhere amongst all of this was the broken form of someone she loved so much. She wanted to turn to look at Tangye; to seek a bit of comfort in the familiar face but her eyes would not wander away from the face of the little boy she had just rescued.

His rounded cheeks were covered with mud and blood not his own. He was a pitiful sight yet he did not look frightened by all that was occurring around him. He just watched Kat with a silent curiosity. Kat found herself unable to look away from the deep brown pools in front of her until the tiny voice finally managed a whispered warning. "You should run."

Kat felt her brow crease in confusion over the statement. She knew she should run, she should get as far away from this place a humanly possible but her legs wouldn't cooperate. She just waited for the attackers to sweep in seeking retribution for their fallen.

Her eyes wandered downward to the figure of the attacker she had saved the child from. Her eyes registered the sight at her feet, her ears warned of the approaching danger from behind. But what she saw had her unable to turn away. She knew that bit of silver, knew its intricate form well. She wanted to lean down and inspect, use her hands to confirm what her eyes said was there but she couldn't make herself do that either.

"What did you do Kat, what in God's name did you do?" Kat knew the voice she heard, but not the tone tainted with hatred that it held. Tangye was furious with her for her actions. Tangye was what the child wanted her to run away from. Tangye was the threat because somehow, impossible as it was to Kat, the man Kat had struck was wearing Nick's ring, which could really mean only one thing.

Kat's eyes again found the stain of blood on the piece of wood gripped in her frozen hand. She couldn't be sure that it belonged to him but even the possibility was enough to make her sick. Kat Corrigan had just killed Nick Boyle.

*****

Kat reached up clutching onto the music box on the nightstand. She drew it tightly to her chest hugging it and hoping in vain that it might offer some sort of solace. The dream images still played themselves vividly for her, she desperately hoped to escape from them but such horror would not let her go. She moved herself slightly allowing her hand to find the bottom of the delicate bird's base and slowly wound the box up. Maybe the soft metallic sounds would help her get a good night sleep for the first time in two nights. Maybe it would be able to chase away the demons that had attached themselves to her mind.

What she had seen was growing ever more impossible. She could never have killed Nick. Nick would never have been a part of the death she had witnessed. It was just wrong. The whole idea of what she saw was a world gone horribly wrong. Nick was not a killer. Even after what she heard before going to sleep she grasped onto that faith.

But he's trained to be; Kat's mind reminded her aching heart. Nick had been trained not only to be a killer but also to be the elite. Kat had seen him fight, had seen how quickly his gun would appear when there was a threat. He couldn't possibly have time to think about what he was doing. His hand just went there by a honed instinct. Nick could kill, but he wouldn't. She argued the sides with herself. Anyone could kill; the difference was if a person could follow through or not.

Nick has done it of course. Again her accursed logic cropped up. She heard what they said just a few hours ago. Nick might as well have admitted to it right then. No wonder he never talked about the Navy. Kat had always figured that he had seen some type of war but she always convinced herself that it was not like the horrid ones she heard about. She needed to believe that Nick was not capable of such things. But now she admitted that if he was involved in a war he had killed or chances were good he wouldn't have survived.

Still that was different. That was not the cold-blooded murder that she had just witnessed. That was his way of protecting those who couldn't protect themselves, fighting a battle no one else could. It was necessary.

Yes, it was necessary. Nick did things he had to do. He didn't kill because he enjoyed it and he would never be a part of what she saw. She drew the music box closer to her chest hugging it fiercely as the music comforted her enough to find sleep again.

*****

"Good morning Derek, you're up early today." Alex greeted the precept cheerfully when she entered the control room to find Derek already at one of the computers. Normally it would be Nick she would find working at some ungodly early hour. Derek had always been considered the house straggler when it came to early morning. "Is everything okay?"

"Fine. I just needed to get some things off to Jackson." Derek answered.

"You do realize what time it is in London?" Alex joked taking a seat beside Derek.

"You do realize who we're talking about?" Derek quipped back causing her to laugh. Alex shook her head looking at him carefully.

"You know, sometimes Dr. Rayne I forget that you can be charming." Alex almost sounded amazed by such a realization, which made Derek give her one of his best smiles. She loved the way his whole face seemed to come alive with the expression and wished he knew that he should allow himself those moments more often. "You seem to be in a very good mood today, chipper even."

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"I suppose I am. Nothing life threatening is going on and I should stop trying to make something happen. I decided to just enjoy it." Derek nodded to himself continuing to type in the cover letter for the files to Jackson.

"And what brought on this epiphany?" Alex questioned amused by the lighthearted behavior he was exhibiting. She would almost say that he had met someone but there had not been time for that as far as she knew. It was that sort of pleasure with the world that she was seeing though.

"You have all been telling me to do just that for years, I just decided to listen." Derek finished up his letter and turned to Alex.

"Took you long enough." Alex nodded yet she didn't feel certain about the answer. She wanted to believe it. Such progress would be good for Derek but it felt too convenient. Yesterday she had been worried that Derek was keeping secrets from them again which never lead to anything good and suddenly he was completely different. She couldn't call it normal because unfortunately this was not the normal Derek. He was carefree, everything right in his world which was definitely not typical Derek. She wasn't sure that she wanted to rob him of that but at the same time feared that he might be trying to hide something through this tactic which didn't bode well for what he had learned. "Derek, these last few days…"

"I've been keeping to myself. I know. I also knew you were worried but I didn't want to talk about this until I could be certain. I'm certain now and it still doesn't need to be discussed. It is the past." Derek comforted her with sincere eyes and voice. It was so easy to be drawn in to that. To trust whatever it might be saying to you. Alex had been able to see past that most times and he knew that. He only ever did it with her anymore when he was actually being honest.

"So you look into it for days and then just drop it?" Alex pushed for more details, which she doubted that she would manage to get.

"I have my answer." Derek nodded making no indication as to what he had the answer to or what the answer itself was.

"So it didn't pan out and you just rather not talk about the theory?" Alex suggested. Derek answered with a shrug and downcast eyes. Alex knew she finally figured it out. Derek Rayne was actually embarrassed about something he was thinking and didn't want anyone else to know he had been wrong. Alex decided to let him off the hook rather then tease him about such an occurrence. She set her coffee mug down on the table and turned to her terminal to get some work done. She smiled to herself in amusement and shot Derek a careful look of pleasure. She liked him this way. Human and willing to show that he could make mistakes. It was charming just like she said.

*****

The sound was deafening, just as it always was even if one did grow accustomed to it with enough time. He thought he heard Richter's voice somewhere but he couldn't be sure. His eyes searched the scene striving to locate the voice he was hearing. Something warning him. Something crying out to him how horribly wrong things had gone. They'd been breached somehow. They had been waiting for the SEAL team. The unit shouldn't have been there in the first place. But Nick didn't know that at the time and he had acted according to the plan.

"Boyle, behind you." Nick heard the cry but before he could react Wakefield pulled the trigger. Nick would later call it a stray bullet and dismiss the whole thing. He was the new kid and he wasn't about to utter a word about what he remembered. Wakefield swore he saw the little man from the village behind Nick with a gun. He had meant to shoot the man but Nick turned into his line of fire. No one else had seen the guy but no one else had been looking. Nothing had come of it except Nick's scar.

The bullet pitched him backward landing on his back as something in his pack jabbed him harshly at the base of his spine. It was a new sort of pain to him and the unfamiliarity made it worse. Nick reached up to grab at the wounded arm holding the scream in his throat.

He sat up in his bed with the jolt gasping for air just as he had been in the dream. The imaginary pain in his arm faded quickly as his heart rate began to slow. It was only a memory of something that had happened years ago. It was a moment that meant nothing now. He closed his eyes tightly regaining the last bit of control that he had lost.

Light was already streaming in from the windows despite the heavy curtains. He looked at his watch, which he still had on, and was immediately annoyed with himself for deciding the take the pill the night before. It had helped him sleep unfortunately much later then he intended and the sleep had done nothing for the headache. He heard a soft moan beside him and for the first time realized that someone must have helped him to bed. The last thing he remembered was laying back across the comforters still mostly dressed. When he woke he was under the covers and in a pair of boxers and a T-shirt.

His hand reached out and stroked the back of her head thanking her without waking her. He took a deep breath prepared to make today a good day. He had given himself twenty-four hours to worry about the past and he intended for his dream to be the last of it.

*****

Rachel sat in the living room still trying to formulate the right words to offer her daughter. She knew that she had gone too far with the things that she had said to Nick last night. She had no right to make him feel that way about himself. Still when she had seen him there she hadn't been able to think of much more then the fact he had killed on orders many times in the past. Even as one of the youngest members of the house Nick had more blood on hands then any of them and she could almost see it there. She had never allowed herself to think about it much in the past but for the first time she was considering what effect being around such people would do to Kat.

She wanted to raise her daughter to appreciate life and to respect it. Was she succeeding in teaching that lesson by letting Kat be around people who saw the last option as their first so often? How many times over the last several years had she felt compelled to remind Derek that she had taken an oath to protect lives? He would always say that he had done the same but he didn't appear to consider it in the same light. Rachel knew there were necessary evils but when they happened so often were they really necessary or just evil? Could Kat someday be effected by the logic that dictated so many choices made in this house?

Parts of Rachel felt to be reminding her how wrong these thoughts were. Telling her that she did not want to think about such things not only because they were painful but also because they were just wrong. She did not really believe any of her own concerns due to the fact that she did know the others better then her thoughts implied. She knew how difficult it was on them but her worried mind wouldn't listen.

"So are you going to answer me?" Kat's voice interrupted her. Even without the hard words Rachel would have recognized the stiffness in her daughter's form.

"If you're ready to listen." Rachel agreed knowing that despite her current feelings she shouldn't put off the meeting any longer or she could be risking a bit of her relationship. She moved over on the couch to make room for her daughter as she crossed the room rigidly.

"I was last night." She sniped back. "So tell me how do you justify what you do?"

"Because Kat sometimes even terrible things must be done to prevent something more awful. For example I would kill to protect you." Kat made a sudden small noise from her throat, something indicating her disgust at that admission. "I would know what I was doing was fundamentally wrong but it would be for the best."

"The best for you." Kat inserted.

"Yes but in greater scale too. If someone wanted to hurt you just because they could then that person would be evil." Rachel defended herself wishing that she hadn't used such an example.

"And if you could then hurt them wouldn't that be just as evil?" Rachel winced not sure how to get out of that one when Kat clearly didn't want to leave her a way out.

"Kat we were all born with a sense of self preservation, an instinct that demands we survive. When we love someone we give a bit of that over to them, we make them more important then ourselves. That is natural and not evil." Rachel explained.

"But what about wars or what you do in the Legacy? It isn't always about protecting me and still sometimes you do damn people or hurt them in other ways. That's what I want to know about. I want to know how you justify that? How can I tell myself that's okay?" Kat pushed for the answer cruelly.

"Because we are looking out for the greater good. We are trying to keep a balance. What we fight in the Legacy is the worst manifestation of man given greater means." Rachel was surprised to hear her own voice speaking in such a way to a child. She wasn't even sure if Kat could understand what she was trying to say but with the way Kat was arguing Rachel felt she deserved the best truth she could offer and on an adult level. "What we fight could do a lot of damage and we need to prevent that. Those things are already dead and damned we aren't doing anything to them that they didn't do to themselves."

"But that's not always the case is it? Sometimes it isn't just the demon or spirit you kill, sometimes you kill the person they're living in." Kat snapped her voice raising a bit. She could feel the anger taking her over while her mother floundered. She couldn't give a good enough explanation for all of this because she knew in her heart that it was wrong. Yet something was keeping her from admitting that fact and Kat began to suspect just what it was. "How do you use evil to stop evil? How do you commit crimes and claim it was for the best? How does anyone, the police, the army, the Legacy?"

"Because Kat someone has to protect or the world would just go crazy. Think about it, no police and how would people behave?" Nick broke in to the conversation from the doorway. He hadn't wanted to get involved but when he heard Rachel struggling he couldn't help himself. These were issues he had struggled with at one point in his life and obviously resolved better then Rachel had.

"You're assuming people are bad." Kat bit her words off as she directed them to the interloper.

"No, I'm assuming that there is a mix. I think there are people out there good enough that they don't need the laws and the laws are there in order to protect them from people who do need the laws. Then there are a few who can't even respect that. So someone needs to be around to protect from the people who won't obey the law. A last line of defense." Nick explained himself carefully.

"But under whose laws?" Her anger was getting ever closer to the surface as she watched people she cared about deeply attempt to justify such things.

"The same ones you're judging us by right now." Nick answered her back with just a touch of harshness. He could understand that she was curious and even possibly a bit upset but he did not like the emotions he saw in her eyes. She looked at both her mother and friend with disgust and contempt. "I just don't think you want to admit that there are bad things that have to be done in order to ensure that good things can happen in the future. You think we should live in a world free of that and I don't begrudge you that but the truth is Kat, someone has to protect that world or it can't exist."

"So you intend to protect by weeding out anything you think doesn't work?" Kat stood up ready to leave the room but Nick moved to block the doorway. Rachel watched the scene unfold helplessly. She was glad someone had come in to take her daughter's angry intensity off of her but she wished Nick hadn't left himself open to be hurt.

"What do you mean by that?" Nick looked down on the girl.

"I know what you've done Nick. Then and now. Whenever someone is in danger you pull out a gun, you're always ready to kill people. I know you have done it too and I don't think you were right to do it. I don't care why you did, it was wrong." Kat's voice rose to a yell as she condemned her friend. Nick's jaw locked in both surprise and a sudden rise of anger of his own. "It's what you are Nick, isn't it?"

Nick stared down at her in shock. Her words had never been so harsh before. She had never looked at him with such disdain in all the time she had known him. Kat truly hated him. "I don't think you know anything about it." Nick warned her to discontinue this discussion now.

"I know you killed what more is there to know? I tried to justify it to myself Nick. I said you would only ever do it if you had to do but I don't believe it. I think that it's just habit for you. It's part of you or you wouldn't always jump right to violence. What bothers me is that you want to make my mom and me like you. You're trying to get us to forget what we know is right." Nick stepped back at that. What would ever make Kat think that they wanted to manipulate her in such a way? The girl plunged forward suddenly pushing at Nick roughly until he moved out of her way.

Nick's eyes rose to meet with Rachel searching for understanding. Instead he caught only a look of confusion. She was actually giving credence to the words Kat had let loose in anger.

*****

"You'll never believe this but Derek has actually decided to just take it easy for a few days and smell the proverbial roses." Alex leaned back in her chair looking up at the screen in front of her. She watched as Kristin laughed to hear such a statement and felt her own smile of enjoyment rise again.

"What did you do to him?" Kristin teased.

"Not a thing. He woke up this morning, sent some files to Jackson and decided to go into the city to a museum. An actual day off." Alex marveled.

"You're sure he's not up to something?" Alex nodded quickly in answer to the question.

"He was. He won't say what but it didn't work out to be anything I suppose." Alex dismissed the concern again. Derek was only human and some projects were bound not to work out. Derek may have very honed instincts about cases but he was also fallible. "How are things in lovely London?"

"Fine. Jackson wanted me to tell Derek that he appreciates him sending me over here." Kristin smiled briefly a look Alex was growing too familiar with. A smile only meant to appease nothing actually happy.

"With as quiet as it is here you should be glad too." Kristin again laughed. "So you have been able to help him with the case?"

"Yes." Kristin answered quickly looking over her shoulder. "Alex Geoffrey needs to speak with me, do you mind?" Alex shook her head. "I should be home in a day or two. Don't let anything exciting happen without me or let Derek abandon this mood. I've got to see that."

"Do my best." Alex answered softly feeling a new dread settle over her. She couldn't place it but it grew from the pit of her stomach and felt to be warning her again. She had no specific vision but over the past few days the sensation had been there and this conversation with Kristin just made it grow. She tried to place it each time she felt it. The phone call. The discussion in the library with Kat. In the kitchen the day before with Rachel. A few run ins with Derek and Nick over the past week. They all caused it within her and she dreaded what that might mean.

*****

"Patrick, have I made a horrible mistake?" Rachel spoke out to the empty garden to a man she was certain would be listening. She was equally sure that he would not answer but somehow it still helped to talk to him. She couldn't get over Kat's behavior or her accusations. Evidently Kat considered her mother a pawn in all of this. Her new anger at the Legacy was not returned on her mother but she blamed the group all the more for not only committing crimes but also trying to change her family. "Should I have taken her away from here when I first had the chance?" Nothing stirred in the garden around her, not even some sign of an answer. "I know Kat loves them and that they love her but what am I letting them teach her? I've accused Derek so many times but I don't know that I ever thought of him serving as an example to her. What if she does start thinking that the Legacy gives her the right to make decisions and not question them?"

Rachel never wanted her child to grow up in such a way. Questioning oneself was natural and good. You have to do it to make sure that you are still thinking about the right things. No one should move through life so certain of their righteousness that they never needed to doubt an action. Derek always said he wasn't afforded such an option because of his position but to Rachel that position made it all the more imperative that Derek should at least examine his choices.

"I just don't want to make any mistakes with her." Rachel whispered down to her lap.

"I don't think you have." If not for the thick accent Rachel would have let herself believe that Patrick was really there talking to her again.

"Derek I was hoping to be alone." Rachel responded to him tiredly.

"I didn't mean to overhear either, I was hoping for the same thing." Derek walked into the gazebo. "But I did and I'm curious why you would say those things." He stood a few feet away from her watching her closely. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat as he studied her.

"I've said it before Derek. Sometimes I don't think you consider all the implications of your decisions and I don't want Kat to be like that." Rachel answered curtly. "She's growing up fast Derek and she's questioning me more and more about things I don't have answers for."

"And I'm being blamed?" Derek questioned surprised that she would do such a thing.

"Not just you Derek. All of this. I never wanted to be a part of this, you know that. I let you convince me that staying would keep her safe and then I just couldn't leave. But how good for her is this place really? She's still a little girl Derek, she shouldn't know about demons. No adult should know about those things." Rachel let loose the emotions that had built while she thought about the conversation gone wrong that morning. She was frustrated and scared. She didn't have good answers for Kat's questions and at every turn there seemed to be another reason not to deny what Kat thought.

"But she does know Rachel, and we do know. I don't see how you can expect us to ignore that." Derek hated these arguments. Discussions about the secret nature of the Legacy always bothered him because it was almost too easy to see the other side.

"Right Derek we know. So why can't anyone else? Why don't we give them the chance to defend themselves?" Rachel stood up not sure why she was even getting into this. She knew Derek's arguments by heart and they never completely worked to erase her questions.

"Because fear is powerful. If everyone knew they would all be consumed by fear and that would let the darkness win. It would have them under its control." Rachel almost laughed at the way Derek characterized evil as a single entity that they could hope to defeat. Evil was born of man and manifested itself in many ways. They could not ever destroy such a force entirely because there would always be more on the horizon. Still Derek saw it as one central thing that radiated outward and if they could get to that element they would be triumphant. It was the first time she ever realized that this was the ludicrous basis for his beliefs.

"And instead we have them under our control because we are their only defense. They just don't know that yet do they?" Rachel wasn't sure what she was implying but it obviously wounded Derek. He stepped back from her, the peace he had been enjoying earlier in the day vanishing with the verbal blow.

"Do you think that we're dangling that over them?" Derek's words came slowly in his shock.

"I don't know Derek, I don't know what the Legacy is doing with that power. I just wish my little girl could have grown up without knowing about all of this." Rachel turned and walked away from the precept. Rachel had doubted many times before but she had never insinuated to such devious behavior out of the Legacy before. He didn't want to believe that she could really think such things but the emotions and words had been raw and from her heart. Derek wanted to return to the tranquility that he had obtained while at the art museum but he could not just ignore what he had just witnessed and experienced.

He turned his eyes to look up at the house. Nothing looked or felt amiss to him but with Rachel acting in such a manner he didn't trust that his insight telling him everything was fine. Something had to be going on that he was not yet privilege to. Something that would bring these old questions back to the surface in Rachel. Something that would be disturbing Kat and keeping her from saying anything about it. His mind tried to work around the question of what might have been causing such a thing but he could not single out the moment when it all started.

*****

Alex slipped into her room early in the evening hoping for a bit of privacy before leaving the house. She still had not figured out any of the new sensations she was feeling and didn't know how to talk about it with any of the people in the house. Instead she opted to call on someone else in her time of need. He was always the one she thought about when she needed understanding in her confusion. He just had such inherent kindness in his soul that he could never turn anyone away or mock them for even imagined paranoia. He would just listen as he always did issuing small encouragement's when they were most needed. There would always be advice but that wasn't really what she sought. She needed someone else to feel the concern with her and understand why she was so afraid of what it meant.

"St. Mary's, Father Callaghan." Alex smiled just upon hearing the accent over the phone.

"I always took you for more of a Father Philip." She teased.

"Alex, is everythin' alrigh'?" The worry jumped into his voice immediately. Alex smiled more to herself admitting that was what she needed.

"I want to say yes Philip but I'm not sure." She sighed heavily. On the other end of the line Philip felt part of himself dreading what he was about to hear. He could never leave it he admitted to himself. They wouldn't let him and he doubted that if they did he would ever let himself. He tried to stay away but his heart was always crying out to check on them, to see if they might need him in even a little way. He had not spoken to Alex since he left the house months ago, which did not mean he did not know what was going on. Derek might have contented himself by just silently checking up on the priest. He might have convinced them all to give Philip the time he needed, or almost all. Philip knew that Derek probably didn't even know but all ties had not been cut. She had been stubborn about not letting that happen. He had tried to be annoyed about the interference in his life that he claimed not to want but he couldn't do it. He anticipated her calls and any news she was willing to report. He enjoyed the discussions they would have and learning anything he could about her. She had started to show Philip that his two worlds could coexist and he thanked her for that many times.

He redirected his attention to the concerned woman on the other end of the line. "What is it Alex?"

"Just a feeling Philip. Something is coming for us…" Alex let the sentence drop off realizing that the feeling was back. That gnawing sensation in the pit of her. Cold fingers resuming their dance up her spine. It had started again the moment she heard his voice.

"Alex are you okay?" Philip heard the gasp through the receiver.

"You too Philip." Philip wasn't sure what exactly she meant by that comment but he did not like the implication. "Like I said it's just a feeling but it returned when you picked up."

"I don' know what it could be. I'm perfectly fine." Philip tried to dismiss that concern quickly.

"Now, but this is like a warning of the future." Alex insisted on the point.

"Did you have a vision?" Philip really hoped she had more to go on. Something that would at least give them an idea about where to watch. She was sure of what she said and Philip knew better then to ignore that instinct.

"No nothing that concrete." She admitted disappointed. What did she really have? She asked the question to herself but even thinking about how little it was did not erase the certainty that she was right to pay attention. "Philip I'm just worried and I don't know what about. I don't know what we should be afraid of. That's what's bothering me. I could deal with a vision, something that would clarify this, but this feeling… I don't know what to do about it."

"All you can do is be alert for anythin'. Do you think I should be there?" He almost regretted making the offer but couldn't help himself. He couldn't remember a time when Alex sounded so desperate and if just his presence could in some way erase some of that it was a sacrifice he would make. Not really a sacrifice he knew but he wanted to tell himself it would be.

"I don't know if that would help. What if you're safe there?" Alex didn't know that he was but she didn't want to draw him into danger if it could be avoided. She just didn't know which was the right option.

"Just be careful Alex. I will be too. Try to focus on the feelin' and see if you can get an image." She didn't tell him that she already had been but it did no good. She was not intended to learn more about this yet so instead it would just torment her. "Have you told Derek about this yet?"

"About what? I don't know what to tell him." Alex struggled to explain herself. If you can't tell Derek why are you dragging Philip back in to it? He deserves the solitude that he has requested from you so many times in the past. He can't do anything about this feeling either, not when it was attached to him as much as the others.

"Then jus' wait until you have something. If you're getting a warning this early you may have more in the future that could help." Philip comforted. He wanted to believe that was the case but her fear was sinking into him. He knew Alex well and she did not upset easily. She was fiercely protective of her friends and perhaps that emotion was what caused her to have these warnings before anyone else. "You've been given this warning to protect them and to ready yourself, don't try to ignore it."

"Thank you Philip." Alex answered him sincerely.

"For what?" Philip asked surprised.

"For being the friend that I needed right now." Alex smiled to herself saying a quick goodbye and hanging up the phone. She hugged herself for a moment trying to return some warmth to her body. Philip had done just what she had wanted him to do. He had supported her when she needed someone to do the job. She knew it wasn't fair to make him worry when he was trying to get his own life in order but she didn't think he would ever want to consider her needing him an intrusion.

*****

The day slipped away with almost everyone keeping to themselves for various reasons. Despite the many inhabitants in the house there was no interaction and therefore no noise. The feeling was disturbing to all involved but none wanted risk what might come of breaking the silence. For some reason they were all tense with each other and no one could name the source of the feelings. They were just there hanging in the air of the house.

Nick had vowed first thing in the morning to make the day a good one and instead endured Kat's angry words only a few hours later. That had ruined the mood of the day for him. He wondered if everyone in the house thought of him in similar terms. Their guardian who would do whatever necessary without thought. He knew there was much more to him than that but he didn't know which way the others leaned. Derek did always look to him to run into the dangerous situations. Made sure Nick was armed because he wouldn't experience the hesitation before acting.

Nick slipped into the library not really sure where he was headed but unable to lock himself in his room any longer. "Thank you Lord for distractions." Gilby looked up from the game of solitaire he had dealt out on the table in front of him.

"What are you doing here?" Nick was surprised to have another run in with his friend. He knew he shouldn't have been so shocked, Gilby was hanging around the house more and more.

"Taking Alex to the movies in theory. Really I'm waiting on Alex to finish some work." He began stacking the cards in his hand. Nick smiled at the boredom he could hear and read from Gilby's actions. Gilbert Mayhew was not the most patient of men when it came to sitting around waiting for things to happen. A trait they had always shared and which lead to many troubles in the past. "Sit down and let me fleece you." Gilby nodded in the direction on the chair beside him and began shuffling.

"What are we playing for?" Nick asked taking a seat on the table with one foot resting on the chair the other folded under his leg.

"I beat you best of seven and you go do Alex's work. You beat me and…"

"You give me back my Millenium Falcon." Nick inserted, remembering the plastic toy that he always swore Gilby stole from him.

"I told you I didn't take it but if you win I'll give it back if I happen to stumble on it." Gilby nodded and began dealing out the cards. Nick couldn't help but laugh that Gilby was still maintaining his innocence twenty years later. Gilby shot one of his best guiltless expressions at Nick, one the younger man knew probably worked well on women just because of the childlike nature behind it.

"Don't pull that crap with me, I'm not buying that you're a saint. I was there during the early years remember?" Nick settled down to play the game glad he had run into the man after all. At first he had been certain that he wanted to be alone but now with a distraction offered he easily saw the benefit of a little interaction.

"Right and if it hadn't been for me you would have been a regular arc angel right?" Nick pursed his lips in thought then nodded his agreement of that assessment.

"I'm sure I had it in me." Nick threw down two cards, which Gilby quickly replaced for him. "You were always the wilder one at heart."

"Explains a lot doesn't it." Gilby tossed in three cards and drew new ones. "You go into the military and then here, very establishment. I go and become a mountain man. Three of a kind." Gilby laid down the three fours.

"I never really thought about it but I guess you're right. Sevens." Nick dropped his three sevens on top of Gilby's fours. "So three more wins and I am reigning champion."

"If only I could count we wouldn't have these misconceptions." Gilby grinned placing another four on the stack of cards. Nick sighed in annoyance. Gilby had always done that when they played any sort of game. He would let you have a moment when you really thought you had beat him then pull out the next card or a hidden five hundred dollars and snatch the triumph away. He had always been considered the luckiest kid on the block, he just never lost and if you could finagle your way onto his team you were almost guaranteed the win. "So tell me why'd you leave it?"

"The SEALs?" Gilby nodded as Nick dealt the next hand. He didn't really want to go into details of the situation but he did want Gilby to know the motivation. "You remember when we were in high school and one of us would get caught sneaking in?"

"We should have learned." Gilby shook his head.

"Right but we never did and you remember how they would always ask if we were alone? You never turned me in, you never betrayed me." Nick remembered many times when Gilby's punishments would stretch into weeks instead of a weekend when he refused to admit that anyone had been with him. The parents always knew but still Gilby would refuse to say a word.

"You did it for me plenty of times. How does that relate?"

"I stopped trusting the guy next to me like that, I didn't know that he would always back me up." Gilby could tell that Nick wasn't comfortable talking about the subject it was just since their conversation the day before he had been wondering about it. How could Nick leave something that he had sacrificed so much to have? Now he had the answer and it made perfect sense.

"Can I just say, don't expect to see that ship any time soon, rookie." Gilby dropped down the straight with King high. Nick laughed with a shake of his head. Why did he even bother playing a game like this?

"Are you ready to go or do the boys keep playing?" Alex asked entering the room. Nick took a quick look at her and knew that tonight was more then just a movie. Alex had spent some extra time on her appearance and looked stunning.

"The streak continues." Gilby joked tossing the cards down onto the table and standing up to greet her. "See you later Nick, practice." Gilby followed Alex out of the room calling over his shoulder.

"Right." Nick muttered with a smirk to himself. "Won't do me any good." But the brief game had worked to improve his souring demeanor and for that he was grateful.

*****

Kat knew what would happen when she lay down for sleep. She was sure now that the dreams would continue until she could understand what they were trying to tell her. In her heart she knew that she wanted another chance to puzzle out the story. What message was her subconscious mind trying to pass on her she didn't yet know but she felt the understanding would come soon. Everything would be made clear soon. The images she would be forced to confront were going to be horrible; she knew that and was prepared for it this time.

She again was facing the regret of her harsh words as she went to sleep. She had really hurt Nick with her statements and she wanted to believe that he didn't deserve any of it. She wanted to run to him and apologize and have everything go back to normal. She could have done that if he had denied what she had accused him of. If he had told Kat that she was wrong and had never killed merely because he had been instructed to she could have said she was sorry. As it stood Nick had refused to answer her questions one way or another, which was admission enough for her.

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