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Born of Magic's Fire by Tasha


Parts 1 to 5

Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Bottom

Part 1

Quite frankly, the way Philip looked when he walked into the library made even Nick's eyes open in shock. Now Alex would have noticed if anyone so much as broke a nail, but the ex-SEAL had a tendency not to heed such things. The fact that his priest friend was verging on the living dead, did, however, make it through the thick skin. Philip's face was pale, he had bags under his eyes, and he didn't seem to have any energy. Nick began to think that maybe their latest case was getting on top of the young man.

"Maybe you should just turn around and go back to bed," the ex-SEAL said as his friend sat down. "I know we're supposed to have a meeting, but you look awful."

He was caught by a pair of eyes that for just a second seemed to stare right into his soul.

"No, I'm fine," the other man said and broke the spell, "it's just a headache that kept me up most of the night."

Nick was thinking that even sleepless nights didn't make people look the way Philip did this morning, but he said nothing. They had research to do and it could have been just the priest's overactive need to help everybody, that caused his appearance. There was a small girl at the centre of their current case, and Philip had developed a rapport with her. The fact that she'd tried to kill both her parents and a doctor, distressed him immensely, especially as it seemed to be a case of possession. It was Derek's very long reach which had kept the police out of the case so far, but if they didn't find the answer soon, someone was going to get hurt and then there would be no choice. The state was not known for it's belief in possession, so the child would end up in a mental hospital.

The house felt very cold when Nick and Philip arrived with a new idea to try. They'd gained all the permissions required to take Caroline, the centre of the mystery, back to Angel Island, and it was almost as if the building knew. You didn't have to be psychic to realise that something was going on in this ordinary suburban residence.

"I'm really beginning to hate this place," Nick said as the white faced mother left them to climb the stairs alone.

"You and me both," his companion returned, and his voice sounded slightly strange.

His colour seemed to have improved as the pair of them had decided on yet another course of action that morning, but as Nick turned to his friend, he was shocked to see him as pale as a ghost. The ex-SEAL had to fight down the urge to reach out and grab him, as his skin took on a ghastly grey tone.

"Are you all right?" he asked quickly.

"I'll be fine," Philip returned, but he was obviously far from it.

The throbbing headache which had kept him from sleep all night was back, and it had become a pounding inside his skull that made it almost impossible to think. He was beginning to believe that maybe he would have to give this case up to someone else, and let Nick continue up alone. One minute he had been fine, and the next he could barely put one foot in front of the other, it was ridiculous. The pain was clogging his ability to think, and if he wasn't careful he felt like he was going to pass out.

They had stopped halfway up the stairs and he looked at Nick sideways. He was no good to anyone like this, and denying it really wasn't doing anything useful. His knuckles were white on the banister, and he was at the point of admitting defeat. Then suddenly, the cacophony in his ears rose to deafening proportions, the pain increased so much it made him wince and an image flashed through his head. He'd never felt anything like it, but he didn't even hesitate to act.

"Caroline," was all he said, and much to Nick's surprise the young priest went charging up the stairs.

With his companion only a few feet behind they both burst into the bedroom, and found out why the house was so eerie. The room was in silent turmoil. Furniture floated inches off the floor, books opened and closed, toys moved, a wind whipped at everything, and all without so much as a sound. At the centre of it all sat Caroline, on her bed, holding a large brown bear. Yet what looked out of the child's eyes was in no way human.

"Too late," it said with her voice, "I am here and she is gone. Sweet Caroline is no more, and I can do what I like."

Now the scene horrified Nick, but his reaction was nothing to Philip's. To look on his face was to see complete and total fury, there was no room for fear. There had been other cases, other children in danger, but Nick had never seen his companion like this. It was almost as if he was a different person, and the ex-SEAL never had a chance to stop Philip's next action.

Philip was a priest, he prayed for people's souls and went up against evil with his faith, but not this time. Without even so much as a word to the Almighty he charged straight in. He reached for the child and as his hand connected all hell broke loose. The silence became a maelstrom, and the demon let out a fighting scream.

"Leave her," the command literally shook the room.

Nick was having a hard time believing what he was seeing. He was pushed firmly against the wall and all he could do was watch as his friend wrestled with pure evil. When Philip had suddenly decided to swap roles, the ex-SEAL couldn't exactly say, but somehow it seemed to be working.

"Your puny faith can't hurt me, priest," were the words that came out of the girl's mouth, "you're God cannot touch me."

"It's not my faith you have to worry about," those had to be the strangest words out of the young man's mouth, but they happened to be true.

On the stairs something very profound had happened to Philip: he had been invaded. The headache was his defence against something that had been trying to get into his head for the past two days, and by showing him the truth it had finally succeeded. A power he had no way of understanding was using him, and this demon was no match for it.

The combatants stared into each other's eyes, and suddenly Philip had Caroline by both shoulders. It was like watching someone peeling a mould away from a cast as the young priest pulled the girl away from the entity which inhabited her. The child moved, but there remained a perfect replica in transparent red. The copy screamed, long and hard.

There was no time to stop and Philip scooped the girl into his arms and turned to his companion. The ex-SEAL found her thrust upon him as he stared into a gaze he barely recognised.

"Get her out of here," the priest virtually commanded, "before it breaks free."

Since he was virtually bodily thrust through the door, Nick had little choice. Caroline's parents were on the landing, and the Legacy member all but forced them down the stairs. He had every intention of returning once they were at a safe distance, but the front door slammed with a very final sound behind him. Nick had no way to explain what he had just seen, or how his companion had done what he did, but as he turned he knew the outcome. As they all watched, the house burst into flames.

The whole bedroom was ablaze and the thing on the divan oozed to it's feet. Priest faced demon, and both knew their time was over. The power inside Philip kept the entity from fleeing the house, and he realised that he had to be here to the end. He was staring his death in the face, and with a victorious smile, he walked towards it.

The flames burned until there was nothing left, not even the fire department tried to explain it. It was as if the site was turned to ashes that blew away in the wind, all that was left was a hole in the ground, blackened around the edges. Not once had the flames touched anything beyond the walls of the house, and all that Nick could do was watch it.

Derek was alerted by a phone call from the parents, not from his operative, and the head of the Legacy house found his young friend just standing in what was now darkness. He hadn't moved, and the only person who had tried to make him was nursing a black eye. The ex-SEAL just couldn't accept what had happened, and it was as if he was waiting for his companion to miraculously walk out of the ashes.

"It's time to go home, Nick," Derek said quietly as he walked up beside the younger man. "There's nothing you can do here."

"It wasn't like him," his companion replied slowly, "he was almost like another person. I'm the one who plays at being a hero, not him. Why did he have to go and do it?"

There was pain in his voice, he didn't want to believe the truth.

"Why did he have to go and get himself killed?" Nick's tone was accusing, but as he finally looked at Derek there were tears in his eyes.

It was difficult to loose a friend, and the grief was beginning to brim over in the young man. He had looked into his companion's eyes and seen a power, that he was dead was inconceivable. Just now Derek could not let himself show that he had similar feelings as Nick, he had to be strong. They would all grieve, later.

"I had to sedate him eventually," Rachel said as she walked into the study to find Alex and Derek waiting for her, "he just kept saying that he should have been the one to die. It's more than just grief, he must have seen something."

The other two looked at her and they drew strength from each other.

"He told me that Philip was not himself when he saved the child," Derek told them both. "That he didn't seem normal all day. I think he blames himself for letting Philip go today."

Analysis may have helped them forget the centre of the matter, but Alex couldn't help but bring it straight home. She had been playing the calm efficient researcher ever since Derek brought Nick home, and she couldn't do it any more.

"I can't believe Philip's gone," was what she said and the tears began to roll down her cheeks.

Rachel went to her immediately, it was going to take a long time to get over this one. Philip was a researcher, their spiritual advisor who left the physical exploits to his better equipped colleges. That he had sacrificed himself in such a way was unthinkable.

The psychiatrist let her fellow Legacy member cry herself out, as Derek remained calm and aloof. His anger and pain showed in his eyes, but he would not crumble and let the house fall around him. He was the corner stone and strong he would remain. It was as Alex was finally drying her eyes that Kat walked around the corner.

Rachel and her daughter were staying at the house tonight, and the girl was in her pyjamas. She was the only one who had not been told what had happened, but as usual, she knew that something was going on. She walked up to Alex and put a gentle hand on her arm, and smiled sweetly.

"Why are you crying?" she asked quietly.

Her mother stepped in here.

"Kat, darling," she began slowly, "something happened today, something terrible, and everyone's very upset. You know Nick and Philip were trying to help a little girl named Caroline?"

Her daughter nodded solemnly.

"Well something went wrong," Rachel was trying to find the words to explain another death to her child, "um, they saved the little girl, but the house burnt down. Philip couldn't get out ... he's,"

But Kat didn't wait for the next line, much to her mother's surprise she actually turned back to Alex and patted her on the hand.

"You don't have to be sad," she said with an angelic little smile, "Philip's gone where he's supposed to go. He might even come back."

The adults in the room, just didn't know what to say. It seemed like a childish explanation of the way Kat saw the world, after all meeting dead people wasn't exactly new to her. A stunned silence seemed to hang over the room, but the girl either didn't notice it, or didn't care. She kissed Alex on the cheek, then her mother, and finally she went to Derek. It was her goodnight ritual and as soon as she'd finished it she waved at them all and left the room. Nobody seemed to feel like crying anymore.

It was warm, pleasantly so, and the place felt almost serene. Those were the first thoughts that went through Philip's mind as it slowly started working again. He was afraid of something, but he couldn't remember what, yet it kept him from trying to find out more about his surrounding.

"You're quite safe, Keeper," a voice said very close to him, "you can open your eyes now."

The tones were soft and gentle, but as he realised he wasn't alone, a terror he could not explain welled up within him. Irrationally his mind decided that if he could not see it, it could not hurt him.

"Please open you eyes, Keeper," the calm voice continued, "there is nothing to be afraid of. You have passed through the fire, you have come home. I'm here to help you, but time grows short."

A hand touched his shoulder, a soft, slender hand. The gentle pressure on his arm, and the sweet tone finally had an effect. He was still afraid, but logic said that what he heard and felt could not come from that which had harmed him. He blinked into the soft light, and slowly a beautiful face resolved itself, framed by a mass of long black hair. She smiled at him sweetly and took hold of his hand.

He found himself sitting with his back against what felt like a stone wall, but it was warm. The woman in front of him slowly urged him to his feet, and he found that she was no more than five feet tall. She was petite to go with it, and he found himself admiring her curves. Somewhere in his mind there was something that told him he should feel guilty about this, especially as both he and she appeared to be naked, but most of his thoughts ignored this.

"Welcome, Keeper," the beautiful creature said cheerfully, "I am Jasmine, will you give me your name?"

"Philip," the young man replied quietly.

It was like some form of ritual and as it concluded he felt almost calm. Looking around this place, his fears were dissolving into insignificance.

"I've been waiting for the next Keeper for over two hundred years," his companion continued lightly, "and I have something for you."

Philip had no idea what was going on, but somehow it seemed right, so he just let it continue. Jasmine led him towards the centre of the room, towards a small table. On it sat an intricate pedestal, nestled on the top of which was a palm sized crystal. As they approached, it began to give off a white light.

"This is the reason you are here," the petite woman said calmly. "Your life became such that the potential within you was harnessed, and the crystal recognised it's next Keeper. You were born with the innate ability to know it's power, your passion touched it's hiding place, and it found you to be suitable. You've felt it's strength when it fought the demon. It tested you and your sacrifice made it possible for you to come here."

"What is it?" Philip's voice was low, almost reverent as he beheld the light.

His companion smiled with a far away look in her eyes, and almost stroked the edge of the pedestal.

"It is a key," she explained slowly, "a key which will open part of you that you did not know existed. It is a gift and a grave responsibility, but it is yours."

The young man stood in silence, just looking at the glow. It was so beautiful and it sang to him with a song he could not begin to comprehend. He had felt pure evil and now he felt pure bliss.

"What if I don't accept it?" he heard himself ask, even as he was captivated.

"Then your mortal body will die," Jasmine told him honestly, "only the crystal's power can heal the injuries you sustained in the fire. Your soul will continue it's journey, and I will wait for the next to be chosen. The wheel will turn, the universe will continue."

She spoke matter-of-factly and made no attempt to cajole him into taking the stone. This woman wanted him to accept the gift, she saw in him a life that should not yet pass on, but it was not her place to prevent him from following his own path.

A few more seconds passed, and then with almost reckless speed, Philip's hand shot out and took hold of the stone. The fire that exploded in every nerve was an agony, but not one such as he had felt as the house blazed around him. This was pain, but also the most exquisite pleasure. It felt like his eyes were burning in his skull. He saw things he had never dreamed, and knew suddenly that he was not in his body. Almost instantly the pain he felt was not elemental, but very physical. His skin hurt and his bones ached. Slowly it began to ebb away, and gradually other sensations replaced it in his experience. Philip Callahan found himself laying in the long grass of a hillside, on a most beautiful spring day. The sun was hot, and the long blades protected him from the wind, but it was still a little cold to be sitting in a field naked.

Now this bothered him, but not as much as when he heard a cheerful laugh from beside him. He turned to find Jasmine smiling at him, and he couldn't help but watch as she stood up and stretched.

"It is wonderful here," she said lightly, "the house is this way. I have much to teach you, Philip, and March is a little chilly for our current state of undress."

There wasn't any arguing with that.

End of Part 1
Part 2

Time passed and wounds began to heal as the memories dulled. It took weeks, but Nick seemed to eventually accept that Philip's death wasn't his fault. The young priest's name was added to a plaque of deceased Legacy members, there was a beautiful memorial service for him, and yet it seemed unreal somehow with nothing to bury. They should have found somebody to take his place in the house, his expertise was missed, but it was almost unthinkable to the other members.

As weeks turned into months, Kat stopped trying to explain to people that Philip was only somewhere else. It seemed to distress her companions whenever his name was mentioned, so she decided to leave time to itself. The only time she had tried to tell her mother that he wasn't dead, the look that had entered Rachel's eyes was enough to put her off. It had been somewhere between sadness and disappointment, as if she had hoped better of her child. Kat knew that her mother could not understand all the things she did, but when a similar expression had appeared in Derek's eyes, the girl had decided not to try and tell anyone else.

There was one good thing to come out of all the mess as far as Kat was concerned, however. In their grief, Rachel and Derek finally seemed to managed to climb over their respective hurdles and actually admit that they were attracted to each other. Why they'd never managed this before was a mystery to the young girl: she'd seen their mutual affection from almost the first moment she'd been in the house.

The two, slightly older members of the Legacy house began to spend significant amounts of time in each others company, much to the delight of their companions. When Rachel sat her daughter down and started the "I loved your father..." speech, Kat knew it was serious. She had listened with patience as her mother tried to explain what the girl had already deduced, and then she'd solemnly given her approval.

Cases came and they went. The unit that was the Legacy house seemed almost strengthened by their loss. They'd lost people before, but this death came at a time that caused more than a little change in the people involved. An outsider would have seen a close knit group, but they would not have realised just what bound them together. They had always been a kind of family to each other, but now they really were kin. An uneventful spring turned into a glorious summer, and then lightening struck a second time.

"God, I know getting myself into these situations is reckless and stupid, but if you just let me survive this one, I'll *really* try not to do it again," Nick's words were more for himself than any deity, he was in *big* trouble.

It was huge, it was horrible, and Nick had never seen anything quite like it. He'd dealt with ghosts and demons, spirits and poltergeists, but this was in no way similar to any of them. This thing was very real, very ugly, had very big, extremely dangerous looking claws, and it was coming straight for him.

Not so long ago, the slavering beast had been a normal, loveable spaniel, out for a walk with it's master who was a good half a mile away. That was before reality had just changed so that the spot where Nick was standing could be protected from intrusion. The forces at work here, weren't exactly evil, they'd just been woken up after a long time and started rearranging reality to suit themselves. The effect was very localised, and it's beginnings could be traced back to the removal of a talisman by a building team. That didn't, however, stop Nick from being in very deep trouble.

Running was not an option, the car was just too far away, reason wasn't a good idea either, since the creature didn't seem to have any, and that didn't leave many avenues. Derek was trying to locate and replace the item which had been removed, but the man who had found it was very difficult to track down. The research said that the talisman was made of gold and gems, that made it very valuable to whoever stole it. Even if the head of the Legacy house could retrieve it, that wasn't going to help Nick just now.

The only weapon the young man had been able to lay his hands on, was a piece of wood that had fallen from a near by tree. It looked rather puny compared to the creature coming towards him, but there wasn't anything else to hand. He'd only been trying to find the spot where the talisman had to be replaced, his gun was in the car. So far reality had just been bent in harmless ways: a crane had become a tree, a hut a stone shrine, this creature was in a different league.

The spaniel had mutated into something that was halfway between the wolf man and a dinosaur. It's teeth were long and pointed, very close to the T-rex from Jurassic Park. Any horror movie actor would have been proud to don the claws, and the beast stalked him on two legs. The dog's big brown eyes had become red, reptilian slits, and there was no way to escape them. When the thing finally charged, there was little Nick could do.

The first time he hit it the wooden shaft splintered and broke into a thousand pieces. The shards did more damage to his unprotected hands than the blow did to the creature. None of his martial arts training or SEAL expertise seemed to do him any good, it was just too big. He landed several heavy blows, but the thick brown hide just absorbed anything he could throw at it. It slashed at him and the claws raked straight through his clothing and into the flesh on his ribs. It hurt like hell and the ex-SEAL tried desperately to get away.

He was given a few seconds respite as he ran for the cover of the small stone building to his left. Hope sprang in his mind as he heard the distant sound of an engine, and he prayed that help was coming. Hiding was no good, the beast had a better sense of smell that any human could hope to evade, so the young man had to keep moving. As he'd dashed inside the small structure he'd lost sight of his enemy, and all he could do was hope it was even more stupid than it looked.

The back entrance of the `shrine' was in front of him and he dared not wait too long in anyone place. With the distraction of the new arrival it was possible he might be able to reach the car and at least buy himself some time. As he ran out the other side, however, he was far from lucky. The creature had not been as dumb as it seemed and with wolf-like cunning it had circled him. When he left the building, he crashed straight into it.

"Put the talisman back where you found it," Nick heard Derek's voice somewhere behind him, but he looked into the face of the monster.

A huge, taloned hand connected around his chest and he felt an icy pain as claws sliced effortlessly into his flesh. Muscle and sinew were no object and there was no protection. The thing threw it's victim through the air and into the nearest tree. Nick collided with the hard barrier and there was the sickening sound of bones crumbling under the strain. He never had a chance to see a man run to a small hole in the ground and drop a wrapped package into it. He also missed the creature fading slowly back into the dog from which it had come. There was nothing in Nick's world, nothing but blackness.

The wind was talking about many things: a storm in England, a clear day in the Canadian Rockies, and rain in Kenya. It was a beautiful, if somewhat muddled song, and Philip lay on his back, in the grass listening. He was completely content, normal cares just did not have any meaning in his mind. It had been relatively the same since he had first woken up on the hillside. He spent his days learning and enjoying himself in Jasmine's company, and nothing beyond that mattered. He had memory of who he was, who his friends were, but in this environment those thoughts had little meaning. It was as if the real world was behind a wall of fog and connective emotions couldn't get through it. It was all still there, but it had no relationship to Philip. He was actually on a farm in Ireland, miles from anywhere, and totally at peace.

On a sunny day in August, a little under seven months after he had arrived, the calm shattered. Slavering jaws, lethal talons and a dear friend's pain lanced into his mind. The bubble of protection that he had needed to heal evaporated around him, and reality came flooding back. His life, his friends, the people he loved, all the meaning came back.

Surprisingly, he felt no guilt for the way he had been living over the past months. His disconnection, his recently kindled love for Jasmine, he felt no regret for any of it. He had changed over the last few months and although his old life came back, his new one slotted in tightly. There was no time for guilt, no time to repent that he could no longer be what he had been. He had to go home, and quickly.

He stood up and took one last look around the green landscape. He had been happy here, but it was time to return to the real world. With haste in his step he walked back towards the house to find Jasmine, and arrange the journey to San Francisco.

It seemed barely possible, so much tragedy had befallen one Legacy house in under a year. Philip was dead and now Nick was hanging on by no more than a thread. Whenever Derek or the others enquired about their friend's condition, that sad, sort of resigned look appeared on people's faces. They never said it outright, but Nick's injuries were so serious no-one thought he was ever going to wake up. The creature's claws had damaged several vital organs, the impact with the tree had cause head and spinal injuries, and he was slowly slipping away.

There was one of the Legacy with him every moment they were allowed to be there, but in seventy two hours he had shown no signs of knowing they were there. He lay deathly still in the cold white room, swathed in bandages, with tubes feeding him food and oxygen. A heart monitor showed a slow, weak rhythm, but his breathing was barely perceptible. Even the flowers and cards couldn't chase away the atmosphere of gloom.

It was moving on for ten p.m. and Alex had been virtually thrown out of Nick's room and told to go home. She looked up briefly as she walked out into the night, feeling something in the air, but unsure of what it was. It held her attention only a moment, and then she found her car keys and slowly made her way to her transport.

Philip watched from the shadows, unwilling to show himself yet, but feeling a kinship with her sorrow.

"He'll be fine, Alex, I promise," he whispered quietly, and waited until she had gone.

Nobody challenged him as he took the elevator to the correct floor, and strolled past the nurses station. One look in his almost hypnotic eyes put most minds at rest, and a peaceful smile calmed any others. Even the nurse who had just checked Nick's condition, greeted him as he entered the room, and then left without a comment.

"Hi, Nick," the young man said warmly, as if talking to someone who could actually hear him, "you're not looking too well, my friend."

He wandered up beside the bed and just looked at his companion's pale features for a moment.

"Not contemplating dying, were we?" his Irish accent was strong in his light tone. "Now we can't have that."

He reached out his hand and placed if on Nick's chest. The small smile that had been playing at his lips dissolved immediately.

"Let go of the pain, Nick," Philip said slowly, now very serious, "you don't need it anymore."

The young man's mind delved into his friend's body, finding every hurt, every injury, and then with a deep breath he began to take them away. The heart rate on the monitor sped up a little, but at first that was the only outward sign that anything was happening. Philip's eyes closed slowly as his brow knitted in concentration. Over time the truth of the situation became apparent as trickles of blood began to show through Philip's shirt. He was taking the injuries into himself, and there he could heal them.

The young man was shaking by the time he finally opened his eyes once more, and his features were pale and weary. Where he looked worse, however, it was impossible not to notice that Nick appeared much improved.

"Sleep deeply, my friend," Philip said slowly, "you're going have to field a lot of questions tomorrow."

He removed his hand slowly and tried to turn, but his legs didn't seem to be working properly. Even miracles took time, and the healing was exacting a price on Philip's body. The young man managed to pull his coat around him to conceal the slowly spreading blood stains, and stumbled as far as the door, but he slowly slid down the frame. The laws of nature were working against him, and the Mother would not be beaten this time. With a small, resigned sigh, he let himself slip into healing sleep: the only thing he could do.

They found him on the two o'clock rounds. By five he was sleeping in another room, having been totally oblivious through a thorough examination, and the phone was ringing on Angel Island.

"Derek Rayne," sleep was not an option for the head of the house just at the moment and he answered the call immediately.

"Dr Rayne," the voice said on the other end, "My name is Dr Collwood, I'm ringing about your colleague, Nicholas Boyle."

Derek's chest seemed suddenly tight and he had to take a very deep breath.

"Go on," he instructed with absolutely no emotion in his voice.

"Something quite remarkable has happened," the physician on the line said with a strange excitement in his voice. "Mr Boyle appears to have made a full recovery. In fact, when we tried to examine him, he woke up and, dare I say, demanded to know what we were doing."

He was about to suggest that maybe Derek should come to the hospital, when the question was revealed to be pointless.

"I'll be there in twenty minutes," was all the head of the Legacy house said, and then the phone went dead.

Speed limits were not on the psychic's mind as he drove from the castle, and he made it to the institution in a little over seventeen minutes. Even as he walked up the hallway, he couldn't quite believe what he was hearing.

"Look, all I want are my clothes and I'll get out of your hair," it was Nick's voice and he sounded impatient.

"Mr Boyle," the physician from the phone was obviously in the room, "you appear to have made an excellent recovery, but may I remind you that yesterday you were dying. We'd just like to make sure you remain in good health."

"I'm fine," the ex-SEAL insisted firmly, "but I don't like hospitals."

Technically he didn't mind hospitals, it was just being a patient that bothered him, but who was to know?

It was at this point that Derek walked through the door, and Nick's features lit up. The younger man was sitting on the bed with a sheet wrapped around his waist, and discarded bandages in a pile next to him. Any and all equipment which had been attached to him was pushed to one side, and he was cornered by the consultant, his junior and two nurses.

"Thank god, you're here," Nick said as soon as he saw his colleague, "please could you tell them to let me out of here."

The psychic just stood there looking vaguely stunned for a moment. When the doctor had mentioned a miraculous recovery, Derek had expected Nick to be awake, but weak and ill. Quite frankly he was looking totally healthy. Yes there were the slightly pale patches under his eyes, and the deep rifts in his torso looked a little painful, but they were nearly just scars.

"Incredible," was the first word that passed the psychic's lips.

"Well?" Nick seemed a little impatient as support appeared to be lacking.

That snapped Derek out of his reverie.

"I suggest a compromise," the doctor of Philosophy said with an uncontainable smile. "Nick let these good people examine you, and as long as they don't find anything life threatening, I'll drive you home."

There was a moments silence as the two sides of the argument reviewed their options.

"I'm willing if they are," the ex-SEAL finally agreed.

The consultant breathed a sigh of relief and nodded his own acceptance.

"Dr Walsh will examine you," he said calmly, "and for now, I'd like to borrow Dr Rayne."

Derek was kind of surprised, but he had no objections, and the two men walked into the corridor. The senior physician seemed somewhat excited about something and he began to talk.

"There's more to this than I had a chance to tell you over the phone," he said animatedly. "We found a man in Mr Boyle's room just before we realised the change in his condition. The man was unconscious, and when we examined him we found traces of the exact same injuries on his body as Mr Boyle had, but they were healing at an incredible rate."

The doctor was slowly leading Derek down the hall. The physician knew that the Luna foundation was not quite what it appeared to be on the surface, he had seen enough cases pass into their hands. He knew that this would interest the man beside him almost as much as his colleagues recovery. He had several more bits of information to pass on before they actually reached their destination.

"That was not the only thing remarkable about the young man," the doctor continued. "There was something I noticed on close examination. This patient has the most unusual eyes, Dr Rayne, quite unlike any I have seen before. The irises were almost white, but not mat white, they gave the illusion of being almost like glass before a white background. They were ringed in so deep a blue that it was almost black, and small flecks of the same colour gave the eyes an almost faceted quality."

With that he opened the door they had just reached and ushered in his companion. Derek's reaction would have been greater except that the bed was empty and the window open. All that was left to show there had been an occupant was the rucked up sheet. The fact that they were three stories up and the only route down was a tree did not escape the attention of the head of the Legacy house.

"I don't believe this," was all the doctor could say, "he's gone."

"So it would appear," was Derek's only comment.

He walked over towards the bed as the physician turned to call anyone he could think of to explain the disappearance. Just at that moment, Derek was far from interested in what the other man was doing, because as he placed his hands on the crumpled sheets he gained a very clear impression. His mind literally screamed Legacy at him: this man had some connection with the organisation, the Precept was left with no doubts.

End of Part 2
Part 3

"So you think this guy saved me and then ran off?" Nick said as his friend drove them both home at a much more sedate pace than his previous journey. "But if he was from another Legacy house, why would he leave?"

"I didn't say he was from another house," the older man said as he watched the road, "I just said he was connected to the Legacy. I have no idea why he ran, and what is more disturbing is the fact that I know of no reports that mention those apparent abilities."

He had a detailed description of the man in question, in a note book, but the general characteristics could have fitted several people. The significant parts on the other hand, fitted no one Derek had ever met. This kind of ability would have been on file, and it was not something that would have been ignored. Unless the Legacy had gained some new members very recently, this man should have been easy to find. The disappearance also begged the question, why would a man who has so obviously saved a life, just leave? Sympathetic healing was a very rare gift, no house had a member possessing those skills and the files only contained a few reported cases in the entire world. It was a puzzle, but a welcome one since it seemed to have brought Nick back to the group.

Why he had fled was not something Philip could explain to himself just at the moment, let alone anyone else. Maybe he just hadn't been prepared, but as soon as he'd sensed Derek's presence he'd had to escape. Quite frankly he was afraid to see his friends again, so much had changed, and he hadn't had time to completely accept it himself, sharing it with others was a frightening thought.

Jasmine had been waiting for him outside, and with her help and the tree he had made it to the ground safely. Sitting in the shadows with his companion the young man now felt a little stupid.

"No need to look like that," Jas said with half a smile, "you do have a right to be nervous."

"Yes, but climbing out a third floor window rates up there with a little more than nervous," was the annoyed reply.

The young looking woman just grinned and pecked him on the cheek.

"Let's get you to the hotel and into a nice comfy bed," she said lightly, "you'll feel much better in the morning."

If the truth be told, Philip did rather feel like he'd been through a mincer. His ribs ached, his body was sore just about everywhere, and he was dog tired. Jasmine's suggestion did not go unheeded.

The next morning was a fabulous day and the castle looked beautiful from the drive. His heart was beating like there was no tomorrow, and he wasn't quite sure what to do, but at least Philip had made it that far. He was wearing jeans, a blue shirt, a suede jacket and on his nose was a pair of tinted shades. The most unusual thing about him had there been any casual observers, was the fact that he had a black cat sitting on his shoulder.

"You wouldn't reconsider and accompany me in human form, would you, Jas?" the young man asked slowly.

The cat just looked at him with her big yellow eyes: they'd discussed this before.

"Okay," he said under her gaze, "I'm going."

It was a Saturday and as he walked into the gardens he found the one person who he knew he would have no trouble with. Kat looked up from where she was playing and her face broke into a wide smile.

"Philip, you're back!" she cried with glee and literally charged across the lawn to meet him.

He bent down and swept her into a hug. Jasmine obliged by descending to the ground. The man and child just squeezed each other for a while and then Kat pulled back.

"So how have you been?" the young man asked under the delightful scrutiny.

"Fine," the girl replied quietly, "but I had to stop telling them you weren't dead because Mom was upset."

Philip smiled at that, he had had no doubts that Kat would see the truth.

"Yes, well sometimes us adults can't see what's in front of our faces," he responded amiably.

"No kidding," Kat responded with a grin.

Then she turned serious.

"Where have you been, Philip?" she enquired earnestly.

"I was in a strange place for a while," the young man told her truthfully, "but mostly I was in Ireland. This is Jasmine, she's been looking after me."

He indicated the black feline and the girl beamed at her.

"Pleased to meet you," she said without the hang-ups an adult would have talking to an animal, "I'm Kat."

Jas rubbed her back along the girl's leg and the pact was made: they were friends.

"So who's in?" Philip enquired.

"Mom and Derek went to the hospital earlier," Kat explained, "to find out some things, but Alex is in the computer room and Nick is upstairs asleep. Alex said he tried to make it seem he was all better last night, but he's been sleeping all morning."

"Best thing for him," her companion returned with a smile.

The young girl's face became serious again for a moment or two.

"How did you do it?" she asked in a direct fashion.

"Do what?" was the immediate answer.

"Heal Nick?" Kat obviously knew exactly what was going on.

"Oh," Philip said slowly, "I'm not one hundred percent sure. I can just do some weird things now. It's like asking how do you see spirits."

The girl nodded sagely, she understood. Her curiosity satisfied she took her companion's hand and smiled.

"Let's go find Alex," she said with mischief in her voice.

Jasmine performed a feat of acrobatics and leapt onto Philip's shoulder once more. She curled herself around his neck securely and settled in for the ride.

The young Legacy member let himself be led, and Kat took him into the house. A warm feeling of familiarity fell like a blanket around him as soon as he stepped over the threshold.

"Home," he said without realising he spoke aloud.

"Of course," was his companion's reply.

They walked up to the hologram wall together, but just in front of it, Philip stopped. Alex had been his closest friend and the thought of seeing her again brought back all the trepidation. The hand in his squeezed and he looked down to see an understanding smile on Kat's face. She saw a lot more than a child her age should understand, and her presence was a comfort.

Since Alex was inside, when the intruder stepped over the threshold all that happened was the computer beeped. Philip's retinal scan was still on file, but he was listed as deceased. At the warning, the Legacy member in residence turned in her chair, then she froze.

The psychic forgot to breathe, her heart leapt into her throat, and all coherent thought fled. She could not be seeing the person in front of her, but Kat's smiling face said otherwise. As for the centre of her attention, he wasn't doing so well either, and he just stood there.

"You could talk to each other you know," the only active member of the group said lightly, "you must have heaps to say."

Neither of the other two looked particularly ready to break the silence.

"Well I can't do it for you," Kat told them cheerfully, "I'm going to see if Nick is awake."

Her disappearing back finally galvanised Philip into action.

"Kat, wait ...," was what he tried, but the girl paid no heed.

That left he and Alex alone: the silence was beginning to become awkward.

"Philip, is that really you?" it was the only thing that would coalesce in the woman's mind.

"Last time I checked," the young man returned with an attempt at lightness.

He'd never been very good at that sort of thing, and it fell flat.

"You're alive," this conversation was predictable.

The female member of the Legacy house stood up very slowly. She still couldn't believe what she was seeing, there were some strange vibes coming from her companion's direction. What he did next could alienate her further, but the truth was better from the outset. With one hand he reached up and took off his glasses.

The gasp and the step back caused him pain, but they were to be expected. His eyes had changed the moment he had touched the crystal, and he could not go back. At a quick glance they could be passed off as pale blue, but under scrutiny their true colour was obvious. Nearly white eyes, rimmed with deep blue and criss-crossed by tiny dark lines, was not something you saw every day.

"What happened to you?" Alex had seen many seemingly good things go bad in her time with the Legacy. She was not taking anything for granted.

"I was given something," the young man returned, "something that was waiting for me."

The fact that she wouldn't come near him was tearing him apart. He could bear the look on her face, but the fact that she seemed afraid was almost too much.

"Look," he said slowly, "I could try and explain, but it would take forever. Just touch me Alex, then you'll know the truth."

He had no intention of hiding anything and his companion's Sight would show her what she needed to understand. It would be vague, but at a fundamental level which would allow her to at least believe who he was. He reached out his hand and just waited. There was obvious trepidation on Alex's face as she could not reconcile her thoughts with what she saw. Finally, however, with a slight frown, and a little bit of faith, she reached out.

As their fingers touched, images and emotion began to poor into her mind. Philip was just a little over enthusiastic in his relief, and he was doing a very good job of projecting things at her. It was all a bit much for the young psychic who was not prepared for any such thing, and in self-preservation, her senses just shut off.

"Alex," Philip almost yelped as his friend crumpled into a heap.

Jasmine leapt off his shoulder onto the table as the young man moved instantly to help.

The young woman opened her eyes slowly and found some very worried, upside-down features looking down at her. A few seconds past before reality made itself plain, and then she realised she was lying on the floor with her head on Philip's knee.

"Alex," he asked hesitantly, "are you okay?"

She'd been out for a good five minutes and he had been getting very worried. A smile appeared on her face at the tone in his voice.

"Yes," she said slowly, and with his help sat up, "I'm fine. That was quite an experience."

"Sorry," he said very apologetically.

The situation slowly resolved itself in the woman's mind and what was actually happening made it through. Suddenly she was very animated and she threw her arms around her friend.

"My god, Philip, it really is you," she said a bit too loudly next to his ear.

This time he was very careful to make sure all his mental barriers were in place. The hug was purely on a physical level.

"What happened to you, where have you been, why didn't you contact us?" all the questions came out in one mad rush as Alex pulled back.

Her companion really didn't know what to say.

"It's complicated," he managed eventually.

With perfect timing the black cat took her cue, and Jasmine leapt off the counter and wandered over. An unsure look came over Alex's face as the creature brushed against her. She did not resist as Philip helped her to her feet, but she didn't take her eyes off the feline on the floor.

"That's not a normal cat," she eventually said with doubt in her voice.

"No, that's Jas," her companion supplied with half a smile, "she's ... she's my friend."

The peculiar being blinked at them with her big yellow eyes.

"You know, it would be a lot easier if you'd just introduce yourself," Philip said as she curled round his legs.

Slowly, she wandered away from him and into a space in the room. Her outline glowed blue for a moment and then she appeared to dissolve into a light mist. The fluid leisurely flowed into a vaguely human shape and the woman began to form. Each feature moulded into place and a mannequin like shell appeared, which quickly became very real flesh. She smiled at both of them sweetly, and Alex couldn't help but laugh even through her amazement, as Philip turned a gentle pink and tried to keep the admiration out of his features.

"Ah, Jas," he said quietly, "you forgot something."

The woman looked down at herself and then grinned.

"Oh, yes," she commented amiably, "polite company."

Another small mist enveloped her and a light silky green dress appeared around her petite form. For all the good it did, she may have remained naked. This may have been a small woman, but she had legs that went all the way up, and curves in all the right places. Being able to change shape may have given her an advantage, but she certainly knew what she was doing.

"Hello," she continued brightly, "it's nice to meet you."

"Ah, hi," Alex returned, not quite sure what she was looking at.

It didn't take a genius to notice that the way Philip looked at Jasmine was not at all innocent or priestly. It wasn't just his eyes that had changed. Several questions about the future jumped into Alex's mind, but so did lots of other things. The most prominent of which was the answer to the question Derek had had her chasing all morning.

"You were the man in the hospital, weren't you?" she said slowly, and looked back at her friend.

Philip just nodded.

End of Part 3
Part 4

"Why did you leave?" Alex put the question to her friend gently as she saw the confusion cross his face.

The young man looked more than a little awkward, and the first thing he did was shrug.

"I really don't know," he replied honestly, "I felt Derek coming and I panicked."

The way he said it was so matter-of-fact, but those words out of ordinary, down to earth, Philip's mouth, just caught in Alex's mind.

"You felt Derek," she repeated to herself as if examining the idea in her mind.

Her male companion half smiled as he realised how it must have sounded. The way he saw things had altered so much, and these were the moments when it showed.

"I've changed, Alex," he said quietly. "Plain old me has woken up and caught a glimpse of the bigger picture."

His friend had to smile at the way he described it, she'd been thinking the same thing.

"Big time," was all she said.

The computer beeped behind her, and she suddenly remembered that she'd been carrying out a search.

"I've been trying to track you down," she said as she turned back to the machine, "of course I've been looking in completely the wrong place."

The researcher was about to save the information and shut off the screen when the article it had found caught her eye. She couldn't help but let her eyes track over it as her behind found it's way back into the chair. The document on file was an old manuscript, and to one side of the monitor a plain text version of the hand-written paper in the image was given. It was dated 1714.

*We thought Aaron lost, but he has returned to us. The man has come through death and he is more than a little changed. Father Reynolds had to be convinced that he was not the work of the Devil, but our returning sheep soon showed this house his true colours. Put aside the fact that the lad looks on the world with the most peculiar eyes, and exhibits more than a few of the gifts, we have Aaron back. If those outside saw him talking to the bird he carries just about everywhere they would call him Witch, but we have protected those with the Sight for many years.*

That was as far as Alex needed to read. The events recorded were almost an exact match, and she couldn't help but turn to her friend in amazement.

"The last Keeper," Jasmine said as she caught a glance of what was on the screen, "many have had connections with the Legacy. Like draws like, and it is difficult to fight for mankind alone. When the Legacy began other powers noticed it, and fate has a funny way with these things. Aaron DeFey was a Scotsman with a French father, living in Aberdeen a little over two centuries ago. He was supposedly killed when his Legacy house came up against a ghost who brought death to all who saw him. He sacrificed himself to save one of his friends and then he became the Keeper. He died in 1764, a father of eight and the leader of his house. Before him was Jessica Paul, before her Peter Woods, back through the mists of time. Until this day and age it would have been impossible to find any link between the line, but if you trace them back you eventually reach the first Keeper of them all. The only common ancestor they all share."

Now this was news even to Philip, and he was gazing at the young woman intently as she finished. She just smiled at him sweetly.

"The topic just never came up before, love," were her light words.

Alex was also giving her quite a hard stare.

"You seem to know just about everything there is to know," the researcher said slowly, "were you there?"

The peculiar creature turned her innocent eyes to the woman.

"No," she replied honestly, "I am Philip's guide to the crystal, the others had their own. I am now as firmly tied to this world as any of you, and I will be `til the day the keeper passes."

There was no attempt to conceal information, Jas' whole purpose was to teach, and that meant to anyone who would listen. At the moment that was the young researcher, and the beautiful shape changer would pass on anything Miss Moreau cared to hear. Now there had been no mention of stones or other worlds before: Alex was becoming a little confused.

"What crystal?" she asked, sorting the information in her brain.

"*The* crystal," Jas returned calmly, "it doesn't have a name. It's alive in a broad sense of the word. Not human, walking and talking alive, but it has a consciousness and a will. It is a store of tremendous power, which it lets into this world from time to time, via a Keeper."

The Legacy member looked at Philip for a second, and then rapidly turned her attention back to her inquiries.

"Can I see this crystal?" she asked both of them.

Her question brought an awkward smile to Philip's face. This was going to be tough to explain, and the young man took a moment to think about it.

"Technically," he started slowly, trying to find the right words, "it's not a physical entity on this plane." He wasn't used to classifying things like this, but he was pretty sure Alex would prefer it like this. "It exists somewhere else, a different dimension if you like, and it has a connection here because of me."

He hoped it didn't sound arrogant. The discussion was becoming a little more complicated than Alex had expected, and she decided that the others would probably like to hear it as well. Repeating everything four or five times would no doubt become tedious for all concerned.

"Okay," she said slowly, "time out. Unless you want to explain this several times, I think it might be a good idea if we wait until Derek and Rachel get back."

Philip and his somewhat peculiar companion had no objections.

"It's nearly lunch time," the young woman said amiably, "why don't I see if I can arrange some food, then I'll give the boss a call. With lunch time traffic they should be back in about thirty five minutes."

Now that definitely met with approval, from all parties concerned. The living room was as large and as comfortable as Philip remembered it, and very shortly there were sandwiches, cake, tea and coffee, sitting on the table, enough to feed five thousand. Alex made the phone call, and carefully left out the details of exactly why Derek should return. It would probably have made the journey a lot quicker, but the researcher did not want her friend crashing the car.

The three conspirators had just sat down when Kat came bouncing round the corner with a half dressed, half awake Nick in tow.

"I had to push him into the bathroom," the child said cheerfully, "but he wasn't asleep, he was just lying there."

All the activity amongst the adults had suddenly ceased. The first thing that caught Nick's eye was the pair of bare slender legs perched on the arm of a chair, which disappeared under a remarkably short skirt. It was when he reached her torso, and noticed the person Jas was sitting next to, that he woke up. Nick stared at Philip, the paler man stared back, and the realisations could be seen wandering across the ex-SEAL's face.

Shock wrestled with relief on his features, clouded by just a touch of anger as questions leapt into his head. It was clear he didn't know how to react, and he took the quickest way out.

"Let me guess," he said as he looked at his friend's peculiar gaze, "the guy from the hospital."

He managed to keep most of the bitterness out of his voice as his mind jumped to several conclusions that he had no way of verifying. Nick always thought the worst, but at least this time he managed to control it. Philip saw the emotions pass across his face, and heard them in his voice, and he felt grateful to his friend that he managed to keep them inside.

"Guilty," the seated man said calmly, and attempted a half smile.

Alex saw the tension building, she didn't have to be psychic to see that neither of the two men were going to be able to keep up this front for much longer. She decided that diversionary tactics were necessary, and quickly formulated a course of action.

"We were going to have some lunch," she broke the slowly thickening silence, "you could make it breakfast, Nick."

Kat in her usual direct fashion, stepped over the social problem and dragged her companion further into the room.

"Ham sandwiches," she cooed, and literally pushed Nick into a chair, "my favourite."

The adults left her to it.

"Hi Nick," Jasmine said and hopped off her perch, "I'm Jas."

She grinned at him broadly, knowing that she could distract just about any man from a train of thought. It worked this time as well, and when she stuck out her hand, the ex-SEAL shook the offered limb while trying to keep his eyes off the shapely legs.

"Ah, hello," he managed slowly.

"I've heard a lot about you over the last couple of days," she said lightly, "I hope you're feeling better. You definitely have a better colour today."

Her cards played, she turned and walked back to Philip's side. Nick was having trouble not staring. Even with all the tension in the room, the other young man had to smile, and he tried not to laugh.

[[You're doing it deliberately,]] he thought at Jas as soon as her hand touched his shoulder, [[stop teasing him.]]

[[He needs something else to think about right now,]] was the unrepentant reply. [[Anyway, your friend is very sweet when he's embarrassed.]]

Their silent conversation earned them an intrigued look from Kat. She had no idea what they were up to, but she'd obviously sensed that something was going on. Jasmine grinned at her.

"So you like to make spectacular returns from the dead, do you?" Nick finally found a relevant thought in his brain. "You couldn't have just come by and said hi?"

His tone was a little sarcastic, but he was trying really hard not to sound bitter. The man in front of him had saved his life, and bitching about the fact that he seemed to have just allowed his friends to think he was dead, felt a little ungrateful. The look in his eyes said he couldn't decide if he wanted to yell and scream or have a calm collected conversation. In the end he tried to smile, letting the sudden relief from old grief buoy his spirit.

"Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time," Philip returned, going with the flow, "I'm not so sure now."

That actually brought a genuine grin to Nick's face, and in an effort to do something, Alex offered around the sandwiched. This conversation was very hard, and there were certain things the ex-SEAL chose not to go into just now. Instead, he went for a quip.

"So this sympathetic healing thing," he said lightly, "it just something you picked up after you burned to a crisp?"

"Sort of," was the quick reply.

They just started at each other for a moment. There was a lot between them, a great deal hadn't been settled from before the `death', now it was almost impossible to see the relationship that had once been there. Philip knew they were going to have to have a long talk about this, and soon, he did not want a friendship based on a misplaced gratitude. Now, however, was not the time, maybe once the initial shock had worn off.

The three females in the room exchanged glances as they read the faces of their friends, even Kat could see some of what was going on. They chose to intervene and from there they diverted the conversation onto a lighter note. They chatted idly about some of the things that had happened in the prodigal's absence, and they demolished every last sandwich. Idle conversation was much easier than deep discussions and the group fell into it gladly. It was just over half an hour later that they heard the front door open.

"Sounds like the boss is home," Nick commented as they all looked at each other like naughty children.

It was like being caught with their fingers in the cookie jar, as somehow the little gathering seemed almost covert.

"Crunch time," were Alex's words and they all stood up.

The moment Derek walked into the house he knew something was different. It was one of his stranger premonitions as he suddenly felt a warmth around him, and yet he was entirely confused. Rachel looked at him strangely as he paused in the doorway and frowned. It was as Alex appeared from the living room, looking a little unsure of herself, that the psychiatrist knew that something not quite normal was going on. As usual, Derek had told her nothing about being summoned back to the house, Rachel thought he'd just decided to return.

"I found our mystery man," Alex said slowly, "or rather, he found me."

Philip had followed her to the door, and he took his cue, shortly followed by Kat. The girl ran to her mother with a very cheerful expression on her face.

"My god," Derek said under his breath.

He, even more so than the others, had great trouble accepting the apparition in front of him. The battle of his emotions did not show on his face, he had been controlling them for too long, but the influx of confusion almost overwhelmed his inner self. Part of him wanted to laugh with joy as the loss he had been carrying in his heart tried to fly away, and yet the Precept part of him issued a warning. He would have dearly loved to walk up to Philip and welcome him back to the house, but as the two looked at each other, they both knew that wasn't yet possible.

Rachel just stared at her daughter, and then back to Philip. This defied any rational explanation, and her experience with dopplegangers was too clear in her memory for her to accept the current situation. Kat seemed to sense her mother's apprehension, and so she just slipped her finger's into Rachel's hand and squeezed.

The two other occupants of the living room now walked into the hall as well. The petite, bare foot Jasmine smiled at the newcomers with her most innocent expression.

"Where have you been?" Derek asked the most pressing question in his mind.

"Ireland," Philip replied calmly, "well mostly."

He'd found out sometime after he'd woken that he'd lost a good five weeks before meeting Jas the first time.

"Why didn't you contact us?" it was a common thought, but so far the young man had avoided answering it.

Here and now he felt a little guilty about the answer, but he didn't lie, and he was not about to start now.

"At the time," he said slowly, "it didn't seem important."

It was the plain truth, but it sounded so harsh. The revelation was obviously difficult for Derek to understand, even Alex looked a little askance. `I couldn't face it.', `I didn't remember.' or anything similar would have been easier to accept, but `It didn't seem important.' was like a physical blow. It was now that Kat decided to put her view on the situation across.

"Philip's been busy," she said as if it should have been obvious to everyone, "we weren't important until we needed him."

"What a remarkable child," even Jas was impressed.

How she knew all these things was beyond most of the adults, even the psychics. It was probably that she had no preconceived ideas and therefore there were no barriers to her gift. Kat saw and believed, never just putting things down to her imagination.

"I want to come home," Philip said simply, before anyone else could speak.

It was a plain request, but the young man did not expect a straight answer. There were too many variables, too many dangerous possibilities, and he did not expect Derek to welcome him until all questions were answered. There was of course one puzzle who could reveal herself.

"Greetings, Precept," Jas said formally, "I am Jasmine, and I offer my services to your house."

She had stepped forward and she bowed her head slightly.

"May I be so bold as to enquire what exactly you are?" Derek did not need to be subtle.

"I am the Guide," the woman replied, "and I will teach all that I know to any who care to learn. Much of my knowledge is only of use to the Keeper, but there are parts other may wish to understand."

"Do you ask anything in return?" the head of the house knew that this was no ordinary human being, and when it came to such offers, there was usually a catch.

"No," the reply rather surprised Derek.

There were going to have to be long discussions about all of this, and the hallway was not the right place.

"Let's go into the conference room," the older man said evenly, "we can talk there."

End of 4
Part 5

It was peculiar sitting at this end of the table, away from his usual place beside Alex, but Philip knew he was not yet a part of this house again. It was going to take time, and a lot of convincing to put him back in even a piece of the position of trust he had held.

When a meeting was going on, this room was usually a place for just the adults of the house, but today Kat accompanied them. She sat beside Rachel on a stool, solemnly silent in her new found involvement.

"You realise that we cannot just accept you at face value," Derek said slowly once they were all quiet. "Too much depends on this house."

"We didn't expect open arms," Philip responded with no sign of resentment in his voice. "I will do whatever it takes to prove I am neither some apparition, nor am I possessed."

From the look on her face, Alex was already convinced, but the Precept of the house would be far more difficult to pursued. The younger psychic was, however, the next `witness' as she revealed what she had found in the records. She gave them a professional, objective view of the information concerning the previous incident in the files. Her personal opinions would wait discussions she knew would come later. Once Derek invited comments, she would explain exactly what view she chose to take.

It was when the young woman passed on the facts which Jasmine had provided that the attention turned to the not quite human individual.

"You have told us you are the Guide," Derek looked directly into the woman's green eyes, "but what exactly does that mean, and where do you come from?"

The peculiar young woman had been prepared for that, in fact she was prepared for most things.

"I was human once," she replied calmly, "a long time ago, but I have never before lived in the mortal realm. My mother died at the exact same moment as the last Keeper, with me unborn in her womb. The crystal's power claimed my form, and changed me. It taught me everything, and as I was taught, so will I teach. I have watched the world turn and I have waited, and then Philip came. Now I will be where ever he needs me to be."

The fact that she was not even a human being came as a shock to the non-sensitives in the room. On the surface she looked normal, except maybe her sense of dress. The fact that Nick had been talking to her for a considerable amount of time and never noticed a thing, worried him slightly. The way Philip didn't seem to find his companion remotely disturbing was also off putting.

"Are you mortal?" it was a valid question.

"Not exactly," she replied honestly, "I am not immortal, but I will never grow old. However, if you are asking, can I die, then the answer is yes. It would probably take a great deal of effort to kill me, but it is possible. My life-force is connected with Philip's, he is the reason I exist in this world. When he dies, so will I."

She did not seem in the least bit concerned about the situation. Jasmine had come to terms with her existence a long time ago, and she was content. The fact that the man to whom she was eternally connected was madly in love with her, and she with him, was an added bonus.

With the mention of Philip, all eyes turned back to the young man. All the scrutiny made him a little uncomfortable, but he didn't flinch from it. He had been telling the absolute truth when he said he was willing to do whatever it took to regain the trust of his friends.

"What made you return now," Derek asked pointedly, "how did you know what was happening?"

The extent of his abilities was a mystery, even to Philip, and as Jas constantly reminded him, he seemed to be able to do things of which he should not be capable, and yet the simplest things could often escape him. The answer to this question, however, was not difficult.

"I saw it happen," the young man replied evenly, "I had a vision."

He was looking straight into Derek's eyes, and he knew they understood each other perfectly. The Sight affected people in different ways, but the way he explained gave Rayne a clear picture of exactly what it meant. Kat saw things, Alex had visions and seemed to able to empathise with just about any situation, but Derek was the only one that knew how violent a vision could be. He knew what it was like to really see, to experience an event through another's senses, and he understood what Philip was telling him.

"I've been living inside a shell, protected," the younger psychic continued slowly, "but that shattered. You could say my life began again when Nick's nearly ended ... I couldn't just let him die."

"But you could let us bury you, and watch your family mourn?" he was not going to be allowed to get away with a short explanation, Nick couldn't contain his anger anymore.

The accusation exploded from the ex-SEAL's mouth before he could contain it, but he clamped down in it very swiftly. Philip did not try and blame his friend for the reaction, but he could not keep the hurt from momentarily crossing his features.

"I didn't even think about it," he responded as he tried to explain. "It wasn't that I didn't remember, it was that I had no connection to what I was."

He was having great difficulty finding the right words, how could he make them understand what it had been like?

"When you dream," the young man continued finally, "you can watch what happens without caring what you see. My world has been a small farm in Ireland, nothing else was ... was ... real."

He said the last word as if it was almost a revelation to himself. He really didn't understand what had been happening, all he could say was that it had, and he couldn't bring himself to regret it. Now was now, and then had been necessary - quite an attitude for a man who had never before been able to leave his past behind.

"How did you survive the fire?" Derek took up the questioning again, he was interested in everything.

This was more difficult to answer.

"I don't know," it was the only honest reply, "the last thing I remember clearly before I met Jasmine, was walking up the stairs of that house. The rest is a haze of emotions and flames. I woke up at the end of March, I have no idea what happened in between."

He looked to Jas for clarification, but she just shrugged.

"Philip was with me, but not with me for a long time," she said quietly, she had told him this before, "I could not touch him, but he existed in my place. There he always looked as he does now, he did not change, or even appear injured, but since it was not his body that was with me I cannot say what happened to it. Once I could reach him, I knew I had to wake him, it is as simple as that."

"Not his body?" Derek wanted a cleared picture.

"The crystal is a power which exists outside this universe," Jasmine was teaching again, "it cannot truly be described by anything of this universe, yet it's energy may touch it through the Keeper. Just as it cannot exist there, no human could truly exist in it's realm, they are not compatible. A representation is, however, not a problem, and Philip's own mind created that when it was required. Where his body was, I cannot say, probably somewhere safe where it could be kept and healed."

The young man left these explanations to his companion, he knew them, but she was far more qualified to give the truth. This conversation was becoming a little surreal for the more sceptical people sitting around the table. Since Derek appeared to be digesting the information, Rachel chose her moment.

"You speak of this crystal as if it were alive," the psychiatrist said carefully, "but how could that be?"

"It is alive," Philip took up the reigns with a quiet certainty in his voice, "just not in anyway we can truly understand. We call it the crystal because that is the closest we can come to a description. It is not of this world, it cannot be placed in this context, but we have to have some way of expressing it's existence."

He was adamant, and his tone bore no argument. He looked vaguely surprised with himself as he finished speaking, as did Rachel. Something about the way she had asked the question had touched a nerve, and Philip was somewhat shocked at his reaction. A vaguely apologetic expression crossed his face, there were some parts of his psyche he hadn't yet explored.

"What would you do if we decided your presence was too much of a risk?" Derek changed track completely and took everyone by surprise.

Keeping emotion from wandering straight across his features had never been one of Philip's strong points, and now was no exception. He almost flinched at the suggestion, and it took him a good few seconds to recompose himself. That was really the only answer anybody needed, but he spoke anyway.

"I don't know," he said slowly, never taking his eyes off the man who probably knew him best in the world.

Silence descended as the others almost expected him to go on. He did not continue, those three words were his answer, the plain, honest truth and he was not going to embellish it. Derek seemed to appreciate the simplicity, and he was also quiet for a long moment. Then, suddenly his gaze flicked to the stranger in the room, his focus of attention changing completely.

"I would like to speak with Jasmine, alone," he said evenly, much to everyone's surprise.

The young looking woman just smiled as if she'd known this all along.

[[I'll be fine,]] she sent in Philip's direction as his anxiety showed, and she patted him on the hand.

There was no arguing when their Precept was in his present mood, and everyone stood, slowly. They left the room in silence, not quite sure what they should be doing.

"You present me with quite a puzzle," Derek said calmly, rising to his feet and walking towards Jasmine's end of the table. "Would I be correct in assuming that Philip is in love with you?"

It would have been pointless to deny it, so the young woman nodded.

"And I with him," she replied evenly. "It was as much a surprise to me as it seems to be to you. I was created to be his teacher, I did not expect anything else."

The way the man's eyes wandered over her made Jas think of an enemy observing his adversary. He was not exactly hostile, but his body language could not be considered friendly. In a flash of insight, she realised that he was worried about Philip: whatever he chose to show on the outside, inside he was anxious for a friend. In this equation, Jasmine was the unknown factor.

"Are you lovers?" it was a plain enquiry.

"No," Derek was surprised by her answer for the second time that day.

In another time and place the reaction may have amused her, but at that moment Jas was being very serious.

"As hard as it is for you to believe," she told the psychic calmly, "our relationship is not consummated. We have kissed, we are very close, but we have never gone farther than that. No matter what he may think, Philip is not ready for that yet, and I will not allow him to be hurt. You see me as an opponent, a player to drag a spiritual man from his chosen path: I am neither."

They were only a few feet apart and the tension was very apparent. The relaxed mask was gone from Jasmine as she spoke the plain and simple truth. This was very important to her and she wanted to make her companion understand.

"I would never do anything that would cause him pain," she continued with complete certainty. "If I thought it was best for him I would leave, let him get on with his life, return to the person he was, but we both know that isn't the right course of action. I didn't tear him away from his vocation, and if it was what he wanted I would let him go back to God. He's changed Precept, and he does not want to be the same person anymore."

"How can you be sure?" a very simple question from Derek's unwavering calm.

"Because he has told me," Jasmine replied her voice returning to a quieter level, "because I have seen inside his heart. I know how he was hurt, and I have felt his self doubt, which is why I would not let anything physical happen between us. He could not make a complete decision until he had his life back. Even I was surprised when it did not change anything."

It was something she had not told Philip, but she had been dreading the day he would feel for his past again. She had known that is might mean his calling would once again take over his life, and she had not wanted to loose him. Jasmine would never be able to explain to anyone how much joy she had felt when he had confided in her that he would officially be giving up the cloth as soon as he had helped Nick.

Derek did not need the Sight to see the real love shining in her eyes. He had kept his thoughts about her as neutral as possible so far, but he could not help empathising with her. When he had thought Philip dead a hole had opened in his soul. The young priest had been part of his family, the serious, yet kind and spiritual man who could ease any turmoil except that within his own heart. When he'd first seen him in the hallway, the relief had been incredible until doubt had clouded it. Then there had been the appearance of the elf like woman, and it was as if she were a threat to rekindling what had been. She was the real stone in the road, not the fact that Philip seemed to have become some sort of healer. Jasmine, and the way the young man looked at her were the factors which had truly threatened the house. With her there, it could never be the same again. Yet sitting there, looking into her face, Derek knew that he was not the only one who loved Philip.

With that thought in mind he continued his task of finding out about Jasmine, but with just a little more gentleness.

Rachel was clinging to Kat, almost as if her life depended on it, and the girl seemed to be accepting the action with calm understanding. The child smiled at Philip, but it didn't help ease the fact that, when they'd moved to the living room, everyone else had sat on one side of the room and he on the other. The easy conversation which had grown up amongst Alex, Nick and him, had ended the moment Derek had returned, and Rachel's reaction had turned it into awkward silence. Nobody seemed quite able to meet his gaze, except Rachel who was not hiding her anxiety. It was like sitting in a doctor's surgery, waiting to hear whether you were terminally ill or not.

They must have been sitting there in total silence for a good ten minute when finally Alex stood up.

"This is ridiculous," she declared loudly and proceeded to walk across the imaginary line that had gone up.

Philip had sat on the couch this time, and without another word Alex sat on the other half of the piece of furniture.

"Hi, I'm Alex," she said sarcastically, "we don't seem to have been introduced."

That brought a half smile to Philip's features and Nick actually laughed, all Rachel managed, was to turn her worried gaze away. The psychiatrist did not seem pleased when Kat giggled.

"So do you think you're the topic of conversation in there?" Alex continued with a fake, covert glance towards the hallway.

"Well my ears aren't burning anymore," the pale eyed man returned, so relieved that someone was actually talking to him.

"A tried and tested method for divining," it was Nick's comment, this was getting better all the time.

"If it works, it works," was the light reply.

The ex-SEAL didn't cross the `divide', but he did perch on the edge of a chair, facing his friend. Maybe is was going to be all right after all.

"So what else can you do," the young man asked with a grin, "besides perform miracles that is?"

The ex-priest's face broke into a full smile, Nick had a direct way of expressing himself. Everything was very up front where the ex-SEAL was concerned, and it was kind of refreshing.

"Is it just the Sight?" Alex added in her two cents.

"Yes and no," Philip told them calmly, "it gets complicated."

He gave his researcher friend a look that said, surely you understand, and she grinned. It was good to put people in a spot every now and then, and she was enjoying this.

"More complicated than repairing the human body," Nick was not backing down, he seemed to need to know.

"Actually yes," his companion replied after a short pause, "you could say that with that I'm a natural, everything else I have to work at. Last time I tried to move something I ..."

"Move something, like how?" Philip had just made a jump in logic, Alex wanted clarification.

"Jas insists I should be telekinetic," Philip did not have a problem with explaining this, "but I can't get the hang of it."

Now even Rachel couldn't hide her curiosity, she was listening closely.

"I seem to exact side effects every time I try," the young man seemed oblivious to the fact that he was talking about something even the Legacy didn't come across very often. "Last time I set fire to the Kitchen. Jas had me trying to move this spoon on the table ... she gets these ideas into her head sometimes ... and the next thing I know the pile of runner beans she's preparing for dinner are on fire. The spoon moved approximately a centimetre."

Nick found this very funny. At first his mouth was vaguely slack with amazement at what he was being told, and then the humour of the story super imposed itself. His laugh was infectious and Kat quickly began giggling again. The sound brought a smile to Alex's face, but she didn't laugh until she heard Philip's next comment.

"Surprisingly enough," he said lightly, "that's what Jas did. She laughed at me for three days."

Now his other friend couldn't help herself, the idea conjured such pictures in her mind.

"Let me know if you want to do anything like that again," she said between chortles, "I'll warn the fire department."

Philip was in the middle of explaining that it wasn't just fire he had a problem with, the first time every fork in the house had tied itself in a knot, when there was a noise from the doorway. Jas looked even smaller when she stood next to the tall Precept. There was almost an expression of amusement on Derek's face as he listened, which vanished the moment people noticed he was there.

"Very interesting," he said calmly as he gained the attention of the whole room, "if you wouldn't mind we might like to observe the phenomenon."

The young man just nodded.

"I believe that actions speak louder than words," Derek continued slowly, "and you have earned at least that chance, Philip. You and Jasmine are welcome here. As for your status as a member of this Legacy house, if you prove to be what you seem, then we will be more than happy to invite you back in."

It was more than Philip had dared to hope for at this early stage, Derek seemed to have just taken everything into his own hands and made a decision. Most people in the room looked a little surprised, but no one chose to voice their opinion.

"Now if you'll excuse me I have some work to do," the Precept continued rapidly. "If you have no objections, I would ask that you allow Alex and Rachel to examine you for our files. We can arrange for your things to be picked up from your hotel."

Then he was gone, disappearing in the direction of his study. He left the rest of the house to just get on with it. Philip looked at Jas, who smiled, then to Nick, then to Alex. The young researcher smiled broadly and threw her arms around him for the second time that day.

"Welcome home, Philip," she said warmly.

End of Part 5