Pierce sat with his head in his hands, ignoring the cooling coffee at his elbow as he dully scanned yet another police report. This one described an unidentified young woman who had stolen a car in Kanab, Utah and later ditched it just east of Arches National Park. It clearly wasn't Sarah, since that girl would never steal a thing in her life and the eyewitness said he thought she had blond hair. It had been more than three weeks now and Pierce was truly grasping at straws. The police were convinced that Pierce and his companions had dragged her off into the desert and done something despicable to her, and it was only his money and the small influence he still had in the world of politics that had kept the four of them out of jail. Her father had threatened to beat the truth out of him with his bare fists when he first called, but something about Pierce's desperate search for his daughter must have been convincing because they had since become allies in the ritual of reading missing persons sightings. Pierce had pretty much stopped sleeping and Terry spent every waking hour fussing over him like an enormous mother hen.

Pierce guessed what had happened, and he blamed himself utterly. Up until that moment in Arizona it had all been an elaborate game, a quest for a holy grail that was not likely to succeed. His casual disregard for the gravity of the situation had put Sarah in danger, and he would never forgive himself for that. The missing persons reports were just a way to stay sane, for Pierce was certain that his dear Sarah was no longer in this world and most likely no longer among the living.

The harsh jangle of the phone interrupted his thoughts. He checked the number and didn't recognize it. Cursed reporters, he thought. Couldn't they leave a miserable man alone? The papers had had a field day with the incident, digging up dirt on his 'cult' that had so irresponsibly (or maliciously) allowed something to happen to one of its members. After five rings the person on the other end gave up, but not for long because they were back again half a minute later. This time it rang seven times. Absurdly, however, another thirty seconds later the phone rang again, this time for five rings.

Pierce was intrigued. This was not exactly a reporter's style; they tended to just stay on the line until you caved in and answered. He would have unplugged his phone except he couldn't bear the thought of missing a call that had to do with Sarah. After the next thirty second interval, he picked up. "Hello?" he said, trying to inject a fearsome snarl into his tired voice.

The line was full of static but there was no mistaking the voice on the other end. "Pierce? Is that you? Ye gods, it's good to hear your voice!"

The hand that clenched the phone and pressed it to his ear seemed to be the only part of him that was alive. His jaw worked soundlessly for a moment before he finally gasped out, "Sarah? Is this really you?" Just the sound of her merry little voice brought tears to his eyes. He thought maybe he was dying and this was his introduction to heaven.

The line crackled and spit and she said, "Yeah, it really is me. I'm so sorry, Pierce. This past while must have been awful for you. I wish I'd been able to get back sooner, but I ran into a bit of an adventure and I couldn't travel for a couple of days until I got my strength back."

He licked dry lips and croaked, "Are you all right, hon? Where are you?"

"You'll never guess!" her voice rose happily above the static. She sounded good at least, Pierce thought. "I'm in Ireland. Of course it would be Ireland! A town by the name of Grin-bally-something, I'm not really sure. As soon as we got here I went in search of a phone. I'm calling from the back of the local pub."

"Oh darlin', I am so happy to hear your voice. Where have you been?" Tears coursed unchecked down his cheeks and he turned to yell in the direction of the study door, "Terry! Terry, she's back! She's on the phone!" There was a crash and a muffled oath and then Terry came barreling into the room and snatched up the extension that Pierce was waving at him. It made the line even worse, of course, but no one cared. For a couple of minutes there was nothing but laughter and happy tears and reassurances that everyone was all right. When Pierce started to ask her about her adventure, however, she got a little vague.

"I really couldn't do it justice over the phone," she told him. "There are some, um, visuals that accompany it and it really is a long story." Was it his imagination or was she giggling at someone on the other end? "How soon can you get here, do you think?"

"Give me ten minutes to pack and be on a flight," Pierce said. "Just give me the name of that town. I'll fly your dad in, too."

"Pierce, you are the absolute best!" she said. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! By the way, do you fancy living in Ireland? There's sort of an important job here, and I think you're the perfect person to do it."

"Ireland?" Terry raised an eyebrow in Pierce's direction and shrugged. "Well, I guess we could talk about it. What exactly does this job entail?"

Her voice was rich with happiness and excitement, audible even through the bad connection. "Oh Pierce, it's the greatest thing in the whole world. Just wait until you get here - oh, and I have the name of the town for you. It's Grianbaile, appropriately enough. The city of the sun."


* * *

AN: Please forgive the liberties I've taken with the Irish language - not being a native speaker, I had to approximate. Thank you for taking the time to read my story; if you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, then I am well satisfied.