A/N: This story is the 4th in a series of Willie Loomis adventures. WARNING: If you have not read any of the other stories, this short intro is going to be a spoiler for them.

In the first story, 'The Beginning', Willie meets Barnabas Collins, and is trained to obey. Our second story, 'Restoration' introduces O/C Abigail, a young girl arriving in Collinsport to cover the restoration of the old house, and finds Willie just as interesting, ultimately falling in love with him and reverses the Vampires curse, freeing both Barnabas and Willie. It is also discovered that Abigail is a direct descendant of Angelique and Barnabas. In the third installment, "Return to Collinwood', Angelique is less than happy about Barnabas' new freedom, and is hell bent to turn him again, which ultimately interrupts Abigail and Willie's lives. But in the end, the young couple triumphs, and they have a daughter together, and they name her after Willie's mother, Lydie. Lydie has inherited the traits of her ancestors, with powers that have yet to be discovered. The one being that is aware of her gifts is Barnabas Collins, and he has been visiting the little girl in secret for most of her short four years of life, and unbeknownst to her parents. This leads us to this story, 'Playground of Shadows'. I do hope you enjoy.

Playground of Shadows

Chapter 1: A Daughter's Gift

It was quiet as Abigail lay in bed, eyes slowly opening, at the time of morning when the birds were perched and nearly ready to perform their sunrise chorus. She could hear her husband breathing, and feel the heat radiating off of his body, as he slept soundly beside her, his head resting easy against the pillow. How different Willie looked, compared to a few short years ago. He slept peacefully most of the time now, uninterrupted by night terrors filled with monsters and horrific memories, waking their home with screams and cries in the night. He'd made almost a full recovery from the nightmare that was Barnabas Collins. Four years had passed since the day they left Collinsport, and the Loomis family was now settled in California, and for the first time in Willie's life he finally felt safe.

She reached over and gently stroked the side of his cheek, and her eyes moved down his body and fixed on the scars that made a crisscross pattern across his thigh, and trailed up beneath the sheets. Anytime she looked at them, hatred would spike in her heart for Barnabas, but before her thoughts could switch to a darker time, a voice, so gentle and low, pulled her back.

"Are you going to stare at me all morning, Mrs. Loomis?"

She turned her head and looked at him, his eyes sparkling and full of mischief.

"Maybe I am, Mr. Loomis. I'm your wife, after all, I have every right to stare at you whenever I want to." He pulled her tight to him and kissed her forehead.

"It's too early to be up, you should go back to sleep." Willie nuzzled close to her, burying his face into her neck and kissing her behind the ear. Abigail giggled, and then moved so that she could look him in the eyes.

"Who, my dear husband, will make sure your birthday cake is ready then?"

My birthday, shit.

"Abby, it's just another day. You know-"

"I know you don't like celebrating, but your daughter finds your birthday to be the equivalent of a national holiday. Stay in bed. I'll come back in a little bit. I just want to get a few things started before she wakes up. It's easier, sometimes, to just be able to maneuver the kitchen without little hands helping." She kissed him one last time, and rose from the bed, pulling on her robe.

Abigail quietly went into the kitchen, filled the tea kettle and placed it on the stove, and pulled out all of the ingredients to make the richest of chocolate cakes. She reached into the top cupboard and pulled out a brightly colored package, with a curled blue ribbon. Even if Willie wanted to ignore the day he was born, little Lydie Marie Loomis would never allow it. The child completely adored her father, she was his shadow, and to the beautiful little girl, he hung the moon and stars just for her. In her eyes his birthday was a holiday, one that was only second to Christmas, and at four years old his daughter loved to celebrate with sweets, and would color as many brightly colored drawings of all of her daddy's favorite things. Abigail would make sure to make the day special. The house would be filled with the aroma of his favorite cake, and for dinner she would make his favorite meal.

A single swirling whistle began to crescendo, yanking Abigail from her trance as she stirred the cake batter, and she rushed to pull the kettle from the stove. She poured the rich batter into the pan, placed it in the oven, and set the timer on for thirty minutes. As she started to prepare her tea, Abigail glanced at the clock again, I still have some time. Abandoning her tea, sheput the mug back on the counter and headed back into the bedroom, finding Lydie's tiny hands resting on her daddy's chest and her body snuggled tight into his side, and a father with his arm gently wrapped around his daughter, holding her close to him. Both fast asleep. She watched them for a few minutes, calm spreading through her like the warmest of days, and a smile impossible to avoid on her face.

Twenty minutes, I can climb in with them for twenty minutes.

Abigail popped off her slippers, and climbed in beside her daughter and husband, nestling down in the cocoon of blankets. Willie lifted his head, opened his sleepy eyes and smiled a beam of light at his wife. He leaned over, careful not to crush Lydie, and kissed his wife sweetly, and then snuggled back down, grabbing Abigail's hand in his, and the little family fell back asleep.

"Mommy, mommy is the cake ready?" Lydie whispered into her mother's ear and thumped her gently in the forehead with her little finger.

"hmmm…" Abigail sighed looked up, a pair of sparkling green eyes staring back at her.

"Did you finish the cake? I want to put the sprinkles on before daddy gets up." Lydie scrambled over to the side of the bed and Abigail was wide awake in an instant, realizing that it was nearly eight o'clock. She had overslept.

"Oh no! The cake! Shoot! Lydie, honey, can you go get changed for mommy? Put on your pretty yellow dress, I have it all laid out for you. I can't believe I overslept!" Abigail was moving frantically as Lydie ran gleefully into her room. Abigail dashed over to the other side of the bed and grabbed a pair of jeans and started to pull them on when she was yanked back down to the bed.

"Did someone oversleep?" Willie pulled her to the bed and laughed.

"Willie, stop playing, I left the cake in the oven, it must be burnt to a crisp by now, my God, I could have set the entire house on fire! You know everyone is coming for dinner tonight? I have a to-do list a mile long."

Willie pulled his wife onto the bed and pinned her down beneath him, eyes bright and playful.

"Mrs. Loomis, am I on your list of things to do?"

Abigail tried to look annoyed, but it was impossible, and she started to giggle.

"Yes, Mr. Loomis. But, you are the very last thing."

"Last? I'm hurt!"

Willie cocked his head sideways, and then kissed his wife passionately, leaving her breathless.

"Well, you think about that until you get to me." He scooped her up and sat her upright on the bed, and then he got a bit more serious, his smile turning slightly down. "You really don't need to go to all this trouble today. It's just another day. I'm fine with just the three of us. My birthday isn—"

Abigail silenced him. "Your birthday is a special day, without it there would be no us…or her." Abigail gestured toward the doorway, which provided a view into the bathroom across the hall. A view of little girl standing on a stool, dressed in a pretty little yellow sundress, brushing her teeth and humming 'Happy Birthday'.

"Blow out the candles Daddy, go on! You hafta make a wish!"

Willie picked Lydie up and pecked her on the cheek. "You help me. On the count of three, okay? One…two…three!" They both blew out the candles, and Lydie clapped with excitement and then pulled Willie's face between her hands, slightly squishing his face. She looked at him seriously.

"Now, don't tell anyone your wish, or it won't come true. Not even mommy."

"Okay, I won't."

Willie put his little girl on her chair, and they all shared cake and ice cream.

"Time for presents!" Lydie yelled, and Willie locked eyes with Abigail, and she could see that he was getting uneasy. He had his fill of attention, it was too much, too overwhelming, and he wanted to shrink into the background. At parties, or other gatherings, his best friend was always there to rescue him. Over the years, Calem was the one person, other than his wife, that Willie felt completely comfortable with. Calem knew the truth about his past, and Willie trusted him completely. Calem was good at reading situations where his friend was uncomfortable, and most of the time would step in with a wild story from his childhood, taking the attention away from Willie. But on a man's birthday, well, that wouldn't be fair. Abigail's heart went out to her husband as he took his seat in the chair at the head of the table.

Willie opened his presents. A lovely book on marble restoration from Abigail's parents, no doubt at her suggestion. A new wallet from Calem and Kate, and a large box of orange tea and butterscotch candy. From Eli and Erin came a weekend getaway at their home in Florida, airfare included, and from his wife he received a beautiful watch, one that was tough enough to withstand a hard day's work on construction sites.

"Well, I guess that's it!" Willie exclaimed, knowing there was one more overstuffed envelope on the table.

"Daddy," she pouted, "there's one more! Don't you see?" She stomped over and grabbed the envelope and promptly thrust it at him. "You have to open this!"

"Oh! I see!" Willie smiled, "come and sit with me."

Lydie climbed onto his lap, and he carefully slid his finger under the envelop flap. He pulled out a handful of folded construction paper.

"What are all these?" Willie smiled, and caught Abigail's signal that she was going to run to the kitchen to grab coffee for everyone.

"For you!" Lydie began to unfold the drawings, showing him each one.

"…and this one is of you and me when we caught that fish, remember?" Lydie wrinkled up her nose, and then pulled that picture away and revealed the next one, "and this a picture of your birthday cake…" Lydie continued until she reached the last drawing, and within half a second, Willie's entire world collapsed around him.

He didn't hear anymore. The impact of the last image left him numb. The room, and everyone in it, faded away. He only saw the picture, and his hands started to tremble. A slow sick feeling began to consume and suffocate him. A simple white piece of construction paper and a black drawing, void of any other color. The words 'My Frend' written across the top. The drawing was of a person, a man in a black suit, with funny hair, and a big black ring, holding a cane that had the head of a dog, or a wolf, on top.

No…no no.

His heart started to pound so hard that he could feel it thump against his chest, the sour knot so long a stranger to him, suddenly reappeared. There was a surge of panic that rushed through his veins and his leg began to nervously bounce frantically.

"That's my secret friend daddy." Lydie whispered into his ear. "You wanted me to draw him."

Oh God no.