## Warning!! If you are a diabetic or have problems with sugar intake..you may want to avoid this story! SUGAR CONTENT IS VERY HIGH!! You've been warned!! ## : )

Disclaimer: The orginal story created here is not authorized or endorsed y William Schmidt, ABC, Warner Brothers, Lars Thorwald, Inc. and Edelson productions or anyone else having rights to PREY or the world of PREY. It is not intended to infringe on any rights or copyright, and it is not written for profit. All characters originally affiliated with PREY belong to those mentioned above. I am just borrowing them for a while and hope I can do them justice. All new characters belong to me (man - don't I WISH!).





Starlight

By Laury



"Man, if I look at another slide or another microbe - I'm gonna go blind. I'm not exaggerating either. I can't look at another slide."

"I can't believe what I'm hearing..." Sloan stared in shock at her best friend as she wearily lifted her head from the microscope she had been glued to for the past eight hours. "Dr. Ed Tate - is unable - to look - at another slide?" she asked incredulously as she continued to stare at him while she rubbed her eyes and blinked several times.

She had to make sure that she wasn't just imagining such a thing, so she crossed the room to stand in front of Ed as she peered closely at him. She eyed him like a bug and then leaned on the lab countertop and asked, "Okay, what gives? You got a hot date or something?"

"I WISH!" Ed snickered. "I'm going blind, I tell ya." He crossed his eyes and continued, "Although, right now, I'm seeing two of you.." He leaned toward her and added, "Normally that's not a bad thing at all but today ~ I think it's a sign."

Sloan snickered back at him, then slapped his arm playfully, and finally pushed him with one hand while she rolled her eyes and huffed. Ed immediately responded by scrunching down so he could lay his head upon her shoulder while he groaned, "I'm seeing double, Sloan. Let's go SOMEWHERE. Let's DO something..anything but BE HERE..."

He turned his head so he could gaze forlornly into her face. Sloan gazed back down at him and into his large, chocolate brown eyes and sighed. "Ed, I have at least another two hours of work to do. I can't just leave! WE CAN'T. I mean, what would Walter say?"

And with perfect timing, in came Walter - all seriousness and bluster. "What?! Do you two think you can go home? Are you done? Are all the slides categorized, organized, scrutinized, digitized, minimized and..oh.." His voice trailed off as he stared at the two scientists with humor glinting in his eyes as he yelled, "GO HOME! I've seen enough of you two for one day."

"Go on!" he urged as he made shooing motions with his hands. His brow furrowed and he, once again, took on his 'man in charge' persona and ordered, "Go, before I change my mind!"

Sloan and Ed didn't need to be told twice - so they both rushed around to secure the slides for storage overnight. Once this task was completed, they grabbed their coats and practically ran out of the lab.

Walter turned to his office and chortled, "They're so easy to please sometimes." To himself he added, "l'll have to be EXTRA grumpy tomorrow to make up for this, of course!"

Sloan and Ed raced down the hall until they skidded to an abrupt halt as they turned to each other and exclaimed, "Tom!"

Ed looked at Sloan while Sloan looked at Ed.

Ed thought out loud, "He wasn't in either of our offices..."

Sloan also thought out loud, "He hasn't been in the lab for at least an hour.."

Together they asked, "Where..?"

The disembodied voice of Walter was heard to say, "OUTSIDE. He said he needed some fresh air awhile ago.... So he's probably still outside somewhere."

The two scientist shrugged at each other and then took off back down the hallway ~ full speed ahead ~ as they called out, "Thanks, Walter! See ya tomorrow!"

The silence outside was abruptly shattered when they came bursting through the University doors and into the chill night air. They giggled like two teenagers as they came to a stop just outside the doors as they were startled out of their giddiness by the gentle and VERY cold breeze.

"Brrrrrrrr..." they both muttered as they pulled their coats tightly about them to ward off the chill. Both glanced around and tried to spot Tom but to no avail.

He was nowhere in sight.

Ed sighed, "Will I EVER see daylight again? I'm beginning to feel like a vampire or something." He grabbed his neck and began to gurgle as he fought with his own hand like it was possessed and trying to strangle him.

Sloan's eyes were as wide as her grin as she barked out, "Stop it will you?!" Ed continued to fight his own hand as Sloan slapped at him and yelled for him to stop.

Ed abruptly stopped and looked around as he asked, "Hey, man. Where's the boy wonder? You'd think all this commotion would've brought him around." Ed glanced sidelong at Sloan and rolled his eyes skyward as he commented, "Especially..well, YOU know....especially where you're concerned..I mean, sheez.." His head lolled to the right as he contemplated his dear friend, "Hey, you know it's true! Don't even try and deny it."

"Eeddd..." she whined. "Pleeeassse don't start.."

"Hey, I'm a big boy, Sloan. I can take it. Honest." The silliness of moments ago was gone and in its place was a feeling of... Sloan was unsure how to continue and she didn't want things to turn so serious.

Ed's big, brown, beautiful eyes stared into hers until he smiled gently and assured her, "Hey, no matter what ~ friends, right?" He glanced away and blinked rapidly as he pretended to look around for Tom. "Where in the world is that guy, huh?"

"Ed." Sloan placed her hands on his upper arms and faced him. Her expression was a mixture of sadness and hope as she smiled slightly, grasped his arms more firmly and said, "Friends ~ forever. Best friends. Cherished in my heart ~ ALWAYS."

Ed glanced into her earnest, upturned face and responded glumly, "Yeah. My heart, too, kiddo. Forever and ever. No matter what." A wistful sigh escaped him as he fervently wished he could kiss that face and those lips. He wished...

He broke the spell and pulled away from her as he turned and stared at the sky. "Hey, where's a star to wish upon when you need it, huh?"

Sloan replied softly, "That's only the first star of the night, Ed. We're too late for that..."

"Yeah, sounds like my kind of luck."

Across the breeze came the calm, quiet, and soothing voice of Tom. "You can still make a wish if you see a falling star. You just have to keep watching the sky but, eventually, you'll see one."

Wearing his usual black, long wool coat and black clothing, Tom seemed to unfold out of the darkness. A lone figure in black ~ silent and sleek as a cat. His eyes seemed to glow like those of a feline, too, as he smoothly approached the two humans.

Ed leaned close to Sloan's ear and whispered, "Yeah, what was I saying earlier about feeling like a vampire?"

Sloan elbowed him in the side as she watched Tom approach. She wondered if he had been watching the starlit sky in hopes, perhaps, of seeing a falling star and making a wish himself. It seemed that tonight was a night for wishful thinking....

Ed, on the other hand, wondered if Tom liked the spooky, otherworld-like persona he portrayed or if it was just something from his Chameleon days or what.... So he leaned close to Sloan and whispered to her again, "Okay, does the name Lestat mean anything to you?" He got another elbow in his side as he groaned out, "Bela Lugosi? Nick Knight? Count Chocula?"

Tom blinked innocently and asked, "Who are they?"

Sloan bit her lower lip and looked up at Ed, eagerly awaiting his answer. He noticeably slouched as he moaned, "Oh, man....."

Tom just tilted his head and stared curiously at Ed as he waiting patiently for a full answer. "They're just...character names...from movies and TV..that's all." Hesitantly Ed asked, "Do you..I mean..did they let you...have you... You HAVE SEEN movies, haven't you?"

Nonchalantly Tom answered, "Yes, sure." He scrunched his brows together in concentration and then said, "But I don't remember any of those names...."

Sloan began to snort as she tried to hold back the giggles. Ed whined, "Now look what you've done, Tom. You made her snort... what next, man?"

Tom looked plaintively at Ed and responded, "I DID NOT make her snort. What do you mean by 'what next'?"

Sloan held her arms out to both men while she chuckled. Next, she raised her arms in a motion for them to stop as she yelled, "Boys! Boys! Stop it!"

Tom's eyebrow rose dangerously high as he turned to Ed and asked, "Did she just call us 'boys'?"

Ed nodded in agreement as his lips formed a tight line. Finally he got out, "Yes. Yes indeed she did. She called us 'boys'." He sighed heavily as he thrust his hands into his coat pockets and continued to nod his head in short bursts up and down.

Sloan sliced the air with her arm and said, "Forget about all that! Let's just move on, shall we?"

Until that moment, both men had been facing each other as they stood in front of Sloan. But then, in unison, they turned to stare at her as she moved forward and put her arm through each of theirs and hugged them both.

Sloan glanced over at Tom and said, "I used the term 'boys' all in good fun. There was nothing derogatory about it. It's a type of ..endearment..."

Tom quietly assured her, "I wasn't offended, Sloan."

"Good." She said with authority as she nodded her head once in approval and began to walk both men to the parking lot. "Now. WHAT were you doing out here all this time, Tom Daniels?"

"Oh, I was watching the sky....looking at the stars....contemplating...."

Ed pulled away from the embrace of Sloan's arm and grinned, "Man, you NEVER cease to amaze me. You mean to tell me that you have been sitting out here in forty degree temperatures just watching the stars?"

Tom peeked around Sloan to look up at Ed as he replied, "Yes. Why?"

Ed shook his head in disbelief but continued to grin. Finally, he removed his arm from Sloan's and glanced around her to stare at Tom as he responded, "Why? Because, man! That just goes to show how different you are from us regular guys. Come on! YOU! Tom Daniels! Watching the stars? It's so weird."

Although Tom was taken aback by this, his only outward response was to merely blink a few times before he calmly replied, "Well, then..I guess I'm just weird, Ed. Because.. I WAS just sitting out here watching the stars."

"Sheez. How can a guy compete against you, man? Next you're going to tell me you were thinking about the old kids poem, 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'!"

Tom now appeared somewhat embarrassed as he looked at the ground and asked, "What if I was?"

Ed nodded his head, flung his arm all around and then at Tom as he said, "Okay. Okay.there you go! There you go, man! Hey! Prove it! Prove you know the words to 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'! Go ahead. Prove it." Ed was moving back and forth toward Tom and then away again as he said this for he was all energy.

Sloan removed her arm from Tom's so she could look directly at him as she asked in amazement and surprise, "Do you really know it, Tom? I mean, when would you have learned that? I thought you couldn't remember anything from your childhood?"

Tom gazed calmly back at her and explained, "Oh, it wasn't something from my childhood." A sad, yet wistful look stole over his face as he recalled, "I saw the title once and because I've always liked the stars, I wondered what it was all about...." He tilted his head a little as he tried to find the right words.

"I just...I LIKED it." His gaze was intent and full of purpose as he continued to try to find the right words. "The poem was and IS so simple and yet, so pure and it reflects how I've sometimes felt when I've looked at the stars." His eyes moved from Sloan to Ed and back to Sloan again. He wanted them to understand. He NEEDED them to understand.

Hesitantly Ed admitted, "Hey, it's just..I never took you for a 'stargazer', you know?"

Tom eyes were alight as he asked, "What kind of guy DO YOU take me for?"

Ed gave him a lopsided grin and answered truthfully, "Oh, a no nonsense kind of guy. You know, the kind of guy who has facts and figures to back him up on everything..."

Tom smiled slightly at the honest response. "Yes, that's me, too."

Ed winked at him and tossed his head with a knowing air, "I KNEW it, man!"

Sloan interrupted them ~ her mind was burning with curiosity and she needed to know. "So...when did you learn it? The poem?"

Tom glanced up at the sky and decided to go ahead and tell her....tell THEM. "It was probably fifteen years ago. I was on a test assignment and I was feeling particularly lonely...alone....and not sure of my future. Certain things had happened and I had been made VERY aware of how unstable my life was..how nothing was CONSTANT in my life...."

He stopped to glance at Sloan and then Ed. Both were staring at him with eyes wide and mouth agape. Allowing so much of his inner-self to be revealed made him intensely uncomfortable and yet.... His skin prickled in response to their emotions....And in that one moment of allowing their feelings to wash over him ~ he became convinced that it would be okay. They would not betray him. With these two....it would be okay.

So he plunged forth and began, "Being on assignment is a singular experience. You are given instructions, directions, and information and then you are sent out on your own to perform your duty. There is minimal contact with your superiors or even others of your kind.."

He halted - lost in thought. Then he looked to the sky and began again. "When you are young...being on assignment....is overwhelming sometimes. You have only yourself to rely on and you have to find ways to overcome the.I tried many different ways to forget that I was ALONE.... Finally, I found that I could sit and look to the night sky and feel like I was A PART OF SOMETHING. Gazing at the stars was a way of.forgetting..that I was alone. The stars and the night sky gave me a sense of ....something larger than myself or the humans or my species. It was comforting and it gave me a sense of something constant in my life. Even when you travel and the position of the stars change...they are still there....they remain true. THEY ARE CONSTANT. They never leave you or disappoint you or...."

He smiled self-consciously as he glanced at the two humans who were so kindly listening to his story... One had changed his life forever and one was along for the ride. Both, he believed, would remain a part of his life as long as he could make it so. Both, he believed, would help him in his quest for something better....for something greater than themselves.

After all, they were no longer ALONE.

Head tilted, eyebrow raised, he asked, "Now, would you like to hear all the verses of 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'?"

Ed had to comment, "There's more than one?"

"Yes, there are several. I know them by...heart."

Sloan was enchanted. Once again, Tom had surprised her. Once again, he had opened up and given her a precious gift. She smiled broadly as she placed her arm through his and hugged him closer to her. "I'd love to hear them. I think I've heard the different verses before but I don't remember them hardly at all."

Ed grabbed onto Sloan's other arm and glanced over at Tom. "Okay, man. Me, too. I'm all ears."

So Tom recited all the verses of 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'. He didn't sing but his melodious voice made it seem as if he did.

And when he was done, Ed was heard to say, "Okay. I'll bet five bucks that you don't know ALL the lyrics to 'The Eensy, Weensy Spider'!"

Tom quietly replied, "I'll take that bet and it's 'The Itsy, Bitsy Spider'.."

"'Eensy Weensy....'"

"'Itsy, Bitsy....'"



The End.

**If you would like to know all the verses to these two children poems/songs ~ go to the following web sites:

http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/Cottage/3192/Twinklestar.html

http://www.kididdles.com/mouseum/i036.html

May the stars comfort and keep you in their beautiful glow and may they guide you on your journey forever more.