Epilogue
Niebos, Greece, December 13, 2023:

The silhouette of the distinctive dormant volcano that was the main feature of this small island, was gray and green as it rose above the turquoise sea.

Amber leaned on the rail of the Lady Ambergris II and watched the island seem to grow in size off of the port bow. The fresh breeze off the island smelled of fish and she could see fishing boats in the harbor, moored in slips along a great stone dock. Construction was evident along the waterfront. The island had not been especially hard-hit during the recent tsunami, but there had been damage. Yet the villagers were re-building, and life went on for the survivors she supposed.

After leaving Goa, they'd cut across to Africa and then eased up through the Suez Canal and into the eastern Mediterranean known as the Aegean Sea. Here, amongst the small islands dotting the seascape, they'd finally come to the island of Niebos… an island not easily found on most charts… but one that they'd found nevertheless.

Burke and David called out to men on the dock and tossed hawsers to shore. David leaped easily to the dock and helped tie them off. Shortly later, the entire party gathered and descended to the dock where they asked and received directions.

Looking at the sprawling white villa halfway up the mountainside, Amber was filled with trepidation. They were about to meet another group of immortals who might or might not welcome them. To Amber… the idea of immortals living and working together… not fighting… was still foreign and worrisome. The ones on Lady Ambergris II had slowly gotten to know one another… and had slowly forged their alliances. It had been a long slow process. But here they were… ready to be in the midst of another group… and not at all certain as to how they would be received.

Michelle clasped one of Amber's hands and gave her a small smile of encouragement as they began to climb the mountain. For some reason, Amber had the oddest feeling that they were pilgrims seeking a new world.

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Eleanor looked about the empty ward and smiled. Since the sleeping ones had awakened six weeks ago, the ward had gradually emptied. Immortals were blessed with great constitutions, and it had not taken long for most of them to regain the strength and health they'd physically lost during their years in the coma. One by one… or sometimes in small groups… they'd been anxious to return to their lives. Some of them had lost nearly twenty years, being among some of the first ones that Rawlins and his people had captured.

Once they'd regained strength, many had been uncomfortable remaining unarmed among other immortals. Perhaps if MacLeod had been here… he might have made some inroads into getting them to trust the island's immortal residents and each other. But there had been no word from MacLeod in all this time.

Eleanor and the others had managed to keep the secret of Grace's daughter and the knowledge of the existence of Eleanor's two children from the awakees. Until more was known about them… and how they would handle the modern world… the secret of the children had to remain with those who knew it. It was not yet time to present their existence to the world.

Like the others, Carl, too, had finally left the island. Capable once more of communicating with others around him, he was anxious to be gone. He'd sworn to keep the secrets here. He thought perhaps that he'd see if he could find others who might be ready to join them. John had been saddened to see Carl go… but had understood and had wished him well on his journey.

Kenny remained with them. His voice and ability to communicate had not returned. Eleanor, Methos and Phillip had discussed the boyman's ulterior motives… but in the end had agreed to watch him. They'd rather have him where they could watch him than for him to be free in the world.

So far, Kenny had been satisfied to spend time with Denis and J. D., especially when they searched the beaches. Dead marine life had washed up on the shores several times in recent weeks… but there was no sign of Chou's body. The carcasses tended to upset J. D. when they found them. Most had been chewed on by smaller marine animals, and were in varying stages of decay. Her son still had nightmares… and still blamed himself for what had happened to his friend.

One awakee had remained with them. When Katherine Sutherland had died and been captured, she'd been trying to save the life of her mortal husband, Nick Sutherland. The sword that had pierced her chest… had pierced Nick's as well. Her last cognizant thought had been that Nick was dying. She'd awakened to the realization that not only was he dead, but that it had happened so long ago that there was no body to tend to, and no way to publicly grieve. Her life in the world was gone. Having been a healer centuries before, she asked and had been granted permission to remain on the island and had been allowed, once the other awakees had left, to meet the children.

Katherine had gently held the infant Hope and had sobbed silently for some time. Finally she'd looked up at Grace and wondered aloud if immortals could have children with mortals. One would have to have been blind not to understand her palpable grief over having lost Nick before his time. Grace didn't know. It was on her research agenda.

Since Greg and Grace were spending more time with Hope at present, Katherine's presence helped take some of the responsibility for the hospital from Eleanor's shoulders. After all… she and Methos and their children did not plan on remaining here. Indeed… they'd likely leave once the holidays had passed. Eleanor was eager to return to a quiet life.

Methos, however, was hedging about when. The nine caskets had arrived this past week and he and Phillip had been unpacking the artifacts and spreading them out on the floor in Phillip's study. Eleanor had heard her husband "ooh" and "aah" as he unpacked them, recognizing pre-Colombian funerary masks, Sumerian tablets, Egyptian stele with aplomb. He reverently touched them all and offered them to her sight as if to say "see."

Eleanor found it amusing. She'd seen them many times over the years. Hell she'd found and given most of them to Darius for his collection but had never known why. She'd just seen them and thought they'd interest the priest. They did not interest her. Eleanor had a feeling that they wouldn't be leaving for a while… despite their plans to the contrary. But as long as they were together again, she was content.

If there was one fly in the ointment these days, it was the continued presence of Sarah Manning. The woman had seen and learned things here… and Phillip was unwilling to just let her leave. That seemed to suit Sarah. At every opportune moment… she was close to "Ben" or Adam as the others called him for safety's sake. After all… Methos didn't want her knowing anything… but he did seem to feel that he owed her civility. "She's had a hard life. Maybe we can change her," he'd told Eleanor. She snorted in disdain. Eleanor had a feeling that Sarah Manning was playing a dangerous game and wanted one thing only… "Adam" once more in her bed. Eleanor wondered how far the former prostitute would go to pursue her intentions.

As for Duncan and Amanda… they hadn't heard anything from either of them in the last few weeks. Duncan hadn't even called to see if the artifacts had arrived safely. It was as if he were avoiding them. If he were searching for Kate and her unborn child, as Methos expected, then he likely wouldn't be heard from for a while… at least not until he'd found them… and the child was born. Amanda was focused on finding Duncan and standing by him in whatever capacity he'd allow. That, at least bode well for the couple to move to the next stage. Once again, as she had first done with Nick Wolfe several years ago after Nestor had crippled him, Amanda was putting someone else ahead of herself.

The de Valicourt couple had stayed only a day or so before whisking away on the helicopter to reclaim Robert's private jet in Athens. Seeing the island had reminded Robert that he, too, owned an island… in the Caribbean… and that it had been some time since the couple had spent any time there. He'd once used it as the base for his pirate activities.

"We can have a second… or a tenth or something honeymoon, Gina. You, me, the residents of St. Leone. We can make our own paradise."

Gina evidently had agreed. Eleanor supposed that only time would tell if the couple's unity bond was for the best. While Gina had found the immortal children interesting… she did not seem interested in having any. "I have Robert," she'd said. It was true. As long as the couple was more interested in one another… children ought to wait. Eleanor had sincere doubts that children would ever be in their lives… but she could be wrong. After all… she'd never dared hope that she and Methos would ever have any together.

But they had… with Darius and Phillip's help.

Phillip's demeanor and activities since killing Kingsley also worried Eleanor. It was nothing that she could put her finger on… just his expressions sometimes. There were circles about his eyes as if he weren't sleeping well, and often he seemed to stare off into the distance, grinding his teeth. Eleanor knew that feeling from the few Quickenings she'd taken… that sense of being someone else.

But Phillip was so much older than she was. Maybe it was just that it had been a while since he'd been in the game. He still went every day to the cove to check on Valeraine. Eleanor had offered to go with him several times, hoping he'd take the time to talk to her about what he was feeling. But he'd insisted that he needed to go alone. He had always gone alone… Nestor was his problem… not theirs.

The only one who seemed to bring out the old Phillip was Marianna. She'd see him staring off into the distance and would pull on his leg or his arm and he would warmly lift her into his arms or onto his lap. He'd smile and joke with her. She adored her "Opa" and he clearly adored her. Of them all… she seemed most able to bring him back to himself… much as she'd brought Kenny back to wakefulness.

Eleanor wondered at Marianna's gifts and powers… if they existed at all. Or was it simply that much of Phillip was in her small form… that she understood the old Greek better than her elders ever could.

"Puzzles to be solved," Eleanor said aloud, hearing the echo of her words about the empty ward. She turned off the lights, closed the door and headed out of the hospital and across the path toward the villa. It was late afternoon and she had the thought that perhaps she and Methos and the children could go to the far side of the island and have a picnic supper… just the four of them. They needed to have time apart as a family… and that might be one way they could accomplish that.

Methos had admitted that he and J. D. had some problems to work out. If J. D. was resentful of Methos' other obligations, then he needed to show the boy that he was indeed one of the top priorities of his life. Spending time together without the others around might help.

She hummed some bit of tune while she sauntered along the path, ignoring the tendency to skip and dance as she might have once done. The weather was still warm, the sky was clear, and things on Niebos had once more settled into a peaceful routine. Life was good.

As she approached the terraced side of the villa, she was immediately aware of the feel of a number of extra immortals. She could see them, huddled in a small crowd at the edge of the veranda. Feeling her approach, they looked back at her. Eleanor could see Cassandra in the group. Then she noticed Michelle Webster and David Keogh. Curious, she drew closer.

They separated for her and she could see whom they were gathered about. Methos stood in the center, his hands on J. D.'s shoulders. But it was Marianna beside them who held her attention. Her small daughter was twisting back and forth and laughing at an immortal crouched before her. Eleanor froze and then gasped as he looked over his shoulder at her and then stood up.

"Derrick!" she cried as she raced toward him, feeling him lift her slightly and hug her in his embrace.

"I'm here Ellie. I'm finally here."

#30#


Story continues in Volume 2 of this series: To Reclaim the Past

The crystal glowed in Marianna's chubby hands. "Ooh… pretty," she said. The expression on her face was filled with wonder and joy.

Denara looked about fearfully. "Maybe you should put that back," the small one lisped. "It's not yours."

Marianna met her friend's eyes. "It's okay. She wants me to hold it."

"She?" asked Denara curiously. The crystal belonged to Derrick. Who was She?


Endnotes: During the writing of this portion of my "little" tale, I realized that I had some problems in my timeline, especially after Kate showed up out of the blue one day and insisted on having a child. I argued with her... but she was right. It gave a reason for Duncan to be absent for a time in the story, and another way to explore this new aspect of immortal lives. I spent a good deal of time thinking through the events and eventually decided to return to my original plan to end this story at this point... when Derrick arrived. What didn't fit will happen in the next one which is already a work in progress.

One of the difficult aspects of this story was to theorize what things would be like in about twenty years and to posit a future, that seemed to grow naturally out of our present. I discussed technology with some friends and using their input, came up with the phonecard and a new generation of the PPC's that I'd created for the last "future" story. They tell me me that these things are closer than we think.

You will note the continued references to global warming in this story. It's important... and will have a part to play down the road. Next story will also have some nods at a political climate in the world around the immortals. Let me know what you think... especially all of you who are reading but not commenting.

elle