As Per always - the original story and characters are not my own. I just like to play with them!
It was a normal day at the Veritas Foundation. Vincent was going over some logistics with Solomon for a trip coming up in a few days. Nikko and Calvin were trying to analyze and translate a small writing-covered stone. And Juliet and Kate were taking measurements on an ornately enameled box.
"How have you been feeling lately?" Juliet asked.
Kate laughed. "This time I am having nearly constant morning sickness. I think they lied. There is nothing morning about it!"
Solomon looked up from where he was sitting. "Do you remember how sick Haley got with Nikko?"
Kate leaned back in her chair and laid a hand on her burgeoning stomach. "She couldn't keep anything down for the first four months! I am not that bad."
Vincent made a kind of snorting noise. "Yet?"
Kate laughed. "Ok, I'm not that bad YET."
Maggie appeared at the door with envelopes in her hand. "Mail Call. Kate, here is an odd one for you."
Kate reached to take the missive from Maggie. "Something must have gotten chewed up." She opened the outer envelope and stared at the strong handwriting on the inner envelope.
Vincent noticed her concentration. "Kate, is anything wrong?"
Kate raised her eyes to him, unshed tears shining in them. "It's from Haley," she whispered.
Solomon and Vincent vaulted out of their seats to go and kneel in front of Kate. "Hey, it's okay," Solomon murmured as he patted her knee.
Kate looked closer at the postmark and let out a small sob. "It's postmarked the day of the cave-in."
"What?" Nikko's face showed that he was flashing back to that particular trauma.
Solomon got up and walked over to where his son was standing. "Nikko? You're here now and safe." Solomon got his son's attention away from the memories and enveloped him in a hug.
Vincent touched his wife's hand. "Kate, why don't you read it to us?"
Kate managed a small watery smile and nodded.
I am sorry that I haven't been writing you as often as I usually do, but this dig is different. Solomon isn't around to handle his share of the fieldwork and Nikko. I am missing him more on this trip than on any other. I know we have to teach sometimes, but I wish it had worked out that we could both be here for this. I think I am on the verge of something huge. Even larger than anything we have ever seen before. No, I am not exaggerating!
I also wish Solomon could be here to see Nikko. The boy misses him terribly and so do I. I love to watch Nikko's mind develop, since he comes up with something new every day.
Now, onto you, my dear baby sister. What is this I hear about you possibly getting closer with that hunk of an ex-boyfriend of yours?
Vincent laughed. "So Haley thought I was a hunk?"
Solomon laughed also. "Haley didn't say a hunk of what."
Kate smiled. "Can I get back to the letter?"
If this is what you and Vincent really want, then I am all for it. But remember, he is just coming out of a really dangerous life. Watch out for him AND yourself.
Now to work. Mikhail and I are having the time of our lives sorting through all the artifacts here! We think we have found an underground temple or burial chamber that could somehow be tied to the ancients.
Hey sis, remember how I felt about seven years ago? I have been feeling that same way again. Cross your fingers!
Gotta wrap this up since I hear Mik calling me to the dig site.
I love you baby girl,
Everyone was silent for a few moments after Kate finished reading.
"I have a question. How was my mom feeling seven years ago?" Nikko was puzzled.
"That would have been seven years before she wrote the letter, and that was sixteen years ago…Oh." Kate's face went from concentration to shock.
"Oh, what?" Solomon asked.
Kate raised her eyes to where Solomon and Nikko were standing, their arms around each other's shoulders. "That would be twenty-three years ago."
"Yeah, and what? Oh…." Solomon's face went from slightly perturbed to complete shock.
Nikko tightened his arm around his dad as he felt Solomon's legs give out. "What gives?"
Kate got up and walked over to her nephew and brother-in-law. "Twenty-three years ago Haley was pregnant with you, Nikko."
"And she was feeling….Oh my God…was she?" Nikko's face took on the shocked look of his aunt and father.
"I don't know, but I know who does." Kate reached for a phone and tapped in a number.
"Hey, it's me. Come over right now. We have something big to talk about." Kate hung up before the person on the other end could respond.
"So who did you call?" Maggie asked.
Kate's face was grim when she answered. "The last person to see Haley."
"That would be your father," Juliet moved toward Nikko.
Kate let out a deep breath. "Yeah, if anyone can answer this question, it would be Dad."
The Veritas team sat in awkward silence until the door opened a half-hour later. Jonathan Cayce walked into the room, dusting snow off his shoulders.
"What was so urgent that you ordered me over here?" Jonathan asked as he bent to kiss his younger daughter's cheek.
"I got a letter that has been missing for the last sixteen years."
"Oh, really?" Jonathan looked at everyone, trying to get a clue from their faces.
"A letter from Haley."
"What did she have to say in it?"
Kate threw the pages at him. "It was written the day before the cave-in. She says that she may be pregnant!"
Jonathan pulled out his reading spectacles and began to scan the letter. "She does?"
"Not in those exact words," Solomon added.
"Then why do you think she was?" Jonathan asked.
"Arrgh! Dad, cut the crap. Was she pregnant?" Kate slammed her fist down on the table as she screamed.
Jonathan set down the letter, set his spectacles on top of it, and looked at Solomon, Kate, and Nikko. "Are you sure you want to know?"
Solomon ran a hand through his hair, trying not to rip it out in frustration. "Do I have another child out there?"
Jonathan reached across the table and laid his hands on both of Solomon's. "Yes."
"Is that all? Just yes? So who am I big brother to?" Nikko looked both excited and terrified.
"I really shouldn't be telling you any of this. It will just make the separation harder on you than it already has."
Vincent laid his hand on Solomon's shoulder to physically restrain him from hurting anyone. "I think you should tell Solomon and Nikko about this child. I cannot vouch for your safety if you don't"
Jonathan sighed. "Sophie is a wonderful young woman. She is the best of both Haley and you, Solomon, with a bit of Nikko mixed in."
Solomon was near tears. "Sophie?"
"Sophia Victoria Zond."
Kate moved over to Nikko and whispered in his ear. "You would have been Sophia Victoria if you had been a girl."
Nikko looked up at her and smiled. Then he looked over at his dad, who was openly weeping. "Hey Dad, time to break out the cigars. I have a baby sister."
Solomon looked at his grown son through teary eyes. "I got a baby girl out there." He pulled his son into a hug.
As she watched them bond, Kate edged toward her father. "Dad, where are they?"
Jonathan looked up at his daughter. "I can't tell you."
Solomon switched from joyous to pissed in a heartbeat. "Can't or won't?"
Jonathan sighed. "I am unable to tell you because you have to figure out a few things before you can go to where Haley and Sophie are."
"So I have a wife and daughter out there and I can't be with them because I have to LEARN something to see them?" Solomon fumed.
"We need to find the rest of the Ring of God. Right?" Kate asked quietly.
"Yes, baby girl. You need to find the other pieces."
"So we are right where we were this morning." Solomon leaned back, dejected.
Kate came up behind him, putting her arms around his neck and her head on his shoulder. "Not really. You are the daddy of a bouncing fifteen-year-old girl now." She kissed him on the cheek. "Congrats, Daddy!"
Later that evening, Solomon and Nikko were sitting on the couch in Solomon's office, trying to process the news and events of the day.
"Dad, do you think Sophie knows anything about us?"
Solomon chuckled. "Knowing Haley, she's given Sophie a day-by-day view of the both of us."
Nikko smiled. "I can't wait to meet her."
Solomon reached out to touch his son. "Neither can I."