The house was silent, the darkness outside matching his mood. Rachel had gone to get Kat, promising she would be back soon. He had ensured her he was ok, no need to worry.
He had fled his room, the memory of what had happened in there too fresh, too strong. Somehow he found himself in Philip's room, in the chair facing the window. It was were he always ended when he had to work something out. Despite the fact that the young priest was not here but in his own apartment in San Francisco, the room still had a soothing influence.
He had not heard from his friend for almost a week, but he knew Philip had been busy and he himself…
He had lived through a nightmare.
He curled up in the seat, trying to block out the pain inside.
Rachel silently opened the door to Nick's room, surprised at not finding him there. Then she spotted the slightly ajar door to Philip's room. She peered inside, needing a few moments to see anything in the darkness. The silent figure in the chair, looking out the window tore at her heart. But she had tried and failed to comfort him, not being allowed to get close.
When Nick was hurting he shut everybody else out.
She wished Alex was here or Derek, but they would not return before tomorrow.
Seeing Nick like this, hurting and hiding away in Philip's room she decided to do what maybe she should have done days before. She would call Philip.
Kat looked up at her as she entered the living room, concern written on her young face. She did not know any details, but she knew Nick was hurting. She silently watched her mother getting the phone and listened to her short call. There was not much said, only that Nick had had a hard time and was closing himself off. It seemed to be enough to get Philip here, because less than an hour later he rushed in, drenched and shivering from the rain and the wind that had come up.
He greeted Kat and Rachel as he took of his coat but the smile on his face did not make it to his eyes.
"Last time I checked he was still in your room."
At the surprise on his face she added. "That's were he usually goes when he's down and doesn't want to talk."
'…and you're not around.' The words were not spoken but they still echoed trough the room.
For an instant the priest regretted his decision not to live here on Angel Island. Then he was on his way up the stairs.
He entered his room without knocking – it was his room after all. It was dark but he could see the movement against the light of the window as Nick turned his head.
Nick scrambled to his feet, obviously startled to see him here.
"Hey." He answered the darkness hiding his embarrassment at being caught in Philip's room. But it was audible in his voice.
"What are you doing here?" Nick's voice had changed to coldness.
'Attacking to hide his discomfort' Philip sighed inwardly. This could turn out to be a very long night.
"Forgot something." He said aloud, trying to keep his voice light. Acting as if it was normal to find Nick sitting in his room, in the dark, brooding.
"Found it?" still aggressive.
With a grin Philip turned on the light, seeing Nick flinch and screw his eyes shut at the unexpected brightness.
"Looks like I found somethin' " the grin disappeared as he got a good look at his friend.
"You look like hell." He announced.
Nick stared at him, suddenly feeling drained. The concern on his friend's face was evident and suddenly he realized the real reason Philip was here. He managed a smile.
"Thanks. Not everyone of us has the peaceful life of priest."
He had not meant his words to hurt but he could tell at the flicker in the blue eyes that they still stung.
But Philip choose to ignore them.
Nick sat back down in the chair, facing away from his friend, staring back out of the window only seeing his own reflection now.
"Karen." He whispered.
Silence. Then the rustling of clothes and the sound of someone sitting down on the bed behind him.
"Tell me." The gentle voice with the familiar soft Irish lilt was soothing in a way he had not expected. He closed his eyes.
"She came back. She killed Mickey and she tried to get me back. I… I had to kill her Philip. She was saying she loved me and I killed her. "
Anguish and guilt made his voice hoarse as he saw her again in that cellar telling him she loved him. And him, throwing the match, setting the wood on fire, killing her.
He felt a hand on his shoulder, comforting him.
"She was a succubus, Nick , an evil spirit, a killer. How many men did she kill except your friend? You had to kill her, Nick, you know that."
He nodded knowing the truth but still… "She loved me, Philip. All she wanted was to be loved back. That's what we all want, isn't it?"
"She wasn't human. She was a spirit and with destroying her you maybe set her free."
If only he could belief that. If only he knew.
"Did you love her?" Softly spoken, as if Philip was afraid he would go to far with that simple question. The answer was hard to give.
"The woman I met… the woman she pretended to be… I think I loved her… or could have loved her if I had the chance." He whispered.
"She was not real."
"That's what I told her. It was all an illusion. But I'm not sure, Philip… she was so real… for that few days she was perfect…I made love to her, in my bed and it was perfect. And then I had to kill her."
He heard her scream again, dying in the fire he had laid. Philip's hand digging into his shoulder brought him back.
"You have t' let go, Nick. I know it's not easy, but you have t' ."
There was a trace of pain in Philip's own voice and all of a sudden Nick remembered another situation years ago, achingly familiar to this one. Then he had been the one, saying almost the same words. He turned to his friend smiling sadly up to him.
"Thanks for being here, Philip."
A smile answered him and a little shake of his head. Nothing to thank for.
Some of the weight seemed to have lifted from Nick's shoulders. The confusion in his feelings was still here, the guilt and the pain had not lessened. But the feeling of utter loneliness that Rachel with all her kindness and support had not been able to ease had lessened. He was not alone, here was someone who knew and understood what he felt.
"You're hungry?" Philip asked, remembering Rachel's comment that Nick had not eaten since the disaster the former day.
He himself had had a busy day, Rachel's call coming only a few minutes after his arrival home. He was starving by now.
Nick shook his head, remembering the laid table in Mickey's house. He did not feel like eating.
He shyly grinned at Philip. "I was hoping for something different." The grin faded as he added, sounding like a little boy "You didn't take it to your apartment, did you?"
Philip smiled at him. "Actually I did, but you don't think I brought only one bottle from Ireland? With you in the house?"
He got up from the bed and opened his cupboard, taking out the bottle Nick had been hoping for.
"But only one… on an empty stomach…"
Rachel looked at the stairs for the umpteenth time, staining her ears to hear anything. Since Philip had gone upstairs more than an hour ago there had been no sound from the two men. She was relieved and worried at once, in this mood Nick was unpredictable and she had not been sure if Philip could break through.
Her eyes met Kat's who was smiling at her.
"They'll get through it." The girl said, sounding more convinced than her mother felt.
"You want me to check on them?"
Before Rachel could decide she was already on her feet. "I'll take some sandwiches up to them, I can check if they are still alive…"
The psychiatrist watched her daughter disappear into the kitchen, inwardly glad she volunteered. She would not feel comfortable intruding in whatever went on upstairs.
Ten minutes later Kat was standing before Philip's closed door, holding a laden plate with both of her hands, wondering if she should use her nose to knock. Finally she decided to call out. "Hey someone alive in there?"
The door was opened seconds later, Philip's eyes getting wide as he saw the amount of food she was carrying.
"Right on time" he exclaimed happily taking the plate from her in a hurry. She wondered at his flushed cheeks and cheerful voice, looking for Nick.
He grinned at her, sprawled relaxed in his chair, a far better sight than she had expected from her mother's comments.
Then she spotted the bottle standing innocently on the floor at the foot end of Philip's bed. Her brows climbed to her hairline as she looked from one to the other.
Philip saw her look and mumbled towards Nick. "I told ya, one is enough."
She looked back at Nick who gave her a shy smile at being caught. She noticed the sadness still lingering in his eyes, but he took the sandwich Philip handed him without protest.
The priest had put the plate down next to him on the bed, not letting the food get to far away from him. Generously he offered another sandwich to Kat who shook her head, smiling by now. Sometimes these two acted more like boys her own age than adults. She watched them devour the food in silence, noticing that Philip had obviously been starving.
Kat settled down, sitting on the floor, her back against the wall, facing the two men.
Philip had finished his sandwich, grabbing another one he checked silently on Nick who was still chewing at his first.
He turned his attention to Kat now that the worst of his hunger was settled.
"So, what's new?"
She shrugged, nothing to tell here. Life could be really uneventful sometimes. Her eyes flickered back to Nick for a second. A reassuring smile told her that Philip had caught her look and told her everything she needed to know. Nick would be alright.
Not wanting to disturb whatever they had been doing any longer she got to her feet again.
"Guess I get down again, before mom suspects a black hole up here." With that she slipped out of the room, closing the door silently behind her.
The two men smiled after her, knowing very well they had been checked on.
Philip handed another sandwich to Nick who tried to protest but was cut short.
"Ya wan' another drink you better eat."
Reluctantly he gave in, looking at the sandwich as if it would bite his nose any second. But after a look at Philip's stern face he sighed and attacked.
Half way through the plate even Philip gave up. After pouring another drink for each of them he reclined on his bed, feeling tiredness creep up on him. He was thankful that he did not need to be at the parish before noon the next day.
Well, depending on what state Nick was in tomorrow, maybe he would cancel his meeting at all.
His eyes wandered over to the subject of his thoughts. Nick was obviously on the verge of falling asleep. He was fighting to keep his eyes from drifting shut.
Philip forced himself upright again, gently taking the empty glass from Nick's fingers. The ex-Seal looked up at him questioningly.
"Time for bed."
Protest formed on Nick's face. He was not that tired!
Philip smiled at him, his smile fading as he suddenly remembered something Nick had said.
"You can have my bed." He offered, his voice gentle.
For a few seconds Nick just stared at him, then he looked away.
"Thanks." He finally whispered hoarsely. The memory of making love to her in his bed was still fresh.
"You're going back then?" Nick asked, sounding almost disappointed as he watched Philip reluctantly getting up from his bed.
"Na, I'll take the guestroom. See ya tomorrow." With a big yawn he got a few things together while Nick stretched out on the comfortable bed closing his burning eyes. To tell the truth, he was tired, and with Philip's soothing presence he could for the first time relax enough to drift away.
Philip turned to say a final good night and stopped short. Nick was laying still, his breathing even.
"Nick?" he whispered.
No answer, his friend had managed to fall asleep within the two minutes he had needed to find his sweatpants and a t-shirt. Shaking his head he pulled the comforter up, covering him as much as possible and silently left the room. A shower and bed and a good long sleep the only thing the priest longed for right now.
Both men slept long into the next day. Rachel checked on them once, needing some time to find out who was sleeping where. She wondered at their odd sleeping arrangements, but decided not to think too much about it.
Derek and Alex finally arrived and she used the chance to brief them about everything that had been going on.
They were worried about Nick, especially Alex and relieved that Philip was here.
It was almost ten as Nick appeared. He looked a lot better than the last time Rachel had seen him. He greeted Derek and Alex and disappeared into the control room with a cup of coffee. They watched him go, concern on their faces. But he seemed stable, a little bit withdrawn but the worst was obviously over.
He sat down in his usual seat staring at the screen for a few moments. He felt better, the rest his tired body had needed so much had also restored his equilibrium. He had checked the guest room before coming down, finding Philip still deeply asleep. He wondered at that, usually the priest got up quite early.
He shook himself, concentrating on his work, Derek would call a meeting soon, he was sure of that and there were a few things left to finish.
Philip finally came down an hour later, still looking a little bit tired and worn out. The day before Nick had not seen the signs of exhaustion, too wrapped up in his own problems. Now he noticed.
He also noticed that he skipped breakfast, only grabbed a cup of coffee and joined them in the living room.
The part of the meeting Nick had dreaded most went over quickly. He realized Rachel had obviously already told most of the story, only Philip seemed to hear the details for the first time.
Then they turned to new cases witch had turned up during the last days, forgotten in the chaos.
"There has been a case of double murder discovered yesterday. One victim male, one female. " Alex reported. They all looked at the projection on the wall, showing the dead corpse of a young man. "The male body shows signs of abuse, inflicted before the murder." She went on, telling a fact that was clearly visible on the picture shown.
"A ritual?" Nick asked, taking his eyes off the gruesome sight.
"What was found near the corpse could be the remains." Derek answered. "I need you to go there, check it out."
"The male victim was a priest." All eyes went to Philip at Alex's soft words.
"The woman?" Nick asked.
"Not identified yet but most probably a homeless. Maybe she was just at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Derek's eyes returned to Philip.
"Maybe you should go with Nick." He suggested.
Philip nodded, still shocked at the revelation.
While he waited for Nick he called at his parish, telling Father Anthony he would not make it to their meeting.
When he turned away from the phone he found Rachel standing there, looking at him with her 'professional look' .
"Is everything ok, Philip?" she asked.
"I think so." He answered. "Nick will need some time to get over it, but he's dealing quite well with it, considering the circumstances."
"That's good to hear, although I did not mean Nick. You look exhausted, everything alright?
He smiled at her reassuringly but she did not smile back, just kept looking at him. He let the façade drop, feeling too worn out to pretend.
"It was a hard week." He said simply, sitting down in an armchair. She could see him casting a glance at the stairs, hoping Nick would come soon.
But he did not show and Rachel just kept waiting for him to go on so he gave in. With a sigh he ran his hand through his hair, looking even more wary.
"There's a girl, she's just fourteen… she was raped a few days ago." He said softly, is eyes betraying the emotion his voice tried to hide. "She was terrified and had no-one to turn to, so she came to me. "
"Her parents are divorced, she lives with her father." He shook his head, still not able to understand what he had witnessed. "I convinced her to tell him, went with her. But he reacted exactly the way she had feared." He looked at her confusion in his eyes. "He blamed her… can you belief it? He yelled at her, told her she was a whore who did not deserve better."
Rachel was shocked. How could someone be that cruel, that thoughtless when it concerned his own child.
He did not mention the rage he had felt as he witnessed the scene, barely holding his temper in check while he got the crying girl out of the house, away from the man she called father.
"I brought her to her mum yesterday, I just came back when you called."
Before Rachel had the chance to say anything Nick barreled down the stairs, and Philip was at his feet in an instant. She let him go, satisfied to know the reason behind his tiredness. She knew what taking care of someone traumatized that way could take out of someone.
Four hours later the two men were sitting in a coffee shop, knowing nothing more than when they had started.
Philip was nursing a pounding headache by now, swallowing some tablets with his coffee.
They had decided as a next step to visit the murdered priest's parish. Nick waited impatiently for Philip to finish his coffee. He wanted to get on, find out anything. He made them leave before the tablets started to work, not really noticing the paleness of Philip's face.
Obviously today was children's day at the parish. Kids at all ages were everywhere, a small flea market and an playing zone attracting their attention.
Nick held back, this was Philip's area. He watched as his friend, who was wearing his collar now, talked to several priests. They opened up to a fellow priest and told everything they knew, but again they learned nothing new.
Tired they settled down at the small tent that offered cold drinks and snacks. The headache had gone, but still the priest did not feel like eating, making a face at the food Nick got for himself.
They sat in silence, each of them trying to figure out what had been overlooked.
A soccer ball narrowly missed Nick's head and pounced against Philip's shoulder, making him cry out in surprise. Seconds later a curly headed kid of maybe five appeared, an exasperated expression on his face.
"I'm sorry! Billy always… Father Philip!" he stopped his babbling as he recognized the priest, a smile lighting his face.
Philip smiled at the kid, the youngest son of one of his own parishioners. His older brother was one of the kids on his soccer team.
"Hello Tommy. " was all Philip could say before the kid babbled on.
"I didn't know you would be here… I told my friends here you are the best soccer player in America… they don't believe me… come and show them?" He was already tugging at Philip's sleeve, wearing that expression no adult could resist… hopeful and pleading at once with big puppy eyes.
Nick was grinning from one ear to the other. He was always amazed at how much children liked Philip. And at how little defenses his friend had against them. His grin disappeared as Philip explained. "You know what, Tommy? My friend Nick here always says he's the best. Maybe you should ask him."
The look the kid gave him was deeply skeptic. The thought that anyone could play better than his adored Father Philip was absurd to Tommy.
His pleading eyes finally won, and Nick found himself being dragged along with Philip towards a group of kids all between the age of five and ten.
For some time both men forgot their troubles, each of them joining one of the kid's teams. They were playing rough against each other, but aware of the kids. Not that they would have been as considerate as the adults.
The game came to an end when Nick tackled Philip from behind, bringing the younger man down. With a loud squeal of delight most of the kids joined them on the ground, jumping both men. As soon as the tangle was cleared the adults decided they were out of their league. Nick managed a clean getaway, watching from a safe distance how Philip tried every trick to escape, finally rescued by Tommy's mother. With a grin Nick watched as Philip now squirmed to get away from her, finally grabbing his jacket from were he had thrown it at the beginning of the game and following Nick.
He had almost reached his friend when a stranger crossed his way. Their eyes met and for a moment Philip was caught by the intensity of his gaze.
The stranger smiled at him. "You really do love kids, Father?"
There was a odd tone to his voice that did not really go with the smile on his face.
"Yeah." The priest smiled back, a little bit confused.
The stranger nodded at him and continued his way. Nick noticed the puzzled expression on his friends face, but he had been too far away to hear the short and quiet conversation.
He watched the stranger walk away from the church, losing interest as soon as Philip joined him.
"We better go, before your fan club finds us again." He joked, getting an enthusiastic nod from Philip. He pointed behind the priest. "You're biggest fan is waving good bye."
Philip turned and Nick grinned at his slight flushing as he realized Nick had not meant one of the kids but Tommy's mother. He waved back shyly, turning and starting towards the car in quite a haste. Still grinning the ex-Seal followed.
"I need to go to my apartment, I need a change of clothes." Philip stated as they had made it safely to the car. Nick nodded his assent.
They did not notice the car following them to the building Philip lived in.
They came out again an hour later, deep in discussion getting into Nick's car. Only when he leaned forward to start the car did Nick realize something was wrong, his instincts suddenly screaming 'danger'.
But it was too late, before he could act on his feelings, sudden movement and a cold voice from behind them startled both men.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen. I'm glad you could join me. No, no I wouldn't do that. Belief me, I'd have no regrets killing him. None at all."
At the sight of the gun pressed against Philip's temple Nick obeyed, not wanting to risk his friends live. With a swift movement the man behind him brought the barrel of the gun down at Philip's head. With a soft moan the priest collapsed, a trickle of blood forming at his temple. With gritted teeth Nick watched as his friend slumped against the side window.
"Go." The order came from behind, the gun still pointing at Philip.
He started the car and followed the curt instructions. His mind was racing, trying to figure out what was going on here. He had recognized the man as the one who had talked to Philip back at the parish. Could it be connected to their current case?
After what seemed an eternity he was ordered to stop the car. The building looked old, forgotten.
"Don't move. It would be a pity to kill him too early."
Nick's heart constricted at that cold statement. But he stayed where he was hearing the man behind him move. Then something hard hit his head and darkness descended.
"Still no word?"
Alex shook her head, her eyes worried.
"That's not like Nick." His eyes wandered to the clock. "it's been two hours now. He said they would come here right away."
He sighed as he rubbed his temple.
"I don't like this."
"No-one answers the phone at Philip's apartment nor Nick's mobile. Let me go and check. " Alex pleaded.
He shook his head in agreement. "Ok, take Rachel with you. Check at the parish they visited first."
He didn't know why he said that. He had talked to Nick on the phone shortly after they had left the parish. If anything had happened there he would have mentioned it. But still, he had a feeling and Alex did not question it but went to go and get Rachel, anxious to do something, anything.
When he opened his eyes again there was darkness all around him. For a second panic rose but he fought it down. Slowly he sat up, his mind registering that he was obviously lying on a bed. His head hurt, every movement bringing on slight waves of nausea.
Automatically his fingers went to his gun only to find it gone. His eyes slowly got used to the dim light when he heard someone else move.
Only a whisper, but it brought relief from a fear that had been nagging at the back of his mind.
"Yeah. How are you?"
"´Head hurts. You?"
"Where are we?" Nick checked his pockets, finding them empty.
"I have no idea. The last thing I remember is that guy in your car. I woke up here."
They were still whispering. A hand touched Nick's leg and a shadow settled down next to him.
"I checked the room out, but the windows are nailed shut and the door is locked." Philip reported. "There's an adjoining bathroom but no window."
"Some light would be a great help." Nick muttered.
"The light switches don't work. I guess this is an abandoned building."
Nick remembered the building he had been directed to and nodded, a movement Philip could barely make out in the darkness. Then he got to his feet and started to check the room, not because he did not trust Philip but desperately hoping his friend had missed something, anything.
He found nothing but some spare pieces of furniture he bumped into.
Finally he returned to the bed, sitting down next to Philip.
"We have to wait for this wacko to turn up." Nick whispered. "Who is he anyway?"
"I have no idea."
"But I saw you talking to him."
"He only asked me if I liked kids. I've never seen him before in my life."
Nick wanted to ask if he thought this was connected to their current case but kept quiet. If it was, then Philip was in grave danger and there was no use in rubbing his nose in. The first victim had been a priest. And Nick had felt their captor's hate towards the younger man almost bodily.
Silence settled as they sat there waiting, only broken when one of them shifted into a more comfortable position. They had no idea how much time had passed when they heard movement from the direction of the locked door.
Philip could feel Nick tense up and reached out a hand to calm him. He did not want his friend to do anything stupid.
They could hear the sound of a bolt removed and a key turning. The door was pushed open, dim light falling in. The shadow of a man appeared.
"Come with me Father, it's time to play our little game. I'm sure you remember it?" The voice was cold and taunting.
Nick could now feel Philip tense and grabbed his arm, indicating him to stay.
"Maybe I should shoot your friend first?"
The light of a flashlight found them, concentrating on Nick. The sound of a gun readied made Philip jump to his feet, shaking off the hand on his arm.
"What do you want of me?" he asked, his voice calmer than he felt, betraying nothing of the fear inside.
"Play the little game you enjoyed so much… don't tell me you don't remember!" the voice had become angry and Philip did not respond. He felt Nick behind him but before his friend could stop him he moved forward, slowly walking towards the man.
Nick moved forward, trying to hold him back. The beam of the light lost him, but settled on Philip.
"Stop it, or I shoot him right now."
Nick froze at these words, hearing in the tone they were spoken that their captor would not hesitate to do it.
Helplessly he watched as his friend reached the door, passing by the man who still had light and gun directed at him.
There was a flicker of madness in the dark eyes staring at the priest, than the face contracted in hate, startling him even more than the words that were yelled at him next.
"Take off your jacket."
He did so, letting it fall to the ground next to him.
The gun was still directed at him, so Philip obeyed, slowly going down on his knees. He could feel the fear gnawing on his insides.
The man stood in front of him looking down at him.
"You know, what you've done wrong." The sudden change in his voice scared Philip. It was soft now, worry and regret in it.
"No." he whispered. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't lie to me! You know what I have to do when you lie. Confess you're sins and take you're punishment, then you will be forgiven."
Philip shook his head.
"Stop lying!" The sudden outburst made Philip flinch. His eyes darted around, desperately looking for a way out.
"Look at me when I talk to you"
Philip looked back up at him. Using his most soothing tone he tried one more time to get through. "I don't even know you. Whatever you assume that I have done…"
The man in front of him backhanded him. Philip's head was jerked aside, he almost lost his balance, the sharp pain bringing tears to his eyes.
"Don't you get it? I'm not a little boy anymore! I'm in charge now, so stop that game." He took a step backwards, looking down at the man kneeling before him. For the first time Philip realized that most probably he did not even see him, Philip Callaghan but somebody else. Somebody he hated with all his madness.
"You're last chance, Father. Do you want to confess now?"
Not knowing what to say the priest stayed silent. With growing horror he watched as the man nodded to himself. "You know what I have to do now. I really don't like it, but it's your own fault." With this words he had slowly undone his belt, removing it from its slings.
He slowly started to walk around the kneeling man, getting behind him. All of Philip's senses screamed for him to get away, but as soon as he tried to move a hand grabbed his hair, forcing his head back.
"Don't even think about it. How far do you think you'll get?"
Philip struggled to get free, a sudden kick to his ribs knocking the breath out of his body. Another kick made him cry out, the hand left his hair and he curled up against the agonizing pain in his side.
The first time the belt struck it hardly registered. But the sharp pain of the leather strap coming down again and again soon made him gasp each time it found it's mark. Despite the pain in his body he tried to scramble away, to get to his feet, only to receive another kick that sent him back down.
The activity at the parish had lessened, most of the kids had gone home by now. Alex had already talked to two priests. Both of them could remember Philip and Nick but none of them could give any new information.
"There's one more over there. Let's try it." Rachel encouraged, dragging Alex along to the elderly priest.
Alex only half listened to the questions Rachel asked. A woman near them turned to listen as she heard the name 'Callaghan' .
She slowly came nearer, not even trying to hide the fact she was ears dropping. Alex decided to confront her.
"Hello." She said, smiling at the other woman. She smiled back, although a little bit forced.
"Hello. I could not help but overhear your conversation. Did something happen to Father Callaghan?"
Now also Rachel shifted her attention towards the woman. "We are not sure. He did not turn up at a meeting and no-one heard from him."
"I saw him leaving with his friend…"
"That was Nick." Another voice quipped in. All eyes turned to the curly headed kid that had appeared next to the woman. "He thought he could play better than Father Philip, but boy was he wrong. " the kid shook his head making Alex smile.
Before his mother could try to stop her son's babbling Rachel was on her knees before him.
"Did you see anyone else with Father Philip today?" she asked. She was grabbing for straws, she knew.
"No, only Nick and the other priests." the kid shook his head but stopped himself. "There was that weirdo, he said something to Father Philip, but only a few words."
"Yes, I remember." His mother suddenly chimed in. "Paul Hilvers."
At the questioning glances she received she explained. "He lives somewhere around here. I've seen him a few times. He works at the gas station, that's why I know his name."
"He's a weirdo." The kid repeated receiving a nudge from his mother. He glared up at her but was ignored. She was too busy trying to press some information from Alex about the disappeared priest.
The two Legacy operatives squirmed their way out of the conversation, promising to call if anything had happened to Philip.
Finally having gotten away Rachel sighed. "My god, that woman was worse than a piranha. I hope for Philip he doesn't have too much to do with her."
"And nothing new. They left without any incident. From what we know they drove to Philip's apartment. Maybe we should check there?"
Rachel nodded her assent. What else could they do?
Nick Boyle felt sick. He had tried to listen what was going on outside this room, what was happening to his friend.
The wooden door had filtered most of the sounds but twice he had heard a cry of pain, muffled but recognizable. It was enough to set his blood boiling with anger.
Finally after a lifetime of waiting Nick heard movement again. He was on his feet in an instant, pressing his back against the wall next to the door.
He was ready to attack if only given the slightest chance.
The sound of the bolt, the key and then the door was pushed open once more. A figure appeared. In the light coming in from through the door he could see it was Philip. Relief flooded through Nick at seeing his friend still alive. He stumbled inside and with lightning speed Nick moved, slamming against the door before it was completely closed again. He managed to push it open a little bit, hearing a cry of rage from the other side. Then with a force that send him backwards the door was slammed shut, the bolt quickly replaced.
Cursing Nick hit his fist against the wood, stopping when the pain told him it was not worth the effort.
He turned around scanning the darkness for his friend.
"Over here." Only whispered although keeping silent seemed quite useless by now.
He found his way over to his friend who was sitting on the floor, only a few feet away from the door and crouched down next to him.
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah." Philip felt far away from alright but he did not want to worry Nick. The pain he felt was making it hard to breath, his whole body felt on fire. He had not been able to make it farer then two steps through the door, then he had slumped down.
Something touched him and he flinched away, from the contact as much as from the pain it evoked.
"You're sure?" there was doubt in Nick's voice.
Bile rose in Philip's throat all of a sudden. He tried to get to his feet, startling Nick with his sudden movement. Moaning at the pain in his rips he swayed, feeling a arm go around him, stabilizing him.
"Yeah, alright you are." A sarcastic voice commented.
He struggled away from the arm holding him. "Sick." He managed to mutter than kept his mouth shut again, trying desperately to keep his stomach down.
Without further comment Nick shoved him forward directing him through the darkness and finally pushed him down to his knees. He reacted by instinct, trying to get up again, almost panicking. But his stomach had other ideas and he finally lost the battle. Hands held his head as he retched in dry heaves, only the bitter taste of coffee coming up from his almost empty stomach.
"Calm down, Philip." Nick hissed at his frantic friend. "There's a bog in front of you and even without water it's the best we've got."
He did not quite understand Philip's panic, but it worried him, making him fear what had happened to him. He held him, waiting until the spasms lessened then he helped him back to his feet. He could feel the priest trembling and slowly led him to a bed noticing the stiffness in his body, the stifled gasps of pain. He helped him lay down and sat down on the ground next to him waiting until the ragged breathing had slowed. Then he asked gently.
"What happened, Philip. What did he want?"
It took some time until an answer came.
"He's mad. I don't think he even knows where he is and with whom." Philip said softly.
"How bad are you hurt?"
Silence, then the reluctant admission "Just some bruises. Nothing to really worry about."
"Let me check you over."
"No. That's not necessary, really."
Nick did not try to press him, knowing his stubbornness. He settled down and waited. It did not take too long and Philip's breathing became regular and even, his abused body shutting down.
Not wanting to startle him Nick moved slowly, bringing his hands gently down Philip's side to check for broken ribs. He found one at least cursing the priest for his hard headedness. When his hand touched Philip's back he felt a warm stickiness there. Carefully he lifted the shirt, realizing for the first time that Philip's jacket was gone. His fingers ever so lightly brushed along his friend's back, stopping as they came in contact with the first welt.
Nick froze, shock hitting him at feeling the marks of abuse, so familiar to him. His father's belt had hit his own back more than once. To find the same marks on the body of his best friend seemed to hurt even more.
He forced himself to check Philip's whole back, finding numerous welts, some of them oozing blood. He was shaking with suppressed rage the time he had finished.
He would get that bastard.
Frustrated Alex leaned back in her chair, her eyes wandering up to the clock above her.
"Nothing?" Rachel had come in, checking on her progress, or lack of progress.
The blonde woman shook her head.
They looked at each other, concern on their faces. Their friends had been missing for hours now and still no trace. After checking Philip's apartment they had returned to the island disappointed.
The computer made a peep and Alex leaned forward, no real hope on her face.
"I even tried that name the piranha gave us." She sighed, scrolling through the list of references. All of a sudden her stance changed her face became a mask of concentration. She scanned the page in front of her in a hurry, feeling Rachel next to her, looking over her shoulder.
"My god." She heard her whisper. "I get Derek."
Five minutes later they were all looking at the information Alex had found.
"Paul Hilvers." Alex reported, leaving out unimportant details. "Born 1973, orphaned at the age of three. Grown up at an orphanage run by a Father Hamgil. At the age of thirteen arrested for the murder of named Father. It turned out this priest had abused the children in his care in every way possible. Hilvers was never charged for the murder, but spent the next years in different mental institutions. He was released half a year ago."
"It would explain the murder of the priest. From what we heard he had a lot to do with the kids of the parish. As for Philip… he was seen today playing Soccer with a couple of kids. Could it be enough?"
Rachel nodded. "If Hilvers thinks Philip is like this Father Hamgil, that he abuses kids it might trigger something inside."
"But what about the ritual?" Alex pointed out.
Derek shrugged. "Try to find something about it. Rachel, you try to find Hilvers."
Half an hour later Rachel let out a whistle, drawing Derek to her side. His address, it's near the church like Mrs. piranha said."
Derek frowned but did not ask.
"But the address of the orphanage – it's only two blocks away from were the bodies were found."
"The ritual…" Alex said and both turned to her. "The only thing I found is an old celtic ritual. It is held to ensure the soul of the death reach heaven. But the strange thing… all the symbols they found are exactly the other way round. Everything is turned around as if…"
"As if to make sure the soul never reaches heaven." Derek whispered.
"Does it work?" Rachel wondered aloud.
"I don't know." Derek admitted. "But right now it is more important to find Nick and Philip."
In a hurry they left the house, each of them desperately hoping it was not too late.
Derek drove, Rachel next to him calling Frank.
Alex was sitting in the back, her mind on Nick and Philip. She remembered the pictures she had seen in the morning. "Please, don't let this happen to Philip." She prayed. Not Philip. Not sweet, gentle Philip.
When the door opened again Nick was prepared. He was not letting this bastard have another go at Philip.
He waited until the beam of the flashlight wandered through the room, telling him the position of his adversary.
"It's time, Father. I hope you're ready."
Nick moved silently but quick, launching himself at the man. Surprise was his advantage. He managed to knock the other man down who gave a startled cry as he fell backwards into the next, better lit room. Regaining his own balance Nick's skills in fighting added to his fury should have given him the upper hand, but he was fighting with a mad man. A knock to his already hurting head made him lose his grip for a moment, giving his opponent the one advantage he needed. Hands closed around his throat, he struggled to remove them but the grip of the crazy man was not to break. His head was banged against the floor, making him almost pass out. Through the haze he felt the hands leave his throat. Forcing his eyes open he could see the knife that had suddenly appeared but was unable to move away.
The cry had startled Philip awake. Pushing the jacket aside that covered him he got to his feet in a haste. A searing pain went through his upper body and made him gasp. He could feel the crusts on the welts breaking as he forced himself to move towards the open door where he could hear the sound of struggling.
The sound of movement made Paul Hilvers turn just in time to see the priest approaching. Uncomprehending Nick watched as the knife suddenly changed direction, no longer aiming at him. Sudden horror struck as he saw Philip attacking. He knew even if his friend had not been hurt, he would have been no match for this absolutely crazy man. Helplessly he watched him throwing himself at Hilvers, using his body weight to drive him away from Nick. Both men went down with a sickening thud as a head connected with something hard.
The ex-Seal scrambled over to the silent bodies, almost frantic in worry. With some relief he noticed the blood pooling under the mad man's head, so it had been his head that made the ugly sound. But Philip was not moving either, lying on his face, half on top of the other man. He reached his side, keeping part of his attention still on the other man. He fumbled for a pulse, finding it.
A soft moan, a slight movement, another moan. He reached out as the priest moved again, helping him to turn around. A gasp escaped Nick when he saw the rapidly growing bloodstain around the handle of the knife embedded in Philip's abdomen.
"My god." He whispered, carefully positioning the younger man on his back. He could see his paleness, the pain reflected on his expressive features.
He looked around, checking the room for the first time. A table on the far side seemed to hold a few things and he let go of Philip whispering "I'll be back in a second."
He almost run over to the table, a flood of relief going through him when he saw his belongings lying there. He grabbed his mobile phone and quickly returned to Philip's side.
The sudden shrill of Alex's phone startled them all. She answered it almost crying out. "Nick? Where are you?" Then she fell silent while two pair of eyes watched her intently, registering every flicker of emotion that crossed her face.
"My god." She whispered. "Do you know the address?… Ok, I give you to Rachel now. Tell him to hold on…" She handed her phone to Rachel.
"Nick. Philip's hurt."
Taking Rachel's phone she called an ambulance, giving the address Nick had told her.
Derek listened to the conversations going on, his eyes on the road. Only the tightening of his hands on the steering wheel showed the emotions going through him. Philip was hurt. He could hear Rachel talking to Nick, asking how deep the knife was in. For a second his eyes met Alex's in the rearview mirror, seeing the same fear in her eyes that he felt in his heart. They could not loose Philip. Not now, only five weeks after he had finally returned. Not now when he at last seemed to have found peace in his decisions. Not Philip, o God please not Philip.
Nick had not been able to remove Philip's shirt, afraid to jostle the knife. He took off his own shirt and pressed it against the deep wound, wrapping it carefully around the handle of the knife. He knew removing the knife would most probably kill Philip. Right now the knife closed off the wound, lessening the heavy bleeding. Still there was a lot of blood seeping from it.
Philip moaned in pain, his eyes flickering open. Nick tried to smile reassuringly.
"Nick?" only a weak whisper.
"I'm here Philip. Ambulance is on the way. Just keep still."
"Hurts…" There were tears of pain in his eyes.
Keeping his right hand pressed against the bandage to stop the bleeding Nick brought his left one up to Philip's shoulder.
"I know." He said gently, flinching himself at the flickers of pain on his friend's face.
The blue eyes searched his face .
"Never… told you… I'm… sorry…" Each word came a little bit softer, the last one hardly audible anymore.
For a few moments Nick was at a loss of words. He had a distinct feeling what exactly Philip was talking about and it made him feel bad.
"Nothing to be sorry for, Philip." He finally said. "it was my fault as much as yours but that's over. You need to keep quiet, keep your strength, ok?"
Philip's lips moved, he tried to say something else. But then Nick felt his body go limp, saw his eyes closing as his head rolled back.
Never lessening the pressure on the wound he fumbled for a pulse. It was too fast, but it was there.
He sat there his eyes on Philip's face listening to his ragged breathing, feeling his heartbeat under his fingers and waited. He felt the warmness of Philip's blood soaking the makeshift bandage more and more. And for the first time in years he found himself praying to the God Philip so deeply believed in.
The sound of sirens cut through the still, suddenly men rushed in, and he found himself being pushed aside, someone else taking over. Like in trance he watched them work on his friend, setting up an IV, cutting away his shirt. He could see their reaction to the state Philip's body was in. Dark bruises forming along his side, were Nick had found the broken rib earlier. Angry red welts covering his whole torso and even his arms. The knife wrapped into a blood soaked bandage.
Someone started asking him questions and he answered, glad to know almost all of Philip's medical data.
All of a sudden Alex was next to him, not asking questions, just holding onto his hand as she watched. Derek was talking to someone and Rachel had crouched down next to Philip, her medical trained eye taking in his condition. She was ushered away and joined Nick and Alex, concern written all over her face.
Nick hardly noticed the gurney accompanied by two policemen, that brought Paul Hilvers away.
They were ready to get Philip on the gurney when he regained consciousness. Disoriented he only felt the hands on him, the pain shooting through his whole body and he began to panic. Despite his weakness and the pain he started to struggle.
Nick saw the eyes open but unfocused, the terror on his face, the weak struggle against the hands that held him.
A few quick steps brought him to Philip's side, kneeling down next to him.
"Philip!" he called out softly. "Philip!"
The eyes slowly focused on him.
"Nick?" A hand reached out and grasped Nick's weakly, fingers curling around his wrist.
"It's ok, Philip. They take you to hospital now, ok?"
A slight nod told him Philip understood and he gave a sign to the paramedics. A small cry of pain escaped the priest as he was lifted, turning to a low moan as he was placed on the gurney. His fingers never left Nick's wrist, tightening around it as the pain became unbearable.
The ex-Seal stayed at his side on the way outside, climbing into the ambulance without asking. No-one stopped him.
The door was closed, the siren turned on. Nick felt the fingers around his wrist loosen as Philip slowly drifted away again, missing the last minutes of the frantic drive to hospital.
The waiting seemed endless. Rachel slipped away a few times, but not even she could come up with new information.
Nick was sitting in a chair, not moving, his head in his hands, a silent figure.
Derek finally walked over, sitting down next to him.
"Nick?" he asked gently.
The hands fell away from his face, a tired look meeting his.
"What happened?" the precept asked.
"I have no idea." Nick whispered. "one moment we were talking, the next this wacko turned up in my car. I don't know why he turned on Philip like that. Philip said he probably did not even know who and where he was." Pain tinged his voice as he added. "I tried to attack, to get us free, but he would have killed me if Philip had not interfered. He saved my life, Derek and that's why he's in there now. "
The last words were uttered only in a whisper, but in the quiet room everyone could hear them.
Softly Derek started to explain, telling him what they had found out about Paul Hilvers. Nick was very pale by the time he had finished.
"So that's what he meant when he talked about 'your little game'. He did to Philip what was done to him by a priest, when he was a kid?"
Derek nodded, and Nick buried his head in his hands, feeling utterly sick.
They sat in silence, waiting.
The doctor coming to them was in a hurry only telling them that Philip was stable at the moment but needed to have surgery.
"The knife did some damage to internal organs. He has lost a lot of blood, but is stable, and it looks good." He assured them before disappearing again.
His words brought no real relief, the waiting was not over yet.
Nick silently pushed the door open. Although they had told them Philip was still deeply unconscious he did not want to disturb him. Only one person at a time was allowed into the ICU and Nick had let everyone else go first. Now it was his turn and he slowly walked up to the bed, looking in silent horror at the still figure. He was pale, almost white. His face had stayed unscathed during the whole ordeal, not carrying the marks Nick knew the rest of his body showed.
The oxygen line going to his nose and the IVs showed how weak his body was. The soft, regular beep of the heart monitor was a frightening and assuring sound at once. His bare arms were laying on the sheets, both showing angry red welts. His right forearm had severe bruising, it was almost black.
Nick sat down on the chair next to the bed looking at his friend.
Philip's last words were haunting him, reminding him painfully of a problem not settled yet between them. A problem he had at least partly caused with his stubborn behavior. Philip had said he was sorry, but his only fault had been to do what he thought was right. Even if it had meant to leave the Legacy.
Nick remembered his feelings then, the disappointment of loosing his friend. He remembered Derek's words. "He's punishing himself, cutting himself off from everything he loved and enjoyed the last years, except the church."
But he, Nick Boyle, had stopped trying to understand his friend when he realized it meant that Philip was also avoiding him.
He had no contact to Philip until the day he returned to the Legacy. After Julia's death.
But again Philip left, this time even leaving San Francisco, going to Ireland. Not telling them that he was back until the day he was arrested. Until Ravenwood.
By then Nick's anger and disappointment had gone, he had not attacked Philip any more. But he knew the things he had done and said before had hurt the priest, never mind that he had been the one to end their friendship by leaving.
Then the priest had decided to go to Boston.
But now he was back, finally giving up on his tries to run away. They had never talked about the past, just picked up the remains of their friendship and went on.
The last hours had told him something: Maybe he had lost his trust in Philip somewhere in that past. But Philip never had lost his in Nick. His hand holding onto him, his reactions to his voice even when he was half out of it were proof enough for that.
He sat there thinking for a long time, until a nurse touched his arm, telling him it was time to go.
He left with a last look at his friend, silently promising to never abuse that trust again.
"I really like Father Callaghan, but I'm glad he's finally allowed to leave." The nurse confined in Rachel, making her grin.
Ten days had passed and the young priest had started to climb the walls, annoying the nurses with his tendency to walk the corridors of the hospital when he was supposed to lay in his bed and rest. More than once they had ushered him back to his room, were he would stay until boredom won over and he would get up again. Finally the doctor gave in to his repeated request to go home. Nick and Rachel were here to take him there. She wondered briefly if he thought of Angel Island when he spoke of home, or his tiny apartment.
He was already waiting for them, fully dressed, his bag packed. He could not wait to get away, that much was obvious.
He was planted in a wheelchair against his protest and Nick found great delight in pushing him towards the lift with as much speed as possible. Rachel shook her head after the quickly disappearing men.
"It's gonna be very quiet around here all of a sudden." The nurse commented with a sigh. Part of her would miss the young priest and his friend who had spent as much time as possible with him.
With a smile Rachel followed her friends, catching up on them outside. Philip's face was flushed with compressed laughter. Nick's eyes were sparkling as he watched his friend climb out of the wheelchair. He did not offer help, knowing from experience it would only annoy the younger man. The laughter faded a little bit as he saw the pain Philip tried to hide as he slowly sat down in the passengers seat. The knife wound had healed nicely, but some movements still hurt, as did the broken ribs.
They stopped on their way to pick up Kat who greeted Philip enthusiastically. Nick waited for a reaction from Philip who by now should have realized they were not taking him to his apartment. Taking a short glance sideways he could only see a soft smile play around Philip's lips. Relieved he turned his attention back to the road.
The priest had not wanted to ask if he was welcome at the castle, knowing no-one would tell him otherwise. When no invitation came he had resigned himself to spent the next weeks of his recovery in his own apartment. But after only a few minutes drive he noticed where they were heading and felt relief and contentment wash over him. He closed his eyes and relaxed.
"Philip! Philip, we're here."
Groggily he opened his eyes, simply following the hand that helped him out of the car and into the house. The pain his movements brought made him wish he could simply fall asleep again. He was pushed down on the couch and blinked a few times, trying to lift the remaining fog out of his brain. He saw a worried Alex looking at him and smiled, telling her he was alright.
"Guess I fell asleep?" he mumbled.
"I bet you did." Nick laughed.
Rachel appeared next to them offering a glass of juice and some tablets to Philip. He obediently took them, telling them how much he was still hurting.
"You're hungry?" he heard someone ask and realized his eyes had drifted shut again.
"Na." he mumbled, not bothering to open them.
When Derek joined them a few minutes later he had dozed off again.
The precept shot a questioning glance at Rachel. He had expected Philip to be in a fitter state.
She softly said "The painkillers he's taking are still quite strong. And he had some nightmares the last nights. That was one of the reasons they let him go, I ensured Dr. Foney we could take care of him."
Alex had gotten a blanket and covered the sleeping man.
"We'll do that." She promised.
Philip woke right for dinner, although he was still on a diet he nevertheless enjoyed his first non hospital food since he had awoken. Then he retired into his room.
The next two hours each member of the house popped into his room at least once, asking if he needed anything, if he was alright, if there was something they could do or simply to chat for a few minutes. He enjoyed their attention, glad for the company until he finally fell asleep again. It was Nick who came by next, silently opening the door when his knocking received no answer. The light on Philip's nightstand was still on, shining on the relaxed features of the sleeping man. He was curled up on his good side, his arms wrapped around his pillow.
Remembering the nightmares Rachel had mentioned Nick decided to stay awhile, just in case. He settled down in the chair facing the window, looking out into the darkness, taking in the same position Philip had found him in only ten days ago.
He stayed there until his own eyes became heavy, then left the room as quietly as he had come, leaving the light on. He kept Philip's and his own door open to hear any sound coming from the younger man's room.
Nick woke to the sound of someone closing his door and blinked at his watch. 6.30.
Slowly he got up and into his running gear and left his room to check on Philip. His room was empty, so he went down to the kitchen. He found his friend there, making coffee.
"I don't think that's allowed for you yet." He commented. Philip's still healing internal injuries forced a strict diet on the younger man, and as far as Nick knew he still had a few days to stick with it.
Philip whirled around. He had not heard Nick come in.
"Good morning." He said pointing at a pot with boiling water "Tea for me." He explained. "The coffee is for you, I thought I heard someone move around."
Nick shook his head. "You didn't get it right. We are supposed to take care of you" he grinned as he helped himself to a cup of coffee.
Philip shrugged, wincing slightly at the pain in his ribs. He was wearing jeans and t-shirt, his bare arms showing the fading bruising and welts.
He sat down carefully and watched Nick prepare breakfast for both of them.
After that Nick went for a run and Philip into the library. He had no work to do there, just enjoyed the peace in this room while he went through books, finally choosing one and settling down on his usual place.
Rachel found him there an hour later, bringing him something to drink and the tablets he had forgotten to take. She smiled at the disgust on his face as he swallowed them and left him to his book.
Derek came in shortly after, checking on him. He was surprised to see the book Philip was studying.
"I did not know you knew this language."
Philip grinned at him. "I used my time in Boston to enlarge my wisdom."
Derek smiled at him. "You'll never get enough of it, do you?"
"Wisdom? Philip?" Nick's voice was taunting and Derek decided to leave the two young men to their bantering. There are some things you just do not want to get in the middle of.
"More than you'll ever have!" Philip shot back.
Philip gave up, his laughter cut short by the pain in his ribs.
"You're ok?" Nick asked. He had seen the flicker of pain and although he knew from self experience broken ribs needed time to mend and were probably still hurting like hell, he wanted to make sure.
There was something else on Nick's mind he wanted to say but he did not really know how to start. He stood there looking a little bit lost. Philip watched him a few moments then he asked.
"Nick? Is everything ok with you?"
"Yes…No. I don't know." He looked helpless and Philip felt himself starting to worry.
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing." Nick shook his head. "Everything ok." He turned and left the room.
Puzzled Philip stared after him.
It was dark. He could see nothing but he could hear the voice.
"Confess your sins, Father and you will be forgiven."
Nameless fear gripped him, he tried to get away but something held him. He struggled, managed somehow to break free and stumbled away. Then he heard the cruel laughter behind him.
He could hear the sound of a belt come down on a human body. He turned and suddenly he could see through the dark, could see Nick lying there, his body covered in blood. He screamed and started to run towards his friend when he felt the hands touch him. He tried to get away, pain shooting through his body.
"Philip! Philip, wake up! Philip!"
His eyes shot open, recognizing light and the man calling his name. Nick. He turned his head, the terror still gripping his insides, the pain very real.
Taking a few even breaths he calmed himself, feeling the shaking subside.
A hand never left his shoulder, a comforting touch.
Nick watched him with worry, glad he had kept the doors open again. Last night had been undisturbed but not this night. He was shocked at the intensity of the dream Philip had had. The younger man only slowly stopped shaking, his face pale.
With a sigh Philip finally relaxed back into the cushions an embarrassed look on his face. "I'm sorry Nick, I didn't want to wake you up."
His accent was thicker than normal, a sign how deeply disturbed he was.
"Don't worry. Want to tell me what this was about?"
Philip stayed silent, his mind not wanting to go back there.
"Hilvers?" Nick's voice was gentle, assuring.
"Yeah." He silently admitted.
Nick did not press any further, waiting for him to go on.
"He… I could get away…" Philip whispered "But he had you… I saw you laying there, covered in blood."
The memory of the terror he had felt made him start shaking again and Nick's grip tightened.
"I know what it feels like" the ex-Seal whispered "When I saw you attacking him that night… when he stabbed you… I was never so scared in my life... "
He could feel Philip's eyes on him, the surprise in them. He gave a wry smile, getting a weak one in return.
This few words told Philip everything, the fear Nick had felt for him, for loosing him.
"You should try to get some more sleep." Nick said after some moments of silence, getting to his feet. He hesitated for a moment until the priest smiled at him and said "I'll be fine Nick."
Then he left the room, keeping the door open again.
Philip pushed himself into a sitting position. Sleep was not likely to come back soon. He grabbed the book from the nightstand and started to read until his eyes drifted shut and he dozed off. He never noticed Nick slipping back in, taking the book gently away and turning the light off.