Full Circle - pt. 2

Alex Moreau woke from a very disturbing dream. She tried to dispel the feeling of unease and go back to sleep. She glanced at the clock and groaned. 'Four a.m. Another four hours, that's all I ask.' She rolled over, but the images stayed with her, denying her sleep. She heaved a sigh of exasperation, only forty-five minutes had passed. 'Well, guess I'm not getting any more sleep tonight.' She rose and put on her dressing gown and made her way to the Control room.

She was a bit surprised to see Derek up as well, his blue robe and rumpled hair a fair cry from the dignified front he normally portrayed. He was scanning the incoming mail from the computer, a job that he usually delegated to Nick. "Derek, what are you doing up?"

Derek Rayne looked up, a bit surprised to see her. "I couldn't sleep. You?"

"Bad dreams."

Derek leaned up against the desk. "Want to talk about them?"

Alex shook her head, trying more to sort through the images than to reject his help. "It's all muddled. There was smoke and hysterical laughter... sobs... a tiger roaring. ... Something that looked like black mist..." She shook her head. "I can't make any sense out of it at all." Derek had began nodding half-way through her recitation. "Sounds like the one I had. Only I had the distinct feeling that the laughter and crying were coming from children. But I don't know what it means either."

"So was it a true vision? I mean, if both of us had it?"

Derek was silent for a moment. "Not if what we picked up were the residues of someone's dream. It's happened before."

Alex rubbed the side of her head. "Who's at the House tonight? Or morning as the case may be."

He smiled a bit at her attempt to lighten the mood. "Both Rachel and Kat are here. Nick's in residence. We have a gentleman from the New York House. A Patrick Grey." He elaborated at her raised eyebrow. "He's doing some personal research and hopes our books will have the information he's looking for. He'll be here for a day or so."

She shook her head. "I dunno. It might have been a nightmare from one of them. If it was, what will we do? It's not as if they can control what they dream, and I know they don't mean to broadcast it." 'Man,' she thought, 'Glad it was a nightmare and not anything real personal. Now that would be embarrassing.'

"There isn't much we can do. However, if the dreams persist, perhaps we can help them deal with them. Especially since we already have an idea of what might be wrong. We'll just have to keep an eye on them."

"Oh, you mean the usual." She grinned impishly. He smiled back. They worked in companionable silence for about an hour before the two were startled to hear a door close downstairs. Footsteps made their way quietly up the stairs. Derek and Alex looked down the hall. Nick was coming up. The two could see he had already taken his morning run. His dark hair was wet with sweat and his face was a bit red from the exertion.

Alex glanced at the clock. "Just turned six. He's up early." Derek nodded his agreement. Seeing how Nick was trying so hard not to wake anyone, they decided not to startle him by announcing their presence and they watched him make his way up to his own room.

Derek shut down the computer. "Either we should try to catch a couple of hours sleep or we should get dressed. Donaldson is serving breakfast at eight. I'll see you there?"

"Absolutely." She watched him exit the Control room. A few minutes later, Nick came back down stairs and headed outside. Alex walked over to a window and saw him out in the garden, beginning his katas. She looked on for a moment, then turned to take Derek's advice. 'A couple of hours sleep sounds heavenly about now. Let's see if I can manage it.'

[Can you help me remember how to smile? Make it somehow all seem worthwhile.]

[How on Earth did I get so jaded? Life's mystery seems so faded.]

Alex covertly watched the group at breakfast, and she could see Derek was doing the same. She hoped those images had just been a nightmare and not a true vision. She knew she didn't want to have to deal with whatever those images implicated. She took another bite of waffle, and heaved a silent sigh. Usually, the breakfast table was alive with chatter, but today everyone seemed intent on their own thoughts.

Derek broke the silence. "Did everyone sleep well last night?"

Alex hid a smile. Sometimes Derek wasn't very subtle. She saw Nick shoot a glance at both her and Derek before turning his attention back to his plate. Rachel shook her head. "Kat woke me up earlier this morning. Guess she had a bad dream."

Derek turned to Kat. "Do you want to talk about it, Kat? Sometimes it helps."

The young girl shrugged her shoulders. "I don't remember much of it. Just that it was scary. And something about a tiger."

Alex exchanged significant glances with Derek. They all knew that Kat had the Sight, but her recollections of the visions were not very clear as she was too young to control them very well. Derek and Alex were trying to train her, but Rachel still wasn't keen on the idea of her daughter being an "outcast." 'If Kat had the dream as well, then it might well be a true vision. God, I hope not.'

Rachel smoothed her daughter's hair down. "It was just a dream, sweetheart. Don't let it bother you. Okay?"

Kat looked at her mother, a strange expression on her face. "Okay, mom." Alex got the distinct feeling that Kat didn't believe that it was "just a dream" and she promised herself that she would have a talk with the little girl later on in the day.

Almost at the same time, Nick and Patrick pushed their chairs up and stood. Without a word, Patrick left the room, heading for the library. Nick quirked a brow and gave a half-grin. "Well, I'll be in the Control room. I've got a few searches to complete. Derek, did you need me for anything? I have a couple of errands to run in town today."

"No. Though if you are going into town could you pick up a package from Father Vincent at the Angels of Mercy Hospital?"

"Sure thing." Nick nodded to the ladies and left the room.

Alex finished her breakfast and headed into the library herself. 'Guess I should introduce myself to our new guest.' Patrick was seated near the window, dark head bowed over a book, he made occasional notes in the notebook beside him. She cleared her throat to let him know she was there. "Mr. Grey? I missed when you arrived and wanted to introduce myself. I'm Alex Moreau. I work in research, so if there's anything that I can help you with, just let me know."

Patrick looked up, a faint smile on his face. He appeared about Nick's age, twenty-four or five. A sharp intelligence shone from his blue eyes. He reached up and took her hand. "Please, call me Patrick. Mr. Grey makes me think someone's talking to my father."

She sat down beside him. "What are you researching, if you don't mind my asking?"

"I used to live in San Francisco, years ago, before my family moved to New York. I'm just checking up on old acquaintances. Also, there's a matter dealing with the occult I'm looking into."

"Need a hand?"

"No, thank you. It's... a personal matter. Besides, I think I've got about all I need now. I won't be here for much longer. I do appreciate the offer, though."

She smiled at him. "No problem. If you change your mind, just let me know."

"I will."

That evening, Alex pulled Derek aside. "I spoke with Kat. She pretty much saw the same thing we did. And she said that if it was a dream leaking through, it wasn't her mom's."

"Humn. And she would know, wouldn't she?"

"She also agrees with you. The screams seem to have been from children."

"I wonder what the significance of that is." Derek went silent.

Alex tried to draw him back into some conversation, she wanted this mystery solved. "Guess that means that it came from either Nick or Patrick."

"We can't rule out that it was a night vision. In which case, we should probably check the data bases for missing children. I'll have Nick start that in the morning."

"That might be a problem. Nick called earlier, he's staying the night at his mom's. Seems he called her up to see how she was doing and she asked if he would come over. He said he'll be back here around noon."

"All right. I guess that will have to do. I'll see you in the morning, Alex."

"Night, Derek."

Alex overslept that morning. 'Those visions yesterday must have wiped me out more than I thought.' It was close to noon before she made her way down to the Control Room. Rachel and Derek were watching the screen.

She moved up beside Rachel. "What do you have here?"

Derek motioned towards the screen. "Those dreams we were having seem to have a basis in fact."

"How so?"

"We checked the data base for anything that matched references of a black mist, tigers, fire, and children."

"And you found one?"

"Yes. It seems that in Ancient China there was a demon that received it's substanance from the life force of children and young adults. Once every twelve years, in a ritual, it would take the life forces of seven children to sustain it for the next twelve years. The children were bled, one a day for a week, and the demon would attach itself to them by means of a black mist. Once the life force had been sucked dry, the bodies would spontaneously combust, leaving behind a charred corpse."

"Oh, lovely," Rachel commented, her face a bit green.

"What did the demon do during those twelve years when it wasn't eating children?" Alex asked.

"It would roam the earth causing mischief; fatal blazes that looked like accidents. Those fatalities would help it along, but it got it's main energy from the ritual."

Alex titled her head, assimilating the information. "What happens...?" She trailed off, not sure where the thought had come from.

"Yes?" Derek prompted.

"What happens if, for some reason, the demon is unable to complete the ritual? What happens if the demon isn't able to absorb the life force of seven children?"

Derek flipped through a book on the desk. "Here it is. The demon must receive all seven children's life forces, one child per day, or the demon is placed in a kind of stasis for twelve years. At the end of the twelve years, the demon must perform the ritual again, this time starting with the child that had escaped it."

Alex blinked at that. "Escaped it? You mean that there has never been a time when the demon couldn't find seven children for it's ritual?"

"It appears that way." He flipped a few pages, scanning rapidly. "Ah. Here it is. There's an amulet that can be used to drive back the demon. It causes the demon to go into stasis if used by a child. And..." He frowned.

"What?"

"And the demon can be completely destroyed if the amulet is used again by the same child twelve years later, but only if that child is no older than five and twenty years of age." He read a few pages further then snapped the book closed. "It appears that over the years, the demon has been placed in stasis, but never successfully destroyed. The child had been too old the second time around or the amulet had been lost and the demon simply added their life force to the others' in the ritual."

Rachel leaned forward. "Does it describe the amulet at all?"

Derek blinked and opened the book again. "Actually, it gives a drawing of it."

He turned the book so the ladies to see it. Alex sucked in a stunned breath. "It can't be," she whispered.

"Alex? What's wrong?"

She pointed a shaky finger at the picture. It was of a small pouch made of a dark brown cloth intricately embroidered with a yellow oriental dragon clutching a flaming fireball in its claws. The caption said that several unknown items were sewed inside and the whole thing had been blessed by a Shaolin priest. On the back were a couple of Chinese characters representing warding and banishing. "I've seen that before."

Derek and Rachel exchanged glances. "When?"

"About..." Her voice lowered even more. "About twelve years ago. My grandmother had been given it for payment for one of her seances. She had it about a month before she gave it to me. She said I'd know what to do with it when the time came."

"Do you still have it?"

Alex shook her head. "No. I gave it away a couple of months later. I remember..." She looked up at Derek. "I remember, my father had brought me here to San Francisco. It was for a business trip, but he thought I'd enjoy myself. I had gone to a carnival and had brought the amulet with me. I was walking around... not doing much... when I had such a powerful vision, it almost made me sick. I turned and I saw a girl that I had to give the amulet to." A wry grin appeared on Alex's lips. "She wasn't very happy with me, that I remember. She was with a boy, and here I was, harassing her with a bunch of questions. I had to know if she had a younger brother. She finally said yes. I gave her the amulet. Told her she had to give it to her brother. That it was for protection and would be needed again one day." Alex stopped a moment to catch her breath. "I remember that she looked like she thought I was crazy, but she took the amulet and said she'd give it to him."

"Do you remember her name?"

Alex shook her head. "No. She never gave it, I never asked. And the vision didn't tell me who she was, only that I was to give the amulet to her for her brother."

"Did it mention who the brother was?"

"No. Sorry."

Rachel broke in. "Derek. If Alex had the amulet and gave it away _twelve years ago_ then there's a possibility that she had to because the demon was around and that girl's brother was going to be one of the victims."

"Which means that if he used the amulet and was able to defeat the demon then, he'll need to defeat it again now, or he'll be dead." Derek quickly used the computer for a search of any spontaneous combustion occurring twelve years ago.

"Found something. Oakland. Twelve years ago. Six charred bodies were found in an abandoned building on the outskirts of the town. One decomposed body of unknown origins. And one survivor!"

"Does it say who it was?"

Derek cursed. "No. Just that he was a minor and the parents didn't want him identified in any way. They aren't even named in the article. No leads as to what occurred due to selective amnesia on the child's part. It was considered an odd kidnapping and left at that."

"If the ritual is as terrifying as you claim, amnesia isn't so unfounded. It might have been the only way the child could cope with what had happened," Rachel put in.

"True, but it doesn't help us now." Derek looked upset.

Alex broke into his contemplation. "Do you think we can get the information from the police?"

"I don't know. I don't think so. It's an old case. Unsolved, granted, but still an old case. Even if they were willing to help, I still don't think they would give us the name of the child. Assuming the person is still alive."

"Why don't we check out this old building? Maybe that will give us a clue as to where the demon might be now."

"Good idea, Alex. Rachel? What do you think?"

She sighed and crossed her arms. "I guess so. It will give us a starting point at least." She glanced at her watch. "Where's Nick? I thought he'd be back by now."

"His mother convinced him to stay for dinner. Said he'd be home later tonight." Derek answered.

"Let's let Patrick know where we'll be. He can let Nick know when he gets in. He can meet us up there."

Derek nodded. "All right."

The three arrived in Oakland a few hours later. Derek was at the wheel, Rachel was in the passenger seat, navigating. Alex sat in the back, keeping an eye out for landmarks. Forty-five minutes later they found the area that the abandoned building had once stood.

Derek swore in Dutch. Rachel threw her hands up in exasperation. "Guess this means we're at another dead end."

"Not necessarily." Alex eased herself out of the car and stared at the two story house that now stood where the old building had.

Derek got out as well. "What do you mean?"

"Maybe, if we can get to the exact spot where the ritual was held, either you or I could get an impression. It might tell us where to go next." She walked up to the house, confident that they'd find an answer.

Rachel looked uncertain. "I don't know, Alex. What do we say to the owners. 'Excuse me, we know that a satanic ritual was once held here that killed seven people, can we please take a look?' I mean, really."

Derek rubbed his chin. "Why not?"

She shot him an incredulous look. "Are you feeling all right, Derek?"

He smiled at her. "We'll simply tell the truth. We were researching unsolved murders and want to know if we can have a look around. The worse they can do is say no, and we can always try the surrounding area for clues."

She heaved a sigh and followed the two psychics up the walkway.

Alex knocked on the door. It opened to reveal a well-dressed Oriental gentleman. "Yes? May I help you?" His voice was very cultured sounding and he looked out at them with quizzical interest.

"Hello. My name is Alex Moreau. These are my colleagues, Dr. Derek Rayne and Dr. Rachel Corrigan. We're with the Luna Foundation and wondered if you could spare us a few moments of your time?"

The man nodded politely to each in turn and asked with a slightly deprecatory tone. "What would such distinguished people such as yourselves want with a humble Librarian?"

Derek took over the conversation at that time. "We've been investigating unsolved mysteries in the Oakland area and this address came to our attention. Might I ask how long you've lived here?"

"Nine years. I had the house built after they tore down the old building that was once here." He leaned in conspiratorially. "They say that there was a string of murders here a few years before I bought the property, but that didn't detour me in the least. It's an excellent spot."

"Did any of the original building survive after it was torn down?"

"The basement's foundation was kept. I built on top of that. Despite it's gruesome history, I felt that it was solidly built and would be wasteful not to use."

"Could we see it? We think that by examining the areas where certain things occur we can learn more about what actually happened and also figure out whether such happenings may occur again."

The man considered for a moment, then nodded his acceptance. "I see no reason why you cannot. Though, it can't be for long. I have to be at work in a few hours, and wouldn't want to be late."

Rachel nodded. "Of course. We just would like a good look around."

"Very well. Follow me. I'll show you the way."

Alex examined the rooms as they passed by. They were tastefully decorated, well-kept rooms, but they seemed a bit cold to her. 'As if they aren't used very often, if at all.' She shook off the uneasiness she felt and followed her friends down the basement stairs. "I'm sorry. I don't think I caught your name."

A brief smile flitted across his face as he unlocked the door leading into the basement. "It's Singh Kim." He opened the door and ushered the three in.

Nick arrived back at Angel Island and entered the mansion. 'Note to self, try not to let mom talk me into dinner again. Can't believe she invited Denise over as well. I know mom's concerned about me not having anyone at the moment, but sheesh!' He entered the Control room eager to get back to work. 'Luckily, Denise understands my reluctance to get together with someone so soon after Julia.' He paused a moment, those memories still hurt. "Derek? Rach? Alex? You here?"

Patrick heard him and joined him in the Control room. "They're not here. They went to Oakland, checking out a lead on a case they are working on." He pulled out a piece of paper with an address on it. "They said they'd like you to meet them there when you got in."

Nick glanced at the paper. "Did they mention what they were investigating?"

"No. Sorry." Patrick turned to leave, then faced Nick again. "Mind if I tag along?" At the hesitance he saw on the younger man's face he put a hand out. "I promise I won't be in the way, but... Well. I've been cooped up in this house for the past few days and could really use the trip away."

Nick nodded. "Sure. Let me change real quick, get some gear, and I'll meet you downstairs in a couple of minutes."

Alex, Derek, and Rachel froze in their tracks in horror. The basement was arranged like a octagon. Each side had a door which faced the center of the room. Save for the door they had entered by, all the doors were outfitted with heavy bars. All but one of the cells was occupied by a child or teenager who all cried out for help when the four adults entered. "My Gott." Derek whispered. Rachel made a choking noise in the back of her throat. Alex could only stare in stunned disbelief.

The three turned to Singh Kim. "You don't approve, do you?" he asked in mock distress. "Ah well." He made a motion and the three felt themselves lifted by a tremendous force and propelled into the empty cell. The door slammed shut behind them and they fell to the floor, breathless. The children quieted instantly, only a few muffled sobs could be heard as the man swept his gaze over them. He stood before their cell door and stared at them dispassionately.

Derek was the first to recover. "I see that you are still one child short, demon."

The "man" looked pleased. "Ah, a learned man. I am impressed. Not that it will do you any good. I've been... aware... of the child who escaped me so many years ago. He'll be here soon, I believe." He leaned in a bit closer, mocking them. "We just have to wait for our dear Patrick to arrive, and then the festivities can begin." He laughed at the horrified looks on their faces.

[I can go where no one else can go. I know what no one else knows.]

[And everything seems cut and dry, day and night, earth and sky.]

[Somehow I just don't believe it.]

Nick and Patrick arrived in Oakland just as the sun was setting. "Wish it were still light out," Patrick mentioned.

"Yeah. I know what you mean. Things seem easier to deal with in the daylight." He squinted up at the street sign they passed. "Man, what was the road again?"

"Briar Road. It's on the other side of Oakland, on the outskirts."

"What's the fastest way to get there?"

"Randal to Thorn. Takes you straight to it."

"Okay. Hold on to your hat."

They drove in silence for a moment. Finally, Patrick commented on Nick's driving. "What's the hurry? You don't think they're in any trouble, do you?"

Nick shrugged. "I dunno. Just a feeling I've got. Like we gotta get there quick. Besides, with Derek, you never know. That man can make the simplest of things so complicated sometimes."

Patrick smiled. "I think I understand. My own precept is the same. Can't even go downtown without a major production being made."

They arrived at the address a few minutes later. Nick tried reaching Derek on the cell-phone but received no response. Concerned, both made their way up to the house. Nick checked his gun, nestled snugly at the small of his back. His eyes kept sweeping the area, as if he expected something to jump out at them. He pointed out Derek's car to Patrick, his senses coming alive. 'I don't like this.'

Patrick knocked on the door. There was no response and the door was locked. He looked over at Nick, uncertain as to what to do. Nick took a quick glance around to ensure they were unobserved, pulled out a piece of wire and picked the lock. Patrick stared with wide eyes. "How'd you learn to do that?"

"Misspent youth," he replied with a cheeky grin. He pulled his gun and made a sweep of the hallway and adjoining rooms before allowing Patrick to enter the house. "Stay close."

"Aren't you going to feel stupid barging in here with your gun drawn if nothing's wrong?"

"Might. But better to feel stupid than caught with my guard down." He motioned for the older man to be quiet and the two made a swift sweep of the house. "No one's here."

"Basement?"

Nick nodded. "Follow me." He led the way to the basement stairs. He put an ear to the door and frowned.

"What is it?" Patrick whispered.

"Sounds like... crying." Nick slowly turned the bolt lock in the door, wincing at the soft ::snick:: as the tumbler fell into place. He waited a moment, listening, but didn't detect anything to say he'd been heard. He whispered to his companion. "We'll go in. But if things get hairy, I want you to bug out like the devil himself is on your tail. Is that understood?"

"Yes, but what should I do?"

"Go back to the car if you can. Call the police. Then call Philip. He's a priest at St. Agnes Church in San Francisco. He'll be able to help. Okay?"

Patrick nodded. Nick pushed open the door, gun ready. Seeing the locked cells, he slid into the room, gaze flickering around the room looking for any threats. He spotted Derek and the others and headed toward them. "Get to the car," he called over his shoulder.

Patrick gave a small gasp as he felt himself shoved into the room. He stumbled, trying to keep to his feet as the door slammed closed behind him.

Whirling, Nick saw a tall Oriental man standing beside the door, a self-satisfied smirk upon his face.

"Welcome, Patrick. It's been ages."

[Bought a ticket for a runaway train like a madman laughin' at the rain'.]

-Flashback-

Patrick woke, his head feeling like it had been used as a soccer ball. His mouth was dry and his eyes burned. Blearily, he looked around. He was in a cell about ten feet by ten feet. Where the door should have been was a barred gate, like one you'd see in a prison. He stood, a bit unsteadily, and tested the door. It was locked. 'Duh,' he told himself. 'What else did you expect? Really stupid, trusting that guy. Great move. Now what?'

He looked out of the room and could see five other barred rooms across from him. Each one had either a kid or a teenager in them. Tilting his head as far as he could, and getting as far over to one side as he could, he could just make out one more door to his right. He looked the other way and found one to his left. 'That last door actually has a wooden door to it. It might be the way out of here.'

He tried talking to the others. Some were completely comatose. They just lay listlessly in their cells, exhausted from days of crying and trying to get out. The couple that would talk to him couldn't tell him anything useful. Only that they had been wandering the streets when Singh Kim had offered them a meal. Next thing they know, they're here. 'Where ever here is.'

Hours later, Singh Kim made an appearance. Those who were awake cringed away from him. Patrick could only glare at the man, too mad to be scared yet. The man started speaking in a strange language. 'Probably Chinese or something. Too bad I don't understand what he's saying.'

At that moment, Patrick felt a small jolt and was able to make out Singh Kim's words. Listening, he felt the blood drain from his face and he wished he couldn't. "... end of the ritual, all seven chi's will be mine. By pain, by blood, by death, and by fire I claim these lives." Singh Kim then made a gesture as if ending a spell, then left the room.

'How the...?' He shook his head, still too dazed at what he heard to try to explain how he'd understood it.

The next day began the horror. Singh Kim entered the cell to the left of the door which held a nine year old boy with blonde hair and pale skin; one of the comatose children. The man chained the boy up, stretching his arms up so that the boy's feet no longer touched the floor. He took a ceremonial dagger and sliced across each of the boy's palms. He then ripped the shirt off the boy, cutting into the chest. Blood ran in rivulets down the boy's stomach, soaking the waist of his pants. Singh Kim then slashed the boy's wrists, and the blood fell, matting the blonde hair. Setting aside the dagger, the man stiffened and a black mist exited his body and surrounded the hanging boy. Patrick could hear several of the other children become violently ill. Others screamed in horror. Patrick, himself, only felt an odd detachment, as if watching from a distance.

A sucking could be heard, growling as from a tiger, as well as a steady pounding. 'Like the sound of a heart.' The pounding became slower and slower until it stopped completely. The sucking sound stopped at the same time and then the body burst into flames. Patrick jerked back from that, eyes wide with terror. A final tiger growl was uttered and the black mist re-entered the body of Singh Kim. The man stood for a moment, contemplating the burned body, then he smiled. Patrick had never seen such an evil smile before. 'I hope I never see anything like that again.'

The man left the room, not sparing the other frightened children a glance. Patrick spent the rest of the day and all the night huddled in the farthest corner, trying to keep the gruesome image of the nine year old's body from his sight, and the smell of burned meat from his nose. He didn't sleep that night.

The next few days became a blur. Sometimes, the man remembered to feed his prisoners, but not often. Each night, another child was killed in the same manner as the first. The horror of it all sent most of them over the edge and they died, mercifully, unknowing of what was going on.

Soon, too soon, Patrick was the last child in the building. Singh Kim entered his cell and hauled him painfully to his feet. He tried to resist, but not enough food, water, or real rest had exhausted his body and he was no match for the stronger "man". He was shackled to the ceiling, like the others were. He cried out when the blade sliced his palms. He couldn't help it, though he cursed himself for the weakness.

He thought he was going to pass out when the man sliced through his shirt. The pain was so intense. He was half out of his mind and waiting for Singh Kim to finish him off, when the man backed away from him, his face twisted in an expression of fear and hatred. Then Patrick blacked out.

-End Flashback-

[Little out of touch, little insane. It's just easier than dealing with the pain.]

Alex had been trying, unsuccessfully to calm the other children down. 'They're just babies.' They seemed to range from ten years of age to nineteen years old. The younger kids just sobbed and sobbed. It broke Alex's heart to hear them. A couple of the older kids began swearing, their variety of cursing almost rivaling Nick's at his worst. One boy kept throwing himself against the bars. She was afraid he'd kill himself, but she couldn't get him to stop.

Rachel looked at Derek. "What can we do?"

Derek was glaring daggers at his cell-phone, which refused to work. "I don't know. But if we don't do something, Patrick will be killed."

"What if he has the amulet?" Rachel offered hopefully.

"It wouldn't matter. He's over twenty-five. He mentioned it to me a few days ago. I don't know how we can stop this monster."

Alex was going to say something when she was startled to notice that the boy no longer pounded on the bars but stared fixedly at the door. "Derek," she whispered. "Someone's coming."

The three gathered near the bars, watching the door. They were startled to see the door get thrust open and Nick slide in, his gun ready. Alex was dismayed when she spotted Patrick come in behind Nick. Patrick was shoved further into the room and the door slammed shut behind them.

Singh Kim appeared in the room. He eyed the two young men with a self-satisfied smile on his face. "Welcome, Patrick. It's been ages."

Patrick looked confused. Nick narrowed his eyes, his gun never wavering from the Chinaman. "Singh Kim," he said in a venomous voice.

'Nick is Patrick?' Alex looked at the others. They appeared as stunned as she felt.

The creature took step closer. "Ah. It's so good to be remembered. Though, I wager your memory has only now been returning to you. I'll bet you didn't recollect what occurred in this place, twelve years ago, until very recently. Did you?"

"The dream," Alex whispered.

"Returning memories on Nick's part. Though why they came out now..." Derek whispered back absently, his gaze locked on the three in the center of the room.

"Let them go, Singh Kim." Nick tightened his grip on the gun, ready to pull the trigger if necessary.

Singh Kim took another step forward. "No. I don't think so. Tonight, I will feed off your life force and by the end of the week I shall have broken free of this warding you put me under." He gave a sideways glance at the other Legacy members. "And this time, I'll have an opportunity to start at more than full strength." He waved his hand as Nick pulled the trigger. The gun went flying across the room.

On instinct, Patrick went after the gun. Another wave of the hand brought Patrick up short. Singh Kim flicked his wrist and Patrick was flung against the bars of one of the cells. He crumpled to the ground, unconscious. Nick took that moment to charge the demon. With a growl, Singh Kim grabbed him by the throat and lifted him into the air with one hand. He stared into the infuriated hazel eyes and grinned. He tossed Nick across the room, slamming him against the wooden door. Alex winced in sympathy.

Singh Kim's face shifted slightly, becoming less human and more feline. The pupils slitted and Alex could see claws grow in the place of his fingernails. A black mist seemed to surround the man's body. He spat in the young man's direction. "You cannot defeat me. I am too powerful. That which could have destroyed me has been lost and you are no longer the child you once were."

Alex saw as Nick cocked his head as if listening to something. A wry chuckle emanated from the young man's throat and he smirked. "That's what you think, asshole." He hitched in a breath and pulled himself up, leaning heavily on the door to do so. He pulled something out from beneath his clothing. "Remember this?"

Singh Kim drew back a step, obviously wary.

Nick took a step forward. "I certainly do. And I also remember what happened last time it was used."

Alex could just make out the dragon amulet hanging about Nick's neck.

-Flashback-

Nicholas Patrick Boyle came to a few moments later. He felt strange, almost as if he wasn't in his body anymore. He opened his eyes. 'Nope. I'm still in here, but I think something else might be, too.'

Singh Kim was backed up against the bars of the cell. Eyes wide with fear and hatred. He spit out something in Chinese. To his surprise, Nick responded in kind. He had no idea what was being said, 'But it sounds like he's getting a royal tongue lashing.' At the end, Nick uttered a loud roar. It was like nothing he had ever heard before. 'Large. Whatever it is, it's real large.'

A whimpering quality had entered Singh Kim's voice. But Nick, 'Or whoever is talking, cause it sure isn't me,' wasn't in a merciful mood. Before Nick's eyes, the black mist exited Singh Kim's body and compressed into a ball. Nick spoke a few more words in Chinese and the ball then was encased in a silver light before it disappeared. Horrified, Nick watched as the body of Singh Kim began to decompose at an accelerated rate.

He felt the entity remove itself from him, re-entering the pouch around his neck. Before it left completely, he felt a tendril of power start to close some of the doors that held the memories to this particular event. "Forget," he heard. "For now. You'll know what to do when the time comes." He passed out once more.

-End Flashback-

Nick clasped the amulet in one hand, the other he pointed at the demon. "Time for you to go back to where you belong."

Alex watched in astonishment. A white mist surrounded Nick, and a rumbling could be heard emanating from his chest. Nick growled at the demon, who roared back in frustrated response. Nick started yelling at Singh Kim in Chinese. "Derek?"

"I believe Nick's being used by the amulet."

Rachel looked concerned. "But, what will that do to him?"

"I don't know. I just don't know." Derek worried at his bottom lip.

The three kept their attention on the battle, aware that all the children were watching as well, silently rallying for their young hero.

Nick attacked the demon, seemingly not bothered by the rending Singh Kim attempted to give him. The demon leaped over Nick, trying to get out of the way. Nick turned and caught the demon in the stomach with his shoulder. He tossed the demon across the room. The demon jumped at Nick, but Nick dodged by dropping to the ground, letting the demon pass over him.

They continued like this for a few minutes. At one point, Singh Kim landed near Patrick, who was just starting to come around. He wrapped his fingers around the man's throat and turned to gloat at Nick. "If you don't back off, I will kill this man!"

Nick backed up a bit, then to everyone's shock he brought his arm up and threw something. A ball of light left Nick's hand and struck Singh Kim in the side of the head. With a shriek, the demon let Patrick go and clutched its head in agony. Nick threw another fire ball. This one caught the demon in the chest. Singh Kim looked up at Nick, as if betrayed, gave one drawn out roar and exploded in a shower of black mist. The mist quickly dissipated.

There was a moment of silence, then Nick fell to his knees. The white mist that had surrounded him left his body and disappeared. Alex felt helpless as the amulet fell from around his neck and Nick collapsed to the ground. "Nick!"

Her cry was echoed by Rachel and Derek. Patrick shook his head, coming to his senses. He knelt beside Nick, noting a few cuts and bruises. "He seems okay. Just unconscious. Let me get you out of those cages."

Patrick found a set of keys and he unlocked all the cells. Rachel did a quick examination of each child and found them all healthy, if a bit scared and dehydrated. Without a word, each child reached down and touched Nick before leaving the basement, younger children led by older ones. No persuasion from the adults could get them to stay there another moment longer. Nor could they get them to promise to stay nearby so that they could contact relatives.

Rachel examined Nick. "I think a few ribs might be cracked, from when he was thrown. Those cuts aren't dangerous. And there isn't anything I can do about those bruises. Considering, he's very, very lucky. We all are."

"Let's get him out of here." Derek gently lifted Nick and carried him out of the house and down to the waiting car.

Derek drove Nick to the hospital. The others followed in Nick's car. When asked what happened, they said that he had fallen down the stairs and that their phones were out of order, otherwise they would have called for an ambulance.

Nick remained in a light coma for three days before coming out of it. 'Deja vu,' were his first thoughts upon waking and finding himself in a hospital. He looked and found Derek sitting slumped in a chair beside his bed. "Derek?" His voice was weak and a bit raspy but it sure got Derek's attention.

"Nick. Are you all right?" He placed his hand over the younger man's.

"I've felt better." He stopped to consider this. "I've felt a lot worse too." As hoped, that comment brought a slight smile to the Dutchman's face. "Where?" He swallowed painfully.

Derek brought over a glass of water and helped him sip some of it. "Angels of Mercy Hospital in San Francisco."

'Major deja vu.' He shook his head, closing his eyes as the room tried to spin. His eyes shot opened quickly. "Patrick?" He sat up slightly.

Derek laid a hand on Nick's shoulder, calming him and setting him back down. "His fine. They are all fine. Singh Kim is gone for good." He hesitated for a moment. "What do you remember?"

Nick felt a sob well up in his chest and he tried desperately to quell it. "Everything," he whispered. He turned his head away from Derek, staring at the wall as the scenes of his encounters with Singh Kim ran through his mind. He squeezed his eyes shut, but a few tears escaped anyway.

Derek moved till he was sitting on Nick's bed. At his tentative touch, Nick sat up and buried his face in the older man's shoulder. Harsh sobs racked his frame as he tried to finally came to terms with everything that had occurred. The terror of remembering the trauma when he was younger. Renewed grief over Sara's loss. Dealing with the initial shock and helplessness he'd felt when he saw his friends captured. Losing control over his own body, for the second time, to an entity so powerful it could have burned him into a husk if its control had wavered even for a second. Derek rocked him back and forth, rubbing his back and smoothing his hair until the younger man calmed down.

Nick pulled away, face averted in his embarrassment. Derek ignored it, offering the use of his handkerchief. Once Nick had gotten himself under control, Derek asked, "Do you have any ideas why your father never mentioned this incident to anyone in the Legacy? Surely he noticed the ritualistic implications of the situation you were found in?"

Nick sat back and looked at Derek, a weariness to his voice. "I don't know. Mom hovered over me for a few days, though dad made himself scarce. Once I'd healed, it was like the incident never happened. The cops dropped the investigation pretty quickly, they never identified the decomposed body and I didn't remember any of it." He shrugged and Derek could only shake his head helplessly.

Derek changed the subject. "Now that you're awake, I'm sure we can get the doctor to let you recover at home. If you wish."

"If I wish? When can I sign out?" Nick quirked his brow and gave a half-grin, eager to leave.

Derek smiled and rose. "I'll let the doctor know you're awake. I'll see you in a bit."

Nick leaned back onto his pillow and waited.

Nick's Journal:

The children had all disappeared by the time Derek and the others had gotten me out of that house. I hope they all found a safe place to go, whether home or a shelter. Singh Kim is gone for good, that I know. It's one of the last things the Dragon entity told me before it left.

The memory is a funny thing. A week ago, I hardly even remembered that I had once ran away from San Francisco to Oakland. Now... well, now I sometimes wish the memories would bury themselves again. I've been having some heart-stopping nightmares. Rachel has been helping me deal with them. She says I'm making progress. I guess so.

I visited Sara's grave. I wish I could have seen her. Not because I wouldn't have fallen into Singh Kim's clutches if she'd been alive, but because I really had missed her and wanted to be with her. I won't get that chance, at least not in this life-time.

On my way to her grave, I visited the Greyhound bus terminal. I got the name and address of the woman who had helped me out and I paid her back the money she spent on cab fare for me. I know she said to forget about it, but since I'm doing all this remembering, I guessed it was time to make good on that debt as well.

Another thing I learned. The Dragon entity and the Tiger entity were two parts of a balance. The blood letting had allowed the Tiger too much power than was warranted and the balance had been destroyed. Allowing the Dragon entity to fight back restored the balance and sent both entities back to where they belong. Both will watch the other, making sure neither one gets the upper hand again.

The others have been keeping a close eye on me these past few days. I guess they don't know what to think of me. I don't know what to think of myself, either. But each day brings me closer to achieving my own balance.

The End

final edit 1/27/2012