Kaitlyn remembered the things he'd given her, the sun-flooded afternoons, and the cool healing ocean waves, and the music he'd written. He'd given her everything that was best in him, everything he was.
She wanted to give him the same back again.
I don't know how you can love me. The words came softly, as if he were thinking them to himself.
You've seen what I am.
That's why I do love you, Kaitlyn told him. I hope you'll still love me when you see what I am.
"I know what you are, Kait. Everything beautiful and brave and gallant and . . ." He stopped as if his throat had closed. "Everything that makes me want to be better for you. That makes me sorry I'm such a stupid mess. ..."
You looked like a knight with the shard, Kaitlyn said,
moving toward him.
"Really?" He laughed shakily.
My knight. And I never said thank you.
She was almost touching him, now. Looking up into his eyes. What she could feel in him was something she'd only felt before when she gave him her life energy. Childlike, marveling joy. Trust and vulnerability.
And such love . . .
Then she was in his arms and they weren't separate beings any longer. Their minds were together, sharing thoughts, sharing a happiness beyond thought. Sharing everything.
She never even knew whether he kissed her.
It seemed a very long time later, but the sunbeams falling across the dining room had hardly moved.
Kaitlyn had her head on Gabriel's shoulder. She was so full of peace-peace and light and hope for everything. Even the nagging hole in the universe where LeShan had been was filled with light. She hoped that, somehow, he knew what had happened today and was satisfied.
"God make me worthy of you. Fast," Gabriel said. It was something like a command.
Kaitlyn smiled. His arms were tight around her, a feeling she never wanted to lose. But they were no longer outside time, and she could hear banging and shouting laughter from upstairs.
"I guess we'd better see what's going on," she said.
Very slowly, most reluctantly, he let her go, only keeping her hand in his. They walked around the corner to the stairs.
Lydia, though, was just coming down. Bri and Renny were behind her. They'd obviously been going through closets; each had a full cardboard box and at
least one bag or suitcase.
"We don't know exactly what we'll need there," Lydia told Kaitlyn. Her green eyes looked out almost shyly from behind her heavy shock of dark hair.
"Go where?" Kaitlyn asked.
"You didn't hear? Oh, I guess not." Lydia headed for the front lab, with Bri and Renny following. Kaitlyn and Gabriel followed them.
"Joyce is going with Tamsin back to the Fellowship," Lydia said, dumping her box on a desk. "Ouch.
That was heavy."
"Going back with Tamsin?"
"Yup," Bri said. "And we're going with her."
Kaitlyn stared. Renny was nodding, pushing up his glasses with an index finger.
"Tamsin says it'll help Joyce heal from the influence of the crystal," Lydia said. "And Bri and Renny, too.
Oh, here they are."
Joyce and Tamsin came in from the kitchen. Joyce's hair was smoothed again, and her lips had stopped trembling. She seemed to be hanging on Tamsin's every word.
"We'd be glad to have you," Tamsin was saying. "And we can help the children develop and control their powers. Even Lydia . . ."
"I don't have any powers," Lydia said.
Tamsin smiled at her. "You're of the old race. We'll see."
Kaitlyn noticed the sunlight change and realized that Rob was in the kitchen doorway. Lewis and Anna were right behind him, but Anna was closer.
Rob smiled at her, and it was a real smile, with his own gladness and optimism behind it. "Tamsin's been telling us about their place on the new island," he said. "They've got it pretty rough, but they're working on it. It's been hard with Mereniang gone, and now
that LeShan is dead . . ." He shook his head, but his eyes were gleaming as if he saw a challenge."Rob! Are you telling me-do you want to go, too?""Well, I was thinking about it. They're going to need help.""And leadership," Tamsin said, quietly, without sounding ashamed. "Innovation, new ideas-they don't come easily to us."Rob nodded. "You help us and we help you. A fair exchange."And the great task Rob's been looking for, Kaitlyn thought, somewhat giddy with the suddenness of it.Not saving the world, maybe, but fixing a little part of it.She didn't know what to say. She was remembering Canada, the lush beauty of the rain forest, the open vastness of the sky. The wild blue ocean."Of course, the rest of you children can stay here," Joyce was saying. "Not at the Institute-that will be closed for good. But I think I could arrange for you to have your scholarships after all. Mr. Zetes had the money put aside in a special account; he had to, for the lawyers."Yes, that was the sensible thing to do. School and then college. Her father would want that. And Gabriel was a city boy. Kaitlyn's fingers tightened on his- and then she felt his thought.Well, we could just take a vacation, couldn't we? he asked. His gray eyes were sparkling.Happiness flooded Kaitlyn to her fingertips.We could-yes, we could, she told Rob and Anna and Lewis. We could make up the time at school next year. And meanwhile, it would be very educational. . . .And we wouldn't break the web, Rob said, and she remembered, and a smile was trembling on her full lips."I came to see the guy who healed me," she said. "And all of you.""All of them were in it," Tony said proudly. He had a shirt on today, Kaitlyn noticed, and he looked as if someone had just willed him a million dollars.Kaitlyn hugged Marisol, and then she had to stand back so Rob could do it. And then Lydia was coming forward, and Bri, looking as if they thought Marisol might hate them. But she smiled at them instead, and there were more hugs. Those who couldn't hug Marisol hugged one another.And Joyce, with her aquamarine eyes on Marisol's face, looked as if healing had already begun."We brought you your kitten, too," Tony said to Anna."So now everybody's here," Anna said, pressing the kitten to her cheek, then to Rob's."Hey, yeah-everybody's here! Wait a minute!" Lewis was running. He was back in a moment."Everybody, scrunch together by the door. Some of you get down. The rest lean in! Get closer!"I think we're already about as close as we can get, Gabriel said, and Kaitlyn was surrounded by silent laughter."That's it! Hold that smile!" Lewis shouted, and snapped their picture.could feel his joy, too. He and Gabriel were smiling at each other.Of course, we'll have to break it someday, Lewis said quickly. I mean, we can't go around this way forever.Of course not, Anna agreed solemnly, her owl eyes crinkling at the edges.But just for now . . . Lewis said.Just for now, they all agreed, together.Talk was going on around them. Joyce was moving toward the front door, saying, "What's that?" Lydia was rummaging through her box."I forgot to show you. Look what I found!" she said to Lewis. She was holding two things: an alarm clock shaped like a cow-and his camera."Hey, where did you get that? That's precious!" Lewis said, taking the cow."I know. I want you to show me what it does." Lydia smiled at him, her new shy smile, and Lewis beamed back. He reached out and squeezed her arm, just once."As soon as we get alone," he said wickedly, "I will.""Kaitlyn! Rob!" Joyce was calling from the front door in a voice wavering between laughter and tears."There's someone here to see you, and I don't think you should keep her waiting!"They all went, Kaitlyn and Gabriel and Rob and Anna, with Lewis and Lydia following, and Tamsin bringing up the rear with Bri and Renny. When Kaitlyn got to the porch she stopped in astonishment."Oh . . . "was all she could say. Then she said, "Oh, Marisol."It was Marisol, thin and rather wobbly on her legs, supported on Tony's arm. She was pale, but her tumbled mahogany hair was the same as Kaitlyn.