Chapter One: [I'm Gonna] Make Me A Brand New Start

By Enola Jones and Madame

The summer sun beat down on Isabel and Mags as they stood on the sidewalk outside 1336 Beechwood, and Isabel grasped the front of her tee shirt, using it to fan herself; she could feel beads of sweat trickling down her back and stomach, and she was anxious to get all their stuff inside the house where it would be cooler. Moving, she thought and not for the first time, was a stone drag, but neither she nor Mags were having to do any heavy lifting this time -- not like when they moved into their apartment! Then they'd done all the work themselves, but this time, they had four willing and able knights in tarnished armor to do all the grunt work for them.

Not that any of them were risking a hernia or slipped disk either, she thought with a smile.

Mags' jaw dropped as two boxes and four suitcases floated into the empty beach house held aloft by an invisible force, closely followed by Peter whose blue eyes were glowing brightly.

"I'll neverget used to that!" she squeaked, and Isabel laughed, patting her room-mate's shoulder sympathetically.

"What--that you're the only one without powers?" Mike teased as he walked by. He was carrying a box as well, but in the usual manner--in his arms--and Mags socked him on the shoulder when he passed in reach.

"No," Isabel retorted. "The fact that all four of you use them in public in the middle of the day!"

"Four?" Mags frowned at her, visibly puzzled. "I met Davy, but that's only three--" Her unspoken question went momentarily ignored and unanswered as Peter bounded over to them, on his way to the moving van to retrieve another load.

"Well," he explained, "Seeing as how everyone is either at work or out for the day, there's no need to hide. Mr. Babbitt doesn't know, but Mrs. Purdy does. She's covered for us lots of times."

"She's nice, that one is," Davy remarked, ducking as he came through the door to avoid striking his head. He'd decided to juggle three boxes at once, and he'd been obliged to grow to seven feet to accommodate them all with ease.

At that moment, the fourth member of the male contingent arrived. Micky bolted out of the Pad and dashed across the yard, grinning from ear to ear. "Need an extra pair of hands?" he asked.

"Always," Isabel replied, smiling at the newcomer.

Mags turned to see whom she was talking to--and immediately her eyes grew round as saucers as she stared at him, clearly admiring what she saw. Isabel hid a smile behind her fingers; even if she couldn't feel the waves of interest radiating from her best friend, she could have recognized the signs of attraction a mile away! Mags' entire face had turned pink, and she was watching Micky's every movement with hawk-like avidity.

And even more fascinating, she thought with a smug smile, was that Micky was sending off some rather interesting vibes himself!

"What about you? Do you need an extra pair of hands?" he asked, slipping one arm around Mags' shoulders and gazing at her with his charm control turned all the way on high.

"Depends on what they're being used for," she shot back, matching him grin for grin as she wrapped her arm around his waist.

Isabel gaped at them, stunned at how quickly they'd fallen into such a rapport, but clearly they had; not only were they showing it, but she could feel it emanating from them. She held up both hands and backed away, shaking her head.

"I'm not sure I'm old enough to hear this," she teased, earning a mock-threatening glare from her room-mate, but Micky just laughed and steered Mags towards the moving van.

"So why don't you come show me what I need to help move?" he suggested.

"Right this way," she replied. "Everything's in the back of the van now. The very back."

"If you're not out in ten minutes, I am not going in there looking for you!" Isabel shouted after them, and they tossed her identical mischievous looks over their shoulders as they strolled away.


After all the boxes were in, Mike captured Isabel's hand and all but dragged her out of the house, earning odd looks from Micky, Davy and Mags. But Peter smiled and nodded understanding. Mike had sent him a single vivid image of Phyllis, and Peter realized the moment of truth had arrived for this friend.

Mike tried to delay beginning the Big Discussion for a while, choosing to lead her out to the beach and let the soothing sound of the ocean help them both relax after their busy day; however, it didn't take long for him to notice the odd looks she was shooting at him, and he quietly sighed, knowing she probably sensed his tension and was wondering what in the world was up.

"There's something I've been needing to tell you," he began without preamble, seeing no need to beat around the bush when her empathic abilities were picking up on his vibes anyway.

"Oh?" She arched one eyebrow at him, a silent invitation to continue. "Another secret?"

"Sort of..." He stopped walking and lowered his eyes. "I'm married, Isabel. Or at least, I was."

Her eyes flicked to his left hand. It was ringless--but there was a pale line standing out against the tanned skin on his fourth finger where a ring would have rested, a mute testimony to the truth of his words.

"M-Married?" she stammered, backing away from him as if he'd just told her he had the plague.

Married...? Images of some of their private moments together--the intimate embraces--flooded her mind, and she felt her cheeks burning with shame. How could he? How could he deceive her like that? She never would've gone anywhere nearhim if she'd known!

"She was given a choice when we were...separated," Mike explained. "Come here and be with me, or stay with a powerless double of myself." A flicker of pain crossed his face as he felt the old wound sting him again, and he clenched his hands into fists, willing himself to put those memories in the past where they belonged; it had taken months for the hurt to subside even though he knew she wasn't really betraying him, and it had taken several more months after that for him to lose his emotional numbness and begin to feel again. Now he was more than ready to start his life over again. "She thought I lost my powers. She decided to stay with him."

"You're married," Isabel whispered, still wide-eyed with shock. She couldn't let go of that word--it echoed in her head, mocking her.

He smiled mirthlessly. "Not for long. That was over a year ago, and I'm ready to move on. I filed for divorce, stating abandonment and desertion, which is technically true," he added with a slight chuckle. "She won't be found here. She lives 'elsewhere,' so there's no chance of there being any opposition. The final papers should be here any day. Once I sign them, I'm a free man in every sense of the word."

Still keeping her distance, still gazing at him with distrust in her eyes, Isabel scanned him, testing his sincerity. Those unusually thick shields were still up, but as he soon as he sensed her careful probes, he lowered them just enough for her to feel the unmistakable ring of truth in his words.

He's telling the truth, she thought, relief washing over her like the ocean's tide, making her almost weak-kneed as she realized hadn't been cast in the role of The Other Woman and that she wouldn't have to give him up. It was a shock, but not an insurmountable obstacle, she thought once her innate pragmatism kicked in. He was getting a divorce, and while that wasn't the best news in the world, at least it meant that he would be free soon.

Then another cold realization struck her. Mike had lowered his shields to allow her to "read" him; she felt it, felt the exact moment he dropped those thick barriers and gave her access.

"Mike," she began hesitantly. "There's something I need to ask you."

"Sure," he replied, fixing her with a quizzical--and slightly worried--look, and she could feel tendrils of anxiety leaking through his carefully constructed walls.

"You have very thick mental shields, and so does Peter, but normal people have very few--if any at all. So what's up with you two? What makes you different?"

Mike smiled, relieved that her question was no more serious or difficult. "That's my last big secret, Isa. See--" Suddenly he shut his mouth with a snap and jerked his head up and to the right as if he were scanning the sky for something.

"What?" she asked, alarmed when she felt his shields go up to full strength again, effectively shutting her out; following his gaze, she saw Peter approaching, and she wondered how in the world Mike had known he was coming.

Peter touched down beside the pair, shooting Mike an apologetic look, then held out several letters to Isabel. "Mags wanted you to look through these."

Annoyed at being interrupted, Isabel snatched the letters from his hand and sorted through them, wondering what was so deathly important that Mags thought she needed to see them now. Among the letters from her grandmother and Mags' large menagerie of siblings and some bills from their old address, she found an official looking letter--addressed to Mike. Nudging him with her elbow to get his attention, she handed it over. "This is yours. It must've gotten dropped in our box by mistake."

Mike took it, pausing only to scowl at Peter, who was still lingering--and radiating an innocent "who, me?" ribbon of thought as if he had no clue his presence was unwelcome at the moment. But his irritation quickly dissipated when he read the return address.

Impatience making him careless, he ripped the envelope open, pulled out the contents and scanned them quickly, a slow smile curving his lips as he read. Suddenly, he let out a whoop and, grabbing Isabel around the waist, whirled her around before setting her down and pulling her into a passionate kiss, lingering despite the fact that he could "hear" Peter teasing him about coming up for air soon in the back of his mind.

"It's official!" he exclaimed when he finally released her, his features suffused with pure joy. "I'm single!"

Isabel, who'd staggered under the influence of his sudden and unexpected embrace, stared at him blankly for a moment until the full impact of his words sank in. Then she let out a yell of her own and, throwing her arms around his neck, hugged him tight.

"So does that mean you're all mine now?" she purred against his ear, keeping her voice low so Peter wouldn't overhear.

"Every inch," he whispered back, and she felt her cheeks sting with heat at the delicious images thatparticular thought conjured.

But even in the middle of the celebration, she couldn't forget what he'd said, what he'd been about to explain before Peter's untimely interruption.

"My last big secret," he'd said. What secret was he still hiding?

Mike took the pen Peter held out to him and, using Isabel's back as a desk, he signed the divorce papers, then handed the papers to Peter, who glided back to the house to mail them.

"This calls for a celebration," Mike announced as he and Isabel walked back to the house hand in hand. "You and me, Peter and Valerie, Davy, Micky and Mags--the entire group. And I know just the place. There's a little outdoor cafe overlooking the beach about five miles away."

"Sounds perfect," she replied, smiling up at him.

She briefly toyed with the idea of bringing up their former topic of conversation, but she discarded it quickly; now wasn't the time, not when he was so happy, not when they were about to celebrate such wonderful news. It had waited this long; it could wait a little while longer.

But she wasn't about to forget. If there was something he needed to tell her, something she needed to know, they would talk about it.


Chapter Two: If It Was My Blood Spilling...

By Enola Jones and Madame

He watched the six figures strolling along the shore, headed for the beach-side entrance of a particular cafe. Among them was the light-thrower. And with him was a female whose hand he held, whose eyes he smiled into.

The light-thrower was in love.

A weakness.

At last. At long last...

He wanted nothing more than to cause the light-thrower's death. But not until he had caused the death of the female. She would die while the light-thrower watched. By his hand—no other's.

A cruel smile touched his lips. After all, he mused, what was family for...?


Although Valerie couldn't join them, the rest of the group settled comfortably at a largish table on the cafe's deck, chatting amiably as the sun slowly faded on the horizon beyond. The odd collection of personalities had gelled remarkably well, and the four young men were especially grateful for a quiet evening with no fighting, no trouble, no villains out for their blood. Although they took their duties seriously, it was a stone drag being on call all the time, never knowing when they'd be needed. Down-time was precious, and they'd learned to savor each moment as it happened.

Micky seemed to be savoring his moment especially well, flirting with Mags outrageously, while Mike contented himself with draping his arm casually across the back of Isabel's chair.

Nice, huh? Peter sent, smiling across the table at Mike, who gave a tiny nod and a wink in response.

With a pleased sigh, Peter leaned back in his chair, letting his attention wander from the conversation for a moment—Micky was recounting the story of a session they'd had as studio musicians where everything that could go wrong did, from the band showing up late to the lead singer being so hopped up on some unknown substance that he could barely get the lyrics out without slurring—and soaked up the beauty of his surroundings, enjoying the tranquil roar of the ocean, the fiery tendrils of dying sunlight sparkling on the water.

Sudden movement in the air caught his eye, and he sat up straight, squinting as he peered into the setting sun; Mike—alerted by their link—and Isabel—alerted by her empathy—both shot concerned glances at him, but he didn't notice, too absorbed in trying to figure out if what he'd seen was real or an illusion.

There it was again—a tiny figure streaking out of the sun, a fiery beacon in the darkening sky that was growing closer.

That could only mean one thing...Peter sent his suspicions to Mike, who sent a cold ribbon of dread in return.

"Oh, shit!" Mike and Peter chorused in unison, both of them leaping to their feet as the burning figure drew nearer, close enough for them to see they were right.

"Trouble?" Micky asked, suddenly all seriousness.

"Get up! Get the girls out of here!" Peter snapped out an order, his no-nonsense tone sending the others scrambling for cover just as a bolt of fire shot from the sky, frying their table.

Micky caught Mags around the waist and took off, ignoring her surprised shriek and vanishing as he did so; Mike grasped Isabel's shoulders, kissing her quickly before pushing her toward Davy.

"Get her safe!" he commanded, and Davy nodded.

Matching Mike's height, he scooped Isabel up like she weighed nothing and sprang away to get her into hiding as the rest of the panicking customers fled the scene, screaming and stampeding in all directions. They all knew no one was safe around this particular madman.

"Wait!" she gasped, clinging to Davy's shoulders as she watched Mike and Peter seem to prepare for battle. "What's going on? What happened?"

"Jason," Davy explained curtly. "That's what happened. Mike's cousin. He's the target, Mike is!"

He set Isabel down outside the front of the now-deserted cafe—well out of the line of fire—and raced back into the fray; Isabel waited for about ten seconds, and then she darted through the empty restaurant again, crouching behind the rail on the deck as she watched and fretted.

Peter was zooming in circles around Jason, trying to keep the flying fire-man off balance. For his part, Jason shot bolt after bolt at the telekinetic, each one missing as Peter used an evasive maneuver flight pattern.

Now seven feet tall, Davy lifted a long piece of the table leg and flung it toward Jason as soon as Peter was out of the way; Jason reacted in a split-second, throwing a firebolt at the leg and burning it up before it reached him.

"Oh, bloody hell," Davy whispered, shrinking to less than his usual height as Jason turned his maniacal gaze on him. By attacking, he'd made himself a target, and he had to duck and run quickly to dodge all the fire bolts that were suddenly aimed at him, an intense bombardment that kept Davy scurrying along the beach as he sought cover.

Mike had remained hidden, biding his time to join in the battle; unable to change size to better avoid the fiery blasts and unable to shield himself, he was the most vulnerable of them all, and he wasn't crazy about facing Jason of all people without some sort of protection. Knowing how fast Micky flew, he waited long enough for Micky to return, assuming he'd stayed invisible for safety's sake. Armed with the confidence that assumption brought and not realizing Mags had delayed Micky, Mike emerged and strode onto the sand.

"Jason!" he yelled, trying to divert the powerful lunatic from harassing Davy. "You want me? Come and get me!"

And with that, he began firing laser after laser at Jason, showering him with a flurry of light-missiles, hoping to keep him off-balance long enough for Peter to capture him.

Jason evaded the blast and retaliated with a firebolt. Mike didn't move, thinking he was secure behind Micky's shields.

The fireball struck him square in the chest.

Fire spread over Mike's torso, engulfing him with lightning speed, burning away his shirt, searing his skin, and he collapsed, screaming and writhing in agony.

Overhead, Peter screamed and nearly fell from the sky as he felt the scorching pain as sharply and intensely as Mike did; it took monumental effort for him to fight off the encroaching oblivion—but he silently hoped Mike wouldn't stay conscious much longer—and to clamp his mental shields down tight, blocking the pain from his mind.

"MIKE!" Isabel bolted from the deck, sprinting onto the beach and throwing herself on the sand beside him.

Meanwhile, Davy shot up to ten feet. He didn't waste time unbuttoning his shirt; he ripped it open and off, throwing the tent-sized material over Mike and smothering the flames.

Micky shimmered into view then, having just arrived on the scene. He took in Isabel falling to her knees beside Mike's burn-blackened form lying still—too still—on the sand. He took in Davy supporting Peter and Jason gloating, and that was all it took for him to leap into action.

Micky threw a skin-tight field around Jason, cutting off the oxygen around him and snuffing out the flame like a birthday candle. Jason plummeted like a rock—straight into Davy's waiting fist. The first blow didn't knock him out, so Davy delivered another, grim satisfaction etched on his face. Without hesitation, Micky grabbed Jason's limp body and hauled him away, intent on getting him into protective custody before he could wake up and start wreaking havoc again.

Meanwhile, the others crowded around Mike, surveying the damage with growing consternation.

What little of Mike's clothes that remained were burned into his skin. His face and hands were charred, his eyes sealed shut. His breath came in ragged gasps through his ruined lips, and his dark hair was burnt away.

Isabel touched his shoulder gently, and even though Mike was unconscious, he shuddered in pain at the slight contact. Peter turned pleading eyes on her.

"Isabel," he whispered, his voice strangled. "Can you—?"

Isabel stared up at him, overwhelmed with terror; the gunshot wounds she and Mike had both sustained had been the most difficult healing she'd ever attempted before in her life, draining her energy to the point of complete depletion. She'd only recently begun to feel normal again—and now this! Even if she were up to full strength, she wasn't sure she could handle it; there was so much damage, and it went so deep...

She sent out a low level probe, trying to assess his injuries. Perhaps if they were mostly superficial—but no.

A horrified gasp escaped her as she felt the full extent of the damage that had been done. He was burned inside as well as out; already his most vital organs—kidney, heart, lungs—were beginning to shut down; his pulse was dipping to a dangerous low.

He was dying.

And she had never wrestled with death before. She'd never had to.

"I—I'll try," she murmured, glancing down at Mike's ruined form again.

She had to now.

Chapter Three: Life Took A Breath

By Enola Jones and Madame

Sucking in a deep breath, Isabel braced herself for the shock of pain she knew would hit her the moment she touched Mike, the moment she lowered the shields surrounding her and opened a channel between her mind and his. But even so, she wasn't prepared for the sheer torturous agony that assailed her, slicing through her nerve endings as if it were her own and not his at all.

It took every ounce of will power she possessed not to snatch her hands away from him, to break the contact and clamp her shields around herself so tightly nothing would seep through, but she did not. Instead, she let go of her shields completely, leaving no barriers between them; instinctively she knew it was the only chance she had of doing him any good at all.

Reserving her power in the slightest degree could mean the difference between life and death, and she knew his chances were slim enough without her selfishly holding back.

The familiar warmth of her healing aura surrounded her, a small comfort in the midst of the pain; awareness of her surroundings, of her own body receded as she concentrated on the task at hand. Some small part of her mind was aware that she'd bitten her lower lip hard enough to draw blood, but she could do nothing about it. She was entirely focused on the map of Mike's wounds that shimmered in her mind, and as she sent heavy pulses of healing energy to the most critical danger points—his heart, which was beating slower and slower, and kidneys, which were threatening to quit entirely and poison his system—she reached out and tried to find him in the darkness, hoping to call him back before he had gone too far for her to reach.

Waves of power flowed from her; her body began to shake and sweat as Peter, Mags and Davy looked on with growing concern for her as well as for their friend. And all the while, she wandered in the dark, searching for any sign of light, calling for him over and over but receiving no reply. Had he already fled? Was she trying to revive a body which the spirit had already abandoned? No. Mike was too much of a fighter for that; she knew he wouldn't give up so quickly or easily. Perhaps he was farther away than she thought, but he was there.

Mike? Where are you? Answer me—please!

She felt his heart jumping erratically, and she focused more intensely on it, not daring to leave it to beat on its own; it couldn't yet. The moment she released it, she knew it would falter in its rhythm, perhaps not to resume a steady beat ever again.

Mike, please! All this will be for nothing if you don't come back!

And then there were his lungs, fighting to draw breath, but they were scorched—there were a thousand hurts that demanded her attention all at once, and she began to despair, feeling as if she were being stretched too thin. And her power levels were already beginning to fluctuate.

I can't do this alone—I don't have enough energy—I need your help—

Blood flowed freely, hemorrhaging inside him; his heart steadfastly refused to beat on its own; she could feel her control slipping, and there was nothing she could do about it...


A faint glow in the distance, but it was there.

She raced towards it—towards him—trying frantically to reach him before she lost the battle completely.


He turned, and she felt his bewilderment as he watched her approach. What are you doing this far out?

I came to bring you back, she replied. I need your help. I'm losing, Mike. I can't save your body if I don't have help from your spirit—your strength.

I'm...not sure I want to go back...

If you don't, she exclaimed, then Jason wins! Is that what you want? To die by his hands?

Does it matter? He shrugged. A death is a death. The result is the same no matter how it happens. He looked over his shoulder, and she could feel the longing emanating from him. It seems so peaceful there...

But what about your life? she asked, trying another tactic. You're so young, Mike. You have so many dreams, so many goals left to accomplish.

Matters of the world, he answered calmly as if none of it touched him anymore, and she felt a wave of despair overcome her. It was too late; he was already gone...

What about your friends? she cried out desperately as he turned to walk away again. They don't want to lose you, especially not to that—that lunatic!

He froze in his tracks, then swiveled around to face her again, skewering her with those dark eyes. What about you?

She gaped at him, shocked into momentary silence. What do you mean?

Why are you trying so hard to convince me to stay in the world? There's little there for me—for ANYONE—other than more pain, more suffering. Is this a healer's pride talking, or is there something more?

What was she going to do? Her instincts—born from years of hiding her secret and her own feelings—were to remain quiet and not confess anything to him, but deep down she knew if she wasn't honest with him now, he would leave, and she—along with Peter, Micky and Davy—would be left to bury him.

There's more, she admitted slowly. I...I've only just found you. I don't want to lose you so soon.

The pause before he answered seemed to stretch out into infinity, and she began to fear there was nothing she could say that would give him enough incentive to remain. And who could blame him, really? she thought with a growing sense of defeat.

Then he began walking towards her.

Good enough, he said at last. Now what?

Relief swept through her, leaving her weak and shaky. Now we go back and fight, she replied. I need your help, your strength. I'm losing energy fast, and your injuries are too much for me to heal alone.


With him supporting her, with his spirit fighting with her, her job was made marginally easier. In the real world, Peter gasped, pointing at Mike; Micky—who'd finally returned from disposing of Jason—Mags and Davy followed his gaze and were astonished to see that Mike's face, which had been burnt almost beyond recognition, was slowly changing. The blackened skin on his face—and everywhere else they could see—was mending, turning a bright scarlet and peeling as if he'd merely been badly sunburned; even his hair was beginning to grow back. Isabel, on the other hand, was growing paler and more shaky; the glow surrounding her was dimming, and it seemed as if she was being drained of color, of energy...of life...

Mike swiftly realized that Isabel had depleted her store of power and was now pouring out her own life energy into the healing.

Stop it! he yelled when he saw how faded her image was becoming. As he watched, she was turning ever more transparent, and he knew that if she didn't break off the healing, she would disappear entirely. You've done enough—the worst is fixed. You don't have to heal every little injury.

But...there's still so much...Her voice was weak, a hollow echo of itself. I can't leave you like this...What if there's a problem...?

Then you'll fix it when you've regained your strength, he replied firmly. Break it off, Isa. Now.

No...The lungs are still weak...The heart rate is only just now stabilizing...I can't...I can't stop yet...

Would you kill yourself to save me? Dammit, Isa, let go NOW! And with that, he tried to push her away, to force her out, but the moment he touched her spirit, he felt the open channel she'd left between them, felt the essence of herself she was giving up willingly to save his life, and something broke open deep within...

"Watch it!" Micky cried out suddenly when he noticed Isabel wavering suddenly, and he sprinted forward to catch her just as she toppled over, the aura surrounding her abruptly snuffed out as soon as she lost physical contact with Mike.

"Is he...?" Mags breathed, staring wide-eyed at Mike, scarcely able to speak the words, fearful that Isabel had risked her own life in vain.

Peter knelt down and pressed his ear to Mike's chest, and the smile that bloomed on his face sent sighs of relief rippling through the other three on-lookers. "He's alive," Peter exclaimed. "His heartbeat seems steady, and the burns are all but gone—I think she did it!"

"Come on," Davy said quietly. "Give me a hand, Micky. Let's get these two home, all right?"

He reached down and gently eased his hands under Mike's shoulders, hoping he didn't accidentally cause more damage in the process, and Micky got his legs; together they hoisted him up, preparing to carry him as slowly and carefully as possible back to the Pad. Meanwhile, Peter gathered Isabel in his arms, and even though she was unconscious, she began to stir, moaning softly, her brow creasing in a slight frown.

"Huh," Peter gazed down at her with growing concern. "I wonder what's wrong."

"I don't know..." Mags reached out and smoothed a stray lock of hair from Isabel's damp forehead, her eyes clouding with worry as Isabel became more fretful.

Suddenly a commotion a little further down the beach alerted them that Micky and Davy were having the same problem with Mike, who was so restless they were in danger of dropping him. BOTH of them...? she mused, tapping her forefinger against her chin. Hmm...

A creature of impulse, Mags didn't know if what she was about to do would work, much less why, but nonetheless, she captured Peter's arm and hurried him along to catch up with the others; once they were all together again, she led Peter to stand next Davy, and then, taking Isabel's left hand and Mike's right, she joined their hands—instantly they both went limp, all fitful movement stopped as abruptly as if someone had pulled a switch.

"What in the world—?" Peter exclaimed. "How did you know?" he demanded. "Is this normal?"

Mags looked at him and shrugged. "I have no idea what's normal where Izzy's powers are concerned. She's never had to do anything like this before. I just thought since they were both reacting the same way, maybe there was a connection." She shrugged again, her expression amused. "Guess I was right!"

When they finally got back to the Pad, the idea of taking Isabel next door to recuperate was discarded quickly; Peter made the mistake of trying to separate them once more, and again they reacted without ever seeming to come any closer to regaining consciousness, growing more and more agitated until he gave up and instructed Micky and Davy to carry Mike upstairs while he followed along behind. They settled Mike in his own bed, then Peter gently lowered Isabel onto the bed next to him, and as soon as she touched him, they both relaxed.

"That," Micky announced to no one in particular, "is freaky."

"Something happened..." Mags said quietly, moving closer to Micky as if seeking comfort from his presence. "I don't know what or how, but this...this one was different. I've seen her work before, and it never affected her like this."

"But you said it yourself," Peter added grimly. "She's never had to deal with anything life-threatening before."

As they watched, the pair slowly shifted to lie on their sides facing each other, each reaching out to pull the other close, and it wasn't long before they were entwined in each other's arms, seeming to be at peace at last.

"I can't wait for the explanation!" Davy remarked, shaking his head and staring at the sight before them with an expression bordering on disbelief.

"Join the club," Peter murmured, casting one last, worried look over his shoulder as he herded the rest of them back downstairs, closing the bedroom door behind himself as he followed them out. "Join the club..."

Continue on to part two