Rene takes two steps back, and Pablo lets go of my hand. I sweep my arms up, then bring them down slowly, palms down, until I'm crouching and my hands touch the Earth, permanently closing the portal to that world.

"Thank you, Mother, for your support today," I whisper before standing.

"Paul will be okay now?" Pablo asks.

I nod. "Eventually, we'll have to dismantle the block Charles put in place, but not until he's old enough to deal with it."

He shakes his head. "No one can deal with what we saw."

"First, Paul didn't see the worst of it. Second . . ." I wrap my arms around him in a hug. "Don't underestimate our children, Pablo. They're a couple of souls who decided to remember everything they ever learned from every life they ever lived." I look up into his eyes. "What he saw here today probably isn't the worst thing he's ever seen in all those many lives."

"But he's just a kid."

I smile ruefully. "Yes. That's part of the deal I made with those two before they were born: no freaking out Daddy and everyone else by acting like they're wise old adults before they actually become adults."

"And yet, they still talk to the toaster sometimes."

I chuckle. "They said they'd try, they'd do their very best. Nobody's perfect."

"You know, from our point of view, they can't even pretend to be normal," Rene says.

"No, probably not. They do seem to be half-way between human and Spirit."

"There are those among my Siblings who find that well beyond disconcerting."

I grin at him. "And those would be the Spirits who stay away from me most often, I assume."

"Yes. You'll be happy to know Raven is the worse of the lot."


"No, Andi, not excellent! It just means Raven torments me more than it torments you."

I shrug. "I'm sorry about that, Rene. But you have the capacity to deal with Raven better than I can."

He sighs. "Now you understand why I spend so much time among you human types."

I reach out and pull him into our hug. "Rene, you spend time with Maddie because you still love her more than life itself. You spend time with the rest of us because you love us, too . . . and once upon a time, you were human. I had you figured out before the hellions were born."

He stares at me for a few seconds before looking at Pablo, who chuckles.

"You get used to it."


Pablo looks between the two of us, then nods. "Really."

I wiggle out of the embrace and take a deep breath. "Okay, I'm going to raid the kitchen. Think anyone is still up? It's got to be closing in on midnight."

Rene chuckles. "Although it's after midnight, I suspect Charles is still awake. He'll want your report, and so will Maddie. At least you can wait until morning to talk to her."

"That was my plan!" I start walking back toward the mansion along the ley line. "Come on, let's clear out the kitchen!"

I'm pretty sure the two of them are rolling their eyes.

© Kelly Naylor