The Cycle of Axer Carrick
Part VI -- Cats Eyes
by Henry Wyckoff
December 1995


Author's Notes:

And here we are again, with one more person to thank during my long trudge: Robyn Cooper. I'd like to thank her very much for the subliminal advice she has given me during our many discussions, and for her support when I was about to hang myself from my nerves. I say with complete honesty that you would not see some of the material in here if it were not for Robyn. Now, think about that next time you consider the complexities of cause and effect, Schroedinger's Cat, and the many-worlds theorem! How's that for practical uses of philosophic physics?

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Chapter 34

Nick slowly opened his eyes. The first thing he knew was that he felt healthy. Then he realized that he felt normal, and that's when he felt despair, because 'normal' could mean only one thing.

A dreamy kiss on his neck made him relax, and he closed his eyes again. Perhaps a few minutes went by, and many kisses too, and he realized that he felt a warm, female body snuggled up to him. Nick's conscious mind hadn't completely kicked in yet, but his pleasure centers had. He lay there for some time, just letting that warm and fuzzy feeling float through him.

Some time later, he opened his eyes once more, and saw that it was Nat snuggled up to him. She smiled at him from underneath the hair that fell down her face. "How do you feel?"

"The same," he frowned. "You... look... different."

She looked like a vampire -- white-skinned as bone, with a certain aura about her. It was something that Nick could feel with his nerves.

"Nick... how much do you remember from the hospital?"

He closed his eyes, letting the memories return. Nat becoming a vampire. Nat and Janette fighting. Nat draining his blood and feeding him hers. He looked at her in horror.

"It happened," she nodded. "Now, I'm like you."

Tears fell from Nick's eyes, as they began to fall from Nat's. Tears of joy for being together on the same field, and tears of bitterness and sorrow for being on the field that they were. It was an irony that LaCroix could certainly have appreciated had he been here.

* * *

Duncan sat alone in a dive bar outside of Paris, in a place that served beer and liquor, and not wine. Connor had moved on his way, and Amanda was crashed out at the boat. Maybe Joe was around somewhere...

He slammed down a beer, not even tasting it. He knew he had no reason to drink, but somehow, he felt that he needed it on an emotional level.

Then he felt it, the Buzz. It was Mev, and by the looks of it, she had sought him out. Shrugging, he pulled out a stool for her and had the bartender set out another of what he was drinking -- scotch and beer.

Mev sat down on the stool, ignoring the stares that she drew. They were admiring stares, because her toughness was as evident as her beauty. Nobody would willingly have cross her, even if she hadn't been sitting next to Duncan, who had a violently troubled look on his face.

"So, drinking away your troubles now, are you?" Her tone was blunt and disapproving.

"I'm not drinking to get drunk."

"In a place like this?" she waved around. "Don't tell me you *looove* the atmosphere!"

"I do. It reminds me of some pretty nice taverns I've been to."

"By those standards, sure, but we're not living in the past anymore. There are things called health standards nowadays! You could always go to a nicer place, where they follow those standards!"

"You wanted to talk about regulations?"

"No. I wanted to talk about you. What are you running away from?" Her stare was direct.

He was honest. "It's Sharpe and Lenny. What Lenny said."

"And what did he say?"

And so he told her, and in order for it to make sense, he ended up telling her about most of his involvement with the Invisible Ones and Sharpe, leaving out the details about the FBI agents and the vampires... and Methos.

By that time, Mev was nodding. "Interesting... It seems that the Invisible Ones know how to tell the truth on occasion." She sighed, "I've been alive for as long as this Axer Carrick you mention. In fact, I knew him in his youth, when he was a raw and rough laddie boy who came to me for... lessons." She made a face as she realized that she was diverging down a tangent she'd rather not travel down.

"The point is, I know some of what you're going through. You were born too late for the culture of your ancestors to prepare you. I'm willing to bet that Axer was able to handle these problems because he was raised to be a Druid. I was able to handle it because I was a Queen, educated in the mysteries. But you were born Christian, and all the old wisdom was considered superstition. So you were deprived of the learning that could save your sanity..."

She reached into her purse, pulling out a pipe and lighter. "Smoke this like you would a cigar -- puff, but don't inhale."

"What is it?"

"Something to help you dream. You're going to walk the dreamscape. It's the only place where you can come to grips with the demons haunting you and the angels aching to soothe your heart."

Shrugging, Duncan began to smoke it, and began to feel nice. If he didn't know any better, he'd swear that it was apple- flavored pipe tobacco.

"Sleep," whispered Mev, "and dream..."

* *

When Duncan opened his eyes, it was in London. It was an old London, sometime in the last century. Or two centuries ago. It was a filthy place, by his current standards. Mev, he noticed, stood by him.

"What is this place?" asked Duncan.

"The dreamscape. It doesn't have your feel to it, however. Someone has pulled you into the 'scape of another."

They stood in front of a whorehouse, and since it seemed to be the only place with activity in it, they entered. Inside, there was only one person, and he was drinking copious amounts of straight gin.

Sharpe.

He looked up at the two, and stood up, drawing his blade with a snarl, "Bloody ghosts! I'll show you! I'LL SHOW DO!"

Mev held Duncan's arm, "This is a dream! Don't take it for what it is. Read it!"

Duncan didn't want to kill him either. "Sharpe... It's Duncan. It's really me. You don't have to fight me."

Sharpe's eyes cleared a little, and his saber lowered a little. "Duncan?... It can't be... I died. How can I be here, talking to you?"

He collapsed onto the chair, where he began to sob bitterly. "Too many illusions. Too many, even for my own sins!"

Mev whispered into Duncan's ear. "Start a dialogue. I'll leave you to talk. It may be a dream, but you still need your privacy..."

* *

...Mev stood up, waving to the bartender. "I think my friend has had too much. Could I get a hand walking him out to my car?"

The bartender nodded, figuring the woman must have been the man's wife or special friend. He was a big and strong man, so did the helping out himself, "He's one hell of a drinker, I'll tell you that for nothing!" He laughed as he threw Duncan's arm over his shoulder, as Mev did the same with the other arm. "I tell you, I've seen only one other person drink more than this one, and he had a whole week to work with!"

Duncan was gently placed into the passenger's seat, and Mev left enough of a tip to send the man's kids through college...

* *

...Duncan made a mixed drink, sitting on the other side of the table. "Sharpe... do you know where you really are?"

Sharpe looked upwards, from where he had his head on the table. His tear-stained eyes made him look like another person. "Hell?"

"No. You're in my own soul. If Lenny is to be believed, the original 'you' is really dead, but a copy of you was made and sent over to me. I absorbed you as well as your life force when I took your quickening."

"So... I was in your dreams?"

"No. You were in your own. Think of it as renting an apartment from a landlord, and doing whatever you want in that apartment. All this is of your own creation. ...Why do you choose to live in a place like this?"

Sharpe looked around, "My mother used to be a whore. This is where I lived."

Duncan nodded, sighing inwardly. It looked like he'd have to play the psychiatrist for a long time, if he was to have any kind of peace.

"Tell me about your mother..."

Duncan turned around, to find none other than an old friend that he'd been forced to kill because of the other's split Jekyll-and-Hyde personality. The Jekyll side was a good soul, but the Hyde was an evil soul to match. It was the good soul who was here. Perhaps he might even be able to do something. It suddenly occurred to him how much this man looked like Knight, the vampire. It was more than an uncanny resemblance.

Sharpe didn't even look up. "She was a whore!"

Duncan sighed. This was definitely going to take a long time... But at least he was coming to understand more about himself, wondering if this self-exploration would lead to harnessing of the Quickening.

* * *

Kermit and Heimdall walked the streets of Toronto, watching the riots calm down.

"So tell me," said Kermit, his sunglasses back on. "What does the Horn do?"

"It's a signal that tells everyone throughout the world what they must do. In the old days, leaders of warriors would use horns to tell their men when to do something as a group. One blast meant to attack. Two might mean to move to the left side of the field....

"This Horn tells the soul what to do, and very rarely does a mortal hear it in his conscious mind. You are a very rare man to have heard it and remained unscathed. The other two had open minds, and open souls, but they were also untouched by the evil that men do. You *are* touched."

Kermit nodded. "I've waded through more than my share of blood in my lifetime."

They walked in silence.

"So, what now?"

"The skirmish is over, but the war is far from over. Axer killed Youlienou. Coleen has turned Odin from his ways, and in a rather unique fashion, if I say so myself. Connor, Duncan, and Mev have defeated Lenny. Amanda has received a gift of sorts from Hodr. They're signs that show there's hope to come, but there are also signs that we might lose hope as well." He held out his hand. "It all comes down to a roll of the dice. I think Powys will thrive in the world to come."

"How do you know all this?"

Heimdall smiled, "I have eyes that can see wool grow, and ears that can hear a pin drop from miles away, remember? Trust the guardian of Bifrost to have good senses!"

Kermit shook his head, "After all this, there are some things I find hard to believe!"

Heimdall laughed, slapping a hand on Kermit's back, "Me too... I know a place where we can get some coffee. Do you have a taste for it?"

"Sure do!"

* * * *


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