The Longest Night

by A. Magiluna Stormwriter

Disclaimer: This story is an original work of amateur fiction, and is written purely for the private entertainment of P:TL fans.  This story is no way affiliated with Trilogy, MGM Worldwide Television or the Sci-Fi Channel.  The characters are their property, and this story is not meant to infringe upon the copyrights of MGM, Trilogy, or anybody else who owns an interest in "Poltergeist: the Legacy".

"Aren't you ready yet, Alex?"  The twinkie stuffed into his mouth caused his exasperated voice to muffle somewhat.

"Leave her alone, Nick," Rachel admonished, leveling a dark gaze at him.

"Why?  She's the one who wanted to go out to the island tonight for the sunset.  She was insistent.  And now she's running late?"

Before Rachel could do more than cast him another dirty look, they watched their friend step into the livingroom.  In one respect, her appearance no longer shocked them, particularly Rachel, given her state of mind in the six weeks since the explosion that had claimed both her home and Derek's life.  But this look was different.  Alex wore a flowing dress of black muslin, the hem brushing the floor, barely hiding her bare feet.  About her too-slim waist was a silver corded belt, the ends terminating in obsidian and moonstone, the white stone gleaming against the black like a penguin's stomach.  This was repeated in the delicate silver chain about her neck.  She wore no makeup, her long hair disheveled, more resembling a crow's nest than the perfect ringlets they'd always teased her about.  But the look in her eyes....

The look in her eyes worried them.  It was an odd sort of glow they'd never seen before.  Not even that of her temptation to the Darkside by Phillippe D'Arcy could compare to this.  This was different.  More purposeful.  Darker in some ways.  As if she'd come to an decision and had staked her very life on it.

"Alex?  Honey, you need shoes," Rachel offered gently.

The brunette nodded mutely, then left toward her room.

"This is insane, Rachel!"  Nick began pacing, eyes darting toward the doorway repeatedly.  "She's in no shape to go out there, and you know it.  Why'd you agree to it?"

"Because she needs it," came the soft reply.  "Because she asked for it."  A hand raked through the blonde tresses.  "Derek's death damned near killed her."  Although he'd been a frequent visitor, Nick hadn't been living with them while they cared for Alex.  She wouldn't eat, wouldn't sleep, wouldn't talk to either Rachel or her daughter, nothing but crying and closing in on herself.  They had forced her to eat, so she'd have something in her system.  Kat learned how to bathe her, made sure to dress her everyday.  "You know that, for five weeks, Alex has been basically catatonic.  So yes, when she actually spoke, when she asked me for this, I agreed to it because she asked."

"But, Rach, do you honestly think going back out to the island right now is going to do her any good?"

"I don't know, but I won't deny Alex the chance to work through her grief."  Hearing footfalls behind her, she turned to smile at Alex.  She took in the wool cloak the younger woman wore, then noticed Kat carrying a small travel case, knowing it contained the items Alex had requested.  "Ready to go?"


The bulk of the rubble had been cleared away, but Alex could only see the fiery ruins of her former home.  She tightly gripped at one of the griffin's legs, unable to get any closer to the decimated mansion and still retain her tightly held self-control.  Glancing up, she noted the moon beginning to rise over the horizon.  "Kat?"  she murmured.  "Do you have everything I need?"

"Yes, Alex," came the reply.  "Do you want me to start setting it up?"

"Please."  Alex's eyes fluttered shut as she swallowed back a sob.

Rachel watched her daughter head off toward the beach.  She caught Nick's eye, then relaxed as he nodded and followed Kat.  Turning to face her friend, she set a tentative hand on her shoulder.  "Alex?  You sure you're up to this?  We can always come back another day."

"No!"  the brunette barked.  "No, it has to be tonight."


Nick watched silently as Kat fixed the stones of the circle, placing them "just so" before lighting the logs piled in the center.  "You need some help?"  he called softly.

To her credit, Kat didn't jump at his voice.  She nodded gravely, then pointed to a pair of the stones.  "You can come in over there," she replied, then returned to her work.

Nick nodded, respecting her serious demeanor.  He quickly busied himself with the bonfire, but watched the girl from the corner of his eye.

Kat paid him little heed then, focusing herself on doing exactly what Alex had requested.  She set out the four large coloured candles in front of each of the larger boulders, then knelt before the case and began pulling out more items.  The large black candle was placed just north of the bonfire, surrounded by four black tapers.  Kat closed the lid and set upon it two small glass bottles, a white taper, and a small, very full sandwich bag.  Just as she finished, she heard the other two women coming closer.  "Nick, we need to step out now."

He followed her out, shrugging his shoulders at Rachel's curious look.

Alex looked past him to Kat.  "Kat, will you start the circle?  We need to get started before the moon gets too high."

Nodding gravely, Kat turned toward the circle, then stopped.  "Oh no!  I forgot something!"

Alex reached into her cloak, pulled out a small, wrapped bundle.  "Use this.  It seems appropriate somehow."

Rachel and Nick watched as Kat stepped into the circle, lit the four colored candles with a match, then picked up one of the bottles and began to walk clockwise, dispersing pinches of the salt around the inner perimeter.  This finished, she repeated the process with the other bottle, this time marking the circle with water.  Finally, she unwrapped the bundle to reveal a small dagger, one immediately recognized by the adults as a very cherished gift to Alex from Derek.  Rachel started forward, was stopped by Nick's hand.  They watched the girl walk the circle a third time, softly murmuring under her breath, then noticed Alex mouthing the same words.  "This circle is cleansed, this circle is purified, this circle is blessed for this work."

Again, Kat stopped in front of Alex, knelt down to cut a line in the sand with the dagger, then stepped aside.  Alex turned toward her friends.  "Please come inside the circle with us?"  she asked softly.  Reluctantly, they did as she asked.  Once inside herself, Alex took the dagger from Kat and traced the line backwards.  She turned to look at her friends then, that light returned to her eyes.  "I've asked you here to help me with something.  I know this may seem strange, but please bear with me.  Kat has helped me a great deal, but I need your help now, too."

"Anything, Alex, you know that," Nick said, touching her hair lightly.  Rachel simply nodded.

Alex smiled then, the first smile they'd seen on her face in weeks.  She moved to stand before the fire, shifted a glowing log out from the bottom, then turned to take the bag from Kat to toss some of the contents upon it.  The heady spice of white sage floated in the air around them, and Alex took in great lungfuls of the scented smoke before again facing her friends to find Kat handing out the black tapers then retrieving a match to light the large black candle.  "Please, come sit around the candle."

They did as she asked, but Rachel had to voice her concerns.  "Alex, Katherine, what's going on here?"

Alex looked to her friend.  "Don't worry about Kat, Rachel.  This is perfectly safe, I promise you."  She took a deep breath.  "This is the longest night of the year, signaling the end of the dark's dominion over the days and the coming of the light's power."

"On this longest night," Kat replied, smoothly taking over, "we seek to remember those who are not with us to rejoice in the return of the light, those who have other obligations and those who are no longer with us in this life."  She leaned forward, tipping her candle over the flame until it took, burning brightly.  "On this night, I wish to remember Kristin Adams, who was taken from us last year in the fight against the Darkside, and my friend Philip Callahan, whose fight led him elsewhere.  And I cannot forget Miranda.  She led me toward the Darkside, but she also helped me see what true friendship can really be about."

As she placed the candle in the sand before her, Nick noticed the directions in which they all sat:  Kat in the east, Rachel in the south, himself in the west, and Alex in the north.  He remembered the archangels that guarded those directions, and felt a new admiration for what Alex and Kat were trying to do.  Glancing over at Rachel, he realized she understood the significance of this night as well, and an unspoken agreement passed between them not to mention Derek....for Alex's sake.

Before anyone could prompt her, Rachel repeated Kat's first action, then stared into the flames before her for a moment.  "On this night, I wish to remember many people who have influenced my life, both in and out of the Legacy.  Chiefest among them are those members of my family no longer here: Patrick, Connor, Paige, my mother Ruth, my aunt Rebecca.  And I would be remiss to mention my grandfather, Joshua Cantwell, and Winston Rayne.  By succumbing to the Darkside, their families were forced to bear the legacy of removing that taint from their names.  I only hope now, while it falls upon us, my daughter and I are as successful as Winston Rayne's children have been."

Nick watched Rachel set her candle into the sand, then tilted his to light.  He thought for a moment before speaking.  "On this night, I feel compelled to remember my father and brother, each of whom was instrumental in shaping the man I became prior to joining the Legacy, where I learned the true meaning of family.  Philip and I fought, but that was to be expected, I guess.  And Julia?  I miss her so much, but I try to remind myself that she died for a good cause.  And then, I'm reminded of all of the Legacy members I've known who've died to preserve this common cause of ours: William Sloane, Kristin Adams, Jane Witherspoon and the entire Boston House, and countless others who have risked, or one day will, their own lives and souls to ensure the Darkside doesn't win in the end."

His candle in place, Nick turned to gaze at the silent Alex.  There were tears in her eyes, but she wouldn't allow them to slide down her cheeks.  She reached forward, lit her own candle, then stared deeply into the flames.  When she first spoke, her voice was soft, barely heard over the pounding surf.  "On this longest night of the year, I wish to remember my sister Tanya, whom I haven't seen in two years, and I pray she is safe from harm.  I also wish to celebrate the memory of my ancestors, Mama Marie, La Belle, who gave the women in my family not only our gift of the Sight, but also a strength of personal character that helps us get through life."  She paused a moment, taking a deep breath.  "Death is too constant a companion to those in the fight against the Darkside, as we all well know.  And this past year, it has come to me twice, dealing devastating blows."  Again, she paused until the lump in her throat moved minutely.  "I lost two people who were very special to me, vital to my very existence.  When Gramma Rose died, I thought my world had collapsed around me.  Gramma Rose was my lifeline to my past, my strength.  I never thought I'd feel as low as I did when she died at the hands of Daniel Euware....but I was wrong."

When she was unable to speak, Nick stretched out a hand to touch her shoulder.  "You okay?"  he asked softly, concerned.

Alex nodded, head bowed for a moment, then gazed into the flames again, eyes glistening with tears.  "Not long ago, I lost something to the Darkside that was very important to me.  I lost my home of the past several years, I lost nearly all tangible reminders of my family and history....and most importantly, I lost the only man I ever loved."

Recognition now registered on Rachel's face, and she understood why Alex had withdrawn as much as she had.  As Nick realized what had happened, he was reminded of the ever-constant bottle of Jack Daniels his father had around, and felt a sudden longing for a bottle, just to help drown the pain Alex was so obviously in.

"Oh, Alex," Rachel murmured.

"No one ever knew how I truly felt about him, not even Derek," Alex continued, the tears running unchecked down her cheeks.  "I've loved him ever since I first came to know him, but I never thought he returned my feelings.  The day he died, he did his best to let me know how he felt for me, but I didn't understand.  I didn't realize that he knew he was going to die to seal the portal, that he was saying his goodbyes to me, that he was letting me know his feelings.  One sweet kiss, rushed, in the heat of the moment, that was all I ever shared with him of my feelings.  I wish I'd been able to tell him, but it's too late for that.  I knew then, and I know now, that I will never love another man like I've loved Derek Rayne.  I only wish I'd been strong enough to tell him how much he meant to me before it was too late."

A harsh sob escaped her lips then, and she nearly dropped her candle.  Kat moved to take the candle and place it in the sand, as Rachel moved to take the sobbing woman in her arms.  "Shh, it's all right, Alex," she crooned.  "Let it out, honey.  That's it."

"I miss him so much," Alex whimpered into her shoulder.

"I know you do, honey,"  Rachel murmured.  "We all do."  For long moments, they sat like that, Alex sobbing into Rachel's arms as Nick and Kat looked on, uncomfortable and worried.  Finally, the sobs subsided to whimpers and hiccups as exhaustion overtook Alex's body.  "We should get you home, Alex, back into bed."

"No, Rachel, please.  We have to finish the ritual....for Derek's sake."  Alex struggled to move away, but was far too exhausted to accomplish more than limply slumping against the older woman more heavily.

Rachel looked at her daughter.  "Katherine, was there anything else that needed to be completed for this ritual?  Can you do it by yourself?"

The girl nodded, chewing her lower lip, worried eyes watching her distraught friend.  "But Alex is supposed to do it.  I was just supposed to help her up to this point.  She told me she had to finish it herself."

Alex stretched out a hand to the young girl.  "Kat, I need you to do this for me.  You know what's required, you know how I want it done.  We talked about this, remember?"  When Kat nodded, she continued.  "I can't do it, Kat, I'm not as strong as I thought I'd be.  I need you to see this to the end for me."

Kat nodded, moving over to hug her friend tightly before moving toward the small case.  Carefully she brought back the white candle and the two bottles.  Carefully, she leaned over the candles, placing the white one flush against and to the east of the burning black pillar, before placing circles of salt and water around the pair similar to the ones she'd placed within the larger stone circle.  She reached for Alex's black taper, knowing it was needed to light the white candle.  With a glance at Alex for reassurance, she pulled the black taper from the sand, then moved to light the white candle.  Just before the wick lit, she felt Alex's hand cover her own, and smiled.  The two of them softly murmured the words required as the white wick caught flame and sputtered to life, "As the darkness wanes in power, so the light regains Her own.  The circle again begins anew, and all is right with the world."

Rachel watched silently, realizing the depths of friendship between Alex and her daughter.  It seemed obvious now that Kat had known far more of what was going on than she had, that Alex had depended on and utilized knowledge Kat had gained from Miranda, that they'd found a way to use that knowledge to begin the long, slow healing process Alex would need to rejoin the world of the living.  And it was more than obvious to Rachel Corrigan that it was high time she started treating her daughter like the adult she so obviously was becoming.  Leaning over, she tightly hugged her daughter.  "Thank you, Katherine, for being there for Alex when she needed you to be."

Kat returned the embrace, then glanced over at Alex, who now clung to Nick, his arms tightly wrapped around her.  She'd been privy to conversations with her friend that no one knew about.  Only she had known exactly what to do for Alex in this ritual, what items to obtain from her mother.  And only she had been trusted with the knowledge of Alex's loss and need to complete this ritual on this night.  After a few moments of watching the candles burn, she got up and began gathering the fist-sized, flat stones she'd piled up near the large northern boulder, then dug down into the wetter sand nearby.  Slowly, she began piling the stones around the white and black candles, putting wet sand in the larger chinks, solidifying the little barrier wall.

"Katherine?  Can I help at all?"

At her mother's soft question, Kat smiled and nodded.  "We need to let these two candles burn down completely, they should burn out shortly after dawn, but we must ensure their flames don't get extinguished before then.  This cairn I'm building will ensure they can burn out on their own, while still protecting the rest of the area from accidentally catching fire and burning."

"Just tell me what I need to do," Rachel replied, moving to her daughter's side.

The two of them worked in silent companionship for nearly forty-five minutes, creating a large, fortified cairn around the two candles.  As the time came, Kat had wet her fingers, dousing the flames of the four outer tapers, then replaced them within the cairn in their same positions, explaining to her mother their status as sentinels to the burning pair.  Finally finished, they moved back to where Nick and Alex sat.  Before she got comfortable, Kat moved to toss another handful of the white sage on the fire behind them.

The twin flames burned brightly, despite the wind trying to douse them.  After a long silence, Alex shifted slightly, stretching a hand toward Kat, who moved to curl next to her, Rachel right behind her.  The four of them watched the flames, each lost in thought about what they'd shared that night.

"You know," Rachel murmured softly after a time, "Derek would have really liked this.  I think this is how he would have preferred us to remember him in the first place."

Nick nodded.  "He always did like unconventional things like this.  Totally against the norm.  Just like how he ran the house."  He glanced down at the soft touch on the back of his hand, found Alex lightly stroking the Precept's ring on his finger.  "You know, Alex, I always thought he'd give you this ring, not me."  She nodded, the lump in her throat preventing her from speaking.  "When you're ready, I want your help in setting up a new house, okay?  It doesn't have to be right away.  Whenever you're ready is fine with me, and if London doesn't like it, they can kiss my ass.  They're gonna learn that they can't push Nick Boyle around any easier than they pushed Derek Rayne around."

Alex shook her head.  "I don't know if I can do it, Nick.  I don't know if I'm strong enough."

Kat reached up to touch the woman's damp cheek, an oddly familiar look in her eyes.  "Alex, Derek once told me that we all have our destinies in this life, our place in the grand scheme of things.  Maybe yours is helping Nick create a new Legacy, one that Derek would be proud of, like he was proud of all of us."

"Kat's right," Rachel replied, a hand reaching up to lightly caress Alex's hair.  "It doesn't matter how quickly we get the new house set up, or if we ever do.  What matters is that we keep Derek's memory alive by continuing the battle he fought so vehemently in, by not letting the Darkside win."

Again, they fell into a companionable silence, lulled by the pounding surf and the flickering flames.

At long last, Alex's voice broke the silence.  "Look," she murmured, pointing over the flames at the horizon, "the first light of dawn.  The longest night is over, the reign of darkness is over again."  Then she whispered to herself, too low for the others to hear, "I did it, Derek, I survived this night.  I completed the ritual, like you would have wanted."

They watched the sun rise, the dawn of a new chapter in their lives as a team....a family.  Nothing was ever easy, but knowing other people were there to help when it was needed made it all worth the struggle.