The Sneeze That Changed The World.
Derek Rayne, leader of the San Francisco Legacy house, put down his glass of champagne and got out of the way so that the group at his reception could look at the new artifact, a tapestry done in the Middle Ages. While most people thought it had a religious message, the central female character looking down from the sky at a group of people, his precognitive sight had seen something different. They had fought long and hard to get this tapestry from the last owner's children, and now it would be safe and could be studied. He smiled at the other members of his house, all of whom were huddled together in a corner. He walked over to them, patting Nick on the shoulder. "You should be mingling," he gently chided.
"Later," Nick told him, nodding at little Kat Corrigan, another precognitive. "She saw something."
Derek picked her up so he could be on the same level with her and they could talk quietly. "What did you see?"
"A box, a little flat, rectangular box. And a girl who was studying a book. And then there was a really bright light." She kissed Derek on the cheek and wiggled to get down, as most nine-year- olds would. Then she smoothed down her dress and grabbed Alex's hand. "We're going to go log it in and tell my mom." She grinned at Nick as they walked away, starting to babble at Alex, who was her second favorite person in the whole world. There was a tie for first, but she was right up there.
Derek looked back at the tapestry then at his security chief. "Nick, I want that secured tonight, we'll start doing a close-up review of the picture tomorrow." Nick nodded and went over to stand nearer to the tapestry, not wanting it to get away from them.
Derek pasted on his 'host' smile and went to mingle with all the important people from the city. His mind would work over the problem while he made nice with the other monied elite.
No secrets, no silence,
Never to hold,
All that was once hidden
Must now be told.
Told it is,
Told it will,
Never to hold,
Never to tell.
The verse ran through Derek's mind as he got ready for bed, a childish lyric his mother had taught him. He finished scrubbing his face and turned off his bathroom light, heading out to his bed, the damnable verse still running through his mind. He closed his eyes, but the lyric wouldn't get out of his head. He sighed and rolled over, turning on the radio part of his alarm clock, letting the classical music soothe him into a semi-restful sleep.
A few hundred miles away, a male flipped through an old book and saw a picture of a tapestry, stopping to read the entry under it. The Watchers had never much been for art, so it was unusual that something like this was included. He snorted as he read the prophecy attached. "Amateurs," he muttered, flipping on. He could ignore such a silly prophecy. How could so simple an 'incident' change the entire world?
Up in the Northwest, two men were arguing about the significance of art. The younger one shook his head and restated that art was the original form of storytelling. The older one argued that it was a method of propaganda, because not everything that was 'art' was saved.
"Point," the younger agreed, sipping his mug of microbrew. "But still, really *early* art was the original form of storytelling. It's how they got their mythology passed down through the ages."
Methos shrugged. "That might have been valid, but not since the continents split up." He smiled at his might-as-well-be stepson in-law. Then he shuddered and looked around the small supposedly English-style pub. "Did you feel that?" he asked quietly.
Blair Sandburg nodded, taking another sip as he tried to reach his mother, or his wife. Either should know something. Instead, it was his father-in-law who showed up and grabbed the beer mug from his hand, finishing it in one gulp. "Bad news?" he asked.
Strife shoved Methos over and sat next to him. "Have you ever heard of a prophecy about the world changing and no secrets being hidden?"
Blair shook his head. "Not exactly my area," he admitted.
Methos scowled at his lover, silently begging him to say it wasn't like that.
"It's like that," he whispered. "The Fates just passed out becausea this." He tried to grab his lover's beer, but Methos had a strong grip on his mug. "Share or don't get none for the next two days," he warned. Methos reluctantly gave up his beer.
"No secrets?" Blair asked. "Like you guys are out of the closet, or like *everyone's* out of the closet?"
Strife shrugged. "We know that the major stuff will be outta the closet, the paranormal and strange stuff. Personal secrets I don't know." He waved a waiter over, ordering another round, fully expecting his lover to pay for it.
"You forgot to pay us," Methos noted dryly. "You might want to find your own wallet."
"I've got it," Blair told them, pulling out some cash and tossing it on the table. "What can Rain and I do to help?"
"Pray it ain't so," Strife said calmly. "'Cause if it is, everyone's gonna know about all three of us here." Blair stilled and looked at him. "Yeah, you're all included in the 'strange shit' category." He grabbed his new beer and took a long drink. "You, me, your partners, what *really* happened in history.... all sorts'a shit is gonna hit the fan and rewrite the world."
Methos glanced around, then sighed. "Simon and Jim are finally here," he said quietly.
"We've got to warn them," Blair told him, trying to get hold of his wife again.
"She's kinda busy," Strife pointed out. "She's movin' an artifact into safer hands, somewhere in 'Frisco. An' your mom is out yellin' at the guys with the new youth system."
Jim snorted as he sat down next to his friend and Guide. "Arguing that it won't work or that they can't do that to her area?"
"Both," Strife told him, still looking serious.
"Oh, no," Simon said as he forced Jim and Blair to shift over on the bench. "What happened?"
"History's about to change," Strife said quietly. "Some little kid's gonna screw everything up for everyone and *everyone'll* be out of the closet, as Blair put it."
Jim looked at Blair. "Everyone?"
"From what was told to Strife, yes, we will be. Simon and Adam too." Methos glared at him. "What? You might not totally be out," he explained.
"Good point," Methos said dryly, starting on his beer, what was left of it after his lover and stolen half of it.
"This is gonna suck," Strife said, starting to pout. "No more hidden stuff."
Blair grinned at him. "But now you'll get credit for some of the stuff you've done."
"Which'll suck more when people found out I did it," Strife pointed out.
Methos patted him on the hand. "I'm sure there will still be *some* secrets. Almost no one would care that you were the reason for Ares changing his hair style."
"Shh!" Strife yelled. He looked around. "Don't say shit like that," he said quietly. "He might be listenin'."
Blair suddenly snorted. "Nope, but your mother was," he said with a grin. "She said she's gonna get you because she's the one who paid for that."
Strife groaned and stole Blair's beer, chugging it. "I'm in such shit," he muttered, hunching over a little.
In a small school in New York, a young girl was busy writing her version of history. She hated history and she was bound and determined to write it *her* way, so that it was interesting. She finished with the World Wars and sighed, tossing her pencil down.
"What are you doing now?" her roommate sighed, moving the cool cloth to another part of her face. "Do we have any more Tylenol?"
"The sisters left drugs for you," she said, holding up a small envelope. "There's cold medicine in here."
"Thanks." She got up and grabbed the package, and a bottle of water, then went back to bed. "I feel horrible," she complained, after taking the medicine.
"I'd feel horrible too," the girl said, starting on rewriting the Korean and Vietnam wars. "I don't like Nixon, he hid too much stuff."
Her roommate laughed weakly and put the washcloth back over her forehead and eyes. "If you say so. They all hide stuff. My daddy said it's part of being a politician."
"Yeah, he should know," the girl muttered, continuing her outline of history.
The girl in the next room sneezed. "Bless you!" they yelled in unison. Then they giggled.
"She's really sick," the roommate said quietly. "I wonder how Goth girl is dealing with her."
"Those two do not have a happy room," the girl agreed. "You'd think her daddy would say something, being the head of a research foundation and all, but Goth girl's dad seems to be pretty clueless. He doesn't even seem to realize that they put his dark little darling in with the most conservative bitch on the campus."
"Sorry, but she is!" She turned to look at her roommate. "Really, you can't argue with that. She's so very uptight, makes the definition shift to the right and everything. I *swear* that girl is gonna be one of those ultra-rightwing idiots."
Her roommate nodded. "Can't argue with that, but she'll have to lighten up sometime. Trust me, she'll end up one of those rich druggie brats." She twitched the blankets so they quit bunching up around her feet. "She'll end up like one of those rich kids you see ho'ing for money because her parents took her trust fund away. Goth girl'll end up being more normal than she is."
Goth girl screamed and the door next door slammed, then she stormed into their room. "I can't take her anymore," she hissed, turning to kick their door. She eventually stopped, pushing some of her 'vampire red' hair behind her ears, then turning to look at them. "I have *never* and I do mean *NEVER* been forced to live with such a whiny ass brat!" She kicked the door again. A bottle of water was handed to her and she flopped down on the empty bed. "She's sick," she said in a mock-whiny voice. "She's got a case of the sniffles and can't do anything. Not even get her own remote control when it falls under her bed." She looked at the girl on the bed, opening the water to take a sip. "How you feelin', girl?"
"Better," she moaned. "The medicine makes me woozy."
"Hey, it's a cheap high," the Goth girl said. She looked at Sheila, who was holding up her own version of the world, according to her. "Hey, cool. Wars were small, vampires ruled parts of Europe, and Nixon was a zombie. Suits me." She grinned. "What about Regan?"
"I figure he was already sick when he became president." Sheila shrugged. "I figure they knew he had Alzheimers before he was sworn in. There were too many people covering for him. They had to have known. The guy had a nap hard-wired into his schedule. They knew."
Goth girl nodded. "Sounds reasonable to me. Don't tell Sister Bertina, she worships Regan." She drank some more of her water, then sneezed. "Wow, it's spreading." She looked at her two friends. "Can I whine like the brat?"
Sheila shook her head. "No. If you do, we'll stake you and put you out of your misery."
The girl on the bed sneezed. "Ow," she complained, holding her head. "Can one of you find the brain parts I just sneezed out and some glue?"
"Sure, babe," Goth girl said, patting her on the foot. "How about we leave you alone?" That got a grateful nod so she and Sheila headed out.
Derek sat up with a scream, panting to try and catch his breath. He flinched when someone knocked on the door. "I'm fine," he called, sounding weak. "Just a vision." He grabbed his bathrobe and got out of bed, going to reassure Nick. "I'm fine," he repeated as he opened the door. Unfortunately, on the other side of the door was a dark haired, beautiful woman, who was wearing a pair of cutoffs and a sports bra. "Do I know you?" he asked.
"Yeah. I'm here to give ya something." She nodded at the stairs. "C'mon, then we can *both* go to bed. 'Kay?" She walked away and Derek found himself following her, not sure why he was doing this. She stopped beside a large trunk at the bottom of the stairs. "Okay, before you ask, my name's Rain, I'm the Celtic Protector." Derek nodded slowly. "I'm protecting this artifact by giving it to *you*. Not to the Legacy, to *you*." He frowned but he nodded again. "Not going to ask what it is?"
"I figure you'll tell me," he said quietly. He looked her over. "I always expected you to be more..."
"Solemn?" she asked with a grin. "Serious?" She looked down at herself. "Better dressed?" He chuckled. "Well, usually I am, but I just had to steal this from a piece of shit that was going to break the artifact up and melt it down. My other clothes are at my apartment because they're filthy." She patted the top of the large trunk. "Wanna take a look and accept it?"
"All right," he agreed, coming all the way down the stairs to get a good look. "Oh, my," he breathed once he saw the large cup inside. "What is that?"
"Well, on top, that's a large cup." She smiled at him and patted him on the back. "That's not really why I'm here. That can go to the Legacy, you're gettin' a two-fer-one thing here." She pulled out the cup and handed it to him, then pulled up the foam under it, showing off some tools. "These are Brighid's. It's her backup set. I talked to her when I found out they had been stolen from a private collection in Paris, and she said you could hold them until she needed them." She pulled a key out of her bra and handed it over. "All yours, if you can handle it."
"You mean if the price is right?" Nick asked from the landing above them. "And you are?"
"Rain, Protector of Celtic artifacts." She grinned at him. "You remind me of my husband's partner." He shook his head. "Not a bad thing, he's a nosy shit too. Not for you, Nick, go away." She waved her hand and moved him back to the top of the stairs. Then she stamped her foot. "Shoot. Hate when that happens." She looked at Derek again. "Anyway, you want or not?"
He nodded quickly. "Thank you. I'll protect them, even from my associates in the Legacy." He looked at the chalice he held. "Are you sure we can give this to them?"
"It's a feasting cup from our Goddess of Passion, Bebhionn. She just wanted it in *safe* hands, where no one will pour wine in it and restart the spells." Derek nodded, starting to look a little shocked. "Good. Yo, Seal Boy, come help him move this," she called. She blew a kiss at Derek. "Great to see ya, you've been doin' a good job with the stuff you've got." She raised a hand to snap her fingers and disappear.
"Wait," Derek asked. "Would ....would you look at something for me?" She shrugged and nodded, following him to the library, where the tapestry was hanging. "I had a vision with this."
"Ah, shit!" she sighed. "I thought that prophecy was a myth." She patted him on the back. "I'm really sorry, dude. Just remember, there's a way to get things back to the way they were. You've got to do the cheesy prophecy thing and fulfill so many commandments and fix so many problems before it can be set back to right." She thought something at her father, who confirmed her suspicions. "Yeah, well," she muttered, "not good." She looked at Derek, and Nick who had hesitantly walked into the library. "This is a portent, the vision was right. Things are gonna change, nothing's going to be secret anymore. Not even you." She grinned at Nick. "We're not sure how far down the secrets go on the personal level, but I guess you'll deal." She shrugged at his stunned look. "We're not happy 'bout it either, guys. Everyone thought we were myths too." Then she really did disappear.
Derek looked over his shoulder at Nick. "Take this into the Control Room, then come help me move the tools to my private storage vault." He headed back to the trunk, going to check on the tools and relock the trunk.
Nick shook his head, looking down at the inside of the chalice. He saw the picture of two women kissing and quickly pulled his eyes away, going to lock it in a security case.
Sheila and her friend waked back into her room, laughing and talking. They stopped at the massive sneeze, cringing when the girl's nose started to bleed. "Sister!" Goth girl yelled. "Nose bleed!" An older woman came running with a towel, pushing them out of the way. Sheila made herself comfortable on the floor across from her door, pulling her friend down beside her.
From next door, a delicate sneeze drifted through the door, then the sound of a blowing nose.
"Man, this sucks," Goth girl muttered. "I hate being surrounded by sick people."
Sheila patted her on the arm. "I know, but it does eventually end." She smiled up at the sister and her roommate as they walked out. "Can we Lysol now?" The sister glared at them and walked the poor sick one away.
Goth girl got up and walked into the room, stopping to pick up a tissue and sneeze into it. "Aw, hell," she muttered, blowing her nose.
Sheila patted her on the back. "It does end," she repeated as she picked up her history book.
Methos looked up from his typing, swearing in Swahili. Strife popped in and looked at him. "What? Did you feel that?" He stood up and paced over to the window, looking down at the street. As he watched, a ripple moved across the street, but nothing seemed to have changed. He turned to look at his lover, who was paler than usual. "It happened?" he asked quietly.
Strife nodded. "She sneezed." He closed his eyes, taking in the new reality, looking for markers that might tell him how their life had changed. He shook his head as he opened his eyes. "They know, everyone knows about us. What we are, how to kill ya, everything." He sat down, missing the desk chair. "Crap, there's a vampire workin' in the White House." He looked at his lover. "We are *so* screwed," he whispered.
"We'll deal with it," Methos assured him, coming over to give him a hug. "Is there a hunt for immortals?" Strife shook his head. "No?"
"No, you're a protected minority group." Strife grinned at him. "There's even equality for vampires and stuff."
"Your mother's going to love that," Methos said with an eye roll.
Strife hopped up and hugged him. "*I* love this! Man, this is great!"
"Hey, keep it down!" the upstairs neighbor yelled. "Just because you're a God doesn't mean you can keep my ass up all night!"
"Sorry," Strife yelled back, grinning at his lover. "I'm gonna get respect," he said happily.
Methos patted him on the shoulder, starting to go back to his work. He really had to get the syllabi done. Strife grinned and grabbed his lover, tossing him down onto the floor and crawling on top of him, making his pants disappear so he could suck the hard cock. "I've got to work," Methos groaned. "The students need those." His groan got louder and his back arched. "Never mind," he whimpered as his body was breached by a thumb. "Lube," he ordered.
Strife pulled off and grinned. "You think you're gonna last long enough for a second round?" He yanked on the hard cock a few times, crawling up the fit body to shove his cock down his lover's throat. "I don't think so," he said with a smirk.
Rain appeared in her apartment, smiling at her husband. He looked at her outfit, then up at her, and she shrugged. "What? I got really dirty stealing Brighid's tools back. Rayne understood." She plopped herself down in his lap, kissing him and stealing any other concerns from his mind. She pulled back as she felt a ripple move across the world. "Oh, man. I thought we had more time before this happened."
He pulled her head back down, kissing her. "We can deal with it tomorrow," he told her. He shifted, lifting her up and carrying her into their bedroom, tossing her onto the bed. She laughed as she bounced. "Did you hear my mother earlier? She wanted to know when I'm going to knock you up."
"When all my work's done, dear," she told him with a grin. "I can't crawl through windows when I'm six feet wide, Blair."
He shrugged. "I told her I wasn't ready yet. She reminded me of how old I was." He grinned. "I reminded her that she was *ancient* when she had me."
She laughed. "I'm sure that went well. What did she say?"
Blair pulled his shirt off, tossing it toward the hamper. "She said she's the Goddess of Youth, it didn't matter how old she was." He climbed into the bed, trailing kisses up from her shoulder until he took her mouth again. "She told me I wasn't immortal."
Rain grinned. "Really? Maybe she should look closer. I could've sworn Hera gifted you with immortality and the duty to keep me out of trouble."
"You, in trouble?" he teased, snapping her bra strap. "Get rid of it, dear, or I'm gonna rip it off you." She moaned and got rid of her clothes, and his. Then she pounced. They both liked it when she dominated in bed.
Blair moaned and wiggled. "Okay, if that's the way you want it," he sighed. He could lie there and take it.
To Be Continued...