It had taken time, and a couple of lifetimes without a mind power, for Daniel to realise the mistakes he’d made over the centuries. His first life had been the worst, when he’d been drunk on power, surrounded by people exactly the same, and he had regrets from that life. More of them than he cared to admit, especially when it came to Kara. Often he thought about what it would be like starting again, but that was something that could never happen, so all he could do was live with the regrets and try to change the Brotherhood into something better. At least until the day he arrived.
Daniel had no idea what his name was, because he never said it. Instead he walked into Daniel’s study and said, “What changes would you make if you could live your life again, Daniel?”
Unsure of the boy in front of him Daniel had run a hand through his hair, attempting to stall for as long as possible. “I don’t know.” It wasn’t a lie because he didn’t know exactly what he would change, but he had some ideas. “If you’d lived my life what changes would you make?”
The boy smiled. A tooth had fallen out and it gave Daniel an idea of his age. “It depends on how far you’d go back. You started making mistakes when you realised what you were, but they weren’t necessarily bad mistakes. Isolation wouldn’t have been good for someone like you so searching for people like you was a good idea. The problem was your choice of companions. Personally, if I were you, I’d go back to the moment you met Kara, because that was a point in time that could have changed your life forever. You knew it even then, even though you thought she’d help you gain more power instead of teach you how to live with the ones you already had.”
Nodding, remembering that moment, Daniel looked at the boy. “How do you know so much about me?”
“I’m a past seeing telepath. You were the first person I went back to see, because I’ve always been interested in learning about the leader of the Brotherhood.” The boy looked at Daniel. “When would you return to, Daniel, because I can send you there.”
“How? I don’t know anyone with the ability to send someone back in time.”
“Not everyone believes that the Millennium children are dangerous, so we don’t all come to the Brotherhood, and Unity are happy to help us learn how to best use our powers.” Still smiling the boy lent against the wall. “I think the best use of my power is to send you back in time to start you life again, but it’s entirely up to you. There’s no way to send you back against your will.”
“I could stop this from happening?”
Shrugging, the boy’s smile faded. “It’s possible, but there are no guarantees with time travel. Going back could make things worse, make things better, or not change them at all.”
The thought of maybe being able to change things filled Daniel with a mix of happiness and fear. If he had a chance to live his life again there were decisions he wouldn’t make, but he could make things worse. As he looked around his study, knowing that outside was the world he’d turned into something he’d never thought possible, and tried to imagine exactly how it could be worse. Wearing a faint frown the boy watched him think things through. Unfortunately telepathy hadn’t been one of the gifts he’d woken up with so it was impossible to know what might be going through the boy’s mind.
“I don’t know,” Daniel said, sighing. “Will I remember the choices I made during my first lifetime?”
Shaking his head the boy replied, “I don’t know. I’ve never sent someone back in time before, so you might remember or you might not.”
“Going back without those memories is likely to mean that nothing will change.”
“If it doesn’t then we can try again.”
“Have you already sent me back in time? Is this already my second or third or eighth chance?”
“No, I haven’t. Explaining how time works isn’t easy and probably won’t help much, but basically if there was more than one timeline when I’d done this I would be able to see it. I know that for certain.”
Nodding, Daniel bit his lip. “Even if I don’t manage to change things I want to go back. I want to see Kara again.”
As soon as he said the words something happened. The world around him became blurry, as though he was seeing everything out of focus, and then Daniel found himself standing in the wooded area behind the house of a man he hadn’t seen in decades. Slowly he looked around, unable to believe that it had all happened so quickly, but he didn’t have time to get used to anything as a voice called, “I’ve got one.”
It was a relief that he did have the memories of his old life, of how he reacted before, because it gave Daniel a chance to begin making changes straight away. The cage was only a short distance away and he made his way over to it in the same way he had before. Kara, in her fox form, was standing in the cage staring straight at him, the same way she had been the last time he lived through her capture. Without thinking about how the others would react he freed her, knowing from experience that keeping her in a cage was only going to irritate her.
“Get Miles,” Daniel said, not taking his eyes off the fox girl as she stepped slowly out of the cage.
Seeing her again, as she was before all the pain he’d caused, made him even more certain he wanted to change things. Daniel’s only worry was that his memories of the person he had been might fade away, so he’d end up making the same mistakes a second time. Of course he knew it was possible he’d make different mistakes, but hopefully he wouldn’t end up being the one to change the world.
The fox stared at Daniel. He still didn’t know what Kara was thinking, but he hoped he was making a slightly better start than he had before. All he wanted to do was make things work between the two of them, the way it hadn’t before, because he’d been a very different person then. From somewhere he managed to summon smile for her, even though they were still waiting my Miles and all he could hear were the whispers of the people he had once called friends. It was when Miles wandered over, looking confused, that Daniel started wondering what might be happening in the future he left behind, if Miles would take his place as the leader of the Brotherhood.
“What’s happening?” Miles asked, forcing Daniel to focus on what was happening, and he hoped that Miles hadn’t picked up on what he’d been thinking about, because he wasn’t sure how to explain that he was from the future.
“I think we caught a shifter.”
“Why isn’t it in the cage?”
“It doesn’t look dangerous.” Daniel tried to hide how he felt about calling Kara an it, but it wasn’t easy. “If I was a shifter I wouldn’t appreciate being trapped in a cage, so I had it freed, and it hasn’t run away yet, so I think I made the right choice.”
“Maybe.” Miles bit his lip, looking at Kara and then at Daniel. “Okay, someone go and get the shifter a blanket. The rest of you…” Miles shook his head. “You’re free to do what you want for the rest of the night.”
As they all wandered away, a couple giving Daniel looks that told him he’d done something they thought was very out of character, and he knew it was for the man he had been back then. He just didn’t want to act like that man, fearing he might become him again. During his lifetimes he’d realised how many mistakes he’d made, that he wanted to make sure would never happen again, so he needed to be the man he’d become, rather than the man he was back then. Breathing deeply he knelt down in front of Kara, looking into her foxy eyes. Like he had so many times before he wished he could know what she was thinking.
“Daniel…” When Daniel glanced up Miles was biting his lip again, looking as though he didn’t know how to put whatever he wanted to say into words. “You aren’t the same person you were when I want to check the other cages.”
“I know.” Daniel shrugged, turning back to Kara, who was studying them both. “Before you left I was living my first life and now…” He sighed. “This is, technically, my fourth life. When someone gave me a chance to come back, so I could make different choices, I took it, because I made so many mistakes when I did this all the first time.”
“Who’s the fox?”
“Her name’s Kara and she’s here to tell me about what happened to Miriam.”
The silence that followed wasn’t unexpected. Daniel wished Kara was in human form, so she could say something, but she just stared at him with her inscrutable fox eyes. Sighing, he looked over at the house, hoping that the blanket would turn up soon, because he needed to talk to her. It had been centuries since they’d last had a conversation and that had been just before she walked away from him for good. Doing his best to take his mind off his memories he looked up at Miles, who was studying him in such a way that Daniel knew Miles was studying his mind.
“What do you think happened to the other you?” Miles asked.
“I don’t know. Until a boy offered to send me back in time I didn’t even know that something like this was possible, but it wasn’t a chance I was going to give up.” Daniel ran a hand through his hair. “I made so many mistakes, Miles, and I can put some of them right if I live this life again.”
“Are you sure you should have left your time?”
Daniel bit his lip, looking back at Kara and then at Miles. “To be honest I cared more about getting back here than I did about the time I left behind. If I change the choices I made in this life it probably won’t even exist.”
Miles looked unconvinced. “I don’t think time works that way, Daniel.”
“So you think there’s another world where people are having to deal with my disappearance?”
“Yes, I do.” Miles sighed. “I can understand why you came back, but I think the time you left behind still exists and this would be a parallel universe.”
“Which would mean I’ve travelled from one universe to another as well as back in time.”
Shrugging, Miles looked over at Kara. “Kara isn’t sure what to think right now.”
“I had to do this, Kara,” Daniel said, as he turned his full attention to her. “You don’t know how badly I screwed up this life the first time I lived it and I want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
“Maybe some things are fated,” Miles replied.
Kara nodded, even though she couldn’t speak in her fox form, but Daniel didn’t need her to. “If you mean the prophecies…” He shook his head. “I studied them for years and I know that if it hadn’t been me who changed the Brotherhood it would have been someone else, but this time it won’t be me. This time I’ll be on the right side.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Where’s that blanket?”
“Be patient, Daniel.”
“I want to talk to Kara.”
“She’s not sure she wants to talk to you.”
“Kara…” Daniel tried to work out how to explain his choices to her, wanting her to understand him. “A long time ago I fell in love with you and I took my feelings for you too far. I met a necromancer, who I know I’m going to meet again, and I decided that the best way to your heart was to bring Conrad and Miriam back to life.”
The silence that followed wasn’t a surprise. Daniel couldn’t quite believe he’d done something so stupid, either, at least not when he started to realise that the choices he made during his first life were flawed. Sometimes they were dangerously flawed, but, if he kept his memories of all the lives he’d led, hopefully he’d be able to change things. He might not be able to stop what had happened, he was certain there would be someone else who’d want to create the Brotherhood, but he wouldn’t be the one to do it, to change the world, by telling everyone that the Millennium Children existed.
“I readily admit that I shouldn’t have done something like that, but at the time it seemed like my best option. Wanting you to love me, Kara, had made me into someone I don’t wish to be again, although I will tell you now that I didn’t fall out of love with you, ever. Even though you were the one who put an end to Mim’s life.” Daniel smiled at the fox. “You did the right thing. Miriam didn’t want to live as one of us and we both know she was going to end it herself when she’d rescued you all. I’m just sorry that she changed your life for you, without asking what it was you wanted, and took away your best friend.”
“What are you talking about?” Miles asked, sounding worried. That told Daniel that Kara wasn’t filling her time by talking to Miles the way she had the first time. “The girl you believe that fox will turn into killed your sister, the sister you’ve been looking for all your life, and you don’t hate her.”
“Miriam made some bad choices, Miles, because she found out that someone she trusted was going to use her and her friends in order to take over the world, much the way I ended up doing. She didn’t want to be used, she didn’t want her friends to be used, so she planned out how she was going to rescue them all in great detail. It started with her taking over Conrad’s mind. She didn’t have the strength to be able to kill everyone herself, but he did, and she knew that he wouldn’t be able to fight her off too quickly. Not like Kara, who was her second choice, at least until Conrad put an end to her plans by telling Kara what was going on.
“By that time she’d already freed everyone but Kara and herself anyway. When Kara went to Miriam my sister was crying on her bed, because she’d put Kara into such a difficult position, and if it hadn’t of been Miriam I think Kara would have just put an end to it all then. However Kara was Miriam’s friend, so they talked things through instead, and Kara came to understand why Miriam had made the choice she had, even though she didn’t agree with it. Kara did know Tristan better, so that’s probably why she wasn’t worried that Leonard’s grandson was going to be just like the man Miriam had made the decision to remove.”
Kara surprised Daniel then by turning into a human, even though there was nothing for her to wear, but he realised it was because he’d revealed how much he knew about the night it all happened. She studied him, shivering, as though she was trying to work out what her next step should be, and he could understand why. After having the person you thought you were going to have to tell you killed his sister tell you that he already knew, when there was no way that he could, unless he was actually telling the truth, must have been disconcerting, so he pushed away the urge to wrap his arms around her. No matter what had happened before he was still in love with her and he wanted to protect her. He just knew she wasn’t going to appreciate that at all.
“You travelled back in time?” Daniel nodded. “How far in the future were you?”
“Just over six hundred years. By then I’d lived numerous lifetimes, thanks to necromancy. So had you, Conrad, and Lucas, because you set up the Unity, to oppose the Brotherhood.”
“I can’t believe you brought Conrad back from the dead.”
“Honestly I thought it was the best idea at the time. Looking back I realise that it wasn’t, but I can do it again if you want me to, Kara. I know how much he meant to you and how much he will come to mean to you again in the future.”
“This is not a conversation I’m ready to have, Daniel.” She brushed a hand through her hair. “I was expecting to come here and tell you about Mim. I…” Daniel told himself again not to push things, no matter how much he wanted to make it all easier for her, because what he wanted to do was going to make things harder. “You already know me.”
“Some days I think I do, but then you do something the surprises me.” He smiled at her. “I know I can’t start from the beginning the same way you will be, not after everything that I’ve learnt about you and myself – all I can is promise you that I won’t assume anything. There is no way I can know if you’re the same Kara.”
Finally Kara nodded. “I think it’s likely that I am, if he really did send you back in time, but I do appreciate that.”
“We should get you inside before you freeze, okay?” Kara nodded again. “Can I put my arm around you?”
Biting hard on her lip Kara studied him. “You said you loved me.”
“Always have done and always will, but that doesn’t mean I expect you to feel the same way. I spent a long time getting to know you, time that you haven’t had, time I have to give you without making things difficult for you.” Daniel sighed. “When I came back all I knew was that I wanted to change things. It never crossed my mind how difficult it was all going to be.”