Lost and Found
By SwingGirl MacSlow
Father Liam Riley glanced at the crowd that had gathered at the church for the annual Christmas dinner that he provided for the poor and homeless in the area. Though he usually enjoyed doing what he could to help others, he was finding it hard to concentrate on what was going on around him. The previous night he had received a message from a friend who had wanted to get together and Liam was looking forward to it. Since most of the people had already eaten and there were plenty of volunteers to help out, Liam took the opportunity to distance himself from the crowd and collect his thoughts.
Standing off to one side, he was so preoccupied that he didnít notice anyone else approach. "Father Riley? Are you all right?"
"Oh, Yvonne, yes. Iím fine." He looked at her then, trying to reassure her. The teenager had been in trouble with the law, but with Liamís help, she had turned her life around. He had become close with her whole family and was pleased when she had asked to lend a hand with the dinner.
"Are you sure? Youíve seemed distracted all day."
"Iím fine, really. Itís just that a friend of mine is going to be here tonight. He called and wanted to see me. I havenít seen him in a while and Iím a little nervous about it. When he left, it wasnít under the best of circumstances."
"Youíll be fine. I know you very well. If it werenít for all youíve done for me, Iíd probably be dead or at least in jail. You always seem to know how to help people. If this guy is really a friend, Iím sure you two can work things out."
It was Yvonne noticed that Liam was now watching a man who was making his way across the room. "Thatís him."
She was about to say more, but the man had reached them by then. "Hello, Liam. How are you?"
"How am I? Nick, how are you? It's been three years. Where have you been all this time?"
"I'm good, Liam. Better than I have been in a long time. As to where I've been, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. And I wanted to introduce you to my daughter." Nick turned his attention to the girl as she tugged on the sleeve of his jacket. "What is it, Molly?"
"Daddy, Iím hungry. I thought we were going to get something to eat."
"We will, honey, in just a little bit."
"But Iím hungry now."
"We have plenty to eat here. I can take her to get something. It will give you two the chance to talk. She knelt down next to the little girl. "Would you like to go with me?"
Molly nodded and the two went off together. As soon as they had gone, Liam turned to Nick. "Daddy? NickÖ
"Uh, yeah. Is there somewhere we can talk in private?"
"Sure." The two men went outside, away from the crowd. They sat on the steps of the church, Nick trying to find the words to say what he was feeling and Liam waiting patiently to hear it. After a while, Nick sighed and began.
"After Amanda made me Immortal, I had no idea where to go or what to do. I wandered around from place to place. I didn't care if I was prepared to meet another Immortal or not. I wasn't even sure that I wanted to live." He sighed again. Nick saw the pained expression that those words had caused the other Immortal, knowing that he had hurt him. Quietly, he continued. "It's different now. I have every reason in the world to survive. After I left Paris, I went back to the States. I was there for a year when I met Shauna, Molly's mom. I'm still not sure why, but I really trusted her, despite everything that had happened to me. We were even going to get married. A month before the wedding, Shauna was killed by a drunk driver. One time when we were talking, I had promised her that I would take care of Molly if she couldn't. I knew what I had to do. I've decided to raise her as my own daughter."
"I know that you were upset with Amanda when you left and I donít blame you. You had every right to be. I canít even imagine going through what you did, first with becoming Immortal and then losing the woman you love like that. Itís just I wasnít sure what to think when you didnít contact me for three years. I won't lie to you, Nick. It hurt."
"I know. I shouldíve gotten in touch with you, but I just needed to get away from here. I still havenít forgiven Amanda for what she did. I donít know if I ever will, but there was more to it even than that. It wasn't you. It was me. I felt so lost and confused. I needed to get away and find out what I wanted to do with myself.Ē
The two men looked at each other and Nick was relieved when he saw the look of sympathy and compassion that filled the other man's expression. Just then, a song could be heard coming from within the church. The choir was there to sing for all of the people gathered and it brought a smile to his face as he heard the words. He sat with his eyes closed until the song was finished. "I once was lost, but now am found. I donít think I ever truly understood the meaning behind those words until right now."
"Iím just glad you finally found your way home," Liam said, returning his smile.
Me too, Liam, me too." Placing his arm around the older Immortal's shoulder, Nick led the way back into the church. It had been a long time since he had felt at home anywhere, but Nick knew that he was finally home to stay.