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Heritage

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After breakfast, Darius watched as Wilhelm slowly got up, picked up one of his blankets, wrapped it around
himself and headed into the sanctuary.

Since arriving at St. Julien, Wilhelm had spent much of his time asleep. When he was awake, however
he would quietly go into the sanctuary and head for one of the aisle chairs. Then he would sit, sometimes
for hours, lost in thought or simply gazing around.

He seemed especially drawn to light and would gaze silently at the beams of sunlight coming in through
the windows, fascinated even by the dust motes swimming in the shining air. He would also stare intently
whenever candles were lit and Darius sensed that it gave him comfort.

For hours the young Austrian would watch and listen. Listen to the echo of Darius's footsteps as he moved
about his church, listen to the priest's quiet breathing whenever they sat together, listen to the outside sounds
of cars, people and especially birds. Darius had noticed that Wilhelm would go very still and intent whenever
he heard birdsong.

Early on Darius had sensed that Wilhelm didn't like to talk during his time in the sanctuary, that he wanted
to be alone with his thoughts. So after the Austrian was seated, Darius quietly went about his priestly duties,
but kept constant watch.

An hour later, though, he noticed that Wilhelm was trembling again. Darius had very quickly come to recognize
that as a sign of distress. Wilhelm had only cried once; the day he had arrived at St. Julien. But Darius knew
that the youth was suffering terribly; he saw it every time he looked at him. He was bursting with pain
and grief, and every so often it came out, not in tears but in violent trembling.

"Wilhelm," Darius said as he came over to his charge. The Austrian didn't answer and Darius saw that he was
moving his arms back and forth beneath his blanket.

"Wilhelm what are you doing?"

The youth still didn't answer and suddenly Darius noticed that parts of the blanket were sticky with blood.
Abruptly he pulled the blanket apart...and stared aghast at the deep gouges on Wilhelm's arms that ran all
the way from his elbows to his wrists. Wilhelm's own flesh was dangling in strips from under his fingernails.
Fingernails that were still dragging deeply over and over across his skin.

"Wilhelm!" Darius grabbed the youth's hands and held them tightly, feeling the warm, sticky blood on his own
hands now. "Wilhelm stop!" he shouted. "You must not hurt yourself like this!"

The young man stopped his movements and turned pained eyes on him. "It will heal," he whispered.

"You must not do this!" Darius said firmly. "This is one instance in which I am going to command you, Wilhelm!"
His eyes locked on the youth's and his voice took on an iron hard firmness. "You are not to hurt yourself like
this anymore! Do you understand me?"

The young Austrian bowed his head in submission. "Yes, Father Darius," he whispered.

Darius helped him to his feet and led him into the bathroom. Once there, he drew warm water and gently
cleaned the youth's arms, which were already completely healed. Wilhelm stood and let him clean him
without a word.

Once he was done, Darius led him into the kitchen table and sat him down at the table. "Wilhelm," Darius sat
opposite and locked his gaze with the troubled youth's. "Wilhelm, why are you hurting yourself?"

Wilhelm was silent for several moments. "It will heal, this is nothing. I've seen worse… The others..."
He started to tremble again and his voice began to crack "What they did to the others!..."

His shuddering increased. "And they did it to them! They did it!; My countrymen! My friends! Even my own family!"
His wail echoed throughout the rectory.

"Wilhelm! Listen to me!" Darius reached out and clutched the youth's hands in an iron grip. "That...was not...
your fault! Your family and your countrymen all made their own choices. And you made yours! We are each
responsible to God for our choices… not anyone else's!"

Wilhelm was silent. He simply looked down at the table and continued to tremble. "Choices have consequences,
Father Darius," he whispered. "Every choice that we make has consequences and every action that we take
or don't take affects everyone else."

All too true, Darius thought. One of Grayson's favorite quotes is that for every action there is an equal
and adverse reaction. In that regard at least he was right. And you, Wilhelm, you had to learn that so young,
and in such a horrible manner. You and far too many others
….

Wilhelm continued to tremble and Darius held his hands tightly. At length, the shaking ceased.
"You must rest," Darius whispered.

Wilhelm looked at him. "Please…don't order me to take your bed, Father Darius."

"You will have your own soon," Darius said firmly. "I have made the arrangements; we are leaving the day
after tomorrow."

"We?"

"Yes. I have arranged for an extended leave of absence from St. Julien. I have not had one in several years,
and you should not be alone now. You were there for Daniel and Eva, now you need someone there for you.
Duncan knew that when he brought you to me."

"Herr MacLeod," Wilhelm whispered. "He is a good man. He helped us. He helped nurse Daniel and Eva back
to health. He helped us get to Amsterdam. He protected us."

"Yes," Darius smiled as he thought of his longtime student and friend. "He is a good man. Ordinarily a young
person like yourself could have had no better friend or teacher. But these past few years have been anything
but ordinary and after what you went through..."

Wilhelm winced and lowered his eyes. Darius gently squeezed his hands. "After what you went through,
you needed something different. As good and kind as he is, Duncan knew that he wasn't what you needed.
So he brought you here to me."

"I will never be able to repay him for all that he did for us. I didn't even thank him properly before he left."

Duncan MacLeod had left Paris the day after he had brought Wilhelm to St Julien. He had mentioned that
he was thinking about going to England.

"I'm sure he knows how grateful you are, Wilhelm," Darius said.

"No. He doesn't. He didn't go through what we all did. He could never know...," Wilhelm's
words trailed off.

Darius silently scolded himself. It was foolish to presume that Duncan or myself can possibly know all that
was in this young Immortal's heart. Oh, we can imagine, but we can't know. Duncan has lived for over
three centuries and I for almost two millennia. We have both seen our share of death and destruction,
but neither of us went through what this young Austrian has.

"He knows that you are grateful, Wilhelm." Darius corrected. "And for him thanks are not necessary."

Wilhelm was silent for a moment. "Where are we going?" he asked finally.

"St. Joseph's. It's a small friary outside of Paris. I've gone there before on retreats. Now come. You must rest."
Darius escorted Wilhelm back to his pallet, lay him down and covered him.

Once Darius saw that the young Austrian was asleep, he went over to his desk. Tears streaming down his face
he knelt, praying desperately for guidance.