Elizabeth was sitting in the library as Barnabas knocked on the door.
"Come in, please", Elizabeth said as she started to rise. Barnabas held out his hand to halt her.
"Don't get up on my account", said Barnabas. "And how are you this lovely morning, dear Cousin?"
"I'm doing as well as an old lady can be expected", laughed Elizabeth. "But on some mornings, it's not quite as easy to get around as it used to be."
"So I understand", said Barnabas. "But you seem to be doing well."
"I am. I am", said Elizabeth. "With the children and Lisa having joined myself and David here at Collinwood.. and now you're back.. it's definitely made me feel twenty years younger. I do miss Roger though."
"As do I", said Barnabas quietly. "We rarely agreed and our relationship wasn't always pleasant, but I had a great deal of respect for Roger."
"And he actually liked and respected you a great deal too", said Elizabeth. "He was way too stubborn to admit it... always so caught up in his role as the 'head of the family', that he was unable to relax and just be himself."
"Of course, with my own behavior and situations, I didn't help matters much", said Barnabas.
"Maybe... but that wasn't your fault. The curse you lived under, the life you were forced to maintain.. it would be maddening to anyone."
"Madness? That would be a way to describe it indeed. But it still amazes me just how accepting and open you and David and the rest of the family have been.. in learning about my curse, the long years I lived in darkness, the things I've done.. and no one is shocked or repulsed or frightened. Everyone just accepts my history... and now my return, the fact that if not for Julia's serum and David's ability to procur blood, I would be once again roaming the night as one of the living dead. It's just astounding."
"It may seem odd, but think about it. I'm not a stupid woman, Barnabas. When you first arrived, back in 1967, I had you checked out. I had sources in London check your stories and did numerous checks of birth records and death certificates. I knew that you were not exactly who you claimed to be, the great grandson of the original Barnabas Collins."
"You knew...? I never imagined"
"Please, let me continue", said Elizabeth. "But I also knew, from the painting in the great hall, my own knowledge of the family history, and just a gut instinct that you were Barnabas Collins and that you were a member of our family. So I welcomed you and accepted you and insisted Roger, Carolyn and the rest of the family do the same."
Elizabeth paused to take a sip of coffee before continuing.
"When things began to happen, the attacks on young women and the like, I had a strong suspicion that you were responsible. But despite all the evidence to the contrary, I knew that you were not evil or malicious. I suspected the vampirism curse early on due to your behavior, the unavailable during the days, the small quirks and mannerisms of a man lost in himself and time... But I knew somehow, that you had to be protected.. that the fate of our family somehow depended upon your survival."
"So you knew all along? Did Roger know?"
"He knew, but wouldn't admit to it. That stubborness and pride and refusal to accept anything that's out of the ordinary. But while Roger closed his mind, I kept mine open. I've lived here in Collinwood for my entire life. In my years, I've witnessed communication with the dead, heard numerous stories of ghosts and possessions, and if you remember, we even had rumors of a werewolf for a time."
"That reminds me", interupted Barnabas. "Has anyone spoken to or heard from Quentin?"
"The last I heard of Quentin was a few years ago. He is still under the curse of that painting..."
"And immortal as I recall", said Barnabas.
"Yes. Anyhow, he sent me a letter saying that he had decided to attempt to settle down under an assumed name. He had met a young lady and they were going to attempt to make a life for themselves."
"Hopefully, he's found happiness and has truly settled down", Barnabas said.
"I hope so. His life has been nearly as tragic and cursed as yours", Elizabeth said.
"My apologies", Barnabas said. "I didn't mean to interupt you earlier. It's just when you mentioned werewolves, I thought of Quentin."
"It's quite all right", said Elizabeth. "I miss him too."
"Please continue with what you were saying earlier", Barnabas asks.
"Oh yes. Where was I? I've witnessed so much here at Collinwood, that the idea of my 'cousin from England' actually being a vampire really didn't shock or phase me very much. And since David was playmates with your sister Sarah, who turned out to be a ghost, back when he was a child, and he has long been able to 'see spirits', so it really hasn't phased him much either. Even though we realize there are dangers in having you as part of the family, you are family. Many times in the past, you saved us time and time again from tragedies and situations beyond our understanding. You are a victim of something that is tragic and frightening, but you are the victim. And we know you bear no evil intent or malice towards us or the family, so we feel we must do everything we can to help you live with this curse, and perhaps, God willing, find a way to vanquish and overcome it once again, as you did in the past."
"I truly don't know what to say", Barnabas said quietly.
"And besides.. the kids love you", Elizabeth laughed.
Barnabas smiled at that remark and Elizabeth reached across the small distance between them and gave him a big hug.
"It's surprised me how easily they've accepted me as well", said Barnabas.
"Well, they only know that you're the 'Cousin from England' that we talk about so much. Lisa knows everything though. David told her."
"And she doesn't seem phased at all either", questioned Barnabas.
"Well, as she told David, she's a wrestler who lived on the road for fifteen years. It'll take more than things that go bump in the night to bother her."
"Things that go bump in the night?", asked Barnabas.
"Her exact words, as David told me", Elizabeth replied.
"Incredible", Barnabas smiled. "That young lady is incredible."
"And now, let's talk about Vickie", Elizabeth said.
"Vickie? I had nearly forgotten", said Barnabas. "You mentioned on the phone last night that you had some news."
"Well, I called Vickie a few days ago and she's very thrilled to learn that you are back. She was saddened when she realized that you were once again under the dark curse, but seemed very relieved when I told her that Julia had created a serum that allowed you to function in the daylight and that all of your other 'needs' were being taken care of as well."
"Is she doing well? Is she happy?", Barnabas asked.
"She's doing very well and seems to be happy. She stays so busy all of the time. Her job with the McMahon family, her family, keeps her constantly on the go."
"Elizabeth", asked Barnabas. "May I ask you something that I've wondered about for so many years? Would you mind?"
"No, Vickie is not my daughter, if that's what you're wondering."
"I don't mean to pry", Barnabas started to say, but Elizabeth cut him off by raising her hand.
"If anyone has the right to know the truth Barnabas, it most definitely is you. Vickie is a wonderful and incredible person and I so wish I could claim her as my daughter. In my mind and in my heart, she is family to me and I know that she is as much a Collins as any other member of our family. But it gets a little complicated, so please allow me to explain."
Barnabas nodded in agreement and Elizabeth continued.
"Back when I was a young girl, I briefly attended a private school in New York. One of the girls I met there was a young lady named Carol. I was only there for a brief time, but me and Carol became the best of friends. Once I returned home, we kept in touch by letters for many years. Then we lost touch after a time. And then, when I was pregnant with Carolyn, I received a letter from Carol. She too was pregnant, but life had not been kind to her. She had been involved with an older, married man, which of course, would have created a major scandal at that time. She never told me his name, but only that he was involved in sports as a promoter or agent of some type. And she went on to tell me that she had arranged for her child to be cared for at a Foundling Home in New York City."
"Amazing", said Barnabas quietly.
"I never heard from Carol again. She's the one I named Carolyn after, by the way. Carolyn was born soon after this and between her and other responsibilites, the thought of Carol and her daughter soon were pushed to the back of my mind. But then, while going through some old papers one day, I rediscovered the letter I had received from Carol. My curiousity got the better of me and I made some inquiries to the child that Carol had left at that home. The child, a girl, was doing well, but her mother had essentially vanished from the world. I tried to fnd her numerous times, using all the resources I had, and had no luck in ever finding her again. But I arranged for the child, Victoria, to be sent a stipend every month and I also arranged for her education as she got older."
"So you were her mysterious benefactor all along?", said Barnabas.
"Yes. I tried time and time again over the years to find Carol, to track down who her father might be, so many things... only to run constantly into one dead end after another. If we hadn't met Lisa, we probably would never have known who her father was."
"It was a fortunate twist of fate to be sure", Barnabas agreed. "But did you ever tell Victoria what you knew and what you had done?"
"I started to many times", Elizabeth said. "But for some reason I can't explain, I couldn't. She seemed to have a belief that I may have been her mother and I liked that idea, that feeling. I didn't want to lose that."
"Well, for many years, in so many ways, you essentially were", Barnabas agreed.
"I did tell her everything a few years ago though. And though she was upset with me for a few days, she was also so warm and loving."
"She definitely is that", Barnabas agreed.
"Oh, I was going to tell you and nearly forgot. We've been so busy talking. Victoria will be here on Saturday. She wants to see you so badly, but unfortunately, she won't be able to get away from her job until then."
"Saturday? That's will be wonderful!", said Barnabas. "I can't wait to see her again!"
"Knock knock", a voice rang out from the doorway.
Barnabas and Elizabeth turned and there was Lisa, back from her jog.
"I hate to interupt, but you guys have been in here talking for hours and, Liz, you told me to make sure you didn't forget that conference call with your attorneys".
"Oh my, is it that late", Elizabeth asked? "I'm so sorry, Barnabas. I have to go take care of some meetings and other business nonsense."
"I understand, dear Cousin. Please don't let me keep you", said Barnabas.
"Please, come to dinner tonight, And bring Willie as well", Elizabeth said.
"I will. We will", said Barnabas.
"We still have so much to catch up on", said Elizabeth.
"Indeed we do", says Barnabas. "And again, thank you. Until tonight then?"
"Until tonight", says Elizabeth as she gets up and walks from the room.
"So Barnabas", says Lisa. "I'm fixing to drive into Collins Port to run a few errands and pick up the kids. Would you like a ride back to the old house while I'm heading out?"
"No, thank you Lisa", Barnabas says. "It's a beautiful day out and it's been so long since I've enjoyed the sunlight. I'll just walk."
"Suit yourself, Cuz! I'll see you tonight then.", said Lisa.
And she turned and walked out of the room. Barnabas smiled as he watched the young lady walk towards the stairs to go get her keys.
Barnabas quietly moved out of the library and across the great hall to the door. He paused a second before opening the door and stepping out into the sunlight. It was so warm and inviting as a gentle breeze filled the Maine air. Barnabas could smell the scent of the ocean as he stepped out into the yard and quickly began his stroll back to the old house.
"Though the night air has magic and a beauty that can not be rivaled, the joys of walking again in the sunlight is almost a rapture in itself", Barnabas thought to himself.
After a quick stroll over to Widows Peak to gaze out over the ocean and watch the waves crash against the rocks below, Barnabas headed off down the narrow trail towards the old house. He suddenly stopped as a wave of dizziness quickly overcame his body.
"That's odd", he though. "I haven't felt ill like that in over two hundred years. I wonder what..."
Sharp pain echoed through the body of Barnabas Collins. He looked down and could see smoke rising from his bare hands. He felt the heat on his face.
"The sun! I have to get out of the..."
Everything went black as Barnabas collapsed on the trail.
Briefly, he was able to make out a figure in the distance. A female with reddish hair.
"Julia", Barnabas creaked as he faded into darkness and oblivion.