Should old acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot

And auld lang syne?

Jonathan fidgeted in the restaurant booth, rubbing his hands together and straightening his tie every few minutes. He kept glancing at the rose he had brought, wondering if it was too much for a first date. He was starting to regret calling her and asking for the date. It had seemed like a good idea a few days ago when he had felt as though he was on top of the world.

"Jonathan," Lorrie Peterson said as she walked up to the booth.

"Hi," Jonathan said, jumping to his feet and holding out the rose. "This is for you."

"Thank you," Lorrie said, flushing as she brought the rose up to her nose. "It's beautiful." She slid down into the booth and Jonathan sat back down. "I have to admit, I was a bit surprised to get your call. You didn't seem that… interested the last time we spoke."

"Things were pretty hectic back then," Jonathan said. "My mind was on other things."

"I understand," Lorrie said. "It'll be nice for things to settle down so I can settle in."

"So, have you been here before?" Jonathan asked.

"No. I'm still getting my bearings around this city. So, I'm placing my faith in you on this one."

"It'll be well worth it," Jonathan promised.

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne,

We'll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

"Can I open them yet?" Keith asked.

"Not yet," O'Conner said as he pulled the car off to the side of the road and put it in park. He looked out the window to make sure Keith had a good view. For now, the boy's eyes were covered with his hands, but that wouldn't last for long. The view wasn't perfect, since it was dark and there weren't any lights on in or around the house, but it would have to do.

"Can I open them now?"

"No." O'Conner leaned across his son to the glove box, where he pulled out a packet of papers.

"Can I open them now?"

O'Conner turned the lights inside the car on and leaned back to watch his son's expression. "Yeah, fine. Open them."

Keith's hands dropped from his eyes and he looked around. "Where are we?" O'Conner smiled. This was Keith's Christmas Eve present. In the past, O'Conner and Jess had done crazy things for their gift, like getting fake snow in their backyard so he could see what a White Christmas was like or taking him to a restaurant or play where they were the only occupants. This was a far cry from that life, but O'Conner hoped it would be just as special.

"You see that house?" he asked, pointing to the dark one.

"You bought a house?" Keith asked, looking back at his dad. O'Conner unfolded the deed for Keith to see. "You bought a house!" Keith yelled, giving his dad a hug. "We have a house!"

"We have a house," O'Conner agreed, pulling a key out of his pocket. "Want to see her?"

"Yes!" Keith said, taking the key and bouncing out of the car.

And surely you'll buy your pint cup!

And surely I'll buy mine!

We'll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

It was the day after Christmas, and Markus and Kalani would be leaving for Johannesburg the next morning. Cat had flown back from New York that morning so she could join the Spring family in seeing the two men off. The dinner was held at Merrick's aunt's house. Liz, as she insisted on being called, was cooking. Kalani was experimenting with mixing drinks, with Mark occasionally giving advice that was quickly discarded. Cat and Merrick were sitting on the couch, enjoying each other's company. It was definitely good to be back in Atlanta and away from New York.

"Here," Mark said, bringing them over a glass. "Try this."

"What's in it?" Merrick asked, warily, taking the glass.

Mark glanced over his shoulder. "I have no idea."

Merrick took a cautious sip and his eyes widened in surprise. "This is good," he said, offering it to Cat. She took a sip and nodded.

"The lab rats approve," she told Mark.

"You're making your brother and his girlfriend test my drinks for you?" Kalani wailed.

"I've tried too many of your drinks not to be cautious," Markus said, and Kalani laughed. Mark sat down on the coffee table in front of them and smiled. "So, I'm not sure how much groveling my little brother had to do to make you take him back, but I'm glad you did."

"I'm glad he took me back too," Cat said, smiling at Merrick. He squeezed her hand and she had to fight hard not to kiss him.

"Wow, you two just di—uh," Mark broke off as Cat drew in a sharp breath and Merrick coughed, his face flushed. "Yeah. Kalani. How about some more drinks over here?"

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne,

We'll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

The team had given him a key to the hideout when they gave him the keys to the apartment. Gregory had been surprised. Since he had only just turned in his request to be reactivated as an ELH hero, this couldn't be league sanctioned. But then, Brooke had held a key long before the ELH had officially sanctioned her as their press agent and an official member of their team. It didn't matter, not really. Gregory didn't need the key to get down to the hideout, but it was nice to have it all the same.

He used it now, stepping into the elevator of their apartment and using the key to take him to the level below the basement. The hideout hadn't changed in the last two and a half years. Lee's supercomputer was the first sight that greeted him. Normally Lee spent his free time there, tinkering, but right now he and Shana were packing for their upcoming trip to Greece to visit Lee's family. To his right was the locker room, where the team kept their uniforms. Gregory wondered if he and Säde each still had their locker. Probably, since they still had their apartment.

To his left was the medical area, where the team's assigned doctor, Allison Mulcahy, worked tirelessly to patch them up after almost every outing. Gregory wasn't interested in the medical equipment so much as he was the far wall. He stopped next to it, running his hand over the carvings in the wall. Every hero who had served as a protector of Manchester since the league's creation had etched their name into that wall. It ended with the current Manchester team—Remnant, Beacon, Metatrans, Watt, Stoneia, Squid and Brooke Kelsey. Hero names, so the heroes could protect their privacy after their retired. Only ELH workers, such as Dr. Al and Brooke used their real names.

Next to the names was the years that they had worked as heroes in Manchester. Each current member of the Manchester team had 2007 written next to their name, except Brooke who hadn't officially joined their team until 2010. Gregory ran his hand along 'Remnant', the name and number he had carved into the wall. Had any of his teammates ever considered carving '2013' next to his name, or had they always been certain that they would one day find him alive.

He ran his hand down the wall to the name underneath his. If he had been in their shoes, he would have been certain too. Now he was in their shoes and he knew that, given time, they would one day be a team again.

We two have run about the slopes

And picked the daisies fine;

But we've wandered many a weary foot,

Since auld lang syne.

T tossed his keys on the counter as he stepped into his apartment. It was weird, to be home at night instead of out on the street. Cat didn't want to pick up patrol again until after New Years, when Gregory came back. T didn't blame her. It wasn't as though anything big had happened since they took down the White Serpent. Just a few petty crimes that the cops could handle. It was nothing like the backlash that had occurred the first time they took down the White Serpent. The city was stronger now, able to stand on its two feet without White Serpent holding it by the strings. They had people like Deena Whitney and Thomas Sumrall to thank for that.

T looked down at his phone. The message light was blinking. He pulled the phone from the receiver and dialed his voice mail. After the computer voice announced that he had one new message, Deena Whitney's voice came on the line.

"Hi, T, this is Deena Whitney. I was just calling to let you know that I'm going to be holding a party in a few days for all the people who stood up to the White Serpent, sort of as a thank you for what you did. Since you were a union leader for the Glitech Workers and you nearly gave your life for that cause, you should really be there. I'd appreciate it if you could RSVP, the party is the evening before New Years at 7 in the City Center. I hope to hear from you soon."

T grinned as he erased the message and then dialed Deena's office. He knew it was too late for her to be there, but leaving a message worked just fine for him.

"Hey, Deena, this is T. Count me in for your party. See ya in a couple of days. Bye."

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne,

We'll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

As a Christmas gift from Cat, Midge had received a large bonus on her check along with the promise that if she had any projects she was itching to work on, Cat would buy her the materials, no questions asked. Midge had been surprised, and a little intimidated by the gift. Cat already kept her well stocked in materials and toys and gave her money to make sure everything was kept in working condition. That meant, now that they weren't scrambling to save the city from crime lords or serial killers or assassins, Midge had free time on her hands. She didn't have to spend every waking hour trying to repair equipment that was fifteen years past its life expectancy. She could take on another big project. She hadn't taken on a big project since she had built her car.

She spent a few days after Christmas trying to come up with things the lab or the team needed. The only thing she could come up with was a costume for Keith, and they wouldn't need something like that for several more months. Midge also didn't want to make a costume until Keith had selected a name. Another option was to rebuild a device that cut off Gregory's powers. Perhaps something smaller, something portable. Something he could use to protect himself in the summer. But that wouldn't take long to build, and once again Midge had a couple months before it was really needed.

After that, she started going through her computer, looking at designs and ideas she had had while working for Ray. When she barely had time to jot those ideas down, promising to come back to them when she had time, which she never did. Now she had time, and lots of money. This needed to be something big.

She spent two days looking through her files before she found it. Her eyes widened with excitement and she started to mutter to herself. The design was old, and she could do much better with the resources she had but it was perfect. Midge left her computer to take inventory of what she had and to make a list of what she needed. On her computer screen waited the plans for a motorcycle. The kind of vehicle a hero would drive.

And there's a hand my trusty friend!

And give us a hand o'thine!

And we'll take a right good-will draught,

For auld lang syne.

"Good morning, everyone," Jonathan said as he ran down the steps into the lab. It was the day after New Year's Day, and the team had just spent their first night back on patrol since arresting the White Serpent. O'Conner and Keith came behind him. O'Conner was carrying the coffee, since Jonathan had to carry down a package that had arrived this morning.

"What's that?" Cat asked, nodding to the box.

"I'm not sure," Jonathan said. "It's for Gregory." The shadow walker looked startled at this revelation, so apparently he hadn't been expecting anything.

"Late Christmas gift?" Keith asked.

"Something to do with your ELH license?" Midge asked.

"It's a little early for any official decision," Gregory said, taking the box in hand and looking it over.

"Come on, man, just open it," T said. O'Conner passed Gregory a knife and the shadow walker cut the box open.

"What is it?" Keith asked, peeking inside. Gregory pulled a black fedora had out of the box. A note came out with the hat and fell to the ground. Cat picked it up and handed it to Gregory. He unfolded it the note and read it.

"It's from Lawrence," Gregory said.

"Your contact in the ELH?" Cat asked. Gregory nodded.

"What's it say?" Keith asked. "Why's he sending you a hat?"

"It says…" Gregory paused to swallow. "It says, 'You've earned this back.'"

Cat nodded. "He's right. You have."

"Aw, man. Does this mean we don't get to call you Nameless anymore?" T asked.

Gregory smiled as he placed the fedora hat on his head. "Yes. It means you don't get to call me Nameless anymore."

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne,

We'll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.


And so it ends. Thanks to Violinrunner and Spideymint for reviews, Aphrodite's Dragon, SamoaPhoenix and Orczy's Fan for being the sideline cheering squad during the writing process and for all of the silent readers just for reading. I hoped you all are enjoying the Cat's-Eye Private Investigators series so far.

I sort of view these first three books as Gregory's rise back to being a hero. So, now that that arch within the series has mostly concluded, we can now focus on the Speaker's dastardly plan (because you know he has a dastardly plan). So, with that in mind, I will be starting the fourth Cat's-Eye book within the next few hours as the clock strikes midnight and NaNo starts. Hopefully I'll begin posting it a lot earlier than I started posting this one.

Now, for the moment you've all been waiting for, the title of the next book. Drumroll please. ::drumroll:: The next book is entitled Cat's-Eye PI: Beacon