"Pádrig, in my office, please."
Paddy sighed when he heard Samuel's request in his mind. "Now what?" he muttered, saving the game he was playing before shutting down the computer.
Hal looked up from the book he was reading. "You've been summoned?"
"Yep," Paddy replied as he strode out of the community room into the long white hallway leading to Samuel's office. When he got there, he knocked and Samuel called out 'Enter'.
Folding his wings tightly against his body, Paddy did. Samuel had recently made it mandatory that there were to be no outspread wings in his office. "I'm tired of picking up papers when one or another of you youngsters gets upset with an assignment and waves them too hard," had been his excuse. One Paddy could understand. Even though he was hardly a youngster—he'd been around for longer than he liked to think about—he, too, had a habit of doing that from time to time.
"Sit, please," Samuel said when he saw Paddy.
"You're being awfully free with the 'pleases'," Paddy replied, sitting. "What did I do wrong this time and when are you going to blow up at me? Or, to the contrary, what assignment do you have for me that you know I'm not going to like."
Samuel chuckled. "As far as I know, and I would, you've done nothing to earn you a lecture."
"So it's a bum assignment." Paddy sighed. "Lay it on me."
"There's a young man, his given name is Michael O'Donnell but he calls himself Mike Desmond now. Someone is looking for him but it's not who he thinks it is."
"You want me to keep them from finding him."
"That would have been the best option. However, since the man hired to locate him already has, although at the moment he doesn't know it, you need to protect Michael."
"Why didn't you send me down sooner? I could have stopped this man before he found this Michael."
"We"—Samuel glanced upward—"didn't realize why Michael needed a guardian until today."
"Let me guess. The fate of the world depends on keeping him safe."
Samuel chuckled. "Nothing quite that earth shattering. You know as well as I do our main purpose is to protect someone who needs it, whether from themselves or from others. Yes, there are occasions when doing so is of vital importance to what will happen in the future. Generally however we only need to keep our charges safe from whatever danger might befall them."
Paddy nodded. "So who's after this Michael?"
"He thinks it's his father, wanting reconciliation. It's not."
"That, Pádrig, is what you have to find out. And when you do, you have to stop them."
"That's a lot of help." Paddy shook his head disgustedly. "I presume you'd rather I don't reveal myself to Michael."
"If possible, of course you shouldn't. But you've been around long enough that I trust you to play it by ear."
Paddy rapped his knuckles on the desk. "You said he thinks it's his father. I'm presuming they're estranged?"
"Yes. Michael ran away from home when he was seventeen. He spent two years living on the streets before he ended up at the shelter where he's now working. During that time he's had no contact with his family."
"Crossroads House. You might have seen it when you were helping Evan and Victor, if you got around that part of the city."
Paddy broke into a wide grin at the mention of the two men's names. "Maybe I can pull Vic in on this and learn more about being a PI."
"Why did I think you might suggest that," Samuel said in exasperation. "Still, if you find you do need his help I suppose there's no harm in it. It might be better than revealing yourself to Michael."
Paddy waggled his hand. "Could be fifty-fifty. We'll see."
Samuel smiled slightly. "You won't see anything if you don't get down there."
With a salute, and a "Your wish is my command," Paddy homed in on Michael and vanished.