Chapter 1

December 8, 2016

Outside of Kelly's Diner

"We couldn't help but overhear your conversation," Phineas told the kids, as he and Jeffrey approached the trio.

"Who are you?" Michael asked. He rose to his full height and pushed the twins behind him. "Why were you listening to us?"

"Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey Jones," Jeffrey said, pointing to himself. And in a surprisingly cocky mood he added, "We're from a different time and place. We help to correct the course of history. After hearing your story, we know why we were sent here."

"Bat's breath, Jeffrey!" Bogg scolded his young friend. Jeffrey's willingness to divulge their occupation came as a shock. Since being Jeffrey's guardian from the time Jeffrey was eleven, he had concluded that contrary to his previous opinion, the teenage years were much worse than the pre-teen ones. Jeffrey's recent slip of the tongue reaffirmed that belief.

"Sent here?" Kyle questioned, suspicion present in his gentle brown eyes.

"I don't know what's with the two of you," Michael added, "But why don't you just return from wherever you came."

"And forget you ever saw us or heard our conversation," Kyle said.

"That Cassadine guy," Jeffrey said, ignoring Bogg's irritation with him and focusing his attention on Alicia. "He died, and everything changed, right?"

Alicia nodded. "Yeah, I think so."

Phineas and Jeffrey exchanged glances.

"What do you think?" Jeffrey asked Bogg.

"You know what I think. Red light blinking means we have work to do," Bogg grumbled as his anger with the teenager began to diminish at hearing the sadness in the young, beauty's voice. She was much too pretty to be so sad, Bogg decided, and despite Jeffrey's slip-up, they had a job to do. But as soon as this assignment was over, he and Jeffrey would have a nice long talk about what constituted as too much information when talking with the locals.

"December 8, 1997?" Jeffrey asked.

"You got it, my friend."

"Why are you discussing the date Nikolas was killed?" Alicia asked.

"History was changed for the worse on that date," Jeffrey answered. "We have the means to fix it, and we plan to."

"You're joking," Alicia said, taking a step closer to Michael.

"No, we're not," Bogg answered, hurt by the fear he saw in her hazel eyes. Looking at her closely, he thought she was very pretty, too. Maybe she was too young for him now, but in a few years... With a smile and in a gentle voice, he added, "We can go back in time and stop the death. It's our assignment. It's why we're here."

"Come on, Bogg," Jeffrey said, growing impatient. Bogg was putting on the charm while they had work to do and it was irritating to watch. "We're losing precious time."

"You're right," he said, tearing his gaze from the young woman. He removed the OMNI from his belt and began to prepare them for their journey.

"Wait," Kyle spoke up. "Not that I believe a word you're saying, but okay, this is 2016, and scientists do know more about this sort of thing. I've read a few articles, and well, if there is such a thing as time travel and you two are capable of pulling it off, I'd like to travel back in time, too."

"Kyle, are you crazy?" Michael whispered to him. "You don't know what these guys are up to."

"I have to agree with Michael," Alicia said. "Kyle, why would you want to go back to 1997?"

"I'd do anything to find out if Nikolas could have survived and we could have lived normal lives. As much as you all fear these two dudes with their funny-looking clothes, is there anything worse than this freakin' cold weather we've had all our lives?" Kyle questioned. "Man, if these guys can change the course of history, Nikolas would be alive, and Stefan would have no reason to freeze the world. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm ready to travel back in time!"

"Do you honestly think they can save Nikolas' life?" Michael asked. He frowned. "If going back to 1997 means my father lives, I want to do it, too."

Phineas and Jeffrey started to protest. They did not need the kids to time travel with them. But the idea and the mystery of it grew on the trio of teen-agers. The three cousins drew the same conclusion: seeing if Nikolas and Jason's lives could be saved in 1997 was a heck of a lot better than standing around in the freezing cold of 2016.

"Please, let us go with you," Alicia implored.

"Come on, you two," Kyle said to Phineas and Jeffrey, waving his hands impatiently at them. "Do whatever it is you do to transport us to December 8, 1997. We want to see what Port Charles was like, and we definitely want to see you stop Nikolas Cassadine from checking out of this world."

Jeffrey looked at Bogg, waiting for his decision. It didn't matter to him if they had companions when they traveled, but he knew that under the Voyagers' code they were taking a big risk. Silently, Jeffrey thought it would be interesting and maybe even fun to have someone his age around for an assignment. Besides, all they had to do was prevent Nikolas' death. That shouldn't take too long and then they'd transport the kids back to their own time. What harm could come in an hour, which was more or less how long Jeffrey reasoned it would take for them to complete their task. With a broad grin, he looked at Bogg and nodded.

Bogg grimaced, but since the kid seemed enthralled with the idea, he acquiesced. But, there would be conditions.

"I need all of you to understand that this is highly irregular. We want to save Nikolas Cassadine and by extension, his family, friends and the world. But you need to understand something very clearly. That is why we are traveling back in time: to save Nikolas Cassadine's life.

"You have to agree, or you will not be allowed to make the journey, that you will not interact with the people you see in 1997. This is very serious business. We want to alter the course of events pertaining only to Nikolas' life. If any of you take on more than that, your moves and your actions could have a serious impact on what happens past that time. We need your assurance that you understand what I'm talking about and that this is not a game but a mission. A mission to save a very important man's life."

The now-eager teen-agers offered their promises and their assurances that they understood Phineas' words and that what they wanted to witness was the saving of Nikolas' life. With a misgiving he rarely felt, Phineas instructed them to join hands in preparation for a journey they would never forget.

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