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When The Bough Breaks - by Monica T Jordan
Copyright, May 1996.

Timeline:  This story takes place after "Something Wicked."

Disclaimer:  Highlander The Series is a property of Rysher Entertainment.  Characters are used without permission, except for characters created by the author.

Acknowledgments:  I'd like to thank Vi Moreau and Laura Schomberg for being my beta readers for this story.   

Author's Note:  This story contains references to previous stories I wrote.  "Remembrance" available on HLFIC-L and "Out of Love and Vengeance" available by request.

 

Seacouver, 1996.

The knock at the door caused Richie to bolt from the couch, his hand on the hilt of his sword.   "Who is it?" he called from where he stood.  His heart beat pounding hard against his ears.

"Open up Richie.  It's Joe Dawson."

The door flew open before Dawson could say another word and he stepped back awkwardly when he saw the rapier in Richie's hand.  Richie still wore the clothing from earlier at the Dojo and Joe eyed them closely, staring at the slash marks and dried blood.  In his haste at the Dojo,  Joe hadn't noticed them.  Both items slashed with the sword of a friend, Joe thought.  He looked at the young immortal's face and saw hurt and betrayal in his eyes.

Richie stood at the door and bored into Joe's eyes, his knuckles white from how tight he held the rapier.  He did not move for Joe to enter.  "What happened Dawson?"

A simple question that didn't have a simple answer, thought Dawson, leaning on his cane with one hand.  He took a deep breath and ran his free hand through his hair, his face grave from the events of the day.  What could he tell him?  "If I hadn't witnessed it myself I would never had believed it could happen,"  Dawson whispered.

Richie remained planted at the door and Joe had to push by Richie to get into the apartment.   Joe felt tired which was evident by his walk as he placed an amazing amount of weight on his cane.  He still didn't want to believe what he'd witnessed.  What he'd heard.  He still couldn't believe what he'd almost done to MacLeod.  Richie closed the door and followed Dawson.  He laid the rapier on the center table and turned his attention to Joe.

Joe turned toward Richie, a desperate look to his eyes.  "I almost took his head!"  he blurted out.

"YOU WHAT!!!"  Richie's face turned pale.  His mouth, suddenly dry, hung open.  His eyes, stinging with unshed tears, wide.

"You heard me," Dawson said hoarsely.  

Richie watched Dawson as the words sank in.  He sent me away to take Mac's head?!, Richie thought.  Without warning Richie grabbed Joe by the front of his coat and pulled Joe close to him.   

"Shooting Mac was one thing, Dawson," Richie hissed. "But taking his head is quite another.  Who the hell do you think you are?"  Richie fumed.   Dawson went still.  "Who died and made you God, Dawson!"

Dawson was struck dumb staring into angry eyes.  Eyes he'd stared into many a times in the past.  But tonight Dawson saw something else.  A glint in Richie's eyes he'd never seen before.   It dawned on Dawson that Richie was a killer.  All immortals were killers.  It didn't matter if they were Good or Evil.  And for the first time Dawson felt afraid of Richie.   

The longer Dawson didn't answer, the tighter Richie's grip became.  Richie's eyes blazed with a white fury that threatened to erupt like a hot volcano.

"Well?"  Richie demanded and pulled Dawson closer.  Their faces were now  inches apart.   Their noses almost touching.  Dawson could feel Richie's hot breath on his face.  He could also smell the sweat and the blood on the young immortal.   

Dawson shook his head.  He didn't trust his own voice at the moment.

"I *knew* I shouldn't have listened to you!  I should've stayed with Mac!"  Richie still kept a strong grip on Dawson, who was precariously unbalanced.

"He tried to kill you Rich," Dawson said, his voice harsher than he'd intended and hoped the fright he felt was unfounded.

Richie eyed Dawson coldly and his lips formed into a sneer.  "Where's Mac now?"  Richie asked, his voice taking on a deathly lilt.  "Where *is* he?"

Dawson swallowed hard as he stared into the eyes of a stranger.  "I don't know, Ryan."

"You don't know?  You *don't* know?!"  Richie's pent up anger was unleashing itself on Dawson.

"Look, Richie," Dawson pleaded.  "I let him go.  What else could I do?  I couldn't stop him.  Not unless I..." Dawson stopped when Richie's face turned a deeper shade of red, which Dawson knew wasn't from embarrassment.

Richie stared at Dawson like he'd never seen the man before tonight.  Who is this man?  Someone who just saved your life, Richie heard a voice say, but dismissed it.  I can't trust anyone anymore, Richie thought.  He let go of Joe so suddenly, Joe lost his balance and fell hard on the floor of the small apartment.

Richie turned away from Dawson and headed for the back of the apartment.  "Leave," was all he said.   

Dawson retrieved his cane, got to his feet and gazed forlornly in the direction the young immortal had disappeared.  Joe heard the shower start and a sadness gripped his heart with the bitter realization he'd lost two good friends tonight.

*****

Richie felt ill by the confrontation he just had with Dawson.  He closed his eyes and remembered Dawson's scared eyes.  Richie hung his head under the hot scalding water of the shower, his skin painfully raw from the immense heat.  The pain only served as a temporary distraction from other aches.  Richie exhaled the breath he'd been holding and thought of finding Joe and apologizing, but he couldn't do that.  He was on his own now and would have to take care of himself, by himself.

He stepped out of the shower and walked over to the mirror over the sink and stood there.   Richie wiped away the steam on the mirror and stared at his reflection.  He saw what other people would see.  A nineteen year old boy.  But when Richie stared into his soul, through his eyes, he saw something else.  He saw the cost of immortality.  He felt old and tired.  He shivered slightly and pressed his forehead against the mirror and looked into his soul and wondered who he was? Why was he here?  His life almost came to an end tonight and he hadn't done a fourth of the things he'd planned for himself.

~~~ That's a good a reason as any. ~~~

Richie jerked away from the mirror.  Hot tears stung his eyes and his face.  It hurt him to no end that Mac had tried to kill him.  Actually take his head!  Richie's eyes fell to where the first strike of Mac's sword tore his skin -- his right shoulder -- and traced the length of where the scar would've been.  Funny. Though there was no wound, Richie could still feel it.  It felt like a raw opened festering wound.

Richie stumbled to his bedroom and fell into bed on his stomach.  The ache in his throat from holding back his emotions was tearing him up.   His body began to tremble from the cold he felt in his heart when some memories of the past four years of his life drifted into his mind.

~~~ Breaking into Mac's antique shop ~~~ Mac helping him to find his Dad ~~~ Mac handing him a ticket for Paris ~~~ Tessa soothing his pain of rejection from a married lady in Paris ~~~ Mac's words of advice when he'd found Tessa's killer ~~~ Mac's forgiving eyes after he had openly dismissed his advice about Kristin ~~~ Mac walking into the Dojo after fighting Coltec and trying to kill him ~~~   

Richie hugged his pillow tightly and cried into it.  It was too much.  He'd lost so much in the past two years and now this.  He'd lost Mac too.  As the memories continued to overwhelm him, Richie cried himself to sleep.

*****

~~~ What are you doing, Mac? ~~~     ~~~ You're a smart little boy.  Why don't you figure it out? ~~~ ~~~ Whatever happened Mac, we can work it out. ~~~     ~~~ Sorry.  Wrong number. ~~~ ~~~ Just tell me why?  The teacher kills the pupil?  Is that what this is all about?  Is it because there can be only one?  Is that it?! ~~~     ~~~ That's a good a reason as any. ~~~

 Richie awoke frightened from his nightmare when he heard the gun shots.  Four gun shots.   Four shots that had killed his best friend and mentor.  Four shots that had saved his life.  He reached for his sword and concentrated his senses and felt for any immortals.  Mac was somewhere out there out of control.  And he would not be caught unprepared again.   

But he was home.  In his bedroom.   In his bed.  It was just a nightmare.  No it wasn't, thought Richie.  He wiped the sweat off his face with his hands and glanced at the clock.  It was 11:15 AM.  He'd slept through the night and the early morning.  His neck was sore from the position he'd slept in, so he rolled his head trying to work the kinks out.

He sat on the edge of the bed and placed his palms on his knees.  His      head bent slightly, Richie took several deep breaths.  He straightened up and ran both hands through his wet hair and froze his hands in mid air when he saw they were shaking.  He tried holding them real still, but no use.  They continued to shake.  He tucked them under his legs and peered through the window at the world.  He tried to force himself not to think of what happened yesterday, but even though he wished to push them away, it was no use.  It was at the forefront of his thoughts.  He would never forget last night.  Never.    

Richie's eyes fell to were the slash mark would have been on his thigh and rubbed at it roughly.   He could still feel the white heat of Mac's katana as it seared through his flesh, even though the wound had healed hours ago.

Oh Mac.

Richie closed his eyes and tried to push the thoughts out of his head, but Dawson's words came at him.

~~~   This is not MacLeod.  Not the one we knew.  This man is not your friend.  ~~~

Richie had heard the words, but he didn't want to accept them.  He couldn't accept them.  It just couldn't be possible that the man he'd come to trust and love was now evil.   But Mac *had* tried to kill him.    Mac *would've* killed him had it not been for Dawson's interference.  Richie clasped his ears with both hands, trying to still the jumbled voices and thoughts in his head.    

~~~ That's a good a reason as any. ~~~

His head snapped up when he heard those words again.  Words that would haunt him for the rest of his immortal life.  Richie stood and came to a decision.  He would leave Seacouver for a while.  A long while.  It was the best thing for him to do now.  He didn't know where he wanted to go, but he had to get out of Seacouver.  He had to put as much distance between him and the pain that tore at his heart.   

 Richie packed a backpack with a few personal belongings and was now standing at the door, taking one last look at his small cluttered apartment.  He didn't own much furniture and the place looked like a poor college student lived there.  Though he'd tried taking some courses at the community college, he couldn't see the logic in attending school when the chances of him finishing were so small.  And if Mac had really killed him last night, he definitely wouldn't have finished.

 End Part 1. 
Comments can be sent to (MJordan104@aol.com).  Thanks.

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