"Really?" There was surprise in Joe's voice.
Richie had been wanting
to talk to Joe. To
apologize, but he'd felt too ashamed to make the first move.
Now he wished he had. Joe was a good friend and he needed
those right now.
"Yes, Joe." Richie took a deep breath. "I'm sorry."
"I know, Rich." Joe tried his best for his voice not
to break, but he wasn't successful. A private smile appeared on both their faces.
"What's up, Joe,"
Richie asked, his voice back to his normal cheery tone.
"I have good news
and bad news." Joe
waited for Richie to respond, but when nothing was forthcoming
he went on and said what he had to in one breath. "Adam Pierson
has found Duncan and he's trying to help him. He's in France. He boarded a freighter
headed for Le Havre."
Silence. The tension was felt over the phone
"Is he... Is he all right, Dawson?" Richie's
"No. Pierson found him stumbling out of
someone's house. They'd
shot him several times. That's all I know right now. If he... *When* he gets back to normal, I'll call you."
"Thanks, Dawson." Richie heard the phone click and the
dial tone rang in his ear.
He stood paralyzed. His mind frozen on the fact that Duncan
had been found, but he wasn't okay yet.
Mary moved in his arm and he remembered he held her.
He immediately went to the nursery and laid her in her
crib. Richie walked out of house onto the porch.
Set the baby speaker close to him and sat in a corner of
the porch. His legs
drawn to his chest, his arms wrapped tightly against them. The emotions playing in Richie's heart was overwhelming. He felt scared and excited at the
same time. He was glad Mac had been found. So why did he feel so frightened?
The next morning, Richie
sat at the breakfast table in Anne's kitchen looking out into
the backyard. Duncan had mentioned to him he wanted
to build a play ground for Mary and would start on it next summer.
A lot had been said between them as Duncan rebuilt
"Earth to Richie. Come in Richie."
Anne was waving her
hands in front of his face and Richie jerked up and smiled bashfully,
his cheeks a little pink.
"Sorry, Anne. But..."
"...your mind was
elsewhere. I know, I know.
Must be something only reserved for immortals, huh?" Anne smile when Richie chuckled at
her joke. "So what happens now.
"That's all we
"How about if we
do our waiting somewhere else?"
"Joe will need
to get a hold of us immediately if news about Duncan arrives!"
"That's why I never
leave home without my cell phone, Richie. Joe has the number and we won't miss his call."
Anne walked over to Richie and squeezed his shoulder.
He smiled up at her and nodded.
"What did you have
"A place where
a screaming baby won't be a disturbance," Anne said.
"I was thinking the Fair at Dumbar Street?"
Richie's smile broadened. He hadn't been on a Ferris Wheel in
ages. "Sounds like fun. Where do I sign up!"
Anne said excitedly into the phone.
"I'll let him know. Thanks."
Anne rushed toward the backdoor, the phone still in her
She ran out the kitchen door into the backyard. Richie was in the garage, working
on his bike. He had grease stains on his hands
and he wiped them on his jeans. He rushed to the house, hearing Anne's voice calling for him
urgently. He was
scared something terrible had happened.
Richie turned the corner
and collided with Anne.
Both had been moving rapidly and fell hard on the ground.
The phone fell out of Anne's hands and landed in a pile
of mulch. She stared at it dumbly, the smile
never leaving her face.
Anne. Is Mary okay?" Richie asked concerned. He got to his feet and pulled Anne
up. Anne nodded her head. "There *is* something wrong!"
he said alarmed.
"No, Richie. Joe just called."
Richie's mind went blank. It had to be bad news. Duncan was dead.
Anne grabbed Richie's shoulders and shook him gently. "It's Duncan.
He's okay. He's okay."
Anne was laughing and
crying. Richie was in a daze. He couldn't believe it.
"Mac's back to
"Yes! Joe said he was okay. He'd spoken with him briefly and he
was doing fine."
Richie smiled brightly
and hugged Anne. He
could feel the tears roll down his cheek.
He felt relieved. It was over.
The nightmare had just ended. Everything would be
back to how it used to be. For the first time in weeks, Richie
felt an easiness sink into his heart.
All the tension he'd felt was gone.
And now he was filled with an anticipation, and expectancy
of seeing Mac again when he returned to Seacover. The first thing he would do is give
Mac a bear hug. He
missed him terribly. Soon his family would be back together.
Richie paced back and
forth at the Loft. Three
weeks had passed and he hadn't heard a word from Duncan.
He thought Mac would be back already, explained what happened
and that he never truly meant to hurt him. But he had heard nothing. Nothing!
At first he'd waited
by the phone, waiting expectantly. After three days, he stopped, but would check the line occasionally
to make sure it was still working. Richie would take Duncan's portable
phone with him to the Dojo as he practiced and trained.
But still no call.
After the second week he began to worry.
What if Duncan had met an immortal who was better and faster
than him? He had
to know what was wrong.
He could wait no longer. He picked up the phone and dialed
Richie sent up a silent
prayer that Joe had answered.
"Joe. It's Richie."
"Hey, Rich. How are you?"
"I've been better."
Dawson heard the strain
in Richie's voice and grew concerned.
"I was hoping you'd
Dawson's brow furrowed. "I'm sorry, Rich. You lost me there."
"It's about Mac. I thought you said he was okay. Back to his old self?"
"That's true, Richie,"
Dawson said, curious as to why Richie would ask.
"Do you know where
he is?" Richie held his breath. He wasn't too sure he wanted to hear
this, but needed to know.
"Yeah, Rich. He's in Russia with Amanda, touring
with a Circus."
The senses in Richie's
body left him and he collapsed to the floor.
"He's where?" he whispered, not sure he heard
a Circus and Duncan is touring with her as part of her act,"
Joe said, chuckling.
Richie's sanity snapped. "The circus!!!
Duncan is in a *Circus* with Amanda?!?!"
The fury that gripped Richie was like a tornado
ripping across the land, tearing everything in its path.
Richie leapt from the floor and without another word to
Joe yanked the phone off the wall and pulled the cord out of the
Richie smashed the phone
against the wall until it shattered apart, the shards cutting
into his palms. He didn't feel the pain. He whirled around and stared at the
loft. His eyes blazed with a blinding anger,
the likes he'd never felt before. He'd purposely stayed at the loft and kept it clean so that
when Mac returned he'd would find it the way he'd left it. He'd waited patiently for a phone call from Mac.
Waited for him to return and make it all better.
But no. Duncan was touring in a circus with
Amanda! He hadn't even the forethought to
place a call to him to apologize for what had happened.
What Richie felt now,
a deep rupture in his heart, was worse that what he'd felt when
Duncan had attacked him at the Dojo five weeks ago.
Possessed by the new anger inside him, Richie trashed the
loft, tears streaming down his face, his body shaking from the
rage within him. Richie
was on his hands and knees staring at the disaster before him. His eyes fixed on a broken portrait on the floor.
It was a picture of him and Mac taken by Joe at a fishing
trip earlier in the year. Richie was holding a large fish he'd
caught and both he and Mac had huge grins on their faces.
Richie reached for the photograph and ripped it apart.
He got to his feet, went out the door, mounted his bike
and took off.
Anne set Richie's plate
in the microwave and began to clean up the remainder of the dinner
dishes. When he hadn't shown up for dinner,
she began to worry about him.
He was never late for supper and he was already two hours
late. She didn't want to think of the possibilities his tardiness
implied so she busied herself with cleaning.
The whistling of the
doorbell in the quiet house made Anne jump and she dropped the
glasses she was putting in the dishwasher. It couldn't be Richie because he had
a key. Who could it be at this hour? she wondered.
Anne walked to the door
hurriedly and peeped out the spy hole.
Her knees weakened when she saw Joe.
She backed away from the door, took a deep breath and opened
Joe said, and entered.
"What brings you
out here Joe? Is something wrong with Duncan?" Anne held a dishtowel in her hands
and was wringing it over and over again, making it very tight.
"No. It's about Richie." Joe had his back to Anne. He missed the fright that set in her
eyes. Her legs gave out and she sat down
on the handle of the couch.
Joe turned to sit on
the couch and became alarmed by the stricken look on Anne's face.
"What's wrong, Anne?"
isn't he? That's why he didn't come home tonight. Is that why you're here?" Anne now wrapped and unwrapped the
dishtowel around her hand.
"No, Anne. I came to ask you where Richie was?"
Anne narrowed her gaze
on Joe. "You don't know *where* he is? Don't all immortals have watchers
assigned to them?"
Joe sighed. He'd never assigned a watcher to Richie. "No, Anne.
I kept Richie's watcher chronicle.
I went to his apartment looking for him but I got no answer,
so I came here."
been back to his apartment since the accident. He's either stayed at the Loft or here with me."
Anne stood and went to stand next to Joe.
"Is Richie okay?"
"I don't know. He called me to ask about Duncan and
when I told him that Duncan and Amanda were touring in a circus
of Part 4