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

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

 

Part 5

"Duncan is touring in a CIRCUS!" Anne screeched.  Joe stared at her wondering what was wrong.  Anne grew silent and her face paled.  Joe now was wondering what he was missing. "Why hasn't Duncan called Richie if he's okay, Joe?" Anne demanded bitterly.

Joe stared at Anne unbelievably.  "I've spoken with Mac and he said he called Richie."   

Anne was shaking her head.  "No, Joe.   He hasn't.  Richie would have told me if Duncan had called him.  He could talk of nothing else, except how nervous he was about receiving that phone call."

"I don't understand, Anne."

"Joe.  I'm telling you that Duncan hasn't called Richie since we heard he was okay.  Richie even went so far as to dial the barge on several occasions and listened to Mac's voice.  But he could never bring himself to say anything."

Joe was really confused now.  Mac told him he'd been trying to reach Richie.  "Mac left messages on Richie's answering machine."

Anne looked grave and she felt ill in her stomach.  What must Richie had thought when Joe told him Duncan was in a circus?  "Joe, I told you that Richie hasn't been back to his apartment."  Joe's mouth fell open.  "Oh, my, Joe.   Richie must think that Mac hadn't cared to reach him.  We have to find him."

*****

The motorcycle screeched loudly on the pavement when Richie forced it to go faster.  He was trying to outrun the grief eating him up but it was useless.  Driving fast always helped him to forget, but it wasn't working right now.  The terrible pain tearing at him from all sides.

~~~   Amanda joined a Circus and Duncan is touring with her as part of her act ~~~

Richie squeezed the accelerator on the bike causing the front wheel to raise up off the street and forcing it to go even faster.  Richie's vision was badly blurred by the tears he was unable to staunch and his chest threatened to explode.  His whole world revolved around Duncan MacLeod.  He was even willing to forgive him for almost killing him.  He could forgive Mac almost anything.  Almost.  His image of his mentor and hero was shattered forever.

Richie had long entered the state limits of Oregon.  He drove into a small town too fast to catch the name but he wasn't planning on stopping.  Not until he recognized the feeling that seized his body.  He screeched to a halt and searched around for the immortal.  Richie followed the sensation until it grew stronger.  He dismounted and reached for his rapier and checked around the area.  He spotted the immortal and searched out for any unwanted mortals but saw none.  Good!,  he thought.

Richie walked toward the back of a small store where the immortal stood.  The area lit dimly by a lone street light.  Richie narrowed his eyes sizing his opponent.  The immortal was shorter than him with pudgy features.  Richie couldn't tell what color his hair or eyes were, but that didn't matter.

"I'm Richard Ryan," he said, sword held high, his eyes fixed on the cowering immortal.

"I'm Nigel Watts," said the immortal, backing away.  "Look.  I don't want any trouble."

"Is that so?" Richie taunted.  "Well guess what?  *I* do."

Richie attacked the immortal, and to Richie's surprise the immortal was good.  But not good enough.  Richie quickly unarmed the immortal and raised his sword for the final stroke.

"Why are you doing this?" asked the immortal, desperation in his voice.  "I don't even know you!"

"It doesn't matter," Richie said flatly.

"Yes it *does* matter.  If it's because there can be only one of us left in the end, that's not a good reason!  The Gathering isn't upon us yet!"

Richie's jaws tightened when he thought about that for a second and found himself repeating words he'd become haunted by.

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

Richie's grip tightened on the rapier and swung.

*****

Joe and Anne arrived at the loft and found the place in a wreck.  Anne saw where the phone had been banged against the wall near the kitchen.  They sifted through the loft, both in shock at the level of destruction.  Joe wished he'd known that Richie hadn't heard from Duncan and wondered where the young immortal could be at this moment.  He chastised himself again for not assigning a watcher to Richie.

 Several days had passed and nothing had been heard from Richie.   Anne was worried sick that he may have been killed.  Joe didn't know anything and couldn't advice Anne against it.  Joe immediately placed a call to Duncan who was dealing with an old friend who'd recently killed his student, and informed him about Richie's disappearance.   

 Duncan asked Joe to keep him informed whenever any news on Richie turned up and ended the phone call.  As he held the receiver against his chest, a terrible guilt built in Duncan's heart.  He should've returned to Seacover immediately following his recovery from the dark quickening.  He should've returned and talked to Richie face to face.  Warren had asked him 'What kind of a monster killed their own student?' Duncan had had many nightmares where he saw himself beheading Richie and he didn't trust himself to be near the boy.  Not now.  Now he wished he had.  Richie was out there thinking he didn't care for him.  Or worse.  He could be dead.    

*****

"Hey Joe!"

Joe looked up and stopped in mid motion from wiping down the counter of the bar when he heard his name.  He also was surprised from who it came from.

"Michael Dobro.  What are you doing here?"

The young man, of medium height and dusty blond hair, wearing jeans and a white shirt, sauntered over to where Joe stood behind the bar.  He had a grim look on his face and Joe didn't have to guess further why the young watcher was here.

"When did it happened," Joe asked concerned.  Dobro had been in the field for only two years watching his first assignment.   It was never easy loosing the first one.

"Last night," said the young man.  He sat on a bar stool and took the beer Joe had set on the counter. Dobro watched his beer and sagged.  "He was on his way home.  He was closing up his shop and some punk came at him and killed him!"

Dawson refrained from saying anything.  He'd found it helped best to let  the watchers talk and get their frustration out.  They didn't need to listen to him lecture them about how it was part of the job.

"He had a wife Joe," whined the watcher.  "Can you imagine what she might be thinking right about now?  He'll never come home to her again!  He lived peacefully Joe.  He didn't cause any trouble!" he said strongly, then sighed heavily.

"Just someone who happened to be passing through?" asked Dawson.  

"I guess so.  Never seen him before.  I'd seen other immortals come and visit Watts, but none had ever challenged him.  This immortal just attacked him and killed him, Joe."

"What did he look like," Joe asked.  Perhaps he could contact that immortal's watcher and find out why.  There was no reason why, really.  The Gathering was near and many immortals were losing their heads.  He wondered about Richie and where he could be.

"Tall, young looking.  Not that that means anything.  Short hair.  He appeared cocky and walked with a damn swagger.  Rode a bike too."

The crash of the glass Joe held, caused Dobro to look up in alarm and concern.   

"What's wrong Joe?  You okay?"

Joe couldn't believe what he'd just heard.  Richie would never attack another immortal for no reason.  "Did you catch the type of sword he used?"

"Yeah.  Never forget it.   It was a Columbus Clam Shell Rapier," said the watcher with distaste.

Joe closed his eyes and prayed a silent prayer for Richie.  Now he knew where he was and it wasn't good news.  Now he would have to tell Anne and Duncan that Richie was possibly out headhunting.

"I guess that means I'll have to reassigned?" said the sullen watcher, drinking his beer.   

"Yeah," Joe answered.  "I guess you're right."

*****    

Anne was not a happy woman when Joe told her about Richie's possible whereabouts.  She was livid.  But she was also worried.  In Richie's current state he could get himself killed.  Joe had stopped over last night after he found out Richie had taken a head.  Anne's stomach did a cartwheel at the thought of remembering Duncan taking Daimlier's head.  She'd wanted Duncan to kill Daimlier because he had threatened her baby.  Anne also felt ill when she thought of how she had knocked out Lynn Horton a few months ago when Horton had threatened the life of her yet unborn baby girl.  She know how fear and pain could cause a person to want revenge or satisfaction for a wrong done to them and Richie was out there.  Angry.

The phone rang and Anne rushed for it.

"Richie!"  Anne called into the phone.  She was greeted by silence.  "Richie is that you?  Richie??"

"No, Anne."

Anne's body stiffened when she recognized the voice.  How simple it had been for him to call.  "Duncan!"  At first she began to relax, happy Duncan was on the phone.  His voice always had a calming influence on her, but then a thought of Richie passed through her mind and Anne felt a rage seize her.  "Duncan MacLeod.  You have no idea the hell Richie's been through!  I can't tell you how many nights I had to soothe her his fears away from the horrible nightmares he had," Anne hissed into the phone.

"Anne, I..."

"No, Duncan.  You will listen to what your carelessness has done to him," Anne said furiously, her hands trembling from how angry she felt.  "I don't pretend to understand immortality, Duncan.  Lord knows how tight lipped you are about it.  But you tried to kill him Duncan!  And after you conquered whatever demons you were facing, you should've come back.  Talked to him.  Reassured him.  Hell, *anything* but this!!!"

Anne was exhausted, both physically and mentally, from worrying about Richie.  Duncan remained quiet, Anne unable to see the tears rolling down his face.  He'd never heard her so angry at him before and it tore at his heart.

"What do you have to say for yourself, Duncan?"

More silence.

"Well?"  Anne said as if she were talking to a disobedient child.

"Anne..."  Duncan's voice broke, unable to speak.   

Anne felt the ache in his voice and suddenly she felt self-conscious when she heard the tiny sob that escaped his lips.  They may have been separated by an ocean but his hurt feelings carried through the lines at the speed of light.

End of Part 5
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