"Duncan, I'm sorry."
Anne offered, regret in her voice.
"I can't begin to imagine how you must feel.
It's just that..." Anne sighed and a sob escaped her
own lips. "He's *so* vulnerable right now."
"Anne. I'm so terribly sorry about all this. About the mix up. About not reaching Richie and not talking to him. I..." Duncan paused, taking in
a deep ragged breath. "I
was afraid to face him and I didn't put his feelings first.
I was selfish in not wanting to deal with what I had done
and now I wished I could take it all back..."
Duncan said, trailing off.
"I believe you,
Duncan." Anne paused and took a deep breath. Duncan felt a little at ease when
she accepted his brief explanation. "But he's out there. Somewhere. All
alone with his pain and fear like a wounded animal."
"I'll come back
"NO! Don't do that!" Anne screeched into the phone. Duncan was stung she didn't want him
to come back. "You are better off in Paris. I just pray Richie is okay and comes
back home to me and Mary.
If he were to see you right now Duncan..."
Anne didn't have to
finish. Duncan heard the fright in her voice
and reconsidered. They
said their good byes and Duncan was left with his thoughts.
He caught the fact Anne called her house, Richie's home.
He'd wondered a lot about Richie in the last couple of
months since his "recuperation" but he never thought
of where Richie had been living. He just assumed Richie would be at his apartment. He had wondered also who Richie would've
turned to in this time of crisis in his life.
Richie's only family was Duncan and he'd betrayed that
when he almost took Richie's head. Duncan heard Warren's words creep
across his mind. "What kind of a monster would
kill his own student?"
Duncan shut his eyes tight, but the tears still came.
Duncan sensed the presence
of an immortal and didn't reach for his katana. At
this very moment he would gladly give up his head to end the misery
and the incredible guilt that consumed him whenever he thought
of Richie. Lately
whenever he closed his eyes, Duncan would remember the look of
terror in Richie's once trusting blue eyes.
Duncan was seated on the couch and saw Methos enter through
Methos had long ceased
to wonder about the tears he would see on the young immortal's
face. Worry creased
through Methos's being, but he pretended not to notice.
"What am I? Your maid?" Methos said as he
tossed the mail at Duncan, who barely deflected them and they
sprayed across his face and chest. Duncan didn't protest or glare at
Methos as he would whenever he did something to irritate the Highlander.
Instead Methos was rewarded with the saddest look
he'd ever seen on the Highlander's face.
"It's about Richie,"
Methos said. He didn't
have to ask. Duncan had been beating himself up
about missing Richie. "MacLeod,
he's a big boy now and he probably needed a wake up call into
the Game." Duncan
stared coldly at Methos.
"We're *all* in the Game Duncan.
Whether you want him to be or not."
Duncan didn't want to
think of that aspect. Richie
meant everything to him. He was the son he would never have. He quickly rummaged through the mail to stop the haunting memories
and a warm smile crossed his face and Methos was more than curious
as to what it was.
"What is it?"
Methos asked eagerly.
Duncan glanced at Methos
and smiled again. "It's
a wedding invitation. Some old friends of mine, Robert and
Gina DeValicourt, are celebrating their 300th wedding anniversary."
Three weeks later, Duncan
sat outside Joe Dawson's hospital room.
Joe was in critical condition and no one besides the medical
staff were allowed into the room. Duncan had to content himself with looking through a glass
partition. As he
stared at his mortal friend, battling for his life, Duncan felt
Joe had put his life
on the line to live up to an oath he made to the watchers.
An oath Joe broke many times to save my butt, Duncan thought.
And now Duncan wished he could return the favors. Joe, along with other top watcher
officials, had been shot by an unknown immortal in their own headquarters.
The situation between Immortals and Watchers had
become volatile, but he couldn't worry about that.
He had to worry about
Joe. And Richie.
No one had heard from
Richie since he left Seacover.
Anne called him weekly, worried.
And while he and Joe had been held in the watchers headquarters,
Joe had mentioned some beheadings that took place in the Pacific
Northwest region. The
description of the victor always matched Richie's, but since Dawson
had never assigned a watcher for Richie he couldn't be certain.
But the description was too close for it not to be him.
And just before getting the phone call about Duncan's supposed
death, a close watcher friend of Joe's had confirmed it was Richie,
through some photographs he'd taken. Duncan sighed heavily when he thought
about the rest of the conversation he had with Joe, nothing he'd
learned was any good. Joe had told Duncan from the watcher
database reports he had read that some of the immortals Richie
had challenged and defeated were several hundred years older than
him and he'd defeated them without breaking a sweat. Joe had also read that he seemed detached from the fight, showing
no emotion. Like
he didn't care. Killing
them without a hint of remorse.
Duncan had taught Richie
to walk away from a fight if the opportunity ever presented it
self. Duncan himself would fight only when
left no other choice and he'd only head hunted when an immortal
had caused him tremendous pain. And now to find out that Richie was
out headhunting broke his heart.
Should he do anything about it?
Should he go out searching for Richie? And then what?, he thought but the
presence of an immortal stopped Duncan from falling further into
the dark cloud that consumed him.
Methos entered the waiting
area outside Joe's hospital room, a morose look on his face.
He stopped just behind Duncan and laid a hand on
the Highlanders shoulder. Duncan didn't move to acknowledge
him. Methos had become increasingly distressed
when Duncan wouldn't acknowledge an immortal presence.
MacLeod had become somewhat careless from all the worrying
he'd been doing lately. "Even immortals need their rest,
Duncan. Your being here twenty four hours
a day won't bring him back any sooner."
Duncan bowed his head
and said nothing. Joe
had barely made it through the surgery a few weeks ago and Duncan
blamed himself for his friend lying in a comma in a hospital bed
near death. He should've
stayed with Joe and forced him to leave with him.
"And blaming yourself
for this won't help you or Joe either," said Methos quietly.
Duncan smiled, even
though he didn't feel like smiling. Sometimes he hated the old immortal's ability to read through
him. Duncan turned
around and gently grabbed Methos by his shoulders and stared into
his brown eyes. "Thanks, my friend." Methos hadn't expected Duncan to concede
so quickly and he was left dumbfounded for brief seconds.
Duncan smiled a little more and grabbed Methos by
the elbow and began to walk.
Duncan and Methos walked
along the Seine, making their way to the barge. Methos
had quietly listened to Duncan torture himself about the evils
of his life and immortality. Methos was getting tired of it, but said nothing. Duncan
seemed to enjoy torturing himself emotionally.
"I don't know Methos. All the choices I've made in the past
few months have some how come back to haunt me.
Richie deserved better than my trying to call him on the
phone. I didn't
even try hard enough to find him because I didn't *want* to find
not the savior to the world you know."
"I know that Methos,"
Duncan said harshly. "But
I should take care of my mistakes. Everything I did while under the influence of the dark quickening
is my responsibility. Richie.
Dom... Dominique. Hell, I even tried to kill you on Holy Ground!"
"Yes you did MacLeod,"
Duncan stopped and glared
at Methos' flippancy and was about to unleash his fury when they
both became distracted by the presence of an approaching immortal.
Methos and Duncan were below the overpass close to the
barge. It was late
evening and the mist off the Seine was thick.
Duncan suddenly on guard,
took out his sword and ordered Methos to stand back.
Methos rolled his eyes but didn't argue with Duncan.
They both saw a figure in the mist and Duncan walked up
to meet the unknown immortal.
Duncan froze on the
spot when Richie walked clear of the mist and the lump in his
throat multiplied in size. Richie had his rapier out and held
it casually at his side. His face devoid of emotion. Methos stepped closer to Duncan and
took out his own sword.
Richie and Duncan came
face to face. No words being said between them.
They stared into each other's eyes, each remembering the last
time they saw one another. Richie glanced at Duncan's sword and
stared again into brown eyes.
Duncan shivered looking into Richie's eyes.
He'd never seen that look before.
Was it fear? Or anger? Or...
Duncan saw when Richie
raised his sword to attack him but Duncan couldn't bring himself
to defend himself. Methos's blade stopped Richie's rapier
and Duncan glowered at Methos and pushed him aside.
"You *know* you
*can't* interfere Methos!"
Duncan warned Methos, and turned back to Richie not giving
the old immortal a chance to answer. "If you want my head, Richie. It's yours," Duncan said, his
voice gentle, shaky. Duncan brought his hands down, his sword to his side.
Methos watched horrified realizing Duncan truly had no
intention of defending himself.
of Part 6