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HFS
Fanfic page with pictures, music, previews, staff bios and episode listings, all you could want, and more, for Highlander fiction fans. HFS season one is finished, we have a total of 23 episodes, and they're all available if you follow the HFS link.

Lead You Home - by Angela Mull
Disclaimer: "Highlander" and its characters are the property of Rysher  Entertainment and are used without permission.
 

Part 1/5

Mid-September, 1992

Duncan MacLeod peeked around the edge of the building and grimaced at what he saw.  

Richie Ryan was across the street from the antique shop for the third day in a row, pretending to be busy cleaning SuperMart's windows. Duncan knew what the boy was really doing, and that was spying. It had been only a few weeks since Duncan had seen the teenager watching him at the bridge where he killed Slan Quince, and Duncan thought maybe he wouldn't see Ryan again. At least, he'd hoped he wouldn't.  

Connor MacLeod, Duncan's kinsman, had told him the boy needed watching, and Duncan knew that was true. Richie Ryan was going to become an Immortal. Duncan thought how ironic that was; Richie had seen his future that night in the antique store and not even known it.  

In his heart, Duncan knew what he should do. He should keep an eye on the pre-Immortal until the kid died for the first time, and then act as his mentor. But Duncan didn't want to baby-sit a teenager. It would be easier to just come clean with the boy now and tell him he was going to be an Immortal, then let things happen from there. But Duncan knew better than to do that. Richie would have to find out about his Immortality on his own. It would be too dangerous to give the kid knowledge that could be misused as a toy.  

Duncan sighed, thinking how much nicer it would be to walk away from the boy and continue spending his days in the antique store and nights in Tessa's bed.  

Duncan smiled at the thought of Tessa. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever been with, and definitely one of the bravest.  

Tessa had handled the fallout from Quince's intrusion well, although she was still a little upset that Duncan had planned to leave her. She didn't want him to make those kinds of decisions for her, she'd said the day Connor brought her to MacLeod's cabin. And if he was honest with himself, Duncan knew he didn't want to leave Tessa. She was everything to him, and he was content to let her consume his world.  

Looking again at Richie Ryan, Duncan swore softly to himself, his dark eyes narrowing. He had hoped to enjoy a little more private, free time with Tessa before making a decision on how best to proceed with Ryan. But with the kid setting up such clumsy surveillance, Duncan knew he didn't have any time left. With a heavy sigh, he started across the street.

 Richie squirted more glass cleaner on the window and saw Duncan MacLeod approaching in the reflection of the glass. He froze, not sure what to do.  

For the last few weeks, Richie had done odd jobs around town to earn money. The latest line of work he'd landed was window cleaning the tiny grocery store across the street from MacLeod's antique shop. Richie had talked the owner into letting him work there so he could scope out what MacLeod was doing.  

As he watched MacLeod get closer, he remembered the still-vivid image of the man whacking off the head of the masked guy from the antique store. He'd decided to try to figure out what was going on with MacLeod, and had followed him around. But he'd never expected to see what went down that night on the bridge, and he couldn't believe what happened the next day when MacLeod dragged the Frenchman out of the water. Richie was sure the man in the trench coat and tennis shoes had died, but there he was, alive and laughing.  

With one last look at MacLeod's reflection, Richie decided not to run, even though a twinge of fear rose up inside of him at the thought of MacLeod's exceptional carving abilities.  

"You know, you could have at least tried to disguise yourself," the accented voice said from behind him.  

Richie turned around and looked at MacLeod. The man was intimidating to look at, and Richie found it hard to meet his gaze. But he did anyway, mustering up his usual sarcasm for the situation.  

"Disguise myself from who? You? The Three Musketeer wanna-be?"

Duncan stepped forward and grabbed Richie's gray t-shirt, yanking so he was just inches away from Duncan's nose. Richie could smell the man's expensive cologne and see the vein nearly popping from his right temple.

Duncan spoke slowly, enunciating every syllable.  

"I don't like being watched," he said. "Is this your way of saying you want me to send you to prison? I hear the inmates love boys your age. You'd make a lot of friends."

Richie bristled at being called a boy, but decided to let it go. The idea of facing lockup with adults -- he had just turned 18 a few days ago and was no longer a juvie -- did not appeal to him.  

"I'm just here cleaning windows," he said, grabbing MacLeod's hand to remove it. The older man only tightened his grip.  

"Richie Ryan, I let you go that day at the police station because you made me a promise. You promised -- "

"Not to spill my guts to anyone," Richie finished for him. "And I haven't, so just chill, OK? I'm just here earning some money."  

Duncan let him go, watching as Richie straightened his shirt. "I can't trust you to keep your mouth shut," he said quietly.  

Richie narrowed his eyes, wondering if the man was about to threaten him.  

"OK, fine," Richie said quickly. "I admit I've been checking you out. OK? I wanted to watch you."

"Watch me what?"

"Do whatever it is you do. I want to know what's up with all of the swashbuckling stuff," Richie said, cutting his right hand through the air in an imitation of swordplay.

Duncan sighed. Ryan would eventually find out the truth. He'd have to know, in order to survive. But Duncan didn't feel like going into the whole saga right now, particularly on a street corner. He hesitated a moment, then made up his mind. He had to keep an eye on the boy until the critical moment came, and the best way would be to keep him nearby. But how to do that without revealing to the kid the reason he was so interested in him? After a moment's pause, Duncan decided that since the teenager obviously wasn't in school, the solution was clear.  

"It's time for another deal," Duncan said.  

Richie stood there, feeling the slight nip in the air that September always brought with it, and waited for the Scotsman to continue. He'd already made one deal with MacLeod to keep his yap shut in return for his freedom, and wasn't sure he wanted to make another. But part of him was intrigued by what the man might offer this time.

"I want to make sure you don't go around babbling what you know," Duncan continued. "I want you to work for me at the antique store."

Richie laughed out loud. *Get real* he thought. The man was offering him a job?  

"Yeah, right," he said, still laughing. "You're going to offer me a job at the store I ripped off?"

Duncan smiled, although there was little humor in it. "You'll work there five days a week until I'm sure you're not going to try to shoot off at the mouth about what's happened."

Realizing the man was serious, Richie stopped laughing. MacLeod's secret must be pretty intense for him to make such an offer.  

Richie thought it might be better to refuse the deal. After all, he could end up getting stuck in the middle of a nasty fight between MacLeod and another sword-slinging psycho. But what if he refused and it made the man angry? Getting shishkabobbed on MacLeod's sword was not a happy thought.  

It was Richie's curiosity that made the decision for him. He'd spent the last few days waiting for something exciting to happen, but nothing had. Maybe if he hung out at the store he'd see something. Besides, he could take care of himself. He'd been doing it for years.  

"So, you want me to work for you so you can keep an eye on me?" Richie waited until Duncan nodded. "And if I don't?"  

"Then I'll suddenly remember you were the one who broke into my store."

Richie looked down at the cement. If MacLeod went to the police, he'd wind up in jail. And jail was something he kind of wanted to avoid for the rest of his life.

"How much do I get paid?" he asked.  

Now it was Duncan's turn to laugh. "Paid? Your only payment is a get-out-of-jail-free card."

Richie cocked his head to the side and put his hands on his hips.  

"Look, I'd love to be your slave, but if I work for you, I won't be making any money anywhere else."

Duncan grudgingly realized the boy was making a good point.  

"Minimum wage," he said shortly.

"$5 an hour."  

"$4 an hour, and that's as good as it's going to get," Duncan said, not believing he was bartering with this smart-aleck kid. When did he lose control of the situation?

Richie was about to add that he wanted to know what MacLeod's story was, but he knew he wouldn't get an answer.  

"Deal," he said cockily. "But not because I'm afraid of you. Because I want to keep an eye on you. I don't trust you, either."

End of Part 1

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