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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 3/5

Richie realized during the first week of December that the time to leave Gary's house had come. Christmas was approaching, and he knew the family barely had enough money for their own food and clothing, much less any gifts. He packed up and reassured Gary's parents that he had a place to stay, and left.  

Of course, Richie didn't have a place to stay. He'd been saving the money from working at the antique shop, but it didn't amount to enough to get him much more than a few nights at a hotel. Sighing, he went to a run-down hotel near Mac's and paid. After dumping his bags and taking a last look at the Bates Motel wanna-be, he walked to the shop.  

"Hey, Richie," Duncan greeted him. "How's it going?"

"Not bad," he lied.  

"Really? So living in a hotel agrees with you?" the older man asked, keeping his eyes on the invoices he was filing.  

Richie winced. "How'd you know?"

"I called Gary's to ask you to pick up a few hand-bound books on your way here, and he told me you moved out."  Duncan stopped stuffing the invoices into the worn, bulging file and caught Richie's embarrassed gaze. "How long can you afford to stay there?"

"You don't need to worry about me," Richie said and turned to get started on the day's work, hoping Mac would drop the whole subject. The last thing he wanted was for the man to feel sorry for him.   

Duncan paused. He knew Richie couldn't afford the hotel for very long, and figured the kid had nowhere else to go after his cash ran out. He decided quickly it would only make sense to have Richie live with him. It would be even easier to watch over the teenager.

"Why don't you stay here?" Duncan asked casually.

Richie spun around and looked at the man. He was shocked Mac would make the offer, and slightly angered at the same time. Mac had been great to him with the job, and Richie definitely appreciated that he hadn't been decapitated. But that didn't mean he needed any charity. From anyone.  

It had been different when he lived with Frank Morales, who'd taken Richie in after a rough time with a foster family. Richie had gotten room and board at the basement space at Frank's house in return for doing chores and staying in school. But he was already working for Mac, making this offer nothing more than an act of charity.  

"I've got it under control," Richie said sharply. "Look, Mac, I appreciate the offer, but I don't need a handout."  

Duncan knew the boy's pride was hurting, and spoke quickly to assuage it, grabbing at the first thought that ran through his mind.  

"It's not a handout, Richie," he said. "I can't have you out wandering the streets knowing what you know --"

"You think I'd tell someone?" Richie interrupted, insulted.  

"Not on purpose, but if you got hurt, who knows what you might say if you're out of it," Duncan told him, knowing that it was a real possibility, and not just something he was making up to get Richie to stay.  

Richie turned the thought over in his mind. He knew Mac was asking him to stay more out of concern than anything else, but he was uneasy about the whole thing. He looked down at the sidewalk and kicked at a crack with his foot.  

"I'm not staying unless I can help pay bills," he told the Highlander.  

"How about if you get some added duties at the shop?" Duncan asked, knowing the boy needed to feel useful.

Richie looked back up. "Like what?"  

"Like maybe looking after the shop sometimes when Tessa and I want to go out for a few hours."

Richie raised his eyebrows. "You'd trust me alone with everything?"  

Duncan's lips curved up in a smile. "Of course I don't trust you," he said jokingly. "I just want to keep an eye on you."

Richie grinned, catching the allusion to their earlier conversation when Mac offered him the job. "Yeah, well I don't trust you either. I think maybe I will move in. To keep an eye on you, of course."

The two laughed as they went back inside the shop.

***

"You did what?" Tessa asked in astonishment as Duncan shushed her.  

Duncan had led her to their bedroom to tell her about his decision to have Richie live with them. He wasn't sure how she'd react, and hoped she would understand his reasons, even if he couldn't tell her all of them.  

"He doesn't have enough money to get his own place, and he'll end up living on the streets if someone doesn't give him a break," he said.  

Tessa paused. Richie had started to grow on her, and the thought of him shivering in the cold winter air didn't please her.  

"Well, I suppose I can handle it," she said slowly. "But can you?"  

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, can you handle living with a teenager? You haven't been one for hundreds of years," she said, a playful smile curving up her lips.  

Duncan returned her smile. "Are you saying I'm old?"  

Tessa slipped his shirt over his head and started kneading his shoulders. "Of course not," she breathed in his ear.  

"Don't worry, I'm sure about it," he said, grabbing her around the waist and pulling her down beside him.  

He propped himself up on one elbow and smiled down at her. She caught his long hair in her hands and guided his head down to her lips, meshing her mouth to his.  

A blast of music from Richie's room broke the mood, and Duncan grimaced. He'd told Richie to make himself at home, but this was going a little too far. Just because Richie's room had some amenities in it for guests was no reason to abuse them, Duncan decided.  

Before he could go out to tell Richie to turn down the music, the volume level decreased. Either Richie hadn't meant to turn the stereo on that loud, or he'd thought better of it.  

"Well," Tessa said, laughing. "I think we're all going to have to adjust to Richie living here."

"In what ways?" Duncan asked as he began kissing the hollow of her throat. His intentions were obvious; if there was one way to drive Tessa wild, it was to kiss that particular spot. And Duncan knew it.

Tessa hesitated before answering, enjoying Duncan's lips on her throat and reveling in what was to follow.  

"For one thing, " she said breathlessly, "we'll have to lower our own volume."

***

Two weeks later, Richie was feeling almost as settled in as he had at Frank's. Tessa fixed him breakfast every morning, and he and Mac had a comfortable joking routine going that felt almost second-nature. Christmas was just around the corner, and Richie was going to be somewhere nice for a change.  

The only stumbling block was that he worried something would happen to screw things up. Although Mac was Immortal and therefore harder to kill than Frank had been, there was always the chance that someone would whack off his head. And if Mac died, would Tessa let him stay? If she didn't, where would he go?

Although Richie tried not to think about all of the what-ifs, he was forced to the Wednesday before Christmas. Tessa was out walking in the park to get ideas for her drawings. Richie had seen a lot of Tessa's work, and although he wasn't savvy about art, he knew she was good.  

Mac was helping him move a large statue from one end of the room to another when he suddenly stopped and got very still, his eyes flicking around the room and then outside the shop window.  

"Uh, Mac," Richie said, straining with the effort to keep his end of the statue upright. "What's wrong?"  

Duncan didn't answer. He helped Richie set down the statue and walked toward the door, as if drawn by some invisible force. Richie guessed he must be feeling the Buzz.  

*There's another Immortal around!* Richie realized with giddy expectation. Sure, Mac had told him all about Immortals, but Richie had yet to see one now that he knew the truth about them. And now he was about to get an up-close-and-personal look.  

The Immortal who walked through the door, however, wasn't what he expected. Richie pictured all Immortals as hulking guys like the Terminator or Rambo. But the Immortal who walked in was a woman. She entered the shop and closed the door, leaning up against it and looking at Duncan as though she was about to own his soul.  

"MacLeod," she purred. "It's been awhile."

Duncan merely nodded at her while Richie looked her up and down. She was about 5 feet 6 inches with long, auburn hair parted down the middle, hanging silkily down her back. Her eyes glittered green out of her pallid face. She wore a sleeveless cotton dress and flats. As she watched Duncan watching her, she smacked on some chewing gum, then  suddenly pulled out a sword and brandished it at the Highlander.

As Richie wondered where she'd hidden it, Duncan stepped back from her. He was not surprised to see that Krissa still possessed her katana. It was shorter than Duncan's by several inches, but just as deadly.  

"I'm not going to wait, MacLeod," she said in a deadly voice. "Let's go."

Duncan looked at her warily. He didn't want to tangle with the woman. Not because he didn't want to kill a female Immortal, but because she was the superior fighter, and he was afraid he might lose. And if he did, that would leave Richie standing there in his pre-Immortal glory. Without Duncan's Buzz to mask Richie's, Richie would be a dead man as soon as the Quickening was over.  

"Let's not fight, Krissa, " he said.  

She clucked her tongue and shook her head before lunging for Duncan. The two were soon spinning around the room as Richie tried to stay out of the way.  

Duncan tried to get on the offensive, but Krissa's thrusts were too quick and calculated for him to do much more than put up a defensive stance.  

Richie watched the scene with a deepening dread, suddenly not so hot to see another set of Immortals fighting. The woman was good, and once she sent a thrust home in Mac's stomach, Richie realized Mac might not win.    

As Duncan went to his knees and clutched his stomach, he waited for Krissa to close in. He still had a trick or two in mind for her, but he didn't get to try them because Richie decided to play hero.  

"Hey," Richie shouted from behind Krissa. "You kill him and the other Immortal will finish you off when he gets back."

Krissa stopped mid-advance and studied MacLeod. Correctly surmising that he was in no position to do anything but lay there and bleed on the floor unless she got too close to him, she turned to face Richie.  

"Listen here, little one. I don't have time for your games right now. MacLeod is the only Immortal in the area. Nobody is going to come to his rescue. Why don't you go burp yourself and take a nap."

She turned back to finish what she'd started, and Richie realized his attempt to distract her long enough for Mac to do his starfish-healing thing wasn't going to work. He lunged for her, planning to push her out of the way, but she heard his movement and turned back with just enough time to crack the hilt of her sword on the left side of his head.  

Richie felt and heard the impact and staggered, reaching for his head even as he gracelessly fell to the floor, where he passed out.  

Duncan watched the scene in horror. *Is he as stupid as I think he is?*  

Just as Krissa turned around to start back in on him, Duncan heard voices outside of the shop. Krissa stiffened, knowing she'd have to come back for Duncan later or risk getting caught. She hid her sword and headed to the front door just as two customers opened it.

"Shop's closed," she said, blocking their view of the injured men inside. They left grumpily, and she turned back to face Duncan, scowling at him. "There will be another time for us, MacLeod."


End of Part 3

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