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Innocence and Justice by Sophie
There is a sequel to this story which can be found at :
Heaven Sent

 

Part 4

Duncan swirled the Glenmorangie around in the Edinburgh Crystal and watched the light dance around in the amber liquid. He was feeling lazy now the day was over, and was looking forward to an evening of peace. The whisky was a link to his heritage, and his mind wandered easily over days long past in the Highlands. Even the smell of the malt as he closed his eyes and savoured the sweet scent was a reminder of the vibrant heather and the biting wind which whistled over the craggy hills even in high summer. It was indulgent only to recall the best of times from his origins, but that was human nature. The Scot smiled to himself as the touch of bracken on his legs came back to him, and he remembered an afternoon of warm sunshine when he and his friends had entered into mock battles. It was a joyful memory of comradeship and carefree fun, before he had been a man, before the lightness of adolescence had gone. Life had been difficult at times, but Highlanders were tough and humorous people; they had enjoyed life.

MacLeod opened his eyes to a slight feeling of want for the old days as he heard the sound of the elevator. He raised the glass to his recollections and took a swig before turning his attention to the rising machine. Richie's presence was not difficult to conclude from the movement in his soul, and he relaxed back into his seat as the youthful form slid up the barrier between them.

"Hi Mac," the young man greeted, but his manner was not as easy as such a light tone insinuated.

"Joe shed any light on Hemar?" the Immortal mentor questioned, thinking he knew exactly what was bothering his friend.

"Joe wasn't in," Richie answered, still trying to seem unconcerned; he was excited about something, but the Highlander couldn't fathom what. "But I did find some things out about him anyway."

The disclosure did nothing to enlighten his comrade, and Richie took in a deep breath as the look Mac gave him told him so. He had come right back to where he'd been earlier that day, asking Duncan MacLeod for help.

'But this is different,' he told himself before continuing.

"Duncan," the youth continued more formerly, "its not just me whose head Hemar wants. I went to an address I found in the guy's jacket, and I met some people, some Immortal people, and they need our help. Actually, more your help; Hemar drove them out of their home, and I was hoping you'd know somewhere for them to stay."

The teacher stood up at the admission, and grinning, shook his head in disbelief; his prodigy never ceased to amaze him. As he took the young man in more fully, he noticed the hole in his shirt.

"That bullet hole, if I'm not mistaken, have something to do with these people?" the elder questioned with an amused grin.

"It's a long story, Mac," Richie raised his hands in a dismissal of that side of it, seemingly better at ease due to the reaction. "For now, I'd really like you to meet Patrick and his family."

Duncan put down his glass and went for his jacket and sword.

"Where are they?" he asked in the resigned manner he used when events were out of his control.

"My place," his relieved tutee breathed with a grin, "thanks."


Richie felt very comfortable with Mac at his back as they walked up the stairs to his apartment; the distance of earlier had made the young man more than a little uneasy. The nature of the Game had made his colleague's manner necessary, but it hadn't made the acceptance of such a situation any gentler. It was a harsh world when it came down to the fact that 'there can be only one'. It was good to have companions to whom that rule was the last to apply, and the more experienced Immortal was a reassuring presence in the problems at hand. The youth may have stepped right into the centre of his present predicament, but it didn't mean that Hemar didn't make him nervous, or that he had much idea of how he was going to handle re- housing his unusual guests. Ryan grinned wryly to himself as he pictured the absurdity of all six of them cramped into his tiny home; immediate sleeping arrangements were going to be a sight to see.

"What exactly am I doing here?" came the slightly exasperated question from behind as they turned up the last flight.

"It's a slight housing problem," Richie disclosed in his usual fashion for understatement.

The glance Duncan received from his young apprentice told him that there was more to it than that; Richie had got himself into a fair range of mad schemes before now, but this one was definitely the weirdest yet.

"Rich?" the man pressed, wondering if he was going to regret becoming involved.

"It'll be better if Patrick explains it first hand," the youth shrugged, his Honest John face prevailing; in truth he hadn't the faintest if Mac could help, or not, he was just hoping.

The Scot was about to open his mouth to protest once more when he caught sight of the door to the Ryan home; it was open. His eyes widened, and his expression alerted his companion, who was centred on him. Richie's face clouded as he too took in the portal, and he reacted with the instincts of an Immortal. His sword was carefully concealed under his jacket, swiftly he gripped the hilt and was running, weapon wielded in seconds. What he gauged when he slammed through his front entrance was not a happy sight.

A standing lamp was on the floor, and the coffee table was smashed beyond repair. Everything else was in place, but the carpet was stained with blood. The life-giving fluid belonged to Patrick; the old soldier was lying sprawled through where the wooden surface had been and there was deep red staining most of the bulk of his stomach. Four forms were close by his inert figure. Richie froze as both Garion and Harold spun on him as their nature told them an Immortal was present, and they displayed their dexterity with their guns as they were levelled on him with dangerous speed. There was pain in both sets of features, but there was also hatred in the younger form. The youth centred his attention on the blond boy as it became quite clear that trauma had hit him and he was ready to blame his horror on the first adult Immortal he found. The street-punk recognised the mixture of child and deadly Immortal that Patrick had described, and he knew if he moved that he'd be lying on his own floor as well. Reason was not very evident in the damp gaze which was returned, only fear and loneliness, and loathing of a power which had sentenced it to the confusion of eternal, immature perpetuation.

The buzz between the Immortals slipped away, but Garion knew what was in his soul and he abhorred it. Yet he received only the passive stare of understanding in return. There was a moment of empathy between child and man as Richard Ryan caught a glimpse of the turmoil that was Garion King, and then very suddenly the boy's choice of action changed. The elder saw his intention before it came; despair replaced the repugnance in an instant, and the gun wavered from one destination to another. With a cry of, 'No!', Richie swooped on the shivering form as the pistol was levelled at its owner's skull. The bullet headed for the ceiling as the young man wrapped himself around the desperate creature and forced his weapon away. The boy screamed, a child's sound of utter terror, and the gun fell from his grasp; his fellow kept hold of the trembling form, overwhelmed by what had just passed. It was a surprise to the stunned youth as he slowly regained his sense of reality when he realised that his young comrade had begun to cry. The sobs were worse than the loathing of moments ago, but gently they evolved an unusual feeling in the older Immortal. There was a protective side to most men, usually directed at one's own head in the case of the supernatural race, but Ryan's soul went out to the helpless boy in his over-powering hold, and gradually he relaxed the desperate grip to a wrap of comfort. Garion clutched back, his face buried into the torn shirt of his enfolder. Unable to find any words, Richie just stood like that and stared over the boy's head to where Tay and Naomi were kneeling over their father.

It was Duncan who broke the tension in the room; he had reached the door moments after his comrade, but had chosen to stay back as he watched his young student cope. This was a side to the green Immortal that his mentor had not seen often. It had been clear that a lot of gut reaction and not much else had fuelled the blond man's actions, that was not unusual, Richie had grown up living on his wits, but what fascinated the Scot was the man-of-words he knew so silent. Richard Ryan was not insensitive to situations, but he generally liked to cut through awkward atmosphere with his glib tongue; the Highlander couldn't help feel a chill run up his spine as he took in the depth of feeling which could reduce his friend to reticence. He'd seen it when Tessa died, then caused by grief and a certain amount of disbelief; now there was something else, an atmosphere between a timeless child and the ageless man. It wasn't a comfortable thing on which to intrude, but the urgency that was missing from Richie was still with his fellow.

"What the hell happened?" MacLeod questioned, a trace of an accent coming through his concern.

There was no answer: the tall boy stood beside his statuesque companion's, a magnum hanging limp from his palm as he stared from the pair to the newcomer and back again; the Asian child was knelt almost as still over the body of the large man the Highlander deduced was Patrick; the teenage girl was too busy attending to the temporarily deceased to take any notice of what else was going on, she was making sounds of distress that didn't sound too lucid. Duncan laid a gentle hand on his counterpart's shoulder and tried once more, "Rich, we need answers."

The young man blinked as he glanced over his shoulder at the dark- haired figure; it was like waking from a momentary daze as he took in the expression. There were things to be done, these circumstances weren't right. The shudder of recognition that ran through his being, and the groan from the ex-corpse on the floor as he woke up pushed him the rest of the way back to compus mentis. An arm still holding his distraught charge protectively close, the youth turned his attention to a recovering daughter; Patrick shifted and opened his eyes, and some relief came out of the girl in the form of tears, but there was more to her upset. As a hand gripped hers in the pain of re-animation, she moaned fitfully, "He took Annie, Papa, we couldn't stop him."

Richie glanced wildly around the room, with all his attention on Garion, he had missed the absence of his little friend.

"What happened?" he demanded insistently, kneeling down to the reviving creature taking his ward with him.

The traumatised boy found comfort in Naomi's embrace as she offered a more familiar solace; Ryan grabbed hold of the old soldier and pulled him into a sitting position. His face only inches away from the squinting, slightly confused eyes, he charged, "Patrick, where's Annie?"

"Hemar," the Immortal responded, his voice distant as his wits recovered, "he found us here. Wouldn't risk himself with the guns, so he grabbed my little one. I tried to stop him."

"How long ago?" Duncan sought an answer from Harry.

"Not long," the teenager muttered, shock beginning to cloud over his eyes as well.

The Highlander strode swiftly towards the fire escape; the adversary had not passed them on the way up, so he had to have taken the alternative route.

The alley below was empty.

When MacLeod came back in the way he had left, there was more activity in the apartment. Both Richie and Patrick were on their feet and on their way out of the door.

"Richie?" the Clansman called after his comrade.

The young man looked back from his position just in the hall; his face was set with the purpose of an Immortal, the perilous steel of the unnatural race and Duncan recognised him. The Scot paused at the stare, knowing that there was no request for assistance this time, no need for a supportive word, only an independence that spoke of challenge. This was a moment that had been reversed many a time when the Highlander had left his companion to seek out a Quickening; it was still strange to feel it the other way around.

"Look after them for me, Mac," came the cool words from the poised form.

Then he was gone.


Ryan sat deliberately in the passenger seat of the station wagon and waited for Patrick to take the driver's position. There had been little said between them, both men being ponderously silent on the way down to the street, but enough had been voiced for the younger to gather that Hemar had taken Annie for the sole purpose of baiting the elder into his arena. Naomi had recognised German from the evil creature, which the soldier had understood, but the more experienced Immortal had refused to translate the directions given. His companion had not said anything directly, but Richie knew that the seasoned warrior would rather that he hadn't chosen to accompany him. The stout man stood outside the car, paused in indecision about the determination in his young friend.

"You know where he is, Patrick," the youth challenged, his tone edged with the sharpness of conviction, "let's go and get him."

Eventually, there was a quiet, guilty response in the words, "This is not your fight, Richard. Hemar wants me."

That made the young form angry; he was worried about the innocent, who had been taken from his apartment, a place that should have been safe, but for his inability to finish a battle. His emotion came through his manner, as swiftly he leant over and shoved open the door.

"You're not going near him without me," the blond youth disclosed hotly, but stopped short of voicing his opinion that there would be no contest if he did. "Get in."

The soldier stared down at his comrade and the reality that he was a stubborn individual, who would not back down in this matter, began to show in his eyes. Then, suddenly, the man was moving. Ryan sat back and stared straight ahead as the driver took his position; his resolve may have been strong, but his heart was beating fiercely as he considered facing the large warrior once more. Yet this was not a time for fear, a dear creature was in danger through no deed of her own, and the responsibility lay partly with him. The challenge had to be resolved, and he would free Annie, even if it meant that his Quickening would be surrendered.

Firmly he gripped the hilt of his rapier, his body taut and disciplined, his mind moving through hours of training in preparation for a duel to the death.


The gate to the elevator slid up and Duncan MacLeod guided four subdued youngsters into his apartment. They looked around the place nervously, huddled together in a protective group; they didn't know him from Adam, but Richie had left them with him, and there was a tentative trust beginning to show at least from the eldest girl. The Highlander hadn't been able to get much out of them on the way over, even names had not been offered as shock had set in, but he was glad that he'd at least managed to steer them from the scene of their trauma.

The dark girl was holding the middle boy close, still soothing the terror in his manner, he was rigidly silent, his tears used up; the mixture of age and youth in his eyes worried the Immortal. The bearded teenager seemed more aware of the situation, and had taken charge of his youngest-looking companion. He managed a nod of recognition and thanks as his host waved them to the sofa. Mac watched as they slowly sat down; he chose not to break their quiet, at least they were calmer than when he'd first encountered them. Instead, he walked to the phone; Gervace Hemar was not a name he knew, but he realised that he was experienced enough to be dangerous. Staying behind and looking after the children was not the Highlander's usual position, and despite Richie's beseachment of earlier, and the decision to go it alone, the Immortal was concerned. He wanted to know more about this challenger, and he knew who could give him the information. His fingers moved over the keypad in practised regularity as he typed in Joe Dawson's number.


The road ahead was dark, but Richie knew where they were going; the car was headed up into the woods where he had first met Hemar, it seemed that it had been no coincidence that the man had been walking there. The night was still and humid, a sticky heat which even air- conditioning in the car could not stifle. The youth wasn't sure if it was the temperature, or his nerves which made his sweat, but there were beads of perspiration running down his forehead and dampening his shirt. Adrenaline was pumping through his veins everytime he considered the task at hand, and his knuckles were white where he grasped his sword. There had been silence since the journey had begun almost an hour ago, and it was beginning to feel oppressive to the normally talkative young man. However, unsure of how to break the monotonous growl of the engine with human speech, the Immortal glanced at his companion. There was no doubt as to what was going through Patrick's mind; his face was set in a mixture of grief, anger and guilt. Ryan responded to the emotion he saw instinctively.

"Annie'll be okay," he intoned almost as if it were a mantra, it was something he had been telling since getting in the car to still his own rage. "We'll stop Hemar."

The sound was the catalyst for the breaking of the soldier's dam of feeling. A hand which had been gripping the wheel tightly came suddenly down on the dash in a moment of torment, and he swore, "Dammit, Richard, I shouldn't have let this happen, I should have left them in safety with the nuns and led that bastard away. But I couldn't leave her."

The young man understood the depth in the tone as the driver spoke of the child. There was something about her, something magical and compelling; she would need protecting for the rest of her days, and those her spell touched, through whatever Immortal shell they kept around them, were willing to give her that without condition. The helpless creature was the centre of Patrick's life and she had been for two hundred years, the possibility of losing her was painful to Richie, and he considered how magnified it had to be in the eternal man who had known her so much longer.

"You love her very much," the younger observed, his own words sounding lame to him as they failed to sum up what he saw.

There was indignation in the gaze which swiftly rested on him; it insinuated, what-a-dumb-thing-to-say, but as the older man recognised his comrade's own emotion, his look softened and he returned his attention to the road, a sigh on his lips. The rage dissipating away as he recalled the angelic creature, leaving only anguish, the man disclosed, "My Penelope-Anne, unique, my little Darling - I will die for her if I have to. She is cursed, but also blessed, and Hemar must not be allowed to remove her from this world. Sometimes, when she looks at me, the world disappears and all I feel is love, her innocent trust and her wonder at the world. I was old when I found her, not just in years, but my mind was becoming set in its ways; I was a warrior tired of battle and to me the Game was losing its appeal. I was beginning to wonder if I would want to be the One left at the end, whatever the Prize. When she ran into my arms, my life changed completely, and I decided that I would continue living for her, she became my Prize. I don't want there to be only one now, I have a family, I want us all to survive, and I have tried to deny the Gathering. As there are fewer of us born, we are becoming more violent, I have seen friends turn on each other, and I know that those of us, for whom the Game is everything, are hunting the weaker ones. I will not let that happen to my children.

Harry may survive without a protector, he is almost full grown and he could learn to use a sword, and Naomi has chosen God as her protector, but the others are just too weak. Richard, I have not known you more than a few hours, but you have proven yourself a good friend. Annie has affected you in the same way she did me, and I know you could never hurt Naomi, but I would ask you something for all of them."

There was no doubt in the youth's tone as Patrick paused for a moment and he promised, "Anything."

"If I do not come out of this," the man put up a hand to silence any protest at his suggestion as he judged Richie correctly, "if, I want you to find them somewhere safe, a place away from our vicious Game, somewhere where people like Hemar will not reach them."

The young man stared out front and took in the words. He was quite good at denial, an optimist who wouldn't look at the worst case scenario, but Patrick had forced him to see what could be. Hemar was a skilled swordsman, a prepared Immortal, he was also holding an ace, the odds weren't good for either of them. Slowly, he nodded and breathed seriously, "I promise whatever happens to either of us, Annie will be safe, and if we don't come out of this, Duncan MacLeod will look after them."

The old soldier glanced across at his comrade, a grim smile on his face, and a hidden look in his eye. Richie was too focused on the moment to decipher the message, but despite the gravity of the situation, he managed a thin smile in return as the pact was formed.


The car managed a mile, or so off road travel once the wilderness was around them, but eventually the rough track became too pitted for the vehicle to cope. With a breath of resignation, Patrick stopped the vehicle and looked across to his passenger.

"It can't be far," he disclosed, releasing his seat-belt and climbing out of the station-wagon.

Richie followed suit and paused by his own door, staring contemplatively up the night-time track as his friend went to the trunk. The wilderness was about him again and sent its peace to try and aid the focus within. The Immortal absorbed the atmosphere of the forest; it was alive even in the near silence of midnight. The supernatural spirit was glad of the feelings the power sent through him. This may have been Hemar's chosen battleground, but it was also his territory, a wild place the savage side of his being. His mind and body steeled as he meditated on the strength without, and the look in his eyes spoke of the unusual, the Quickening he held within was almost visible.

Then suddenly, his eyes closed and the strength was gone. A sharp pain ripped through his skull and with a groan, Richard Ryan collapsed, a crumple of helpless flesh. Patrick stood over him, a regretful set to his features, the heavy hilt of his sword covered with blood he had drawn from his companion.

"Sorry, Boy," he breathed quietly, "this is my fight."

End of Part 4