Half an hour later,
Adam ventured back into his comrade's `front room'. He'd prepared
the tea, breathing sparingly as the smell was almost as bad as
the taste. He entered, bearing a tray with a pot and two cups
(just in case Richie had a very strange sense of taste). The door
swung in easily as usual and he stepped smoothly into the room,
quip ready on his lips. However, the old man clamped his mouth
shut rapidly and he halted at the entrance as he took in the view
before him. He smiled gratefully at his bent old companion who
was still seated in exactly the same manner as before, and shook
his head in disbelief. He'd seen Tomas' touch before, but a grown
man fast asleep with his head in his lap, his face untouched by
waking tribulations, was a miracle indeed. The ancient creature
was softly stroking the inert figure's hair and cooing like a
dove, his blind eyes gazing down with a care that was almost fatherly.
Tomas looked up as
the sound of the entrance and smiled at the gesture he could not
"He is exhausted
both in mind and body," he whispered, "and so I suggested
Adam shook his head
still harder, Tomas' `suggestions' could be very persuasive when
he put his mind to it. As quietly as possible, the younger moved
across with the refreshment, settled it in front of his little
master and guided his hand to the pot. It was a familiar ritual,
but still Methos watched carefully as the frail Immortal helped
himself to the hot drink, ready for any slip. Tomas was well aware
of the caring eyes on him, and this time he seemed to find it
he scolded, "I have been doing this longer than you can imagine.
Go do something useful, go fetch our Warrior."
Adam sat back on his
haunches a moment and stared at the old man and the youth. Tomas
was very protective about this young one, he'd never seen him
quite so close to such a new recruit before. Maybe it was age
adding eccentricity to an already unusual creature, maybe not,
the younger legend had given up trying to fathom his companion
at about the time he had realised what it meant to be truly old.
Now, he allowed the extraordinary Eternal his oddities, and hoped
that people would humour him when he reached a similar
age. He wasn't wanted, that was obvious, so he wouldn't push it,
things were strained enough with their Savage as it was.
agreed, standing back up, "I'll go and announce us to MacLeod."
Duncan sat spread-eagled
across his sofa, a book in one hand and a large mug of coffee
in the other. It wasn't a difficult read, requiring a sparse knowledge
of Plato and a little Greek, but nothing his four hundred years
could not handle. Yet, the Highlander found himself reading the
same paragraph for the umpteenth time that hour and he finally
realised that his heart was definitely not in the pastime. Exasperatedly,
he slammed the book down on the coffee table and sunk back into
the puff beneath him. As he stared up at the ceiling, the Clansman
considered that maybe it had all started with the weird mood in
which he'd found Adam that morning at their brunch appointment.
The old man had phased his companion considerably when he started
talking about destiny and the web of fate. The man had been spouting
myth and legend in ways that he'd never heard the practical creature
use before, it had been like seeing yet another side to Methos.
Still, the guy was five thousand, he was entitled to a few hidden
nuances. The conversation had set his mind off on a tangent, and
it hadn't returned to the level-headed Scot as yet.
The Immortal gave in
and let in the thoughts he knew were waiting for him as soon as
he let his attention go. They were the same ones he'd been considering
as he fixed himself a light lunch an hour ago, they were those
which had erased his appetite and left the salad sitting uneaten
on the coffee table. They hurt to contemplate, but they would
not leave him in peace. Duncan's attention wandered back to two
very familiar faces and he closed his eyes as they sat in his
mind's eye. Tessa, willowy, feminine, his beloved, killed for
a few dollars. Methos had be murmuring on about coincidence and
everything having its place in the scheme of things, he'd been
working up to something, but the Highlander had put him down as
his own ideas mingled with the discussion and made him wonder
what the beauty's death had to do with the way of the world. A
life destroyed in the heat of a drug-crazed moment. Once when
his blood had been hotter with the fire of youth, he might have
let his heart lead him, and ruined a life for a life, but it had
been another who had tried to become Tessa's avenging angel, revealing
the terrible deed to the oblivious perpetrator. Richie's smiling
face settled firmly in the Clansman's mind, bright, energetic,
missing. It had been a long road back from the abyss that the
Dark Quickening had created, and MacLeod was still on his return.
The young Immortal was one of the lose ends that made the path
hazardous, a cord that played around his feet, trying to trip
him into the melancholy that awaited him. Richie had been his
pupil, his `son' and he had betrayed all he had taught him in
those few terrible minutes at the dojo. The Scot remembered the
anger, the confusion and his spirit rose in angst as he considered
what that could be doing to the sometimes vulnerable young man.
Trust had been a difficult thing for Richard Ryan, but he'd given
it to his mentor only to have it shattered by the sword.
Duncan sighed, it was
too late for all this, his first concern should be finding the
elusive figure last seen by any Watcher leaving the city to go
east. So many months, it was worse than death, at least he knew
Tessa's fate, Richie's was a blank, furnished only with vague
rumours and hearsay from his friends around the globe. A young
man fitting the description was seen in Denver, but another was
spotted at the same time heading into Canada, then again, there
was always the message from New England that said a young blond
Immortal had been seen with the Amish. It was all conflicting
and frustrating, but the Highlander had vowed not to give up until
he was certain of his comrade's location. He hadn't decided what
he'd do when he found him, that was more difficult than the search
itself. Would Richie even want to see him? Could he mend the ties
which he'd sliced with the katana? The troubled Scot wasn't sure
on either, and he couldn't conceive of his reaction if the answers
What did so much hurt
have to do with `the scheme of things'?
Adam took a deep breath
as he paused at the gangplank; his mood was thick with the extra
sense as his instinct was buffeted from all sides. He'd never
felt so much premonition before, he usually left that to Tomas,
but today was certainly turning out to be more than just a little
strange. The old man pushed aside the possibly over- powering
edge to his world, there was the present and Duncan MacLeod with
which to be dealt. He wasn't sure how he was going to reveal his
information, but then he usually followed his nose in these sorts
of things anyway.
Running over a few
choice words, the ancient creature stepped onto the boat.
The Highlander's disposition
soured a little further as he felt the shudder of recognition
for his own kind. He was in no mood for visitors, especially Immortal
ones, who could quite possibly be after his head. He sat up rapidly,
swearing as he sent the coffee he'd forgotten sprawling all over
a very expensive Persian rug. He was glowering bad-temperedly
at the door, in easy reach of his sword, when a polite rap cut
the testy silence.
Duncan called, softened a little by the cordial disposition of
his guest, but he was still feeling like a bear with a sore head.
The look on Methos'
face told the Highlander just how black his mood seemed to another.
As usual, the man smiled, but there was a cynical glint in his
"You're the second
person today who's given me a hard stare," the Watcher wagged
his finger at the stationary Scot, "must be something in
"What are you
doing here, Adam?" the Clansman asked tersely, his mood none
the better for the humour.
"Oh fine welcome
I get, haven't you heard the one about not taking it out on the
messenger," the old man's good temper was not going to be
Mac glared at his companion,
but it was too late. Adam had piqued his curiosity with that little
disclosure and it must have shown in his face, because there was
"Lighten up, Duncan,
I bring good news," the dark figure bowed with a flourish
that bespoke his light humour and he was grinning widely as he
straightened once more.
The Highlander made
a face, he still wasn't in the mood for the eccentric Immortal's
Pierson waved dismissively at him, "I'll come clean. Richie's
Duncan's reaction was
swift and without thought, he grabbed his coat, spun his comrade
on his heal and was headed out of the door before the other could
open his mouth once more. Emotions mixed in his spirit, but whatever
they were, they came out in an urgency.
the man demanded of Adam as he herded him out on deck.
"He's with a friend
of mine," came the reply, and the shorter man turned on his
MacLeod stopped as
the researcher became a surprisingly strong wall between him and
the gangplank. He glared at his companion for a second time, all
the worry in his being expressing itself in the angry stare. Yet,
Methos was more in control of his thoughts and revealed his reason
for halting the bustle.
"Slow down, Duncan,"
he spoke calmly and reasonably, "the kid is more than a little
screwed up right now, and the last thing he needs is you charging
around like you're possessed again. He's safe and he'll wait.
I suggest we walk to my friend's place, and talk on the way, there
are some things you need to know."
Any other time, the
Highlander would have argued, but he'd been in the wrong the last
time he'd encountered his pupil and it made him unsteady. He was
excited by the news, worried by the description, guilty because
of the knowledge that he had caused the trouble, and he wanted
to deny the reason in his comrade's tone. After a moment's bristling
pause, the man sagged a little at the shoulders, and his face
showing some of what lay behind his haste; he nodded.
"Lead the way,
Adam," he murmured more sanely.
Dreams can be a blessing
and a curse. Man cannot function without them, but they can trouble
the sleeper. Richie's subconscious was worse than his conscious;
his sleep pattern was erratic and so were his dreams. He didn't
like to give in to the nightmares, but he was so tired. This was
where the battle was run again, moment by agonising moment, from
the approach of another Immortal to the deafening shots from a
Watcher's pistol. Yet this time, the desperate fight was not as
he remembered it, even in sleep.
- The kata was intense,
a way of concentrating his energies and thoughts away from the
danger that Duncan was facing. All the talk of Dark Quickenings
and good going bad was worrying, and however much he hated to
admit it, he was scared for his ally. -
Ryan recalled the emotions
in himself so completely, they were etched on his memory by the
trauma that had followed.
- The touch on his
spirit caused momentary angst, this was it, the time when he found
out just how powerful the Hayoka had been. Duncan could walk through
that door, or it could be the another with a taste for his Quickening;
the youth stayed poised, his breath short, his gaze centred on
the entrance. Relief flooded the young Immortal as he laid eyes
on his comrade. -
In remembrance, that
comfort was nothing more than a stick to beat the battered soul,
it had been a false hope driven by trust and friendship, qualities
that had been abandoned by the nightmare that walked into the
- Disbelief was his
overwhelming emotion, coupled with horror as the sword came up
at him. This was insane, there was something very wrong with the
Highlander, his features were the same, but they could have belonged
to a different person the way that they were used to convey such
Richie shifted in sleep,
the first terrible images of the darkness in Duncan's soul being
strong enough to impact on his physical as well as mental form.
Yet they did not wake him. His mind still played through the horrible
fight. There wasn't much coherence in the youth's dream after
the initial decent into delirium, it was a mess of steel and pain
as the tormentor had played with his victim, enjoying the game,
laughing at the anger, triumphant in sure victory. It hadn't just
been slices he'd taken out of his flesh, each dig had done its
job to break through the trust that had been the founding stone
of their relationship.
- He was on his knees
and there was no fight left in him. His flesh stung, his soul
ached and any belief that Richard Ryan had ever had in his mentor
was utterly destroyed. He looked up at the victor, using the last
ounce of strength he had to focus the anger which was all the
emotion he had left. Why? The question burnt into his spirit as
he seethed it through gritted teeth - his only reply was the sword's
razor edge running ominously round his throat. The man he had
called friend was laughing at him, an easy kill, there can only
be one and it would not be Richard Ryan. The young man tensed
and his world went black as he closed his eyes against the horror
his teacher had become. -
Richie tensed as the
dream intensified, this was where he woke screaming, yet there
was no piercing sound of a pistol to wake him this time and he
remained trapped in that dark moment where only his emotions were
evident. All the anger, loss, bewilderment, loathing, disappointment,
every cold thought which had driven him away from his home welled
up inside the young man in that blackness. He had no control over
it now, this wasn't even his memories, something else possessed
his nightmare, something far worse than what had already passed.
The youth moaned as even the slim hold he had over his thoughts
- The blackness became
vivid colour too rapidly to be comfortable even to the mind's
eye; what was revealed was even more disagreeable. There was a
creature on his knees, at the mercy of another, but this time
the dreamer saw with the eyes of the dominator. His rapier glinted
and there was a rush of adrenaline as he swung the blade towards
Tomas' neck. -
Ryan screamed, his
sound long and horrified, and he ripped himself from sleep. The
wild creature was in effect once more as he pushed himself away
from the old man, possessed by the nature of his thoughts. China
broke under his feet as he scrabbled away from the message in
his dream, and his companion fell away from him. Yet, a hand grabbed
his jacket, surprisingly strong and caught him off balance. He
fell back to the floor and came face to face with the blind eyed
"What did you
see?" the question was urgent and concerned.
Yet, the young man
couldn't tell him, couldn't admit the destruction in his mind.
Had he come that far down the road of desperation, that he could
even contemplate taking a defenceless man's head? Only a sob escaped
his mouth, and he tried to pull away. His limbs were weak, disoriented
by the sudden flight from dreams, and Tomas maintained the intensity
of his stare. The feral man shuddered at the question that remained,
cold and shocked beyond his senses. He had been offered nothing
but kindness from this unusual ancient and the sight of his own
blade descending towards the undefended neck kept replaying over
before his eyes, merging with reality and making it a dangerous
"I took your head,"
he moaned quietly, all the repugnance the idea inspired coming
through the terror in his tone.
That was it, Tomas
blinked and freed the creature in front of him. There wasn't so
much shock on his face as resignation, and in some ways, that
was worse for the horrified Immortal. He tore away from the finger
which touched him and ran; it was a natural instinct returning
after such a short time of peace, and it took him over with cold
ease. He had to leave, to separate himself from the mystic, he
would not become what he so hated. Tears were hot in his eyes
as he tumbled down the stairs and away from the comfort he had
They been walking for
about an hour, and the short October day was beginning to turn
cold as evening drew on. The pair strolled in easy conversation,
the elder with his hands driven deep into his pockets in relaxed
companionship. Duncan had found Methos' little tale somewhat hard
to swallow at first, but he'd experienced enough in the past few
months to start accepting things that weren't tangible. The old
man had answered any questions he had, but to be honest, he hadn't
been very interested in most of it, Richie was the subject that
was playing on his mind. Adam's more detailed description of the
state in which he had arrived at Tomas' house had chilled the
experienced Immortal to the bone; he had expected anger, hostility,
but the complete shambles of humanity had made his guilt all the
stronger. There were times he had underestimated his pupil's passion,
times when it had shocked him and now the effects of his own actions
on the young man seemed staggering. Sometimes he forgot how much
the young put into everything they did, in Richie's case it had
been his all, and he'd almost lost it to the power of the Dark
Adam brought the Highlander out of the comfortable silence of
friends that had fallen. "Now don't expect too much, underneath
he may want to talk to you, but his mind's not in control all
the time at the moment. If he snarls it'll probably be a sign
The researcher grinned,
but Mac couldn't quite gel with his sense of humour today. In
four hundred years, he'd made a lot of mistakes, but nothing which
had such life-shattering consequences for another.
"Ease up, MacLeod,
we don't need two emotional wrecks," the watcher patted his
comrade's arm supportively. "Be strong, be the MacLeod he
remembers, show him you're back, then you can deal with the apologies
Duncan returned, mildly annoyed at his unusual lack of self-possession.
Methos smiled again
and then turned smartly to the steps leading up to the town house.
Duncan saw his shoulders tense and glanced rapidly up to the door.
The large black portal was wide open and the sudden alarm in his
comrade told the Highlander that all was not well.
Adam's peace of mind
evaporated as he took in the atrium, the door was always unlocked,
but never so blatantly open. He was moving with speed created
from dread in a heart beat. He flew up the stairs barely aware
of the effort involved, his mind centred on terrible ideas that
had occasionally plagued his psyche. Tomas was old, completely
unable to protect himself, and he'd left him alone in the house
with only a frenzied youth for company. Methos was swearing to
himself in languages too old to be known to even the greatest
scholar as he slammed through the half open door to find his ancient
comrade. The man halted rapidly, feeling the closeness of MacLeod
as he nearly crashed into him, as he took in the sight before.
The floor was a mess, dark stains and broken crockery covered
the area in front of the cushions, but what touched the old man's
heart was his bent old friend. Tomas was rocking a mournful, quiet
wail coming from his mouth, and he held his head in his hands.
Methos had never seen the normally calm creature show such emotion.
He skidded rapidly over to the frail form and took him by the
he asked, his voice subdued and worried, "what happened?"
There was so much age
in those old features as they came up to stare blindly into his
"I made a mistake,"
the ancient mumbled in distress, "I let him dream."
Duncan questioned, his voice tense as he approached the pair.
"He ran again,"
was the aggrieved reply.
Methos was torn between
the woe in his old friend and the pot of heady emotions in the
Highlander. Duncan was almost to the door by the time the watcher
called out, "Duncan, wait."
"I have to find
him," came the response as the figure disappeared out of
Tomas was the dark
man's immediate concern, MacLeod could look after himself. The
Immortal turned back to his comrade and was perturbed by the look
on the creased face.
"There are things
you must know," the old man whispered, bowing his head once
Of Part 2