The atmosphere around the Immortals
who had become part of the Dividing could have been described
as unsettling for those who watched them: it was peaceful. All
the Mortals knew why it was so quiet, it was just that assignment
to MacLeod and his friends had always meant action and battles.
Observing a group of people just preparing for a wedding didn't
sit right. At first the Watchers had been full of excitement,
this community was something new, something so different than
what had gone before that interest was high, but summer coming
round and with very little going on, it was beginning to fade
into the background. The organisation was not being lax in it's
chronicles, it was still taking down every detail, but the situation
had faded back to a normal. Occasionally the twins' Watchers would
be treated to a display of their telepathic abilities, which would
be faithfully recorded. These incidents were not common, however,
Richie and Chris were in contact all the time, it just didn't
show that much on a grand scale.
The measures that Dawson's people
had taken to ensure that news of the Dividing did not fall on
the wrong ears seemed to have worked. Craven had been challenged
by an old adversary, but the woman had known nothing about the
community, she had been looking for revenge. His victory had been
duly recorded and another name added to the list of heads he had
taken. There had been no Immortals turning up because of what
they perceived as a threat. Much to the happiness of those involved,
others seemed to actually be leaving the group alone. Six known
Immortals in one place could be just a little bit dicey for a
challenge situation, and no-one chose to make trouble. In fact,
for once these unusual people seemed to be getting on with their
lives just like their Mortal neighbours. The top of the list of
things to do was make sure that everything was arranged for the
wedding of the year, and Beren appeared to have everyone well
It was a sunny morning and the
light streamed in through the dojo's large windows to fill the
office with brilliance. Since she'd sent Richie and Duncan out
for a fitting, Beren was standing in and running the show. Not
that there were many customers, it was the wrong time of day and
the only two people working out were a couple of regulars who
looked as if they were almost done. Boredom was slowly beginning
to set in as the young English woman gazed at the computer screen.
There were only so many ways you could rearrange a file system
and since the local Internet provider was down for repairs she
couldn't go web surfing. That's why, when someone she'd never
seen before, who looked friendly enough, wandered through the
entrance she brightened considerably.
The young man in question was
not particularly tall, with a shock of black hair that fell over
the forehead of a well defined, honest looking face. The white,
long sleeved T-shirt, blue jeans and flowery waistcoat gave him
a cheerful air that seemed to be echoed by the way he smiled as
he caught sight of Beren. He was carrying a long black bag, and
of all things, a camera: he looked like a cross between a sportsman
and a tourist.
"Hi," he greeted and
stuck his head around the office door, "am I in the right
place to find Duncan MacLeod?"
He appeared so friendly and bright
that Beren forgot to be anything but the same herself, suspicion
never entered her head.
"Right place," she
responded with a smile, "but I'm afraid it's the wrong time.
He went out about half an hour ago and I don't expect him back
"Story of my life,"
the dark haired stranger said with an easy grin, "always
the one step behind."
He looked a little undecided
as to what to do, so the young woman chose to eliminate the problem.
"You can hang around if
you like," she offered calmly, "it's nearly eleven thirty,
Mac can't be too long, and I really need someone to talk
"The work's that thrilling
is it?" he shot back good naturedly.
Beren indicated a free chair
and he slid into it gratefully, as if he'd been on his feet too
long. He looked tired and a little crumpled, and his hostess came
to the conclusion he'd been travelling.
"I'm Beren," she introduced
and walked round the side of the desk to perch on it, "the
stand-in for when there's no-one left to keep an eye on this place."
"Greg," the other fell
in step with greetings, "not an anything just at the moment.
You could say I'm between lifestyles."
"Nice to meet you, Greg,"
his companion said animatedly. "Can I get you a coffee or
anything? If you don't mind me saying so, you look as if you could
do with something."
"The magic words,"
he said with mock exhaustion, "I would love coffee. I've
been travelling by bus for two days. I thought I'd take the slow
route and see the country side, but all I've found are dusty stations
with truly awful beverages."
There was a lot to like about
Greg, and Beren found herself smiling again. She disappeared to
get some cups without a second thought. It only occurred to her
on the way back, as she caught a glimpse of this man when he didn't
know she was looking, that her knowledge of him was distinctly
lacking. Just for a second the cheerful mask was dropped and all
that was there was the weary traveller, whose face held a slightly
unsure look. Then he noticed her and the smile slipped back into
"So are you an old friend
of Duncan's or just looking for him?" the young woman enquired
amiably, as she walked back in and handed over her burden.
"We go back away,"
Greg returned honestly, "but I've never been here before.
The last time I saw MacLeod he still had the antique store. Somehow
I think this suits him better."
"Oh, so you must have known
Tessa," Beren had heard a lot about Duncan's previous love,
from Richie and she was eager for more information whenever the
Of course, it was also a way
to check out the stranger.
"Not really," a look
of sadness and regret travelled across Greg's face so quickly
that his companion almost didn't see it, "I only met her
a couple of times and we didn't really get on. I wasn't exactly
on an even keel last time I was around here, you could say I annoyed
a few people."
It was difficult to reconcile
the image of this man as he was, with an idea of someone to be
disliked, and Beren wasn't quite sure how to take his honesty.
"Duncan put me back on the
right tracks," the dark haired individual said with a smile,
"if you know him at all, you'll know what a good Samaritan
he is. It's why I came by, I'm headed off to pastures new and
wanted to thank him."
The look on Beren's face said
she knew exactly what he was talking about, but was still dubious
as to how this man could be a problem.
"First rule of recovery,
admit you were ill," Greg's tone was playful, but his eyes
showed he was deadly serious.
This was way too deep for Beren's
English sensibilities and she took the easy way out, she changed
"That's quite a camera you
have there," she said lightly, "take many pictures?"
The other grinned, he was quite
happy to go with the flow.
"I used to be a photographer,"
he told her calmly, "now it's more of a souvenir. Mind you,
I'm still snap happy."
Without any warning he picked
up the instrument, peered through the view finder and, click he
had a picture of Beren. All the young woman could think was what
a mess she must look.
"One for the album,"
Greg said cheerfully at the look of shock on her face.
As the surprise wore off, Beren's
face broke back into a smile and she sat down on the table once
more. The cogs in her mind were turning, and as usual, just at
the moment, all roads led to the wedding. Originally they had
been thinking of having a small affair, just Beren's family and
the group of Immortals who surrogated as Richie's kin, but things
had sort of ballooned since. The list of guests had grown, the
simple ceremony had turned into a full blown marriage, reception
and party, and Duncan had insisted on helping pay for most of
it. That didn't mean that the young English woman was not conscious
of the cost, however, and she saw an opportunity to cut the expense
of recording the occasion for posterity.
"So how long are you planing
on staying?" she asked cheerfully, and Greg, in all innocence
began to answer.
"Well, if Mac doesn't want
me out of his sight as fast as possible, I was thinking of staying
around for a couple of weeks," he replied non-committally.
"I have three months before I actually have to be anywhere
specific, so I'm travelling."
Beren's smile grew wider as she
planned her course of attack: the wedding was in two an a half
months, and Greg had as good as said he was free. She, of course,
was oblivious to the fact that there was history here, between
her fiance and this man that would probably not make for a calm
"So what did you used to
photograph?" she enquired, as if she were just making conversation.
"Art," he replied with
a laugh, "at least that's what I called it. I think I was
just trying to find darkness anywhere and everywhere, so I could
parade it in front of polite society. It made me sought after
for a while, but I can't say it made me happy."
"Well, what do you photograph
now?" Beren tried again.
"Anything that doesn't get
out of the way fast enough," he responded lightly.
Now this was going in the direction
the young woman had in mind. However, before she had a chance
to get her teeth into the subject of choice, her companion's head
rose sharply and his eyes moved to the door in a gesture with
which Beren was all too familiar.
"Oh, your that kind of old
friend," she said quietly as Craven walked through the door.
Greg heard the comment, but he
was too busy watching the newcomer to actually address it. The
blond Immortal's face was set in firmly neutral lines as he wandered
through the dojo and into the office.
"Morning, Beren," he
greeted cordially, "who's your companion?"
"Gregor Powers," the
dark haired man introduced himself calmly, "I'm waiting for
"Craven Manheim," the
other returned evenly. "I don't recall Duncan ever mentioning
you, but then again he has a lot of friends. You are a friend
I take it?"
"My intentions are purely
peaceful," Greg promised faithfully. "I just dropped
by to see Mac, and thank him for some help he gave me a while
He wasn't about to go into details
with another Immortal, and he kept all his references vague, since
he didn't know exactly what Beren knew.
"Well. I'll go get the material,"
Beren said, cutting straight through the atmosphere. "That
is why you're here isn't it, for the trimmings? It's so sweet
of you to deliver them to the dressmaker for me. If she didn't
live on the other side of the city, I'd have asked Duncan to do
it, but I had enough trouble just getting the pair of them to
"Yes," Craven started
as she smiled," but..."
She never gave him a chance to
finish the sentence, she disappeared without another word. The
two Immortals were left looking at each other awkwardly.
"Women," Greg commented
with half a smile.
There was silence for a while
as they weighed each other up like a pair of rutting stags, and
finally the ex-photographer couldn't stand the quiet anymore.
"Something special going
on?" he asked conversationally.
"A wedding," his companion
replied shortly, he'd been around long enough not to trust strange
Immortals, however friendly they claimed to be.
The look of happy surprise that
crossed the younger man's face almost snapped Manheim's resolve,
it seemed so honest.
"Whose?" was the next
word out of Greg's mouth. "Can't be MacLeod's, surely. Now
there's an eternal bachelor if ever I've seen one."
"No not, Duncan's,"
the other returned, he refused to weaken.
At that point the dark haired
Immortal recognised defeat. There was no way in seven hells that
he was going to get a conversation out of this man. He slumped
back in the chair and waited for his hostess to return.
The young woman in question made
her entrance from the elevator several minutes later. She was
carrying a large brown paper parcel and as soon as he saw her,
Craven made a very gentlemanly dash to relieve her of her burden.
He followed her back into the office still eyeing Gregor suspiciously.
"I'll just get you the address,"
the bride to be chatted happily, "it's here somewhere."
She routed around on the desk
for a moment and then produced a piece of paper with the flare
of a mission successfully completed. The look on Craven's face
when she tried to give it to him, however, told her that it wasn't
going to be that easy to get rid of him.
"Beren," he said pointedly,
"Richie would go for my head if he found out I left you here
with a strange Immortal."
The blond man didn't miss the
frown that passed across Greg's face at the mention of Beren's
"These things have to be
there by twelve, I promised," the young woman continued oblivious
"Richie's still around?"
Greg's voice interrupted both of his companion's next sentences.
"Last I heard he had moved on."
The coldness returned to Craven's
eyes as quickly as it had begun to melt. He knew the reaction
he saw, this man most definitely did not want to meet MacLeod's
"Things change," the
Immortal said evenly. "I'm surprised you didn't know, being
such a good friend of Mac's."
"I've been out of circulation
for a while," the other shot back.
His mind was working on several
scenarios, and he wasn't fond of any of them.
"Maybe this wasn't such
a good idea," he commented, more to himself than the other
two people in the same room. "I think I'll give Mac a call
Manheim leapt on the chink in
the armour of cheerful calm.
"Is there something between
you and Richie?" he asked quickly and placed himself deliberately
in the doorway.
Greg's smile was gone and he
did not look happy about the threatening glare Craven was giving
him. The air of tense unease was rapidly turning into hostility,
and that was not why the dark haired Immortal had dropped by.
"Look I don't want any trouble,"
he said evenly. "Last time I was around, Richie and I parted
on very bad terms. It was all my fault and I don't want to cause
any problems here. I think it would be best if I just leave. I
really don't want to be here if Richie turns up."
There was a definite air of disapproval
from Manheim, but the only thing he could do to stop this man
leaving was challenge him, and he'd rather not do that. Greg climbed
to his feet slowly. This visit was getting way too complicated.
It was supposed to have just been a simple meeting and a chat
about old times, he was not interested in battles. He was working
on a worst case basis, and in doing so, assumed that Richie would
hold a grudge. The kid had still been Mortal and Greg had nearly
killed him. It was not a great foundation on which to start an
Immortal relationship, beginnings like that usual made for endings
that involved blades.
Beren felt very uncomfortable
at the cold tension that now reverberated from the two men. The
morning had been going so well and suddenly it didn't look so
"Let him go, Craven,"
she said quietly. "I believe him, and we can always check
when Duncan comes back."
The tall individual did as he
was told as Greg picked up his bag, and grudgingly, he let him
"I'm sorry if I upset you,"
the dark haired Immortal apologised as he stepped past the door
frame, "it wasn't my intention. I hope the wedding goes well."
And with that he headed for the
exit, but fate wasn't going to let him get away that easily. The
room was empty, both regulars having headed for the showers, and
as he neared the way out he was hit by the most incredible sense
of another Immortal. He prayed it wasn't the Highlander and his
pupil, that would be all he needed. His luck wasn't quite as bad
as it could have been, however, and he was almost relieved as
he was confronted by two women.
Amanda and Madelaine stood in
the doorway for a moment and sized up the stranger, then they
walked in. There was no misjudging the hostility in Craven's stance
and they did not take their eyes of the potential threat.
"What the hell is this,"
Gregor demanded loudly, "a convention?"
He wasn't going to push his chances,
however, and before any more Immortals could appear from the woodwork,
he left. The two woman headed towards their friend to find out
exactly what was going on.
of Part 1