The news that there was a strange
Immortal in the immediate area went round the group like wild
fire. It was all Duncan could do to stop Richie leaving the fitting
as soon as the phone call turned up, but he did manage to convince
him that there were plenty of people to look after Beren. All
seven were in town at the moment, Methos was making the trip from
Paris look like a regular commute as he pursued his relationship
with Madi. The others had decided that the pair enjoyed acting
like a couple of covert operatives whenever they met up, and the
joy they found in each other was obvious to all. He did, however,
refrain from running to the side of his beloved at the news. As
seemed to be common in Immortal circles, Chris had gone into his
mentor's business, and he was with one of Craven's clients when
the call came through, so he took the information on board and
continued as if nothing was unusual.
Beren finally persuaded Manheim
that two Immortals were enough to look after her and sent him
on the errand. So when the Highlander and his protege finally
returned they found the three woman gossiping in the office. The
bride to be fell into her future husband's arms, but she was liable
to do that at every opportunity, so it didn't reflect on the mood
she was in.
"Don't look so worried,"
she said cheerfully at the expression on Richie's face, "everyone
seems to be over-reacting big time."
Duncan looked undecided on the
situation. The last contact he'd had with the artist, the other
Immortal had seemed to have pulled his life together, but that
was no guarantee he was still okay.
"How did Gregor seem?"
he asked slowly as Richie finally appeared to relax a little.
When he'd heard who it was that
had dropped in the young man had almost gone ballistic. His last
memory of the photographer was a raving lunatic who'd thrown him
against a door. The thought of that man in the same room as Beren
had nearly caused him to explode. Mac had not bothered to try
and talk him out of his blinkered view of Greg, he'd wanted to
be sure it was the right thing to do first.
"He appeared to be a great
guy," the English rose told them with half a smile on her
face. "He was happy and friendly. If Craven hadn't of turned
up I'd still be here chatting to him."
The Immortal Richie had met all
that time ago could never have been called happy or particularly
friendly, and both adjectives in the same sentence did not sit
right. Now that his love was within his sight and he was sure
she was totally unharmed, he was beginning to calm down, but he
did have a right to over-react. Mac had explained Greg's problem
to both he and Tessa after the Immortal had left the scene all
that time ago. Richie could understand the despair and contempt
from an aesthetic point of view, but he just couldn't distance
himself from the memory of a hand clasped around his neck.
"I don't trust him,"
the young Immortal said firmly, and the look in his eye bore no
It was Richie's gut reaction,
and Duncan realised exactly where it came from, but he wasn't
so quick to condemn. He'd known Gregor for a long time and he'd
seen the good man that had been. The Highlander had experienced
the emptiness of Immortality more than once in his own life, and
he'd fallen into it's depths. His pupil was working from experience
that was very short and narrow, Mac was more inclined to give
his old friend a second chance.
"Rich, it sounds like he's
back to what he was," the older Immortal began. "You
never saw the Gregor who was a dear friend to me, the man who
cared more about saving Mortal lives than his own. You can't..."
"What I saw was a guy who
wanted to kill me," rationality was not high in the young
man's mind and the calming influence of Beren was losing ground.
"He'd decided he couldn't feel anything so he wanted someone
else to do it for him. I was mortal, MacLeod, I didn't know I
wouldn't be gone very long and I don't want to see anyone go through
the same thing. Greg is a fruit loop, he can't be trusted."
The strength of his feeling on
this subject was in his tone, and every Immortal knew what he
was hinting at. There was one person who was not quite as Mortal
as most people thought, and Richie was worried for Karina as well
as Beren. The other Immortals were beginning to see a clearer
picture of why their young friend was so upset, but they were
not about to enter the heated discussion going on between mentor
"That was years ago,"
the Scotsman was going for plain facts now, "he got help.
Last time I spoke to him he was sorting himself out, he was letting
go of the anger. I know there is no excuse for what he did, but
you can't condemn a man for one mistake."
"One!" Richie's voice
was becoming louder all the time. "I seem to remember something
about him going for your head as well. The man's over the edge..."
"You're being totally irrational,"
it was Duncan's turn to interrupt. "I can understand you
not wanting him around, maybe now's not a good time, but try and
remember what we stand for."
Beren was stood about a foot
away from Richie now, when the conversation had heated up he'd
broken away. She was still close enough to see the look in his
eyes, however, and she saw all logical thought vacate his mind.
If there was one thing that could be said about the young Immortal,
it was that he sometimes had a tendency to be overprotective.
Where his fiancee was concerned he did not hold back, and he saw
Gregor as a threat, a danger with which Beren had come into contact.
There would be no talking to him now, not until he had had time
to calm down, or the only person in the room who could break the
stubborn streak spoke up. Mac's interruption caused his pupil
to fall into a dangerous silence, and Richie's lover saw the explosion
"Stop it, both of you,"
the English rose said suddenly and brought the discusion
to a rapid halt.
The look in her husband-to-be's
eyes was immediately a little confused. She smiled at him gently
and reached out to hold his hand.
"Darling, I think you're
not being very objective here," she said calmly. "I
know you have your reasons, but I believe that there's not really
a problem here. Greg came to see Duncan and as soon as he heard
you were here he left. He knows you wouldn't be pleased to see
him and so he went away to avoid any trouble. He said he was just
passing through so he'll be gone soon anyway."
All thoughts of a wedding photographer
had gone out of her head when she'd seen Richie's reaction to
the other Immortal. Now all she wanted was to prevent her lover
from taking any action against the transient artist whilst he
was in town.
"In this case I really think
he's telling the truth," she continued as she watched her
words have an effect. "Let Mac handle this, he knows the
man better than you do."
Richie could argue with most
people, he had a obstinate side so bull- headed that he could
dispute the most rational point, but not with Beren. Maybe it
was the loving, innocent expression on her face that always seemed
to appear at these times, or maybe it was the slight tilt of the
head and the way she looked up at him through long eye lashes.
There was just something that took away every contention that
came into his mind.
Everyone saw the pained expression
cross the young blond Immortal's face and then fade away, taking
with it all the heat in the conversation. Amanda and Madi looked
at each other and smiled slightly, as they acknowledged the art
of a woman with her man. Richie didn't like the current situation,
but now there was nothing he could do about it. The potential
bad things on the horizon had been skilfully defused.
"I'll make sure he doesn't
come here again," Mac said slowly, to ease his friend's consternation.
"Just do me one favour: have a think about how much a person
What could the young man say
to that? He was assailed from all sides.
Beren watched her fiance crash
around the kitchen for a while after they went home for lunch,
his cooking had improved, but today his humour hadn't. The onions
were taking a beating from a very sharp knife when she finally
decided that maybe they needed rescuing. She didn't have the full
picture here, and the only way she was going to understand was
"Want to talk about it?"
she enquired quietly and made him jump.
He'd been so lost in his own
thoughts and so busy pulverising the helpless vegetables, that
he hadn't heard her come in.
"Sorry," she apologised
He shook his head at that statement.
"I'm the one who should
be sorry," he responded rapidly, "I haven't said more
than two words to you since we left the dojo."
She reached out and pushed a
wayward curl away from his face, for a moment he looked so lost.
There was usually something about Immortals, something that set
them apart, an air that said they had a purpose, that they knew
where they were going. It was there even when on the outside their
lives seemed to have no direction. An Immortal's place in the
scheme of things was written, even if their day to day living
was confused. Just for a moment Richie lost that look, for a second
he looked so vulnerable, so Mortal.
"He must have done something
terrible to you," the young, English woman observed in no
more than a whisper.
Her lover's eyes glazed in memory
at her words, the recollections were so clear, but he blinked
them away quickly.
"It would probably seem
tame compared to some of the things I've seen since," he
told her slowly, "some of the things I've done. I had no
idea it had effected me so much, but when I heard his name I went
He turned back to what he was
doing for a moment, using the transferring of the onions to the
saucepan on the stove as an excuse to gather his thoughts.
"I've stood against Immortals
many times my age, I've killed, but somehow it's all different,"
he tried to explain his reasoning. "When I died everything
changed, I moved into a different way of life, I became something
different. The Game is part of me like it's part of every other
Immortal, the fighting is expected, but I met Gregor before I
Now Beren was beginning to understand.
"I was just in the wrong
place at the wrong time," he continued slowly. "He was
so out of control, and there I was bang in the middle. Maybe if
he'd just hit me and gone I wouldn't be reacting like this, but
I was looking into his eyes as he held me against a door by my
throat. He asked me if I wanted to know what it felt like to die.
I've never felt my Mortality quite so clearly as I did in that
He gave the onions a cursory
"I begged for my life,"
he admitted eventually, it was a difficult thing to do. "I
was just a kid who didn't want to die. And this was from a man
who I thought had been my friend. I've never felt anything quite
like it, the betrayal, the fear. Even when I really was killed,
it wasn't the same. This was so ... personal."
He probably couldn't have told
anyone else, except Chris, what he had explained to her, and Beren
couldn't help but reach out and hug him. The saucepan was forgotten
and it's contents left to caramelise as the two young people wrapped
themselves in each other for a while.
That wasn't the end of it though,
the issue was out in the open, but it wasn't solved. When they
broke apart, Richie could see the question in his love's eyes.
"I don't know what made
him like that," Beren began slowly, trying to judge he companion's
reaction, "but the man who could do that wasn't the same
as the man I met today. I'm not saying I met an angel, but he's
The young Immortal knew she was
right, but there was a part of him that couldn't let go.
"I can't trust him,"
he told her quietly, "I can't even conceive of being in the
same room as him. Don't you see, it doesn't matter what he is
now, I'll still see what was in his eyes that night."
She ran her fingers through his
hair and gently kissed him on the nose.
"Then maybe you should meet
with him," she said evenly. "I think that otherwise
you'll be haunted forever."
Richie wasn't about to tell her
that half his mind didn't trust himself to do that. That half
of him thought if he ever came into contact with Greg, the outcome
would not be pretty. She was right, he would never be able to
put away that ghost, but was it worth the risk? He could accept
the fact that maybe the photographer had changed on an intellectual
level, but not at the point that guided his sword arm. Instinct
was very strong, and his instincts told him to remove the danger.
If they ever met, that could be very bad for Duncan's old friend.
"Richie really doesn't like
this guy, does he?" Amanda had been working up to the subject
for about half an hour and this was her play.
"You could say that,"
Duncan responded and poured the coffee.
Lunch was over and the young
Immortal in question had just secreted himself in the office downstairs.
It was never difficult to tell when Richie had something on his
mind and Mac's lover chose now to ask the Scot about his protege
and satisfy her curiosity.
"Greg," the Highlander
continued, "was depressed, suicidal and homicidal
the last time we saw each other. Richie was in the antique store
when he came looking for me, and when he left Rich was out cold
on the floor. They were friends for a while, it's not easy to
forgive something like that."
"He's forgiven more,"
the female Immortal pointed out, "look what Craven did to
Duncan looked at her with his,
you know that's not the same, look.
"None of us had a great
deal of choice when it came to Craven," he said evenly. "Events
were rather taken out of our hands. I can't quite understand why
he's reacting so badly though, Greg happened a long time ago."
Amanda uncurled from her position
on the couch and wandered over to the counter, Mac passed her
"A long time ago when Richie
was Mortal," Amanda said with genuine insight. "Someone
trying to kill you is a hazard of being Immortal, it's a little
more difficult to come to terms with when you only get one chance."
There was a slightly surprised
look on the Highlander's face, he was not used to his companion
making such observations. Living forever had it's drawbacks, sometimes
you forgot what it was like to have only a single life.
"This may just be the first
of many hurdles," the older Immortal continued calmly. "There
must be Immortals out there you wouldn't want to invite into our
little company, I know there are some I wouldn't want, but do
we have the right to disbar them just because we don't like them?"
She had a valid point. Duncan
had automatically wanted Jackson Peters to be given a chance to
join their community even though he had come head hunting, but
there were some others he would rather not have anything to do
with. Their over riding aim was to increase their number and stay
alive, but personal prejudices had yet to be overcome.
Richie seemed to be dead set
against having anything to do with Gregor, whereas Mac still saw
him as a friend. There was no telling what would happen if Duncan
ever suggested the group bring in the photographer.
"I don't know," the
Scotsman replied slowly. "How deep do some of our hatreds
run and what would that make us if they were to be taken away?"
The other Immortal just sipped
her coffee, she had no answer. There sat there in silence for
a while, contemplating their own thoughts, then the phone rang.
Duncan picked it up quickly.
"MacLeod," he answered
He didn't speak for a while as
he listened to the voice on the other end.
"I'll meet you in the park,"
he said eventually, "we can talk then."
It was a very short conversation
and the Highlander looked at his companion as he replaced the
"Now we find out the truth,"
was all he said, and headed towards the coat stand.
of Part 2