The hotel wasn't exactly the
place anyone would expect to find a man who'd come into town on
a crowded bus, but Greg's means of transport had been one of choice
not necessity. His place of residence was also chosen carefully,
and the doorman let him in with a smile as he wandered up the
pristinely clean steps. Depression may have robbed the Immortal
of his reason, it had not taken away a keen sense for a good investment.
Greg, like most Immortals over a hundred years old had plenty
of money on which to live. He'd been out exploring since his meeting
with MacLeod and what he didn't really expect was a message waiting
for him already. The receptionist handed him the piece of paper
with his key and he began to read as he stepped into the sparkling
"Meet me at the docks, tonight
at seven," was all the note said, there was no name.
The first thing that Greg's eyes
settled on as he walked into his room was the black bag in the
corner. He'd had his clothes shipped on ahead, and they'd all
been carefully hung up ready for his arrival. It was a very different
man who walked out of hotel to that which had walked in from his
chat with an old friend. Greg had chosen a light brown jacket,
pressed shirt and jeans and a shower had revived him completely.
His coat hung in a telltale way that any Immortal would recognise,
Greg was recovered, he was not stupid.
The dark haired Immortal was
not quite sure who he expected to find when he arrived at his
destination. If it had been a message from Mac, he'd have put
his name to it, unless of course it was just an administrative
cockup. It was possible that one of the others wanted to meet
him for reasons of there own. Mac had explained that they were
all friends, but that had never stopped Immortals going behind
others backs if they perceived a threat. The significance of the
docks was not lost on him, but any of those close to Duncan could
have that knowledge. That it might be Richie crossed his mind,
and the sword fell heavy against his side every time this occurred
When he stepped out of the cab
and paid the fair he was resigned to whatever turned up. It wasn't
exactly the best lit part of the city, but the odd warehouse light
and street lamp lit his way to the place that had once been his
workshop. He sensed no-one else and checking his watch he realised
he was more than ten minutes early. With a little bite of nostalgia
he sat down on an available post and waited.
He caught sight of the approaching
Immortal at the same time he felt his presence and the dark figure
stopped in the shadow cast by a large stack of boxes. Greg stood
and peered into the darkness, but he couldn't make out who it
Richie hadn't known what to expect
of the photographer or himself, and he was surprised by the way
his whole body froze. Greg was framed by light, and even though
he couldn't see the younger Immortal, Richie could see him very
clearly, and it sent him into the spirals of unbidden memory.
It was like turning time back and then slowing it down to a painful
crawl. The sense of another Immortal was forgotten as the twin
was caught in a tidal wave of remembered Mortality.
He remember the same face etched
with rage, the same eyes glaring into his own and it took away
his will. There had been something wrong the moment Greg had walked
into the shop that night. An instinct had told Richie that the
Immortal was not the man he had befriended so recently. The pots
smashing as a leather clad arm swept them off the glass case played
itself out in infinite slowness, as the young Immortal's mind
worked. The brooding calm and then the sudden episodes of furious
rage had warned of what was to come. Reason had just run off the
psychotic photographer like water on wax, and fear had started
in the pit of Richie's stomach. He remembered that fear so clearly
he could taste it in the back of his mouth.
His muscles were tense as his
thoughts replayed the run to the exit and the pressure of being
held against a door by a hand threatening to cut off his air.
It was almost as if he could feel the fingers clasped around his
neck, the nails slightly digging in to the sides as the fear began
complete terror. The words sounded in his mind, distorted by the
slowness of time, and he saw the insanity that had been in his
captor's eyes. The moment he'd realised all hope of talking was
gone passed in his head with painful clarity. The exact second
he'd known that his only way out was to act, was there in it's
entirety. He remembered the pain of being thrown against the door
and the release into blackness that had probably saved his life,
passed through his minds eye. It all came and went, all except
the terror, that stayed, and it wouldn't go away.
The paralysing fear made him
feel so helpless, and that made him angry. The rage burned very
hot, and suddenly he was glad he'd left the sword on his bike.
He could see Greg was carrying, but his rational side trusted
Mac's judgement, and he knew that both of them being armed would
have been a very bad idea. It didn't change the fact that he was
furious, but the small part of his brain that was still acting
rationally was thanking every deity of which it could conceive.
The mixture of emotion freed him from the statue like pose into
which he had frozen and he took one step into the light.
What Greg saw was an Immortal
whose gaze could have destroyed the strongest man, and he really
expected to see a sword in Richie's hand.
"You know," the blond
individual said in what sounded like a frighteningly calm voice,
"I really want to kill you."
His tone had gone beyond emotion,
it was totally cold.
His opponents thoughts went immediately
to his own blade, but unless he was very much mistaken, Richie
was unarmed. The younger Immortal had chosen his garb so that
there could be no doubt. Not even the most cunning of their race
could produce a sword from a pair jeans and a T-shirt.
"You seem somewhat unprepared
to take my head," Greg observed slowly, he was a little confused.
"I said I wanted to kill
you," Richie replied in the same heartless voice, "I
never mention anything about wanting your Quickening."
The other was still puzzled,
but he was beginning to catch the drift.
"You seem to bring out some
very Mortal ideas in me," the blond Immortal continued carefully.
"I had nightmares about you for weeks, I think I discovered
true hatred. You had no right to do that to me, and I can't seem
to get beyond it."
The rage that burned through
the younger man was so obvious in his stance that it not being
in his voice was particularly eerie. Richie was a study in contradictions
as he stood there, but then he had been that for some time now.
"I'm sorry," Greg said
with genuine feeling, and even through his anger the blond man
"I know you're sorry,"
he returned, a little of the heat finally showing in his tone.
"If you weren't Mac would never be suggesting some of the
things he is. There's only one problem: it doesn't make a damn
bit of difference. You have the same face, the same voice, and
I can't just forget what you did. Believe me, I've been trying.
All day I've been attempting to rid your glaring eyes from my
mind, but I can't."
"So what are we going to
do about that?" Greg asked, he attitude one of true enquiry.
"I don't know," the
They stood there in silence,
just watching each other as if they'd never seen the other before.
"Would it be any easier
if I put my sword down?" the ex-photographer suggested, much
to his opponent's surprise.
"It might," was all
Greg was determined to try and
make up for what he had done. It wasn't often an Immortal had
a chance to right a mistake, usually they were quite fatal, and
this one was taking the chance he was given. He knew what it was
like to carry scars of other people's deeds and he couldn't just
let this one slide. He eased off the jacket and placed it on the
post he had just vacated. Then he moved away, and the two men
were facing each other totally unarmed.
Quite perversely, Greg's attitude
was infuriating to Richie. It would have been so much easier if
he had been the monster the blond Immortal remembered. He wanted
to destroy the image in his mind, the madman that still made part
of him quake. The memories had been buried so deep, but now they
were like an open wound that wouldn't heal. His mind briefly considered
what would happen if Greg became one of the group. All hostility
would melt away, Richie knew that, but it wasn't good enough.
A small section of his being demanded vengeance, and he felt compelled
to feed it's need.
It wasn't hard to see the explosion
coming, and the dark haired Immortal did nothing to avoid the
blast. The fist came flying and Greg didn't even try to move out
of the way. It connected with his jaw with all the force of Richie's
anger and the victim went flying backwards. He landed in a heap
two feet from where he had been standing, and the world swam.
It was all the attacker could do to keep from kicking him when
he was down.
The fire dimmed a little, but
the flames still hurt. Part of Richie so wanted Gregor to climb
to his feet, but instead the Immortal just lay there. The animalistic
centre of the blond man's soul screamed for him to leap in for
the kill, but an honour driven just as deep held him back. Once
there had been a Richie Ryan that would have taken his advantage
and followed it through, but he hadn't been Immortal, and he hadn't
been around Duncan MacLeod.
He half screamed, half yelled
out his frustration. It was a feral cry that Greg understood all
"The dojo, two hours,"
Richie shouted hotly, "be there."
Then he turned on his heel and
literally ran from the fallen man. Greg was left dazed, confused,
and unsure of whether it would be good for his health to obey
Some would have said that Greg
was a little crazy for actually turning up at the appointed place,
but one thing he never did was run from a fight. He was no closer
to figuring out exactly what awaited him after two hours of wandering
around in a thoughtful daze. The only small glimmer of hope he
had was that the dojo would be a bad place for a real challenge.
A Quickening would wreck the place, and Immortals had a thing
about not destroying their homes.
One thing he did not expect was
to be hit by quite such a powerful sense of his kin as he walked
up the steps. It was never really possible to tell how many Immortals
were waiting, but that it was more than one was perfectly obvious
to Gregor. When he actually strolled through the door in his best
nonchalant manner, he was stopped dead in his tracks as he saw
how many people were actually waiting for him.
There were two distinct groups
in the room, and his eyes tracked across the smaller one first.
It consisted of Beren, an older man with a walking stick he did
not recognise, and another unfamiliar young woman. It was the
other group that was somewhat more fascinating, however, and he
took a moment to really look at them. He found MacLeod first,
who smiled encouragingly, and partially wound around him was one
of the female Immortals he'd met earlier in the day. Next to her
was Manheim, and after him came a tall hawk nosed man he'd never
laid eyes on before. The look that he sent back was calm and although
not hostile, seemed to be reserving judgement. His hand was grasped
by the other woman who had entered the dojo with MacLeod's friend,
and she nodded a greeting as Greg's gaze passed her.
They were all waiting for something,
that much was obvious, and when he reached the last two occupants
of the room, the ex-photographer found out what. To say that Greg
was shocked would have been doing him an injustice, his reaction
was much better than that. His heart nearly stopped, and almost
every thought evaporated out of his mind, and all that remained
was a feeling that he was in big trouble. Richie's gaze
was still hostile, and it was difficult to miss that his carbon
copy was having problems keeping the same emotion out of his own
Methos' face broke into a broad
grin as he watched the sheer incomprehension register on the newcomer's
face, and remembered a similar reaction on his own part. The momentary
alarm that shifted through Greg's features also seemed to provide
the ancient Immortal with some amusement.
Every one had been somewhat surprised
to get the call earlier in the evening, especially from Richie,
but they had all heeded it. There was really no reason for them
all to be there to explain the situation to the now very bemused
Immortal, but since they'd been asked they had agreed. If their
numbers increased much more, meetings like this would be somewhat
impractical on a regular basis.
Mac was very glad that his student
was trying to put his own feelings aside for the good of the group.
The fact that his anger was almost tangible in the room was a
little of a worry, but it took time to leave such things behind.
The silence was heavy and it didn't seem as if it felt like ending,
so the Highlander took on the role of host. He was, after all,
the only one in the room who could actually profess to really
know the man who had just walked through the door.
"Breathing's good, Greg,"
he said lightly as he watched his friend forget what his lungs
were for, "oxygen tends to do wonders for the brain."
The other Immortal's eyes were
glued in place, he was dumb-struck, but at least he reasserted
the unconscious instinct to maintain his air supply.
"Well you know four of us
here," Duncan continued, as if Greg was paying complete attention.
"The young man you're staring at is Chris, and you seem to
have noticed the startling similarity between him and Richie.
It's a long story that we'll get to in a minute. Then there's
Madelaine, Adam, you've met Craven, this is Amanda, and our Mortal
comrades you haven't seen before are Joe and Karina."
The dark haired newcomer's eyes
did track slowly with the information being imparted, but he was
having difficulty believing what he was seeing.
"This is freaky," were
the first words that came out of his mouth.
"We're quite aware of that,"
Adam put in, his grin becoming broader by the minute.
Watching the discovery from the
other side seemed to be giving the oldest of them no end of mirth.
Observing the explanation was going to be nearly as much fun as
giving the local Watcher network the run around. Since joining
the group, Methos appeared to have lightened up considerably on
his desperate need to keep his true identity completely buried.
It wasn't that he was being careless, or wanted anyone to find
out who he was, but it was as if it was much more of a game now.
Some of it was his new found comradeship, and the rest was probably
a great deal to do with Madi.
Greg had no knowledge of Watchers,
and certainly hadn't a clue that one of the Immortals in the room
was the oldest of those left. If he chose to join them, everything
would have to be explained, until then Joe was just a friend and
Methos was just Adam.
"What's this all about?"
the ex-photographer finally rediscovered coherent thought.
"Things have changed since
you were last here," Mac offered calmly, "and it means
we have a secret, something we want to share with you. Don't worry,
no-one here wants your head, and if you think we're crazy once
we've explained feel free to just leave."
A little of the tension ran out
of Greg's stance as he heard the assurances, but he was still
very much on edge.
"Go for the quick explanation,"
Craven suggested amiably, "then he can ask questions later."
There was only one problem with
that, it was difficult to come up with a short description of
what had occurred without sounding completely insane. The Scotsman
gathered his thoughts and tried to decide where to start.
"Something happened here
earlier this year," he began, erring on the side of caution,
"and it had rather a startling effect on those involved,
and the Game in general."
of Part 4