They hadn't given Greg enough
time to recover from the shock of seeing the twins to allow complete
scepticism to take hold. The newcomer, therefore, appeared to
be taking any news imparted quite well.
"It really all started when
Chris first appeared," these explanations didn't seem to
get any easier the more practice an individual had. "In case
you're wondering, they're not a freak accident of coincidence,
they really are twins."
It didn't take a genius to realise
there was a connection between the two, but Duncan just wanted
to make sure. Greg seemed to appreciate the clarity, anyway.
"Chris was still Mortal
at the time," the Highlander continued evenly, "and
things settled down until he was killed. The pair of them were
what can only be described as a cosmic catalyst," his descriptions
were becoming more flowery every time he had to explain this.
"All the Quickenings of those lost over the millennia re-
entered the Game through Richie, and into all of us. There can
be only one, has a slightly broader interpretation than most of
us used to think. We don't have to kill each other any more, our
Quickenings have joined, in the sense the rules had in mind, we
are one now. Not all of us were there at the beginning, Amanda
and Adam have been brought in since, and we wanted to offer you
the same opportunity we were given."
Now the scepticism reached the
"Good try, MacLeod,"
Methos commented dryly, "but he believes you about as much
as I did."
Normally, Richie would have taken
this as an expected part of the process, but Greg was not just
another friend of one of them who they were inviting in. He was
standing behind Chris with his arms crossed in a most antagonistic
fashion, and his patience was about as present as his natural
"Why did I bother,"
he couldn't help himself, but he did switch to glaring at the
wall bars, rather then Greg.
His brother decided that maybe
he should help his twin.
"Rich, chill out,"
he said and did his best to produce a placid calmness within himself
that he could lend to the irate Immortal.
"I'm trying," he said
loudly, "I'm trying."
It would have been so much easier
to just walk up to Greg and bring him into the community, but
he hadn't asked, he hadn't challenged anyone and he didn't have
much of a clue what he'd be getting into.
"If you want to go home,
Richie, we can handle the explanation," Amanda offered as
she watched the conflict cross his face.
"No," he shot back
and then managed to grab hold of his raging mind, "thank
you," he continued mentally hanging onto Chris' rock of calm
for dear life, "I'll stay."
The object of the meeting was
beginning to look very uncomfortable. It was not a great situation
to be the centre of attention for such a large group of Immortals.
It usually meant your life expectancy was very short.
"Too weird," Greg commented
as he took yet another glance around the room. "Either whatever
happened drove you all insane or this is a bad joke."
"We're not nuts, and this
isn't a gag," Mac told him firmly. "Take a good long
look at us and see what's different. Have you ever known there
to be this many Immortals in the same place unless they had a
very good reason?"
It was difficult to deny that
such a group was more than a little unusual, and all of them trying
to convince an Immortal who's Quickening was not worth all this
effort, of something this incredible, did not make much sense.
Then there was the way that gatherings of more than two Immortals
had a tendency to bristle, as everyone watched their backs out
of habit. The fact that there was absolutely no sign of any unease
between the seven in front of Greg, was unsettling in it's confirmation.
There was tension in this room, but the photographer was well
aware that it was all directed to and from him.
"You really expect me to
just accept what you've said?" Gregor said incredulously.
"Nope," Madi provided
with a smile, "but we expect it to pique your interest and
spark some questions. After we've answered anything you want to
know, then we expect you to believe us."
The slightly confused young looking
man took an extra step into the room, what could he say to that?
He glanced at the three Mortals on the other side of the room
and decided that it wasn't worth asking the exact role they played
in all of this. The problem wasn't coming up with a question he
wanted answered, it was choosing which one to voice first. Six
Immortals were looking at him, whilst one was doing his best to
stare a hole through the floor, and Greg was a little lost for
It took them over ninety minutes
to convince Greg that they were completely sincere, after about
thirty of which everyone moved upstairs. Everyone gave a brief
insight onto their idea of events except Richie who managed a
few words, but left most of the talking to Chris. Then everyone
left except for the residents of the loft and Greg, with the aim
that Mac could provide any more details that the ex-photographer
It hadn't taken them long to
get home, and they decided to go straight to bed. Richie had made
it half way there, and was sitting on the edge of the divan in
his boxers, gazing blankly at the wall. He'd calmed down considerably
over the evening, but now he just seemed confused. A gentle hand
ran over his shoulder and down his chest as Beren knelt up behind
him, and tried to relieve some of his angst.
"One way or another, it'll
be over soon," she said quietly in his ear. "Greg will
leave or he'll be one of you. Let it go for now."
He reached up and took her hand
in his. Her skin was soft against his and he stroked the inside
of her palm, silent in his contemplation.
"I wish I could," he
said eventually in a voice no more than a whisper. "I thought
I'd buried and forgotten it all, but every time I see his face
or hear his name it all comes back. They say it's what we were
before we die that truly makes us who we are, but this is one
part I wish I could leave behind."
Her other arm came round his
side to complete the embrace and she rested her head on his shoulder
"My poor dear," she
murmured quietly and just held him.
Later, she lay curled around
him, snoring gently in a most adorable way, but he was still awake.
Richie couldn't let his mind rest, it wouldn't stop turning no
matter where he tried to direct it. Sleep would come eventually,
it always did and with it there would be dreams, but for now there
was no rest. In the quiet of the night he could hear the voices.
They were a jumbled mumble that hung at the back of his mind,
but he refused to listen to them. Occasionally something would
leapt out at him, just like the odd memory that had nothing to
do with his past, but he ignored them. At times of stress they
always became louder, threatened to break through the barriers
he put up. Yet tonight they were almost comforting in their familiarity.
The emotions that surrounded every thought of Gregor were alien
and unknown, Richie didn't know how to counter them. With the
voices he had his own way of counteracting their presence.
By four in the morning, Beren
had rolled over and slept with one arm hanging over the other
side of the bed. Her face was calm and peaceful in the world of
dreams, her lovers eyes were still wide open. He'd realised he
was waiting just after one in the morning, and the doubts that
Gregor would say yes to their offer had long since faded. That
Duncan would wait `til morning to confer the gift did not even
occur to the sleepless Immortal, he was so sure it would be in
the hours of darkness.
At five thirty precisely his
head exploded with sound as the Highlander brought Greg into their
community. As the other Immortal's Quickening reached out to join
with the others it momentarily caused the voices to flood Richie's
barriers. They washed over him in a tidal wave and reality dissolved
in the clamouring.
In a hotel room on the other
side of the city Methos and Madi snuggled back down together where
they had been woken by the shock- wave of the inclusion of another.
"He could have bloody well
waited," Adam said as the pair looked at each other, but
there was a smile on his face.
When it came to joining another
to their destiny, if the time was right, it was right and things
"Are you sleepy anymore?"
his partner asked with an evil grin on her face.
Methos had glanced away at the
clock, and he missed the expression she had adopted. If he'd seen
it he might have rephrased his answer.
"Not really," he replied,
the experience of an Immortal entering their community was a distinct
wake up call.
"Oh good," she said
and now he heard the undertone in her voice, "neither am
Before he could do or say anything
else she'd pulled the covers up over her head and he discovered
she had absolutely no intention of going back to sleep. He wasn't
complaining, but sometimes he liked a little warning.
Two things woke Craven, one was
the tingling down his spine and the contentment that followed
it, the other was Chris' scream. The tone was long and loud, and
sounded more like an animals pain than a human being. Nothing
would have stopped the young Immortal's mentor from leaving his
room at that moment. Chris' rooms were on the same level as the
attics and Manheim had to run down the corridor and up a small
flight of stairs to get to them. Kari was wrapped in her lover's
bathrobe and had the door half open by the time he got there.
She was almost in tears.
"I don't know what's wrong,"
she said urgently. "He cried out and now he's curled up and
won't talk to me."
The older Immortal put his own
momentary panic aside as he saw the young woman's distress, and
he put his arm around her as he moved into the room. His pupil
had his ankles crossed, his head between his knees and his arms
over his shoulders as if he were protecting himself from something.
He was totally motionless and the only sound coming out of his
mouth was a pitiful little mewing.
It was a frightening thing to
see, and Craven didn't have a clue what had caused it. He knew
it had to have something to do with Gregor's inclusion, but what,
was beyond him. The event should have been a harbinger of happiness,
not pain as it seemed to be. Manheim moved to his young friend's
side, but he really didn't have a clue what to do.
Suddenly the noise stopped. One
moment the pathetic sound seemed to permeate the whole room, and
then there was silence.
"Chris, can you here me?"
Craven asked quietly and placed a gentle hand on his pupil's back.
Very slowly the young man started
to uncurl, and he blinked at the bedroom light as if he'd never
seen it before. The look on his face was dazed and shocked, and
his complexion was pale, he barely seemed aware of his surroundings.
"It's Richie," he said
very quietly, "I have to get to him."
There was no explanation forthcoming,
but as the Immortal turned to face his mentor he didn't need one.
"I'll take you," he
said rapidly and firmly.
The look in Chris' eyes was enough
to convince anyone that he had to go.
Beren had the phone in her hand
when they arrived and she threw herself into Craven's arms sobbing,
once they made it through the door. Kari took the receiver out
of her hand and began talking to Duncan who was on the other end
as Chris ignored everything and headed straight for the bedroom.
Richie was in the corner in the
exact same position his twin had adopted earlier, only he hadn't
come out of it and the little whine was still filling the room.
There never seemed to be any pause for breath, it was just one
long uninterrupted sound.
Chris could feel the torrents
of confusion washing through his brother, but it was like he was
on one side of a glass wall and his twin was on the other. He
could feel what was going on, but he couldn't do anything about
it. For a time, when it had started, he and Richie had been one,
sharing everything, both experiencing the agony of voices that
threatened to remove all sanity. Then it was as if Richie had
pushed his brother away, propelled him beyond the conflict, out
of harms way. If he wanted to help him, Chris knew he had to find
a way back into his sibling's mind.
He sat down next to his almost
catatonic twin and hesitantly reached out to him. He took hold
of Richie's hands where they were clenched tightly behind his
"Let me in, Rich,"
he said quietly and thrust his mind against the wall of thought.
What Chris could not know was
that his brother was not even aware he was there. The part of
Richie that was not instinct had retreated. The section of his
self that was logic and higher thought processes had found the
calm in the storm, and he was hiding. His body reacted, that which
was reflex to stimuli fought it's own battle, but conscious thought
had withdrawn. This piece of him had no sense of bravery, no sense
of honour, it had seen a danger to it and had taken cover in a
desperate need to survive.
For the whole that was Richard
Ryan it was like being in a dream as the conflict raged, but his
sentience stood away from it and watched. Images flashed before
him, but he was caught in a world of silence where nothing touched
"This will not work, you
know," a voice suddenly said and Richie's mental image of
himself turned to find himself looking into a pair of kind old
Darius smiled at him with all
the gentleness the young Immortal remembered him having. If there
had been emotion here, Richie would probably have reacted to the
monk's presence, but all that was in this place was logic and
reason, the feelings were fighting for his sanity.
"You can't be here,"
the blond Immortal's shade said to the image before him.
"Oh, but I can," Darius
replied calmly, "I am part of you after all."
He reached out and took his young
"Think of it this way,"
he said serenely. "You are talking to an aspect of yourself
personified by all that I was. You yourself know the way out of
this situation, but you just need to explain it to that part of
you which is rational thought. You took us all in and then denied
our existence. We are now aspects of you, and we must be accepted
Richie's face was a calm and
placid as the priest's, and he just waited for the conversation
"You must recognise us,"
the image of Darius told him with a compassionate expression on
his face. "It's time for you to name us all, accept us for
what we are. We are not alien things, aspects of other personalities,
we are all you. Some day we will be parts of all the others as
well, but for now a large number of us are just you, some are
both you and Chris and a very few have crossed to the group. You've
integrated others before, Mako, Mickey, Kristov, you just did
not know you were doing it. This time there were so many of us
that the process cannot be left to the dark corners of your mind.
Our power is yours now, you must embrace it."
"But I'm losing me,"
the younger Immortal protested.
The smile was kind and understanding.
"You cannot loose what is
truly yours," he said calmly, "merely become more. The
hardest part was letting us in, it could have destroyed you, but
you did it without trying to resist. Lay your ghosts to rest,
Richie, or you will never know peace. We are already shaped by
who you are, do not fight with yourself."
It was a terrifying prospect,
and the barrier that kept this place separate almost broke as
Richie considered it.
"You are alive, child,"
Darius told him gently, "we are only the remnants of those
who have died. You give us form, you give us any power over you
that you imagine we have. Recognise us and shape us to your purpose,
it is the only way."
"But I don't remember the
way back," his voice was small and suddenly afraid.
The tumult was part of his world
again, it howled and the mental image was buffeted by imaginary
"Let your brother help you,"
the monk said, his voice still low but strangely audible above
the noise, "he can find you."
There was no space, the calm
was gone and the cataclysm threatened to ripe him apart. There
was nothing else he could do.
"Chris," Richie threw
his head back and screamed the name.
End of Part