The barrier was suddenly gone
and the full force of Chris' mind suddenly burst into Richie's.
The change was so sudden that he gasped for breath as his twin
let him in and his thoughts cut straight through the hurricane
of confusion in his brother's head.
Richie felt hands in his own
and reality came thudding back like a mountain landing on him.
He was cramped, he was shaking and perversely, he was hungry.
So much relief flooded through
Chris as he felt his twin move and a semblance of thought start
in what had been unreadable turmoil, that he felt dizzy. He couldn't
decide if he wanted to laugh or cry, the release was so great.
All he could think to do as Richie looked up at him with bleary
eyes, was to give him a huge hug.
It was once Richie had seemingly
begun to recover that, Kari who was completely better from her
earlier episode with Chris, took charge, and in the true British
fashion she had learnt from her lover, put the kettle on. Whilst
Chris had been trying to get through to his brother, the young
woman had explained the entire situation to Duncan, who had only
had a garbled pleas for help from Beren. Once the crisis appeared
to be over she had imparted the news to the Highlander as he hung
on to the other end of the line, and then rung off with promises
to explain in the morning.
With Beren on one side and Chris
on the other, Richie made it to the living room, but he was more
than a little shaky on his legs. Once she was sure he wasn't about
to keel over, his fiancee took enough time to go and collect a
blanket and wrapped him in it. Then she tucked her legs up underneath
herself on the sofa and refused to be more than a few millimetres
away from him.
Richie still seemed dazed, but
he accepted the steaming hot cup of tea Karina produced from the
kitchen a minute or so after he had settled. He hadn't said anything
since he'd opened his eyes, and no- one was pushing for information.
If he was going to tell them anything it had been silently agreed
between everyone that it would be in his own sweet time.
"Thanks," he said about
thirty seconds after he had been presented with the drink and
his manners caught up.
Nobody was quite sure what to
do or say. On the one hand no-one wanted to appear overly curious,
but on the other, sitting there in complete silence was particularly
ridiculous. The tea seemed to have all of Richie's attention,
his brain being in sequential rather than parallel mode at the
moment, but shortly the fact that it was very quiet even dawned
on him. He peered over the mug and swung his gaze past everyone.
"Stuck for conversation,
huh?" he said and the smallest smile played at the corners
of his mouth.
It was typical of Richie to see
the funny side, and it brought a snort of disbelief from his brother.
"Okay, we can go, people,
he's got his sense of humour back," Chris announced sarcastically.
That brought a slightly bigger
smile from his sibling, but it slowly faded away as the memories
of the past half an hour intruded once more. The crisis was over,
but there were still mountains to climb. Richie's mind was a bit
of a mess at the present time and he knew it was going to take
some serious thought to reassert order. Less than three months
before the wedding was probably not a good time to discover this,
but he'd had very little choice. He really didn't feel like explaining
what had happened, but he could see the need to know in all the
eyes that were looking at him.
Chris felt the acknowledgement
from his brother, and then he couldn't help himself, he launched
into a question.
"What the hell was that?"
he asked pointedly.
All he had to go on were flashes
of confusion and fear, but he knew his sibling had a better understanding.
Normally the twins would have passed the information automatically,
but this time Richie was in no state to hold his own mind together,
let alone allow another person access to it.
"Greg's inclusion caused
the voices to overflow," the explanation was designed to
impart knowledge to Chris, none of the others had a clue what
the blond Immortal was talking about, "but I know what I
have to do now."
The pair looked at each other
a moment and then Richie continued.
"I've been a bit of an idiot,"
this was a better start to letting the rest of the room understand.
"We absorbed all those Quickenings and then expected them
all to just go away. I've been ignoring their presence for months,
just trying to forget that they're part of us. Tonight I was rather
sharply reminded that they're there."
The light of comprehension began
to dawn in Craven's eyes, he was beginning to realise what had
"Are you saying that the
psyches of all those Immortals are still intact?" he enquired
Since it seemed to be question
time, and Richie appeared willing to talk, there was no reason
not to join in.
"Sort of," was the
quiet, but firm reply. "When we take a head we absorb all
that that person was, we automatically integrate them into ourselves.
I never really thought about it before, but there are parts of
me that are the same as the Immortals I've killed. Sections of
me are like Mako for example, and I made his power part of mine
by accepting that. There were so many at the Dividing that it
couldn't just happen like that. Bits and pieces became part of
me and part of you, but it was random, incomplete. It's still
as if they're separate entities, they have not been recognised."
Manheim was looking a little
awe-struck, he'd never considered a Quickening in that way either,
but when pointed out it seemed so obvious. It took some Immortals
years to realise what appeared to have occurred to Richie in only
a few moments. It was quite a frightening concept when observed
in cold black and white because the battles that raged were usually
between enemies. To accept what the blond young man said, an Immortal
had to admit that something within themselves was the same as
the people they had killed, and that was frightening.
"Can we help?" the
older Immortal asked quietly.
"Not at the moment,"
the other replied slowly, and he looked a little lost for a second.
"These are my voices, aspects of me. It's why it takes so
long to transfer any knowledge between us, you're absorbing one
aspect at a time, the way it's supposed to be done. You'll have
the same knowledge eventually, but I have to know my ghosts before
I can let you have them."
He actually smiled at his last
words. Earlier he had been afraid of the voices, but now, as he
thought of the kind face of Darius, he realised he'd been so blind.
[I'll call if I need a brace,
Bro,] his voice said in his twin's mind.
As he'd been talking the truth
seemed to have sunk in, and he didn't seem as apprehensive now.
His tight shield around his thoughts was down again and Chris
began to feel as if this might actually be turning out all right.
[I'll be here,] he replied and
half smiled back.
Much to most people's surprise
Karina handed Richie the phone.
"Since you seem to have
made a remarkable recovery," she said brightly, "not
that I have a clue what you're talking about, you can call Duncan
and put his mind at rest."
She looked determined and the
young Immortal chose not to argue.
There were great advantages to
working with people who shared the same lifestyle, one of which
was when everyone slept in there were no awkward explanations
to the boss.
Beren's hours were irregular
as it was because she'd gone onto flexitime to allow her the freedom
to organise the wedding as much as she liked. Her father's dig
had finished months ago, but with Paul and Duncan on her side
she'd been offered plenty of work after that. Yvonne, Beren's
mother was going to be coming over two weeks before the wedding
to help with the final arrangements, and the family kept in regular
contact over the phone.
Working in a bar meant that Kari's
day often began at midday anyway, Chris had no appointments the
next morning, neither did Craven, and Duncan put a note on the
outside of the dojo apologising for late opening.
Given the previous nights events,
Mac was surprised to see Richie climb off his bike and head for
the door at ten in the morning. The Highlander hadn't really thought
that his protege would show his face all day. He looked over to
where Greg had dropped in for a late breakfast and it was obvious
who the Scotsman had seen.
"Well there's no time like
the present," the ex-photographer said lightly and climbed
to his feet.
He had been totally amazed at
the feeling of kinship that his inclusion in the group had brought
with it, but he definitely liked the way it felt. He knew that
there was a fellowship here, and it was a fulfilment of his deepest
dreams. What could not be ascertained, however, was exactly how
Richie would react to him. Yes the homicidal tendencies would
have melted away, but was friendship really an option. Duncan
had tried to explain that eventually there was no doubt that the
pair would forget their differences, but Greg was interested in
He smiled as he headed for the
"Wish me luck," he
said and Amanda gave him a little wave of encouragement.
Of course, Richie knew exactly
who it was coming down to meet him and he waited in the middle
of the room patiently. He was holding Duncan's sign in one hand
and a backpack in the other, a very ordinary snapshot of life.
As the wooden cage slid upwards the two men came face to face
and their eyes locked.
The crazed face flashed in the
younger Immortal's mind as he saw it's placid form, but the fear
did not reassert itself. The memory was still there, the experience
was still catalogue in Richie's mind, but it no-longer belonged
in context with the man stood a few feet away. The killing instinct
was gone between these two, and with it any threat that may have
They just looked at each other
a moment, the younger in contemplation, the older in trepidation,
and then slowly Richie smiled.
"Morning," he said
calmly, "welcome to the fold."
The relief covered Greg's face
in a huge grin, it was like a weight being lifted from his shoulders.
This was a new page and there was nothing written on it yet, now
was the time to make a friendship. Richie headed for the office
and beckoned to the other Immortal.
"Come on in," he invited
amiably, "I think we have some things to talk about."
"So do you do lottery numbers?"
were the words that Duncan heard when he ventured downstairs half
an hour later.
"Oh, I wish," Richie's
voice was light and full of laughter, which was a very good sign
as far as the Highlander was concerned.
The older Immortal put his head
round the side of the office and both of it's occupants smiled
"No bruises," he commented
cheerfully, "that's good."
"Oh, the one slug was good
enough to put me down," Greg joked back and Richie just laughed.
The two seemed to have put all
differences behind them, and the friendship that had been erased
by Gregor's actions appeared to have reasserted itself. The fact
that they looked as if they were totally at ease in each other's
company was warmth to Mac's heart.
"I was just telling Greg
about my premonitions," the blond individual told his mentor,
"and we just came up with a use for them. Do you think you
can come up with a situation that made winning the lottery vital
to our little group?"
Richie had long since realised
that his visions were only ever to do with the small community.
He'd had one since Methos joined them which had prevented Adam's
premature discovery by an over enthusiastic Watcher. Yet, there
had been no indication of Craven's battle with his old enemy,
it did not seem to be a predictable process.
"That one might be a little
tricky," the Highlander replied with a grin. "Well since
you two aren't trying to kill each other, I'll be off."
He managed to half turn before
Richie caught him.
"Ah, Mac," he started,
a beginning which Duncan recognised all too well, "I was
wondering, could I borrow the cabin for a few days?"
The request caught the Scotsman
entirely off guard.
"I need some time to sort
myself out," his young friend continued honestly. "Greg
has offered to step in for me here, I just need a chance to be
It took a moment for MacLeod's
mind to catch up and for a while Richie thought he might actually
say no. Then his face cleared,
"Yeah," he replied
quickly, "of course. How long were you thinking of staying
there? Is Beren going with you?"
"I hadn't really decided,"
the blond young man replied honestly, "and no, Chris and
Kari have said they'll keep her company while I'm gone. I can
see myself being distracted if she's around. I was planning on
leaving tomorrow if that's okay."
"No problem," the black
haired Immortal returned, "remind me to give you the keys
before you go today."
"Thanks, Mac," his
protege said genuinely.
The older man smiled and nodded.
He no-longer tried to fathom exactly what went on inside Richie's
head, he just accepted what it brought. There were some things
that the Highlander did not fully understand and this was one
of them. In some ways Duncan was older and wiser than his pupil
and in others he was a babe who hadn't a clue. It was funny to
think that there were subjects that Richie was now better equip
to deal with than the man who had once taught him everything he
The two younger Immortals returned
to their conversation as Mac headed out and it looked like any
other day that passed in the dojo.
It was so late in the morning
that the meal to which Chris and Karina had sat down could only
be called brunch. The table top was covered in spread and preserve
jars of all types which had leant themselves to some interesting
toast and x creations. The weirdest was probably lemon curd and
cheese, sprinkled liberally with chocolate sauce which the male
one of the pair had decided he quite liked and his partner had
binned when he wasn't looking. Chris had just popped two more
slices of bread into the toaster and Kari was nursing a mug of
coffee when her train of thought finally prompted her onto the
subject that she had been wondering about.
"What's it like?" she
said suddenly as her lover turned back from the counter.
"What's what like?"
he returned, a little puzzled by the question.
"Being Immortal?" now
that was not what Chris had been expecting at all.
He opened his mouth to reply
almost at once, but shut it again as he thought about the question.
The answer to that enquiry could be very important in the future
and so he took a moment to think about it as he sat down.
"It's not that different
from being Mortal, really," the young man began finally.
"I mean we still try and avoid being injured, it might heal
fast, but it still hurts like hell."
He smiled at her lightly and
she grinned back, but the question was still in her gaze.
"Sometimes I don't even
think about it," he continued calmly. "It's not like
between Richie and me, that's always in my mind, it's natural
to me, but Immortality only occurs to me when I meet another one
of us. I mean, you don't go around all the time thinking, Oh my
god, I'm mortal, and it's the same for me. The presence of one
of the others brings home my Immortality, but otherwise it's a
secondary thing. I suppose we're more willing to put ourselves
into dangerous situations because we know that not a lot can kill
us, but we'd rather avoid it."
A small frown was creasing his
lovers brow as he finished and he knew that wasn't quite enough.
"But what does it feel like,"
she enquired, "to know you're going to live forever? What's
it like to have a wound heal in front of your eyes?"
It took a while for Chris to
know what he really felt about that, let alone explain it.
"It's daunting to tell you
the truth," he said slowly, "and exciting all at the
same time. I can't imagine what it's like to have seen as much
history as Duncan or Craven, and yet someday, if I survive, I
will. It's still incredible to me."
Then he grinned.
"And the healing bit,"
he said lightly, "it tingles."
That wiped away the serious frown,
just as he'd hoped it would. Karina smiled at him and went to
take his hand when she stopped. She sniffed once and then an amused
look crossed her face.
"Oh, the bloody switch jammed
again," Chris yelled as the smell of burning reached his
nose as well.
As he leapt out of his seat Kari
just laughed and the two black morsels that jumped out of the
top of the toaster as Chris hit it, caused her to dissolve into
a fit of giggles.
of Part 6