There was nothing that Richie
could say to his brother, nothing that would take away the pain.
Karina would recover, she was technically dead and once the machines
were turned off, she'd cross over to the other side of Immortality,
but things could never be the same. She'd been safe from the game
until then, insignificant in the ancient battle and shielded from
it's dangers. Now she would no longer have that peace of mind,
Chris would no-longer have that comfort. Her family were Watchers,
they would be pushed even further away than her relationship with
Chris had nudged them. Entering Immortality was never easy, but
for Kari there were added complications.
All Richie could do was be there
for his twin, waiting with him in the corridor for whatever came
out the hospital room. Just turning the machines off straight
away would be foolish, but it might happen. Getting Kari out of
the hospital first would be more sensible, and hiding her death
from all. At the moment very few knew the young woman was dead,
a death certificate would change all that.
Ten minutes after the two had
left the room, the door opened and Bill walked out. He looked
surprisingly calm for a man who had just found out his daughter
was Immortal, and he walked towards the twins with even strides.
As he neared the more experienced of the two Immortals walked
away. This was between Chris and Kari's father, and Richie was
there if his sibling needed him, but he would not intrude.
"You all knew," Bill
said quietly as the two men's eyes met, "but you never told
It wasn't an accusation, more
of a question because it seemed so strange.
"It's not our place to interfere,"
Chris returned, keeping the emotion out of his voice. "I
would have done anything to stop this from happening, to save
her the pain of realising what she is. None of us knew there was
another Immortal in the city. If we had we'd have been more careful."
He tried to explain, but it just
didn't seem to be enough. To some Immortality seemed like a wondrous
gift, to others a curse. Chris could not read this man's eyes
to see what he was thinking.
"Was it her Immortality
that attracted you to her?" Bill couldn't quite keep the
anger out of his tone.
But it wasn't directed at Chris,
just the world in general for throwing him a curve ball. His question
was driven by genuine curiosity. The Immortal let out a humourless
laugh when he heard it.
"That was more of an obstacle
if anything," he said truthfully, "I was worried that's
what everyone would think. I noticed Kari before I was really
sure of what she was, and I fell in love with the woman not the
Immortal. I would have loved her if she'd been just like the rest
of the world."
That seemed to be all Bill wanted
to hear. Quite suddenly he looked satisfied and nodded his understanding.
"That is what I thought,"
the man said calmly. "I apologise for what my son said earlier.
He does not trust Immortals."
"No need," Chris returned
immediately, a little surprised, "he had no way of knowing."
"We have to get my daughter
out of here," the Watcher continued as if he was discussing
a normal day. "You seem to have thought everything else through.
Do you have any ideas as to how to go about this?"
The slight shock now registered
on the Immortal's face as well as in his voice, but he did not
"With Anne's help it should
be easy," he said slowly.
Bill beckoned Richie over from
where he was standing down the hall way, and invited them both
back into the room. Tim could not meet either of their gazes,
but all the hostility seemed to have drained out of him.
Chris had not had a lot else
to think about except his beloved and he actually had quite a
complex plan worked out. With Anne's input the group had no trouble
deciding what to do. An hour later the transfer papers were signed,
and an ambulance was waiting to take the young coma case to another
hospital. Nobody chose to ask how Richie had managed to obtain
the vehicle they were going to use to transport Karina, but he
had promised to put it back once they were finished with it. Craven
and Amanda had no qualms playing driver and nurse and nobody argued
when a senior member of staff was helping to move a patient.
As soon as the ambulance was
on the move, Anne began to remove the various tubes that were
keeping the young woman alive. It was one of the most difficult
things she had to do, knowing that she would end a life. It was
so hard to believe that this was not an ending, but a beginning,
it was just alien to the doctor.
Chris, Bill and Amanda were in
the rear of the vehicle with Anne and her patient and they all
watched as, slowly, the life signs died. It seemed to take forever
as the heart beat slowed, faltered and finally stopped altogether.
There were tears in Karina's father's eyes and it seemed that
only his companion's stoic calm kept him from weeping. The twin
Immortal had become rational and the voice of reason in the storm
as he saw the strain take it's toll on Bill. He was as apprehensive
as everyone else, but he took on the roll of co- ordinator gladly
as it gave him something on which to concentrate.
Taking off the bandages, Anne
revealed the neat stitching of the surgeon who had prolonged Kari's
life. Without pausing to consider what she was doing, the doctor
removed the binding, and even as she watched the wound began to
close. Death had come, healing could begin and the effect was
somewhat startling. With clinical calm the physician continued
to remove the traces of medical intervention and by the time she
had finished the external damage was almost gone.
she whispered, finally unable to control her reaction.
"It'll take longer for the
internal injury to heal," Chris said quietly as they watched,
"but she'll be back soon."
His prediction was accurate and
Kari had still not stirred by the time they reached Craven's house.
The twin picked up his lover carefully and carried her out of
the ambulance gently. It would not be long now. Her mother and
brother had followed in their car, Richie had travelled with Joe
and they all converged on the house, waiting expectantly.
Chris' sibling hung back with
Amanda as Craven led the others into his residence, just watching.
"Thank you," the younger
of the two Immortals told his companion as everyone else disappeared
inside, "you make a great nurse."
"Anytime," the woman
replied with half a smile.
They were the outsiders in this
situation and they did not want to intrude. Chris needed Richie's
support, but he could give that from anywhere, and the more Immortals
there were around, the more nervous the Watchers became. This
was a time for those in the house and the two by the vehicle did
not move to join them.
"Well I've got to get this
back before someone misses it," Richie said suddenly as the
front door closed. "Can I drop you anywhere?"
Amanda patted him on the arm
fondly and nodded.
"Home James," she told
him lightly, "and whilst you're driving you can explain exactly
where you lifted it from."
"Your wish is my command,"
the younger responded instantly and the pair climbed into the
ambulance. [If you need me, Chris, just call,] was what the Immortal
There was a lone figure standing
by the hospital wall after Richie had returned the ambulance from
where he had appropriated it. The vehicle had been on the clean
and overhaul list, so in the middle of the night no one had even
noticed it was missing. Adrian walked over as his Immortal wandered
round the corner towards the exit.
"Are you going to tell me
what that was all about?" he asked calmly as the other slowed
to let him catch up.
Richie had to smile, all the
activity must have seemed completely insane to someone observing
from a distance. Come to think of it, most Immortal business must
seem insane to any normal human being.
"Well I suppose you'll find
out anyway," the blond man said lightly. "Karina's Immortal,
we had to get her away so she could be allowed to die."
The look on his companion's face
was somewhere between horror and happiness.
"I'm not sure whether to
be glad or send my commiserations," Adrian said honestly
as they unconsciously walked towards his car. "I mean I'm
happy she's alive, but her family. She's a Watcher by indoctrination
if not birth."
The pair had not discussed the
young man's history, but it had quickly become obvious to Richie
that Adrian was from a Watcher background. He was no random recruit,
he had been as good as born with the tattoo on his wrist. His
comment just leant weight to the growing conviction in his Immortal's
"It's not going to be easy,"
the other acknowledged calmly, "but it'll turn out for the
They stopped by the car and for
the first time, the Immortal seemed to realise where he had been
"Hop in," Adrian offered
as soon as he saw Richie hesitate, "I'll take you home."
The grin returned to the young
blond man's face as he noted that a few days ago those words couldn't
have been further from his companion's mind.
"Thanks, Adrian," he
said warmly, "but I don't think it's a good idea. It anyone
sees you with me you'll be toast. I can walk from here, it's not
far and it's probably better if we go back to the distant relationship."
The Watcher couldn't hide his
disappointment, he considered Richie a friend even though it was
against all the rules. It would be hard to unlearn liking this
man, but even he had to agree.
"Yeah, I suppose you're
right," he admitted with a wry smile, "I quite like
my tale unsinged. It's been nice knowing you, maybe we can go
camping again one day."
At that Richie grinned.
"I'll get the rest of the
list to you when I know what it is," He said calmly. How
many names did we get to?"
"One hundred and twenty
seven," Adrian replied without even having to think about
"Then there shouldn't be
many to go," the other shot back and turned to go. "I'll
be seeing you."
The Watcher just laughed.
"Of course," he responded
and watched the strange young man walk into the darkness. "Well
it's not as if he has to worry about being attacked," he
mumbled to himself.
The fact that it was still before
dawn, and Richie was away, meant that when a noise woke Beren
her hand did not immediately grope for the light switch. Another,
quieter sound came from the living room and she lay very still,
her heart pounding. Very slowly she climbed out of bed, and her
hand reached for the heaviest thing she could find. She came up
with an empty bottle of wine that she'd curled up with whilst
reading after Chris and Kari had left. The wayward drip of liquid
was ignored as she turned her weapon upside down and crept towards
the living room.
There was a dark figure standing
by the sofa and she saw it turn as she reached the door. Before
she had time to think and run away she closed her eyes, flicked
on the light switch and went for what she hoped was a momentarily
blinded burglar. Something jerked the bottle out of her grasp
and suddenly there were strong arms around her. She had neglected
to open her eyes again and she was about to scream when recognition
kicked in. The scent, the feel, she did not need her eyes to know
"Richie," she cried
joyously, opened her eyes and threw her arms around her smiling
There were no words for a long
time as almost instantly the pair were caught in a long passionate
kiss. It was as if they had been apart for months and they clung
to each other, but eventually they had to part.
"I missed you," the
Immortal said and stroked the hair back from her face.
"Oh god, don't tell me,"
Beren responded, "I thought I'd go crazy waiting for you
to come back."
Then her logical brain clicked
into gear and she realised his return was at a very strange time.
"Is there any reason you
came back in the middle of the night," she asked cheerfully,
"or was it just that you couldn't live without me a second
At the enquiry his face clouded
slightly and she knew something was wrong.
"What happened?" the
words slipped from her mouth unbidden.
"It's Kari," Richie
replied quietly, "there's something you don't know."
"Tell me," the young
English woman insisted urgently, looking worried.
It was difficult to know how
to put it, Immortality wasn't an easy thing to just drop into
"There's another Immortal
in town," the twin told her slowly, "trying to get to
Chris. He went after Kari."
"Is she all right?"
Beren could just not stay silent.
The gentle fingers that stoked
the side of her face told her that it was not quite that simple,
but the look on Richie's face was not one of mourning.
"Kari died tonight,"
he said evenly, "for the first time."
Realisation dawned quickly in
his lover's eyes and her gaze widened as she comprehended what
he was telling her. It was a shock to say the least, but suddenly
several comments she had overheard made perfect sense.
"She's one of you,"
it was more statement than question, a confirmation that had to
be said allowed to be believed. "My god, how did she die?"
"She was shot," Richie
was quite willing to provide information, "and the hospital
said she'd never come out of the coma. We moved her to Craven's
house after we let her die. She'll be waking up very soon."
Beren could find nothing to say.
What words could sum up the jumble of emotions that the news inspired?
Instead she embraced her lover fiercely and let the silence surround
There were four people in the
bedroom that Kari habitually shared with her lover. Chris sat
on the bed next to his motionless sweetheart, Bill hung further
back, but still next to the bed, and Tim stood almost by the door.
There was not the remotest trace of the injury that had killed
Karina, left on her body. Only the ministrations of the nurses
showed that there had been anything wrong. A patch of her golden
hair, an inch and a half square was gone from the side of her
head, where the surgeon had need room to work. It looked almost
ridiculous to see the area of pale, unmarked skin when there was
no reason for the absence of hair.
The waiting was taking longer
than expected, and the nervous tension showed itself all too plainly
in the two Mortals' stances. Chris remained relaxed and calm on
the outside, sure in the power of his own kind, but his companions
had little close up experience of the Immortal constitution. When
the blond man's head rose sharply, the tension in the room had
reached such a point that Tim actually started.
of Part 12