Richie's twin felt the pain of
his side wound for only a moment. The cut was not deep and it
quickly began to heal, but what it did do for him was provide
a deep focus. Chris knew Richie was with him, knew that his brother
leant him all he could, but they were still separate beings. As
the danger rose and his brother was injured, Richie gave up all
desire for self and gave everything he had to his sibling. In
terms of the fight they merged completely and the less experienced
of the two began to move with the strength of two. One peculiar
creature, they drew themselves up and this strange entity attacked
The fury of the blow that met
Seleti's sword almost forced the blade out of his hand, but he
was old and experienced enough to dance backwards still armed.
Instinct told him that something about his adversary had changed,
and there was nothing of the grieving Immortal he had met left
in the young face. For the first time his confidence was not enough
to make him certain as to the outcome of the fight. Not since
he was young had this man felt the slow stirring's of fear.
The African was not, however,
a child, and he put his anxiety to one side with his warrior training.
Doubt would definitely bring about the death he saw in the other
man's eyes. They exchanged a few more blows, this time with Chris
very much in a dominant position. A need to distract his opponent
settled into Seleti's brain.
"You fight well for a man
who has nothing to go back to," he spat between thrusts.
He was outclassed with the sword,
even though he did not know how, and he was sure of it. His only
hope lay in taking the fighting spirit out of the blonde Immortal.
"She's not dead," Chris
threw back instantly, well aware of the tactics Seleti was trying
to use against him and sending them straight back. "You should
have looked closer, she is one of us."
The news almost caused the dark
skinned man to miss a step and his opponent allowed him no respite.
The momentary shock was gone quickly, but not fast enough to keep
up a totally solid defence. The younger Immortal moved in with
lightening speed, forcing the swords hilt to hilt. His foot came
up and struck mercilessly at his opponent's shin, hitting it with
breaking force. There was a bone wrenching crack, a scream of
pain, and Seleti was falling backwards. The ferocity of the attack
and it's manner had caught him off guard, he was as good as beaten
as his hand lost it's grip on his sword. It seemed like time had
slowed down for the vanquished Immortal as he watched the blade
fall to the ground, away from him as he tumbled to the dusty earth.
The agony of the broken limb was secondary to the complete certainty
that these were the last moments of his life. His eyes followed
his opponent's sword as it arced through the air, throwing light
into the night, and flying true to it's target.
Chris' rage was almost complete
and he could taste the victory, but he was not the only mind in
his body. Richie's persona may have been the submissive half on
this merging, but his reasoning was still there. He felt anger
at the way this man had chosen to initiate a challenge, but he
was not consumed by it in the heat of battle. Where his presence
had helped bring about Seleti's defeat, it also saved the other
Immortal's life. The sword moved as if with a will of it's own,
but stopped just short of decapitating it's victim.
Both Immortals were totally still
as young gazed into the eyes of old as the tableau held. The blade
only a few millimetres from the African's neck kept him from even
blinking. A glimmer of hope slipped into his mind as he perceived
his opponent's unwillingness to kill him, but he was well aware
that his life hung by the merest thread.
"It doesn't have to be like
this," the words were dragged out of Chris by a need much
greater than the Game.
His soul spoke where his head
was not so sure it wanted to follow, yet he had no choice. Seleti
saw his chance to escape death's clutches, but if there was one
thing he was not, it was a liar.
"Yes it does, boy,"
he returned evenly, "this is the way it has always been and
ever shall be. Kill me or leave, that is your choice, but it does
not stop the Gathering."
"There is another way,"
the younger Immortal found himself insisting, "it has just
not been seen before. I am not afraid to take your head, M'boku
Seleti, but I do not see a man before me who wants to die. You
have a choice, you can lay down your life, or you can take my
hand. Either way there will be no turning back."
Chris did not offer his limb
just yet, he stood there and waited. At first the expression on
his opponent's face was confused, unsure, but slowly the beginnings
of an idea showed in his features.
"Is it all of you?"
he asked quietly. "Is that why there are so many of you in
A curt nod was all he received
in reply, the blond Immortal's patience was almost up.
"You give me no choice,
child," Seleti said eventually. "You have beaten me,
my head is forfeit, I would much rather keep it though I do not
claim to understand what that means."
He reached out his hand. Maybe
treachery was on his mind, a plan to kill the boy once his back
was turned, but once he had given himself to the Dividing, nothing
could take it back. Chris' finger grasped those of the outstretched
limb and the lightening flew. The look of surprise on Seleti's
face was worth a thousand words.
Beren heard her lover's scream
from down stairs and nothing would have stopped her from reaching
him. She flew out the door and down the stairs as if the devil
was on her heels. She left the other two occupants of the loft
staring at each other with startled understanding. Very slowly,
Amanda's face broke into a smile as the slightly stunned feeling
turned into relief.
"He did it," Kari said
in a whisper, "Chris beat him."
It was time for the ancient Immortal's
second shock of the evening as her companion suddenly threw her
arms round her and began to cry and laugh at the same time. It
seemed that Karina was very emotional of late.
Richie was kneeling on the floor,
trying to catch his breath as the side door banged open loudly.
Duncan had picked up his sword from where he had dropped it several
seconds before, but he had known he could not help his young comrade
and was just waiting for it to be over. Beren, on the other hand
did not hold back, she threw herself to the ground next to he
love and immediately tried to see if he was all right.
"Oh god, you're bleeding,"
were her first words, as an instinct to heal his wounds overcame
The fact that he was Immortal
and probably already healed never came into her head, as human
urges overcame all else. Richie was only just coming back to his
senses and she'd already lifted his top and was trying to find
the source of the blood before he realised what she was doing.
The Highlander could have stepped in at that point, but prudence
left the two young people to it.
"Darling," Richie said
gently and caught Beren's hand, "it's okay, I'm fine. It's
over, the wound's gone and Chris'll be home soon."
He smiled at her warmly as she
stopped her frantic movements and looked up. Reality was beginning
to dawn in her eyes, and she couldn't help but feel a little foolish.
His smile turned into a grin and he enveloped her in a fierce
"I love you," he said
with total certainty.
The relief flooded through Beren,
and she just let herself be held for a while. She hadn't realised
how much tension was in her until that moment and she let Richie's
arms take it all away. The Immortal looked up at his mentor and
his gaze said thank you even though he stayed silent. They were
all safe for another night and that felt very good.
The man on the ground didn't
know what to say, he just sat there with his mouth open. The feeling
inside him was incredible, and doubt was suddenly impossible.
Chris had retained his feet, although as the painful exchange
of power ended his knees almost gave in. There was no need to
explain, the details could wait for another time and Seleti already
knew all the important bits. He could feel his companion, he could
feel the others and it just took his mind away.
"What are we?" he asked
in an awed whisper.
"Together," the younger
of the two replied, "that is all that matters. Together we
Nothing else needed to be said.
Seleti was one of them now, he
would be welcome no matter what he had done before, but Chris
returned alone to the dojo. The new member of the group had decided
to go back to where he was staying and wait for morning and a
clearer head to meet the others.
What happened the moment Chris
walked through the door could have been very easily predicted.
He just about managed to close the entrance of the gym behind
him and he was hit but a very high speed young lady. Kari literally
jumped on him, throwing her arms round his neck, and winding her
legs round his waist. Luckily for both of them the older Immortal
had prepared for such and event and they did not go sprawling
over the floor.
"Glad to see you too,"
the twin said with a small chuckle as his lover nuzzled his neck.
He wound his arms around her
and she sat back slightly so she could see his face.
"Sorry," she said with
a little smile, "I just couldn't help it."
"Oh, that's okay, sweetie,"
Chris returned lightly, "I can take it. Fancy an early night?"
His lover grinned broadly and
kissed him on the nose.
"Sounds like fun,"
she said mischievously, "but I think it might be a good idea
to go say goodbye to the others first. Come to think of it, giving
Beren and your brother a chance to get home as well, might save
a few explanations."
"Oh, okay," the blond
man said with a look of mock disappointment on his face, "if
we have to."
It had been an exhausting couple
of days for all concerned, but life had to go on, and all the
Immortals and their friends alike turned back to normal tracks
over the next week. Seleti was greeted by the group with the same
enthusiasm as everyone else had been. They welcomed him and put
aside his former deeds as the past. He seemed much more comfortable
when he found out that he was not the only one to have transgressed,
and not surprisingly he appeared to get on with Craven the best.
The lone warrior rejoiced in the kinship he found, just as they
all had, but by the following Tuesday it became obvious that he
had some things to sort out. He was gone by the Wednesday morning,
promising to return for the wedding, once he had settled some
outstanding problems in his own life.
It was a bright morning, and
Adrian was not feeling at his best as he sat in his car outside
Richie's apartment. There had been a poker game at Joe's the previous
evening and it had gone on `til four in the morning, with plenty
of alcohol most of the time. It was only the message on his answering
machine that had brought him all the way over, and made him crawl
out of bed before at least ten o'clock. That was one advantage
of being a Watcher ... he could choose his own hours. If he missed
something important it was his own lookout.
The voice on the machine had
been female with a very strange American accent, leaving no name,
but who it was from had been quite obvious from the content. Only
those privy to the fact that Adrian wasn't quite as distant from
Richie as he should have been would have known, and the young
Watcher appreciated the attempt at secrecy. It was possible his
superiors were keeping an eye on him, and the effort did not go
When Richie came out of the apartment
block he didn't so much as glance in his shadow's direction, just
sat on his bike and prepared to drive off. Adrian let him get
to the end of the road and then followed. It was like any other
Watcher assignment, except that this time the brown haired man
in the car did not have to work to keep his subject in sight.
It was as Richie pulled onto the docks and drew to a halt that
Adrian knew the Immortal was satisfied there were no other eyes
The bespectacled young man drove
up beside the motorbike and rolled down the window, to be greeted
by a knowing smile.
"You look rough, pal,"
the Immortal commented cheerfully, "what was it, one of Joe's
"I thought it was us that
were supposed to know what you've been up to," the Watcher
returned, trying to keep the light out of his eyes, "not
the other way round."
His companion just laughed and
reached into his jacket.
"Yeah, well I've been to
a couple of Joe's late night sessions," he responded lightly,
"and I know what I felt like in the morning. That's where
being Immortal has it's advantages, it didn't last too long. If
I'd know I'd have arranged this meeting for a little later. What
did you think of Beren's American accent, by the way?"
His right hand produced a small
note book and passed it to his friend. As Adrian leafed through
it, semi-legible hand writing became apparent.
Watcher replied, with only half his mind on the conversation now,
"did she help you compile this?"
"Yep," the blond man
replied, enjoying the total concentration that spread over the
other man as he glanced at page after page.
Adrian was slowly becoming engrossed
in all the details that were set before him. Richie allowed him
the luxury of forgetting he was there for a few minutes.
"Well, I have to get to
the dojo," the Immortal said eventually and gave a small
chuckle at the look of surprise on the Watcher's face as he spoke.
"The rest of the names are there, and if you want me to answer
any questions just call."
A smile spread across the other
man's face as he snapped back to the real world and realised what
he had done.
"Ah, yeah, sure," he
said lightly, "sorry for drifting on you there, I was a little
"Distracted," his friend
finished for him with a grin, "I know the feeling. Be seeing
Richie pulled his helmet back
on and revved the engine. He had some work to put in before the
dojo opened and he disappeared quickly. Adrian just watched with
a thoughtful look on his face, but as his Immortal vanished he
couldn't resist looking back at book. His researching instincts
took over and he'd read the entire thing before he started his
of Part 16