For Duncan, it was actually quite
alarming to see Methos in such a state. The young looking Immortal
was like Darius: he just didn't become riled like this, he'd seen
too much to be surprised. Watching, possibly, the oldest person
in existence, pacing around like a caged animal was more than
a little disconcerting.
"Adam, sit!" the Highlander
commanded suddenly, when he could take the footsteps no more.
His friend glared at him darkly,
but found a chair anyway. Methos was at the end of the loft near
the bed and the other five were in the kitchen area trying to
decide exactly what to tell him. It wasn't that Mac didn't trust
his friend, it was that the others weren't quite sure and this
had to be a group decision.
"I don't like this,"
Amanda said pointedly, but quietly, "I can't believe in a
man who's been hiding longer than I've been alive. When you sneak
around for that long you pick up bad habits."
It was a typical reaction from
the ex-thief, she always suspected people of things of which she
herself could be capable. The straight and narrow had never quite
been the woman's route through life, it was the way she survived:
Immortals needed to be cunning.
"He's been a good friend
to me," Duncan decided now would be the time to put in a
"For how long?" his
on-and-off lover shot back.
"A while," was all
the Scotsman returned.
"He already knows something
weird is going on," Richie pointed out, but did not voice
his feeling that Adam should be put in the picture.
He wasn't about to tell anyone
that he'd dreamt the man's arrival, or that he had the sneaking
suspicion Methos was a significant player in their near future.
Life was peculiar enough without becoming an oracle, so he'd decided
that all this was just fluke timing.
"He'd make a great addition
to the group, if he was so inclined," Chris pointed out helpfully.
Mac wasn't so sure that his friend
would be interested in joining them. Methos was a lone player,
it was how he had lived so long, and he wasn't the type to go
into something he didn't fully understand. Then again, not so
long ago, Duncan would never have dreamed where he'd be now.
"I'm not so sure he
will trust us," Craven said calmly and glanced at their guest.
"It's not difficult to see he's very upset that we know who
he is, and my reputation for one, is not good."
"If we explain anything
at all," the Highlander half agreed, "it would have
to be the truth from beginning to end. I don't think I've ever
met a man who can spot a lie quicker than Methos."
"He's not a joiner,"
Amanda stated with complete certainty, "or he wouldn't have
been able to hide so long."
"Neither were you,"
her dark haired friend replied, "neither were any of us for
that matter. Let's face it, we haven't got a clue what would happen
if Adam did decide to join us. We're working blind, here: he's
that old we can't be sure we could bring him in."
"Oh, we could enrol him,"
Chris and Richie said at exactly the same time with total confidence.
The Immortal at the other end
of the room heard that and looked very edgy.
"We have to make a decision,"
Duncan insisted, finally, "or he's going to leave."
They all looked at one another,
trying to asses the group's leaning.
"He won't betray us,"
it was a point on which the Scotsman had no doubts, "I say
we tell him. He may even be able to give us some more information:
he's been around long enough to pick up all sorts of things."
"I'm with Mac on this one,"
Richie decided a moment later and Chris nodded his agreement.
"Me too," the twin
Manheim took a second to contemplate
the current state of affairs.
"I'll bow to your superior
knowledge," the blond Immortal concurred with his friends.
An uncomfortable look crossed
Amanda's face. If she said no then there'd be a lot more discussion,
but the likelihood would be that it would just go round in circles.
She could hold a veto, but for how long, and did she really want
to. Most of the time Duncan's judgement was very good, and yet
sometimes he could be too trusting.
"You'd better be right,
Highlander," she said eventually and crossed her arms in
Suddenly, Methos had five pairs
of eyes on him and the group walked towards the seats. Everyone
sat down except Duncan who walked over to one of his cabinets
and opened it calmly.
"Well you wanted to know
what's going on here," he said as he turned back with Iltyd's
book in his hands. "You're probably old enough to remember
when this language was used."
He handed the volume to the seated
man and indicated that Methos should open the book at the marker.
"I've come across this dialect,"
the ancient man said as he slowly scanned the relevant page, "but
I'm not fluent. It would take me hours to translate this text."
"It's not important,"
the Highlander returned calmly, "since we already know what
it says. It's just if you think we're crazy once we explain everything,
the book is two thousand years old and it agrees with us."
"Who translated it?"
the annoyance was beginning to leave Adam now, and curiosity was
taking it's place. "There are only two men in the world that
I can think of, who have any concept of this language."
Richie looked a little sheepish.
"I did," he replied
quickly, "with information from the Quickening of the man
who wrote it."
"You beheaded an Immortal
who was," Methos looked at the book and took a rough estimate
of when the time when the language would have been used, "over
three thousand years old."
He sounded scandalised.
"No," the other shot
back quickly, "he killed himself just after he finished that
book. It's difficult to explain unless you start from the beginning."
Now the oldest Immortal really
"You have my attention,"
he said bluntly, "I'd appreciate some clarification, please."
Everyone looked to Duncan: he
was the appointed spokesman.
"A little over seven weeks
ago," the Scotsman began, "I had a friend visit and
she brought her adopted son with her. There was nothing unusual
about that, until she invited Richie and me to dinner and he met
Chris. At that point, Chris was still human in the full sense
of the word, and at that point we felt twins was enough of an
earth shaking experience for one lifetime. We were wrong. Then
Craven came into the picture."
"I read the file,"
Adam put in quickly, "he kidnapped Richie. I was surprised
to hear of your change of heart, Manheim: you're listed as psychotic
and extremely dangerous."
"Oh, I was," the other
No-one was about to deny the
"Well, to cut a long story
short," Duncan continued, "our friend's plan went a
little awry: Rich was about to behead him when things became really
weird. Evans, one of Craven's henchmen shot Chris and he died,
which acted as a supernatural switch. We were all taken by a Quickening
you would not believe: the power of all the lost Immortals, like
Darius. It joined us together, made us one."
The disbelief was obvious on
Methos' face, he did not bother to hide it.
"But the Gathering..."
"Does not have the same
goals for us anymore," the Scotsman was not about to let
his friend convince himself this wasn't real. "It's not that
we've decided we don't want to kill each other anymore, Methos:
we can't. The concept no-longer holds any meaning, it would take
more will power than any of us possess. If you're worried that
we're all suddenly pacifists, don't, we're not. An enemy is still
an enemy, and if we're challenged, we'll fight, but among ourselves
the conflict is over."
The sincerity in Duncan's eyes
dared his friend to comment.
"We share our Quickenings,"
Richie tried to explain why they were so different now, "and
that's what the game is all about. We don't need to hack off each
other's heads, we wouldn't gain anything from it, in fact it would
be damaging. If we survive until there's no-one else left, the
Prize will be in all of us."
Then something occurred to Adam.
"But Amanda wasn't there,"
he pointed out before his mind could truly accept what the curly
haired youngster was saying, "the report said she arrived
"We can increase our numbers,"
Craven elaborated evenly.
"I asked Duncan to bring
me in," the only woman in the room said slowly.
It was obvious that their new
confidant couldn't decide if they were all crazy or he was hallucinating:
total denial was a good way to describe his reaction.
"You can ask Joe,"
Duncan told him seriously, "he saw most of it. Take your
time, formulate questions, we don't mind. It took us a while to
get used to the idea as well. All we ask is that you tell no-one
else, we'd rather not be targets that quickly."
It was beginning to dawn on the
ancient Immortal that it was as important to the group that their
secret not get out as it was for him to hide his true identity.
The consequences if his friends were telling the truth, were large
and far reaching and Methos' active mind was realising them.
"I will not betray your
confidence," he promised faithfully, "who'd believe
me anyway. One of my colleagues has already lost all her credibility
for suggesting that Richie and Chris are telepathic."
"Thank god for that,"
the pair said simultaneously, "we'd rather that didn't go
too far," Chris finished.
The look that crossed their companion's
face said he'd rather they hadn't confirmed his suspicions. After
living over five thousand years, things that he didn't understand
made Methos nervous.
"I should have known Joe
would be in on this," was all he could find to say.
"Gotta go," Richie
said two hours later when he looked at his watch, "things
to do, people to see."
By now, Adam's habitually calm
visage was back in place and he was beginning to think he understood
his friends' point of view. He seemed to have reserved judgement
on whether this turn of event was a good idea and if, when it
came down to it, it would work, but at least he believed they
hadn't all taken a dive off the cliff edge of insanity.
"See you for lunch,"
Chris responded as his sibling stood up to leave. "I wonder
how many spectators there'll be today?"
"Ask Adam," the other
shot back with a grin. "Later guys," he concluded and
pulled the door down on the elevator.
"Bye, Rich," and similar
comments came from all.
Beren had taken a job doing paperwork
for her father's dig, and by twelve she was glad to get away for
an hour. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy the cataloguing work,
she did: it was interesting, but she could only take so much archaeology
before she went stir crazy.
"Hi, Sugar," Richie
said in a mock southern accent as she came round the corner to
their usual meeting place.
"Shut up talking, and give
us a kiss," she returned playfully and grabbed his jacket
Their lips met with equal enthusiasm
on both sides and the young woman slipped her arms under his coat.
It hadn't taken her long to figure out how to achieve this operation
without coming across a sword hilt, and she embraced him for a
long moment. The magnetism between the two hadn't diminished at
all over the weeks since they'd met, in fact it had grown and
was still becoming stronger. The shock of the strange events had
worn off, but none of the sincerity in the promises they had made
to each other had faded with it.
"Where's that brother of
yours?" Beren asked as they finally broke apart.
"Playing hide and seek with
his Watcher," the Immortal returned with a mischievous grin.
"He enjoys loosing him every time he spots him. The man must
have eternal patience. Chris'll meet us at the cafe."
his lover said with a laugh, "the both of you."
"Part of our charm,"
Richie returned and planted another kiss on her forehead. "Let's
get going or your father'll be on at me for making you late back
from lunch, again."
Once upon a time, the young man
wouldn't have noticed if an army was following him, today he caught
the figure detaching herself from the doorway across the street
as soon as the couple began to walk. The Watchers were subtle
and careful, but very little escaped the Immortal anymore, another
gift from somebody who's name and face were stored deep in his
memory amongst a multitude of others. He tried to make sure these
memories never reached his conscious mind anymore, he'd even refused
to list the names for Joe's reference material: they were disconcerting.
He'd seen and known them all in that instant when they became
part of him and the others, but he wanted no more thought of their
ghosts. Maybe one day he'd be able to face the remembering of
those few milliseconds and write it all down so they would all
know who the lost ones had been, but for now, no-one was pushing
The cafe they'd chosen to have
lunch in today was small, but bright and pristinely clean, with
a bubbly proprietress who introduced herself as Sandy. The establishment's
system was pick your own sandwich filling and sit down whilst
it was prepared: the options looked wonderful as the couple tried
to choose. Chris walked in a few minutes later and meandered over
to the table since Richie had already ordered for him. It was
useful to be able to ask him what he'd wanted without the aid
of a mobile phone.
"Nice place," the newcomer
said cheerfully and took a seat, "where'd you hear about
"Angie recommended it,"
his twin returned, "seems it's in fashion with student doctors."
"Not having thoughts about
education are we?" Chris teased amiably.
"Well when you're sitting
with two people who have degrees you begin to think about it,"
Rich responded playfully.
Beren had a bachelor of engineering
and Chris had a bachelor of science although the latter had no
idea for what he could use a Physics degree. By rights, Richie's
brother should have been a year away from finishing any university
education, but when he'd moved to England a confusion between
the American and local systems had pushed him up a year. By the
time anyone realised the mistake it had become quite obvious that
the youngster was happy, and capable of maintaining the standard
required where he was, so no-one had bothered to put him back.
It didn't, however, occur to Richie to be jealous of the opportunities
the others had had, he was quite happy to take his life as it
had been and enjoy the future.
"You'd probably sleep through
half the lectures," Beren laughed at the thought: her lover
was not the studious type.
"You're right," he
said with mock sincerity, "maybe when I have a couple of
hundred years under my belt."
Just then, the door opened and
another couple walked in, ordered two coffees and sat down.
[The observation team's arrived,]
Richie commented silently and leant back with a smile as Sandy
brought their sandwiches over.
"Thanks," they all
"Twins no less," the
woman returned chattily, "my cousins are identical as well.
Although, they're not as alike as you: one's taller and has a
mole on her neck."
"D'you have moles, Chris?"
Richie asked playfully.
"Can't say," the other
responded mischievously, "maybe someone should check."
Sandy, who was sixty if she was
a day, found the pass from a man only just out of his teens, hysterical.
"You've made my day,"
she told him cheerfully. "Enjoy your meal, gentlemen, young
"Richie, Beren, Chris,"
the other Immortal introduced before she could walk away. "We
"We'll have to come here
again," the female of the group said as the woman walked
They chatted idly over their
food, about everything from Beren's work to what would happen
if man colonised Mars: it was somewhat of a butterfly conversation.
Just about the only topic they didn't cover was Immortals, much
to the frustration of the two people trying to look as if they
weren't listening. The woman's face was a picture when for about
the hundredth time she glanced over at the other party and Richie
waved at her.
"Nice coffee?" he asked
calmly as the pair exchanged startled stares. "Shame you
can't stay longer and sample the food."
His smile was friendly, but the
couple took the hint. It wasn't wise to annoy Immortals, and regulations
stated that if you were spotted you vacated the area. They left
a tip on the table and departed.
"Watchers," Chris said
as Beren looked a little confused, "we have to keep them
on their toes, you know."
It had all been completed with
no hostility, but Richie was beginning to become just a little
fed up with the number of people who were trailing around after
him. Sometimes he wished he could just go back to not noticing
them. If it was just the one, he could probably ignore them: maybe
Joe could do something about it all.
"Weird people," was
all Beren said: sometimes she was bothered by the idea of people
who spent their lives following around her lover and his friends,
but today she was in too good a mood.
of Part 2