Craven had been both surprised
and pleased when Chris and Karina presented him with a slice of
sponge, which looked a little like a mud pie. It was good to see
that the two young people were talking to each other, even if
there was a tension between them that couldn't be covered by their
playful banter around him. It was after he'd invited the young
woman to stay to lunch and sent Chris to clean up the mess in
the kitchen that he received the phone call.
"Good morning," he
said as soon as he put the hand set to his ear.
"Hello," came the reply,
"it's Adam. I was wondering if I could come and see you."
"Here's not a good idea,"
Craven returned calmly, "Chris has a visitor, but I'd be
quite happy to meet somewhere else. I haven't snuck out for quite
a while, should be fun."
The older Immortal laughed on
the other end of the phone.
"Know any places they serve
good beer?" he asked cheerfully.
"There's a little place
called The Flying Horse," Craven said, catching the mood,
"it's run by a die hard Brit who imports the finest quality
"Sounds like my sort of
chap," came the reply.
"Get a pen and I'll give
you directions," Manheim said quickly and the other end of
the line went quiet for a moment.
If there was one thing Methos
could not resist, it was a good ale house. Half an hour later
the two Immortals were sat either side of a table, each nursing
a pint of best.
"I think the landlord maybe
a little crazy," Adam observed quietly, "but I like
it here, it's unusual."
"I may have been insane
when I found this place," Craven said with a smile, "but
I still knew good beer when I tasted it."
Adam grinned back and took a
swig, a look of satisfaction coming over his face.
"When you're right, you're
right," he responded happily, "and talking of insanity
brings us nicely round to why I asked to see you. I'd like to
know as much as you're willing to tell me about the Dividing."
"Duncan seems to trust you,"
the younger Immortal said seriously, "so I don't see why
I shouldn't. I hadn't trusted anyone in two hundred years and
now I seem to have a taste for it."
He sat back in his chair, thinking
about what to say and then he began.
"When this all began, Richie
was just another target in my twisted version of the Game,"
was his first sentence, "I hadn't even bothered to update
my information just before I went for him, so I had no idea about
Chris. I didn't really expect him to be any great challenge, he's
only a child compared to most of us, but he actually managed to
cut me. That was my test, I'd challenge them, then if they managed
to draw blood, I'd have Evans shoot them and take them back to
the arena. I've never seen anything like Richie in my den of horrors,
I think that he was actually making it look harder than he found
it on the third level. I've thought about it a great deal since
that night, and I truly believe he couldn't loose, not after he
"You're the second person
who's told me that," Methos said quietly, as his companion
Manheim did not look particularly
"I have always believed
that there can be only one," he said calmly, "but I
had never considered that the one might not actually be a literal
meaning. You know what happened that night, you've read Joe's
report, you've spoken to all of us. You've heard the words, but
you can't fully understand until you're part of it. No matter
how much we choose to trust each other, there's part of us that
is telling us to beware. Fundamentally we are enemies, it's in
our genes, but that's not true for the six in the group anymore.
It was possible that one day Richie may have turned around and
taken MacLeod's head, friends have killed friends many times before,
but not anymore. Maybe it was the power of all the lost Immortals
that brought me back from the pit into which I had fallen, I don't
really know. What I do understand is it was the end to the loneliness
that truly saved me, the end of the fear. I have friends who will
be my friends until the day I die and only five other Immortals
can say that with any certainty. We'll welcome you as Methos or
Adam, whoever you want to be. We don't care who you are or what
you've done, we just want to share what we have."
They sat in silence for a moment,
both looking at the age in the other.
"How can you be sure that
one day an Immortal won't come along and corrupt what you have?"
Methos asked quietly.
"I only know what I feel
inside," Craven returned evenly, "and my soul says that
can never happen. Some of those lost must have been, for want
of a better word, evil, but their Quickenings still went towards
curing me. Once together, we cannot be blackened."
He said it as he saw it and there
was no denying he believed the words he chose to use. Their conversation
continued, there were things Methos wanted to know and questions
he felt needed asking, but the heart of the discourse was over.
Craven had imparted all that he felt was important and the rest
was more of a courtesy than anything he considered useful.
There were advantages to having
someone else running the dojo, and then there were disadvantages,
one of which Duncan had run into when he decided to complete his
long discarded paperwork. Richie had stacked all Mac's invoices
neatly in several piles since they'd been cluttering up his desk,
and the only task left to the older Immortal was discerning the
feat of logic required to find what he was looking for. MacLeod's
protege used filing systems, the only problem was that he never
seemed to use the same one for two different jobs. The sales invoices
had obviously inspired some work of genius on which his friend
just didn't seem to be able to get a handle. Mac made a mental
note not to let Richie near any more of his records unless they
were specifically required for the smooth running of the dojo.
It would have been an easier task if the younger Immortal had
been around to explain exactly what he'd been thinking when he
reorganised, but he was out setting up a refit of the shower facilities
and wasn't going to be back for at least two hours. They'd had
to close up that morning after the plumbing had finally given
up on them. Total helplessness was not something MacLeod was used
to, but after about half an hour of trying, his brain had begun
to hurt and he was ready to give up. It was just as he was shuffling
the papers back into the order in which he had found them when
his head snapped up as a familiar tingle touched the back of his
eyes. There was a millisecond of panic and then his mind caught
up and recognised the feeling that the approaching Immortal instilled
in him; he was surprised, but very pleased, maybe an accountant
could work out what the hell Richie had been thinking. Madi walked
through the door, suitcase in hand, and Duncan wandered out of
the office a smile on his file.
he said cheerfully, "how was England?"
"Raining," his companion
returned with a grin, "but then I didn't expect anything
else. Anything been going on here. For some reason Chris has these
memory lapses when on the phone and all I can gather is that Amanda
has been taking out her frustrations on Richie."
Duncan laughed at that.
"Well I can say that we
will all be glad you're back," he responded and then sobered
slightly. "I take it, the last time you spoke to your son
was prior to yesterday afternoon, then?"
She nodded, her smile dimmed
a little at his tone.
she told him calmly, "why, what's happened?"
"Chris was in an accident
yesterday," Duncan explained gently, "but don't worry
there are no catastrophic consequences. The Watchers know about
the twins' connection because Richie went ape, but nothing more
serious. The general public weren't witnesses."
The look in Madelaine's eyes
was not particularly friendly.
"Why didn't someone phone
me?" she asked, a hard edge in her voice as the mother instincts
came out. "I'd have been here on the next plane. I was considering
staying on a few more days, was everyone just going to leave me
in the dark?"
"Chris sent the word out
not to worry you," Mac defended himself quickly, "he
wanted to tell you himself. He's a little confused right now,
there was a woman involved."
She still didn't look happy,
all her protective urges were very close to the surface. Most
of the thoughts running through her mind were along the lines
of, "I leave him alone for a few days and...,".
"I have to go and see him,"
she said quickly and appeared to have forgotten the case she'd
so carefully placed on the dojo floor.
"Not a good idea quite yet,"
her companion said very rapidly, "the woman's still involved.
Richie mentioned something about Chris, a cake and Karina before
he went out."
Madi's face dropped, she didn't
quite know how to react to that one, jealously didn't seem quite
right even as it flowered in her breast.
"Karina," she said
Mac put in carefully, "come on up stairs and I'll explain.
There are several things going on that you really should know
about. I don't suppose Chris mentioned an Immortal called Adam
Pierson, did he?"
His companion shook her head.
"Oh, well," the Highlander
returned, "I'll start from the top then."
It took some time to calm Madelaine
down and convince her that Chris was old enough to take care of
himself, and somewhere in the conversation Amanda arrived back
from where ever she had been busying herself for most of the morning.
She managed to contain her delight at the presence of her female
ally, when she realised that the other woman had more important
things on her mind, but it was close. A phone call in the middle
of the afternoon gave her a valid reason to leave, what was rapidly
becoming an awkward situation. It was her turn to be summoned
by Methos, and charming as usual he received an affirmative response
"Chris'll be fine,"
the older Immortal said as she headed for the door. "Karina's
a sensible girl, and they'll both get over their Immortality eventually.
When she finally finds out, it'll have all been for the best."
Then she disappeared down the
stairs before anyone could respond.
Watchers weren't hard to loose
when you knew how, and Amanda had had lots of practice at ditching
unwanted followers. It wasn't exactly the first time she'd had
someone monitoring her movements: a couple of times it had been
the FBI, several other law enforcement agencies, Interpol, etceteras.
Tag was not a new game to this Immortal.
As soon as she'd ditched her
persistent shadow, Amanda headed for the rendezvous point: the
ale house that Methos had decided he rather liked.
"You look quite comfortable
there," she commented as she wandered in and found the older
Immortal tucked away in the corner, "been here long?"
"A couple of hours,"
Adam returned, his eyes perfectly clear, even though he had consumed
more than enough beer for one person. "The advantage of an
Immortal constitution, or disadvantage, depending on how you look
at it. I could drink a cask of ale and still know which way is
"Nice trick," his companion
commented, "I can still get drunk with the best of them."
"Comes with age," the
ancient man returned with a smile. "What can I get you to
"It's a while since I had
real ale," Amanda said brightly, "so what the hell."
This was not exactly the most
comfortable of meetings: the female Immortal still didn't quite
trust the man whom she'd come to see, but there was an unwritten
truce. She sat down as Methos disappeared towards the bar, and
unconsciously patted her discarded coat and the weapon it covered.
The sword was probably over-reacting, but she hadn't lived this
long by being careless.
"What will it take for you
to trust me?" Adam asked as he returned and noted her nervousness.
"Bringing you in,"
was the short and firm reply, Amanda would not be happy with this
ancient man's presence until she knew he couldn't turn round and
hurt any of them.
Every paranoid, protective instinct
that had once revolved solely around her, was now directed towards
the group, and she wasn't about to give them up.
"At least one of you has
the sense to check their back every five minutes," Methos
said and quite surprised her.
"I thought you'd be offended,"
the stunning woman said evenly.
"Sometimes MacLeod can be
a little too trusting," her companion returned with a wry
grin, "a little paranoia never hurt any of us. I know I have
good intentions, but you have every right to doubt me. You really
don't know me from Adam."
Amanda laughed and saluted him
with her drink.
"Fire away with your questions,
ancient one," she said calmly, "and I'll tell you everything
my instincts tell me to."
There were a few enquiries about
details of Amanda's inclusion into the joining, and then Methos
asked the one thing he really wanted to know.
"Why did you ask to be taken
in?" he questioned evenly.
"My instincts failed me,"
she said lightly, and then sobered with the seriousness in his
eyes. "It seemed the right thing to do."
She saw the doubt at her sincerity
in his eyes.
"I'm not being sanctimonious,"
she told him hotly. "I'm not talking about any quasi-religious
higher goal, I'm talking about for me. No- one even suggested
that I might want to join them, they didn't try to pressure me,
just like they'd let you go your own way without a fight. You
must be able to see what we have, the trust we share. I've never
let anyone guard my back, no matter what was going on, I always
had a way out, at last I don't need that anymore. Richie is never
going to suddenly turn round and go for my head because he's decided
he wants my Quickening; Duncan won't just get tired of me and
want me out of the picture, lethally. Now don't get me wrong,
I'm not suggesting Mac and I will be together for eternity, our
relationship's never been quite that stable, but I know he's never
going to turn on me. More than one man has gone for my head over
the centuries, just because they didn't want any of those awkward
moments. There are finally people in this world I can trust with
my life, and that is the most wonderful thing of which I can conceive."
Just for a moment, she'd forgotten
that Adam was not a known quantity, and in those brief seconds
she'd revealed her heart. Looking into his wide eyes, she suddenly
felt small and inexperienced: he'd manipulated her and made her
bare her deepest soul. Here, talking to one of his own kind who
knew his real name, his age was only thinly veiled, and she saw
something else in his gaze. It was only there for an instant,
but it made her soul ache and extinguished the flame of anger
that had started in her breast. Just for a moment she witnessed
the most intense loneliness and loss, as she showed him her soul,
she caught a glimpse of his. It was an unconscious slip, an aspect
of Methos that none of the others had seen, and suddenly, Amanda
realised that he may have been old, but really he was just like
her. Immortals had Immortal friends, but the only ones they could
be totally sure of were Mortals: how many companions had this
man seen die, at the mercy of their fragile shells? She reached
out to him then and placed her hand on his.
"Don't do too much thinking,
Methos," she said quietly, "let your heart rule on this
one. It takes courage to become part of the unknown, but it's
worth it, my fellow Immortal, it's worth it."
There were more questions in
his little note book, but she stood up then: this discussion was
over. Maybe she didn't trust him, but at least she understood
him a little better. Adam just sat there and let her go, he wasn't
quite sure who had gained the most from that conversation.
Madelaine went to see Chris when,
later that evening Richie announced that Karina had gone home
and his sibling would rather like to talk. They re-established
the mother-son bond, and her insight was a great help to the young
Immortal, who was slowly beginning to think the accident wasn't
the end of the world. Madi had taken an apartment several weeks
previously and she headed back there after midnight, satisfied
that Chris was doing okay. His current relationship with Kari
couldn't exactly be called easy, but they had had some interesting
discussions over the day. They'd agreed to meet again the following
afternoon, and Chris was actually looking forward to what seemed
to be turning into a somewhat heady, platonic relationship.
of Part 9