Duncan moved through the broken
down warehouse slowly: it was dingy in here and there were things
strewn all across the floor. The presence of the other Immortal
had faded, but he was here somewhere and Mac was going to find
him. A noise came from above and the Highlander was off in a second,
up the stairs towards the slightly open metal doors. He was all
warrior, hunter, ready for the kill, he did not think this man
would ever become one of the joining, not after he had run. The
katana glinted in the dim flood light filtering through a filthy
window, and the tingling behind his eyes started again. His opponent
was close, his instincts said much nearer than he expected, and
he walked across the landing slowly, wary of any sound, any sign.
He slipped through the doors like a shadow in black trench coat
and black clothes. His eyes scanned everywhere, trying to find
the merest hint of his adversary. Suddenly the big door was sliding
towards him on it's runners and he leapt sideways to avoid being
crushed as it closed. His flight came up short as the coat pulled
tight, caught in the metal mechanism, and his balance went completely.
Vague panic touched the back of his mind as he pulled, trying
to get free: he had no choice, the coat had to go. He shrugged
his shoulders and let one hand slip off the sword, just what his
opponent had been waiting for. He heard the shout, saw the glint
of steel and then felt the jarring of sword hitting sword. His
arm flew in a crazy arc, as unprepared muscles reacted in the
only way they could.
"You're mine, MacLeod,"
a frenetic voice said, oh so close.
The blade was coming for him,
luck had left him, he'd been cheated by a door. There was no time,
he could not defend himself, his death was swinging towards his
neck. So this is what it felt like to understand.
"No!" Richie sat bolt
upright in bed, beads of perspiration running off his forehead.
His panic and despair were complete,
and then a gentle hand touched his shoulder.
"It's okay, darling,"
Beren's voice said quietly, "you were dreaming."
He looked at her, eyes still
wide in fear and denial, and slowly he began to breath again.
The memory was fading slowly as reality seeped in and the anguish
began to dissipate.
"Nightmare?" the young
woman beside him asked with an understanding smile.
"Yeah," he said slowly,
his mouth dry and his thoughts all over the place, "sorry
I woke you."
"Want to talk about it?"
Beren enquired calmly.
Richie had had nightmares before,
the Dividing had affected him deeply, and this wasn't the first
time he had woken in the throws of some delusion or recollection.
"No, that's all right, you
go back to sleep," he said quietly, "I need some water."
The springs moved as he climbed
out of bed, and Beren watched him disappear into the kitchen in
silence. She knew not to push if he didn't want to talk, he'd
tell her in his own time.
By morning the affects of the
dream appeared to have left Richie and he took off for an early
morning run with a bright smile and peck on the cheek for Beren.
He breezed into the dojo ready for work and seemingly at peace
with life an hour or so later.
"Missed you at practice
this morning," MacLeod greeted as his young friend wandered
in, "Chris too."
"I went for a run instead,"
the other returned chattily, "and Chris is alternatively
His meaning was clear and Duncan
actually looked a little surprised.
"Karina?" he said a
"The genuine article,"
Richie responded with a large grin, "I wouldn't expect to
see either of them before lunch time. I finally know why Chris
has been moaning at me to give him a break for the last six weeks."
Now Duncan laughed.
"You do realise we're all
going to be right in it with Joe," he commented dryly.
The Watcher's reaction to this
situation would probably not be pretty: it was liable to bring
out the over protective father figure in the blues player. If
only he could be told the truth, how this would only help his
friend in the long run, but that was not on the cards.
"Well it's a while since
he's been pissed at us," his companion returned, unable to
hide his delight that his twin had found happiness. "We should
give him something to watch to take his mind off running other
"I'll tell him that,"
the Highlander threatened with a chuckle, "see how long you
last with a dozen Watchers on your tail."
"Oh, god, don't," the
other said lightly, "there's enough of them already. They
keep trying these different systems so I won't spot them, I think
it'll be teleportation next."
"Beam me up, Scotty,"
Mac returned and found himself hustled out of the desk chair for
"Be gone, Highlander,"
Richie ordered playfully, "I have work to do. If we're going
to be able to pay for the work on the showers the books need some
One thing in which the younger
Immortal had shown great promise, was juggling funds, he could
spread money very thin without becoming embroiled in trouble.
"Ah well," Duncan said
and headed for the door, "Amanda should be out of the shower
by now. I may be able to get into the bathroom."
The spreadsheet was just beginning
to add up in the right places when the tapping of a cane intruded
on Richie's train of thought. If he'd had time he'd probably have
dived under the desk, but as it was, Joe Dawson had already seen
him. The look on the older man's face was not particularly friendly:
this was definitely the Watcher looking out for his friend's daughter.
"Morning, Joe," the
Immortal greeted brightly as he walked into the office, and winced
under the glare he received in return.
"Karina didn't come home
last night," the Watcher said evenly, "your brother
wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would he?"
Sometimes there were disadvantages
to having it known you could read your sibling's mind.
"I think that's between
them," Richie returned carefully, he really didn't want to
be in the middle of this situation.
His evasion actually answered
the question, and Joe's face darkened at the hedging.
"Do you people ever think
before you do anything?" he asked coldly. "She's a Watcher's
daughter, most of her family are Watchers, she can't be involved
with an Immortal."
"It's not that simple, Joe,"
the other returned, trying to remain the calm one. "There
are elements you don't understand, leave them be, it'll be best
"She's like family to me,"
the older man insisted, righteous in his need to protect, "she
can only be hurt by this. Kari can do without being seduced by
Now Richie's eyes flashed.
"He did not seduce her,"
it was his turn to shout, "in fact he tried to stop it."
The twins had had a little talk
that morning whilst Richie was running, he knew all the details.
"Karina is a very big girl,
Joe," the Immortal continued, a little more evenly, "she
knew exactly what she was doing. They're in love, whether the
rest of the world like it or not, and your guest's absence last
night it an illustration of how much. Their relationship may be
a somewhat ill thought out, but you are not going to blame it
on Chris. They are both in this and they went in willingly."
Joe was speechless for a moment.
"But it'll tear her apart,"
he eventually said quietly.
"She's not a Watcher,"
Richie pointed out slowly, "she isn't bound by your rules.
It's going to make things a little more difficult, but it's not
the end of the world. You could try and break them apart, but
I think we both know they're going to make their own decisions."
For once in his life, Richie
was the voice of reason, and his words broke through Joe's stubborn
"Can't anything be simple,
just once?" he asked plaintively.
Chris actually breezed in about
three hours later, humming to himself and on top of the world.
His twin had long since plied Joe with numerous cups of coffee,
talked him out of going after Chris with a shot gun, and sent
him home. It was around one o'clock, just about the time Richie
had predicted his brother would turn up.
"Afternoon, pain in the
arse who is my brother," the more experienced Immortal said
sarcastically. "Praise and grateful thanks will be graciously
accepted for the feat of removing Joe from your back."
"That bad?" Chris asked
with a grimace.
He'd known, the moment he'd kissed
Karina it would effect his relationship with the Watcher, he only
hoped it wouldn't end it.
"When he walked in he was
ready to kill you," the other elaborated calmly, "then
I explained a few home truths and he was ready to kill both of
you. By the time he left he was down to never speaking to you
again, which means, I suspect he'll have calmed down enough for
you to be able to square things, by this evening."
Richie had meant what he'd said
to his older friend, he did think his twin's new relationship
was ill thought out, but he was the first to admit there had been
little thinking involved in the start of his alliance with Beren,
so who was he to comment. There were going to be some awkward
times ahead for Chris and all his twin could do was be there for
"Do you really think so?"
the newcomer of the two asked anxiously.
"I know so," his sibling
returned with a bolstering smile. "One thing Joe does understand
is honesty. Give him a little time and then go see him and explain.
He'll probably try and tell you that both of you are making a
huge mistake, but he'll listen and he won't condemn you for being
Chris smiled back.
[Thanks, Bro,] he said in the
most all encompassing way he could.
[Anytime,] Richie responded automatically.
The sound of the elevator interrupted
them and both turned to see who was coming down. Duncan waved
at the pair as he stepped into the main room and then headed for
the door. Chris experienced everything that went through his twin's
mind at that moment: they were still communicating, and he had
to sit down as complete panic hit him. Richie had never moved
quite so fast as he leapt for the office door.
"Mac!" he yelled, the
word catching in his throat even as he tried to say it.
His state of mind was obvious
from his tone and the Highlander turned immediately, unsure what
could have caused his friend to sound like a strangled cat and
have gone three shades paler.
"What's up, Rich?"
he asked slowly. "You look like you've seen a ghost."
Under the rational scrutiny,
the younger Immortal felt suddenly foolish, as he discovered that
he wasn't quite sure how to explain his reaction. It was Duncan's
clothes that had caused his young protege to momentarily loose
his cool: the Highlander was decked out all in black, and over
everything was the stylish raincoat.
"Um... I... Where are you
going?" was all Richie could manage as his thoughts caught
up with his instincts.
"Just to do some shopping,"
Mac returned with a slightly confused smile, "I'm almost
out of booze. Are you okay?"
This was difficult, the younger
Immortal was not the sort of person who could admit they were
reacting to something they'd seen in a dream.
"Do me a favour," he
said awkwardly, "wear another coat."
Duncan was looking at him as
if he was crazy.
"Don't ask me why,"
he put in rapidly, "just do it for the sake of my peace of
"I'm in a bit of a hurry,
Richie," the Highlander said, unable to contain his bemusement
at the request.
"Please, if you never do
anything I ask ever again, just don't wear that coat in the near
future," it was an extremely weird plea, but the look on
the twin's face was quite compelling.
"Okay, Rich," his friend
said with a shake of his head, "I'll wear a different coat.
Will the tan trench coat do?"
"How about a shorter one?"
this conversation was becoming bizarre.
Mac was confused, but he was
headed back to the elevator.
"If this is one of your
mad cap jokes," he warned evenly, "I will personally
hang your hide on my wall."
The gates closed and Chris wandered
out of the office.
"Just don't say anything,"
Richie said as the motors started, he was beginning to feel foolish,
but not stupid enough to withdraw his request.
"No comment," his twin
replied, "I'm with you on this one."
There was weird and then there
was truly bizarre, and as far as MacLeod was concerned, Richie's
behaviour had just stepped over the line. If it hadn't been for
the totally petrified look in his young friend's eyes that first
moment he'd turned and seen him, the Highlander might just have
ignored him. As it was, he picked up his black leather jacket,
slid the katana into it's new resting place and headed out, avoiding
the dojo. It didn't take long to pick up the alcohol, extra beer
included since Methos was around, and before very long he was
ready to return home. It was as he finished loading the brown
grocery sacks into the T-Bird that his head reverberated with
the presence of another Immortal, a stranger. He looked up sharply,
and scanned the area with his penetrating stare, finally settling
on a tall man with dark glasses, at the corner. The man smiled,
an unpleasant sight, and saluted Duncan with one, brown gloved
hand. He was dressed in deep emerald green from head to foot,
except for his accessories, and his long, wax riding jacket hung
in only a way Immortal coats could. There was no doubt who this
man was, and as he turned to walk away, Mac noted that Jackson
Peters moved with all the skill of a veteran fighter. It was a
fair guess that the challenger was not yet ready to face his adversary,
since there was a church just round the corner, and he appeared
to be heading towards it: this was a preliminary sounding. Duncan
slammed the trunk of the T-Bird, straightened his jacket and set
off after Jackson with disdainful ease. As he walked through the
entrance onto holy ground, Peters turned from where he was waiting
and pulled off his shades with a predatory size up.
"It's been a while, Highlander,"
he said calmly.
"And I'd have thought you
might have developed some sense by now," the Scotsman returned
coldly, he did not like all these games.
It seemed that Jackson did not
have a sense of humour because his eye narrowed at the statement.
His hatred had wiped away the person underneath, this was a two
dimensional man, and for just a moment Duncan felt sorry for him.
Maybe he shouldn't have left a lonely boy in the forest all that
time ago, he might have been able to save what had to have been
a strong spirit. Now all that was left was a will to destroy that
which had killed his first Immortal comrade, and it made him a
very dangerous man. His hair was dark brown and surrounded a pleasant
enough face, but his expression lacked true emotion, and it left
an ugly set to his features. He couldn't have been more that twenty
when he died, and yet the boyish cast in his visage was offset
by a hardness which had taken decades to develop. There was a
thought at the back of his mind that suggested to Duncan, maybe
he could bring this one back, but he pushed it aside, first they
would have to match blades.
"You killed my only friend,"
Jackson said menacingly, "and for that I'm going to kill
you. I wanted to meet you first, to see how you've changed: swords
can detract so much from a personality. I've been thinking that
maybe I'd like to play with one of your friends first,
let you feel what I felt."
A laugh escaped Mac's throat
at the empty threat.
"They can all take
care of themselves," he said calmly, and the information
seemed to surprise Peters.
The Immortal's eyes widened slightly
as he realised what the Highlander was telling him.
"They can't all be Immortal,
MacLeod," he returned slowly, "we're not the gregarious
type. Or are they all your pets, a flock of tame flunkies?"
This man really had little imagination.
"Cross swords with them
if you like," Duncan said evenly, he knew Peters was too
obsessed with revenge to risk it, "it would save me a chore."
"Over confidence has brought
down many proud heads, Highlander," Jackson said vehemently,
he did not seem to be able to control his emotions at all well.
"I know," the Scotsman
said calmly, "it's what caused Bran's death. He thought he
was the best swordsman in the world, and for a while he seemed
to be proven right. Then I came along and showed him the error
of his ways. I don't fight for sport, Peters, I fight because
I'm challenged, you might want to try it some time."
"If you think I'm just going
to walk away, you're very much mistaken," the other Immortal
shot back. "Your head is mine, and next time we meet, it
won't be on holy ground."
"Just tell me where and
when," was all Duncan replied.
The calm, superiority had reasserted
itself on Jackson's features as the topic of conversation slid
back his way.
"Tonight, at eight,"
he said carefully, "you'll find the address in an envelope
under the wipers on your car. I think I'll stick around here,
and find God for a while."
The expression on his face said
he was in anything but a spiritual mood. Their meeting was over,
that much was obvious, so Mac just turned on his heels and left:
they would join battle all too soon.
"Any white wine in those
bags?" Amanda asked brightly as her lover carried them out
of the elevator. "There's this great punch recipe in a magazine
I picked up earlier, and I thought we might try it tonight."
"I won't be in," the
Highlander returned evenly, and the undertone in his voice was
not lost on his companion.
"Oh," she said, "well
I'll make it for when you get back."
Her smile was forced, but what
else could she do: no matter how much she cared for Duncan, she
couldn't fight his battles for him. They all knew that sooner
or later their lives came down to the flight of a blade, Mac was
just the first to stand up to the challenge since their aims had
"Just take his head,"
she advised quietly, "don't worry about bringing him in.
Hesitate and this one might just get past you."
"I know," the Scotsman
returned and put down his burden.
Somehow, Karina had managed to
avoid Joe all day, she knew she was going to be in for a lecture.
It was a precarious situation which she refused to regret, but
would rather put off until later, which was why, when Chris suggested
they go to the bar, she was somewhat surprised.
"We shouldn't let this silence
go on too long," he explained at her questioning glance,
"or it might just be too difficult to break."
They were both sat in Craven's
living room, where they'd been for about ten minutes since Kari
turned up on the doorstep just before seven. There was no awkwardness
between them, neither of them had any thoughts in the direction
of remorse for their actions, but it had taken the Immortal a
few minutes to work up to the idea.
"You're right," the
young woman agreed slowly and reached out to take his hand, "if
you're willing so am I. Let's go face the wrath of a Watcher."
There had been no discussion
of Richie's earlier behaviour between him and Duncan. The younger
of the two had buried himself in work and not ventured upstairs
once during the afternoon, which was highly unusual for the blond
Immortal. It wasn't like the mentor and his pupil not to talk,
and finally, just before he was ready to go out, MacLeod walked
into dojo's office. Richie was still there, because he couldn't
quite bring himself to go home, not without making sure that his
friend was still in one piece.
"Do you want to explain
why I'm not supposed to wear my rain coat?" the Highlander
asked calmly as his companion looked up sideways.
"Not really," the younger
man returned quietly, he still felt stupid.
It wasn't easy to explain a conviction
that he wasn't quite willing to give up, but couldn't justify.
"You're going out to meet
him, aren't you?" Richie continued evenly, that much was
obvious by the way the Scotsman was moving.
Something changed about Duncan
when he was readying for a battle, something almost indiscernible,
on an elemental level, and that evening it was written all over
"Yes," Mac told his
companion calmly. "We bumped into each other today, and the
time is set. It'll be over tonight."
Half a smile played across Richie's
mouth: the older Immortal was probably going to think him even
crazier, but he formulated his next sentence anyway.
"Watch out for sliding doors,"
he said quietly, and glanced up from where he had been intently
studying his fingers.
Two Immortals looked into each
other's eyes at that moment, both warriors, both killers, brothers
in an unnatural destiny.
"Don't loose your head,"
the younger said evenly, and Mac smiled back.
"See you later," the
Highlander returned calmly.
In the spirit that Joe couldn't
blow a fuse with lots of customers around, Chris and Karina entered
the tavern just as it was beginning to fill up. Adam glanced round
as the door opened, careful to appear just a casual observer since
one of the patrons tonight was Graham, and he hid his smile at
the worried look Chris gave him. Joe was busy replacing a few
things under the bar and he didn't see the new comers as Methos
stood up and motioned for them to take his place. This Immortal
knew where to be and where not to be, choosing a table away from
the young couple.
"You know there's more junk
under here than... ,"the Watcher was saying and then his
eyes caught up with his mouth and he realised he was no-longer
talking to Adam.
"Hi, Joe," Kari said
Now she chose to remember not
to call him uncle.
"Evening," he said,
not exactly warmly, "I was beginning to think you had skipped
"It crossed our minds,"
Chris said with an attempt at humour, it fell on dead ground.
It was a toss up who looked the
guiltiest, Karina or her companion, but one thing they were not
going to do was drown in consequences. They'd made their decisions,
all they had to do was convince Joe, they had made the right ones.
"It just happened,"
the young woman said quietly and squeezed her lover's hand, "we
didn't plan this."
"It might have been better
if you'd done a little thinking first," the bar tender said
emphatically. "What is your father going to say? He'll have
my hide you know: he'll probably blame it all on me."
"He can't live my life,"
Karina responded in defence. "I'll talk to him, he'll understand
Her voice trailed off towards
the end: telling her father would not be an uplifting experience.
"And you," Joe turned
his attention to Chris, "she has two large brothers you know.
They may not take kindly to an Immortal running off with their
big sister, and they know the limits of Immortality."
Their conversation was low, but
it didn't need volume to have an effect. It was an empty threat,
but it's gist was unmistakable. Watcher's observed Immortals,
that wasn't to say they all liked them. A healthy fear of the
people they followed went a long way to insuring one of the society's
member's safety. Chris and his companion sat down, this was going
to take a while.
of Part 11