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Discoveries by Tasha

This is the second in the Dividing series, the others may be found at:
Dividing of The Ways


Part 13

The phone call to Joe was short and to the point, the Watcher couldn't really talk much because he had colleagues coming out of the woodwork to report that something strange was going on. It wasn't usually an occupation for group discussion, but all the personnel involved with the peculiar band of Immortals, seemed to have realised their charges were linked, and more information could be gleaned by liaising with their associates. There were no doubts that sometimes those of a not quite so Mortal persuasion did strange things, and often they went unnoticed, but just now the Watchers were missing nothing. There was a new face in the bar tonight, Peters' shadow had dropped in since protocol demanded he report a beheading to his most senior colleague in the area. His name was Louis Dante, and as soon as he realised a gathering of his comrades was at hand, he made himself comfortable next to Adam. It took a long time for everyone to arrive, some had followed their Immortals home just in case, but Joe put a call out since it was obvious what was happening. When closing time finally came round, Joe only had four customers that he had to throw out.

"Evening everybody," the bar keeper greeted and brought the chattering to a stop, "I wasn't expecting another get together so soon. For those of you who don't know, this is Louis," he indicated the middle aged man with a nod, "he was Jackson Peters Watcher."

Nobody missed the significance of the tense used.

"Duncan MacLeod beheaded Peters at twenty past eight this evening," Dante explained as Joe passed the field to him. "They had a history."

"Twenty past eight," Dave put in immediately, "that's when Ryan collapsed. I came here because I thought it might have had something to do with the twins."

He pulled an envelope out of his pocket and emptied a couple of photos out onto the table. There were advantages to having access to a dark room twenty four hours a day. The time stamp on the pictures said eight twenty one.

"Chris Seaton did the same thing in the bar," Graham added his contribution.

"Make that both Seatons," another voice put in, it had been Maria in the car, "and Amanda. The pair stopped so quickly on the road that the vehicle behind them nearly went up their exhaust."

"I followed Manheim on a whim," Jurgan offered calmly, "and it was at about the same time he took a nose dive into some bushes in the park."

All the Watchers were looking at each other in speculation.

"Are we trying to say they all felt something when MacLeod took the Quickening?" Julie asked carefully.

It was not a time to be sticking your neck out, in the current environment, someone was liable to take your head off.

"It was more than just a something," Graham said positively, "Chris was on the floor for a good few minutes. He was in pain like I've only seen in a full Quickening. I've seen Immortals react to the energy discharge before, but only if they were real close to the source, and it was only a momentary thing. Quickenings go to one of them and they don't touch any others, that's what's always been seen to be true."

"Not this time," David insisted. "What else could it have been, they all collapsed when the Highlander took Peters' head: it has to have been the Quickening."

There were rumbles of agreement. The Watchers had found their suppositions to have been wrong once when they dismissed the telepathy between the twins, they weren't about to let themselves overlook something just because it seemed unlikely, this time.

"Okay, so we seem to be agreed that they all experienced something of the Quickening," Dante was not backward in coming forward, "so what does it mean. Have any of you heard of this before? I know I haven't."

Several shaking heads and pair of eyes turned to Joe, he was after all their boss. He kept his dilemma inside, all he did was shrug.

"I'm in charge of finding Methos," Adam came to the rescue, "and I've read a lot of old documentation that the rest of you won't have had access to, and I haven't seen a reference to this type of thing before. It may have something to do with the Gathering, now that Immortal numbers are being rapidly reduced."

"But that's just it," Jurgan spoke up, "this is so against the grain when it comes to the Gathering. Six Immortals in the same place, one of whom was a psychotic nightmare of a man, and they all still have their heads. One more turns up, looses his challenge and all the others feel the Quickening. This isn't just strange, it's totally bizarre."

"Maybe there are just things about Immortals we don't know," Sara, yet another of the Watchers seconded in because of the twins, said quietly. "Maybe they can form alliances, they just do it so rarely that no-one's seen it before."

Nobody looked particularly happy with that suggestion.

"I don't buy it," was David's response, "something's happened here, something that hasn't been documented because it's new, something we have to find out about."

Joe did not like the way this discussion was going, but he really couldn't say anything unless he was willing to dig his own grave. He exchanged a look with Adam that said everything, and let the others speculate to their hearts' content.

It was late, or very early, depending on how one looked at things, and it was dark as Methos followed his nose down the empty street. The Watcher meeting had broken up at about two and he had headed out on the off chance that he'd find the person he was looking for. He'd made a careful study of all the players in the current game and his supposition about one particular individual was spot on as he came round the corner and found Richie sitting on the fire escape outside his window.

"Odd time to be out for a walk," the younger Immortal commented as the other's presence settled into a vague feeling at the back of his skull.

"Same goes for sitting on fire escapes," Adam returned calmly.

"Were you planning on ringing the door bell, or did you expect to find me here?" Richie enquired evenly.

"I heard Chris talking the other day," the ancient man replied, "he commented on how you stargaze when something's bothering you. I figured after this evening you'd be hard pushed to sleep."

"You really do listen all the time, don't you?" was the response that came back.

"Usually," Methos replied.

They looked at each other a moment, contemplating what they saw, and finally the younger moved.

"Come on up," he said quickly, "I'll meet you by the front door."

It didn't take more than a few minutes before both Immortals were stood in the living room, Adam with his hands buried in his pockets, Richie trying to close the door quietly.

"Can I get you a beer?" the blond man enquired and offered his guest a seat.

"You read my mind," the other replied with a ready grin.

Richie smiled back, Methos' humour could be infectious.

The bedroom door was tight shut, and both men kept their voices down as Beren slept on totally unaware that there was anything going on. The refrigerator light flooded the dark kitchen as Richie padded in and retrieved two bottles from it's depths, before flicking off the tops and meandering back into the other room.

"So what brings you here," the younger Immortal enquired as they sat down, "this evening's screw up, or other things?"

"Both," Methos returned, "we've been having a meeting at Joe's, it only finished half an hour ago, and I wandered over this way because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I've spoken to a lot of people in the last few days, but not you, or Chris. Since there was a lot of excitement this evening, it occurred to me that no-one would be hanging around your place to accidentally see me."

"Good point," Richie acknowledged and took a swig of beer. "How are we doing on the Watcher front, by the way, anyone hit the nail on the head?"

The blond, young man was not sure he would get an answer, Adam may have been Immortal, but he could be cagey about Watcher business.

"They're undecided as yet," the ancient individual replied after a short pause, "but they're getting closer the more they talk to each other. Joe's not a particularly happy pilgrim at the moment."

Richie nodded and leant back in his chair, he seemed only half interested.

"Correct me if I'm wrong," the older Immortal said slowly, "but this topic of conversation does not seem to be what's at the forefront of your mind."

"Sorry, I'm just a little distracted at the moment," the other replied, "I didn't sleep very well last night."

"Why?" Methos wasn't in the mood to play verbal games, he was being direct.

The half embarrassed, half confused look that MacLeod had seen earlier, reasserted itself on the twin's features.

"A nightmare," he responded tentatively, "well, not really a nightmare, sort of ..."

He ran out of words that he was happy to pass on.

"Oh," Methos said sagely as he took in his companion's disposition, "you've had one of those dreams."

Richie looked startled, but recovered quickly.

"Two actually," he replied slowly.

"You're really racking them up," his companion returned, "you're a bit young to be dreaming."

There was a moment's silence as the younger of the two tried to decide what to say to that: Methos really seemed to understand what he was talking about.

"What do you know about dreams?" he asked eventually.

"Well," the other responded and lent back, balancing his bottle on his chest, "I've known three Immortals who dreamed, four including you now, and I've heard of a couple of others, but never met them. All of them were well into their second millennia before they showed any signs of premonitions, all except you that is. I myself have had three encounters with the paranormal side of my unconscious, each of which were centuries apart."

This was more than Richie could ever have hoped for, someone who knew what he was feeling.

"If you don't mind," he said carefully, "what did you see?"

Adam smiled at that, he had expected the question.

"Let me give you a bit of background first," he said calmly, "or at least what I remember as background. Once I was a warrior, for a long time I enjoyed battle, I even sought it out sometimes, but eventually I became tired of all the killing. I let my training go, so much so that I could barely fend off the youngsters that came looking for Methos, the Immortal with over a thousand years under his belt. Then I had my first Dream," he said it as if it were a distinctly different noun from that which described the unconscious meanderings of the human mind, "it showed me my death. I saw myself die at the hands of a man I despised, an enemy I had fought many years before and nearly killed. That was the first time Methos ceased to exist and I became one of a long string of Immortals with different names and shorter lives, most of which I have long since forgotten. The second was a very good idea which prevented a close friend from ending his life prematurely. Since he died at the ripe old age of one hundred and three, a great great grandfather and still enjoying life, I'm glad I could help when he was twenty four. As to the idea, that's for me to know. The third was much more recent, and it showed me an Immortal named Duncan MacLeod who had a blazing future ahead of him. It persuaded me to keep an eye on him, and now I can see why."

Richie seemed to have forgotten his beer, Methos had all of his attention.

"Okay," the older man said, "I've shared, now it's your turn. What my young friend have you been dreaming about?"

"Fair's fair, I suppose," the blond man returned, "the first thing I saw was you. The night before you arrived all I could dream about was you and I couldn't figure out why. When you turned up I put it down to coincidence."

His companion laughed.

"You must have one hell of a stubborn streak," he commented, "from what I recall, these dreams are hard to ignore."

A smile spread across the younger Immortal's face, he had to agree.

"Just call me mule," he said wryly. "The second dream, if you're still interested, was about MacLeod. I saw him beheaded because his coat was shut in a door. When I saw him about to leave in the same outfit yesterday I threw a fit and made him go and change. I'd half convinced myself I was crazy, then Mac received the final challenge and when he came back and told me I had been batting in the right ball park."

The conversation dried up a little at that point, and the two Immortals found new interest in their beverages.

"You know, you bother me," Methos said eventually, serious for a moment. "Not many people do that, but you and Chris and MacLeod, you all bother me."

"Oh good," Richie shot back, "does that mean I can stop feeling guilty about you bothering me?"

That drew a smile back to Adam's face.

"You don't fit," he continued, "you never really have. You for a start should have been dead several times by now, but somehow you're still alive."

"Craven said the same thing when he kidnapped me," the younger said slowly, "something about me having a lot of luck. Once I would have said it was all just Mac's teaching, and my dedication," he grinned, studiousness was not a large percentage of his character, "but now I think some of it was damn good fortune. For example, when Garrick went after Mac, he could have killed me, but for some reason he just left me on the floor to revive later."

"Who can tell?" Methos admitted. "Since we're getting on so well, would you mind giving me your side of this adventure in which you're involved?"

A nod of acceptance came from Richie's direction: this was what he'd expected from the beginning. He took a moment to arrange his thoughts and then inhaled deeply.

"It's the most rewarding, wonderful, confusing, frightening and strange thing that's ever happened to me," he said evenly. "I would never in a million years want to change it, but when I really think about what we've become it scares the hell out of me. I've never been so sure that something was right in my entire life, and yet the consequences are so big. Being there, starting the whole thing of joining us together was what I was put on this earth to do, it's my reason to exist, I can't argue with it at all. Without Chris there was part of me missing and without, to coin a phrase the breaking of the Gathering," he knew Iltyd's last chapter by heart, "I was always waiting for something to happen. I understand things about what's occurred at a level of my mind I can't dip into, but when it's explained it's so obvious. I'd bring you in, in a minute if I could, but I also know it's not our place to force you into this."

He stopped for a moment, trying to find the words to explain.

"Some things are so clear," he continued after a pause, "and others are as weird to me as they are to everyone else. I don't know why there's knowledge in me that wasn't there before the Quickening. I don't know why I can speak languages I'd never even heard of, or sometimes formulate a battle plan in chess that'll wipe Mac's pieces of the board. There are forces inside me about which I don't have a clue, that frighten me so much I won't even talk about them, but I wouldn't go back. It's only when you've filled the hole, you know it was there. I have two greatest fears, one is to loose Beren, the other is to loose Chris. The first fills me with dread, but I have to admit to myself that one day it will happen, the second, I would not survive. If Chris or I die, we take the other with us."

He looked hard into his companion's eyes: there was doubt there at his last statement.

"Take my word for it," Richie insisted, "this is not just a fancy of mine. We're one, it's how we instigated all this: now that we're together, to separate us would be to destroy us both. When one of us dies, like Chris the other day, there is an emptiness which is nearly overwhelming, but it is not quite complete. The Quickening is not lost and it leaves something to hold onto. If that goes, so does the other's soul."

He'd never been more serious in his life, and even Methos' cynicism couldn't deny this one.

"I envy your conviction," the ancient man said slowly, "I wish I could share it, I truly do. I do not think, however, that I feel the same way about your position, even if the others can maintain their secret, yours is there for the whole world to see. Wasn't it easier before you found your brother?"

An enigmatic smile filtered across Richie's features, it always took him by surprise that others found it hard to understand what he and Chris shared.

"Maybe it was easier in a way," he said calmly, "I was a two bit nobody, who for the most part wasn't worth bothering with. Now I'm a curiosity, central focus for a crowd of Watchers, and maybe more eyes will turn this way because of my twin, but I don't care. Chris is part of me, I would do anything for him, be anyone he wanted me to be. There is nothing that could drive us apart, no shame that could come between us, and therefore no need for secrets. I know what he's feeling right now, I could walk into his mind and he wouldn't stop me, no matter what was going on. If I had my time over again, I would seek him out: I can no-longer imagine life without him. Because we are a pair we'll draw attention, but that's a secondary concern to what we are: I would not give it up for all the power in the world."

"And the others," Adam wanted to understand exactly what his companion was feeling, "what do you think about them."

That question was a little more difficult and Richie had to think for a while to sort out his thoughts.

"They're like family," was the simple answer, "they are the brothers and sisters, cousins, parents even, that I have never really had, and like all families we wish to increase in number."

"Would you force someone to join you?" it was a question no-one had thought to explain absolutely, to Methos and it took his companion by surprise.

He blinked once and then grinned at the placid expression on the ancient Immortal's face.

"We can't," Richie returned easily, "all we can do is offer and let them in if they want to come. You know how sometimes you doubt the rules, but then when it comes down to it you realise they're right, that somewhere inside you feel what's correct. It's the same with this, for us it's another commandment. I think it has to do with fulfilling a need: most of us want to be a part of something, but there are those out there who find it a nightmare of an idea. If there is no urge to join, then they can't be forced to find it within themselves to be part of this."

It was strange, Adam actually looked unbelievably relieved, as if this had been bothering him for a while.

"Don't ask what would happen if we tried," the younger man put in quickly as he watched the cogs ticking over in his companion's mind. "It's like asking what would happen if one of us took a head on holy ground: you don't find out `til the chips are down and the wheel's spinning."

The smile reinstated itself on Methos' features, it was always that way with Immortal rules.

It was late, Adam had discovered what he wanted to know, and in a few long swigs he'd finished his drink.

"I should be going," he said quietly. "Thank you Richie, you've given me quite an insight."

"Any time," the other replied. "We'll convince you eventually, even if it takes a couple of centuries."

"I don't doubt it," Methos returned with a chuckle, and climbed to his feet, "but for now I'll bid you goodnight."

The younger Immortal also stood and followed his companion to the door.

"Join us Adam, or Methos, or whoever you really are at the moment," he said slowly, "you won't regret it. You'll have to make a hundred and one mistakes like to rest of us," he continued, changing tack, "but you definitely won't regret it."

A nod of acknowledgement was all Richie received in return, neither agreeing or disagreeing, and then the man who had walked the earth for over five thousand years opened the door and wandered back into the night. The young Immortal he left behind decided it was time for bed.

End of Part 13