The moment Karina could get out
of the house without upsetting Joe, she did, and by nine o'clock
in the morning she was stood on Craven's doorstep.
"Is he in?" she asked
pointedly, but politely as the owner of the house opened the door.
"We just came back from
practice," Manheim said, his hair dripping as if to prove
the point, "he should be out of the shower and dressed shortly.
Please come in."
He offered her tea or coffee,
even something to eat, but quickly found that she really wasn't
interested. Eventually the Immortal excused himself and retreated
to his study: he was not quite sure what mood his guest was in.
Karina managed to wait about
two minutes after Craven withdrew and then she charged up the
stairs. She was in a peculiar state of mind and barged straight
into her lover's room without even pausing after the habitual
knock. She found Chris wandering across the carpet, a towel wrapped
round his midriff, drying his hair with another one.
"Hi," she said quietly
as she came to a sudden halt, "I got fed up of waiting."
Karina was actually blushing
and it made her companion smile.
"It's not as if you could
see anything you haven't seen before," he said, excusing
her brashness instantly. "I wasn't expecting you this early,
I don't have an explanation planned."
She was a little surprised that
he appeared to be in such a good mood, the previous evening's
exit had been somewhat abrupt.
"That's okay," were
her next words, "off the cuff will be fine."
"Give me five minutes and
I'll put some clothes on," he returned casually, and grinned
when she actually looked disappointed.
It didn't take him that long
to pull on a pair of jeans and a T- shirt, and he patted the spot
on the bed next to where he was sitting as he finished dressing.
Karina didn't need any persuasion and she sat down quickly, looking
at him from under long lashes.
"I can't tell you everything,"
he said slowly, "well not yet, maybe soon. What I can say
is that last night's exhibition was because Mac took someone's
head. It was sort of a mirrored Quickening, without the rampant
destruction, but just now I can't tell you why. Believe me, I
wish I could, but I can't."
There was a little hurt in her
eyes that he wasn't going to confide in her, but she cared too
much not to understand.
"I would trust you with
my life," he said as his heart twisted at the look on her
face, "but this isn't my decision to make. If it were just
me I would explain everything right now, but it's not and all
I can do is ask you to wait."
She smiled slightly at his need
to remove any mental injury he may have caused and she wound her
arm round him gently.
"I will," she said
quietly and kissed him on the nose.
At that moment, Chris wished
he hadn't put his clothes on.
For some reason, Adam found that
his talk with Richie seemed to have given an urgency to his investigation
of the Dividing. He wanted to know as much as there was to know
and he wanted to find it out quickly: it seemed somehow important.
The fact that the grouping would soon loose it's secrecy prayed
on his mind somewhat, but then again, he had expected to have
to keep up his own cloak and dagger act anyway. Even if he did
join them, he was not about to come out of hiding, or ruin his
place in the Watchers, he would be a shadow partner even if he
decided to follow an alternative destiny. It was with several
possible scenarios running around in his head that he wandered
into the dojo, hood up, looking like just another patron of the
martial arts studio. Now that the plumbing was fixed there were
several regulars well into their workouts as he meandered through
towards the office. If anyone noticed that Duncan's head shot
up as the newcomer walked in, it never occurred to them that it
he said lightly as he put his head round the door, "can we
Mac looked at the pile of papers
in front of him and decided that he was never going to get the
invoices sorted. Maybe it would be better just to hand everything
over to Madi straight away.
"Sure," he responded
calmly, "let's go upstairs."
For once, MacLeod had the place
to himself: Amanda had gone to see Madelaine and the loft was
"Can I get you anything?"
the younger of the two enquired as they climbed out of the elevator.
Methos just smiled.
"It's ten o'clock in the
morning," Mac responded to the obvious insinuation.
"And once upon a time everyone
drank wine all day," the other returned with a grin and threw
himself into a chair.
There was little point in drawing
out the discussion, so Duncan gave up and headed for the fridge
to find a bottle of beer.
"So you want to know about
the group, I suppose," the Highlander commented as he wandered
towards the sofa and passed his friend his drink. "Anything
"Just what you think is
important," Adam replied, putting the pressure right back
on his younger companion.
Years of practice had shown Methos
that the best way to find out the truth, was to let people explain
it in their own way, and only insert his own ideas once he knew
the area for which to play. Duncan narrowed his eyes for a moment
and slowly sat down with a thoughtful expression on his face.
"Have you ever asked an
easy question or given someone a straight answer in your entire
life?" he asked as his mind ticked over several ideas.
"Maybe," the other
responded with a grin.
It was difficult to know where
to start, and Mac took a few moments to decide exactly what to
"It was like finding a home
after wandering the world for my entire life," he began,
eventually. "You've always accused me of being too trusting,
but there was a tiny voice in my head that could never be still,
always warning me that the next smiling face could be my death.
When I'm with the others now, it is silent, and that is the closest
to peace I have ever known. The others have probably told you
the same thing, and once we would not have imagined it was possible."
He smiled, he could still see
the distrust in Methos' eyes, the doubt that what he was hearing
could be true. It had been a hard concept for the group to accept,
it must be virtually impossible for an Immortal who had lived
by his wits for over five thousand years.
"It may be time for the
old dog to learn some new tricks," the Highlander commented
lightly. "You've talked to quite a few of us now, Adam, you
must be hearing the same thing over and over again. All the talking
in the world isn't going to be able to explain why the fact that
we are joined is so important to us, because you can't begin to
really know until you are one of us. I remember the person I was,
and I know that if I hadn't been in that room, I'd have had as
much trouble, if not more, reconciling myself to this as you are."
They looked at each other in
silence, Duncan may not have been as old as Methos, but they had
been the same type of men. Adam often claimed that he had put
aside codes of honour, that he played the game only for himself,
but he lied when said those things. He was a good man, maybe with
a few ulterior motives in life, but underneath he was fundamentally
moral, and deep down the Dividing appealed to him.
"Then again," he responded
to Mac's suggestion, "maybe the old dog knows better than
to let a trainer re-coach him to death."
This wily old man was not about
to give away what he was thinking.
"Last night was an over
sight," the Highlander started on a new track, "and
we're probably going to make a few more mistakes along the way,
but believe me it's worth it. When I took Peters' head it saddened
me that I couldn't help him, I truly wanted to show him how good
life could be, but it didn't stop me following the only course
available. Just because we want to bring people into out council,
it doesn't mean that we are weakened, we're still warriors, just
not among ourselves. We have no more idea of what the Prize will
be than you do, but we know we will share it."
Their eyes locked.
"I am still Duncan MacLeod
of the Clan MacLeod," he said calmly, "I am a Highlander
and an Immortal, but I am part of something bigger now. Even if
I die tomorrow I have added to the group, only that which I was
when I became part of it will be lost, I have a legacy. We cannot
have children, continue our line, but part of me will always be
in the others, I will continue no matter if one day I meet another
who's sword arm is faster. Jackson's Quickening went through me,
but I saw, briefly, through the others eyes as his power filled
me and we shared something I do not have words to explain. In
that short moment in time when the life of another enters our
collective, we are one creature, and there is nothing like it.
That feeling outweighs any inconveniences it may bring to our
There was a thoughtful pause
and then Methos smiled.
"You may have to figure
out a system to warn everyone when a Quickening is in the way,"
he said cheerfully, "I can think of some very awkward situations
that could arise."
"You're telling me,"
the Scotsman returned with a ready smile.
When Mac wandered back into the
office and found that Richie had been in, tidied the desk and
gone off out again, he knew he was not destined to ever sort out
his paperwork. Instead he went about phoning everyone to organise
a time for their meeting.
Adam left MacLeod's with a worryingly
warm feeling in his heart, he was beginning to think he was loosing
his objectivity. He had to gather all the evidence first, and
then weigh it up, not go with random feelings that filtered through
his head. There was more than a little annoyance with himself
as he wandered down the street, casually removed his hooded top
and changed himself into another person, but it didn't stop him
planning a route to Madelaine's place. He pulled up outside her
building, sunglasses and hat in place, just as Amanda was coming
"Greeting, old one,"
she said quietly as he climbed out of and locked the car.
"You're no spring chicken,"
he shot back at her insinuations.
Amanda was acting as if this
was just a passing comment to a stranger and Adam's face was hidden
in shadow: the two Watchers at locations down the street took
"But there's a lot to be
said for experience," was her parting quip.
For about the hundredth time,
Methos wondered where Duncan found the energy to keep up with
Madi had been watching her friend
leave from the window, and so by the time Adam climbed the stairs,
the door was open for him.
"I've been hearing a lot
about you," she said and gestured for him to enter, "my
companions seem to have great faith in your trustworthiness."
"It comes, I think, from
the fact that we each know the other's secret," he returned
calmly. "It has an amazingly evening effect and removes a
large portion of the probability of betrayal."
Madelaine commented lightly, "not a great footing from which
to start a long term relationship, don't you think."
She received a smile in reply.
"You don't have to talk
to me if you don't want to," the ancient Immortal said quite
He was not about the pressure
anyone into giving up anything they did not wish to, and if she
asked he was quite prepared to leave.
"Ah, but Amanda has some
good things to say about you," the other returned and closed
the door behind him.
That was quite a surprise: if
there was one person he expected to be wary it was the older woman,
and a recommendation had been far from his mind.
"Do tell," he said
with a smile, "I did not think my charm had entirely worked
when it comes to our ex-thief."
"Let's just say, she's noticed
a few of your better features," she returned playfully. "Do
have a seat."
This time Methos accepted the
offer of coffee, and his hostess returned a few minutes later
with two steaming mugs. In the time between the Immortal Watcher
took the chance to examine Madelaine's taste in homes. She seemed
to have a peculiar mix of the extremely modern and distinctly
old fashioned, which Adam decided he rather liked. For example,
her sideboard was antique oak, with large brass handles on the
cupboards and deep brown lacquer, but her coffee tables were steel
and glass. There were two high backed, Victorian chairs against
the wall on one side and an old rocking chair to the other, but
the sofa was puffy and modern, covered in little red rosebuds.
It was a study in contrasts, and yet Methos found it delightful.
"You have charming taste
in furniture," he complimented genuinely as his companion
sat in the old rocker.
"Why, thank you," she
returned, "Chris always says my time zones are a little mixed
"Trust me," Adam said
quickly, "they are no-where near as confused as mine."
Madi's face lit up and she saluted
him with her mug.
"Now," she said calmly,
"how can I help you? I'm sure there's nothing I can say that
you haven't already heard."
"I'd like to know how this
all makes you feel," was the gentle reply.
"I'm happy," was the
completely positive response that Madelaine gave, and then she
took a sip of her drink. "I've been out of the game for a
while: I have taken few heads and I'm really not worth anyone's
trouble, tucked away in a small English backwater so very few
came looking. All this rather throws me back in at the deep end,
but I haven't let my sword arm go and I wouldn't have missed it
for the world. I've always known there was something a little
unusual about Chris, for a start he brought out the mother in
me. I've never been the maternal type, but there he was on a street
corner, lost three blocks from the children's home, because he'd
run away, and I fell in love with him. He'd just turned four,
and he was five by the time the adoption was finalised, but money
can do a lot to make the wheels of justice turn faster. When we
first met Richie, it explained a great deal about the type of
child Chris had been."
It didn't make any difference
to this woman that her son was Immortal and neither of them would
be growing any older, she still felt for him as if he were her
natural child. She'd still be proud of her boy when they were
both pushing two thousand, if they lived that long.
"I could never have mistrusted
my child," she continued calmly, "but being part of
the group, knowing there are more people I can trust with my life,
that is more than I ever dreamed. Once I was a naive little girl
who would give her love at the merest hint that it would be returned,
Immortality changed that: the Dividing gave it back."
For once, Methos just sat there
and watched, even when her description started to come to an end,
quite frankly, he was enchanted. He'd never met Madelaine before
and there was a quality about her that he found mesmerising: it
took him a few moments to realise she'd stopped talking.
"Are you all right,"
the younger woman asked quietly, "you looked a little distracted?"
"Oh, fine," Adam said
lightly and shook himself out of it, "thank you so much for
speaking with me. I'm so sorry, but I have to be going."
He'd barely been sitting there
ten minutes, and Madi was left wondering what she had said as
the oldest Immortal in existence fled her apartment. Now, Methos
was even more annoyed with himself: he had a weakness for bright,
intelligent, single woman.
The windows to Craven's living
room were large and open, giving a clear view of anything going
on inside, something of which the two Watchers outside in the
car were making use. Chris and his lover were both sitting down
just chatting, and the two people assigned to the twin and his
mentor were sat in their car drinking coffee from a flask. Adam
spent about twenty minutes standing in the trees to one side,
before he decided talking to the other half of the catalyst for
the Dividing would be impossible. There was no way he could get
to the front door without being photographed, and he did not want
to explain to Karina why he had more than a passing acquaintance
with her boyfriend. He was pretty sure that she'd keep her mouth
shut, but too many awkward questions would rear their ugly heads,
so he left as quietly as he had arrived.
All the Immortals tried to pretend
that the day was just like any other: to all outside appearances
their lives continued as normal. For their Watchers it was a frustrating
few hours as nothing happened and morning meandered into afternoon,
followed, an eternity later for the Mortals, by evening. The only
things out of the ordinary that any of the secret society had
to report was: one visit by Richie to Paul Danworth, unusual because
it was in the middle of the working day; a visitor for Craven
who turned out to be an art dealer; and the fact that MacLeod
didn't go out all day.
That's why nobody was on their
guard when Chris went for a walk with Karina; Craven climbed into
his car and went to a bar; Madelaine decided to do some late night
opening shopping; Duncan took Amanda to a restaurant; and Richie
took Beren to the cinema. The fact that every Immortal was out
at the same time did not cause any alarm bells because even though
the Watchers had decided that communication was useful, they'd
stopped checking in about mid afternoon. Boredom even had an effect
on people with eternal patience.
Graham had drawn Chris today
and he was not expecting the quick exit that his Immortal took
from the cafe at which the young man and Karina ended up. The
blonde woman sat down at a table whilst her companion went to
visit the men's room. The Watcher's daughter ordered two cappuccinos
and then sat there nursing one: after about ten minutes, Chris'
shadow realised his subject was not coming back. All he received
from Kari was a small smile and a shrug as she picked up the second
cup: she had known that her lover would not return. This cafe
had been chosen for the very fact that it had a fairly large window
that looked out onto a back alley.
Manheim had a similar trick up
his sleeve which left Jurgan sitting on a bar stool wondering
what the hell his Immortal could be doing in the bathroom. What
everyone had forgotten since the Dividing, was Craven had had
a lot of experience with Watchers: killing them mostly, and he
knew how to avoid them. He'd come out that evening carrying a
bag which looked like it contained his sword: what was really
inside were one brown wig, one over coat, some awesome shades,
a beret, a different style of bag and his sword. Jurgan
had failed to notice the dark haired, French looking poet who
wandered out of the bar with a ruck-sack, five minutes before
he became really suspicious.
The Watcher who was assigned
to Madi was beginning to think the woman could shop `til she dropped
when she finally lost her. One minute she'd been trying on dresses
in a chic little boutique called Le Mode, and the next she was
gone. What her shadow hadn't realised was that the owner of the
shop was an old friend from pre-Chris days, who'd found out about
Immortals by accident, and was quite happy to show her college
roomy the back way out. The sixties had been fun, and Madi had
enjoyed them by going back to school: Jasmine, the owner of Le
Mode, had been a care free hippie at the time.
When Amanda took a bite of her
first course and made a horrible face, Duncan gallantly headed
towards the kitchen with the offending article. His lady friend
finished her glass of wine and then seemed to decide to give him
a hand complaining. What they actually did was compliment the
chef on his superb cuisine, congratulate the manager on his restaurant,
pay for the meal they had ordered but not eaten and left the back
way. There was some mention of a peculiar woman who seemed to
be following them, and a promise to return sometime, and then
they were gone. Maria never stood a chance.
At the cinema it was even simpler:
Beren and Richie made sure they arrived in the auditorium just
as the program started and they walked in one door and out the
exit. They'd spent several minutes buying popcorn and hanging
around the kiosk so that David couldn't purchase his ticket without
attracting attention. When he'd finally done so and entered the
theatre, he had no idea where his subject had sat and therefore
no idea that he was no-longer there. The poor man sat through
a film he hated only to find later in the evening that it had
of Part 14