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Fanfic page with pictures, music, previews, staff bios and episode listings, all you could want, and more, for Highlander fiction fans. HFS season one is finished, we have a total of 23 episodes, and they're all available if you follow the HFS link.

Discoveries by Tasha

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

 

Part 15

Their escape routes had been carefully planned and it didn't take any of the Immortals long to find their way to the warehouse. Beren, as usual was included in the affairs of the group and unlike his associates, Joe had actually been invited. The Watchers in town were so busy trying to locate their Immortals that none of them realised their boss was missing.

The old building was so dilapidated anyway, that the signs of the recent Quickening had been swallowed up by it's normal visage as if it had never happened. Mac had brought a bulb with him and the light sent eerie shadows up the walls as he plugged it into the quickly emptied socket. Richie and Beren were the last to arrive and as they wandered in the company was complete. One pair of eyes watched without their knowledge, as they gathered, he'd been invited to join their discussion, but Methos had decided to observe from afar. He had hidden himself in the building long before the others had arrived, high up on one of the metal balconies, just out of range for the Immortal early warning system. He was a shadow among other shadows, nobody even glanced in his direction.

"Well this is a pleasant spot," Madelaine commented as she looked around their dingy surroundings, "who's idea was this again?"

She was looking right at Amanda when she spoke, and her friend just smiled.

"You have to admit it's the last place they'd look for us," the ex- cat-burglar said sweetly.

"It's the last place I'd look for us," the blonde woman returned.

"At least it's not wet," Chris commented quietly.

"It may not be to you," Dawson put in lightly, "but trust me on this one, it's damp in here."

"When everyone's finished complaining," Mac said loudly, "it might be a good idea to start this get together. The sooner we make a decision, the sooner we can all go home."

Several Immortals grinned at that. They were stood in a vaguely circular shape, so that everyone could see everyone else, and they looked at one another, all expecting someone to start.

"Okay," Chris said eventually, "since no-one else has anything earth shattering to say, I have a problem which all of you can probably guess. Kari's happy with the `I can't tell you anything yet,' line, but she won't be for more than a few days. I need to know if I can explain, or if I have to tell her she'll have to wait a lot longer."

There were no doubts what the twin wanted them to say, but he didn't voice his opinion or force it on the group. Richie knew the inability to tell all was tearing his sibling apart, but he too held back for now, he would come down on Chris' side towards the end of the debate, if there was one. Surprisingly it was Joe who spoke up first.

"Karina's a bright girl," he said calmly, "if you don't tell her what's going on she won't know what not to tell everyone else. You picked yourself a choice woman there, Chris, she has a habit of finding everything out no matter how well you try to hide it. My advice is come clean now, she can keep her mouth shut: she's Watcher trained."

"She'll have to know eventually," Amanda pointed out, a statement which went right over Joe's head, "better sooner than later." This didn't look as if it was going to be as hard as Chris had thought.

[If Duncan says anything it's swung,] Richie commented as the twins looked at each other,[and there was me with a speech all planned.]

[You'd probably undo all the good work,] was the quick reply.

"I've seen love enough times," the Highlander said eventually, "this is the real thing. You should be allowed to make this decision, Chris," he continued, "if you want to tell her I suggest we all concur."

Everyone nodded, they all knew true romance when they saw it and no- one wanted to prevent it from flowering. Besides which, hopefully, one day, Kari would take her place among them.

"Thank you," the youngster returned, "this means a lot to me."

"It also means that if she shouts this from the highest building I'm going to have your rear end in a sling," his Mother commented dryly.

There was more than one laugh.

"Now to our other problem," Duncan brought them all back to the reason for their presence, "the Watchers and what they may or may not have deduced from the show we put on yesterday."

Eyes turned to Dawson, he could tell them exactly how much trouble they were in. He shifted slightly onto the other leg and swept his hand through his silver hair as he took their scrutiny emotionlessly.

"They know what they saw," he told them calmly, head rolling forward and a wayward bang falling over his eyes, "you'll have no peace until they have an explanation. They'll be discrete, but this is big, and big means a pain in the arse for most of you. I can keep them running in circles for a while, but sooner or later someone will realise they're being fed incorrect information, and then I'll be for the long walk."

Immortal looked at Immortal, trying to read the thoughts in each- others eyes. It didn't take much to realise they were all coming to the same conclusions, and the atmosphere it created was almost as dank as their surroundings. Any humour that had been flowing through the conversation was quite succinctly destroyed and quite a heavy feeling hung around each one of the ageless party.

"We don't have a choice, do we," Craven finally voiced what they were all thinking, "Joe's going to have to tell them. We knew the time would come, that's why the chronicle exists, we just didn't know it would be so soon. It's our own fault, they only saw what we allowed them to see."

No-one chose to even try and disagree, a state of affairs which most Immortals would have found very strange. Not one of the players was thinking of themselves at that moment: they may have been thinking about their friends, but even that was outweighed by the knowledge of what they would be asking Joe to do if they vetoed the explanation.

"How long before it would be all over the globe?" Amanda asked evenly.

There was a small shrug from the Watcher in their midst, it was difficult to tell.

"We mostly work on a need to know basis," he returned openly, "but we're not a covert operation among ourselves. Information travels at the speed at which people are interested in it. This would probably go through the local network pretty fast, and the heads of other divisions would have to be told. Lower rank Watchers might never know unless they were assigned to you, but higher up it wouldn't be difficult to find out. This would be as important to us as it is to you, that's why I chose your side. Not every Watcher knows everything, but it wouldn't take long for the news to spread."

Minds were turning over, looking for a solution to this dilemma: there didn't seem to be many options. Forbidding any leakage was a moot point, their only choices were about how and what the Watchers would be told.

"Can you classify it?" Richie asked finally. "You're a hierarchy, every hierarchy has some way to stop the lower ranks finding things out."

"But it's already gone beyond just the higher ranks," Madi pointed out, "it was, forgive the use of language, the foot soldiers who saw everything."

"Then tell them not to give the information to anyone else," the younger Immortal insisted, he thought he might be onto something. "Call a meeting, come clean, and tell them the information is for their ears only."

Dawson cottoned on, and his mind began to tick over. There was a possibility here: links began to form in his brain and slowly a plan began to take shape. His analytical thoughts drew names and past acquaintances from his memory and piece by piece started to put them together.

"You know, it might work," he said a little more cheerfully. "I'll have to get the okay from the leadership, but I can pull in several favours and get the information held. I'll probably still get my arse cooked, but it will limit the spread of the truth. We can label it for specific Watchers only, namely yours. Every one in this area will have to be told or someone will start reporting the odd behaviour going on around here and questions will start flying, but damage control is better than no control."

"Can you really swing it, Joe?" Mac asked evenly. "After concealing the information from them will they allow you to limit it's flow."

It could be dicey, but the older Watcher wasn't without friends inside his organisation.

Suddenly every Immortal tensed and their heads turned towards the darkness as each experienced the presence of a stranger. Their reactions varied between the unmasked shock that ran across Chris' face and the emotionless glare from Amanda. Each of them had their own way of dealing with the obtrusive tingling behind their eyes and it didn't take much for the Mortals to realise what was happening. All gazes watched the dim surroundings, not quite sure what to do.

"They'll have to," said a familiar voice from the shadows, "this is an unknown quantity. They'll listen to Joe, they'll have no choice, and they might even forgive his indiscretion when they find out how much information he has retrieved because of it."

Methos wandered into the circle of light and smiled his most inane smile. The look on his face said that he rather enjoyed being the centre of attention, and he found the reaction he had invoked in the others quite amusing.

"Don't mind me," he said calmly, "I'm harmless."

Amanda snorted.

"So you decide to make an appearance after all," Duncan commented, "how long have you been here?"

The Highlander wasn't exactly annoyed, this was the type of thing he'd come to expect from the ancient Immortal, but his blood pressure could live without Adam's entrances once in a while.

"Since before you," the other returned lightly, "I'm good at sneaking around."

He smiled at the oldest female Immortal broadly, he knew exactly what she thought of his slinking activities. They both had suspicions and they trusted each other to about the same limits: the proverbial barge pole and Olympian throwing contests coming to mind.

"I thought my presence might influence the course of the discussion so I waited until you'd made your decision," Methos continued calmly. "You have decided haven't you?"

There was little to deny that: no-one had any other suggestions.

"Good, good," he continued and the two people that really knew him realised he was acting a little strangely, "because I happen to agree with you."

"That's nice," Amanda said with a grin, "but do we need your seal of approval?"

The older Immortal smiled back, he probably deserved that one.

"It depends on how you look at things I suppose," he responded calmly, "you see I find that I have come to a conclusion."

That caught most of them off guard: Adam keeping an eye on developments was one thing, but no-one had suspected that he would make a decision so quickly. Such a fast turn of events was either a very good sign or a very bad portent, and everyone looked as if they couldn't decide which. All were almost holding their breath, those that weren't reeling in shock that is.

"Sorry I didn't get round to talking to you, Chris," the ancient Immortal said brightly, a little too brightly, he was actually nervous, "but you've been busy all day. I thought you'd probably say about the same as Richie anyway."

This was almost more than Madi could take, but she bit her tongue and let him tell them in his own time.

"No problem," was what the twin responded.

"To tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure what the right decision is about you all," Adam continued a little slower, "most of me thinks you're completely mad. My instincts tell me to run back to Paris and hide myself away, my better judgement is screaming at me, and yet there's a little voice that seems to think you're right."

No-one was going to put money on what exactly he was trying to say.

"I think," he said finally, after a short pause, "that I would like to be part of this new destiny."

MacLeod looked stunned, he wasn't quite sure he had heard correctly. He'd been the one person who was almost sure that Methos would back away from this, at least until the older Immortal had had a few years to see exactly how things went.

"Yes!" Richie said loudly. "Mac you owe me a rise."

Adam's eyes narrowed.

"You two had a bet on me?" he said slowly.

The blond Immortal looked a little sheepish, but he was not the sort to keep his mouth shut.

"Look at it this way," the twin said with a grin, "I had faith in you."

For a moment it looked as if Methos wasn't going to see the funny side and then slowly he began to laugh.

"I'm insane," he said between chuckles, shaking his head at the thoughts running through it.

"But you're among friends," the Highlander said cheerfully: he was so glad Adam had chosen in favour of their path.

There were words of welcome and encouragement from all directions. It was difficult for the group to explain what it meant to find someone who was willing to enter their fold. Their deepest urges no-longer led them to kill: that was only their defence, their true intentions were now to preserve and join with others. For those outside the council, the power that made an Immortal drove them to find the ultimate satisfaction: a Quickening. No matter how honourable, or humane the person, their instincts were to be the last, to defeat their enemies: it was the only way they could survive. For Duncan. Richie, Chris, Amanda, Madelaine and Craven this was only secondary: theirs was the need to create not only to destroy.

The muted celebration could only go on for so long, however, and finally Methos asked the question that was bothering him.

"Okay," he said eventually, "how do we do this? I've been around a while, but I have no experience of alternative destinies."

The group exchanged glances and finally eyes settled on Richie, quite simply because in this he always seemed to know what he was talking about.

"Well its relatively simple," he said calmly, quite happy to be nominated as spokes-person. "When were you thinking of stepping across the line?"

Adam hadn't really thought about this, since he really wasn't quite sure what he'd let himself in for on this one.

"That's up to you," the ancient man replied, trying desperately to control the racing of his heart. "Does this take preparation or something?"

Most things about Immortal life were pretty immediate: you fought or you died, you took your enemies' head and Quickenings happened, there wasn't a lot of ritual about these events. About the only thing that seemed odd to Mortals was the need to use swords which was a code of practice rather than a religion.

"It just takes the thought," was what the younger Immortal replied.

He glanced around the building and then at all his companions once more. Everyone's faces were suggesting the same thing.

"How does here and now sound?" Richie asked brightly. "It's private, we can't do the venue a lot more damage, the exclusive audience is already here. Not that I suggest you put his name anywhere near ours, Joe. Seems fine to me"

The Watcher smiled.

"The thought never crossed my mind," he returned wryly.

Just for a moment Adam looked as if he might change his mind, but finally he shrugged and grinned.

"Sounds perfect," he responded. "What do we do?"

When Amanda had been brought in, she and Duncan had been alone, but it didn't seem quite right that just one of the group should be elected for this task.

"Let me guess," Richie said lightly, "you've taken a few heads in your time. This is gonna be a biggie, folks."

Methos took a bow.

They were still in a vaguely circular formation and without trying to figure out why he was doing it Richie reached out and grabbed his brother's arm on one side and Adam's on the other. It didn't take a genius to realise his intention and the others caught hold of their friends' limbs quickly. The circle went Richie, Chris, Craven, Madi, Amanda, Duncan and Methos, and several sets of knuckles were already white.

"Beren, Joe, stay well back," the young woman's beau ordered quickly, "this is gonna be one hell of a light show."

Several of the Immortals grinned in anticipation of the upcoming event: this was what they lived for.

"Every one ready?" Richie asked calmly, his eyes bright with excitement.

No-one needed to be told what they were going to do, they already knew and all heads nodded.

"Let's rock and roll," the youngster said and six pairs of eyes closed in unison.

For a split second there was nothing: no sound, no indication that anything was happening and then suddenly the power leapt forth. The first sparks rippled along the clasped arms, drawing gasps of pain from more than one mouth. Then the lightening ripped free of the physical bodies and crashed into a central column so bright that Joe and his young companion had to hide their eyes. Just for a moment it hovered and Adam stared at it, captivated with what he could feel, and then it hit him.

The first touches of the Quickening had been gentle compared to the force that took him, and as it lanced into his body every Immortal cried out as one. This was their power, the force of six Immortals joined together and it entered Methos' very soul. It found the dark place in his being, the shadowy psyche that had driven him so long, in some situations kept him alive, in others taunted his mercy, and it changed it. The raw energy that was his friends filled the darkness, destroyed the murderous instinct and just left the defender. Even as his muscles contorted, so did his very being, and he screamed even louder as his Quickening was wrenched from his body. There was agony and fear at the sensation, a small rebellion at this unnatural event. Then it hit the others and he finally knew what it was to be part of them. Images of them and their lives flashed through his mind only to be felt and forgotten, adding to him , but not changing the essential centre that was Methos.

The power of a man over five thousand years old was truly something awesome and the other Immortals could barely keep their feet. They were at the centre of a storm, and it pounded them, taking everything from them and returning even more. Countless lifetimes echoed through them all as energy melded with energy and showed them things they had never seen. They were of one being, one soul, unified completely just for a moment until slowly they began to retreat into themselves. Their personas pulled back taking with them all that the single Immortal had been before the Dividing and their part of the joined Quickening that had followed. It was then that they seemed to loose complete control, before then the energy had been contained by their circle, but as they began to break apart little pieces started to escape. The first thing to go was the light: the bulb exploded in a shower of blue flame as a bolt of electricity lanced into it's centre and arced up over it's cable. Rubble, boxes, old palettes, little was left untouched as the Quickening broke down. The pain of the separation was almost more agonising than the initial outflow of power: the loss of the togetherness caused more anguish than the Immortals could ever explain.

Madelaine opened her eyes and screamed, a sound almost dwarfed by the maelstrom surrounding the group. To be caught in the joining was the most exquisite agony and her cry was more in disgust that it had to end, than a reaction to the sensations echoing through her body.

There was such distress in Craven's face as his mind returned to the single fragment of the party that was him, it made Joe want to reach out to comfort the pain, the emotion was so obvious.

The two Mortals clung to each other as energy exploded around them, as if it were displaying the anger of the Immortals as their unity dissolved. To be in such a place was both exhilarating and terrifying. If one fraction of the power flying around the room were to touch them, it would have killed instantly, just like the lightening it resembled, but it never came close. The charge in the air made the hair on their arms stand on end, but the elemental force was not interested in them. It's focus was the party of seven very unusual people, and even as it destroyed inanimate objects it left the Mortals as they were.

As each player in this new part of the game drew more of the power into themselves their grief showed all too plainly. There was fulfilment there as well, a wild excitement on every visage, coupled so completely with the other emotion that they were inseparable. The conflict was incredible, yet they had to let go, to remain totally unified was impossible, it prohibited any ability to function. Eventually it was over. Each player was once again themselves, joined distantly to their friends, but an individual in the human sense of the word.

The twins came back to reality looking at each other: eyes locked together where they had been staring in unseeing blankness. Their minds were the most reluctant to let go, their separation was the most difficult. Thoughts and reactions ran together in their heads: two psyches flowing along the same path in perfect unison, only slowly remembering that they belonged in different bodies. They were watching the world from two points of view, with both sets of experience as important as the other, a peculiar two headed creature. Only as Craven moved beside Chris did the young Immortal suddenly skip back into his own being, and the mental sensation was accompanied by a sharp inhale of breath. Richie blinked back slowly, his brain finally coming to the same conclusions, and his own outlook settled back at the forefront of his thoughts.

Very slowly unwilling fingers started to release the grips they had on various arms, and several of the group swayed gently. Adam had no words, in fact he had very few thoughts, and only a quick hand from MacLeod prevented him falling to the floor as his knees buckled.

"Wow," Chris said, finally letting go of his brother's limb and shaking his head to clear it.

"You can say that again," Amanda commented.

The oldest female Immortal of the party had only experienced a joined Quickening on a smaller scale, the complete works was quite an eye opener. Her body was still tingling and the thoughts running through her head were not the purest in the world as she glanced longingly at Duncan. Quickenings brought out different reactions in different Immortals, and alternative responses in the same Immortal on various occasions: Amanda's body language was not difficult to read this time.

It was a little difficult to control feelings just after such a transfer of power, and everyone took long seconds to try and centre themselves. Asking an Immortal for a completely rational conversation after a Quickening was like requesting a tax rebate from any government in the known world: unlikely to be successful, and a long time in coming. The memory of what they had been feeling was very clear in every Immortal's mind and wiping it away for the current reality was not an easy thing to do.

Recovering more rapidly than others of his kind was, however, one of Duncan's traits and he pulled Amanda towards him with a gentle tug. In an unusual show of submissiveness she did not attempt to put her own mark on the intertwining of limbs, and quite happily rested her head on his shoulder and let him do all the holding.

The look in Craven's eyes as he glanced around at his friends was one of shock and complete happiness. They'd all been through this once before, but it had been so incredible that his thoughts were having trouble believing what had taken place. He could look at the world in that moment and say he was content: no matter what was to come or what had gone before, for those precious seconds he was fulfilled. His blonde hair fell over his face in a bid to escape the neat style into which it had been forced, and it gave him a boyish turn which belied the age in his gaze.

It was Richie who spoke next and whatever he said, it caused everyone else to look at him very strangely, except Chris and Adam, both of whom grinned broadly. The confusion in the other pairs of eyes said everything the younger Immortal wanted to know.

"Well I thought I'd try," he said brightly, in English this time, "that was Aramaic by the way. I just wondered if anything had passed across this time."

"Sounded like gibberish to me," Madi admitted with a smile. "What did you say, anyway?"

Chris really laughed now: Richie had chosen his words carefully to produce an instant response in anyone who understood them, translating them could be embarrassing.

"Um, pass," the younger Immortal said and went a healthy pink as his brother refused to give any assistance.

"We didn't say a bad word did we, Richard," Madelaine scolded in a mock schoolmarm voice and she smiled broadly.

The Mortals finally decided it was safe to approach and Beren didn't waste any time wrapping herself around her lover. The blond young man was not complaining and quite happily accepted the embrace, returning it warmly. The Quickening was not something that the English beauty would ever be able to share: it was as far out of her reach as the stars, but she could join in the happiness. Sometimes it occurred to Beren that maybe she should envy her lover his eternal youth, and yet she looked in his eyes and saw complications she did not want for her own mind. There were parts of Richie she only saw for fractions of a second, but just occasionally they scared her. The depths of an Immortal soul: the inner workings of a creature to whom killing was a way to survive, were not something she could fully understand.

He smiled as his arms entwined her and that brightness in his face showed Beren why she loved him. If he was happy so was she, and a warmth filled her as she kissed him passionately.

The Immortals had felt more about each other in the last few minutes than they could ever express or truly remember, but it left them all with a very close feeling. They all found themselves looking at Methos in a new light: the awe and slight mistrust of the ancient man were gone, replaced by a deep respect and genuine warmth. Even Amanda's gaze held a deep regard for what he was, her own years feeling lighter for the knowledge.

"Everyone okay?" Joe asked, his mother hen attributes coming through.

He received several amused looks in return and Adam actually began to laugh.

"Is everyone okay," he repeated to himself, it was an almost absurd question and it definitely struck a chord. "After what he just saw he wants to know if we're okay."

The ancient Immortal couldn't help it, he needed something to release the tension in his body and that was it. He began to laugh harder, and it was catching, Richie was the next to go, closely followed by Chris and Madi, then Craven, Amanda and finally Mac as he patted his Mortal friend on the back fondly. It was an interesting question to have asked seven Immortals after a Quickening, and with a sinking feeling, Joe realised he wasn't going to live this one down very soon. The humour was infectious, however, and he had to smile, even Beren was giggling to herself.

"Okay," the older looking man responded, "dumb thing to say."

That was it, Madelaine had to sit down she was laughing so hard. The scene that played itself out as each individual dealt with their experience would have convinced anyone that the whole group were mad, but it was one way to cope. The sniggering died down eventually and Immortal looked at Immortal, smiles on their faces.

"Thank you, my friends," Methos finally said quietly, "at last I understand."

"We're just glad you trusted us," Mac returned on behalf of them all.

The fulfilment had not left any of them and if they could they would have all expressed their happiness. As it was, all they could do was exchange glances: there were no words.

"Now I don't have to leap out of my skin every time you come round the corner," Chris commented eventually, with a huge grin.

The ancient Immortal's presence was a little strange, even compared to how each of the group felt to the others. His age was so obvious to his companions now, a pillar in an ever changing sea of experience. So close to the Quickening, each had a vague awareness of the others, but it was fading slowly, just like the warning of another's approach. If they concentrated, it was still there, but now was not the time to go delving around their own psyches.

"I'll call a meeting of the Watchers tomorrow," Joe said suddenly, bringing them all back to reality quite succinctly, "is there anything, apart from the obvious, that you don't want me to say."

There was no need for discussion on this point again: everything was decided.

"Tell all, Joe," Chris spoke for the group, their choice had been made earlier. "Tell them what we have become, how we've changed, how we've stayed the same. There's no point in half truths, your lot will only keep digging `til they find everything anyway."

"Just don't mention me," Adam put in with a grin. "That may even be a little too much for them to deal with. I'm a legend, remember."

Dawson nodded and smiled back.

"If the truth about you ever came out, my friend," he returned, "I'd be for the high jump no matter how much information I'd uncovered."

"It's so nice to be wanted," was all the Immortal said, cheerfully.

There was a loud clearing of a throat from behind the discussion.

"If one of you gentlemen would be so kind," Madi said from where she was still sitting on the floor, "I could do with a hand up."

Methos moved faster than anyone else, including Chris who had immediately stepped forward to help his mother.

"Forgive our rudeness, dear lady," the older Immortal said with debonair charm, and remarkably gently, pulled Madelaine to her feet.

"And he had the cheek to tell me chivalry was dead," Duncan muttered under his breath.

End of Part 15