The old playhouse smelt the same
now as it had done for the last two hundred years, except maybe
a little dryer with it's air conditioning and central heating.
There was the hint of paint and old scenery, the scent of strong
perfume left from the previous performance, and hurriedly eaten
ice-cream. Each aroma brought with it the feeling of companionship.
This building had people who loved it, and several nameless patrons
who sent anonymous donations every now and then to make sure it
continued it's fine tradition of plays for all to enjoy. One of
those people stood in the centre isle and looked across at the
stage he had not seen in twenty years. He was glad that it was
still here. The woman who walked across one of the red upholstered
rows towards him smiled warmly and her face brought back some
There were five of them
there, in the stalls, all drunk on good wine and all very happy
at how the show had gone that evening. Three were men and two
women, but all wore a similar garb of highwaymen as their parts
in the play had required. The rest of the cast had gone home hours
before, and these five were the revellers left to celebrate a
night when all had gone the actors' ways.
"This is a glorious
place," a blonde young man announced loudly to the empty
auditorium, "and we shall be here forever."
female companion chimed merrily, "'til the end of our days."
The two then fell in a
heap on the floor where their drunken limbs decided to leave them.
"Ah, but a lifetime
is so short for a place like this," the oldest looking member
of the party announced, having passed through the happy stage
of drunkenness and into that moribund place of depression that
was the refuge of those truly sobered by alcohol. "When we
are gone what will become of this happy palace of the thespian
The two other actors looked
at each other at the solemn words, and raised their tankards together.
"This playhouse shall
endure for centuries to come," MacLeod announced loudly,
the sincerity of the truly drunk in his eye, "and we, Madi
and I, shall see to it until the Gathering takes us."
That brought at least two
odd looks from their companions, the third was already sound asleep
where he had fallen.
"And what pray tell
is the Gathering?" the female of the two asked while pulling
herself up on the nearest chair.
The two Immortals looked
at each other again.
Madi returned quickly with only a slight slur in her voice, "but
we promise you now that we will see to it that this place stands
as long as this city. From one generation until the next it will
All four saluted at the
solemn promise and then they all fell over as the wine took them.
"Hello, MacLeod," the
young looking woman greeted as they stood a meter or so apart
in the empty building, "I'm glad you made it."
Her blonde hair was long and
golden, and her smile was very beautiful, but the feeling this
drew in Mac were purely Platonic.
"I'm glad you did too, Madelaine,"
the older Immortal greeted warmly, "so we keep our promise
He took a step towards her, and
she met him halfway as they embraced each other in a fierce bear-hug.
"With the Gathering I was
almost afraid ... " the woman began as they parted, but Duncan
would not let her finish.
"As long as the city stands,"
he said calmly, "remember. Now nothing would let us rescind
on an oath like that would it? Gathering or no Gathering we will
be coming here until this area is wasteland, forgotten by the
He gave her a brotherly kiss
on the forehead and smiled a warm smile.
"Of course," she returned
companionably, "but I have been hearing so much about you.
You have some powerful friends these days, but some equally powerful
enemies as I understand it."
"We gather such things,"
Duncan returned with a dismissive grin, "I tend not to dwell
This drew the smile he had been
waiting for from his Immortal friend. They walked back towards
the entrance hand in hand, comfortable in each other's presence
even though it had been twenty years since they had seen each
"I have a son," Madelaine
announced suddenly, much to MacLeod's surprise; she had never
seemed much like the family type. "I met this amazing man
just after our last rendezvous and we married seventeen years
ago. We adopted Christopher when he was five, before we moved
back to England."
her friend replied happily, very pleased that life had been kind
to the Immortal, "I'm glad you finally found someone. My
love life's rather complex and very confusing at the moment."
"Malcolm was a beautiful
man," she told her old companion, "but he died over
three years ago now from cancer. I can quite calmly say, however,
that nothing like that will ever happen to Chris. He's one of
us, or at least he will be someday."
That took a moment for Mac to
take in, it wasn't often Immortals found their own kind before
they crossed the divide, but he covered quickly.
"I take it he knows about
us then," the Highlander concluded calmly. "Does he
know about himself?"
"No," Madelaine replied
evenly, "I thought it best not to encourage recklessness.
It's strange though, I think he senses something because he took
up the martial arts and sword a short while ago. There's no doubt
he's very good, even if I do see him with a Mother's biased eye.
Maybe he's just trying to make me proud of him, peculiar parent
that I am, but I'm glad he'll have a basis from which to work."
She bit her lip habitually, as
if she was contemplating something that was a very familiar topic,
and then she just shrugged.
"I think he'll understand
when the time comes," she admitted quietly, but her tone
was one of slight anxiety. "It's bothers me that he may think
I lied to him, I couldn't bear it if he resented me not telling
That brought a smile to MacLeod's
lips, he remembered all too well the same thoughts going through
his own head about a young Immortal not so very far away.
"Oh I don't think you'll
have anything to worry about," the older Immortal reassured
his friend, "he sounds like he will cope. I had a similar
dilemma with a friend not so long ago, and he's turned out quite
nicely. Not that I'm about to tell him so, he has a habit of enjoying
the limelight rather too much. I think he went looking for an
old friend as well today."
Madelaine looked intrigued, and
her eyes glistened with curiosity.
"So what's this youngster's
name," she asked cheerfully, her unfounded fears aside for
now, "and how old is he?"
"Not thinking of cradle
snatching were we?" Duncan inquired mischievously, that was
one of the reasons he had been surprised to hear Madelaine had
settled down, she had once been known for her taste in young men.
She gave him a hard stare and
then grinned broadly.
"You know me, MacLeod,"
she responded non-committally, "Immortals have so much more
energy and they're usually better looking."
A laugh escaped from the Highlander's
lips, he could imagine Richie going for Madelaine actually, but
then why stir things up.
"You could say Richie is
in the prime of his life," the Scotsman told her with a smile,
"and he has far too much energy to be halfway good for him,
so maybe a few hours with you would be a good idea."
She hit him in a most ladylike
fashion, as if he had just insulted her honour.
"Well I was going to invite
you to dinner at my hotel," she said sweetly, "but why
don't you bring this Richie along as well. I'll bring Chris. We
can talk of old times, and maybe times to come."
"I'm sure Richie would love
to come," Mac returned with a perfectly straight face.
The expression on her face was
one of pure innocence and it made Duncan burst into laughter,
which soon drew her in as well. They left the building giggling
like a couple of children.
The message about dinner came
as quite a surprise to Richie, but he had no objections so at
7 o'clock he was to be found waiting beside Duncan's car in a
very nice suit. Madelaine was staying at one of the best hotels,
and the instructions on what to wear had come with the invitation.
"Good evening, oh Lord and
Master," the young Immortal greeted as the Highlander appeared
at the road side, "I was summoned so I came."
"Well, well," Mac shot
back as he looked his young friend up and down, "miracles
"Ha, ha," Richie replied
and brushed off his sleeve, "you civilised me a long time
ago. Now what's this friend of yours like, and she won't take
exception to me will she? I was thinking of leaving my sword in
That brought a knowing smile
to the Highlander's face, but he didn't say the first thing that
came into his head.
"Actually it was Madelaine
who invited you," he explained cheerfully and unlocked the
car door, "but I'd forgotten you don't have a great record
with the females of our kind do you."
As the door was pushed open from
the inside Richie threw his coat into the back seat and deigned
to answer the quip only with a smile.
"She's over two hundred
years old," Mac continued to explain, "and is honestly
stunning. But be warned, Valentino, she's a man eater. Tonight
she's bringing her son and you two should have a lot in common.
He was adopted here, you're the same age, and he has potential.
He knows about us, but he doesn't know he's going to be one of
us some day, so don't mention it."
"Got it," the other
returned as Duncan started the car, "what's this guy's name."
older Immortal offered, and checked his mirrors.
Unbidden the name dragged up
memories for Richie, but then he was getting used to the peculiarities
of Immortal thought patterns by now, and the recollection just
made him laugh.
"I used to have an imaginary
friend called Christopher," he told Mac to explain the reaction,
"we used to talk all the time. I used to drive everyone nuts
with Chris says this and Chris says that, right up until I was
about eight years old."
"So what happened when you
were eight?" the Highlander enquired, unaware that the last
sentence had removed Richie's broad grin.
"I was sent to a new foster
home," the young man replied shortly, "my new Mom didn't
He didn't elaborate and Mac didn't
push, Richie has some very large skeletons in the proverbial cupboard,
and he did not like to air them.
"But that's history,"
Ryan covered quickly the smile quickly back in place, "lets
hope this new Chris is as entertaining as the old one."
The drive did not take long and
very shortly they had arrived at the large and very grand hotel,
so grand that a valet took the car to the underground garage.
Quite unlike Richie, the young man did not comment on the style
of the place or the money that must be required to stay there,
in fact he said nothing as they walked in. Mac glanced at him
as they walked through the doors and suddenly he was very worried.
All the colour had drained from the Immortal's face and he looked
as if he was about to keel over.
"I'm going to the men's
room," Richie said before the Highlander could say anything,
"I need some water."
"I'm coming with you,"
Mac said directly as his young friend almost swayed.
They managed to get as far as
the door before Richie's legs began to give out, and then MacLeod
supported him the rest of the way. There was a lock on the main
door and the older Immortal turned it once he was sure that the
room was empty. His companion just reached hurriedly for a tap.
The world was all silver and
blue with such intensity that the young man had to shut his eyes
against the glare, and he almost fell to his knees.
"Richie, what's wrong,"
Mac asked urgently as he saw the approaching collapse, but the
young man could barely hear it .
All control seemed to have been
wrested from the young Immortal and he couldn't answer, something
demanded his attention and it was blotting out the rest of reality
in its efforts to channel his thoughts. With a certainty that
frightened him, Richie knew that his life had just been wrenched
off the rails and any second he would know why. As realisation
dawned, however, it wiped away all consciousness and everything
went as black as the grave.
All MacLeod saw was his friend
make a clumsy grab at the washbasin and then fall to a heap on
"Richie can you hear me?"
were the first sensible words that filtered into the young man's
mind, and very slowly he opened his eyes.
Duncan was looking down at him,
an extremely worried expression on his face. Richie realised he
appeared to be laying on the floor.
"What hit me?" he asked
as the fog lifted from his senses, and he gently sat up.
Everything appeared to be back
to normal, what worried him was that he couldn't remember what
had been wrong.
"Nothing hit you,"
Mac replied, still a little anxious, "you just passed out."
"Was there any good reason
for me to do that?" the young man asked quietly, and tugged
plaintively at the hole in his recollection.
Duncan looked unhappy with that
"Don't you know?" the
Highlander asked as calmly as the situation would allow.
Richie just shook his head, Immortals
were supposed to have virtually infallible memories, but the last
thing he recalled was the world going silvery.
"Maybe it was something
I ate," he offered hopefully, after all sometimes mortal
problems had peculiar effects on Immortals.
A dubious look crossed MacLeod's
face, but then he had no other explanation.
"Are you all right now?"
he enquired carefully.
Now the young man nodded, he
felt perfectly okay at the present moment.
"Fine," he returned
evenly, "maybe it's just culture shock."
If you couldn't explain it, make
a joke out of it, that was Richie's motto. He stood up with a
pull from his friend, and the room did nothing but stay exactly
where it was supposed to. There appeared to be no permanent damage.
"How long was I out?"
he asked calmly as absolutely nothing deigned to appear from his
"About two minutes,"
Duncan replied, a lot less anxiously now his friend appeared to
be fine, and he could see colour returning to the young Immortal's
With forced lightness Richie
brushed himself off and smiled.
"Maybe we should just ignore
this," he suggested hopefully, "there's no lasting effect
There wasn't a lot MacLeod could
say to that, dragging Richie down to the nearest physician wouldn't
do anyone any good.
"Well, it was your fainting
fit," he admitted finally, "if you're sure you're fine
now, there's not a lot else we can do."
The younger of the two liked
that answer and he really smiled.
"Oh good," he said,
the cheerful mood back in place, "shall we go to dinner?"
If there was one thing about
Richie, it was that his enthusiasm was catching and the two headed
out of the room at a rate of knots to announce their arrival at
the desk. The receptionist rang Madelaine's room and then all
there was to do was wait.
Duncan took to chatting with
the woman behind the desk, so Richie moved off to investigate
the artwork in the lobby, playing a game with himself to see if
he could identify any of it before he read the signature or plaque
which went with every piece. The culture of those he had been
living with for so long had really made a difference to the young
street punk. Not all that very long ago he wouldn't even have
taken a second glance at most of the exhibits, now he even appreciated
some of them. He'd just disappeared behind the main sculpture
in the lobby when the elevator doors opened and Madelaine walked
out towards MacLeod.
"Good evening," the
beautiful blonde greeted and Mac kissed her on the cheek in his
most gentlemanly fashion, "Chris will be down in a moment,
he went back to his room to finish freshening up."
"Richie was here a second
ago," the Highlander promised with a smile, "I'm sure
he'll be back shortly."
The young man in question was
actually watching them from behind the sculpture just to see what
he was up against, and he was about to walk over to them when
a figure coming down the stairs caught his eye. The light conversation
of his friend dulled in his ears and everything in the lobby took
on a dream like quality which detached Richie from reality. Every
fibre in his body told him that what he was seeing was real, but
the concept was just too huge to contemplate. Before he could
panic, or get excited, however, a wave of calm swept through him
as the man on the stairs turned, saw him, and they recognised
each other. It was a recognition not just of what they saw but
what they felt and knew was true. It wiped away fear or doubt
and replaced these emotions with a fulfilment that allowed nothing
else. Christopher was standing at the bottom of the stairs and
Richie knew it without ever having been introduced. The two walked
towards each other rapidly and came to a stop literally nose to
nose, drawing the attention of their two companions.
"Richie," Mac breathed
"Chris," was all Madelaine
could find to say as disbelief threatened to take her.
It wasn't often that an Immortal
doubted their senses, but at that moment both by the desk were
questioning theirs. The only reason Duncan knew that the young
man closest to them was Richie was that he recognised his clothes,
other than that the two were the same, exactly identical.
"It's not possible,"
Madelaine whispered softly as she beheld the pair, "they
are totally alike."
Not one of the mortals in the
lobby was aware that anything in the least bit strange was going
on, after all in their world twins were not that remarkable, but
for the Immortals this was a cataclysmic event. Only as the two
men reached out to touch one another did anything out of the ordinary
happen on the visible plane, and then it was dismissed. A bright
blue and white streak left Richie's arm as their fingers came
into contact and lanced straight for Chris's chest. It hit him
with all the force of a thunder bolt and threw the two apart even
as part of Richie's very soul was dragged from his body. The mortal
of the pair flew backwards and landed on the plush carpet: the
only part of the incident which attracted anyone's attention.
Richie's mind appeared to have
been totally severed from his body as all he could do was watch
people begin gathering around. He just stood there in stunned
silence. The detached, logical part of his mind informed him that
his earlier fainting spell had been a reaction to coming closer
to a man who was most definitely his twin, and he remembered that
there had been something very strange about his imaginary friend.
Chris had just been a voice in his head all those years ago, a
voice that talked of England and told his brother about places
he had never seen. The young Immortal's eyes were fixed on the
fallen individual, but he was frozen and could do nothing to help
or hinder the situation. However, very quickly he did not care.
Just as he was beginning to realise his detachment to reality
and use it to explore the situation in his thoughts, his entire
conception of the world began to fade away, and he was barely
aware as MacLeod came to a halt next to his elbow.
Duncan took one look at the dull
expression on his friend's face and realised that there would
be no help from that direction so he assumed control very quickly.
"Madelaine, look after Richie,"
he instructed quietly and moved rapidly towards the lobby attendant
who had just knelt down next to Christopher.
The Highlander's thoughts were
still falling all over themselves trying to clarify what had just
happened, but he would have been long dead if he hadn't been able
to set the distractions aside and deal with the problems at hand.
"Don't worry," he said
brightly and patted the hotel employee on the back, "no need
to panic, my young friend here has a history of dizzy spells.
If you could just help me move him up to his room everything'll
He gave the youngish man a large
confident smile and took hold of one of Christopher's arms, the
attendant hesitated only a moment and took the other. The casualty
was obviously unconscious but was breathing normally, someone
who could explain it all away was a great relief to a man who's
shift was due to finish any minute.
Madelaine had already steered
the dazed but leadable Richie out of the way so as not to arouse
any particular interest, and they disappeared into an elevator
as the Scot and the American lifted Christopher off the floor.
Ten minutes later MacLeod fobbed
off the attendant with a tip, and Madelaine appeared in the doorway
of her son's room with her charge in tow.
"Duncan, what's going on?"
she asked as she sat the unresponsive Richie on the nearest chair.
She appeared to believe that
the Highlander knew what was happening. He was two hundred
years older than her after all, which was why when he shrugged
helplessly she was not pleased. Her son was laid out on the bed
for all the world as if he were just sleeping peacefully, and
she did not want to hear about an equal amount of confusion.
"I don't understand this
either," Mac told her as calmly as he could manage, "did
you feel that exchange?"
It was a rhetorical question,
no Immortal could have missed the power that had passed between
the two young men. Without replying, the stunning woman walked
over to her adopted child and took his hand.
"Chris can you hear me?"
she question quietly. "Wake up darling."
Duncan's gaze kept shifting back
and forth between the two phased individuals, he could still barely
believe his eyes as the connotations of what they saw refused
to resolve in his thoughts.
"This is just incredible,"
he said only just above a whisper as he flicked between Richie's
empty gaze and Chris's relaxed face. "I've never even heard
of anything like this before. They're twins aren't they,"
he admitted to himself finally. "This isn't possible."
Every feature was the same, from
the dark blond curly hair to the mischievous ready to smile mouth,
and they drew many questions from the two Immortals who had taken
two boys into their homes.
"We are singular,"
Duncan continued adamantly, "in the end alone, one on one,
it is fundamental to our makeup."
Coincidences like this didn't
happen without a reason in the Immortal world, MacLeod had long
since learned that some power tweaked his destiny when-so-ever
it wanted. That there would one day be twin Immortal's wandering
around was one thing to come to terms with, but that two closely
connected Immortals had taken it upon themselves to take responsibility
for the education and eventual training of the two youngsters
was really difficult to just except.
"Chris used to talk to someone
called Richie when he first came to us," Madelaine told her
friend quietly, "he was never a gregarious child, always
content to chatter to himself for hours."
"Richie mentioned something
similar just this evening," Mac enlightened her. "I
know we sense each other but do you think they could have been
in contact over that distance?"
"Before today," was
the somewhat more collected reply, "I would have dismissed
the idea, telepathy another mortal superstition, but then I would
also have denied the thought of any Immortal so closely linked
to another. The Gathering is here, we're supposed to hack each
other's heads off, not form ties."
Their discussion was interrupted
by Richie's rapid rise to his feet, and his very fast step forward.
The young Immortal's brain had clicked right back in where it
had left off and at that point he'd really wanted to move to help
the prone Christopher. Of course he was no longer where he remembered,
and he came to a startled halt facing the wall, looking for all
the world like a scared rabbit. As the knowledge of where he was
and that there were people to his left impinged on his thoughts
he spun to meet eyes almost as surprised as his own. His mouth
moved as if to speak as his eyes met those of MacLeod, but he
couldn't think of anything appropriate: Richard Ryan was lost
"Oh god," he said finally
as his focus shifted to the gently stirring form between the other
"Are you all right,"
Duncan asked neutrally, fully aware that his friend probably had
no idea at that particular moment, but hoping that the question
would calm him down a little.
The look on the young man's face
was almost exactly the same as the first time he'd realised he
was Immortal; somewhere between amazement and total incomprehension.
He did however manage a vague nod before Christopher groaned and
moved everyone's attention. As the potential Immortal opened his
eyes the brother he had forgotten existed took a step forward
and everything came flooding back with a sharpness which wiped
out the need for clarification.
Richie and Christopher had indeed
been telepathically linked, torn from each other by an unadapting
foster system when only small, they had clung to each other mentally,
and become an invisible companion to the other. The reality of
the relationship had been lost by children's minds, and then an
adult had come between them. The link had been partially re-established
at the instant of their reunion, and in true Immortal style had
taken a very visible and spectacular route. Chris's entire body
ached where, what was in fact a part of Richie's Quickening, had
hit him with all its power, and what his brother was and therefore
what he would become was obvious. Vague knowledge of what had
transpired over the years for their sibling now resided behind
the eyes of the other, and they looked at each other with familiarity
in their faces, but there was still a gulf between them. Christopher
had grown up in a stable family background, even if it wasn't
exactly regular to have a mother who habitually carried a sword,
Richie was a street brat and nothing would ever change that.
The emotions that coursed through
a man who had believed he was totally alone in the world were
almost overwhelming, and Richie was somewhat stunned. Now he knew
where his undeniable urge to find his past came from, part of
him had always known there had been a person to re-acquire.
"Hello," said Christopher
in an accent which was neither English nor American, but somewhere
in between. Then he smiled, a reaction which allayed all the fears
which had stacked up in Richie during his few seconds of lucidity.
There still weren't many coherent
thoughts floating around in the young Immortal's mind, but at
least he wasn't petrified anymore. Immortal's weren't known for
their slow reactions but then this wasn't a situation that any
Immortal had ever been in before, and Richie could be forgiven
for his dazed outlook.
"Hi," he replied, stuck
for anything else to say, and he looked at the slight coloration
on his brother's white shirt. "Sorry about that."
Slowly Chris's smile faded as
the two looked at each other in uninterrupted silence and a connection
which had long been quite found a voice. It was a tentative touch
of minds, nothing firm but a sharing of warmth that removed all
need for verbal expression. Both older Immortals watched their
charges without sound, aware that something was happening and
knowing instinctively that it was not their place to interrupt.
Quite suddenly the stillness was over and Chris sat up.
"You know you could have
told me," the young man said calmly to his parent, and they
all knew he was referring to Immortality, "he's the impetuous
That made Richie laugh, it was
so true, but Madelaine didn't know what to say so MacLeod stepped
"How are you feeling?"
he asked calmly, he had seen the bolt and every Immortal knew
how that felt .
"Like someone connected
me to the mains," the young man replied lightly and patted
his mother's hand reassuringly, "but no damage done."
His brother took the opportunity
to walk over, but this time he had his hand pushed deep into his
"Could be awkward if that
happens everytime I come anywhere near you," Richie said
jokingly as his brain finally reconnected with his mouth, a usually
direct link in the young Immortal's case.
"I think I could do with
a drink," Duncan said practically, "this has turned
into quite an evening."
As the Highlander moved towards
the drinks cabinet Chris swung his legs of the bed and stood up,
his eyes scanning his brother: it was still fascinating to have
an identical twin standing in front of him. There was however
still one fundamental difference between them which was obvious
to all in the room, Richie was Immortal and Chris was still alive
in the human sense of the word, and they both knew it. In this
way Chris had a unique experience, he could sense an Immortal
without having crossed the divide, and it was a very peculiar
feeling which made him wonder just what it was really like on
the other side of death.
"Two," Madelaine said
quietly, only slowly allowing herself to be convinced that this
was happening, "I could only just cope with one."
At this Richie turned and at
that moment realised that he'd never made the point in the evening
where he was to have been introduced to this stunning woman. Even
so, he felt as if he'd known her for years. They looked at each
other for a moment, the contemplation of Immortals in their eyes,
and then MacLeod thrust a glass under both of their noses and
"Do you mind me asking what
exactly went on down stairs?" the Scot asked calmly, adapting
to the new situation with long practised smoothness.
"Um," Richie began
hesitantly, "don't mind you asking, but exactly is a difficult
It momentarily occurred to Mac
that not so long ago his young friend wouldn't have known what
an adverb was, but it was a passing fancy that his overtaxed brain
put to one side with a mental shrug.
"Anything would be nice,"
Madelaine responded quietly.
The brother's glanced at each
other a moment as if they'd been together all their lives and
looking to their other half were second nature, and the Immortal
shrugged. The thought was over and mutual consent had been achieved.
said evenly at the signal, "or at least a tiny part of Richie's.
Don't ask us how we know anything we tell you because we have
no idea, but part of him is me and part of me is him, and the
link was being reaffirmed."
"We are joined," the
other confirmed with total certainty, "I think what we experienced
was an exchange of information. We had a lot of time to catch
up on and when have either of you ever known an Immortal do anything
in that line quietly."
Neither of the other two were
about to dispute any of the affirmations, but both youngsters
appeared a little nervous of their news. Quite frankly when looking
at the two it was impossible to ignore that what they were saying
was true: they appeared to have instantly adapted to being a pair.
For that matter their friends also seemed to be having surprisingly
little trouble taking in the new circumstances, as if they'd been
ultimately prepared for it even though they hadn't ever suspected
anything of the sort until it had happened.
"How much do you remember
about being children?" Duncan asked reasonably, and took
the available seat having handed Chris a large brandy.
"Not a lot," the two
individuals said at exactly the same time and drew startled smiles
from each other.
"All I can really recall
is a vague feeling of loss," Richie clarified on his own,
and his brother nodded agreeable, "and an invisible friend
who I would talk to at the oddest of moments."
"We were so small,"
Chris put in calmly, long forgotten memories of a very strange
contact coming back to him, "they must have thought we'd
"If you'd been normal,"
Madelaine observed evenly, "you probably never would have.
Forces pull Immortals together, there's nothing the same for mortals."
That idea conjured a feeling
of complete horror in Richie which immediately showed on his face,
and yet before that evening he would never have considered such
a thing. The mere suggestion that he would never have found Chris
abhorred him as he couldn't conceive of a lifetime alone. That
he could have forgotten that his brother ever existed was becoming
a more ridiculous concept by the second.
"At least there's one way
to tell you apart," Mac commented dryly, he did not relish
the idea of trying to distinguish between two Immortals who appeared
to be exactly the same.
In fact, the idea of a pair of
twins with Richie's sense of humour was quite a frightening thought
in a light sort of way.
"For now," Madelaine's
son responded quietly and he seemed a little vacant for a moment.
There was silence for a short
time as both older Immortal's wondered if Chris wasn't experiencing
a few morbid urges, but Richie wasn't about to let the situation
"Well I don't know about
anyone else," he said suddenly after taking a large swig
of his drink, "but I'm hungry. I believe there's a table
waiting for us down stairs."
As usual the young Immortal had
cut through all the posturing and made a direct suggestion which
this time those around him took up. As it turned out, however,
even when the company made it to the restaurant they did very
little eating because they were so busy talking. The meal took
three hours but only small amounts of food were actually consumed,
especially when it came to the reunited siblings. Even though
Richie had confessed to being hungry, once the statement had removed
the awkwardness of the moment he seemed to forget the fact as
he talked with his brother. The two appeared to be able to hold
a conversation at twice the speed of everyone else as they left
off half their sentences because the other had caught the reference,
or meaning before the rest of the words were required. This obviously
made their discourse unintelligible to the other two members of
the party, so they tried very hard not to drop into the peculiar
thought process. However, every now and then they failed. Thankfully
it quite amused the other two Immortals to watch the twins spitting
very animated gibberish at each other, and there were mumbled
apologies every time the pair wandered off. The conversation switched
between the past and the future at regular intervals, but by the
time the after dinner drinks had been cleared away it was obvious
that the brothers had a lot on which to catch up, and they were
becoming less attentive to their elders. That was why Duncan suggested
the party split into two. The older Immortals went to Madelaine's
room for a night cap, and the twins walked to Chris's.
In the end the unusual pair talked
almost through to dawn before Chris fell asleep in the arm chair
and his brother didn't have the heart to wake him. Yet however
tired the Immortal of the two may have been there was too much
on his mind to allow him to sleep, so he wrote a note, left quietly
and headed home .
of Part 2