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Dividing of The Ways by Tasha

This is the first in the Dividing series, the others may be found at:


Part 2

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 happy memories.

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."

"Forever," his 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 arts?"

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.

"Not important," 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 endure."

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 again."

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 mortals."

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 on it."

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 other.

"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."

"That's wonderful," 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 him."

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 do happen."

"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 the car."

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."

"Christopher," the 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 like Christopher."

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 the floor.

"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 question.

"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 mind.

"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 face.

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 almost silently.

"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 be fine."

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 for words.

"Oh god," he said finally as his focus shifted to the gently stirring form between the other two Immortals.

"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 one."

That made Richie laugh, it was so true, but Madelaine didn't know what to say so MacLeod stepped in.

"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 pockets.

"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 distracted them.

"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 adverb."

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.

"Quickening," Christopher 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 never know."

"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 continue.

"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 .

End of Part 2