Misc. Links

  • Gen Fiction
  • Adult Fiction
  • Slash Fiction
  • Fic Links

Please mail the author with your comments, all are welcome.

HFS
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.

Dividing of The Ways by Tasha

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

 

Part 5

The group decided that it would be fun to go clubbing, and when they invited Madelaine and Duncan the two Immortals were agreeable so they relied on Mac's knowledge of the high life to point them in the right direction. Richie and Chris decided it would be fun to confuse half the party by wearing exactly the same outfits and so, as they set off, only their Immortal friends could tell them apart, much to the consternation of the other three. John as it turned out was a tall, blond, man, who looked more like a jock than a doctor except for the pair of spectacles he had clamped to the end of his nose. He fitted into the party better than Angie could have hoped, he turned out to be as mad as they were and much to the twins' delight kept getting them the wrong way around.

By the end of the evening, however, Beren was in no doubt as to which one was Richie, she found him more than a little attractive and he made his similar feelings quite clear. They were in one of the best night-clubs in town and it was coming up to one o'clock in the morning when the young Immortal made his move. The music had changed from the fast dance beats to the slow smoochy songs for a mid evening difference of pace, and the potential beau invited Beren onto the dance floor. Chris had made it a point to flirt all evening, but as his brother moved in, he was very happy to leave him to it.

When Richie went into these things he tended to do so with all his heart, another trait he shared with his mentor, and he now knew that the young English woman meant a great deal to him. The Immortal had been attracted to Beren the first moment he had laid eyes on her, and as he'd grown to know her he'd quickly realised his feelings were running a little deeper than that. Richie had been in love before and he knew the emotion, but he was beginning to realise that even love had degrees, and this was adding up very quickly. As his fascination grew he finally glimpsed what Mac had felt for Tessa, and he wanted to experience it in full.

"Young love," Madelaine said quietly as Angie and John went to join the other two on the dance floor and Chris wandered off to the men's room, "I remember being that age."

"I seem to recall being more worried about sword play then love," Duncan returned evenly, "but then we were a warrior clan. I've never yet met a barbarian who knew how to treat a woman, Conor civilised me."

The Immortal woman was watching Richie closely as he finally bent his head and kissed Beren passionately.

"Why can't I shake the feeling that there's something I should realise about him?" she asked half to herself and half to Mac. "Everytime I see him a thought occurs to me, but I can't quite catch it. It was the same with Chris when I first found him, but over time I grew to ignore it."

"A part of you say don't let this one out of your sight, they're important," Duncan said, and the two knew they understood each other perfectly.

"Exactly," his companion confirmed quietly.

The Highlander sipped his drink thoughtfully.

"Only one other person ever evoked the same feeling in me," he elaborated calmly, "and that was Darius. When he was killed it felt like the world would end."

"I only met him the once," Madelaine admitted regretfully, "but I have to concede I believed he would be one of the last of us."

A sad smile played across Mac's features as he thought about his old friend, killed what was for an Immortal so short a time ago.

"His passion could have saved the world," the four hundred year old man said with certainty. "He was older than even his two thousand years, he knew so much. How long do you think we have left on this earth?"

"The Gathering is here," the woman responded calmly, "but no-one ever told us how long it would last. How many heads have you taken, Duncan, and how many have you spared? How many are still walking the lands of men? We could be here for centuries, slowly driven to seek out those of our own kind and battle for their Quickenings. Are there anymore like Chris, not yet born to the Game, and will they remain hidden? The young ones seem to have so little time, but can we be sure? There are too many questions, Highlander, too many things we do not know. Forces gather around us that we do not understand and we cling to a set of rules that define out destiny, like children to their parents. Who can say where they will lead us before the fight is done."

Duncan looked at his friend sideways, it was quite a speech.

"I had no idea you were such a philosopher, Madi," he said genuinely surprised.

"We women spend more time thinking and less time scrapping," she replied with a mischievous grin, "maybe you men should try it."

That cut straight through the atmosphere and Mac just snorted, by the time Chris returned to the table they were enjoying themselves again.

=====================================================================

The next morning Richie meandered into his friend's kitchen quite late and found the Scotsman eating breakfast.

"You slept in as well then," the younger of the two commented and pulled up a chair on the opposite side of the table.

He pinched a small piece of toast from the rack and chewed on it contentedly.

"Well this old body does like sleep occasionally," Mac returned between mouthfuls, "and I didn't get to bed until three thirty."

The young Immortal grinned sheepishly, the group would have returned to their respective residences if it hadn't been for him standing on Beren's doorstep for half an hour when they dropped her off first. There was obviously something on his mind, because he began contemplating the half eaten piece of toast before he spoke.

"Mac," he started, a little unsure of how to go on, "what do you think of Beren?"

A sip of coffee seemed appropriate before replying.

"I think," the other said after a thoughtful pause, "that she's very intelligent, charming and extremely beautiful."

The approval made Richie smile slightly, but that wasn't all he wanted to know.

"If I said I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, would you say I was rushing things?" the young man enquired finally.

With anyone else Duncan may have said yes at that point, but he knew what devotion was and he could see it echoed in his friend's eyes.

"Richie," he began slowly, "I believe you are in love as you have never been before and if she feels the same way so much the better. Just remember, however, that one day you will have to tell her what you are before the Gathering makes it obvious. We no longer have the luxury of time."

It was clear that the young man had already considered this and he still had his doubts.

"I was thinking," he said quietly, "that I may stay put for a while, no travelling all over the place and no weird interludes. It'll give me time to sort everything out."

"That may well be a good idea," the Highlander replied, "and, Rich, I hope it works out for you. She's a lovely woman."

"Thanks, Mac," the young Immortal returned genuinely. "It means a lot to me."

Then he rose to his feet and began to make himself a drink.

=====================================================================

Over the next few days Chris, Richie and Beren spent a lot of time together, and Chris proved he knew exactly when to be around and when to vanish from the scene, so they had a great time. Most days they partied the night away since Madi and Chris were on vacation, and they spent a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days; Angie and John joined them for usually the beginning of the evenings. In the course of conversations they heard a lot about the dig in the mountains and how it was going, and since Beren wanted Richie to meet her father, and Mac expressed an interest in the archaeology, the young English woman organised a trip up there on the first Friday. So it was that on a beautifully sunny afternoon the party of five set off for the mountains with curiosity in their hearts and Richie becoming ever more enamoured with the countryside.

Beren's father turned out to be exactly like she was: animated, determined, and with a tendency to talk about his subject unless steered onto other topics (Richie already knew how a neural net worked, and was rapidly realising that computers had a whole other world he had never imagined). The introductions were rapid and friendly at which point the young woman's father, who had been told about Richie previously, clamped onto the young Immortal and dragged him all over the site whilst plying him with questions. Ryan had never been the subject of an English father's inquisition before, but he coped very well and within half an hour he'd moved on from calling him Dr Danworth to Paul, so he was in favour. The other's tagged along during the whole episode and at that point Duncan began asking educated questions of his own, rescuing his young friend from any more grilling. Having lived in the area for quite a while the Highlander knew a great deal about local folklore and legend, and soon had Paul well off the subject of his daughter's new boyfriend.

As with all academic enterprises the dig was short handed so much to their surprise everyone found themselves roped in to help. Chris was dragged off by a pretty young thing and found himself sieving sand very quickly.

By the end of the day they were all slightly muddy but very happy with themselves, and Paul invited them to his house for refreshments.

=====================================================================

There were impressive amounts of books on the shelves of the living room, and Duncan was browsing them when Paul entered carrying a tray of steaming mugs.

"Excuse the crockery," he said as he put the drinks down, "but it was the library or the best china in the packing cases, and the library won."

"I can understand that," MacLeod said seriously, "you have some beautiful volumes here. Do you mind if I take a look ?"

"Be my guest," the older looking man replied, and began to hand round the hot beverage. "Most of them are to do with pet projects of mine."

One section of the book shelf caught Duncan's eye as soon as he glanced crossed it, because three of the books had the same monogram on the spine where the author's name was positioned.

"Now those," Paul said as he saw MacLeod pull one down, "are from a little study I did a few years back now. Quite remarkable really," he continued, unaware that he did not have the Highlander's remotest attention. "There's been a scholarly monk of the same name in the same order for nearly a thousand years. Those three books were written at intervals of two hundred years, and yet the hand is nearly the same. Seems that this order make sure that a Brother Darius always resides at the same rectory, and I believe he's also similar in appearance as well."

Richie nearly spilt liquid all over his lap, and their host couldn't fail to notice the effect the information had on his four guests.

"You appear to be familiar with the name," Paul commented as those with Immortal experience exchanged glances.

"We're familiar with the order," Duncan put in smoothly before anyone else had to answer awkward questions, "at least Richie and I are. There is no Brother Darius now, he was a friend and he was killed some time ago. In respect for his memory the order haven't instated a new one."

"I'm sorry," the middle aged mortal responded instantly, "that is a sad loss. I met Darius once about twenty years ago when I was in Paris, he helped me with a few of my investigations."

The Highlander smiled to himself as he read the first page in the familiar scripted hand and flicked to the middle, he wondered exactly how his old friend had helped the historian. Duncan had had no idea that Darius had set his ideas down on paper, let alone written three large volumes from his unique point of view. The old monk had preferred word of mouth in the times Mac had known him, putting down only what he considered could not be taken by mortals and misused as so much of history's knowledge had been. These books were from when he had first put down the sword and they immediately fascinated MacLeod and brought back old memories.

######################################################################

"Duncan, my friend," the ageless monk said in his calm easy manner, "there is more to this life than just battle. Mortals fight for their freedom, for their right to live and die as they choose, who are we to intervene. We are not omnipotent, we cannot know who is truly right and who is truly wrong as we walk from age to age, one man's hero is another's devil. Peace is the only way mankind will ever come to know itself fully."

"Ey, and meanwhile dictators rule with an iron hand and kill their people to line their own pockets," was the Highlander's response as he starred at the chess board.

Darius smiled at his friends stubbornness, how many times had they had this conversation and both ended up on opposite sides of the lines.

"The older you get," he said quietly, "the more you will see that the only destiny that we can truly be part of is our own. The Gathering will come on us and our ranks will be cut down, but a phoenix will rise from the ashes."

"Only if a man like you claims the prize," MacLeod returned in his broad Scottish accent and meant every word, "else it may not be a phoenix but a hawk."

There was a faraway look in the priest's eyes as he listened to his companion, and the expression on his face was half sad.

"I will not be there at the end," he affirmed calmly much to Duncan's horror, "but you have more of a part to play than you realise."

"Been dreaming again, Darius?" the Highlander said lightly, trying to laugh it off, and received only an enigmatic smile in return.

The old man then played his move and considered his next sentence carefully.

"Most of these aren't new dreams, Duncan," he said gently, "these are things I have known since before I came here. Once they made me afraid and angered me, so I drove my armies across the known world, now I just except them. One day you will believe me."

The Scotsman just snorted as he realised the priest had just won the game, again.

######################################################################

"Darius wrote books?" Richie asked quietly, still a little shocked that anyone else had ever heard of the ancient monk.

The young Immortal's voice brought MacLeod out of his reverie and he put the book back on the shelf.

"From what I gather, Darius was always the scholar of his generation," Paul continued, totally unaware that all the author's were one and the same person, "so I suppose you could say yes."

Mac remembered a conversation he had had with the priest only a few years ago when he had mentioned an "enthusiastic young historian" and now the Immortals could see his late friend's point. The discovery may have brought up a slightly sore subject, but it provided a talking point and in the end the group stayed for several hours.

=====================================================================

"So what do you think of my father?" Beren asked quietly as the others headed for their means of transportation once the gathering was over.

"Quite a man," Richie returned honestly, "I can see where you inherited your intelligence."

The young woman squeezed his hand gently and took the compliment gracefully, it wasn't difficult to see the adoration in the young Immortal's eyes.

"Do you think he approved of me?" the young man asked tentatively, and nuzzled her forehead sensuously.

"Definitely," she returned and pecked him on the cheek, "he let you in the house didn't he."

She locked her fingers in his hair and drew his face towards hers and they kissed deeply for the few moments before Paul came walking back up the path and Richie said a very reluctant goodbye.

=====================================================================

For once the principles of the group were in bed before midnight, and the next day they had more energy than ever. Beren, Richie and Chris spent their time together as had become habitual and they met John and Angie for yet another night out in the evening. Madelaine planned to go home on the Monday and the Sunday night was reserved for a "family" get together, so the youngsters had decided to make one last night of it before things had to return to something like normal. Chris had decided to stay for a while, but sooner or later life was going to have to start revolving around work again. Mac and his old friend had decided to spend a quiet evening at his home so the five under twenty fives were on their own to party. It was for this reason they ended up in the car park behind the Pizzazz night-club at about one o'clock in the morning and the only person who was totally sober was Beren because she had offered to do the driving. They were all very happy and Richie almost forgot what the heavy weight in his coat was as he pulled it out from under the seat so no-one would step on it. Why he'd brought his sword he wasn't quite sure but when instinct told him to do something these days he did it even if his conscious brain didn't really know it was doing it.

However as his brother stood up and leant on the car to allow Angie to slip past him, Chris patted his trouser pocket and grunted in a most annoyed fashion. "Damn," he said loudly and spun slightly drunkenly on the spot so he was facing back the way they had come, "I left my keys on the counter of the coat booth. I'll see you in a minute."

"We'll give you five," Richie chortled happily, "then we'll send out the search parties."

It had been a good evening and all but the driver were fairly merry although they had avoided becoming blind drunk, and they found the statement hysterical even though it wasn't particularly funny. Even Beren laughed, caught up in the moment and very comfortable with her beau's arm around her shoulder's. It was a warm night so the group decided not to climb into the vehicle just yet, and they waited for Chris under the blaze of an orange street lamp. They were very involved in themselves, and they could have been forgiven for not noticing the two men approaching from either end of the parking lot, even Richie paid them no mind. It wasn't until they were nearly up to the four that the young Immortal noticed the nearest of the two, and still he wasn't alarmed, the man looked like an ordinary business man in a dark grey suit.

However it was as the man in question reached into his jacket that a familiar feeling ran down Richie's spine, and suddenly he was very aware of everything around the group and the gun under the "business" man's clothing became very obvious. The young man put himself between his friends and the newcomer as his eyes snapped round to try and locate the other Immortal he knew was very close. His hand went to the hilt of his sword automatically. By the time the man in grey had withdrawn his weapon from it's holster the entire group could see there was something very wrong, but only Richie had any clue what was going on and even he was a little confused. All three of his mortal companion's froze as they saw the gun, and at a quick glance it was obvious they were covered from both sides as the even less obvious hood also waved the barrel of a semi automatic in their direction. Richie's eyes still scanned the car park for the Immortal, and finally he saw the shadowed figure slowly walking towards the group. He had no doubt what-so-ever as to who's henchmen the two mortals were as a young looking blonde man moved into the light. This stranger was quite openly carrying a finely crafted sabre, and it didn't take a genius to realise exactly what this Immortal wanted especially when he raised the weapon in a salute.

"Craven Manheim," he said in a deceptively gentle voice that belied the fiery spark in his eyes.

He was tall, at least two inches over Richie's height and he wore very stylised, almost old fashioned clothes that hinted at a love of some past century. The frock coat was of the finest quality, tailored to a supple figure in a cloth as black as the night, which was starkly contrasted by the snow white shirt and cravat, which spilled over the collar and cuffs in elegant ruffles. He was handsome in a very classic way, and yet there was an eeriness about him, from the closed expression on his face to the supple leather of boots that made no sound on the tarmac. It would set any woman's instincts on edge.

"This would not seem to be a good choice of location," Richie said reasonably much to his companions' amazement, hand very much still on his sword hilt, but unwilling to enter into anything here if he could talk his way out of it.

"Too bad," Manheim replied without even blinking, "Richard Ryan, consider yourself challenged."

"It's your head," the young Immortal returned with more confidence than he felt.

Knowing that he had no choice in this matter he discarded the coat that hid his own weapon. Beren's startled gasp dug deep into his soul, but for now there were more pressing matters on his mind as he brought the rapier into a defensive position.

"Let them go," he said as the two viewed each other warily, "they have no place here."

"Ah but I do so love an audience," the challenger returned glibly, and then smiled coldly, "but don't be too concerned I have no immediate plans to harm them."

"Richie, what's going on?" Angie asked in a very taught voice as the Immortals circled each other slowly.

"Just stay out of it," was all her friend replied with no emotion, "no matter what you see stay out of it."

A stab of fear had hit Chris the moment he walked out of the night club, and he'd come round the side of the building very slowly as instinct led him to be very careful indeed. Hidden in the shadows his dark jacket almost made him part of the wall and he watched in growing horror at the spectacle which played itself out in front of him. Every fibre in his twins being was trying to send him a message, but their link was tenuous over the chasm of Immortality and all he could feel was a faint urge to stay hidden. This was however a man who was smart enough to heed the advice and even though his heart screamed at him to help, his brain kept him hunched in the shadows recording every detail of what he could see.

The first move came with no warning at all as Manheim swung at his opponent in a sweeping arc, but Duncan's coaching had done a great deal for Richie, and the young Immortal was ready for the attack. He parried with a skill that made it very plain to his friends he had done this before. Metal crashed against metal, but perversely Ryan had the distinct impression that his adversary was not really trying all that hard because in no way was he stretching the comparatively young Immortal's swordsmanship. Craven had a good few years behind him, that much was plain even to Richie's relatively inexperienced eyes, and yet the younger of the two found he could fend off his competitor's attack with much less than his full ability, and then move into the offensive easily. His assault was ferocious and two strokes later he had beaten the blonde man backwards as sparks flew from the clash of steel, but still he couldn't shake the felling that Craven was not really trying, so he didn't push it too far. He held back, waiting for the sudden flurry of movement which would reveal the power that he could feel emanating from an Immortal who he felt held at least as many years as MacLeod if not more. Their weapons clashed a few more times, but it was obvious to both combatants that neither of them was showing their true colours, and Manheim grinned as they circled yet again.

"So young and yet not as impulsive as I was led to believe," he commented as if he knew a lot more about this situation than his opponent.

"You seem to have me at a disadvantage," Richie replied coldly, he was annoyed but he knew better than to let it cloud his judgement in this fight.

"Oh, I always make sure I know everything about those I challenge," Craven told him, and let fly another thrust which the younger of the two put aside easily. "You keep improving at an incredible rate, maybe I should have challenged you earlier. I've been away for a while and when I got back this time I just couldn't resist the urge to come find you, a sort of a spur of the moment idea."

"Interesting hobby," the younger Immortal returned, aware by now that there was little sanity left behind this man's blue eyes.

It was his turn now to produce something his opponent wasn't expecting as his instincts found a hole in Manhiem's current stance, and drove him to exploit it. Richie didn't have the years of experience to help him in the Game, but he had a gift for the fight which continually improved and gave him what often appeared to be an almost psychic ability to pre-empt his opponents moves. Duncan had noticed it, but he had no intention of ever apprising his young friend of the fact,and even as he used this uncanny feeling he was unaware of it. He moved in rapidly and baited Craven with a quick flick to the right and slipped in under the left side, gaining a strike on the older man's arm before the other Immortal recovered and backed off.

"Very good, Ryan," Manheim said with genuine respect in his voice as he glanced at the hole in his pristine jacket, "you live up to my expectations."

He smiled again in his distinctively twisted way, and much to Richie's confusion he withdrew even further as if he was no longer interested in the fight.

"I think I've seen enough," he said in a most unenlightening way, and his opponent heard the movement behind him before he realised what was really happening.

The shot was just a dull thud from the silenced gun, and the younger Immortal felt the pain as he realised what that sound was whilst the bullet ripped through his lung. He didn't fall immediately just swayed as all the air left his body and glared at Manheim as his henchman came into his line of view.

"That hurts," he said perversely with what was left of his voice, and then Beren screamed as the grey suited man raised his weapon again.

Richie made no move, there was nothing he could do and he took his fate silently, collapsing into a lifeless heap as the second projectile lanced through his heart. His last thought was for his friends, and then there was nothing except blackness.

Manheim made no move to stop Beren as she ran, fell to her knees beside the man she loved, and began to cry with the senselessness of it all. The murderer picked up the fallen rapier and held it with a reverence his eyes didn't mirror. It was then he found a woman's wrath aimed at him.

"Why," the young woman screamed as all her anger and fear welled up at the same time giving her a boldness that made the guns irrelevant.

The henchman ignored her pointedly, and Craven just looked at her without comment as she turned her eyes to him.

"Such a beautiful pawn," the Immortal said quietly, and then he also removed the question from his mind. "Deal with this," he said to his aid, and without another word turned and walked back the way he had come, leaving behind him shock and horror on the faces of three confused mortals.

"Cuff him," the leading assailant instructed his colleague and moved the distraught Beren out of the way with the tip of the sword.

"But he's dead," Angie exclaimed as the subordinate reached towards Richie's lifeless body: the young woman was coming to the end of her endurance.

However for the first time their assailant showed a little emotion, he smiled, and that silenced anything else the hostages could have said.

"For now," he said enigmatically and a black van pulled up beside the group. "Your vehicle ladies and gentlemen."

The click of the handcuffs seemed an absurdity to the three captives, but they had all come to the same conclusion: their captor was as insane as his now absent leader, so they huddled together in fear, afraid of what may happen next. The driver of the van and the subordinate henchman loaded Richie into the vehicle and then herded the other three into the back after which they locked the rear door. The three strangers then climbed into the cadged off cab and started the engine, wherever their journey was to take them it had begun.

John detached himself from Angie for long enough to make sure that their friend really was dead, and to lay him out in a little more dignified a position, then returned to his seat. His fiancee tried to comfort Beren who was crying silently with little or no emotion on her face, but the young English woman appeared to have cut herself off from the real world. The events of the past few minutes were so incredible as to be almost absurd and the victims held to each other for support.

Chris was sitting in the shadows on the pavement having slid down the wall as he felt his brother die. The reflected pain had gone as life had left Richie and the shock was seeping through his twin's system as the consequences of the momentary agony became clear. He had not been able to hear anything said by the group across the carpark but he had watched it all played out and he knew he had to do something. The death of his twin, however, removed all coherence from his shocked brain and for more than a few seconds he was lost in his own small world of confusion. By the time a semblance of conscious thought returned all he was left to see was the back of the van disappearing round the corner and only one thought ran through his head. He climbed to his feet as fast as he could and went for the only help of which he could conceive, the same help Richie would have sought, the Highlander.

End of Part 5