The front door opened and a slight breeze accompanied
Duncan MacLeod into the popular neighborhood night spot.
Joe looked up from his duties. "Mac!" he called out in greeting
to the new arrival.
MacLeod walked almost the full length of the oblong room
to an empty stool across the bar from where Joe stood. He
nodded to the young woman on his left as he sat, then addressed
his friend. "Hi, Joe. How 'bout a draft?"
"Coming up," Joe said as he grabbed a glass and opened
a tap. He nodded in the young woman's direction. "Mac, this
is my niece, Melody Thornton. Melody, this is Duncan MacLeod."
Melody offered MacLeod her hand. "Hello, Mr. MacLeod! My
uncle has talked so much about you," she said with a smile.
MacLeod took her hand, noting her firm, no-nonsense grip.
"'Duncan' is fine. I hope he had only good things to say,"
he told her as he openly admired the blue-eyed blond. He
smiled, his 'high wattage' smile.
"Of course," she returned, her demeanor friendly, but business-like.
Joe placed a glass of beer in front of MacLeod, then explained,
"Melody's father and I were friends for years. She's just
finished her degree and moved back from L.A."
MacLeod turned back to Melody and raised his glass in a
"Thank you, Mr. --umm-- Duncan," she corrected. "I'm glad
to be home."
Melody slid off the stool and took her coat from a nearby
table. She turned back to Joe. "I guess I'll see you in
the morning, Uncle Joe. You'll have that paperwork for me?"
Joe was distracted. He was watching MacLeod, who was watching
"Uncle Joe?" Melody tried again to get his attention.
Joe shook himself awake. "Oh. Sure, Mel. See you tomorrow."
Melody stood on the foot rest, and leaning over the bar,
gave Joe a kiss on his cheek. Then turning to MacLeod she
said, "I'm glad I got to meet you, Duncan."
MacLeod returned the compliment as he stood and helped
her put on her coat. She picked up her small purse from
the bar top, then called a good night to both men as she
Joe and MacLeod echoed each other's good-bye.
Joe was still unsettled by the attention Duncan paid to
his niece as she left the bar. "Isn't she a little young
for you, MacLeod?" he suggested.
MacLeod sat back down and raised his eyebrows, looking
over at his friend with amusement. Joe, the childless bachelor,
was suddenly showing all the signs of an overprotective
father. "Joe!" Mac protested laughingly, taking a drink
of his beer. Then on a serious note he asked, "Are you really
Joe was busy wiping down the bar in front of Melody's vacated
spot. "No," he answered. "Her father and I were good friends
for a long time. He died last year, her mother a while before
that. I'm all she has left."
Leaning closer to Joe, MacLeod lowered his voice. "Was
her father a Watcher?"
Joe had found other things to do behind the bar. He didn't
"Does she intend to take over for him?" MacLeod wanted
Joe still didn't answer his friend.
"I can find out," MacLeod insisted as he watched his friend
Joe stopped his cleaning, braced himself on the bar and
looked straight at MacLeod. "Yes, Mac," he answered, surrendering
the information reluctantly. "She's taking over for him."
MacLeod nodded, looking down at his glass. "Give her something
else to do. It's too dangerous for her."
"I know she's young and inexperienced, but I have full
confidence in her abilities," Joe told him.
MacLeod looked up and started to argue, "Joe..."
Joe held up both hands to stop Mac from talking. "She's
been trained by the best."
MacLeod again leaned over to get his friend's attention.
"Joe, trust me, the Immortal will know she's there." Joe
stilled as MacLeod continued. "That young lady has a very
special aura. The Immortal she Watches could either come
after her or lose his own head protecting hers."
Comprehension of what MacLeod was trying to tell him finally
hit home. Joe was speechless.
MacLeod finished his beer, stood and pulled a money clip
from his pants' pocket.
"You're sure?" Joe sputtered, finding his voice.
MacLeod gave Joe an incredulous look as he answered. "Yes,
Joe. I'm sure." He pulled some bills from the money clip
and placed them on the bar. Then he leaned toward Joe again
and asked, "Who is her assignment?"
Joe visibly blanched as he answered, "Richie."
MacLeod froze, then demanded of his friend, "Do it now.
You know how protective Richie can be."
MacLeod walked out of the bar, leaving Joe standing still,
staring down at the smooth expanse of wood in front of him.