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Duncan MacLeod sat in his office, working on the computer. He'd left
Melody alone upstairs. It'd been a while since Scott had left to
'clear his head' and she was worried. She clearly loved the guy. It
was late evening now and MacLeod waited for Scott to return.
MacLeod stopped typing and looked toward the double door entry. He'd
purposely left the front doors unlocked and an Immortal had just
entered. It was Scott. Pausing in the doorway, he saw MacLeod in the
office and walked toward him. MacLeod turned off the computer and
sat back in his chair, waiting.
Scott stopped at the door of the glassed-in office and leaned against
the door frame. "Where's Mel?" he asked.
"Upstairs. It's been a long confusing day for her," MacLeod
"Yeah," Scott agreed, then he continued, looking directly at MacLeod,
"I love her, you know. I wouldn't hurt her."
"I can see that," MacLeod acknowledged. "But she needs to learn how
to survive. You can't protect her twenty four hours a day."
FLASHBACK - SCOTLAND 1670
MacLeod stood in the small paddock saddling a horse that didn't want
to be saddled.
"Hold ye beastie. Stand still," MacLeod demanded of the frisky
He made one more adjustment to the saddle, then raised his head as he
felt the presence of another Immortal.
Sarah walked around the corner of the cottage with a packet in her
hands. She was a tiny little thing with long dark hair and deep blue
eyes. She and MacLeod had been together for the whole summer, ever
since he had found her, a new Immortal, not long after her first
death. Inseparable and in love, they had discovered in each other a
way to distance themselves from the 'Game'--for a while. He could
protect her, make sure no harm came to this lovely, delicate
Sarah offered the packet of food to MacLeod. He took it from her and
stored it behind his saddle. "That should hold you 'til you find
your supper tonight, Duncan," she told him.
"Aye, now give me a kiss, Sarah, to hold me 'til I'm home agin," he
said laughingly, pulling her into an embrace and nuzzling her neck.
Sarah laughed. "You willna be gone but for two days, Duncan. Not
even enough time for me to miss you." She picked up her skirts, gave
him a teasing grin, and pulled away from his arms.
MacLeod caught her and turned her back. "Aye, you will miss me," he
declared, as he pulled her tight once more. They shared a long kiss.
MacLeod pulled the reins up over his horse's head, mounted, then
leaning down, he gave her another quick kiss. "Take care, Sarah."
He wheeled his horse away and into a gallop, waving a good-bye to his
It was dusk as MacLeod rode into the small yard, two days later. He
dismounted and led his travel-worn horse into the paddock.
As he unsaddled his mount, he felt the sensation of another Immortal.
He smiled. Sarah was waiting for him inside. He hurried to finish
making his horse comfortable. Then picking up a package, a gift for
his lover, he walked around the side of cottage and in through the
The cottage was neat and clean, a fire roaring in the fireplace.
Sarah was lying on the bed.
"Sarah?" MacLeod walked over to the bed. Sarah was dead. Someone
had taken her head. The Immortal presence he'd felt was now behind
him. He drew his sword and turned quickly. A man stepped out of the
shadows, sword drawn. "You know, MacLeod, you should pick stronger
women," the man taunted him. "She had no fight in her at all. Said
she didn't even have a sword."
"Why?" MacLeod raged. "She was not a threat to you. It wasna fight
at all but an execution." He raised his sword and attacked the
Early morning misted the hillside as MacLeod knelt by a freshly
filled grave. He had taken the head of Sarah's murderer the night
before, and with it his Quickening. Now he mourned.
"I'm so sorry, Sarah. I should've forced you to learn to protect
yourself. Never agin," he promised himself as he lay wild flowers
across her grave.
MacLeod walked over to a display of practice weapons that hung on the
wall. He chose two swords and offered one to Scott. "Let's see how
good you are."
Scott accepted the sword, took off his coat and met MacLeod in the
center of the room. MacLeod bowed slightly to the younger man, then
attacked him with short, efficient thrusts, moving toward Scott
steadily, not allowing him to recover enough to stage his own attack.
It was soon apparent to both men that MacLeod was by far the better
swordsman. And if it had been a real fight, it would have ended
shortly after it had begun.
But MacLeod was giving him a lesson. He disarmed Scott several
times, each time retrieving the sword himself and returning it, only
to do it again. When Scott got frustrated, MacLeod showed him how to
counter a specific move. Several times MacLeod stopped to point out
another way, or to suggest another tactic.
Scott stayed with it, refusing to quit. Finally MacLeod called a
halt. "That's enough for tonight," he suggested.
Scott smiled. "Thanks. Why all this?" he asked as he put the sword
back on the rack.
"Melody needs to know how to protect herself," MacLeod explained.
"She can't always depend on you or me to be there for her. I'm
planning to start her training tomorrow," he continued. "You're
welcome to join us if you'd like."
Scott nodded his acceptance. "MacLeod, why are you doing this?"
MacLeod talked as he locked up the dojo. "You'll both be safer if
you can protect each other's backs."
"No. That's not what I mean," Scott elaborated. "Why are you
helping us? I mean, there can be only one. Right?"
"That's at the end of the Game. No one has said you can't have
friends and allies on the way," MacLeod explained.
"But you don't know me at all," Scott pointed out.
"Oh, I don't know," MacLeod smiled. "I think I'm a pretty good judge
of character. You and Mel have been together for over a year. If
you'd wanted her head, I'd never have met her."
MacLeod walked into the lift and put his hands up on the gate, ready
to pull it down. "You coming?" he asked Scott.
Scott got onto the elevator and MacLeod lowered the gate. "It's
going to be an early morning," MacLeod promised.
Over the next few weeks, the trio trained together. They were
MacLeod started their daily routines with long runs over the huge
city park jogging trails. At first, Mel stumbled frequently and
Scott always slowed to steady her, running beside her, telling her
how well she was doing, giving her confidence.
Next on the agenda, back at the dojo, MacLeod and Scott sparred open
handed. Scott had worked with a Master and was actually pretty good.
He and MacLeod traded falls often. It was a good workout for both
men and they learned from each other.
Late morning was the time of day MacLeod and Melody trained with
swords. Mac instructed her in slow motion, teaching her the moves
she needed to know, then working up to speed with some basics. She
found sword work overwhelming in the beginning, but with time she
would be fine. She had good instincts.
Often in the early afternoon, Melody and Scott fought on the exercise
mat, MacLeod coaching her from the sidelines. She was thrilled when
she flipped Scott over her shoulder the first time, disappointed when
she couldn't do it all the time.
Late in the day, MacLeod and Scott dueled with swords, hard and
furious. Serious stuff. Scott's skill improved with the constant
work with MacLeod. This is what would keep them alive. And Melody
was learning fast. Her body changed, becoming accustomed to the hard
work. She was quicker, faster, more 'buffed' than she had ever
dreamed of being. Now when MacLeod, Scott and Mel ran in the park,
she was the one in the lead, taunting the other two.
They were making progress.
MacLeod was in the dojo, performing his daily kata in one corner of
the gym. A few paying members of the dojo were working out in
different parts of the room.
MacLeod felt the presence of another Immortal but he continued
through his kata. Finishing his exercise ritual, MacLeod looked over
to see who had entered the dojo. A stranger.
Draping a towel around his neck, MacLeod walked over to the visitor.
"Can I help you?" he asked.
The stranger looked around at the sparse, utilitarian dojo, then back
at MacLeod. "I'm John Crandall," he announced. "I've come for
Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander."
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