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Part 3

Scene 1 5

Connor MacLeod looked up from his drink, and began, "I was bidding good night ..."

As Connor MacLeod bid goodnight to the last customer of the day, and closed up the antique store he noticed that the night looked to be a particularly dark and dreary one.. But then Halloween should be a dark and spooky night he mused, dropping an invoice on his desk to deal with the next day. The store was silent, Rachel had left early to get ready for the evening with friends, so Connor was alone.

From the window of Nash Antiques, he watched the first of the evening's Trick-or-Treaters scurry from door to door. For a moment, he almost wished he had bought candy for them. But no, he decided he did not feel in the mood to be interrupted by little bunnies and Darth Vaders looking for candy. Like all holidays, Halloween had drifted from what it started out as years ago.

Turning off the lights, Connor picked the books he needed for research on a vase he had recently bought, and headed upstairs to his loft apartment. Once there, he set the books down and stopped to pull the curtains closed. After getting a drink and starting a Loreena McKinnett CD quietly playing, he settled down. The vase would arrive in two days and he needed to do some research but he felt as though the work would still not get down tonight...

Scene 1 6

...Connor stopped his tale, and all the immortals in the bar looked toward the door. Richie entered, sans Altea, explaining that she needed air and a few more minutes alone. Connor took another drink and picked up his tale...

Scene 1 7

...He leaned back against the sofa cushions and listened to McKinnett's voice float through the room. Her music always reminded him of home and of Brenda. Brenda had loved her music and always kept one of her CD's in the player. Connor smiled as he remembered the many occasions that he and Brenda had made love with the soft music in the background.

"Damn MacLeod," he muttered to himself. "Don't go getting maudlin on us tonight." He wiped away the blurring that always accompanied his thoughts of Brenda. They had not been allowed enough time, but then there was never enough time.

Connor forgot about the books stacked on the floor as he lost himself in the memories. It seemed at times as though there were too many memories. Too many that came and went far too quickly. The centuries of watching friends and lovers come and go. Between the drink and the music he had almost gone to sleep when the door chime rang out, jerking him awake and back to the present day. He walked to the window and pulled the curtain back in time to watch a group of teenagers walk back to a waiting car. With luck, they would go away peacefully. The group looked far too old to be simple trick-or- treaters and could be looking for trouble.

His reflective mood totally blown, he again sat down to look through the research books. Before he could even pick up the top book, he heard the crashing of cans and people yelling from the street. Muttering about people who liked to play Halloween pranks, Connor went back downstairs to see how much damage he would have to clean up. He picked up his katana from it's place with his coat. He chuckled as he thought "It's Halloween. Whoever they are, if they want to be scared, I can oblige."

Just as Connor opened the door to the alley, he witnessed a large black cat running for the safety of some boxes piled beside the door. Diving after the animal were three teenagers, probably from the group he had watched earlier. Connor recognized the cat. It had been hanging around the antique store for the past week and Rachel had even started leaving food for it. Still, Connor had no desire to allow the cat to be the center of a cruel Halloween prank. The cat must have sensed a friendly presence and darted past Connor into the shadows of the antique shop's workroom. The teens slammed to a halt when they saw Connor standing in the doorway.

"I think you boys need to find something else to do this evening. Don't you agree?" Connor smiled coldly as he swung the sword into a position for them to see he was armed. A bit of light found the metal and glinted off the sharp edge of the blade.

"uh...yeah...sure...," the teens stammered as they stood mesmerized by the sharp blade. Then they turned, ran back to the car, which pulled out of the alley and was gone.

Connor sighed. At least they had been easily scared and not looking to get into a fight. He went back inside and started looking for the cat. The animal had found a hiding place between a table and a file cabinet. "Here Kitty, let's find you some food." Connor reached for the cat and yelped as the frightened animal scratched the back of his hand. It will heal he thought to himself as he reached again, this time successfully pulling the cat out of the corner.

Connor petted and talked to the cat as he went back upstairs to the kitchen. "We have to thank Rachel tomorrow for leaving the milk here, don't we?" he asked as he poured some of the milk into a bowl. The cat finished the milk and after a few minutes of prowling, decided that Connor's lap would make a nice bed for a while. Connor settled back with his new friend, not feeling quite so alone.

Neither stirred the following morning when Rachel quietly let herself in and saw the two sound asleep on the sofa. She had suggested earlier in the week that they try adopting the cat, but Connor had resisted the idea. She smiled as she watched them sleep. "Happy Halloween, Connor MacLeod." she whispered as she tiptoed into the office.

Scene 1 8

"... Ever since then, I've had the cat," finished Connor

"That's it?" asked Duncan.

"That's it," the elder MacLeod answered.

Amanda put her glass down on the table, which instantly seemed to refill itself. She smiled a thank you at Joe. "By the way, what did you name the cat?"

It was Connor's turn to smile. "Ogelthorpe."

"Why Ogelthorpe?" asked Richie. "No, never mind, I don't want to know."

Methos shifted on his barstool and drained his beer, hoping that the conversation would pass him by. It wasn't that he was finding the stories boring. In fact, Connor's had been down right amusing. But, the truth of the matter was that, despite all his years, Methos had had precious little contact with the paranormal. And he preferred to keep it that way.

The one time he had encountered something supernatural had been....disturbing, to say the least.

"Methos?" Richie asked. "What about you? You must have some good ones."

Methos shrugged. "Not really."

"Aw, come on. You must," the young immortal pressed.

Methos smiled gratefully as Joe refilled his glass. He took a long pull before speaking. "Well, I married a ghost once, does that count?"

Richie's jaw went slack. "You what?"

He nodded. "The first time I met her it was 1853, and I was in Rhode Island..."

Scene 1 9

...Methos left the party through the servant's entrance and slipped through the ornate gardens without notice. He paused at the head of the marble staircase that would lead him to the shoreline and took a backward glance at the lights of the mansion. It was a beautiful sight and he knew that, should he care to return, practically every well dressed lady in the ball room would trip over her crinoline in an effort to acquire his hand for a dance.

Too many people, though. To much body heat and far too much perfume. He needed air.

The beach was deserted, save for some gulls arguing over a dead fish and a few sand crabs scuttling about. The tide was coming in, rapidly--pounding the sand in a deafening cacophony. No harpsichord music. No piano. And no trills of laughter echoing up into the etched crystal chandeliers. Perfect. It was absolutely perfect.

He found a driftwood log to lean against and stretched long legs out toward the sea with a content sigh. Forget high society. He'd sell his house and travel up the coast--to Maine, perhaps--and become a fisherman. Or a beach comber. There were certainly worse ways to spend time than with the smell of the ocean wafting over you.

Methos had nearly drifted off to sleep when a sudden and alarmingly piercing scream cut the night. He leapt to his feet and scanned the area, coming up with nothing to indicate that the scream had been anything but a figment of his imagination. Another sounded, drawing his attention to the water and to a figure struggling against the tow of the waves.

Without further thought, Methos stripped off his sword and jacket, yanked off his boots, and hit the waterline running. He made decent headway, despite the size of the waves, and reached the young woman in time to see her slip under the surface with a garbled cry.

Methos drew in a lung-full of air and dove, ignoring the sting of the salt water as it flooded into his eyes. He searched until his lungs threatened to explode, then surfaced and sucked in a breath, diving once more. Nothing.

Wait. There. Off to his left. A flash of white.

He caught the girl's right arm at the wrist and kicked toward the surface, coming up just in time to be blind-sided by a huge wave. By the time Methos had re-oriented himself--coughing up a lung-full of salt water in the process--he was nearly ashore and the girl was nowhere to be seen.

The visibility was too poor, the waves too big...and he was too tired. With a leadened sigh, Methos staggered back to the sand and threw himself down next to his boots, gasping for breath. It was a full ten minutes later before he could breathe regularly again and another five after that before he noticed the opal ring clenched in his right hand. He studied it for a moment, then shoved it into his pocket....

Scene 2 0

"...That's it?" Richie asked.

Methos shook his head, but Amanda cut him off.

"What kind of ring was it? Expensive?" she asked. "Do you still have it?"

Duncan shot her a mild glare.

"What?" Amanda asked, doing her best impression of innocence. "I just wondered if he still had it."

"I don't," Methos interjected. "And do you want to hear the rest of the story or not?"

Amanda narrowed her eyes at him playfully, but nodded.

"I forgot about the girl, and the ring, until about a hundred years later..."

Scene 2 1

...Alicia was breathtaking.

They met at her coming out party. The year was 1953 and the United States was still flushed with the thrill of victory over seas. The economy was booming. The population was booming. The parties were grand. She was a Montcalm--despite what the gossip mongers said about her adoption--and the mansion on Rhode Island was decorated to the nines in celebration. Flowers everywhere. Candles on the verandah. The good crystal and family silver tinkling merrily as the guests ate and drank their way through a feast that was fit for royalty.

Methos had clapped appropriately when she made her appearance at the head of the sweeping stairway. He'd stood in line to kiss her hand and offer her father congratulations on both his fine daughter and his ever expanding fortune. Then, he'd slipped out the servants' entrance and headed for the beach still thinking about the girl's perfume and the gentle curve of her neck.

Twenty minutes later, he'd been quite shocked to see her picking her way across the sand--holding the hem of her ball gown balled in her fists--and heedless of the fact that her three hundred dollar satin pumps were being ruined by the water.

"I was hoping I'd find you here," she said.

A year later, they were standing on the verandah as Methos slipped a stunning gold and opal ring on her finger.

For a moment, the priest vanished. As did Alicia's family and the hundred some-odd guests. There was only the deep blue of her eyes looking up into his own with a smile.

"I've been waiting for this," she said....

Scene 2 2

"...I thought you said you married a ghost, not a debutante," Richie interrupted.

"Was it the same ring?" Amanda asked. "You gave her a recycled ring?"

Methos rolled his eyes and reached for his coat.

"Wait," Duncan lay a hand on his arm. "Finish the story, please. They'll be quiet," he added. "Even if I have to sit on them both."

"Okay, but one more interruption," Methos shot stern glances at both Richie and Amanda, "and I am out of here. I have better things to do than be mocked for my tastes in jewelry."

"Giving someone a recycled ring is tacky," Amanda insisted.

"It was an antique!"

She huffed. "It was recycled."

"Do you mind," Joe inserted, fixing Amanda with a pointed gaze, "this is history here and it's not in the Methos Chronicles. I'd like to hear the rest. Recycled rings or not."

Methos offered Joe a sardonic smile and settled back onto his stool. "We were blissfully happy for three years. Then, one July, we took a trip up to Maine with her family. They had a cottage on the shore and her father was a sailor at heart. He even named his sloop after her..."

Scene 2 3

...The Alicia Simmone slipped through the waves with ease, heedless of the chop that was stirring and the ferocious wind left over from last night's storm. The port-side rail was buried in the water and Methos thought trimming the sails might be a wise idea, but George Montcalm and his wife sat in the cockpit, sipping drinks and munching on sandwiches the cook had thoughtfully provided from the galley-- seemingly oblivious to the potential danger.

Alicia was parked on the bow, standing precariously in front of the jib halyard with the spray soaking her hair and face. She looked beautiful and wild--her hair streaming out behind her and shouting the occasional call backwards to them when she spotted a bird or another boat. But Methos wished she'd sit down. Or, better yet, come back to the cockpit where it was safe. God, he hated boats.

"Isn't she the sight?" George asked, pointing forward to his daughter.

Methos nodded and swallowed hard as the boat lurched over a wave.

"She used to frighten me to death," Susan Montcalm admitted. "She's always been crazy about the water and used to scramble all over the decks when she was small. But she's never once even come close to going overboard in all the rough weather her father has seen fit to sail through."

Methos nodded again and deftly caught George's crystal Scotch tumbler as the hull slammed into the trough of another large wave, soaking Alicia to the skin in the process.

Her laughter tripped back along the rigging and echoed in Methos' ears.

"Maybe we should trim sail," he suggested. "We're heeling pretty hard..."

George laughed heartily and slapped Methos on the back before reclaiming his drink. "What's the matter, John? You still don't have your sea legs on?"

The Immortal smiled weakly and fixed his eyes on Alicia's back, doing his best to ignore the fear growing in the pit of his stomach. It didn't work. Five minutes and three large waves later, he scrambled his way along the forty-eight feet of the deck and came to an unsteady stop next to his wife.

"Allie, come back, please?"

She laughed. "You worry to much."

"Maybe," he conceded. "But humor me. These waves are getting bigger."

"Oh, relax," she hooked her fingers in the halyard and leaned forward to kiss him. "It's not like the sea is going to leap up and claim me from you."

Her lips were warm, but the words left a sudden chill running the length of Methos' spine.

It happened in an instant. The Alicia Simmone slammed into the trough of a wave that Methos would later swear to be at least ten feet tall, even though the Coast Guard insisted that the seas were only running to eight on that day. A wall of water washed over them both, taking Alicia from his arms and throwing her over the side.

Methos landed face down on the deck and scrambled to the rail in time to catch her left wrist. Susan screamed.

He held on with all his might, ignoring the pain of broken ribs and trying desperately to fight the tug of the water pulling at her as the boat continued forward through the waves.

"I'm sorry," Alicia said.

And in that moment, that heartbeat, he was transported backwards in time a hundred years. Her face...it belonged to the girl that had drown behind the mansion that George Montcalm now owned. And her eyes, stunningly blue and wide with fear, told him everything he needed to know. She was the same girl.

It didn't matter how. This time, he had to save her.

The boat lurched violently to the right as George brought her about out of the wind and for an instant, Methos thought there might be a chance. He pulled with all her strength.

It didn't work.

Alicia disappeared into the waves with a startled cry as another wall of water washed over him and tore her from his grip.

Susan screamed again.

Methos rolled onto his back and wrapped his arm around the safety line, clutching Alicia's wedding ring in his free hand....

Scene 2 4

"...We searched for an hour and George called in the Coast Guard," Methos said. "But we never found her."

Richie shuddered. "I hope you got rid of the ring...sounds like it was cursed."

Amanda moved to lay a sympathetic hand on his arm, but said nothing.

"It wasn't the ring...not really," Methos answered. "It was...I don't know. But that was her. I don't know how, but I know it was her."

The quiet brought on by Methos' tale was disrupted when another thunderclap announced Altea's arrival back at the bar. "Like I said, she knows how to make an entrance." Methos smiled. He walked around the bar, held his glass under the tap and pulled the lever. Nothing happened. "Wow, Joe, you really were serious about not letting me have another."

"What?" Joe said, looking puzzled. He joined Methos and started fiddling with the lever. "That's all I need before a party, a broken beer tap. Just great."

"Broken?" Duncan asked. "But I just fixed that."

"Yeah, last year," Joe grumbled.

Duncan started towards the bar. "Well, I guess I'll have to fix it again."

"Wait a minute," Connor put a hand on his kinsman's shoulder. "I think this is a job best left to the professionals."

"I don't care who fixes it," Methos said, placing his empty glass on the bar and pointing to it. "There's something wrong with this picture."

"What about you Joe?" asked Amanda. "Don't you have a tale you wish to tell?"

Joe shook his head, "Have you ever tried to explain a Quickening and the Immortal World to someone..."

The End

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