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Bullet, Bottle, Or Blade

Part 3

Scene 1 7

Duncan walked up to the front door and rang the bell. While he waited, he considered the problem at hand. What tactic would work best to remove White from the picture without causing Bonnie to ask questions? After all, how could he explain the danger he was protecting her from? It was one of those times when he missed the old man.

Methos would have come in very handy, being the unquestioned master in the art of manipulation. If the old man were here he'd would know exactly how to play a miscreant like Keith White, and never cause Bonnie to raise an eyebrow. White would have found out what it was like to be the mouse instead of the cat for a change.

There was no point in trying to figure out how Methos would resolve this situation. Duncan would just have to rely on his own more direct methods. Less subtle, no doubt, but equally effective.

Over the hill he heard the whinnying of horses and gave up on someone answering the door. As Duncan reached the crest of the hill he saw the stable below and White helping Bonnie on to her horse. They were both dressed for riding and there was a wicker basket strapped to White's horse.

Duncan ran down the grassy slope smiling and waving to them despite the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach at the sight of White with his paws on the girl. Bonnie dismounted quickly and gracefully to greet her Uncle Duncan, before White could 'help' her again.

White was not happy to see Duncan, but hid his annoyance the second Bonnie turned toward him.

"Keith, could you please saddle up Marco so that Uncle Duncan can join us?"

"Certainly." He smiled that patented little smirk of his as he headed back to the stable. "I won't be but a moment."

"Marco? Let me guess. He was a polo pony."

"Maybe you really are psychic." As soon as White was in the stable Bonnie whispered. "Thank god you showed up!"


"Keith is trying so hard to be close to me lately. He's driving me crazy. He knows I love riding. Anyone that knows me at all knows I'd rather ride than breathe. So how could I graciously turn down his offer to go riding in front of my mother after he'd already packed a picnic lunch? I couldn't. I was cornered. Besides, Mom wasn't feeling too well and Keith suggested we bring back some wild rose bushes from the south end of the property. Mom loved the idea."

"Don't you enjoy spending time with your stepfather?"

Bonnie shuddered.

"Please don't call him that. He is my mother's husband. That's hard enough to get used to. Don't get me wrong, Uncle Duncan, I like Keith. He treats my mother very well. But he is kinda weird, you know? He gives me the creeps. And lately he's been trying to be my buddy. Maybe he's trying to score points with Mom..." She let the rest of the sentence drop as White returned leading a chestnut stallion.

It was a beautiful, crisp fall day. Perfect weather for riding. Bonnie lead the way, eager to put some distance between her and the suddenly clingy Keith.

"I'll try and keep within eyeshot. If you can't keep up, just holler and I'll slow down." It wasn't said to be patronizing, at least not deliberately. Bonnie simply couldn't imagine how the old geezers would be able to match her speed. Duncan laughed to himself. If she only knew how old they really were, she'd have them each fitted with motorized wheel chairs and oxygen tents.

Duncan fell back. Bonnie was quite a few yards ahead and White was not very far behind her. The Highlander studied White. He was a better rider than Duncan would have guessed. Sensing that he was being scrutinized White turned back toward Duncan and called to him.

"Come along. If you can't keep up with the girl, you can at least keep pace with me, can't you MacLeod?"

"I'll try." Duncan's tone dripped sarcasm. He urged Marco to pick up speed. The horse seemed thrilled that his rider finally stopped holding him back and was at White's heels in an instant.

They came out of the wooded area to an open field. Bonnie was waiting for them, her horse reflecting her own high-strung nature by it's inability to stand still. The mare twitched and side stepped, kicking up loose pebbles as Bonnie tried to keep her in one place.

"There is an excellent place by the stream to stop and have lunch." Bonnie's eyes gleamed. "That is if you two can make it there before dinner!"

Bonnie flew across the clearing as if she were riding Pegasus. White was soon beside her- and passing. It bothered the teenager to lose the lead. She recklessly spurred her horse on faster and faster. Her competitive nature would not allow an 'old man' to beat her. She didn't stop to consider that she might be endangering herself by riding at such a breakneck speed.

One misstep, one small slip and Bonnie would have been killed instantly. Duncan was positive that White had deliberately taunted Bonnie by passing her. He knew how to push his stepdaughter's buttons too well for Duncan's comfort.

Fortunately, the stream put an end to Bonnie's wild gallop before disaster did. She had already dismounted and was walking beside her horse, letting it cool down, when Duncan bellowed at her.

"Are you trying to get yourself killed?" Bonnie was caught off guard by the intensity of Duncan's anger. White, ever the opportunist, saw Bonnie was hurt that Duncan took that tone with her and used it.

"Bonnie, perhaps you should stop calling him Uncle Duncan and start calling him Granny MacLeod." White chuckled. The joke took the sting out of Duncan's rant and Bonnie joined him. She saw the resentment in Duncan's eyes that she was laughing with White at his expense, but that only made it harder to stop. Bonnie tried to make amends between giggles.

"Uncle Duncan, I've ridden this way for years. Honestly. There was no danger at all. I know this horse. I know this field. It's nothing to get worked up about."

White unstrapped his wicker basket as Bonnie laid out the blanket she'd brought.

"Sit, relax, have some lunch and enjoy this gorgeous day." She lead her old uncle to a nice sunny spot on the blanket and sat him down. The ride had brought a flush of excitement to her face. But Duncan knew Bonnie was enjoying the adrenaline rush from the dangerous speed of her ride more than the crisp autumn air.

"The horses need water." Bonnie took the reigns of her mare and lead her to the stream first.

"Tah Dah!" With a flourish White produced a bottle of wine.

"I've got a special treat that is sure to remove that scowl from your face, MacLeod. This year's first bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau!"


"Well, it is the third Thursday of November. I ordered a few cases of Drouhin flown in on the Concorde." He uncorked the bottle and set it down. Duncan watched Bonnie sit by the edge of the stream while her horse drank it's fill. He lowered his voice.

"A few cases?" This renewed the scowl on Duncan's face. "Do you think that was wise?"

"Oh dear. You don't like Drouhin? Do you prefer Mommessin or..." His voice trailed off as he saw just how serious Duncan was.

"That's not what I meant. I was thinking of Deborah. It doesn't seem very considerate of you to have that much alcohol paraded under her nose when..." It was White's turn to cut Duncan off.

"Alcohol!" He poured the wine into a beautiful crystal wine glass. White held it up to the sun by the stem of the glass, admiring the ruby glow as the sun caught it. Then he swirled the wine, slowly. "This, my poor misguided fellow, is not ALCOHOL. It is the nectar of the gods." White put his nose over the glass and inhaled the bouquet reverently.

"What's that Keith?" Bonnie had rejoined them.

"Here let me get you a glass. Words can't possibly do it justice."

"Excuse me, White, do I need to remind you that Bonnie is still a minor?" Bonnie scowled.

"How Americanized you've become, MacLeod." The sneer made it plain that there wasn't a word invented in the English language that White thought was more insulting than Americanized.

He poured half a glass of wine. "In Europe all civilized people drink wine with their meals, even children. Here, I brought some bottled water for you Bonnie. Really, watered down by half you can't possibly still object, MacLeod!" He filled the glass the rest of the way with water.

"Did you ask her mother about this?" White chose to ignore that question.

"Have a glass Beaujolais, it might improve your mood." White put a glass down in front of Duncan. "I had no idea you'd be joining us today, but I took the precaution of bringing extra glasses- in case of breakage. Accidents do happen, you know." White poured, taking MacLeod's silence to be agreement.

{'Accidents do happen, you know.' Duncan quietly mimicked White's arrogant demeanor. Like, say a riding accident? Was that your plan, White? A little wine to help increase the odds of an 'accident', maybe? Yeah. That was probably the original idea, only you weren't expecting me. Where you, White?} MacLeod wondered angrily.

Bonnie eagerly accepted the glass and took a large sip, more like a gulp, while Duncan glowered.

"It's pretty good."

"Pretty good? Oh, to be damned by faint praise. Well, I suppose you have lead a sheltered life with those nuns at St. Michael's. What would they be able to teach you of the real world? I shall have to take a more active hand in your upbringing from now on so that you become the well-rounded, cultured lady of breeding you should be as the future Mistress of White Manor. You are my heir, after all, and it's my duty to prepare you."

White prattled on as he set out a lunch of cold roast chicken, cheese, a fresh loaf of crusty French bread, and salads.

"What's so special about this wine?" Bonnie asked as she washed down another mouthful of chicken with it.

"What's so special about anything? That's a hard question to answer. I suppose what I like best about the Beaujolais Nouveau is it's freshness. From the harvest in the fields of France to your glass in a matter of weeks."

"Yeah, Beaujolais is a good wine. Still there is something to be said for a fine, matured Cabernet Sauvignon." Duncan interjected, pausing for a moment before adding. "Of course very often it's consumed far too young and never allowed to reach it's peak."

"Well, there's ten seconds of my life I'll never get back." White muttered as he endured MacLeod's little double entendre. But, Duncan knew White understood the message by the way White's eyes became veiled as he countered.

"I suppose the trick lies in knowing what you've got. How long a wine needs to reach maturity is decided by the nature of the wine itself. Let's say you wait a decade or more for a good Cabernet Sauvignon and open the bottle only to find a Beaujolais Nouveau so long passed it's prime you wouldn't give it to your worst enemy. A total loss- all because you didn't know what was in the bottle."

"Okay boys. It's not like we're at the Wine Superbowl or anything. You don't have to pick sides. There can be more than one, you know."

White found the irony much more amusing than Duncan did and couldn't resist teasing him with her innocent statement.

"I don't know if Granny MacLeod would agree with you, Bonnie. What do you think, can there be more than one?" He roared with laughter. Bonnie wasn't sure what White found so funny, but his laugh was infectious and she soon found herself laughing too.

They finished most of the food that White had brought. At least Bonnie and Keith did. Duncan didn't seem to have much of an appetite.

"The rose bushes are only about two miles from here. We can be back home with them to surprise Mom before dinner." Once again, Bonnie took the lead.

Scene 1 8


Deborah opened the front door, obviously very ill. She was barely able to stand, using the door knob to support her weight.

Before Bonnie got a chance to show her mother the roses she, Duncan and Keith had so carefully transported, her mother cried out.

"Keith!" Deborah collapsed into White's arms.

Scene 1 9


Duncan waited with Bonnie to hear word on Deborah's condition. They sat silently, hand in hand. The dirt from the roses still embedded under their nails and the pores of their skin. Neither one of them stopped to wash up before coming to the hospital. White approached them.

As White spoke the words Bonnie never wanted to hear, Duncan found himself distracted by how clean White's hands were.

Scene 2 0


The same room that had been filled with people celebrating a birthday not too long ago, was filled with mourners.

Bonnie absently looked out of the window as her fingers ran across the piano keys. The rose bushes were lying, discarded and forgotten by the driveway- exactly where she'd dropped them the day they'd rushed her mother to the hospital.

"We really should plant them before they die." Bonnie sighed listlessly as she spoke to no one in particular.

"I'll have the gardener take care of it tomorrow." White slid his hand around Bonnie's shoulder and kissed the top of her head. No one could see it, but he had the most unfatherly look in his eyes as he ogled his grieving 'daughter'.

"Mom loved those roses."

"They reminded her of you. Wild and beautiful. How could she not love them?" A deep baritone tenderly spoke the comforting words.

Bonnie spun around at the sound of Duncan's voice, throwing her arms around him.

"Uncle Duncan." She clung to him. His presence gave her the strength she so desperately needed.

White tried to say all the right things, but his words left her numb. Everything he did and said was kindly and supportive yet Bonnie wanted to get away from him. She couldn't bring herself to share her grief with him. She didn't know why it was so impossible for her to turn to him for comfort, but it was.

"Where's Maggie?" Bonnie asked shakily.

"She's on her way."

As soon as Maggie arrived Duncan left Bonnie to her care. He couldn't bear to see anymore of White's crocodile tears. Or hear him talking of 'his beautiful Deborah'. He had to get away for a while.

Scene 2 1

Duncan wandered aimlessly through the house. He found himself in White's study. It was a very interesting room. Model ships, more than one of which was named The Revenge, genuine Spanish doubloons, authentic navigational maps, all encased in glass, lined the room. Hanging on one wall was a flag named after the pirate Calico Jack- a white skull with two swords crossed beneath it on a field of black. There were also quite a number of antique swords on display. Duncan was immediately drawn to a particular sword. It was an early 18th century Naval Dirk.

He took it off the wall for a closer examination. There was a chunk taken out of the blade.

Scene 2 2

White sat in the living room, enjoying the solitude and the end of his performance as the 'grieving husband'. Night had fallen at some point. He hadn't noticed and never turned on the lights. He opened another bottle of Beaujolais. Did that make the third or the fourth this evening? He wondered as he felt for his glass in the dark.

Everyone had been so understanding that the poor man should try to drown his sorrow. The wine began to go to his head and at one point he thought he was going to lose control and burst into laughter at the sheer absurdity of him mourning a nothing like Deborah. He crammed his fist into his mouth, biting until he drew blood. At the thought of their pitying glances White shook his head. How easy it was for them see pain when, in point of fact, he was so pleased to be rid of her he didn't know if he'd be able to contain himself until the last mourner left.

When the final guest left, White breathed a sigh of relief.

"Free at last! Good Lord, Deborah for a while there I was actually afraid you'd outlive me. I was beginning to get impatient. Well, here's to you, my dear." He raised his glass. "And a looong overdue toast to your memory." After paying his respects to his dearly departed wife, White staggered up to bed.

Scene 2 3


White felt the quickening of another Immortal even in his drunken stupor. He fumbled with the bed covers, tripping on them as he got out of bed and drew his sword.

"MacLeod, is that you?" He slurred.

Duncan stepped out of the shadows. He slowly approached White. When Duncan was sure that White could see him clearly, he held the dirk out in front of him.

"I don't believe I ordered room service." White quipped trying to appear unphased by Duncan's unannounced- but not unarmed, visit.

"Tell me about this sword." The Highlander was in no mood to joke.


"Yes. Right now."

White decided to play along until he figured out exactly what MacLeod knew.

"That sword? Not a very interesting piece. It doesn't even have the scabbard..."

"Really?" White didn't like the dark look on MacLeod's face.

"Why do you find that sword so interesting?"

"Why don't you guess. You're a bright fellow. Why do you think I find it so interesting?"

"I can't begin to imagine." He answered flatly.

"Sure you can. Why don't you tell me how you came to own this particular sword. I could use a nice little story to wile away the hours. Funerals give me insomnia."

Duncan could see the wheels turning.

"Well, if you must know, it's a little momento I kept from my first death back when that sword was newly issued to a pie faced bugger that ran me through to save the Queen's treasure. At the time, I'd been a nobody, with no future in the Royal Navy. As an orphan, raised on the street, there was no hope of me ever rising through the ranks. So I tried to steal a little something, a bauble really. The young officer that caught me red handed didn't want to hear a word I had to say in my defense. He was about to bring me to his superiors when I tried to escape and he killed me. When I revived you should have seen the look on his face, but it was nothing compared to the look when I ran him through and pried that dirk from his pudgy little hand. Well, there's your bed time story, MacLeod. Nighty, night. Don' t let the bed bugs bite. If you have any further questions, I'll answer them... in the morning. Good night, Mr. MacLeod." White brushed past him, opened the door and motioned for MacLeod to step outside.

"That's an excellent idea, White. Let's go for a little walk." His grip on White's arm was cutting off the circulation. At that proximity White didn't dare fight the clearly stronger man. He let Duncan lead him outside while playing out scenarios in his head that would let him walk away with it still attached.

White knew better than to try and play dumb about the sword any longer. But he thought he might find a more 'innocent' explanation as to how it came to be in his possession again. Besides, he still had the Grieving Bonnie card to play. He was positive that MacLeod would not put the girl through her stepfather's funeral so soon after her mother's passing.

Scene 2 4


"Okay. That's far enough, White. Talk." Duncan nudged him with the tip of the sword.

"Well, when you ask so politely how can I refuse?" White's cockiness and complete ease under Duncan's menacing presence was a new side of the Englishman that the Highlander had never seen. The mask was beginning to slip a little bit, or was he deliberately giving Duncan a glimpse of the pirate, Calico Jack?

"About ten years ago I was shopping down in Kensington, I think you know where. When I came across a robbery in progress. Well, it was none of my business how another fellow goes about making his living. I'm not one to judge, people who live in glass houses and all that." He smirked.

"Anyway, the shopkeeper apparently put up a fight and the young punk shot him, panicked and took off. Just prior to the gunshot, I began to have that unsettling feeling that another immortal was nearby and decided to leave as well. Then I noticed the sword lying there. I thought it would be best if I didn't leave a weapon behind for my compatriot that was lurking somewhere about. Which, of course, I found out later was you. Wasn't it?" He appeared bored as he recounted the tale.

"It never occurred to you to help the man?"

"Which man? The robber or the shopkeeper?" He sneered at the disgusted look Duncan shot him. "They're all the same to me, MacLeod. Mayflies. Pesky little insects, every last one of them. What does it matter if a mortal dies a few heart beats sooner?"

"It's precisely because they have so little time that every second they have does matter. You could have stopped that robbery. You could have taken that bullet and a man's life would have been saved."

"Take a bullet for a mortal? Why ever would I do that?"

"Because it wouldn't kill you." MacLeod added, "Unfortunately." under his breath.

White should have seen the fire in Duncan's eyes and realized he shouldn't play anymore if he didn't want to get burned. But White was so sure that he was safe, he decided to have some fun taunting the exasperatingly righteous Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod.

"Whether it's a bullet or a bottle.. They are such flimsy, fragile creatures. All the protection in the world won't keep them here for long. Why bother?"

"Bullet, bottle- or blade. We can all be just as dead." Duncan growled. White shrugged it off.

"Whatever. The point is, if I'd interfered in their little drama, things wouldn't have turned out as well for me as they did. I would never have gone to the funeral out of curiosity to see what type of sendoff a shopkeeper gets. And I would never have met the very lovely little girl, Bonnie, that has now grown into an even lovelier woman."

"She's hardly a woman yet." White was getting under MacLeod's skin with his irreverence for human life and unwholesome interest in young Bonnie. He knew it too. He was having a grand old time torturing MacLeod and continued to twist the knife.

"Have you actually looked at Bonnie lately. I mean really looked at her. I have. She certainly does not have the face- or body, of a child anymore. After all in our time she'd have been an old maid at sixteen."

"Times change, White."

"So they do." He sighed dramatically. "And not always for the better. I miss the good old days. Don't you?"

"I don't live in the past, Jack." He spat out the name like it left a bad taste in his mouth. White's eyes narrowed at the mention of his 'other' name.

"No? Maybe you give up too much of your past, MacLeod. People, places, things, all erased, except for your name. But do you even know who Duncan MacLeod is anymore?"

"I know exactly who I am. I don't need to live in a museum."

"Or need your Scottish tongue, it seems. You were Scottish weren't you?"

Duncan raised his sword. He was done with the verbal fencing.

"You want to know who I am? I am Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod." He announced with a fierce Scottish burr.

White rolled his eyes and drew his own sword, still not taking MacLeod seriously. He thought the Highlander was just trying to put a scare into him and wasn't about to give him the satisfaction of listening to his pompous rubbish anymore.

"Just do it." He said through clenched teeth as he took a wild swing, slicing nothing but air.

Duncan easily deflected the attack, forcing White off balance with his block and neatly slicing his head from his neck on the return swing. He had no interest in allowing White the dignity of a battle to the death. Nor did he feel the need to appease his conscience by fooling himself that this was anything but what it was; an execution. An execution not for the crimes he had already committed, but for the crimes Duncan would not allow him to commit.

Scene 2 5


Bonnie was sleeping soundly when her windows blew open. She bolted upright in bed. Maggie was right there to comfort her. "Relax, Bonnie. It's only the wind. Go back to sleep, dear. You need your rest." Maggie tucked Bonnie back into bed. She drifted off as she watched Maggie lock the windows. Just before she closed her eyes Bonnie noticed the lightning. {That's weird. It seems to be coming from the ground up.} She thought and dropped right off to sleep.

Scene 2 6


Bonnie woke the next morning to find Duncan and Maggie already up and working in the garden. There was a newly dug bed, about 6 feet long give or take a few inches. They were filling it with the wild rose bushes.

"Hey, you two must have gotten up before the crack of dawn. How'd you get all this done?"

"Well, like you said they needed to be planted or they'd die." Maggie had brought over a wheel barrel and they began to put away the shovels and other gardening tools.

"Where's Keith? I looked all through the house before I came outside, he's not in there." Bonnie didn't seem particularly worried, just curious.

"He was called away on some urgent business last night. Since Maggie and I were still here, he asked us to look after you until he got back. We didn't see any point in waking you in the middle of the night to tell you."

"But there was a storm last night..."

"Last night?" Duncan shrugged. "Oh yeah, there were a couple of bolts of lightning. It was over in a second, though. Not much of a storm."

"Bonnie." Maggie brushed the soil off her hands. When she was sure she had the girls attention she continued. "I talked to Keith last night about school. With all you've been through lately, he agreed that you don't need anymore changes. So, as soon as you feel up to it, we'll pack and you can come back to St. Michael's with me." Maggie was nearly knocked off her feet by the grateful teenager's sudden embrace.

After taking a moment to let the relief sink in, Bonnie took a long look at the roses.

"You guys did a great job. Mom would've loved it. But you did it so quick. Are you sure it's got enough fertilizer and stuff?"

"Yeah, I made sure. There's plenty of fertilizer."

"What did you use?"

"Oh, you know. The usual stuff." Duncan smirked.

Scene 2 7


Maggie ran to greet Joe and Duncan. Bonnie was pushing a chubby little boy all bundled up in a scarf, cap and coat on a swing. Bonnie waved but stayed where she was, laughing with the boy. It seemed she was enjoying herself as much as the toddler in the swing.

Joe and Maggie had become comfortable with their see-you-when-I-can relationship and kissed warmly. There wasn't any awkwardness or uncertainty.

"Who is the little boy?" Duncan asked after they'd said their hello's.

"Joshua. He just came to us last week. It's amazing how Bonnie has taken to him. She never paid attention any of the other children here, but the second Joshua arrived she fell in love with him. I have to say the feeling is mutual. He adores her, follows her around like a little puppy. He even cuts little dolls out of paper to give to her. It's so sweet. He's a god send, really. Taking care of him has made Bonnie happier than I've ever seen her. It's a shame he couldn't have come to us under better circumstances, though." Duncan agreed with Maggie's assessment. Bonnie hadn't looked this happy since her father was alive.

"How did he come here?" Joe wondered aloud.

"That's a sad story. His father shot his mother in a jealous rage, then committed suicide. The neighbors heard the gun shots and called the police. Josh was in the house at the time, but no one is sure what he saw. He won't talk about it. I guess Bonnie identifies with his loss, but it's more than that." They headed toward the swings.

As they approached, Joshua smiled. Duncan felt there was something naggingly familiar about that smile. The round face and eyes connected with him immediately. Joshua had more than just the natural innocence of a child in his smile. There was a warmth and a goodness that he radiated, and it would be that way his whole life. You knew that about him, felt it the moment you met him.

"Joshua, I'd like you to say hello to my uncle Duncan." The boy shyly looked at the large, dark haired man. He didn't say a word.

"Hello. It's a pleasure to meet you, Joshua." Duncan smiled winningly as he put out his hand. The boys eyes widened as he stared at Duncan's hand.

"It's okay, Josh. He won't hurt you. He is a very nice man." Joshua timidly shook hands with Bonnie's Uncle glancing to her for encouragement and reassurance.

Joe and Maggie had quietly slipped off together leaving Joshua, Bonnie, Duncan to their own devices.

"Uncle Duncan, how'd you like to join us for lunch? We're just having fish sticks and fries, but there's tons of it. It's Joshua's favorite."

"You mean fish and chips? Sure." Duncan remembered how Harry used to love fish and chips. He watched Bonnie help Josh out of the swing. She held his hand but he suddenly broke away from her and ran to the sand box. Bonnie laughed.

"Josh certainly wouldn't think of leaving with out his little box." She watched him dig in the sand until he found what he was looking for and returned. He put his pudgy little hand in Bonnie's as he clutched the box to his side with his other hand.

"What have you got in there?" Duncan kneeled down, and was glad he didn't have far to fall when he heard Joshua's first word.


The End

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