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We have a total of 23 episodes, and they're all available if you follow the HFS link.

 

 
 
Part 1

Scene 1

"Did he say anything?" Duncan asked, while bending down to inspect the corpse. There were wounds in Richie's chest and the upper half of his body lay in a pool of congealing blood; he must have taken some time to die.

"Just my name," Joe said. "Mac, I'm sorry. If I'd had any idea..."

"It's not your fault; you weren't expecting him." Duncan fell silent for a moment, pondering the situation. {What a mess. Did you have to use a shotgun?} he thought, but did not say. Joe felt bad enough without adding to his guilt. Duncan settled for a more neutral, "Why did he come here?"

"Desperately in need of a drink?" Methos said, as he appeared from a back room, carrying a basin of water and several small towels. Duncan scowled at him. "All right, so he wasn't after the beer," Methos admitted. He and Duncan gingerly picked Richie up by the hands and feet, moving him away from the blood. "Surely he didn't come to rob the till."

"Richie gave up stealing years ago," Duncan said. The possibility that Richie had reverted to the role of thief seemed so remote to Duncan that he wasn't even offended by the suggestion. Kneeling to remove Richie's shirt, he said, "He must have wanted something in the Watcher files."

"Was he headhunting?" Methos asked, as he busied himself with a mop.

"Of course not," Joe replied, "I would have known. And there's no one hunting him; I double-checked while I was waiting for you."

"Then what did he..." Duncan broke off in mid-sentence as Richie drew a sharp, convulsive breath. "Easy, Rich; it's just us," Duncan said, while placing a restraining hand on his shoulder. "Lie still, and wait for the pain to pass." Richie lay back, looking around himself. His body relaxed but his eyes remained wary.

{Ah,} thought Methos, {trying to figure out what sort of mess you've gotten yourself into this time. You do have a talent for it.}

"Joe's sorry he shot you. He thought you were a burglar," Duncan said, while gently sponging the blood away from Richie's rapidly healing wounds.

"I know." Richie spoke carefully. His breathing wanted to spasm and his chest ached abominably. {Why did I think this would be a good idea? Ryan, you are such a moron.} "I'm sorry I scared you, Joe. I didn't know you were here. There weren't any cars outside."

"Mike borrowed my car," Joe volunteered. "I needed to catch up on some Watcher reports, so I decided to spend the night here. Maybe if I'd been awake when you came in..."

"It's not important, Joe," Richie said.

"No, it isn't," Duncan agreed. "What's important is what you were doing here in the first place. Why did you break in?"

After the briefest of hesitations, Richie said, "Practice."

"Practice for what?" Joe asked incredulously. Duncan's face had gone quite still, but Richie chose to ignore the ominous lack of expression.

"Oh, you know; practice breaking into places. Not that I'm going into competition with Amanda or anything, but sometimes a little stealth can be handy, even for us good guys. I didn't want to lose my touch, and your place... well, you're hardly going to press charges if I get caught, now are you?"

Joe rolled his eyes in gentle amusement. "Well, that's one mystery solved." {One out of two. I haven't seen Mac fuss over you like this in a long time; he wouldn't have tried it 'cause you wouldn't have let him. Maybe that demon did us a good turn, after all?}

Richie grinned back at Joe, but his smile faded with a gasp as Duncan brusquely turned him over onto his stomach. He found himself gently pinned by a hand placed against the small of his back. He twisted around, glancing over his shoulder in surprise and met Duncan's dark, steady gaze.

"That was a lie," Duncan said quietly. "Would you like to try again?" Richie stared at him, then suddenly looked away, his face a mixture of anger and embarrassment.

{How did you know?} Methos wondered. {I would have believed him.}

"I'm waiting," Duncan said, as he began wiping away the blood on Richie's back.

"It doesn't matter now," Richie said in a small, tight voice.

"It does matter, when someone wakes me up in the middle of the night to tell me you're dead," Duncan said with a trace of annoyance. His voice softened as he asked, "Is someone chasing you? Were you after Joe's records?"

"No one's chasing me," Richie insisted.

"Then what...?"

"Oh, bloody hell, this is all my fault," Methos said abruptly. He turned to Joe, looking apologetic. "I told him about your private little research project. I thought he already knew."

"I haven't had a chance to explain it to him," Duncan said, sounding surprised. "Is that what you came here for? To listen to Joe's tapes?"

{Haven't had the chance? When were you going to get around to it, my fiftieth birthday? Joe's been interviewing you and Methos to get an insider's view on what it's like to be Immortal for what -- months? -- and you haven't told me? What did you say that you don't want me to know about?} Richie was suddenly glad to find himself lying on the floor with his face turned away from Duncan and the others. {Okay. So you're acting like this is no big deal, Mac. I can play that.}

Forcing a casual tone, Richie said, "It was one of those impulse things, you know? I was riding around on my bike, and I thought, `What the hell? Slip into Joe's for an hour, listen to a few tapes, maybe hear a funny story I haven't heard before, and then slip out again.' It's really no big deal, right?"

"Right," Duncan agreed, but he looked thoughtful.

"Joe," Methos said. He nodded to one side, gently pulling him several feet away for a private chat.

"Richie," Duncan said, when they were alone.

"What?"

"I really was going to tell you about the tapes."

"Doesn't matter," Richie said, but Duncan could sense that it did.

"Sometimes you're a very private person, Rich; not the kind who likes to talk about the past. I wanted to tell you about Joe's project when we could really discuss it, in case the idea upset you, but you were always too busy." Duncan put aside his towel and gave Richie a pat. "There, I'm done; you can get up now."

Richie sat up and accepted a clean shirt from Duncan. "I'm sorry about the mess. Really, I wasn't expecting things to turn out like this."

"Hey, Mac," Joe called. "I'd like a word with you."

Duncan nodded to indicate he'd heard. Smiling at Richie as if to say that all was understood and forgiven, he rose to cross the room. As he walked away, Richie thought, {Why did I apologize? I'm mad at you. How do you do that to me?}

Methos came over to speak to Richie while Duncan was with Joe. "Joe's prepared to make a deal, subject to Duncan's consent."

"A deal? Like what? I only get shot to death on alternate Tuesdays?"

"Nothing so exciting," Methos said. "Joe's willing to let you hear the tapes -- at least the portions of the tapes where you're discussed, which is presumably what you're interested in -- on the condition that you become part of the project. He'd like to hear your version of some of the things Duncan's covered." Richie opened his mouth to speak but Methos cut him off. "And before you jump in with both feet, I'd advise you to sleep on it for a night or six. Guest-starring on Immortals' True Confessions can be damned uncomfortable."

Joe and Duncan returned before Richie had a chance to say anything. "I assume Methos told you what I've been discussing with Mac?" Joe asked.

"Yes," Richie answered slowly, trying to read Duncan's expression. {He's not sure he likes this. I'm not sure I like this, either. What the hell.} "I'll do it."


Scene 2

"You know, he could have asked Joe about the damned tapes in the first place," Duncan said as he drove Methos back to the dojo.

"But then you would have known he was curious about them."

"So?"

"You don't get this, do you, MacLeod?" Methos shook his head in amazement. "This is all about you. Breaking in and listening to the tapes in secret was a safe way for him to find out what you really think of him. If he'd heard good things, no one would have ever known he'd doubted you. If he'd heard bad things, he could have crawled away and kept his pain to himself."

"But Richie knows what I think of him."

"Does he? Which Duncan MacLeod are we talking about here? You've known him for -- what? -- a little over five years?"

"Yes," Duncan agreed, not seeing Methos's point.

"And how many Duncan MacLeods has he seen in that time? Let's see; first, you're a total stranger, a sword-carrying psychotic who wants to kill him, then he finds out you're Immortal, of all things, and you become a sort of combination employer, guardian, and parole officer. Before either of you quite realize it, you're his father. Then bang! -- Tessa dies and he dies, and suddenly he's lost the only family he can remember and he's Immortal. You become his teacher -- a good teacher but a very demanding one -- and then he takes his first head and you send him away. He comes back from time to time and poof, you're not his teacher anymore, you're his friend, until one day when you genuinely become a sword-carrying psychotic and nearly kill him. He manages to get beyond that somehow until you do kill him, well, not really him but the demon, and that whole situation has got to make him feel odd, too. Richie's biggest problem is that he's inherited your inability to see grey."

"You don't know what you're talking about," Duncan said tightly.

"I know exactly what I'm talking about. Everything's still too black and white for both of you. You're either his father or you're not, his teacher or you're not, his friend or you're not. Why do those roles have to be so absolute, and so mutually exclusive?"

"I'm not his father," Duncan growled.

Methos laughed, provoking Duncan to take the next turn more abruptly than usual. "If Joe called you in the middle of the night to say he'd shot me, would you have brought me one of your shirts? And washed all my booboos? You should have seen yourself; he might as well have been a toddler. You know, for a moment, I actually thought you were going to smack him for lying to you."

"Richie's not a child."

"He's not a child, but he's your child. Take yourself back oh, 380 years. How would your father have reacted if you'd done what Richie did tonight?"

Duncan was silent for a moment, honestly considering the question, yet reluctant to yield to Methos. Finally, he said, "Richie is my friend."

"And your father was never your friend?" Methos challenged. Duncan's jaw tensed with anger. "No. That's not a nice question, but I see I've made my point. Your father was your friend, your teacher, your leader and hero. Even when you'd grown to manhood and he sought your opinion, even when he relied on you, a part of you remained his son. If he was capable of being so many things to you, why do you imagine you're incapable of being all those things for Richie?"

"This has nothing to do with you," Duncan warned, but Methos, as usual, didn't give a damn about offending Duncan MacLeod.

"You're the one who wanted to know why he broke into Joe's. You shouldn't have asked the question if you weren't prepared for the answer." Duncan stared straight ahead without responding. "Oh, go ahead; get all broody on me. But if you can't accept that you can be many things to one person, how's Richie ever going to learn it? You've had your parents, and Connor, and Darius, and God knows who else to learn from. Almost everything Richie knows about living he's gotten from you, in one guise or another. If you push him away saying, `I'm not your father,' when you've treated him like a son, he's going to be damned confused. And insecure. And that's what this is all about. And I'm starving."

Methos glanced sideways at Duncan, waiting for a response, but all he got was a tense silence. "Maybe I should go back to newborns," he said in disgust.

"What?"

"Newborns. Very young Immortals, like Richie. I stopped teaching them because most of them don't last very long in the Game. One does get attached, you know. So I gave it up. Thought I'd be better off dispensing my pearls of wisdom to unruly teenagers of four hundred or so."

Duncan gave him a slit-eyed glare, but a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "You are an unmitigated pain in the ass."

"Fine. You can make breakfast."


Scene 3

"So what am I supposed to do?" Duncan asked, as he placed a plate of pancakes in front of Methos.

"Do?"

"About Richie. You're so full of sage advice today. Advise me."

"Not much, actually. Mm, these are good. I suppose you'll be revolted if I grab a beer from the fridge? Yes, I rather thought so. Well, don't look, then."

Methos got a beer from the refrigerator and opened it, ignoring Duncan's grimace of amused disgust. "Yes. Well, all you really need to do is rid yourself of the compulsion to put tidy little labels on untidy relationships. You're fond of Richie; the rest is irrelevant. If you try to cram a complex relationship into a simplistic pigeonhole, something gets left out and what does end up in the pigeonhole gets distorted by the lack of space."

Duncan grinned. "I'd like to see the expression on Richie's face when you try to explain that to him. He'll tell you it's a crock."

"Yes, that does sound like Richie. Luckily, I don't need to tell him anything. Nor will you, I suspect. If he keeps his bargain with Joe, he'll soon know exactly what you've thought of him for all these years. That should take care of a good deal of his insecurity, provided you don't come along afterwards and muck things up."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."

"Sometimes Richie hears more than you say, which goes back to his poor self-esteem. You've certainly made progress in that area, but it takes a lot to undo the past. When you say something like, `I'm not your teacher anymore,' or `I'm not your father,' all you're trying to tell him is that he's a big boy now. That's not what Richie hears. He thinks you're saying you rather regret having been associated with him at all."

Duncan shook his head sadly. "Four or five years ago, I would have agreed with you. But now -- how many years is it going to take him to get it through his head that I'm not going to throw him away?"

"With luck, it won't take more time than you have." A silence fell between them as Methos remembered other times, other Immortals. {Letting yourself be loved can be such a difficult lesson...}

With a mental shake, Methos brought himself back to the present. "Just remember, you promised to stay away if Richie keeps his word tonight. I suspect Joe and I will have enough trouble getting him to talk without his worrying about what you'll think of it."

"I don't want to hear what he tells you. It's his business."

"You're not even the least bit curious?" Methos asked teasingly.

Ruefully, Duncan admitted, "Of course I'm curious. But I'll let him have his privacy, at least from me. In any case, I have a dinner appointment tonight, so you and Joe are free to pick Richie's brains without my interference."

"Is she pretty?" Methos asked flippantly.

"He is an old friend," Duncan corrected. "An old friend. Peter Cunningham."

"Don't know him."

"He was Sean's student, although I'm actually the one who found him."

FLASHBACK: FRANCE - 1917

{This is my personal Hell,} Duncan thought, as he slipped in the mud. {I cannot die, so my sins are punished here. Am I eternally condemned to walk these same battlefields, witnessing the destruction?}

He struggled to his feet and trudged on in the faint moonlight, looking for any survivors of the day's "show". Duncan had been carrying stretchers since sunrise, first of the living and now mostly of the dead. All of the wounded had already been cleared from the front trenches, but the no man's land between armies was still littered with the fallen. As sometimes happened after a long day of battle, the survivors on both sides had ceased firing when darkness set in. Tonight there would be no snipers to worry about as he did his grisly work. When dawn arrived, a few warning shots would be fired to alert the rescuers and the informal truce would end.

Soldiers lay all around him, some peaceful-looking, some in grotesque attitudes, all of them far too still and quiet. {What I would give to hear screaming. At least it would mean some of them were alive.} He picked his way forward, sidestepping dismembered limbs and occasionally untangling heaps of bodies to search for survivors.

"There's nothing," one of his companions called. Even as Duncan nodded his head in grim agreement, he felt the chill cramp in his stomach and head that indicated the presence of another Immortal. He looked quickly about him, trying to locate the source, but saw only the men he'd been working with. One of the dead, then. One of these soldiers had just returned to life, possibly for the first time.

Evans, the man who'd just spoken to him, noticed Duncan's sudden alertness. "You've sensed something and all, haven't you?" he asked. Duncan shot him a sudden look of alarm which made Evans smile. "I've heard the others talking. They say you have the Sight. They say you've found men they would have buried."

"It's not the Sight," Duncan protested weakly.

"Then what is it?" Evans persisted.

"I can't explain what it is or how it works."

"But sometimes you know," Evans said. "Where is he, then?"

{Now what do I do? If I lead him to the Immortal, half the army will be wanting me to tell their fortunes. Not to mention the fun I'll have explaining away the lack of wounds. On the other hand, I can't have a newborn Immortal wandering around not knowing what he is...} "It's that way, I think," Duncan said, pointing to their left.

They set off in that direction, pausing frequently to check the bodies they passed for signs of life. "You sure about this?" Evans asked. "Doesn't look like any of these poor buggers made it."

"I'm sure," Duncan said, stopping in front of a long heap of bodies. "He's here." Duncan began working his way into the heap with Evans' assistance.

Evans looked doubtful now, but kept lifting away bodies with dogged persistence. He heard a faint moan nearby and nearly dropped a body in surprise. Hurrying forward, he bent to help Duncan pull the last body off a soldier so covered with mud and gore that it was difficult to make out any injuries. He knelt to check the soldier's condition, but Duncan waved him away with an outstretched arm.

"It's too late, then?" Evans asked.

"No," Duncan replied. "He may have a concussion, but there's no wound. He must have slipped in the mud and the others fell on him before he could get up." {Thank God there were all these soldiers on top of him. Perhaps no one will pay much attention to the bullet holes in his uniform.} The muddied soldier lay there, silent and bewildered, apparently trying to gather his wits. Duncan touched the man's cheek to get his attention before saying, "I am Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. And you are?"

An expression of horror flitted across the man's face. His voice was barely audible as he admitted, "I don't know."

PRESENT:

"Shell shock?" Methos asked.

Duncan nodded. "Not that anyone much cared. I took him to a dressing station and they sent him on to a field hospital, but the place was bursting at the seams. I lost track of him in the chaos and it took me four days to find him again."

"They'd sent him to Sean?"

"They'd sent him back to the trenches."

FLASHBACK: FRANCE - 1917

"You're the one who pulled me out of the muck, right? Have a fag." Peter spoke a little too casually as he offered Duncan a cigarette while edging away from the men he'd been playing cards with. Duncan accepted the cigarette and let himself be led into the next stretch of trench where there might be some privacy.

"The hospital said you'd be here, but they wouldn't give any details," Duncan said. "You've been assigned to a new company?"

Peter smiled wryly. "Nothing left of the old one, or so I'm told."

"You don't remember?" Duncan asked.

"I was too busy fighting to count the dead," Peter said, sounding slightly defensive.

"And the gas must have been bad, too."

"It's always pretty rotten," Peter agreed, "but I got to my mask in time."

"Funny," Duncan said, "you weren't wearing it when I found you. None of the soldiers were wearing gas masks."

Peter stared at Duncan without speaking, looking trapped and confused.

"There was no gas-attack that day," Duncan said gently. "You don't remember a thing, do you?"

Peter quickly glanced away, nervously shuffling his feet. "Don't tell anyone," he pleaded.

"Peter, you shouldn't be here."

"I should be in hospital?" Peter suggested. "Hospital's for men with wounds."

"But if you can't remember anything..."

"Then I should be sent away for a rest cure, to improve my nerves? There's no need your making a fuss. Everyone in this bloody place has got a bit of shell shock. Maybe I've got more than some, but I've definitely got less than others. I may not remember who I am but I can sleep at night."

"This isn't right," Duncan began, but Peter cut him off.

"I came over here to fight Fritz, and I mean to do just that." His voice dropped to a whisper as he confided, "A colonel came by while I was in hospital. Said he thought I was a coward, that I'd dropped down in the mud to save my skin and wasn't a sergeant at all; I'd taken the uniform off a corpse. I won't have that said about me. And I'm all right; truly, I'm all right. Just a bit confused."

"And the doctors let you come back?" Duncan asked incredulously.

"I told them I remembered. I'd seen my papers, same as they had, so I told them the name and rank on the papers and made up a load of rubbish about my life back in England. I wanted to go out again. Who would want to be in hospital with a lot of sick men screaming half the night?"

"But there must be someone here who remembers you," Duncan protested.

Peter shook his head. "They're all dead."

"But don't you want to know the truth?"

"Look around you," Peter said. "None of us will live long enough for it to matter."

"That's where you're wrong," Duncan said. "Did you feel ill for a moment, just before you saw me?"

Peter blinked in surprise and said slowly, "I did have a bit of queer turn."

Duncan glanced over his shoulder before continuing. "That's how men like us recognize each other. I know this sounds far-fetched, but you're Immortal now. You cannot die unless you lose your head."

Peter stared at him for a long moment, then laughed. "Bloody hell! You're the one who needs a rest cure."

After checking once more to be sure they were alone, Duncan took out a knife, bared his left arm, and cut it deeply from wrist to elbow. Peter gasped in surprise as the quick slash was made and went utterly silent when the wound just as quickly healed itself. Wordlessly, he put his hand out for the knife, and Duncan gave it to him.

Peter made a tentative scratch in his own arm, watched it heal, and then made a serious wound. He stared down at it, dumbfounded, watching it heal. When he looked up at Duncan, there were tears in his eyes. "I died. I told one of the doctors that I died but he said... he said it wasn't real."

"It was real," Duncan assured him. "I felt you come back to life."

"Was it the first time?" Peter asked. "Have I... died before?"

"I'm not sure. I don't think so. Peter, there are things you need to know. First, you're safe on holy ground; we don't fight there. Second..."

They were interrupted by one of the cardplayers. "Cunningham! Get a move on, lad; the captain wants us for something."

Peter nodded at the man, then turned back to Duncan with a haunted expression in his eyes. "I have to go. Come back later," he said urgently. "Please."

PRESENT:

"So where does Sean come into this?" Methos asked.

Duncan chuckled. "For an old man, you have very little patience."

"Quite right. Don't abuse it."

Duncan smiled, then his expression suddenly grew serious. "The next time I saw Peter, he was dead again."

"Uh-oh," Methos said.

"Uh-oh," Duncan agreed. "This time, he'd suffocated in the mud. It took me three nights' worth of searching to find him."

"Three days of suffocating to death over and over again," Methos said. "That's hard enough for an experienced Immortal. For a newborn..."

"Exactly. This time, there was no doubt he had a severe case of shell shock."

"Did he tell the doctors he was Immortal?"

"He didn't remember he was Immortal but he told everyone the monsters couldn't cut off his head while he was on holy ground. He was obsessed with it. I was commended for saving him -- again -- and given detached duty for ten days. He didn't remember me but the doctors had noticed he seemed calmer in my presence so I was assigned to escort him to an asylum."

"Sean's."

Duncan nodded. "He eventually became Peter's teacher."

"I see," said Methos. "And does Peter know who killed Sean?"

The images returned to Duncan unbidden. Sean, his trusting friend, who had tried to help one unfortunate too many. Tormented by a Dark Quickening, Duncan had gone to Sean, hoping the Immortal psychiatrist could rid him of that evil burden, and Sean had been willing to help. But the evil had been too strong, and Duncan had watched helplessly as the darkness inside him took his friend's life and reveled in the destruction...

"No," Duncan said. "Peter doesn't know I killed him."


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