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






MacLeod shifted in his seat and glanced across at his companion as he searched for his next sentence. He'd been fighting hard to keep this conversation going without Richie's help, but he was running out of trivia at a staggering rate. Altea stared right back, direct as always; she wasn't making pleasantries easy, and if it hadn't have been for Richie, MacLeod knew he'd have walked out of the small bar an hour ago. As it was, Richie was doing his best to help his two friends to get to know each other. The Highlander had been around long enough to know that there were some bridges that just could not be built, and the gulf between the two warriors was one of them. The older man had developed a respect for Altea since she had entered both their lives; she was a good fighter, she stuck to her principles, however unfathomable they were to modern man, she cared about Richie and she made him happy, all that the Clansman could admire, but she was also proud, stubborn to the extreme and had a prickly exterior that was difficult, nigh impossible to penetrate.

Now Richie had gone to fetch the drinks, leaving his companions to chat. Mac looked into those dark eyes and knew he was fighting a losing battle with the small-talk. He thought he saw the same distant respect in the woman's eyes which he returned, but there was a reluctance to move closer than that. They were warriors, different times and places, but they shared a rivalry which despite four hundred years, the man felt in his gut. There was nothing soft about Altea as she sustained her separateness, she hadn't had the luxury of the changing centuries to learn to bury the once necessary survival instinct.

The atmosphere was turning frosty, and Duncan was wishing for rescue. Richie obliged as he strolled back to the table, balancing two glasses of bier and Altea's habitual soft drink between his fingers. MacLeod used the opportunity to break the heavy stare, and smiled warmly at his friend, standing to take the drinks from him.

"Did I miss anything?" the young man breezed, sliding down into the chair next to his lover; Duncan was sure he saw the girl visibly soften at his presence.

"Not much," the Highlander returned, avoiding the sigh that threatened his tone, and he smiled politely at Altea. The gesture was not returned, and so the man pressed on, "I was just trying to embarrass you."

Richie raised an eyebrow and looked to his girlfriend for confirmation. The slight movement of her shoulders could have been a 'yes', but it was by no means certain. In fact, the Clansman had started mentioning some of his protege's past exploits, but had dried up when his humor had been rejected. The look in Richie's eyes seemed defeated as the girl remained icy, and MacLeod felt sorry for him; he was trying so hard to bring two parts of his life together. Still, the young man was a fighter, and he gripped Altea's hand lovingly as he turned back to his one-time teacher.

"Well, you don't have any baby pictures, so must be something else," the blond youth said with his usual grin in place.

MacLeod laughed and teased, "There are so many things to choose from...remember that bust you brought back from the flea market for Tessa? Tasteless didn't quite cut it," he told Altea directly.

Richie shook his head as that moment showed in his face.

"I was so proud of that," he snorted.

Altea smiled weakly as both men tried to draw her into the moment; MacLeod could see she was trying, but there was a blankness to her gaze which said that it had passed her by. {Of course it means nothing,} Duncan chided himself. {Great subject MacLeod, you couldn't have picked something further away from her cultural base.}

"So, Altea, any requests? The range of this guy's teenage exploits are so wide, I can cover most subjects with an embarrassing story," the Highlander tried the direct approach.

The young woman opened her mouth and then shut it again sharply, surprised that she had been addressed. She glanced at Richie and then at MacLeod. Richie's attention remained on her, so Duncan made it clear in his stare that the success of this evening was now in the Amazon's hands. For a few moments, the dark man wondered if she was capable of holding a conversation, she'd shown no more than momentary breaks in her shell all evening, but then he saw a spark appear in her eyes. If they'd been in battle, the Highlander would have been nervous by the depth which appeared in Altea's gaze and the curl which caught the edge of her lips, but in the social situation it merely piqued his curiosity.

"When those of my tribe shared the mead around the fire they told stories of their battles and their conquests," Altea almost purred the last few words, and she slipped her hand out of Richie's, sliding it instead down the young man's thigh.

The woman laughed as her lover colored at her intimation, and his gaze was nervous as MacLeod choked back his own laugh.

"Well, battles all go the same way, I think you know the pattern," Duncan winked as Altea grinned at him, the ice was breaking and he launched enthusiastically, "but on the other front I can oblige you with some juicy morsels."

"Mac!" Richie protested, but to no avail; the Highlander ignored him and leant forward across the table as he began, "Rich's choice of women up to now had been, shall we say, flaky. Most of them have nearly gotten him killed, or kidnapped, or both."

"Really?" Altea picked up her beer and leant into the table as well, her smile beautifully wicked.

Their companion groaned and grabbed his drink, his eyes heading heavenward.

"Really," Mac continued, "I think the most dramatic has to be Kristen. A woman with the dubious privilege of having had both of us in her bed at different times."

That raised a smirk with depths from Altea, Richie just took a large gulp on his beer and glared at MacLeod.

"In both cases the encounter was almost fatal. The woman was a sociopath, and if it hadn't have been for Richie's opportune habit of diving out of windows, he'd have been a foot shorter."

"Windows?" Altea laughed quizzically.

"Stick around a while and you'll find out what I mean," the Highlander nodded sagely while Richie scowled. "But his taste in older women didn't start there, you know, he was mortal when he discovered his taste for them."

"Not Felicia," Ryan moaned.

That caught Altea's interest, and she didn't have to ask; MacLeod took a swig of the bier and elaborated briefly, "Beautiful, deadly and after my head at the time, although it wasn't all Richie's fault, she was using him to get to me."

"Thanks for reminding me, Mac," the young man complained.

"Aw diddums," the Highlander was enjoying himself and wasn't in the mood for sympathy.

Altea, however, leant over and planted a kiss on her boyfriend's nose; it was a free, playful action, more than MacLeod had ever seen from the young woman. Maybe she really was relaxing, he didn't really care what the reason was, it drew a smile from Richie. The young man seemed heartened by the consolation, and he joined the conversation with a brash, "They weren't all after blood."

The Highlander waited for his friend to continue with a name, but the young man paused, an unreadable look crossing his visage as something seemed to have occurred to him. He laughed, but the sound was small, and he glanced down at the floor as he recalled something.

"Rich?" MacLeod asked.

The older man wasn't sure if Richie was smiling or ready to cry as he looked back up at him and murmured, "Mairi."

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