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

 

 
 
Part 3

Scene 1 7

Well hanging around and following the cripple had been worth the time. The mortal had gone straight to MacLeod, which gave an indication that his story was at least halfway true. The barman probably knew where Ryan was, but whether he would ever give up the information was another matter. As Felicia stood outside the dojo waiting for one or both of the men she knew were inside, to come out she considered her options. It was becoming apparent that just ignoring Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod wasn't really an option. If she wanted Richie, and the young Immortal was rapidly becoming an obsession, then she had to go round the Highlander.

There was no way in hell the Scotsman would fall for one of her tricks, but this time Felicia had other ideas. There was more than one way to skin a pig. She pulled out a mobile phone and made a very short call before sitting down to watch and wait. The mortal left first, but it wasn't long before the great Duncan MacLeod himself chose to leave his place of residence. Only a few minutes after that a man pulled up on the other side of the street and wound down his window. Felicia sauntered over to him. To anyone watching it could have been a drug deal or something even seedier, but this was no pro and john.

"Hello, Peter," the woman purred and leant on the door, "it's so nice to see you again."

The man smiled and pushed his shades further up his nose.

"I've always said, all you have to do is call, Fe," Peter told her and reached over to the seat next to him. "A woman who understands the art of killing can ask anything of me."

"You're so ...," Felicia search for a word, "entertaining. I really must make time to come and see you again."

"That would be nice," her companion replied, "we could have some fun."

He passed a black bag out of the window.

"Not your usual toys," Peter commented as Felicia inspected the contents of the carryall.

The female Immortal smiled at him and ran one finger down to side of his face.

"My opponent's a little more dangerous this time," she told him with a smile, "so alternative methods are required. I'll be seeing you."

That was it, the conversation was over and she walked away, straight towards the dojo. As far as she was concerned the conversation was over, she had what she needed and it was time to go to work.

Getting into the building was not a problem, the locks were pitifully easy to bypass. MacLeod's first concern obviously wasn't security, and Felicia found herself in the loft with very little trouble at all.

"Well well, MacLeod," she said to herself, "your lifestyle seems to have changed quite a lot. What you need is a woman's touch."

She even had the bad taste to laugh at her own joke, and then she went to work. A small box appeared from the depths of the black bag and she placed it on the table gently. It opened to reveal a tiny electronic device sitting amid soft foam like a king on a throne.

"Now where to put it," she asked quietly as she scanned the room. "The Ming vase, or maybe the cactus?"

Her eyes passed over every object in the room and slowly settle on the large desk lamp.

"Could I?" she spoke to herself with delight. "Can I really be that cliched?"

It only took her a moment to decide and then she walked over to the dark oak piece of furniture with the bug in her hand.

"The light it is," she announced to nobody with a triumphant sound in her voice and peered under the lampshade.

A few seconds later and the tiny piece of electronics was in place, nestled between the bulb and one of the support struts.

"Now to see if it's working properly," it was almost as if she was holding a conversation with a real person.

This time it wasn't a box that appeared out of the bag but a small ear piece and what looked a little like a watch radio. With quick fingers Felicia slipped the earphone into place and slowly twisted the dial on the receiver.

"Testing," she said loudly with the delight of a child playing with a new toy.

Adjusting the receiver slightly she tried again and smiled to herself as she heard her voice on two levels. The bug was working beautifully.

"Until later, MacLeod," she said jubilantly and picked up everything that could indicate her presence, then she left the way she had come.


Scene 1 8

The temperature had plummeted once the sun had dipped below the horizon, but the stillness of the air saved the camp from freezing. Dinner had come and gone, and now the island's two human inhabitants had pretty much descended into the same calm that surrounded them. The energy in the roaring fire held them close to it, fascinating their gazes as they relaxed in the comfortable glow of full stomachs and untroubled thought. Richie stood over the fire, perfectly content in the vaguely bent-knee position of many a meditation, absorbing the warmth. Altea was sitting on a log a few feet behind him, and he could feel her eyes on his back. The hair on the back of his neck prickled, but not in an unpleasant manner; her attention was almost as hot as the flames. The sensation which had begun at the base of his neck was growing, spreading as an enjoyable tingle down his spine. Yet, despite finding it quite compulsive, Richie knew he was going to have to break the moment soon, or become suddenly very unsubtle about his affections for his companion.

With a great deal of effort, Richie drew in a distracting breath and, giving Altea plenty of time to refocus her gaze, turned round to her. He was mildly, but pleasantly surprised when he found the same eyes remaining focused on his front as they had been on his back, but chose not to make too much of the depth in them. He smiled at the dreamy expression on his friend's features, and, taking a step closer, indicated to the empty part of her log.

"Mademoiselle, may I enquire as to whether this seat is taken?" he gave a dramatic little bow.

Altea raised an eyebrow at him, and he chuckled as he realised the gesture was completely lost on the woman. The young man collapsed lazily down beside his companion, and told her, "Never mind, I'll explain that another time."

"Sometimes you can be very strange," Altea observed, laughing lightly.

"Maybe I should try complimenting your father's horse," Richie quipped as the thought occurred to him.

"What?" he was glad when his companion's reaction was more amusement.

Encouraged, the young man explained, "Something Darius once told me about how to impress a woman."

There was silence. Altea's expression was stunned; Richie looked rapidly down at his hands and sighed, "Damn, I've done it again, haven't I? Where angels fear to tread, Richie Ryan wades in, mouth first, brain later."

Yet, as his spirits were about to plummet with the temperature, the sound of a feminine chuckle halted the descent. He glanced anxiously across at his companion as she laid a hand on his arm. Her dark eyes sparkled and held his attention.

"Thank you for trying to impress me," Altea smiled warmly, "but I don't think complimenting a horse will help."

It was the first attempt at humour the Amazon had made, and with no little relief, Richie laughed. Things were looking up.

"Darius had some strange ideas sometimes," the young man grinned as he remembered the ancient man's piece of advice.

"But he always meant well," Altea added, sharing the reminiscences about the only mutual part of their past.

"I don't think he had a bad bone in his body," Richie agreed fondly.

The woman's mirth dropped away as a thought crossed her features. She looked away to the fire and her brow creased as she murmured, "He didn't deserve to die like that."

"Horton paid for his death and all the others," Richie tried to soothe the anger that still lay in his companion's heart.

"I know," the suddenly melancholy creature sighed, putting her head in her hands as the open wound still festered.

The young man's reaction to her pain was instinctive, he reached out and laid an arm around her shoulder before he even considered what he was doing. By the time his brain had caught up with what he had done, a body leant into his, accepting the comfort. Altea laid her head on his chest and slipped her own hand round his ribs as he closed the embrace with his other arm.

"I've stopped running," the woman breathed heavily, her voice trembling, "and it hurts so much."

"I know, I've done it," Richie soothed, his thoughts fixing on the harsh months after the Dark Quickening. "You have to let it go. You haven't grieved for Darius properly."

"I thought avenging his death would stop it hurting," Altea's muffled voice admitted as she turned her face into his torso.

The young man laughed, but the sound was short, bitter and humourless.

"Revenge doesn't solve anything," he observed as Mako came to mind. "Something else I know about."

A hiatus followed, both young people tense; Richie could feel Altea's knuckles through his shirt where she had gripped the fabric tightly in her fingers. He wrapped his arms more tightly around her and urged, "Cry, it's about time."

A tremble escaped her slighter body and initiated a chain reaction in his own. His breath was ragged as the young woman clung all the tighter at the mutual expression, and then he heard it, the first, quiet, heartfelt sob. She didn't wail, her gesture was subdued, half hidden in the cover of his body, an obviously difficult act. Gently, Richie rocked his charge, glad that this terrible memory was finally being given vent and feeling privileged to be the one with whom it was shared. At that moment, he considered that, if nothing else, this one event had been worth all the difficulties and discomforts of the trip.


Scene 1 9

The water was cold, but refreshing on her face, washing away the stickiness of tears, and Altea reached into the bowl and repeated the splashing action. Shivering at the chill it sent through her after the warmth of the fire and his arms, the young woman grabbed a towel. Dabbing her face, she made her way back to the open door of the cabin and stared across to the solitary figure. Richie was a compelling sight as he sat on the log, alone. He'd let her go without a word, only a stroke of her hair and a reassuring smile. Then she hadn't been able to look him in the eyes, still dogged by the weight of traditional pride, now she was feeling guilty at the way she had treated him.

He was staring into the fire, the red hints in his hair burning amber in the orange light, only the profile of his face visible. He seemed sad, chin on hands, lost in thought - she wondered what he was thinking. She knew enough about this young man to know that in many ways their traumas were comparable, and that like her, he too had come back from the edge. Richie had offered her his aid and comfort, but he was also offering something more. Altea dropped the towel and strode forward before she thought anymore about what that was, she didn't dare.

The girl was acting on instinct, one she'd been burying under layers of protective belief, and she wasn't sure exactly what she was doing or what she intended. So much time had passed since she's felt like this for someone else. In fact, she only made it halfway across the space between the cabin and her companion. The youth turned at the sound of her hasty footsteps, and Altea froze as those blue eyes rounded on her. What was she doing?!

"Are you okay?" he smiled, taking her awkwardness in his stride, and standing to meet her.

"Yes?" the woman answered quickly, a little confused, and then she explained breathlessly, "I just had to go wash my face."

Richie nodded easily, but there was a curiosity in his eyes. The Amazon was feeling foolish, wondering why she was standing three feet away from this man at a loss for what to do next. She moved her mouth, but nothing was coming out. This was crisis point. If she waited much longer, she knew she'd run away, but the courage to walk forward eluded the young woman. Was this a daft whim? How would he react? Was this right? All the thoughts Altea had concealed came rushing to the surface, and the young woman felt her cheeks colour. Her heart was racing, as if she'd just been on a ten mile run, and her body was speaking for her.

"Altea?" Richie prompted again, gradually becoming more aware that there was something affecting his companion, his tone was low and sent tingles down the woman's already electric spine.

He took a step forward, holding out a concerned hand. His movement broke the spell, and swearing under her breath, the woman closed the gap between them. Altea had memories, recent, burning memories of a similar action in a dingy room what seemed like a long time ago as she grabbed her man by the back of the neck and pulled him down to meet her lips. Shock paralysed Richie for a few moments, and her pressure was not returned. Alarm daggered through the young woman, doubt and horror quickly followed. Yet, as she was about to pull away, her courage shattered, a hand slipped under her hair and his lips parted. Altea shuddered with unexpected pleasure as an arm came round her back and swept her close to him. He tasted so good.

The Amazon realised she was out of control, but it felt wonderful, and she smiled as she pushed into the embrace, following her partner's lead. Excited - this went beyond the thrill of a hunt, even the kick of battle. Passion heightened her senses in a way nothing else could, and even the smell of this man set her on fire. No more hiding, she let him feel exactly what he was doing to her. The signals in response weren't difficult to decipher either and she shivered at the way she inspired the body so close.

The embrace was intense, sweeping the world away as nothing but the touch mattered. The woman's head was spinning as slowly their fervour lessened and she clung to his torso, dragging out every last moment of the rush, enjoying the more gentle kiss that developed from the pique. Eventually, she broke the kiss and laid her cheek against Richie's chest, listening to the beat of his heart and to the voices in her own mind. She'd done it now, there was no going back, she was offering all to this man; suddenly, Altea was nervous. All this was new, exciting, but daunting. Ideas the young woman had never before considered lay in front of her with an immediacy that was frightening. Men were never to have featured in her life, her path had led down a different route, now those considerations landed on her all at once.

It was obvious Richie had felt the change in her as he shifted to let her go. For a moment, Altea stayed close, afraid that if she stopped now, she'd never start again. Yet, her anxiety made her step back, and she looked up at the young man, biting her lip nervously.

"What's wrong?" Richie kept a hand on her shoulder as he registered her concern.

The girl took the bull by the horns, albeit a little awkwardly as she began, "I was to be a priestess."

Her companion's gaze merely registered confusion as the inference passed him by. Altea was surprised at how shy she felt, embarrassed, scared, and she looked down at the ground.

"I'm -," she began, but was interrupted by, "Oh," as Richie made some assumptions and the light dawned, "you're..." she gazed up at him and he stopped short of wording his conclusion. She nodded and waited anxiously. Relief flooded through the young woman as her concerned look was returned with a smile and something between privilege and joy showed in the youth's eyes. She gave in without resistance as he gently drew her in to his hold again, reaching back for a return to the warm embrace.

"When you're ready," he whispered gently to her.

Altea couldn't believe how much his words could ease her worries. Yet, another thought frightened her, and she admitted quietly, "What if I won't ever be ready?" She didn't know herself. As a warrior, yes, not as a woman, she couldn't promise.

Richie hugged her closer.

"I won't force you," he reassured, his whisper barely audible, but full of a respect that the woman trusted immediately. "I won't ever hurt you, and if it happens, then, I'll be honoured."

He laid a kiss on her forehead.


Scene 2 0

"Anything new on Felicia?" Duncan asked as he sat down on one of the bar stools.

People like Felicia Martins really bothered MacLeod and he was not trying to hide the fact that he was worried about Richie. The woman was known for her ruthless tactics and harming those close to her chosen victims.

"Nothing," Joe replied evenly, "only what I told you earlier. She's a slippery customer."

That was more than just an understatement: Felicia wasn't just slippery, she was clever. Duncan couldn't help remembering the last time they had met and how she had fooled him into believing she was a new Immortal. The woman had guts, and brains. It took a certain mentality to throw yourself off a building even when you knew you were going to wake up again.

"I warned Angie," the Highlander told his companion, "all of Richie's friends will know not to argue with Felicia very soon."

"I doubt she'll go after any of them again," Joe was obviously trying to reassure Duncan, and the Scot appreciated it. "None of Richie's old friends are close enough to him to really bother with. Felicia usually goes for wives and family members, and you're probably the closest thing Richie has to family."

Even in such a dangerous time those words still made Duncan feel warm inside. He swept the thought aside, but kept the emotion it brought.

"Well if she comes anywhere near me she'll find the sharp edge of my sword," he said in a very protective manner.

He'd nearly lost Richie too many times, and if he found Felicia first she wasn't going to get a chance to even see the younger Immortal. With his one time pupil out of town, this was one battle Duncan could fight for his friend. He regretted not killing her last time, he shouldn't have listened to Richie's plea for mercy for her. Felicia was an evil that needed exterminating, and the sooner the batter.

"Look," Duncan said, getting up again even though he had only just sat down, "I have a few ideas I want to check out. I'll see you tonight, if you like I'll cook us dinner, and we can swap notes."

He was moving with his unsettled thoughts and Joe did not try to stop him.

"Make it pasta and I'll be there," the Watcher said, trying to sound nonchalant.

MacLeod nodded and half smiled. "See you later," he said and quickly disappeared out of the door.


Scene 2 1

"Urgh!" Richie groaned as he slammed onto the packed earth, landing squarely on his butt.

The world jarred and he coughed away the breathlessness that the agile kick to his chest left him. He'd deserved that, a complete loss of concentration had put him firmly in the way of the open assault from Altea. They had been sparring for about an hour, and to his minor chagrin, the Amazon was winning. She was, however, playing dirty, and as he squinted up at the silhouette enframed by bright sunlight, he let her know so.

"No fair," he complained, but with a smile on his face.

The woman merely laughed, a playfully evil sound, and then she pounced. Richie found his legs pinned very efficiently to the ground by the weight of his companion as she sat astride his thighs - the feeling wasn't at all unpleasant, and the young man wasn't resisting. Altea grabbed his shirt and held him a few inches away from her own body.

"If I'd known a man could be defeated this way, I'd have tried it a lot sooner," she grinned impishly.

The young woman's pupils were dilated, making her eyes seem all the darker and the touch of exertion on her flesh, the glistening of her skin, the colouring of her cheeks, made her powerfully attractive. Richie pressed closer as she gasped for air, but she held him off, preventing him from reaching her torso.

"You're a wicked woman, Altea Werner!" he murmured referring to this tease and the womanly distraction she had employed on him to open his defences.

She laughed again as he glanced down at where their rough joust had torn her T-shirt in just the right place. She was enjoying the way she made him feel and the grip of her muscled thighs tightened on his. The young man shifted his weight slightly, freeing his arms from where they propped him up so he could reach for the slender body hovering maddeningly out of reach. Yet his hands never touched her waist; Altea took advantage of his precarious balance, and shoved him backwards, a whoop of satisfaction escaping her lips. Richie caught himself before he slammed into the ground once more, but his opponent leant into her move and pushed him the rest of the way. The youth didn't complain as her palms came to rest on his pecs, just a short rush of breath told her she'd found a good spot.

"I win," Altea announced, chuckling victoriously.

"Oh so when did we decide that?" the young man made a pretence at opposition.

"Since now," the beauty murmured, her voice thickening and her actions slowing. "So I claim my prize."

She was starting to like this game; it made it easier for her to keep down her barriers.

"That is?" Ryan asked, but he was more than getting the picture as the Amazon bent over him, shifting further up his body as she did so.

"You do as I say," the woman disclosed, pulling his T-shirt out of his sweats and running her fingers up his taut stomach, daring what she had been wishing to do for sometime now. Their physical relationship hadn't progressed as far as she suspected her modern man secretly might have wished, but it was certainly enjoyable, and he wasn't complaining now. Maybe soon she'd be able to give him everything, when trusts had solidified; she was less afraid already than she had been the night before, but for the present the titillation would satisfy.

Richie moaned as he responded to the exquisite caress, closing his eyes as his pleasure built.

"Your wish is my command," he managed through a shuddered breath, he liked this game too.

As Altea shifted her position to bring her face down to his, the young man pushed aside the material of her top and their flesh touched. The woman softened as her breasts brushed his chest, and made her own sounds of delight. In this encounter, there was no loser.


Scene 2 2

The two men hadn't actually done a lot of talking about the information they had gathered over the day since they'd established on the way in that there wasn't really a lot to say. One Watcher had caught site of Felicia once, but that hadn't given them any leads at all. The entire meal had consisted of small talk, eating and drinking the bottle of good red wine Joe had brought with him. There were the obvious undertones to the meal, both men were worried about the current situation, but they tried to pretend they weren't for at least an hour or so.

However, when they finally finished the cheese and had filled their glasses for the last time there was no escaping what was on both minds.

"Even if she does find him," Joe said finally, "you said it yourself, Richie can take care of himself."

"Yeah, but Felicia cheats," the Highlander returned, "and Richie is far too trusting."

"I hate to tell you this," the older looking man returned, "but I think you're talking about a Richie that changed last year. Sure he's not exactly totally on keel at the moment, but he's definitely not a kid anymore. He'll react to Felicia in exactly the same way you do."

Duncan wasn't so sure, but he held his tongue.

"Don't worry," Joe tried again, "she'll never get close anyway. There's only one road up to the point, and it's not exactly the place I'd look for a city boy. As far as she'd concerned Richie is not the type of guy who spends days on an island in the middle of nowhere."

"I suppose so," MacLeod agreed reluctantly, "I can't exactly see Felicia in a boat anyway. If I didn't think Richie and Altea needed the time alone I'd be up to Jackson point without even thinking about it."

Joe had to smile.

"I don't think either of them would be pleased if you just turned up," the Watcher told his friend. "I'm not sure which one would kill you, but you're just the right height now so I wouldn't push it."


Scene 2 3

Sitting in a black car down the street Felicia smiled and stared at the map she had opened only a few seconds earlier. Her gloved finger traced a line of thought across it's surface and then stabbed at the paper.

"Now I have you, my little mouse," she said, delighted with herself.

Her expression was almost demonic as she laughed at her own cleverness. Throwing the map into the passenger seat, she pulled the ear phone from the side of her head and tossed it over her shoulder. The car purred into life as she turned the key, and with the screeching of tyres she was away.


Scene 2 4

It really didn't matter how right Joe might be about how unlikely Felicia was to find out where Richie was, Duncan still couldn't sit still. They'd drunk coffee, they'd talked a little more, but that didn't mean that the Immortal could hide his edginess. Helplessness was not a situation which suited the Highlander at all. The caffeine wasn't helping either and he needed to be doing something. Under Joe's watchful gaze the Scot wandered over to his desk and began rifling it for anything to distract him.

It was gradually getting dark and so Duncan reached for the light switch so he could actually see the pointless task he had assigned himself. The moment he pressed the button on the lamp there was an ear-splitting pop and the bulb exploded.

"Damn," was the loud exclamation and he snatched his hand away.

"You okay?" Joe enquired before habit could be stifled.

"Bloody lamp's been doing strange things for ages," Duncan replied to reassure his companion, "I just didn't think it was going to do anything quite that dangerous."

Glad for anything--no matter how small--to distract his mind from it's endless turning, MacLeod decided to investigate the small disaster. Gingerly he pulled the lamp shade from it's perch and peered at the slightly blackened bulb stub.

"It looks like it shorted or something," he explained to Joe, as the man made an effort to look interested. "What the hell?"

Duncan didn't need more than one glance at the tiny object he had spotted the realise what it was. The bug was crispy fried, but it still maintained the aspects of a bug none the less.

"That bitch is cleverer than we gave her credit for," the Highlander said angrily as he picked up the device. "Unless this has anything to do with you, I think Felicia's been listening to everything we've been saying."

The two men looked at each other and Duncan knew they were thinking the same thing.

"Go," Joe said insistently, "for god's sake, go."

No other prompting was required.


Scene 2 5

Well the ride back was certainly more comfortable than the journey to the island. Altea was pressed up against Richie as if she was actually enjoying the sensation rather than doing her best to be as far away from him as possible without falling off. The firm, but gentle circle of her arms was doing more for Richie's piece of mind than just about anything else in the entire world. He was happy, and since Altea seemed to share his love of excitement, they were tearing along the empty road like a bat out of hell. Very few people ventured quite so far up this way in fall, only the dedicated locals, so they had the place to themselves. That was until they rounded a corner and saw a car heading towards them.

There was nothing sinister about it on the surface, and Richie moderated his speed in accordance with coming across other traffic, it was only as they came a little closer that the young Immortal became slightly edgy. He felt Altea stiffen at the same moment he sensed another of their kind--they both knew the driver of the car had a long lifeline. It was almost completely dark and only the lights from the bike and the car gave any hint as to who was in control. At first the car seemed to be pulling as far as possible onto it's own side of the road. Richie wasn't sure but it almost appeared to be a sign of goodwill, so the two vehicles continued to approach each other, although a little more warily. Then suddenly, without warning the car lurched straight at them.

Richie had two choices: continue on course and probably end up going over the car and killing himself and Altea instantly, or ditching the bike and hopefully coming out with only a few scratches. There was no time for discussion and without hesitation he turned the machine on it's side and prayed it would stop. He felt Altea fall clear almost immediately, but he couldn't turn to see where she had landed and he didn't have the option of worrying either. As the bike turned over it caught his boot and his trousers underneath and he was dragged along with the vehicle. The car just kept coming and it only stopped as it rammed the slowly halting motorcycle. The front of the car rose slightly and pain exploded in Richie's leg as the other vehicle jammed the bike down onto his limb. He felt sick as the bones crunched and the pieces ground against each other, but he would not let himself pass out.

He had no idea who his enemy was, or what they would do next, but he knew he was in trouble. His sword was strapped to the underside of his bike, Altea was god knew where, and that meant he was at the mercy of the driver of the car. He groaned in pain as the vehicle moved when the door opened. The headlights were only a couple of feet from his face and they were blinding, but he could hear the other Immortal climbing out of the car. Hard soles crunched on the road as whoever it was walked round to view the prize. As the woman walked into the light all Richie could do was gap in surprise.

"Felicia," he whispered and realised his fate was sealed.

"Hello Richie darling," she purred, her sword hanging by her side, "I've been looking for you."

As she raised the blade the other Immortal could see his death in her eyes. This was not a woman who could be reasoned with, nor a woman who would change her mind on a whim: she was interested only in death. Richie closed his eyes and waited to die.

"Do that and I'll take your head before the Quickening's even begun," Richie's head snapped round as he heard Altea's voice.

Felicia was facing half away from him now, but he could still see the expression on her face. If anything she appeared annoyed rather than remotely afraid.

"So you're Immortal," she commented acidly, "I wondered why you had manners out of the history books. I suppose I'll just have to deal with you first."

Richie hadn't quite seen Altea the way she looked now and he suddenly realised that the Amazon wasn't always all warrior. Standing there in the headlights he could see the woman who was brought up to fight, a woman who was to have been a priestess of her people. Altea was wild, and the mud streaked down one side of her body did nothing to alleviate the impression. She held her labrys loosely in one hand, and Richie didn't understand how Felicia could underestimate her. Perversely the question of how Altea had managed to get her weapon off the bike before they crashed did pop into his head, but he wasn't going to argue with the facts. It was quite possible that she had seen the attack coming before it happened.

It really didn't occur to Richie that Altea might lose, the thought never entered his head, but he did know he didn't want to be under the car when the battle was over. Nasty thing happened to man made machinery close to Quickenings and he'd prefer to be further away than the intimate relationship he had with the front of the vehicle at the moment. The pressure on his leg had eased slightly when Felicia had climbed out of the car so as she walked towards the fight, sword ready, he tried to pull his limb free. It moved slightly, but not very far, and he discovered what it felt like to set a bone without pain relief. It took a great effort of will not to black out and he concentrated on the sound of metal hitting metal to bring him back. He was stuck, and he wasn't going anywhere so he turned to watch the woman he loved, as she fought for both their lives.

The battle was magnificent, Altea fought with speed and precision against Felicia's power and rage. Blade met axe as they danced around each other like performers in some brutal ballet. The Amazon bared her teeth at her enemy and smiled, enjoying the fight for the fight's sake. Richie could see the fulfilment in her face, this was what she was born to and it was something she was very good at indeed. He found himself watching her, not really aware of her opponent at all, drinking in the fluidity of her movement, the grace of her attack. It was not an easy fight, Felicia had her share of experience and tricks, but there was little doubt who was the better fighter. Altea was going to win if it took two seconds or half an hour--this was not a fight the other woman had a hope of leaving alive.

Weapons clashed, the fighters circled, and yet the victory was not to go in either direction. Another set of headlights rounded a corner just down the road and the battle was interrupted. Felicia did not need another chance: she stabbed at Altea viciously, not going for a kill, just a wound and then she ran. The Amazon screamed her battle cry as the sword sliced her arm, but she seemed more than ready to pursue. It was only as the sense of another Immortal impinged itself on her and Richie's senses that she paused. Richie couldn't see anything behind the car under which he was lying, but he knew the sound of the engine that was approaching.

"It's Mac," he said and collapsed onto his back where he was already half lying.

He was trying to release her so she could pursue the enemy, but strangely she did not run after Felicia. She looked into the night, head held high and said, "We shall fight again another day."

The T-bird drew to a halt and Richie heard MacLeod climb out, and he also saw the stiffness of Altea as she watched a man she did not call friend. The Highlander walked into his ex-pupil's view and he was eyeing the Amazon a little warily.

"Don't worry, MacLeod," Altea said slowly, "we are not enemies."

"No," Mac agreed, "we're not."

They seemed to have come to some kind of understanding that passed Richie by. He figured it had something to do with being warriors and older societies, but he didn't try and analyse it too much. He was just glad when they both set about trying to free him.


Scene 2 6

With his apartment finally straight again, Richie dropped the remnants of a vase into the bin and then threw himself down on the sofa next to Altea. The woman smiled warmly at him and handed him a large glass of red wine which she had been pouring.

"Here, you look like you need this," she observed.

"Four hours!" the young man exclaimed as he checked his watch, "that has to be some kind of record. Now all I have to do is replace the stereo, the TV, two lamps, and get the furniture mended."

He glanced down at a slash on the couch just under where his arms rested; Felicia had done a lot of damage, even after the mess had been cleaned up. He sighed. Richie didn't have many possessions, his place was a typical bachelor pad, but he'd been rather attached to what he had had. {At least the portable survived,} he tried to think optimistically.

"All that tomorrow," his companion's light tone dragged him out of any mood he was considering entering. "For now, we drink."

The youth looked across at the beautiful features, enjoying the new softness in them. She was still smiling, and her eyes twinkled in the candlelight which was the only light source Felicia had left untouched. In a way it was quite romantic, despite the reasons behind their present situation. Nothing could bring back the haunting glow of the flames which had lit the partners that first night in the wilderness, that was a treasured memory, but the yellow flickering of the candles was a good approximation. Possession could be replaced, there was something better that he had now. Maybe things weren't so bad after all.

Yet, as he thought about the island they had left behind only a few hours ago, it felt a long way away to Richie. Returning so quickly to the city had been a mutual decision, but the young man was beginning to realise that the couple had not discussed any plans for the future. He knew he loved this woman, and that his affections were returned in some degree; he knew how much she had sacrificed to be with him, the conflict with her beliefs and he knew that there would be more to come if the relationship was to progress. However, The Immortal in him told him that forever was a long time, and he'd seen the way Duncan and Amanda handled their relationship. There were no rules in this matter, and Richie decided not to take anything for granted.

The young man had been sleeping on the couch for the last two weeks, and he'd made no attempt to dump his things in the bedroom since he'd come back. They'd needed no space between them with the expanse of wilderness around them, but back in a small apartment in a crowded city, Richie had begun to think about the permanence of things. He hoped he knew the answer, but the youth determined to ask his question anyway. Still, he had to work up to it.

"Thanks for helping," he began, feeling strangely awkward about the ideas on his mind.

"You think I would sit and watch?" Altea raised an eyebrow and laughed.

Yet, Richie would not be put off by the ease in her manner, and he continued sincerely, "Well, a few days ago, I wouldn't have put it past you."

The Amazon straightened as she gauged her companion's mood, her face showing a mild curiosity.

"A few days ago, I considered myself a prisoner." She was direct as always.

"About that," the youth chose to tackle this part of their past head on, "it was the only way to make you stay."

Richie couldn't help feeling guilty about the use of a tradition he hadn't fully appreciated. The more he understood about this Amazon, the more his conscience had pricked him about his flagrant misuse of her code.

Altea leant forward and laid a hand on his leg; her eyes were forgiving as he looked across into them.

"I know," she breathed, her tone mellow and forgiving. Then her lips twitched as she observed, "You were an arrogant bastard doing that to me, but I'm happy you did. I think I wanted you almost from the first moment I saw you, but I was damned if I'd admit it. I wanted to make life hell for you, because it was hell for me and I don't like being ordered around."

"I learned that one fast," Richie grinned impishly, his companion's humour being infectious, but catching Altea's fingers in his own, and became more serious again and launched, "Altea, I don't want to push you or anything, but I was thinking..."

He stopped for a moment, looking into her eyes. This was difficult to say, awkward to find the right words. He tried another approach with, "Since we're a lot...friendlier now..."

Richie halted a second time, struggling with his own doubts. He asked himself what Altea would think of what was on his mind. Would she think he was pushing her? All the ground they had covered in such a short time, it was a fragile earth and he was desperate not to shatter their new found trust. Yet, this was not something that would go away, he had to ask, so eventually, he launched once more, "Where do you want me to sleep?"

The question came out in a rushed anxiety, and he watched Altea's face for any reaction.

The woman blinked at him for a moment and Richie held his breath, quite unable to read the look on her face. All his insecurities caught up with the young man in that awful second and he wondered if his idea of the fledgling relationship had anything in common with Altea's.

"Okay, forget it, I'm sorry," he added hastily, afraid of the silence.

Yet, she reached out and squeezed his hand, calling for his attention. His manner was a little startled, still vaguely awkward as he looked into the beautiful features opposite him.

"No, no - it's...normal...I mean...this is your place, and-," it was Altea's turn to stop short, as she tried to regain her breath.

The insecure adolescence which had moulded his character, was very near the surface of his psyche at that moment. He was feeling a little foolish and also guilty as his companion glanced down, trying to hide a blush of embarrassment. Eventually, she continued in a whisper, "I want to sleep with you...and...and the couch is too small."

He let out the air in his lungs in one relieved rush. He felt his cheeks burn in tandem with hers as he reached out to cup her face in his hands.

"I promise I'll behave," he told her, his words lost between deep sincerity and the mischievous streak in his character which urged him to work through the awkward moment.

Altea leant forward into the embrace which his gesture became, and her breath brushed his ear as she murmured softly, "You better not."

The glass of red wine lay abandoned on the battered couch, spilling solitary drops in the now empty room.

The End

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