The beautiful young woman walked up to the bar, and hence, Joe was the
first person to notice that she was in the family way. The bump was
relatively small and could have easily been missed, but the way she
rubbed the base of her spine told the Watcher all he needed to know.
This man knew a pregnant woman when he saw one.
"Good evening," he said cheerfully, "how may I help you."
"I'm looking for someone," she returned and sat down on a stool,
gratefully, "and I'd kill for a coffee."
"Well the coffee I can help with," the bar owner responded, and turned
to where he had just made a fresh pot, "but I'm not sure about the
She smiled when he handed her the cup, and pulled a purse from her
"On the house," was the rapid phrase from Joe, "I'm not likely to sell
any more tonight anyway."
"Thank you," was the genuine reply, "Cressida MacLean."
"Joe Dawson," the silver haired man replied.
The look that crossed her face as she took a sip of the hot liquid was
one of pure pleasure. It was as she was savouring the taste that Joe
noticed Richie waving at him madly, and shaking his head. It was
bizarre behaviour, even for an Immortal, come to think of it, even for
that particular Immortal.
"You'd know the person I'm looking for if you met him," the young
woman continued the conversation, unaware that the bartender was
distracted, "he's Irish like me, name's Gall. He carries a harp around
with him all the time, and several other instruments as well. I saw
your advertisement in the local paper and thought he might have come
here for your auditions."
The penny dropped in Joe's mind as the mad signalling, the absence of
any visible sign of the Irishman, and the enquiry added up in his
mind. His smile slipped a little. The fact that Duncan seemed to be
grinning broadly suddenly, also made sense.
Clear, honest eyes looked at the Watcher, a question in them, and he
felt about three inches tall.
"I'm sure I'd remember him," he said non-comitally, "but there wasn't
a Gall on my list."
That much was true - the Irishman had arrived long after Joe had made
up the list of those attending, but technicalities didn't make him
feel much better.
"May I ask why you're looking for him?" he tried to divert the
"Personal reasons," the young woman said calmly, and did not
She went back to her coffee for a while, seemingly satisfied that Gall
had not been here.
"I'm staying in town for a few days," she said suddenly, just when the
Watcher thought he was off the hook. "This is the type of place he'd
visit. If I give you my address, would you call me if he shows up?"
"Of course," what else could Joe say.
He had to move away to serve someone else as she started writing on a
serviette, and by the time he came back she was headed for the door.
"Have a good evening," he called after her.
"All I want is a comfortable bed," was the quick, humorous reply.
Joe picked up the number, and glaring at his Immortal friends walked
over to their table.
"She's gone," he said coldly, "you can come out now."
Gall crawled out from under the table looking very sheepish, he just
about made it back onto his chair.
"Would you care to explain why I just lied to a beautiful young
woman?" the Watcher asked pointedly.
He felt like a total cad.
"She is beautiful, isn't she," the Immortal said a little dreamily,
and then snapped back to reality, "Cressie thinks I'm the father of
"I take it she didn't accept the "I can't have children" line," Duncan
said very unsympathetically.
It was time for revenge and the Highlander was in no mood to be
"Like talking to a mountain," the Irishman replied unhappily, "totally
unmoved by the entire explanation. I spent two hours lamenting our
races childless predicament ... it was a masterpiece, didn't even hint
about Immortality, but was beautifully poignant, and not even a
flicker of belief. She has it in her head that I'm the father, and
nothing will dissuade her. The Emerald Isle does not have enough bolt
holes when you have a vixen on your heels."
"You left Ireland because of her?" Joe may have given away that he
knew a little more than he should have with the comment, but he
couldn't help it.
His new employee did not look happy.
"She's a very determined woman," was what he said. "If she finds out
I'm here, I'll have to leave again."
The look on MacLeod's face said that might be a very good idea, and
his smile broadened.
"You seem to have quite a problem," was what he said and decided it
was time he and Amanda were leaving. "Well it's getting late," he made
his bid at an exit line, "we should be going. Sleep well, everyone."
Joe moved back to the bar and Amanda pecked both Richie and Gall on
the cheek to say goodbye. There was sympathy in her farewell gaze at
the Irishman, but there wasn't exactly a lot she could do.
"That's really a bummer," Richie commented as the two were left alone.
"How long have you known her?"
"I helped deliver her," was the surprising reply.
It took a while for Richie's brain to catch up with that, the concept
was rather complex for his muddled mind.
"But then doesn't she know you're Immortal?" he asked slowly.
"No," the other returned, "she thinks I'm my son, if you see what I
mean. Her parents knew what I was, but they died earlier this year in
a car accident. That's how I met Cressie again, I went to their
funeral. The last time I saw her, she was four years old."
He picked up the bottle with a very deliberate action.
"I was only trying to comfort her, and things sort of got out of
hand," he confided in his new friend. "Then I stayed a few weeks to
help out. I do care for her, Richie, it's just I'm not the settling
down type. I live on the road, always have. I moved on like I always
do, and when I passed back that way, there she is declaring the
child's mine. I tried to explain, then I ran, then I left the
"Persistent woman," the other Immortal sympathised and put forward his
glass as Gall began to pour himself a drink.
The door to the elevator met the floor with a distinct crack, and
Amanda hid her smile as Duncan stalked into the loft. As far as she
was concerned, he had been enjoying Gall's problems a little too much,
and so she had spent the entire journey home talking about the
troubled Irishman. The Highlander was now sulking, and he never had
been good at hiding that particular trait. He was still glaring at the
world like an annoyed alley cat when he slammed through into the
bathroom. For her part, Amanda peeled off her tight fitting outfit and
slipped on a robe. She was really enjoying herself, torturing Duncan
was so much fun. The female Immortal even managed to drop a comment
about the evening as she entered the bathroom as her lover exited.
Everything was fine, until she wandered back into the loft and saw the
way Duncan was laying on the bed. He had pulled the covers up round
his neck, and was facing away from the centre of the divan - this was
a bad sign. The Scotsman often sulked, although he would never admit
to it, but the cold shoulder routine meant that Amanda had gone a
little too far. If she wanted any fun tonight, she was going to have
to patch things up a little.
She crawled onto the covers and sidled over to him slowly, he did not
react. Leaning on one arm she looked over his shoulder to where he had
his eyes tight shut.
"Duncan," the woman said in her most sensual voice, "are you upset
It was a beautiful impression of total innocence.
"No," was the reply after a moment's silence, "I'm just tired."
"Oh," she tried to sound very disappointed, and there was still no
reaction - this was worse than she had thought.
There were certain situations that Amanda hated, and she was now faced
with one - she might actually have to apologise! Surely, there had to
be other alternatives.
"She really was a pretty young thing, wasn't she," diverting his
attention might work.
Duncan was really trying to ignore his lover, but when it came to
offering his opinion he couldn't keep quiet long.
"Yes, she was," he replied eventually, and actually rolled over.
"Oh, I was just wondering why he's running away," the woman said
honestly, "it's not as if she's like the back end of a bus."
"He's been accused of something he didn't do," the Highlander,
surprisingly, found himself explaining Gall's problem, "and you'll
probably find it frightens him."
A thoughtful look crossed Amanda's face as she thought about that.
"You sound as if you know from experience," she said slowly, a slow
smile playing across her lips.
"I do," Duncan admitted as he remembered, "it must have been about one
hundred and fifty years ago now."
"Look, Abigail, will you just explain to your father that I can't be
the father of your child," the sound of Duncan's voice was somewhat
It probably had something to do with the fact that there were several
armed men outside the door, and they had wedding plans. The young
woman in front of the Highlander just looked up at him with big open
eyes - eyes that were forming tears.
"I swear to you, I cannot father a child," the Scot tried another
tack, "it has to be someone else's."
The flood gates were going to open any second--this girl was good--she
wanted Duncan for a husband. He should have known the moment he set
eyes on her that she'd be trouble, but when had a man in lust ever
thought with his head.
Duncan was about to try again when the door smashed inwards, and the
large figure of the angry father stormed in.
"I've fetched the minister," he said coldly, "and now you'll make an
honest woman of her."
"But it's not my child," MacLeod protested, which was the wrong thing
The thunder clouds that gathered around the other man's head were not
"Are you suggesting that my Abby has slept around?" the words were
very carefully pronounced, there was only one answer to that question.
"No," the Scotsman said with defeat in his voice.
The number of muskets pointed at the young couple as they were taken
from the storehouse to the shed did not make Duncan feel very safe. He
did not want to marry a woman who had not even been faithful to him in
their short relationship. The real father could have been any of the
eyes watching the procession from behind closed doors. There was only
one thing to do, make a break for it.
It was not the best thought out plan in the world, but the prospective
wedding was taking up most of Duncan's mind. He slowed slightly and
let the smallest of Abigail's brothers catch up. A well placed elbow
in the face sent the young man reeling backwards and with a desperate
burst of speed the Scotsman was on his way to where he had left his
horse. These people were farmers, they weren't exactly expecting a
show of resistance, so it took them a while to react. Duncan had just
about made it into the saddle when the first shot went off. He felt
the pain, he tried to sit down, and he couldn't believe his bad luck.
There were two choices, climb off, let someone attend to his injury
and end up married, or ride which buckshot in his behind.
The last that homestead saw of Duncan MacLeod, was a man trying to
ride a horse without sitting down.
The lovers were grinning at each other, after all even the victim had
to eventually find the idea of being shot in the rear, funny. Amanda
had discarded her robe and was snuggled up beside MacLeod in the bed
as he finished the story.
"I can't see Gall having the same problem," was the quite innocent
comment Amanda came up with.
It was not the right thing to say, Duncan turned over once more, and
the female Immortal cursed herself. There was one last thing she could
try before actually apologising. With athletic grace she slipped from
between the covers, and wandered over to where she had left her bags,
earlier that day. When she found what she was looking for she turned
back to the bed and had to smile. Out of the corner of her eye she
spotted Duncan turning his head back to the other direction. After
all, she was standing there stark naked, and he may have been sulking,
but he was still a man.
She meandered back to the bed, and crawling onto it, placed the object
in her hand in front of her lover's face. With a small frown, the
Highlander managed to focus on what turned out to be a book. From the
look of the front cover it was a romance novel of some description,
and for the life of him, MacLeod couldn't figure out why Amanda was
showing it to him. It was possible that it had some interesting scene
somewhere that she wanted to try, but she usually just came out and
told him about those urges.
"What is this?" he asked carefully.
"Just look at it, Duncan," was the reply he received, and he had to
sit up to look at the volume. "The author," Amanda finally prompted
when it looked as if the other Immortal was going to take all night.
"Emily Ryan," the Highlander read quickly, and a second or so later,
the significance of the name hit him.
His logical mind immediately dismissed the idea that jumped into his
head, the Emily Ryan of significance to Richie was long since dead.
"So?" he enquired.
"Read the dedication," Amanda sat there, her grin doing nothing to
hide the fact that she was not trying to cover herself up at all.
With a wondering glance he opened the first page, and then he knew why
his companion was getting at. The dedication was two words: For Tessa.
"Richie," MacLeod said with total certainty, "Richie wrote this. No
wonder he won't let anyone see that damn computer."
Amanda looked totally jubilant.
"Well when you rang me the other day to see if I had taken Richie into
anything illegal it got me to thinking," she said with a grin, "and
then I saw this at number 3 in the romance charts. The name rang a
bell so I picked it up, and lo and behold, the dedication. I rang the
publishing company and asked for an interview with their new author,
and were they ever cagey about it."
For a moment or so, Duncan looked relieved, he had been quite worried
about Richie's source of funds. Slowly, however, a sly grin began to
form on his features.
"This could be fun," he said mischievously.
Amanda took the opportunity to move a little closer.
"He's quite eloquent when it comes to ... ah ... relationships," she
purred in the Highlander's ear, "want me to show you one of his more
Joe heard the door open, and turned from where he was cleaning up the
"Seen any angels lately?" a cheerful voice asked lightly.
Methos was looking as grad-studentish as ever, and the smile on his
face said he was in a very good mood.
"None that I'd admit to," Joe responded in the same vein. "What are
you doing here, I thought you were staying in Paris for a while."
"Oh, I was lonesome," the other replied with a laugh, "you know me, I
just can't stay away from you and MacLeod for very long."
The Watcher just laughed and walked round behind the bar.
"Want a coffee?" he asked as the smell of the fresh pot reminded him
that he'd put it on a few minutes ago.
"I'd prefer a beer," was the unsurprising response.
"Coming right up," his friend said in his most efficient voice.
With only a moments delay, one coffee and one bottle of beer appeared
on the counter, and Methos sat himself down on a stool.
"Something you should know," Joe told his companion before touching
his drink, "there's a new Immortal in town at the moment. His name's
Gall and I've employed him here, so if you want to avoid him I'd stay
A slight frown clouded the other's features for a second, he wasn't
fond of meeting his own kind.
"Any threat," he asked calmly.
"None," his friend told him with a very definite sound in his voice,
"he's not the head hunting type. The Watchers have records on him that
go back to his first appearance, just over twenty three hundred years
ago, and he's never taken a challenge or carried a sword."
"What does he do with his time," was all the Immortal responded and
concentrated on his beer.
Methos usually had his reasons for being wherever he chose to be, but
Joe was not going to push him if he wasn't telling. The barman figured
that he'd only end up going in exactly the direction his friend wanted
"We'll see how it goes," the ancient Immortal said in a most
uncharacteristic manner, "I'm in a gregarious mood."
Joe just lifted his eyebrows and drank his coffee.
The taxi stopped in front of Joe's bar, and let out two rather sorry
looking Immortals. They were very cheerful, but neither one of them
would have denied they had seen better mornings.
"Next time I try and out drink you," Richie said as the cab sped away,
"remind me that it bad for my, cool, sophisticated image."
Gall gave him a look that said "yeah, right" .
"Only if you make sure I don't decide to drown my sorrows with an
entire bottle of whiskey," was the light response. "How did we get
to your place last night."
Both men had fallen out of Joe's bar the previous evening, very drunk,
and almost incapable of telling which way was up, let alone getting
themselves anywhere. In the end they had made it to Richie's apartment
and Gall had spent the night sprawled on the couch. Somehow he still
had his harp, both Immortal's assumed that the rest of his worldly
belongings were still in the bar. The younger of the two had his
laptop over one shoulder and had come to pick up his bike.
They both headed into the building to say good morning, and also to
ask Joe if they'd done anything the previous evening, they should
remember. Even Immortal memories gave up in the face of a horrendous
amount of alcohol. The pair paused slightly as they felt the presence
of another Immortal, but that wasn't going to stop them going in.
"Well if it isn't Batman and Robin," Joe greeted the pair, and they
began to think there was something they should know.
"Morning," Richie responded brightly, "Hi, M-Adam," the young Immortal
caught himself just in time.
The expression on Methos' face had helped him to remember that the
ancient man might not like his name bandied around. Normally the ex-
Watcher's features remained neutral, no matter what was going on
inside his head, but the only way to describe the look on his face,
was open hostility. Gall decided to try and break the cold air in the
room that had descended like a freezer from the thirtieth floor.
"Ah, hi," he greeted cheerfully, "I'm Gall, no sword, I promise."
He was employing the same puppy dog expression which had won over
Richie, and it seemed to cause Methos some consternation. The pair
locked eyes for a moment, and the strangest look went across the older
Immortal's face. He appeared undecided for a moment, and finally
picked up the bag he had brought with him.
"I'll see you sometime, Joe," he said evenly, "Richie."
Then he walked passed the two newcomers and out the door without
"Guess he didn't like me very much," Gall said with a surprised little
expression on his face.
"Maybe he's not a fan of folk music," was Richie's only input.
There was the sound of a bag hitting pavement from outside the door.
"I'm terribly sorry," said a lilting Irish voice.
No one heard the reply that Methos gave because Gall reacted like a
scared rabbit. The look that came over his face was complete fear, and
nothing could have come between him and the back door. In his haste he
nearly took two chairs and a table with him, but he did manage to
disappear just as Cressida walked through the front door.
Richie took one glance at the expression on her face and decided that
his friend might have had the right idea. If there had been open
moorlands, thick fog, and a wailing banshee, Cressida would have fit
right in. If this woman could inspire fear in a two thousand year old
man, who was he, at twenty something to argue.
"See you later," the young Immortal said and headed out the front
Joe felt very alone under the gaze that settled on him, bizarrely the
newcomer suddenly smiled.
"I hear you have a new musician working for you," she said sweetly,
"an Irish bard."
The Watcher figured he knew how prisoners of the Gestapo had felt.
"Sings like an angel by all accounts," Cressie did not wait for an
answer. "It's all over town, you should get a lot of business out of
him, that's if he doesn't run out on you."
That did it, now the barman felt like a complete heel, and he was
being intimidated. This was completely ridiculous.
"You just missed him," lying was just not on the cards.
"Where'd he go?" the Irish woman enquired, well aware she had Joe in
the palm of her hand.
"I don't know," at least he didn't have that dilemma.
"Will he be back?" she was not pulling any punches.
"Most likely," was the open reply.
The pair looked at each other a moment, an un-asked question in the
"Take a seat," the Watcher said eventually, "would you like a coffee?"
"He looks so depressed," Amanda commented as she, Duncan and Richie
stood in the dojo looking at their new friend through the glass of the
"He thinks he has to leave," Richie told her, "and he seems to like it
"Poor thing," was the woman's response.
MacLeod had had just about enough of the sympathy.
"Did you have to bring him here?" he asked trying not to sound over
the top about the situation.
"Well you're the Great White Problem Solver," his one time pupil shot
back, "I thought if anyone could think of a way out, you could.
Besides which, Joe might crack and tell Cressida that Gall spent the
night at my place, and where it is."
There were drawbacks to being a boy scout, Duncan suddenly found the
major one. Then again, if Richie was going to dump the Irishman at his
doorstep, he was not going to get away scot free. The Highlander eyed
the laptop his young friend still had hung over his shoulder.
"Thinking of doing some work while you're here?" he asked pointedly.
"No," Richie replied, as usual he was not going to open the portable
with anyone around, "I was just headed out when our little problem
"Oh, so you're not going to be typing then?" Duncan was going to make
"No illicit deals," Amanda joined in, and put a hand on he young
"Drug dealing," MacLeod continued, "fencing, bank robbery?"
Richie's eyes narrowed and he looked at both of them.
"Modern day robin hood," Duncan played his trump card, and his
prot‚g‚'s face fell - one of the main characters, by the name of
Charles, was a hot shot businessman ... with a difference.
With a free hand the Highlander pulled the book out of his back
pocket, where he had put it when he realised Richie had arrived. The
expression on the young man's face was somewhere between horror and
defeat. He glared at Amanda, knowing full well who must have made the
"You betrayed me," was all he said.
Duncan grinned triumphantly.
"Romance novels," he said slowly, "Richie Ryan, novelist of the
moment, or should I say Emily."
"It was at number three," Amanda chimed in with perfect timing.
"It was a joke, okay," Richie tried to dig himself out of the hole,
"and then they offered to pay me large amounts of money, so I said
The Highlander was enjoying himself far too much to let his young
friend off the hook that easily.
"Some joke," he commented calmly, "he ran his hand down her ..."
"MacLeod!" the young Immortal sounded desperate, it was one thing to
write such things, another to have them quoted back at you.
He'd gone such a lovely pink colour, and Amanda ruffled his hair
"Been paying attention by the sound of things," she said without any
sign of remorse.
Richie had a sinking feeling.
Duncan had been torturing Richie for about five minutes and Amanda had
lost interest. She wandered into the office to see Gall.
"Hi," she said with a sympathetic smile, "anything I can do."
"Not unless you can turn back time," was the slightly melodramatic
"Haven't discovered that talent yet," Amanda returned lightly, "but it
can't be that bad."
The look that Gall gave her said that it could. The big wide open
eyes, the expressive mouth down at the corners, the little boy left
out of the team expression, all added up to quite an effect. The
mothering instinct was not something that usually came to Amanda where
men were concerned, but at that moment she had to squash the desire to
hug her companion. Apart from the fact that Gall might get the wrong
idea, Duncan would probably throw a hissy fit.
"Tell me about her," the female Immortal said suddenly, "maybe I'll
think of something."
The Irishman looked dubious, but then again what did he have to loose.
His life history seemed to be public knowledge, so Cressida's might as
well be too.
"She's the most bewitching creature on the face of the planet," he
began, leaning on the desk and conjuring a picture of her in his mind,
"and the most contrary. She was the same when she was small, always
into everything and after her own way. The only person who could get
her to do anything she didn't want to was her father, Liam, and since
he passed she's gone wild."
He smiled as his memory took him back in time.
"She was born on a night that suits her nature," he explained quietly,
and although he didn't realise it, his voice had taken on the sing-
song quality that trapped people like a snare, "the storm howled like
a mad thing all over the valley. I was staying with Liam and Wade on a
short visit, and the thunder gave the lovely woman such a start that
little Cressie decided to come a week early. Over two thousand years
on this earth and it was the first time I'd seen a babe born. She was
such a little thing, with this shock of red hair that curled around
her face. It was amazing, she didn't cry much, just laughed. By the
time we could actually get her and Wade to the hospital it was
morning, but the doctor gave them a clean bill of health. I stayed
close for a few years, watching them all and being part of their
family, but the wander lust eventually took me away."
Amanda was sitting there glassy eyed, listening to every word with a
small smile on her face.
"Then there she was, so many years later, and I couldn't resist her,"
Gall continued, oblivious to the effect he was having on his audience
of one. "She was so regal, even in grief, a princess amongst the
rabble. I only went back to the house to talk, but then she started
asking awkward questions and I didn't want to lie to her. Somehow I
ended up kissing her. She's so soft to hold, but with a strength
that's impossible to break."
He'd wandered off into his own little world, and he'd dragged Amanda
right along with him, but his words dried up as he became lost in
recollection. His companion had been perched on the back of a chair,
but as Gall's voice stopped she came back to herself and managed to
overbalance. There was a very unladylike noise as she caught herself
on the table, and the Irishman snapped back to reality.
"Oh god, I'm sorry," he apologised immediately, "I didn't mean to do
Amanda immediately sent him a smile of reassurance, even though she
didn't really feel like it.
"That's okay," she told him lightly, "happens all the time."
She didn't realise what she had said until she was the other side of
the door, and when she turned back to rectify the strangely hurried
exit Gall wasn't looking at her anymore. In fact, he just looked even
"Nice one, Amanda," the woman said to herself, "you've done it again."
Duncan was still torturing Richie as she wafted by them.
"You wouldn't tell Methos," was what the younger Immortal was saying,
"no, you wouldn't ... would you?"
"Bye boys," was the last they heard of their female associate, "I'll
be back soon," and then she disappeared out the door.
That actually stopped the bickering that was going on, and the pair
looked at each other.
"Where's she going in such a hurry?" Richie asked suspiciously.
"I don't know," Duncan responded slowly, and the expression on either
face said this was not good.
"Maybe you should go with her," the younger of the two suggested.
There was the sound of an engine, and MacLeod just looked to heaven.
"Too late," the Highlander concluded regretfully, "she took the car."
They both looked towards where Gall was sitting and prayed.
Joe looked like a man doing his best to be invisible as Amanda walked
into the bar, and she waved at him. Panic crossed the owners features
as the Immortal smiled and headed straight towards the only patron in
the place. If he'd been a bit faster on his legs, the Watcher might
have been able to get between the thief and her destination, but as it
was he was just too slow.
"Good morning," he heard Amanda say, and then he decided that the back
room really needed sorting out.
Cressida looked up to see a bright smiling face beaming at her.
"Ah, hello," she said, a little confused by a complete stranger saying
"My name's Amanda," the Immortal said cheerfully, "I know Gall."
The young Irish woman still wasn't quite sure what to say, the
newcomer's demeanour was a little bizarre to say the least. This was,
however, an opportunity to find her goal, so she was not about to let
it slip away.
"Cressida," she returned pointedly, "but then I suppose you knew
"Oh yes," the thief said brightly and sat down, "we were sitting at
that table last night when you came in." She indicated the spot with a
hand, "and I've never seen a man move quite so fast."
Now that grabbed the young lady's attention.
"He was here last night?" she almost accused as she realised that she
had not only been lied to, but duped as well.
"Under the table to be precise," was the honest reply, "cowering."
The look on Cressie's face said that she was somewhere between going
ballistic, and surprised by the effect she had had on Gall. She was
angry, but it was difficult not to recognise the humour in Amanda's
"Cowering?" the young woman said slowly.
"Like a frightened puppy," the dark haired beauty promised faithfully.
"Would you care to tell me how you inspire such fear?"
The Immortal was not about to tell her companion that she knew
everything, she wanted the redhead's side of the story. It wasn't
going to be quite that easy, however, Cressida did look a little
dubious about telling everything to a complete stranger. Amanda went
for some diversionary tactics.
"Your coffee looks cold," she said quickly, and stood up, "let me get
you another one, Joe won't mind."
Before the Irish maid could answer she found her mug refilled.
"So, when's the baby due?" it was another ploy, but it worked.
"Five months," was the almost automatic reply, "and don't tell me I
shouldn't be running around the world in my condition."
"Wouldn't think of it," Amanda swore faithfully.
"I'm on a man hunt, and when I catch him I'm going to convince him to
marry me," the young woman seemed to be into the conversation now. "He
has to take responsibility for what he's done."
This could be the make or break point, but the Immortal had to ask the
"And you're sure Gall's the father?" she asked evenly.
Cressie glared at her for a moment, and Amanda could see why the bard
chose to run away.
"Yes," the young mortal said with total certainty in her voice, and
irrational belief in her eyes.
There was going to be no changing her mind on that point, of that the
Immortal sitting next to her was one hundred percent sure. There was a
point beyond which there was no turning back, and Cressida had passed
that long ago. Amanda decided to try a different tack.
"Do you love him," she asked calmly, "or are you just doing this for
For a moment, it looked as if the Immortal may have gone just a little
too far as her companion's eyes blazed, but very suddenly they were
shining for an entirely different reason.
"He's the most wonderful man on the face of the planet," Cressie said
almost hysterically, and then burst into tears.
What else could Amanda do, but enfolded the girl in a motherly hug,
and pat her gently on the head. This was a little more complicated
than she had first envisioned.
The moment he walked into the dojo, Methos knew MacLeod was not alone,
and he was not happy with who he found. Richie and Gall had been
having some kind of conversation where the younger of the two was
working out, but they'd stopped as soon as they felt another Immortal.
The oldest living of his kind noted that the subject of his icy gaze
seemed somewhat depressed, so much so that the bard did not even react
to the look sent his way.
"Mac's upstairs," Richie said before the air in the room could form
into a glacier.
"Thank you," were the only words Methos spoke as he walked through the
The first thing the ancient man realised as he walked out of the
elevator was the fact that Duncan looked half relieved, half
"Expecting someone else?" he enquired, his interest aroused.
"Amanda," the other returned and wandered round from the other side of
the sofa, "she went out of here in hurry about half an hour ago, and
with what's going on, I'm worried."
Not one to dodge an issue when it was the sole purpose for his
presence, Methos launched right in.
"I see you have a guest down stairs," he said, careful to keep his
tone neutral, and saw the slight look of annoyance cross Duncan's
"Yes," the Scotsman replied, putting his jealousy aside quickly, "he's
a friend of Richie's ... and Amanda's. He's causing chaos."
The way MacLeod said "chaos" was intriguing, and Methos found his next
"What sort of chaos?" were his exact words.
"He's being chased," the Highlander explained and wandered towards the
fridge, "and Richie brought him hear to hide. Now Amanda's gone out
and I just know she has some scheme in her head."
Now Methos was very interested, he just knew that Joe's information
had been wrong.
"Who's after him?" he asked, letting out just a little of the coldness
he felt towards the bard.
"A woman," Mac told him, producing two beers from the fridge, having
missed the little outburst on his companion's part, "to be precise, a
woman who thinks he's the father of her child."
Now that stopped the ancient Immortal in his tracks, he nearly dropped
the bottle the Highlander passed him.
"Run that by me again," he said slowly.
"A woman," the Scotsman obliged as he realised his information had
caused a very strange expression to appear on his companion's face,
"by the name of Cressida MacLean. She thinks Gall is the father of her
child and she's followed him all the way from Ireland. According to
Joe, this is the first time he's left his home country, ever, and he's
older than Amanda. Just once, I wish people didn't end up on my
Now that was a very unusual reaction for the eternal boy scout.
"He's running from a woman, a mortal woman," Methos didn't quite
seem to believe it.
At last Duncan ignored his own peevishness enough to realise there was
something his companion wasn't saying.
"Do you know him?" the Highlander asked slowly.
"Yes," was the instant reply, "no," came pretty soon after that, "I
don't know," was the final conclusion.
"So you're decided on that then?" his companion said sarcastically, he
was worried about what Amanda might be doing and his charm had
Methos graced him with a don't-speak-to-your-elders-like-that look,
and took a firm grip on his beer.
"I'm going to talk to him," was all Methos said before he headed for
There was no way Duncan wanted to miss this, so he followed.
Whatever conversation Methos had interrupted with his arrival appeared
to be long over as the Immortal wandered back into the dojo. Richie
was still taking his frustration out on a poor innocent punching bag,
but Gall had retreated to the office. The oldest living Immortal
actually had to stand and stare through the glass for a while to
reconcile the man he could see with what was going through his head.
When he saw the mixture of emotions on his friend's face, Duncan
wandered over to Richie, staying well out of it. There were times when
it was healthier to stay out of Methos' way, now was one of them and
MacLeod followed his instincts ... for once.
Eventually the ancient Immortal took hold of the door handle and
entered the smaller room. To say that he was confused by what he saw
was putting in mildly, but then again, he'd seen stranger things in
his time. As he walked in, Gall looked up briefly, but went back to
tuning his harp as if unconcerned about the rest of the world. Quite
an unusual attitude for someone in the same room as an Immortal who
had been almost openly hostile not so long ago.
"Nice instrument," was the only thing Methos could think of to say.
"The best," the Irishman replied, sounding somewhat surprised, he
hadn't actually expected the other Immortal to talk to him.
The conversation was started, that was good, but what to say next had
yet to entered the older man's head. He didn't trust the bard in front
of him, but he couldn't just ignore him either, there were too many
questions running about in his head. One thing Methos couldn't resist
was a conundrum, and Gall was bugging him - admittedly his
recollection had been known to be fallible, but he had good reason to
remember the face before him.
"Not much protection for an Immortal," he finally decided how to go
"All I need," the other replied as if he didn't really care about it
This was looking to be a one way conversation, and quite frankly, Gall
seemed to be wallowing in self-pity. That annoyed Methos, but he just
about won the battle with himself not to tell the musician exactly
what he thought. That was quite an achievement for the ancient
Immortal, he found the Irishman almost as annoying as Duncan did. Then
again he hadn't met the woman he was running from, so he chose to
reserve judgement. He had never met the man who wrote about a woman
scorned, but he's known how he felt on several occasions.
"You don't like me much, do you?" Gall said very suddenly, and for
some perverse reason this seemed to cheer him up a little.
It seemed that Methos' coldness was better than whatever the other
Immortal had been thinking about. The man had to be in love, the
ancient man was absolutely positive about it, Gall was totally
smitten, and he seemed to be in denial.
"Not particularly," Methos returned evenly, still totally confused by
the man in front of him.
If there was one thing the five thousand year old man disliked more
than surprises, it was being confused. He'd been surprised enough in
the past few months, and he was damned if he was going to let
confusion win now.
"Why?" Gall pinned him down with his honest gaze, and Methos found it
as difficult to ignore as everyone else.
There was just something innocent in those blue eyes, something not
unlike a rabbit pinned down by headlights. Something that made Methos
want to shoot Gall and put him out of his misery, but Methos fought
"You remind me of someone," was all he said tersely.
This wasn't getting any clearer as the ancient Immortal looked into a
face that matched his recollections, but an expression that did not.
"Exactly how many Immortals have you challenged in your life?" it was
quite a personal question for an Immortal to ask when they'd only just
met, but Methos wasn't in a tactful mood.
Gall looked a little surprised by the question, but then again
unexpected seemed to be his companion's trademark. This Adam character
seemed a little more complicated than he first appeared.
"None," he replied honestly, "well at least none I remember. I've been
challenged several times, but that had nothing to do with me."
"I hear you have a tendency to run away," insulting a man's honour
usually revealed their true nature so Methos changed tack.
The Irishman just laughed at him, which undid several of the ancient
"If you want a fight you're talking to the wrong man," Gall said
evenly, "I'm not in the battle market, Harp strings aren't great for
Well that worked well - Methos was beginning to think this might not
be the man he thought it was. Could two Immortals be so alike and yet
so different, and have connections with the same part of the world.
There had to be a part of the puzzle he didn't have, and Methos
wouldn't give up until he had it. He was going to find that missing
piece if he had to search down the sides of the sofa for it.
"Gall's a strange name for an Irishman," he tried yet another avenue.
"Yes, well I didn't choose it," the other replied and played a note on
his harp, "I was given it, and I think it was an old man's idea of
humour. I have no idea what my name was before that, and I don't
really spend much time thinking about it."
The light dawned in Methos' eyes, he looked like the proverbial early
bird with the worm.
"You don't remember becoming Immortal," he sounded pleased with
"No," his companion said calmly, "but I couldn't have been very into
this Immortal thing, I didn't even have a sword. I've never needed one
since, but I've always believed that I picked up the talking talent
after the old man gave me the harp. Why are you so interested in me
anyway, who do I remind you of?"
That was a question that Methos didn't want to answer so he brushed it
"Someone I assumed was dead," he said as if it wasn't important. "Can
I see the harp?"
Gall's eyebrows rose, but he passed the virtual stranger the
instrument anyway. The ancient Immortal took it carefully, and
investigated it slowly. As he realised what the design was on the side
of the crafted harp he couldn't help it, he laughed. He was about to
say something when they both felt another Immortal. The expression on
the Irishman's face as Methos turned to find out who it was more than
slightly startled. When the ancient Immortal looked back at him,
having realised that Amanda had returned with a young companion, he
found Gall glancing furtively at the window. It occurred to the older
man that his companion was seriously considering jumping.
"Not a good idea," he advised quietly.
Amanda smiled sweetly at the black looks both Richie and Duncan were
giving her, and walked straight up to the office. She opened the door,
pushed Cressida in, pulled Methos out, and walked away without saying
a word. The oldest living Immortal still had Gall's harp in his hand,
but that didn't seem to enter his female companion's head. At least
life wasn't boring at the moment.
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