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Part 1

Scene 1

JOE'S BAR, SEACOUVER, UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 1997

"Aria?" Duncan looked across the deserted bar.

The woman he had met when Lynn Horton had taken her daughter was a formidable creature. It had been a couple of years since the mortal has brought them together in an abortive attempt to reach MacLeod, but the memory of her came straight back; her presence was unmistakable. She walked with a confident, quick stride, her boots clicking loudly on the bar's floor. She made her way towards Duncan's table and sat. Her eyes were darker than usual, which only meant one thing, trouble. "What's wrong?"

"Galan Janek is dead."

Duncan's jaw tightened. He'd recently met Janek and liked the ancient Immortal immensely.

"Where is Dawson? I need to talk to him."

"Why would you have to talk to Dawson, Aria?"

Aria levelled her dark gaze upon the Highlander. "He was killed by mortals."

"How do you know?"

"We were supposed to workout and I found his body. There was no evidence of a Quickening."

Duncan's face went white. "Just like Darius," he whispered.

"Yes. Just like Darius!"

"I..." Duncan was cut off by the presence of at least one more Immortal entering the bar. Aria looked about as well. "I'm glad you've actually gotten to see the place," came Joe's voice as the front door opened and let in the late-afternoon sunlight. Dawson entered followed by two other people.

Aria gasped.

From across the bar, Patrick's eyes locked with hers. They narrowed, as he reached under his coat and pulled out his katana. Rebecca had seen that look before.

"Patrick!"

Duncan had his sword out and was ready for the confrontation. Patrick lunged, not at Duncan, but at Aria. Had she been a lesser swordswoman, Aria wouldn't have stood a chance. Patrick's fury was so great that he would have taken her head before she could have armed herself. However, her instincts took over and her sword was out, locked with Patrick's katana.

"O'Brien, what are you doing?" Joe yelled.

The two opponents stood still, sizing each other up. Their blades unlocked and Patrick prepared to attack again. He swung his sword, and Aria swung to prepare a defence. And Joe's cane came between the two blades.

"Unless you want to break several rules, I suggest you stop," he said. "There's enough other crap we need to discuss without this, not to mention the fact that I don't want fighting in my place. Now, before everyone kills each other let me at least introduce you. Patrick O'Brien, Duncan MacLeod. Duncan, Patrick. Duncan, Rebecca DeJeniere O'Brien. Rebecca, Duncan. Rebecca, Aria Moore. Aria, Rebecca. Aria and Patrick obviously know each other."

Patrick grunted, but turned away and returned his sword to his coat. Glaring at Aria, he said, "You're lucky he stopped the fight."

"Am I?" she replied.

"You tell me."

"Enough!" Rebecca said.

"We'll be leaving," Duncan announced.

"No we won't," Aria said. Duncan looked at Aria, who had her attention fully on Joe now. "Not until you give me an answer. Galan Janek is dead. By mortals. Do you know anything about this?"

Joe was silent.

"Joe?" Duncan said.

"Damn," was all Joe could manage.


Scene 2

UNKNOWN LOCATION

"Our network tells us that O'Brien and his wife arrived in Seacouver not an hour ago. Fortuitous for us."

"Do you think this will change anything?"

"Maybe. Maybe not. You never know unless you try."

He heard him leave the cell and close the door. Then, sitting back on what he assumed to be a cot, he pulled a harmonica out of his pocket. A poor substitute, but better than nothing.


Scene 3

JOE'S BAR, SEACOUVER

"Joe what's going on here?" Duncan said.

Joe sat down at a barstool. Aria returned to the table, Rebecca stood next to her. Duncan walked over to Joe. Patrick simply leaned against the bar, as far away from Aria as he could get, with his arms folded. "I'm not sure yet, but several Watchers have left their posts unexpectedly. Yesterday, Patrick called me saying that his and Rebecca's Watcher wasn't at his post."

"How do they know?"

"You're not the only one who knows his Watcher."

"That's right." Duncan remembered then, hearing the story of O'Brien and his Student, fighting over the life of Patrick's Watcher, Bernard Willis. O'Brien had been forced to take his own Student's head. Duncan knew, partly, how he felt. Although he had been under the demon's influence, and although it had turned out to be a mistake, he knew the pain O'Brien had gone through, was still going through, and would always go through.

And yet, he had attacked Aria without provocation. It just didn't fit what he knew about the man. O'Brien was close friends with Connor MacLeod, in some ways closer than Duncan was to his own kinsman. Connor had said that their relationship was, despite their closeness in age, still Teacher-Student, or father-son, while Connor and Patrick were like brothers in a way, after all they both were Students of Ramirez. But despite the almost familial connection, Connor would not be that close to someone who attacked unprovoked. It just didn't fit.

Joe sighed. "Dead Watchers and dead Immortals. I can only come to one conclusion."

"What's that?" Rebecca said.

"That there's at least one, perhaps two, new splinter groups forming within the Watcher ranks."

"The Hunters?" Duncan said.

"Maybe."

"Horton's files, all his contacts, what happened to them?"

"His files were locked away, and his contacts were kicked out of the Watchers."

"Locked away and kicked out?" Patrick spoke for the first time since attacking Aria. "What happened to crimes against the organization being punishable by death? Who was in charge of Horton's trial?"

"I was, all right?"

"Why weren't they executed? They were all set to execute you and Bernard for nothing more than friendship, why were these men not executed for murder?"

"Excuse me for having a bit of mercy, O'Brien, but Horton was family, and his people were once good Watchers. Besides I couldn't sit in judgement of them, because..."

"Because your own slate wasn't clean," Patrick said.

"Exactly."

"Terrific," Aria said. "They're all back, all over again because you were merciful to a bunch of genocidal maniacs."

"We certainly agree on that," Patrick said.

Joe sighed. "Maybe it wasn't the best decision, but I can't change what I didn't do."

"This is all so pointless!" Rebecca said. "Can we all stop arguing for five minutes? You!" she pointed at Patrick, "shut up. You!" she pointed at Aria, "keep quiet. You!" she pointed at Duncan, "you're the only one allowed to question Joe. And you," she pointed at Joe, "continue."

"That's all," Joe said.

Duncan thought for a second. "What are we looking at, worst-case scenario?"

Joe rubbed his beard. "The Hunters were always random, except when it came to you. In that case it was personal. If we have two splinter groups to deal with, there's no way to tell where the Hunters will strike next."

"And if its one, killing Watchers and Immortals?"

"Then there's something big going down, and we'll have to decipher the pattern."

"Before Bernard turns up dead," Patrick said.

"Before we all turn up dead," Aria said.

"Agreed," Duncan said. "We can't ignore something like this. Why don't we meet at my place tomorrow about this time and see what we've come up with."

"Sounds fine to me," Rebecca said.

Duncan looked from Patrick to Aria. "Do you think you two can settle your differences? Or at least not kill each other until this is over?"

Patrick stood. "I'm perfectly willing to put all differences aside until afterwards." He looked at Aria and sneered, "But I suppose it's really up to you, La Mora."

Aria stood, clenching her fists.

"That was a low blow, O'Brien," Duncan said.

"Was it?" Patrick turned to leave. "Ask her."

"Patrick, will you wait?" Rebecca rushed to catch up with him outside of Joe's. "What is it with you? The only other Immortal I've seen you this mad at is VonHoffer. What's eating you?"

"Never mind."

She grabbed him by the shoulder and whirled him around. "Are we married or not?"

"Of course we are."

"Then tell me."

"Rebecca... I just want to be alone for a while. I'll see you back at the hotel in an hour or so." He turned away from her and walked off. She sighed and went back into the bar.

"If you don't want to tell me, that's fine," Duncan said.

"It's not that," Aria said. "You know I don't like discussing that period of my life, Duncan, and I just hate having all that dredged up again."

"I understand."

"Do you?" Aria rested her hand over Duncan's.

Before he could answer, both turned towards the door as they felt another Immortal approach. Rebecca walked in and sat at the bar. "Gimee something hard, Joe."

"How hard?"

"Curl-my-hair hard. Burn-a-path-down-my-oesophagus, bore-a-hole-in- my-stomach-lining hard."

"You've got it." He poured a drink out and slid it to Rebecca. She took a gulp, gagged, then another gulp.

"Perfect!" she rasped. She coughed and collected herself. "He's damn insufferable sometimes. I wonder why I bother."

"He didn't tell you?" Aria said.

"Nope. And he won't until he's good and ready."

"It's just as well."

"Why's that?"

Aria was silent.

"I can't help you gain his forgiveness unless..."

"Who said I wanted his forgiveness?"

"I'm sorry, I just thought..."

"What is it with you people?! You think that when someone who isn't as wholesome as you've always been sees the error of their ways, that they automatically want to make amends for every single transgression. I did what I did, and it was wrong. I know that and I cannot change it, but I don't need nor want O'Brien's forgiveness. If he wants to kill me, then let him try, he's more than welcome. Just as long as you know that he's not entirely without blame." Aria got up and walked out of the bar.

"This is going to be tougher than I thought," Duncan said.

Rebecca took another belt of her drink and gagged again.


Scene 4

STEPHANO'S RESTURANTE ITALIANO, SEACOUVER - OCTOBER, 1997, that evening

Patrick rolled the linguini on his fork, but didn't immediately eat it. He twirled it in the plate, making circular patterns in the pasta and Alfredo sauce.

"Ok, O'Brien," Rebecca said, "I've had it with the brooding Immortal routine. Spill it."

"Spill what?"

"You know what. If we want to find Bernard alive, like it or not we have to work with Aria. So spill it."

"You really want to know?"

"What do you think?"

Patrick sighed. "It's not a time I remember fondly."

"I don't care," Rebecca said. "We're married. Married people tell each other things."

"All right. Just remember you're the one who asked."


Scene 5

CORFINIO, ITALY - 1487

"You are running from a bloody woman?"

"She's not just any woman, Patrick. It's La Mora."

"La who?" he scoffed. "Never heard of her."

"Well, I have, and I have no intention of facing her. If you want to die, then that's your choice. I like my head where it is."

"No woman is that good, Sergio."

"It has nothing to do with if she's good or not, but the methods she uses when she fights."

"What? She doesn't observe the Rules?"

"From what I've heard, she observes some of them."

"Then I should face her."

"No, Patrick. You are in no condition for fighting."

"I can fight!"

"Oh, yeah? Is that why I beat you every time in sparring yesterday? And the day before and the day before that..."

"Okay! I get your point."

"Do you?" Sergio walked toward Patrick and placed both hands on his shoulders. "You're carrying a lot of things bottled up inside lately. Remember, I was with you the last time you saw Rebecca. Your concentration is off and you are too vulnerable to fight. No, I'll face her even though I'd rather not."

Patrick nodded. He didn't want to argue with his friend. Ever since he'd seen Rebecca with that damned woman Amanda, he hadn't been himself. Two refusals by an Immortal he'd loved was just too much, especially coming on the heels of the death of his second wife, Katherine, who succumbed to the Plague. He knew she'd die eventually, but not so soon and so drastic. He'd been forced to watch her wither away as he did his best to take care of her in her last days. But even after nearly a century and a half the pain of losing her was still a festering wound and it and two rejections from Rebecca showed in his skills.

Sergio squeezed Patrick's shoulders. "Why don't you come with me? Ramirez could always use more hands."

Patrick thought of accepting the offer, but the last thing he wanted was for Ramirez to witness how weak he was. All Patrick wanted to do was lose himself and not think of the pain. Wasn't it enough that he'd lost his mortal wife and found Rebecca, first as a nun in Darius' church, and second as a dishonest thief who wanted nothing to do with him? Twice now, she'd completely immersed herself into another life, into another person. He wished he could do that, but how and what?

"No. I think I'll move on and head south."

"Then, we part, my friend." Sergio extended his hand for a handshake. Patrick took it and the two friends parted.

Patrick watched his friend walk off into the darkness of the night. He turned around and entered the house he'd rented. He poured himself some wine, and began to sip it. He leaned against the wall and looked out the small window. All he could see was the dirt road, but that was better than the empty bed that waited for him. Patrick couldn't understand why Sergio was so afraid of this woman, after all a woman was for love, not fighting. It didn't make sense, Sergio was an excellent swordsman. He'd been taught by the best, Ramirez.

A bright crackling light flashed across his face causing Patrick to snap out of his remembering. Patrick looked out the window and saw blue lightning snake around a building and shoot up into the sky. His eyes widened when he recognized the throes of a Quickening. Patrick ran out of his home toward the receding Quickening and stopped dead when he sensed an Immortal. He followed the sensation until he came to an alley. Sergio's body laid one place and his head another. The victorious Immortal knelt on the ground close to his body. The Immortal looked up, dark eyes cold and glaring at Patrick. "I'm Aria al-Haban," she said out of breath and staggered to her feet, her sword held weakly in her hands. "You find me at a disadvantage." Patrick had his sword out and he felt rage seep through him, as he watched his slain friend on the ground. A part of him screamed to take her head now while she was down, but a stronger part of him overruled it. His honor simply wouldn't allow that.

"Don't worry!" Patrick spat. "I won't fight you until you've regained your strength."

Aria arched her eyebrows at that statement. "What?" She couldn't believe her ears.

"I said I won't attack you until you've regained your strength."

Aria smiled. "A man of integrity? That is such a rarity these days I didn't think any more existed." She looked at him more intently, wondering who stood before her when she caught the red hair. "Patrick O'Brien," she stated.

Patrick stepped back surprised.

Aria smiled at her incredible luck. She'd heard about the Irelander as she'd tortured the truth out of Ramirez' former students. But she never imagined she'd find him so quickly.

"I should be ready in an hour."

Patrick nodded. He turned toward Sergio's body, and missed when Aria nodded to someone behind him. The next thing he knew, he was attacked by three men. They held him tightly, and forced him to face Aria. Patrick watched her approach him, a smug smile on her lips. He couldn't believe he'd turned his back on her after Sergio warned him about her.

"Is this your idea of playing by the rules," Patrick spat.

"No," she said as she stopped in front of him. She retrieved a curved dagger from her boot and waved it in front of his face. "This is my idea of playing by my rules."

Patrick cursed at her. One of the men punched him in the stomach, causing him to double over. The two holding him pulled him back up roughly. Patrick hadn't recovered from the first blow when the same man punched him again.

Aria raised his chin and held it tightly. He tried to wrench his face free, but couldn't in his current position. "There's a simple way for you to walk away with your head attached."

Patrick gazed at her. "How?"

"Ramirez." Patrick's eyes shot wide open. What? Did she expect him to hand over his mentor's location?

"I want his head and you will help me get it."

Patrick laughed. He could not believe her audacity. "Never! You might as well take mine!"

"I could," she smiled. And with that, she stabbed him in the heart. He died instantly.

Patrick O'Brien cursed at himself. After Corma had warned him about La Mora, how could he have been so stupid and turned his back on her? Now here he was, a prisoner, chained to a wall, and weaponless. His body ached everywhere--even in places he didn't know existed. He looked at his captor and kept himself sane by imagining how he'd kill her when he got the chance. Aria sat on a foot stool opposite him, her elbows propped against her knees. She carved a piece of wood with a sharp knife. Patrick shuddered seeing the object in her hand, as thoughts of how good she was with the instrument flooded his mind.

Aria glanced at him, as she continued her craft work. "I've done every thing imaginable I can to you," she paused grinning at him, "both painful and pleasurable, seeing you're good healer and all, for the past..." Aria's brow furrowed as she calculated the time, "five weeks." she smiled at his discomfort. "Why don't you just swallow your pride, Patrick, and just tell me where I can find Ramirez."

Patrick mumbled something under his breath, which Aria only caught the tail end of.

"Kill me?! When?" she said, feigning shock. "Oh! While I was weak from Corma's Quickening." Her smile broadened. "Yes, Patrick, you should have."

Aria stopped carving and stood. She picked up a plate of food, filled with meat, gravy, and bread. She walked over toward her prisoner. "You really should eat something, Patrick."

No reply. It irritated him that she used his birth name. He would rather his enemies call him by his last, but she knew it bothered him so she taunted him with it as much as she could.

Aria stood close to him, the smile never leaving her lips. How he would like to rip it off, he thought. Aria dipped the bread in the gravy and placed it close to his mouth. Patrick looked at her with contempt, his mouth set tight, his body rigid. There was no way he would eat from her hand.

"Come on," she purred. "Don't be so childish, Patrick." She caressed the side of his face, but he turned away from her.

"So we're still playing hard to get, huh?" Aria set the plate down and grabbed his face. She held it firmly. "Eat!"

Patrick made no motion to open his mouth, but his stomach betrayed him, making a loud garish noise. Aria stepped back stunned, then laughed.

"Fine," she said backing away from him. "Have it your way, Patrick."

She ate the bread and threw the remains on the dirty ground. The door closed behind her plunging him into darkness again. Though he loathed her presence, it was the only time he had light, and human contact. Not that she was human.

Patrick relaxed his body too much and the chains around his wrist bit into already tender flesh. He cursed Immortality--what good was the special healing powers when the pain remained? He didn't' want to think about what Aria had done to him, and he doubted that he could take more, but he'd die before he gave up Ramirez!

As the tears poured down his cheeks, falling to his bare and whipped chest, Patrick grimaced and tried to think of happier times. But all that came to him was the last suffering days of his dead wife. After she died, life as he knew it had changed dramatically and he'd ended up in Paris at Darius' church. He'd found Rebecca there, becoming elated at having found a piece of his old life, but that feeling quickly deflated when Rebecca spurned him. She had a new life with Darius and he had no part in it. She didn't want him around to remind her of her painful past. Dejected, Patrick left.

He'd thought of finding Ramirez, but having his teacher see him so depressed wasn't exactly what he wanted.

Patrick travelled aimlessly for weeks, months, questioning who he was- -how could it be that living life as he had netted him nothing? He had no country to return to, no friends that wanted him or he could unburden himself to. He was always the strong one, the one everyone looked to, came to. Who did he, Patrick O'Brien, turned to when he needed someone? He believed in honor. A man of his word. But how could that help him now? Aria held all the cards, and she didn't have any honor. No scruples. But he was chained to a wall and she was out there, laughing at him. Patrick hung his head, feeling deep down that it wouldn't take more for him to dance to her tune. He'd died of starvation before, it wasn't pleasant, but he would not take any food from her. Or so he prayed.

Time ceased to matter to him. He was so weak he could barely move. He no longer hung from the wall, but laid on a filthy cot on the ground. His eyes were wide open, but the darkness remained. Patrick didn't know which end was up and in the last few days, Aria had her fun with him, testing new thresholds of pain. He shuddered violently as he remembered his screams, his howling, his begging, his crying. But still, he would not give up Ramirez. He would die first.

His honor and friendship to the man who became like a father to him forbade him to do it. And again it had landed him into harms way. Sometimes he wondered why he bothered, but he knew he couldn't deny who he was. No one went from one spectrum to the other? Could they? Rebecca had. It wasn't enough that he'd found her once at Darius' church pretending to be a nun, but the last time he'd seen her, she'd been in cohoots with Amanda. Up to no good. How could Rebecca, sweet Rebecca, someone he never thought would be corrupted, end up like that? Patrick shook his head, and tried to concentrate on other matters.

He had no idea how long he'd been inside this dungeon, but he knew one thing. He was hungry. His throat was parched and right now he would do about anything to satisfy it. But he couldn't. Patrick knew Aria was counting on that too. He heard noises outside his door and he staggered to his feet.

The door opened and the light blinded him. He felt extremely vulnerable and shrank back towards the back of the cell. Rough hands grabbed him and hauled him out, he tried to struggle, but he was weak from hunger. The men simply laughed at his attempt and continued dragging him forward. Patrick blinked, trying to focus on his surroundings, but all he could see was a ball of white light.

The men stopped. Patrick heard a door open and he was shoved in. He fell to the floor and skinned his knees and hands on the rough texture of the floor. They healed, but the pain was staggering. Slowly, he came to his feet and began to feel his way around. There was a bed with soft cool sheets. He wanted to jump in and wrap himself in the inviting comfort, but didn't. He continued to feel his way, while his eyes re-accustomed themselves to light. He knocked something off a table and it landed against his leg. His heart stopped when he felt liquid run down his feet. Patrick fell to his knees and groped for the source. It was a rough feeling vase. He stuck his hand in and felt liquid. He didn't stop to think about what he was drinking. If it killed him, he'd simply revive, and if she took his head while he was dead, so be it. All he wanted was to satiate the heat in his throat. Patrick drank it greedily. There was no bitterness to it, and he drank it all. He reached out in front of him and felt another vase. He stuck a finger inside and felt more water. He drank that and remembered this time to throw some in his face. His sight clarified more and then it hit him. He wasn't imagining it. There was food in the room.

He ate every crumb like a street dog feeding off scraps. He stuffed as much into his mouth as he could fit, gagging several times, but he didn't care. Not a piece went to waste. Every single morsel went inside his mouth. He licked his lips and reached for more food. It was heaven. His eyes slowly adjusted to the room, and images began to take shape. Patrick's eyes widened and the food he had in his hand fell to the ground. Then it hit him. In his current state, Patrick had ignored a sensation that no Immortal should disregard. There she stood, in the middle of a throng of people, watching him.

Patrick wished he felt hate toward her, but all he felt was shame. He hung his head and the murmuring and laughter finally registered.

"Bravo." Aria said as she clapped. Patrick didn't dare raise his head. "You are such wonderful entertainment, Patrick. Why I didn't think of this sooner, I have no idea."

Patrick saw her booted feet, then closed his eyes. If his friends could see him now. Aria raised his chin and he didn't struggle.

"Are we feeling co-operative this morning?"

Silence.

"You are a stubborn one. You've been in that cell for six months!" she said, a smidgen of awe in her voice. "And not once have you betrayed Ramirez."

Patrick opened his eyes, hoping the hate that brewed inside him for her showed.

Aria returned the look with a smile. "Oh, Patrick," she said as she wiped stray pieces of food from his face and beard. "I am going to enjoy breaking you." Aria caressed his face and hair. Patrick didn't resist her. How could he? He had no strength to fight her.

Aria nodded to someone behind him and he felt hands grab him. "I guess since you haven't complained about your accommodations, then you can stay there for a while longer. I just wanted you to participate on the celebration."

Patrick's brow furrowed, wondering what celebration she talked about.

"See those people over there?"

Patrick looked at the sullen faces.

"For every day you don't tell me where I can find Ramirez, they have agreed to give their life."

Patrick looked at Aria stunned. "You wouldn't," he said, his voice hoarse from lack of use.

"But I would, Patrick." Aria cocked her head to one side. "So? What's your answer?"

Patrick hung his head. He couldn't betray Ramirez. He couldn't. He wouldn't! But those innocent people would die because of him. He would have to live with their blood on his hand. Or was she bluffing? Aria ordered him back to his cell when he made no motions of talking. Patrick sat back against the cold wall and closed his eyes. The food he'd consumed had given him energy, and he felt better than he had in a long time. He could easily spend another few months in here. There were worse things. And he refused to believe Aria would kill all those people. But Patrick couldn't have been more wrong.

He felt an Immortal approach, and the door to his cell opened. Two men entered carrying something... or someone? Patrick's eyes widened when the thud of the body greeted his ear.

"Since you are so lonely in here, I thought a bit of company would suit you well."

He couldn't believe it. He refused to believe it.

"Maybe if you asked her nicely, she'd even party with you." Patrick stared at her, his mouth hung open. Aria laughed at him, and closed the door. Patrick was left alone with the dying woman. Forced to listen to her cries as she died a slow death. He thought he could take it, but after several days, and the tiny cell filling with the smell of rotting human carcasses, he snapped.

Patrick knew he'd lost. He screamed for one of the guards and he told Aria Ramirez's last known location.


Scene 6

DUNCAN'S FLAT, SEACOUVER - OCTOBER, 1997

Aria rolled the linguini on her fork, but didn't immediately eat it. She twirled it in the plate, making circular patterns in the pasta and Alfredo sauce.

"I think I'm beginning to understand," Duncan said.

"That's not all," Aria said. "That's not the half of it."

Duncan waited, not wanting to pry. If Aria wanted to tell him the other half, she would. Otherwise he'd wait until she was ready. Her past as La Mora was, he knew, something she preferred not to think about, and if she didn't want to tell him the rest of the story, he could argue with her about it until he was blue in the face, but she wouldn't budge. Duncan simply nodded and kept silent.


Scene 7

STEPHANO'S RESTURANTE ITALIANO, SEACOUVER

"Patrick, that's ancient history."

"It didn't happen to you. You weren't even there."

"I know. And I'm sorry. But Aria's reformed, and she's sorry for what she's done."

"Is she? You don't even know half of the story."

"So..?"

"So what?"

"The other half."

Patrick stared into his wine. Sometimes Rebecca could be infuriating.

"I've told you more than I care to remember."

Rebecca sighed. "You're being thick-headed again, O'Brien."

"I know. Just... I don't want to tell you everything until I work it out in my own head."

She nodded. She knew when to stop prying even though it frustrated her. Getting Patrick's darker feelings out from where he kept them locked away could be like pulling teeth sometimes. She'd just bide her time, and when he was damn good and ready to tell her, he'd tell her. Besides, how horrible could it actually be? However, there still was this problem with him wanting to kill Aria.

"Patrick," she said, "should you condemn who she is, or who she was? Look at your own history. Just in the 1920's you ordered the deaths of..."

"Don't bring that up. I'm not proud of being part of organized crime."

"And how is this different? Are you still a mob boss? Of course not. At least try to see things her way."

"I'm not sure I can."

"Of course you can. You're more open minded than you give yourself credit for."

Patrick stared into his wineglass again. Sometimes he really hated it when she was right.


Scene 8

DUNCAN'S FLAT, SEACOUVER - OCTOBER, 1997, later that evening

Duncan looked at Aria, sleeping beside him. He carefully got up so as to not wake her. The truth of what she had told him had shaken him up. He had condemned Methos for being one of the Four Horsemen, how was this any different? It wasn't. Methos and he had repaired their friendship for the most part, so why should he automatically condemn Aria? He walked over to the window and looked out at the city. Too much was happening all at once, and it was threatening to rob their group of their focus on the Hunters. Had this been anyone other than O'Brien, he would happily take him on for Aria, provided she'd let him.

Duncan needed to clear his head, so he put a shirt and pants on, grabbed his coat and walked downstairs and outside. As he exited the dojo, he felt another Immortal nearby.

"I was hoping you'd still be up."

"O'Brien," Duncan said. "How'd you find the place?"

"You're in the phone book."

"Normally I'd take you on."

"Protect the lady's honor?"

"Something like that."

"So why don't you? It'd be a great fight. We're probably evenly matched."

"Why do you think?"

Patrick nodded. "Connor."

"How do you think he'd react if he knew that his Student and one of his closest friends had fought each other?"

"Connor isn't important right now, MacLeod. And La Mora can fight her own battles."

"I wish you wouldn't call her that. It's not a name she particularly likes."

"Why not? It's who she is."

Duncan sighed. "It's who she was. She's not the same person. I'd think you'd know that better than anyone."

Patrick paused, not knowing what Duncan meant by that. "She told you?"

"Not all of it, but enough to know that she damaged your pride and killed your friends."

Patrick nodded, knowing that Aria had only told Duncan as much as he'd told Rebecca. "Let me ask you this, MacLeod, would you leave something like that unsettled?"

"Maybe," Duncan lied. "If the one responsible was truly sorry for it."

"And is she?"

"I suppose you'll have to ask her."

Patrick paused, looking out into the night, searching for some answers, some sign. It was all well and good for Rebecca and Duncan to say that Aria wanted forgiveness, that she had changed, but had she really? Had she changed that much?

Patrick didn't honestly know.

"Just do me a favor, O'Brien," Duncan said. "I can't stand between the two of you if you do challenge her, but please don't do anything until after this is finished."

Patrick nodded. "You have my word."

"And Connor told me what your word means."


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