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ACROSS FROM DUNCAN'S DOJO - the next day
They had rented the vacant apartment across the street from the
DeSalvo school of martial arts for just this purpose. When he had
become their leader he somehow had known that eventually MacLeod's
dojo and apartment would become a sort of central headquarters for
the enemy. He put his binoculars up to his eyes and watched the new
arrival hobble over to the building and enter. Then, he changed his
focus to the window of the apartment. If only he could hear what
was going on as well as see.
DUNCAN'S FLAT, SEACOUVER - that moment
Joe rode the elevator up to Duncan's loft. He strained to hear
anything from the assembled Immortals. There was silence, which
meant either Patrick and Rebecca weren't there yet, or they were and
the bad blood still gushed between Patrick and Aria.
The elevator stopped and he saw that the latter was true. Duncan and
Aria were sitting on one end of the kitchen, Rebecca and Patrick on
the other. No one was talking.
"Sorry to interrupt the fun," Joe said as he got off the elevator.
"I've got news."
At that he had everyone's undivided attention.
"A Watcher named Todd Clemmens turned up decapitated this morning.
He was assigned to Galan Janek."
Aria gasped. "Dammit."
Joe concurred. "It's not much of a connection, but it's a start."
"Aria," Duncan said, "you knew Janek the best. Did he know his
"She's right," Joe said, tossing a small notebook to the Immortal
nearest to him, Patrick.
Patrick looked at the notebook. "What's this?"
"Clemmens' unofficial 'chronicle.' It was mailed to me and arrived
this morning. Apparently, Clemmens figured he was getting into
trouble, so he got rid of the evidence."
Patrick looked puzzled. "Why send it to you?"
"Because my 'transgression' isn't exactly secret anymore. Besides,
he confided in me when Janek began suspecting him and things were
coming to a head. Just like Bernard."
"Did anyone else know about Clemmens' breaking of his oath?" Rebecca
"Not that I know of." Joe walked across the loft and sat down.
"Who knows about yours?" Patrick asked.
"Shapiro," Duncan hissed.
"Shapiro," realization dawned on Joe then. "Shapiro tried me for the
crime of breaking my oath. He also tried Bernard as a way of getting
at me, but he failed and was kicked out of the Watchers."
"So this is all revenge?" Rebecca said.
"No, there has to be something more to it," Joe said. "If it were
just revenge, he'd go after Bernard, me, and Duncan. But he hasn't
made a move against me yet, and has against Clemmens and Janek."
"Why exactly did he try the two of you?" Patrick said.
"Because he felt we had betrayed the Watcher organization by
"So he's cleaning house," Aria offered.
"How could he be cleaning house if he hasn't got access to any of the
"You were the one who locked up Horton's files and didn't execute
his people," Aria said. "He could easily have a computer expert
unlock them, then contact the Hunter organization when he got all
their names. With the Hunters back in place, he'd have a hit-squad
that not only has no problems killing Immortals but actually look on
it as a holy war."
Patrick nodded in agreement. "Shapiro, himself, doesn't need to
believe in the Hunters dogma in order to use them for his own ends.
It wouldn't be the first time a megalomaniac has taken advantage of
the gullibility of fanatics. He needs people to do the dirty work
for him, they've probably wanted to start up again ever since Horton
"They capture Watchers," Rebecca said, "as bait to lure their
Immortal to them. Then they kill them both."
"They kill the Immortal first and probably force the Watcher to watch
the Immortal die, so that they would know the full extent of their
'crime' before dying themselves," Joe said. "Then they dump the
bodies where other Watchers would find them, which is why you found
"So they punish both sides for the supposed crime," Duncan added.
"Which means Rebecca and I are next," Patrick said.
"Absolutely," Duncan said.
"How long after Clemmens disappeared was Janek killed?"
"Four days," Joe said.
"That gives us two more," Rebecca continued, "before they make their
"They're probably moving on other Watchers as well," Aria said.
"All right," Joe said. "Let's meet at the bar tonight before doors
open, and I'll come up with a list of Watchers who I think may be
UNKNOWN LOCATION - soon after
The unseen voice chuckled.
"What's so amusing?" Bernard said.
"I've been reading the O'Brien Chronicle. Fascinating stuff, really,
especially the section about him and La Mora. Congratulations on
piecing together the times he disappeared. Oh, that's right. He
told you that he was 'Hejan Sheng' and the gaijin samurai."
"And you don't feel you betrayed your oath?"
"No, I didn't. I preserved it."
"That's enough," a second voice said.
Bernard recognized it instantly, and frankly wasn't surprised at
hearing it. "Hello, Jack. Long time no see."
Jack Shapiro stepped out of the shadows. He looked at Bernard but
addressed his unseen companion. "That's all you'll get out of him.
He'll tell you about how the streets are a far cry from my desk and
that a field operative considers himself lucky if he can go his
entire assignment without his Immortal seeing him. Then he'll tell
you that at headquarters, we sit back in our plush office chairs
writing up all the rules and regulations, and that out on the street,
you rely on your nose and your brain. He'll finish up by saying the
Immortal game isn't all black-and-white, good versus evil, and
watching in the field isn't all black-and-white, either."
Bernard smirked. "You remembered."
"I taped the proceedings and listen to both yours and Dawson's trials
each night. So what does your nose and your brain tell you this
"That you're nothing but a bunch of thugs who enjoy picking on
overweight old men who can't fight back."
Shapiro punched Bernard in the stomach, sending the older Watcher
tumbling backwards against the wall. Then he turned to his
companion. "Leave us."
When the door closed, Shapiro waited for Bernard to regain his
composure. "Actually, Bernard," he hissed, "we do enjoy this.
"I never thought you were a bigot like Horton. Misguided and a
power-hungry son of a bitch, but not a bigot."
"I never said I was a bigot. There was a time when I believed in
the Watchers and Immortals, more than anything in the world. Then
it all came crashing down due to people like yourself, Dawson, and
Adam Pierson. Once I was forced out of the Organization, I had to
think fast. I had to save it from what it was becoming and return it
to what it was."
"What it was becoming was a group of mortals that Immortals could
open up to and be themselves with no reservations. In the two and a
half years since O'Brien found out I was a Watcher, I've learned more
about him than any of his other Watchers could ever dream."
"That's the problem, isn't it? You know. He knows. He will be on
the lookout for his next Watcher when you're gone. He'll tell his
friends and Students, they'll tell their friends and Students, and so
on. You can already see it happening. Duncan MacLeod finds Dawson,
MacLeod tells Connor MacLeod, Connor MacLeod tells Rebecca O'Brien,
Rebecca tells Patrick. How many has O'Brien told? And how many more
has Duncan MacLeod told, or Connor MacLeod? The damage has been
done, Bernard, and I'm repairing it. Punish the Watcher for being
exposed, exterminate the Immortal before he spreads his knowledge of
"And that's how the Hunters fit in."
"Exactly. I couldn't contact my allies within the organization, so I
contacted the Hunters who were still alive. They have no problems
killing members of a race that they see as a cancer on the face of
the Earth. It works out extremely well, actually. I needed someone
to kill Immortals and not get my hands dirty, they needed a leader
and a purpose. If they have to kill their own kind, they look upon
it as divine retribution for breaking the Golden Rule."
"Jack, this is insane!"
"Is it? Tell me, if an Immortal broke their Golden Rule, killed on
Holy Ground, what do you think the other Immortals would do?"
"Probably band together and hunt..." Bernard broke off, a chill
shooting down his spine.
"...hunt him down and kill him," Shapiro finished. How is this any
Bernard, for once, didn't have an answer.
JOE'S BAR, SEACOUVER - that evening
Duncan thought that with at least part of what happened between Aria
and Patrick out in the open the tension between the two would have
dissipated. After all, the past was the past, Aria wasn't proud of
hers, and he was sure O'Brien had done some things he wasn't proud
of. He had yet to meet a "good" Immortal who didn't have things in
their past they wanted to forget.
He couldn't have been more wrong.
If anything, the tension seemed almost visible now, crackling in the
air like static electricity. Patrick and Aria sat at opposite ends
of the room, not looking at each other, much like prize-fighters at
opposite corners of the ring. And quite frankly, Duncan was worried.
Joe had told him as an aside that Patrick had tracked Kurdt VonHoffer
for nearly five centuries after VonHoffer had killed his third wife.
And Aria... Aria was closer to falling back on her past persona than
even she wanted to admit. If O'Brien decided to actively hunt her
down, La Mora was close to the surface. Too close.
Rebecca broke the more-than awkward silence. "So... did you find
"Yeah." Joe walked over to the table that Duncan and Rebecca were
sitting at. "It's not much of a list, but it's a start. There's
five Watchers I'm suspicious of, and two who I know Shapiro will be
"Let's start with the two," Patrick said from his corner. "Who are
"One's Mike, who works here. Shapiro knows that Mike works here,
that Mike knows about my 'crime,' and that he did nothing about it.
I'm sure that's pissing him off. The other one is..."
"Martin Gibson?" Aria guessed.
"Yup." He addressed the other Immortals. "Gib is Aria's Watcher.
He saved her life a couple of times, and I'm sure Shapiro knows about
"And the five suspects?" Duncan said.
"Sarah Greenwood, Steven Mallon, Jeffrey Fargo, Irene Wallace, and
George Killman. They've all gotten close to their assignments, but
I'm not sure how close. Shapiro will have his people on them waiting
for them to slip up."
"So what do we do?" Duncan said.
"Watch the Watchers," Joe said.
"I'm not so sure about that," Rebecca said.
"If Shapiro follows his pattern, we'll be targeted tomorrow."
Duncan looked about the room. The atmosphere was still heavy with
things not of Shapiro's making. He sighed. "I've had just about
enough of this."
"Of what, Mac?" Joe asked confused.
"This. Them. Those two. Either you two come to an understanding in
the next hour or none of this is gonna matter. It'll be impossible
to rescue Bernard with this hanging in the air, and it'll be
impossible to protect the other Watchers. And if one of you gets
captured, it'll be impossible for you to be at a hundred percent when
in the back of your mind you'll be hoping they'll turn up dead. I
think we all should leave the room and let them sort this out one way
or the other. If a friend of mine dies because you two aren't acting
your age, then I'll take both your heads." Duncan stormed out of
the bar. Several seconds later, a car started up and pulled away.
Joe shrugged. Mac was absolutely right. O'Brien and Aria, hell
most Immortals, had both lost enough people due to inaction, that
frankly their behavior towards each other surprised him to say the
least. Friends' lives were at stake here, and they were content to
bicker like children. He turned towards Rebecca. "Why don't we go
grab a bite?" He tossed a set of keys to Patrick. "Help yourself to
the bar. Mike'll be here in an hour to open for tonight. If you
leave before he gets here, lock up for me." He and Rebecca walked
Patrick sighed and walked over to the jukebox. "Nothing but blues.
"What do you expect? This is a blues club after all."
"I know that." He dropped a quarter into the jukebox and selected
some BB King.
It was Aria's turn to sigh. "They're right, you know."
"Did you tell Rebecca?"
"Not everything. Not about how you turned me."
"So what do we do?"
"I am more than willing to treat you civilly, so long as when this
business is done we finish our fight."
Patrick looked insulted. "Why do you think?"
"It's ancient history, O'Brien. We're not the same people we were
five hundred years ago. Can you honestly say you're the same man now
as you were even fifty years ago?"
Patrick walked behind the bar and took out two glasses, poured two
drinks and handed one to Aria.
"You haven't answered my question," Aria said. Are you the same
man today as you were in 1947? I doubt it."
"Aside from a name-change, I'd like to think that I have a stronger
sense of self than that."
Patrick wasn't amused. "You find that funny?"
"Yes, actually. If you had such an unbreakable sense of self,
wouldn't you be running around in a kilt and firs with a sword
strapped to your side? None of us are that secure in our
persona. At least not the honorable ones."
"I suppose you're right." Patrick took a drink and poured himself
another. "So what exactly do you want from me? Forgiveness?
There's none to give. You made me into something I didn't want to
be. I didn't like being blackmailed with the lives of my friends
into betraying my teacher, and I didn't like being forced into doing
Aria poured herself another drink. "As far as forcing you to do what
you did, yes I blackmailed you, but you could have killed me in my
sleep and left any time you wanted. But you didn't, and I've been
wondering exactly why that was ever since you walked through that
door two days ago."
"I did, I honestly thought of it many times in the early days. But I
couldn't kill you in your sleep, that would have made me no better
than you were."
"Yes," Aria said. "Later. You said you thought of it in the early
days. What about later?"
Patrick was silent.
Aria rubbed her finger against the lip of her glass, making a
sustained note. "I'll tell you why, when you turned to my ways you
enjoyed it too much."
Patrick nearly choked on his drink. "What?!"
"You heard me. You enjoyed being evil. It wasn't like Duncan's
dark Quickening where he was overwhelmed by evil and wasn't in
control of himself. Forced to or not, you made a choice to become
evil, just as I did. And you found it liberating, being able to
ignore your guilty conscious for two decades. You may as well admit
that if things hadn't worked out the way they did, we'd still be
together and still be evil."
Patrick stared at the bartop. "You're great at making broad-based
assumptions, Aria, but you're wrong."
Aria stopped playing with the glass. "Go ahead. Look into my eyes
and tell me I'm wrong."
Patrick looked into her eyes and opened his mouth. And found he
couldn't tell her.
"Admit it, O'Brien, we had a great time."
Patrick poured himself another drink and gulped it down. Then he
poured one more. "Yes. We did. And I've had to live with that
every day for five hundred years. I tried to escape it by going to
China and Japan and becoming someone else, but it didn't work, not
entirely. Finally, I'd gotten to the point where I could actually
live with my actions, forget what I'd done. And then when I saw you
here, with the kinsman of my best friend, and he didn't have his
sword at your neck, it all came back, every last detail, everything
you made me do and everything we did together, and everything I did
myself afterwards. I'll admit I enjoyed being your 'creation,' but
I'll never forgive you."
"Then don't. I'm not sorry for what I did. It's not something that
I'm proud of, but I can live without your forgiveness, probably
better than I could with it. I did what I did. It happened. But
that's all in the past now, and I suggest that's where you leave it
as well. And I hate to break it to you, but I never actually made
you do anything, so stop blaming me for your own actions. You made
your own choices, just like I did, and you have to live with them,
just like I do. The only thing I did was force you to put aside so-
called 'civilized' behavior. Look at it this way, you're lucky."
"That I find hard to believe. How am I lucky?"
"You've got a reputation for saying you don't want the Prize, but
you're in the Game to keep it from an evil Immortal. You do know
what the Patrick O'Brien from five hundred years ago would have done
with the Prize, don't you?"
"That's one of the reasons I don't want it."
"You and I know more about evil Immortals than a lot of us do, with
a very few exceptions, because we were evil. We were the enemy, so
we know what the enemy thinks, what they feel, and what motivates
them. We know how to defeat them. Look at the time we spent
together that way and stop feeling so damn guilty about it."
Patrick nodded. He'd probably never feel comfortable around Aria,
but at least he didn't feel like killing her just yet. It was a
start, at least.
JOE'S RESIDENCE, SEACOUVER - the next day
"Hold your damn horses, I'm coming!" Joe said as he walked towards
his front door. "I can't exactly run you know."
The pounding on the door grew more insistent.
"At least you could calm the hell down." Joe wondered who it was at
the door. Patrick and Rebecca were going to pick him up and the
three were going to drive to Mac's to discuss strategy. However,
they weren't due for another two hours, and besides they knew how
slow Joe was and would be patient.
Joe reached the door just as it was kicked in.
"What the hell?"
A man stepped inside. He was dressed in black from head to toe.
Even his face was covered. He put his hand out and shoved Joe to the
"What are you doing?" The fact was, though, Joe knew all too well
what they were doing. Somehow the Hunters were watching them, and
knew what was being planned both at the bar and at Mac's. Although
it wasn't the first time that he'd been roughed up by renegade and
not-so-renegade Watchers, part of his mind was afraid that it would
be the last. The first man continued on into the house. Two others
entered, grabbed Joe, and dragged him outside. They passed three
others. Joe was roughly tossed into a van. The last thing he
remembered was feeling a club or the butt of a gun come down on the
back of his skull...
"Joe?" Rebecca said.
"I don't like it," Patrick said. "Look." He pointed to the
The door had obviously been kicked in.
"Maybe he's inside."
"I doubt it."
Both Immortals took their swords out and entered the silent house.
"You take this floor, I'll look upstairs," Patrick said.
"OK." Patrick went up the stairs two at a time and entered a bedroom.
The mattress had been sliced, the closet had been emptied, and all
the contents were on the floor. The same was true for the bureau.
He walked into the study to find much of the same. The computer was
on, and was at a C prompt. The previous commands were still on the
WARNING!!! All data on fixed drive C
WILL BE ERASED. Do you wish to continue
with format? (Y/N) Y
Patrick looked in the floppy disk drive. Nothing. The Hunters had
cleaned out everything Joe had, and without knowing what wipe
program they had used, it would be nearly impossible to recover any
of Joe's data. Still, it would be worse to leave the computer here
and never know than to try and fail. He unplugged the monitor,
keyboard, mouse, and power from the CPU, placed the CPU under his
arm, and went downstairs. He found Rebecca in the kitchen in the
midst of a mess. The Hunters had emptied the refrigerator and left
all the food and drinks to fester on the floor.
"Nice," he said.
"Yeah. They did a real thorough job. What's that?"
"Joe's computer. They deleted all his data."
"So what do you think we'll accomplish by taking it with us?"
"Maybe nothing. But it can't hurt. Let's go to MacLeod's and see
what we can come up with."
DUNCAN'S LOFT, SEACOUVER - that moment
Aria sat in the leather sofa, her legs were drawn to her chest, her
face rested on her knees, her hands wrapped around her legs. She
gazed at nothing in particular as she contemplated the events of the
past few days. Galan was dead. And O'Brien wanted her head. Two
Immortals at two very different times of her life. Galan had been
there when she sought peace for her tormented soul. And O'Brien had
been part of her less than stellar past--a past filled with death and
betrayal. A past she no longer liked to be reminded of, and his
presence brought it all back.
Should she ask his forgiveness? Why? She hadn't made him do
anything he didn't want to. In the beginning, yes, but later... he'd
done it all out of his own free will. She sensed Duncan behind her,
but she didn't move. His strong arms engulfed her and his face
caressed hers. Aria smiled. Duncan MacLeod. Even after she'd told
him about part of her past with Patrick, he still loved her. But
would he after he knew the rest? Could she handle his scorn? He was
the consummate boy scout, and damn proud of it.
"Where are you, Aria?" he murmured in her damp hair, his lips grazing
"Just thinking of my life," she sighed whimsically. "My past life."
"Don't beat yourself up about O'Brien. If he's as smart as his
reputation, he'll see you've changed and then he'll move on."
Duncan squeezed her and she patted his arms.
"And then there's Galan. He didn't deserve to die like that, Duncan.
A man who's lived for over thirteen hundred years doesn't die at the
hands of scavengers!"
Duncan drew a deep breath. In the melee of Aria and Patrick's
animosity, Aria hadn't talked much about the ancient Immortal. He
himself was angry and wanted, no, needed to have some retribution.
Duncan would be lying to himself if he said that he hadn't enjoyed
killing the man who terminated Darius' life. What gave those
Hunters the right to decide what Immortal lived and what Immortal
died? They weren't a part of their world, a violent one, and they
weren't and shouldn't be involved. But how to stop them short of
killing them all?
Aria's sobbing reached his conscious and Duncan climbed into the sofa
behind her. He hugged her close, and kissed the top of her head. He
let her cry for her slain friend. Galan had travelled to Holy
Ground, seeking refuge, as Aria had. They'd helped each other heal
wounds too deep for the mortal world to understand. Though she
still hadn't told him what had caused her to flee to Holy Ground,
she had told him that had ended her evil days. After restoring her
soul over a century, she had ceased to be La Mora, and hadn't
regretted it. And especially after hearing her history with
Patrick, and the things she did to him, Duncan was more than curious
to know what had changed Aria. Listening to her cry for her fallen
friend, Duncan couldn't imagine her as what she used to be. And he
was glad for that. Duncan closed his eyes when he felt her hands
travel up and down his legs. She pressed further into him and he
heard her breath quicken. She turned around to face him and her
dark eyes were smouldering, the look that always promised hours
filled with intense passion. Wasting no time, both kissed
feverishly, each trying to creep into each other's skin. Aria was
still crying and Duncan held her face in his hands.
"It's okay, Love," he whispered, "we don't have to."
"I know," she responded, but she kissed him again.
Duncan and Aria were lost in each other's bodies, then Duncan stood
suddenly and swooped her up in his arms and headed for his bed. He
placed her gently on it, and slowly removed her thin silk robe. Aria
gazed up at him, her mouth slightly parted, her eyes locked with his.
Her hands snaked up his powerful legs. Duncan drew in a sharp breath
and closed his eyes. Her hands continued their course undeterred
toward his buttocks, his muscled back, his strong neck. Duncan knelt
and was about to kiss her when he cursed. Aria did too.
Both had sensed the presence of one of their own. A strong presence.
Duncan retrieved his katana, stepped back into a pair of sweats, and
headed for the side door. Aria stood, fastened her robe, and sought
her own sword. A loud knocking echoed through the quiet loft, and
before Duncan could ask anything, he recognized O'Brien's voice.
This had better be good, thought Duncan, the O'Briens and Joe weren't
supposed to be here for another hour.
An angry Irishman stormed past Duncan, followed by a sullen faced
Rebecca. What now? Duncan asked himself. Patrick wasted no time.
"They've got Dawson!"
"What?!" Duncan and Aria said in unison.
"You heard me! They have Joe!" Patrick paced the length of the
living area. "We were to meet at his place and we were going to grab
something to eat before heading over here When we got there, the
door was wide open and the place was mess. Signs of struggles were
"Great! Just what we needed," Duncan groused.
"The gloves are off now," Aria said. Three pairs of eyes turned in
her direction, but she walked toward the wall phone and placed a
"Who in the world is she calling?" Patrick asked exasperated. They
were no closer to rescuing Bernard and now Dawson, the brains of the
operation, was gone!
"Look, Patrick," Rebecca began, "ranting and raving is not going to
get us anywhere."
Patrick ignored her and continued to pace the loft like a caged
Aria finished her call and returned to the heart of the loft. "I
just talked to Gibson and told him to watch himself. We can't afford
having him nabbed too."
"Quick thinking, Aria." Duncan patted her shoulder when she came to
stand next to him.
"What now?" Rebecca asked. She honestly didn't know where to start.
"If these idiots stick to their pattern, then you two will get a
visit from them tomorrow," Aria said. "Only we'll be prepared for
them and we'll get all the answers to our questions."
"That's for damn sure," Patrick added.
Duncan and Rebecca didn't like the way Patrick said that. He made it
sound like he planned on giving them no choice.
"If these people are as fanatic as they seemed to be, Patrick,"
Rebecca interjected, "then no matter what we ask them, they won't
give up their comrades."
Patrick gave a predatory smile. "Oh, there are ways to make people
"Yes, there are." Aria concurred with him. Both locked eyes and
quickly looked away.
"Short of killing them!" Duncan protested. Though he wanted the
vermin exterminated from his life, he wasn't sure he wanted their
blood on his hands.
"What else do you think we'll have to do, Duncan?" Aria insisted.
"These damned Hunters expect us to act honorably and not hunt them
down and kill them, yet they hunt and kills us!"
"Aria, there are other ways to deal with this!" Duncan walked up to
her and gazed into her eyes, searching. "What? Are you planning on
killing all of them?"
"If we have to."
Duncan's eyes grew wide.
"I will not participate in the mass murdering of mortals!" Rebecca
walked toward one of the windows and looked out into the night.
Patrick exhaled a sharp breath. He went to Rebecca and tried to wrap
his arms around her but she shrugged him off. He sighed and folded
his arms. "Rebecca, you've gotta understand! If they had us, they
wouldn't hesitate to kill us! They don't care! And now they are
killing their own too! Can't you see the only way to send a strong
message to these Hunters is if blood is spilt? Theirs? And a lot of
it? The only way to be really sure that they're out of our lives
completely is to hunt the Hunters. You of all people should feel
that way after all that Daruis was to you."
Rebecca said nothing, furious at such a low blow, and even angrier
that he was partly right. Patrick tried to touch her again, but
again she shrugged him off. He sighed and walked back toward Duncan
"Patrick is right," Aria said. Rebecca turned around startled. She
couldn't believe her ears. "The Hunters need to be taught a
lesson. One that will make them think twice before hunting another
"I'm listening," Patrick said, taking a seat on the leather couch.
Aria sat next to him. Duncan leaned against the kitchen island and
Rebecca remained at the window.
"Good. When they come for you two tomorrow, Duncan and I will be
there also. Of course they won't know we are there. And since we
don't know how many of them there will be, we have to be cautious."
"Nice idea, Aria," Patrick sneered, "but we are staying at a high-
Aria glared at him. "And what makes you think that they won't attack
you there? It's a damn unlikely spot and they'd expect you to think
that way. Dammit, Patrick, you know better than that! The best way
of attacking someone is in the place they feel the safest," Aria said
Patrick gave her a cross look and she rolled her eyes. "Give me a
layout of the hotel." She stopped and cocked her head to one side.
"I expect you have checked the place out for fast escape routes?"
"Of course!" he said indignantly. "You know me better than that."
As Aria and Patrick planned their best route of attack on the
Hunters, Duncan and Rebecca watched them amazed. Something didn't
add up. They were supposed to be mortal enemies. Patrick tried to
kill her on sight just a few days ago and now they were sitting next
to each other like old chums. Something didn't add up!
Both bickered back and forth like old friends who couldn't agree on
what movie to go see. Then they'd find one they both could agree on
and then, just as quickly, argue about that choice again. Duncan
scratched his head as he thought about everything Aria had mentioned
about her past with O'Brien, and none of it suggested they had worked
together, but what he witnessed seemed like they'd fallen into an old
routine. Something both were accustomed to. Oh, yeah, Duncan
thought to himself. Something didn't add up. And the prospects
didn't sit well with him, especially with what happened next.
"That sounds like a plan, Patrick," Aria said excited. "Just like
old times, huh?"
Patrick's head snapped up and he gazed at Aria. His mouth opened,
then closed. He glanced, first at Rebecca, then at Duncan--both had
curious looks on their faces. He then looked away, crossed his leg,
and drummed his fingers on his sneaker. He hated to admit this, and
he knew more questions would come from their audience, but he had to
tell the truth. "Yes," he finally said, "it does."
"What the hell are you talking about, Patrick?" Rebecca said, walking
over to him. Her lips were curled in anger.
"That's what I'd like to know, Aria," Duncan agreed too, stepping
closer to the pair on the sofa. Aria and Patrick gazed at each other,
both sighing heavily at the grave slip they made. They thought they
could avoid this, but now the two glowering Immortals would not let
Rebecca spoke first. "You told me she tortured you! How can
planning this be like 'old times!'"
"Dammit, Patrick! I know I wasn't planning on pressuring to tell me
the 'other half' but you damn well better explain yourself! NOW!"
Duncan joined the interrogation. "Just yesterday you wanted to kill
her on sight, O'Brien, and now you two sit down here talking like old
scheming buddies. Something doesn't add up, and I think we both
deserve an answer."
Aria stood and walked toward the window and looked out into the
darkness. Patrick on the other hand, sank into the chair and ran his
fingers through his hair. Where to start? he asked himself.
1498, SMALL VILLAGE, NORTHERN SPAIN
The man's body shook violently as he stared into the darkest pair of
eyes he'd ever seen. "Please! I have no more to give. We have
nothing!" "Nothing? Nothing!" Aria pulled him closer, she could
smell the fear on him and smiled. "You have your home. You have
your business. You have two beautiful daughters, and wife too!"
Aria's smile turned into a bestial grin. "How can you tell me you
have nothing, Marcello?"
"You have taken all my gold and silver. We barely have food enough
to eat, and my business was burned down. I have nothing!"
Aria drew a deep breath. "How much do you want to bet that you can
come up with more gold in the next two seconds, Marcello?"
The old man looked at her incredulously.
"There are many motherless children in this town, Marcello. I'm
surprised you'd want to add yours to the list."
Marcello's eyes grew wide. He glanced at his wife, who had shrank
into a corner, huddled with his two children. He turned his head
back toward Aria. Her teeth were bare, grinning insanely at him.
"Please," he begged one more time.
Aria lost her patience and dropped the man. He scrambled away from
her. Aria didn't go to him, but she went to the three women.
Marcello grabbed Aria's legs and caused her to fall, screaming to his
wife and daughters to get out of here. They stood and ran for the
door, but they ran smack dab into a large man. His eyes were cold.
Green eyes. Strange eyes. Deadly eyes.
The women backed into the room, their arms interlaced around each
"Which one?" questioned the man with the green eyes.
Aria laughed. She untangled herself from Marcello and said, "The
Patrick O'Brien walked toward the woman and snatched her from her
daughters arms. Aria held Marcello in place.
"You are right. You are right! I do have some gold. I will give
you all. All of it!" he shrieked.
Aria gazed at him lazily. "See? I told you you would have it."
She turned back to Patrick and nodded her head. Patrick in turn
broke the woman's neck. It was quick and effortless. She crumpled
lifeless to the ground. Her daughter's flocked to her, and grabbed
her dead body. They rocked her in their arms, screaming for their
mother, and praying to their Gods, to take care of them.
Aria and Patrick walked out of the house. There was a crowd of
people just outside the door, the loud murmuring ceased when they
"Okay," Aria began, Patrick standing to her side. "Who wants to join
the list?" She looked at the crowd levelly. "Believe me, people! I
am in control! Don't think for one second that you can hold out on
me and I won't know."
Without hesitation, one by one, they came and deposited whatever they
had into the sack that Patrick held.
"You were right, Patrick," Aria said, as they moved through the swarm
of villagers. "Attack them when they feel the safest, and you get
the best results. I think I'm going to keep you around for a while.
I love your ideas and plans."
Patrick smiled. He knew it would work and he liked the feeling of
power it gave him. It made him feel ten feet tall and invincible.
Like he could do anything, and have anything. Why it had taken him
so long to see things Aria's way, he wasn't sure, but he wasn't about
to turn his back on it any time soon.
Several years had gone by since they first started searching for him.
Ramirez was an Immortal who made himself hard to find. At first,
Patrick had been elated that they kept missing him. Every town
they'd travelled to--that Ramirez had connections with--insisted that
they hadn't seen the exotic Spaniard, not that he'd be hard to miss.
Aria was enraged. Her obsession of revenge toward Ramirez caused her
to think of nothing else and she searched--dragging Patrick around--
unceasingly for over a two year period. Patrick had grown tired of
her, and escaped one night. He'd regretted that tremendously, as
Aria proceeded to ravage town after town, until he came back to her
side. She promised him that she'd level every village to ashes if he
ever ran away from her again. He was hers until she claimed her
prize: Ramirez's head!
O'Brien never again thought of leaving. What would be the point? He
had told himself that he would never be able to take the weight of
the dead on his Immortal conscience. Then he thought that killing
her would be the best course of action. Take her head one night as
she slept. He could do it. She deserved no better death--she had no
honor to speak off. Then one night, he had the chance. A clear shot
at her head. But as he stood behind her, his sword raised only a few
inches away from forever death, Patrick couldn't. Not that it went
against his honor. No, he couldn't because he didn't want to. He
slipped back to his sleeping cot, and went to a fitful sleep,
wondering when he'd taken the wrong turn in his life.
Unbeknownst to Patrick, Aria had been fully awake that night. She
didn't want to die, and if he did go for her head, she had plenty of
room to roll away from him, but she forced herself to lay still. She
didn't even bother to turn around when he left, she simply smiled and
went to a restful slumber. She'd one a major victory and she would
not let it slip through her fingers.
Aria had a habit of talking about whatever was on her mind. She
didn't care if he listened or not. But she used him, because he was
"We are Immortals, O'Brien!" She liked to say. "Rulers of this
world and the worlds yet to come. We can do anything we want!
Take anything we want. The world is our footstool."
She talked about the insanity of the mortal world. How they needed
chaos and discipline in order to have meaning to their lives. And
she planned on given them both.
She talked about her life. Her mortal life. How she detested the
Spanish, and what they'd done to her. And no amount of lives would
repair the damage they'd done to her heart. She would keep cutting
out their hearts, as they'd done to her, so many centuries ago.
Little by little, Aria kept worming her thoughts into his. He fought
it at first, arguing with her that she was just bitter! That her
reasons for revenge didn't hold anymore. It had been centuries ago,
and the people of this current world shouldn't be blamed for the sins
of their ancestors. Aria would simply laugh at him, then one day
she'd turned the tables on him. She questioned him about his own
life. About his beliefs. About his precious honor. What had all
that gotten him? Nothing! If he left her today, did he have anyone
waiting for him? Of course not! He had nobody, and she had nobody,
so they made the perfect match. He had hated her for that, but what
he hated the most was, she was right.
He was alone. Except for her. Aria. La Mora. The only constant in
Patrick O'Brien's life. He didn't want to admit it to himself, but
he'd rather be with her than go back to a life of loneliness. A life
of aloneness. He couldn't face that again.
Gradually, over the years, he didn't protest anymore when she hurt
someone, he didn't challenged her to a fight--which she always
refused--when she killed someone. Patrick remembered vividly, the
night he knew he'd turned to her camp, to her ways.
An old man was sneaking up behind Aria, a sharp metal shard in his
grubby hands, heading for her head. The old man only managed to
graze her arm, after Patrick had stabbed him in the back. Aria had
smiled at him, and it made him feel accepted. Like he belonged. And
he felt no guilt. After that night, he didn't look back.
DUNCAN'S LOFT - SEACOUVER, OCTOBER 1997
"And how long did you two stay together, doing..." Rebecca trailed
off, not sure she wanted to know anymore. She always knew there was
a dark side to Patrick, the simple fact that just this past spring he
had beaten a snivelling, bratty Immortal named Steven Kowalski and
let him live for no other reason than it was fun would convince
anyone. More than that, she'd known since he came back from Japan
and perhaps before, but never in her long life would she have
imagined he'd kill innocent women, or level villages.
"...doing evil?" Patrick finished for her when she didn't continue.
"The last time I saw Aria was in 1510 when I left her."
"Twenty-three years, Patrick!" Rebecca gasped.
Patrick didn't dare meet her eyes. He felt ashamed and soiled. He
always asked himself about that. Why had he stayed with her? And
for so long? He knew what he was doing was wrong, but he just didn't
care. Duncan was shocked to learn that the squeaky clean O'Brien,
wasn't so clean after all. He guessed many Immortals had things they
didn't want brought to light--himself included. But that's not what
had caught Duncan's attention. It was the year that Patrick had last
seen Aria. "Now let me see if I get this? The last time you saw Aria
she was still evil?" Patrick narrowed his eyes, wondering what Duncan
meant by that. Duncan continued, "No wonder you attacked her on sight
at Joe's." Duncan paused, pensive a moment. "Aria?" he called to
her, "isn't that the year you fled to Holy Ground?"
Aria didn't answer. She remained at the window, her back to the
other Immortals, her fists clenched.
"Fled to Holy Ground?" Patrick asked, interest peaking his curiosity.
"What are you talking about, MacLeod?"
"Close to a hundred years," Duncan responded.
Patrick's eyebrows shot up, surprised. He hadn't known that. Rebecca
wasn't surprised by Duncan's last statement. Darius had told her one
night that simply because they were Immortal didn't mean that
traumatic experiences didn't affect them as it did mortals. Rebecca
hadn't argued with Darius, because her own traumatic experience--
thanks to VanHoffer--had landed her at Darius church, where she lost
herself as a nun for a century. According to Duncan and Dawson, Aria
wasn't even a shadow of her former self, and Rebecca was more than
curious to find out what caused the change. Could Patrick's absence
have done it?
"Why did you leave her, Patrick?" Rebecca asked.
Patrick turned to look at his wife. "For years, I thought her
obsession with Ramirez was over, then we heard about Methos."
"Methos?" Duncan asked, his brown eyes darkening. "And?"
Patrick sighed and turned to look at Aria's back again. "She told me
that if she had the quickening of the oldest living Immortal, taking
Ramirez's head would be a piece of cake. We argued about it and then
"You left her? Just like that?" Rebecca questioned, her brow
knitted, her mouth set in a scowl.
"Yes, Rebecca. I left," he snapped. "Just like that!"
ACROSS FROM DUNCAN'S DOJO - that moment
He watched the window. He had grown to know the silhouettes
intimately over the course of the last couple of days. MacLeod's
imposing figure, O'Brien's wiry build, Aria's powerful presence, and
Rebecca's slightness. Aria was simply looking out the window at
nothing in particular. She hadn't seen him. O'Brien and Rebecca
were arguing, fairly viciously, with MacLeod in the middle. He
picked up his cell-phone, dialled a number, and reported in.
"Keep watching," said his superior. "If either O'Brien or Rebecca
leave, get them."
"And MacLeod and al Haban?"
"Leave them for now."
DUNCAN'S LOFT - that moment
"And when you left her? What then? Did you go back to being nice-
guy Patrick O'Brien again!"
O'Brien spun around and glared at his wife. "What? Do you want to
know every deep dark secret I have, Rebecca? I suppose you tell
everyone you meet that you stole through half of Europe with Amanda!"
"That's a low blow, Patrick," she snapped back, hurt in her eyes.
Patrick had instantly regretted the words as soon as they'd left his
"I'm not the one with the dark secrets!" There had to be something
more, she thought, wondering what he was keeping from her. "So what
"What else, what?" Patrick asked irritated.
"You went from being her prisoner, to her partner in crime! What
else were you to her?!"
"Enough!" Duncan said. "I've had about enough of this." He walked
over to Aria, who still kept her back to them.
Rebecca and Patrick, avoiding eye contact with each other, watched
them from their current positions.
"Aria? I know you don't like talking about this, but maybe you
should," he said in a low voice. "It won't make the pain go away,
but there'll be a cleaner wound. And who knows, maybe one day it
will go away."
Aria shook her head. Even after all this time, Aria still couldn't
think about what drove her to Holy Ground without breaking out into a
fevered sweat. Galan Janek had been there for her during that
anguished period of her life.
The name alone made her shiver.
Oh, she'd found him all right, but what he'd done to her would be
with her until the day she died, and if he was still alive, she
prayed she never again crossed paths with the ancient Immortal.
"Duncan, please... I can't," she said in a low voice only he could
hear. Duncan embraced her and felt the tension in her body. He
pulled her close and decided not to push. She would tell him when
she was good and ready. Right now, they had other matters to
discuss. Namely, Dawson's kidnapping and what to do about the
An awkward silence ensued until Rebecca broke it.
"Coffee sounds good about now," she suggested, standing and walking
to the kitchenette. Patrick was off somewhere in his own thoughts and
she chose to leave him there.
Aria disentangled herself from Duncan's arms and went back to the
window. She leaned against the wall and gazed out at the sky.
Duncan stared at her for a moment wishing there was a way he could
help her, but he knew she'd have to work it out on her own. Duncan
gently squeezed Aria's shoulder, then went to assist Rebecca in the
kitchen. Patrick sat in silence on the couch trying to figure Aria
out. He had no idea if she'd found Methos, but what if she had, then
challenged him? He didn't know that either, and Patrick would have to
ask Aria since both she and Methos were still alive. But he had to
admit to himself that the Aria of today and the Aria he left five
hundred years ago were two very different individuals.
Duncan busied himself with setting up mugs for coffee on the kitchen
island. Rebecca had found some fruits and decided to slice them up
for snacking. The distracted Immortals didn't realize each where in
each other's path until they collided together, sending fruit
scattering from Rebecca's arms.
"Oh, oh," she said, chuckling. "Is this what it means to get
forgetful in your old age?"
Duncan laughed. "Something like that I suppose."
As they picked up the fallen fruits, Rebecca noticed his lack of
dress for the first time. He wore only a pair of sweat pants.
Amanda was right. Not a bad sight, if she said so herself.
"Did we interrupt something?" she said with a grin. When Duncan
looked up confused at her, she gestured with her head towards his
He looked down, digested what she'd said, then stood up. His face
turned a soft shade of red. "Well... um..." He walked quickly
toward the island and deposited the fruits there, then he excused
himself and disappeared inside the bathroom.
Rebecca laughed. She'd heard many stories about Duncan and his female
conquests from Amanda. Mortal and Immortal. It didn't matter to the
chivalrous Immortal from the Highlands. Rebecca smiled as she
remembered her own share of conquests, and she had no doubt that
Patrick had his too. Rebecca lazily glanced toward him. He was
looking intently at Aria's back and a thought struck her again.
They'd made a pact never to talk about such things, knowing how
insanely jealous each could get, but if one placed the question, they
always answered in truth.
Rebecca grabbed two mugs of coffee and went to where Patrick sat.
When he didn't respond to her second call, she was tempted to dump
the hot contents on him to gain his attention. "Patrick Colm
Patrick snapped out of his fog and took the coffee from her. His
attention went back to the CPU setting on the coffee table. They had
to be a way to access the information that used to be on there, he
"Aria would you like some coffee?" Rebecca asked.
Aria turned around and nodded. Rebecca went to get it as Aria walked
back toward the living area of the loft and sat opposite Patrick in
the leather couch. "Colm?"
"Well since all my other secrets are out..."
Her eyes fell on the CPU on the table. "Where'd that come from?"
"Dawson's," he answered without looking up. He took a sip of the
coffee then rested the cup on the table. "It was wiped clean but I'm
hoping there's a way we can retrieve some of its information
"There probably is," she answered. Rebecca handed Aria the mug of
coffee and set a bowl of fruit on the table.
Duncan walked back into the loft, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and
sat next to Aria. Rebecca smiled at him. He returned it and got to
the business at hand. "What is that?" he asked pointing at the CPU.
"Dawson's computer," Aria answered him. "O'Brien thought we'd be
able to get whatever information was on it."
"How is that going to help us find them?"
"I don't know, MacLeod," Patrick said, "but we have to do something.
Joe was supposed to come up with possible leads as to where the
Hunters could be operating from. We are running out of time and for
all we know, Bernard could be dead!"
"Patrick," Rebecca began, resting a hand on his shoulder. He was
tense. "We'll find him."
"How can you be sure of that, Rebecca? You saw what they did to
"What?" Duncan asked. It hadn't occurred to him how they'd taken
"The place was a mess, MacLeod. Trashed, is the better word to use."
"The door was forcibly opened," Rebecca added. "I imagine that Joe
gave them a tough fight, but he was..." she trailed off, not sure
what she wanted to say.
"The computer being wiped clean means that they are on to us," Duncan
said, relieved that they were in at least a semblance of civilized
behavior. All agreed with him. "Where was Gibson when you called
"In his apartment."
Duncan pursed his lips. "If it's four days in between kidnapping the
watcher and the Immortal, then you two will definitely be hit
"I think we should go ahead with the plan you two came up with and
also have Gibson watch our backs," Duncan stated. There was consent
among the other Immortals. "Rebecca, see if you can get another room
close to yours at the hotel. Aria, I think you better get Lucia and
Emily to a safe house. One that the Watchers wouldn't know about."
"Who are they?" Patrick asked, looking at Aria as she stood.
"Lucia takes care of my daughter Emily," Aria said without much
"You have a daughter!"
Aria studied Patrick for a few seconds. Did she hear scorn in his
voice. "Yes. What about it?" she asked in defiance.
"Nothing... I'm just... surprised," he said, offering a smile. "Then
again I shouldn't be. You always wanted children."
Aria gasped at the response. "You remember that?!"
"I remember a lot of things, Aria," Patrick said gently.
"Oh." Aria felt her cheeks flush by how intimately he'd said that,
remembering her strange relationship with him: from prisoner, to
partner, to lover.
Patrick gazed at her. Sometimes he wanted to rip her head off, but
other times, like now, he just wanted to hold her and shelter her
from the world. He'd learned through their strange relationship that
Aria's bitterness and disappointment with the world caused her to
lash out at it violently. But he remembered the nights when she
would let her mask down and he would see the raw grief in her eyes.
She craved love, but would never admit it or ask for it. Aria only
needed someone to see beyond that and love her, and although that
hadn't changed her much, he'd loved her once. Rebecca cleared her
throat. "Something else you forgot to tell me!"
"Rebecca," Patrick said, running his hands through his hair.
"You're a lying son of a bitch, Patrick O'Brien!"
Patrick was stunned by those choice of words coming from his wife.
"We come into town, and the first thing you do when you see her is go
for her head." Rebecca walked up to him. "What? Were you ashamed
of her or yourself. What is it you didn't want us to find out,
Patrick? You tell me that she forced you into something you were
not, and that she made you do things you didn't want to do, but I
don't think that's why, Patrick. I don't think that's why you wanted
her head. No. I think you saw a part of your past that you were
ashamed of and she was just a reminder of it. Kill her and no one
would know that the honorable, man of his word, clean cut, Patrick
O'Brien, was a cold blooded killer, who thought selfishly and hurt
innocent people." Rebecca poked him hard in the chest. "That is
why you wanted her head!" She poked him again harder, causing him to
back up. "That is why you needed time to work it out in your head.
You want to condemn her for what she used to be, you better put
yourself on that list too, O'Brien!" Rebecca pushed by him, grabbed
her coat and stormed out the loft.
ACROSS FROM DUNCAN'S DOJO - that moment
He picked up his two-way radio, who's mate was in the car out front,
and pressed the "talk" button. "Rebecca is leaving, alone. We move
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