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"I can't believe how big Mary's getting," Duncan said as he watched one of
the closest things he'd ever have to a child move around the porch "Before
long, you'll be struggling through her teen years."
Anne sat down on the porch swing next to him and handed him a glass of tea.
"Don't even say that. I'm just struggling to get her through potty
training." she said, letting out a soft laugh. "And I want to thank you for
coming out and fixing those gutters. With all the rain we've been having
lately, I was getting worried the roof would start leaking."
"Anything as long as I get to see two of my favorite women." He said as he
watched Mary, who was now playing with an old magazine. "Her security
blanket?" he asked grinning.
Anne shook her head, "That magazine is so old. I brought it home form the
hospital one day after starting an article I couldn't put down. A few years
later, she somehow finds it and won't stop playing with it." Duncan grinned
and then they were both silent, feeling awkward. There was still too much
to say to each other, so many feelings untold, too many urges still left
hidden away. As lovers, they had grown apart, but the birth of Mary had
brought their friendship closer.
"So, how's Richie doing?" Anne said finally breaking the silence. Even Mary
had become quiet. "I haven't seen him around lately."
"Actually, I've been worried about him. He's come into a large sum of money
lately, and he's being secretive about it. He won't open up to anyone."
"Unky Wrytchie?" Mary asked, surprised hearing one of her favorite uncles
name. Excited, she threw the magazine into Duncan's lap spilling his tea.
Anne jumped up and grabbed for a towel as Duncan sat there trying to wipe
some of the tea of his lap. "I'm sorry," she said to Duncan while giving
Mary a stern look.
"It's OK," he said as reaching for the towel. Their hands met and he
paused, touching it long enough to feel that the electricity they once
shared, was still there. He looked into her eyes and smiled.
Anne felt it too and pulled her hand back. She couldn't take her eyes from
his gaze no matter how hard she tried. "Afraid he's reverting back to his
Duncan shrugged his shoulders, "Or he's been pulled into one of Amanda's
At the mention of Amanda, Anne was able to break the stare. As much as she
liked the older Immortal, she knew about the reckless past they shared, she
felt envious. She would always be there for him once Anne wasn't, and part
of her heart felt ripped at that thought. She looked away from Duncan and
tried to force a smile. "Richie's smarter than that. If he were in trouble,
I'm sure he'd come to one of us for help."
"I know, but I'm worried about him. With all the things he's been through
and everything I've done to him, I can't help but worry."
"Spoken like a true parent." Anne said relaxing again as she sat next to
Duncan on the swing. To Anne, Duncan was not only Richie's friend and
teacher, but the closest thing he'd ever have to a father.
"Speaking of which, I brought something for Mary." he said, lifting a
present from under his trenchcoat.
"Duncan, you didn't have too, you spoil her enough as it is."
"Let's not start that again." he said, as he put the gift in front of Mary.
Wide eyed, she ripped into it.
"I just wish that... Oh my god! Tell me you didn't?" she said trying to
conceal her laughter.
Duncan looked hurt. "What? What's wrong? Does she already have one?"
Anne shook her head, to close to tears to speak. "One of her godmothers was
saying the other day how much those Tickle Me Elmo dolls annoyed her so
much, that I was thinking of buying her one."
Mary sat on the porch hugging the stuffed animal, amused that it laughed
and shaking, "Elmie!"
Duncan and Anne cracked smiles and busted out into laughter. Within
minutes, both were near tears, but Duncan gained control as he felt the
sensation throughout his body announcing the arrival of another Immortal.
Anne recognized the worried look on his face and stopped laughing. "Duncan?
Is everything all right? Who is it?"
Duncan reached for his katana and shook his head, "Maybe it's Richie or
Adam, take Mary inside."
Anne moaned in disgust. "Duncan, I can take care of both of us. I don't
need to run every time there's another Immortal present."
Duncan sighed, knowing she was right, and watched the other Immortal
approach the porch. He walked towards the edge and stopped at the top of
the stairs. "I'm Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod."
The figure stopped when he heard the name and Anne noticed the other
Immortal's face turn almost white. "The Duncan MacLeod?" Duncan nodded.
"Surely, ye remember me, Duncan," he paused. "No? Aye, it has been a long
time since we last met." He said, eyeing Anne and Mary. "'Tis me, Corinth
Duncan seemed to search through time trying to recognize the name. Anne was
beginning to look worried, so he went along. "Corinth, yes... it has been a
"Aren't you going to introduce us, Duncan?" Anne asked relieved, but still
on her guard.
"Anne, meet Corinth MacLachlan. Corinth, meet Dr. Anne Lindsey."
Anne reached her hand out, and Corinth reached for it, kissing it. "A
pleasure to meet you, Mr. MacLachlan."
"Corinth, please. And I assure ye, the pleasure is mine." He said smiling
at her. He heard Mary giggling and turned around. "And who's this precious
little one?" he said as he knelt down beside her.
Mary cocked her head as Duncan moved right behind her, standing over her
protectively. "This is Anne's daughter, Mary."
Anne watched Duncan overreacting as usual, and tried to break the ice.
"Where are my manners, would you like some tea, Corinth?"
Corinth sighed and stood. "Thanks, but no. I must run, but I hope I'll have
the chance to see ye again." He stated more than asked.
Anne blushed. "I hope so." She had completely let her guard down around a
strange Immortal, and that worried Duncan a lot more than figuring out who
Corinth nodded his head and turned to walk away. Duncan watched him till he
disappeared behind the bushes. "Anne, I want..."
"He seemed real nice, Duncan. How long have you known him?"
Duncan sighed, "He's from the old neighborhood." He guessed. After all,
the Scottish bur was a clue that he had at least spent some time, recently,
in the Highlands.
It was turning out to be a slow day. Joe only had one customer that lunch
time. Richie was sat across the bar from the Watcher, playing absently
with the scotch resting on the counter between his fingers. Joe glanced
down at the hard liquor, an unusual choice for the young Immortal at such
an hour of the day. Richie caught the meaningful look and shrugged a
little defensively, "I've had a rough week."
"Wouldn't have anything to do with a young lady name of Denise, would it?"
"How do you know?" the youth frowned.
"Not that way," Joe was quick to deny the insinuation of Watcher
involvement in his friend's stare. "She came into the bar last night
looking for you. I told her you were with Maria."
The elder raised an eyebrow as Richie's head hit the bar, and the muffled
explanation came, "So that's why she slapped me!"
"I'm sorry, Rich," Joe apologized, but was unable to stifle a chuckle, "I
thought you'd have mentioned to your girlfriend that you sister was in
Ryan looked up at is companion, trying to seem annoyed, but the grimace
didn't last long. It softened into a nonchalant smile, and he returned,
"It's okay Joe, the bruise didn't last that long, and you saved me one of
those awkward moments; we weren't going anywhere anyway."
That kinda dried the conversation a little and the two men moved into one
of those comfortable silences of friends. However, there were a few things
on Joe's mind other than Richie's love life. The pause gave the man a
chance to re-route the conversation a little, and he started again with,
"So how's the," he got stuck and tried again, "the -- what are you doing
"Stuff," Richie answered a little too fast for comfort, "y'know, a little
bit of this, and a little bit of that."
It was obvious he was hiding something, and that slightly worried Joe. The
bartender frowned and wiped a beer glass harder than he should, but Richie
seemed to have chosen to ignore the body language. Joe was considering
whether to push the matter, when suddenly, the youth sent out signals which
said 'don't ask'.
"So do you know where Mac is?" the young Immortal wasn't subtle in the way
he changed the subject. "He wasn't there when I dropped by the dojo
For a moment, Joe was on the verge of confronting the issue, but what
actually came out of his mouth was, "Something about gutters and Anne
The older man was a little disappointed in himself as the opportunity
passed him by, but it was too late now. He made a mental note to speak to
Richie's Watcher later about his young friend's movements, and then carried
on with the easier subject.
Later that day as Duncan was leaving, he felt the sensation again, and
reached for his sword as he rounded the bushes. There, watching Anne's
house was Corinth. "Who ever you are you better start explaining what
you're doing here."
"I figured ye dunnae remember me," he said, "But I assure you, I havenae
"If you're challenging me, then do so. If not, leave before I call the
"Ye havenae changed, MacLeod." Corinth said shaking his head. "Always
waiting until yer opponent is most vulnerable before attacking. Ye were the
same then as ye are now."
"I still have no idea what you're talking about."
"I'm talking about this!" his voice escalated as he lowered the collar of
his shirt low enough to reveal a scar on his left shoulder blade, where it
met his neck . "Ye cousin Robert did this to me in the battle for our
land in 1620. My son who had every chance and advantage at killing ye, was
weak and vulnerable when he saw me die. So much so, that ye took the only
way ye could, and killed him while he couldnae defend himself. You took the
same thing from Jamie, that Robert took from me. Life. The only difference,
is I'm here now and he isnae."
"So your holding a grudge for a battle that happened over 370 years ago,
one before we became Immortal? One I don't even remember? Tell me, do you
hold a grudge for everyone you've ever lost in all the battles Scotland
fought for and lost?"
"The grudge is for killing the one thing that meant more than my own life.
A life where I've spent everyday longing that it had been my son that
survived. Tell me MacLeod, have ye ever lost a child?" he didn't give
Duncan a chance to answer. "Mary's a beautiful little lass. I'd watch her
closely if I were you."
"Are you making a threat?"
"No, I'm making a promise. I swore revenge against ye and yer clan that
day, and I willnae rest until I've gotten it."
"Let me promise you this. If anything happens to Anne or Mary, you won't
live long enough to speak your son's name." Duncan sheathed his katana and
walked back towards the house. Corinth just shook his head.
The good doctor sat at her individual table in the hospital restaurant,
glad that there was a lull in the hectic schedule of the ER to allow her
time for a break, but at the same time, a little at a loss for what to do.
It wasn't often that she could stray far from the fold, even with her
beeper, usually she got to the point of ordering coffee at the canteen and
then it would be left standing on the counter. This time she'd sat with
it, staring at it, even giving it time to cool down before she drank it,
choosing to gaze around at the world as she did so. The hospital's public
restaurant was always a busy place, whatever the hour of day or night,
always someone wanting at least a drink. Not many doctors hung around
here, it was mainly a place for the patrons of the establishment, but the
coffee was better than the vending machine in the ER, and Anne found she
enjoyed the walk, even if she never got to finish the drink.
The woman glanced around at the varied faces close by, some looked worried,
people with loved ones under hospital care, she could tell them easily from
the deep frowns and lost stares. As one woman chanced to glance her way as
she rested on her too long, the doctor smiled and quickly returned her gaze
to her cup. The liquid smelt good, but ironically enough, now she was sat
down with it, she found she wasn't thirsty. Anne shrugged to herself,
maybe she was just too tired to care; it had been a long shift and she was
looking forward to heading home to Mary in - she checked her watch and
sighed - two more hours. Funny how time flew by when she was busy, but
when she had time to think about her little one waiting for her at home the
minutes dragged past. Despite not wanting it, Anne sipped her coffee.
"Hallo," a thick Scots accent close to her ear made the doctor jump.
The woman shifted rapidly round in her seat, and a body stepped out of the
way of her elbow. She looked up, startled by the interruption of her
musings and squinting into the light from a window. Anne took a moment to
adjust, but then a familiar face came into view. Corinth was smiling in
the same charming manner he had used the day before, and she relaxed.
"Corinth, hello," she breathed, returning the smile, "I'm sorry, you made
"I think neither of us expected to see the other so soon," the man burred.
"No," Anne responded, still a little dazed, and then she remembered her
manners and invited, "please, sit down."
"Thank ye," Corinth nodded cordially and took the seat opposite.
They looked at each other for a moment, Anne wondering what to say next to
this relative stranger; she held the smile, feeling a little awkward.
Eventually she began blandly, "So what brings you here?"
"Business," was the cryptic reply. "And ye, when Duncan introduced ye as a
doctor, I didnae realise he meant the hospital."
"I'm a trauma surgeon," the woman informed him.
"A difficult job for anyone, but a woman alone with a child, it must be a
challenge," her companion observed, sitting back in his seat and watching
her with a gaze that was almost too heavy for comfort.
"Mary and I manage," Anne answered with a non-committal shrug, she didn't
know this man well enough to start digging too deeply into her personal
life. "I have an excellent baby-sitter, and I have friends who help out if
I need them."
"Duncan is one of them?" Corinth put the lilt of a question into his tone,
but it was almost a statement.
"From time to time," the doctor replied, stopping herself from qualifying
her relationship with the Highlander to this man to whom it was disarmingly
easy to talk.
"He cares very much for the wee girl," the man observed, a strange look in
his eye. "I know how I felt about my son, Jamie, blood nay mattered."
"He's very good with her," Anne returned noncommittally, not answering the
insinuation that went with the statement - Duncan was a difficult topic at
the best of times, and now did not feel like the right time to be
explaining the complicated past. "Jamie, I'm sure you were very proud of
"I didnae have time to be proud of the boy before he was murdered in
battle," Corinth snapped suddenly, the charm all but disappearing.
The woman wondered into what she had gotten herself; Immortal psyches were
places she didn't want to be, and the complete change in her companion made
her wary. The shock must have shown on her face, because the man softened
with a deliberate effort. There was that smile again, but somehow it didn't
quite cover the bitterness as he apologized, "I'm sorry, Anne, 'tis a fresh
wound still, even after all these years. I think ye never quite forget
those ye love."
"No, I'm sure," Anne agreed nervously, glad she was in a crowded
restaurant; why didn't her beeper ever sound when she wanted it to?
"I have scared ye," Corinth was the observant type, or maybe she just
wasn't too good at hiding her feelings, Anne didn't know which, but the
Immortal was staring at her in that close way again.
The woman started as in one smooth movement, the man leant forward and laid
a hand on her arm. His grip was strong, not quite uncomfortable, but firm
enough to know she couldn't pull away easily. Anne leant back as he bent
further across the table, bringing his face close to hers. Corinth smiled,
but it wasn't so friendly this time, not now his eyes were so near, she
could see the spark of something nasty at the back of them.
"I won't hurt ye," the man whispered, as if it was meant to be a comfort,
"I bear ye nae grudge."
Anne remained silent, unsure what to say. She could not hide her relief as
her associate released her. His chair slid noisily backwards as he rose
from the seat. The woman just stared up at him.
"Good-bye, Anne Lindsey, I hope to be seein' ye again," he bowed with
formality that wasn't so charming anymore, and then turned on his heel.
Anne watched him go, waiting for her senses to catch up with her, stunned
by the encounter. A high-pitched beep sent the woman a foot into the air
and rich, brown liquid spread all over the table.