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Part 3

Scene 9

"Anything?" Anne asked as Joe flipped his cell phone shut and sat on the porch swing. Joe shook his head. "Joe, it's been more than 24 hours. We should have heard something by now."

"Anne, we're doing the best we can. We're all worried about Mary, and Duncan will bring her back soon."

"If everyone was as worried as I am Joe, she'd be home by now."

Joe placed his hand on Anne's and smiled. "Trust me, if I could bring her back, I would. But wishing isn't going to bring her home any sooner. I hate waiting as much as you, but we have to. We'll know something soon."

"You're right, and I know that. It's just that Mary means the world to me. She's all I have, and I can't imagine what my life would be like without her...I suppose you're used to waiting," she added as an afterthought, and Joe couldn't ignore the bite in her tone.

"As a Watcher, you mean?" the man enquired, concerned by the guilty look which suddenly appeared in his companion's face at his reaction.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that," Anne responded with an out rush of breath.

Yet, it was too late, the disclosure had been made and there was a tension to be cleared. Joe chose to meet the half-accusation head on.

"Yes, I'm used to considering if the next fight will be MacLeod's last, that I'll never see him again and the Chronicle will be closed. I think it's even worse with Richie - he's so young and I'm not his Watcher, I'm his friend. I don't want to lose my friends, Anne, and I don't want to lose Mary."

Anne looked into the older man's eyes and knew her judgment had been harsh. Yet, this whole lifestyle, Immortals and Watchers, it wasn't hers, she didn't want it, and the young woman sighed. Glancing down at her hands, she breathed, "I know, I've been through this a hundred times in my head. I've tried to sort it out, but..."

"Then talk to me about it," Joe prompted.

The woman's stare said she was momentarily unsure, but the practiced observer could see the need at the back of her gaze, so he pressed, "What did you feel when you found out Duncan was Immortal?"

Anne took a deep breath in a moment where she hovered between admission and retreat. Then she began, "You were there. In that moment, when I heard his voice, I experienced shock, horror, pain, Anger, confusion, relief... I saw Duncan fall from the catwalk to his death, and week later, he calls me from Paris and invites me to be with him. I wasn't sure if it was really him until I saw him at the hospital."

"Why anger?"

"All throughout our relationship, there were things he wouldn't tell me. He knew everything about me, but I felt as if I didn't really know much about him. I could handle little things, but eventually they built up. I never would have guessed his Immortality was the one thing he wouldn't share with me. It was a big part of our relationship, and I was mad he didn't tell me."

"What if he had told you at the beginning. Would that have changed things?"

"I don't know. As a doctor, it's hard for me to believe in something like that. People living forever, not dying unless they loose their head. It went against everything I ever believed in."

"How do you feel about Duncan when Mary's concerned?"

Anne shook her head. "Mary is my life. If it weren't for Duncan, she most likely wouldn't be here. But it's times like this when she becomes involved against her will, that makes me wish I'd never met him. I would love to have him be a big part of her life, but only if he could protect her from Immortals like Corinth. I want him to have the opportunity to be a father to her, but only if she's safe."

There was a moment of silence as Joe pondered his next question. He was about to speak when his cell phone rang. "Dawson." He answered, and then went silent as he heard the person on the other end.

Anne tried to read the expression on Joe's face, but it remained still. She hoped when the conversation was over, she'd know the fate of her daughter.

"OK, keep me updated will you? Thanks." He said as he flipped the mouthpiece up and looked at Anne. "They found Corinth. He's in a warehouse by the docks, and there's no sign of Duncan yet."

"What about Mary?"

"Both she and her baby-sitter were fine as of an hour ago. Let's just hope Duncan finds them that way, and soon."

Scene 1 0

"He should have found me by now! Where is the great Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod?" Corinth bellowed as he paced the floor of the warehouse. Corinth walked over to the pen that had been set up to accommodate his younger guest and looked at her, and to Mary's baby-sitter who was tied and gagged in a chair nearby. "It seems that Duncan doesnae care much about yer safety. How could anyone abandon someone as adorable as ye."

"Unky Dunky?" Mary babbled smiling.

Corinth gave out a laugh, "Yes Mary, yer Unky Dunky. It would be a shame if he let anything happen to ye." Just then, Duncan's arrival became apparent and Corinth drew his rapier turning towards the door.

"Let them go!" Duncan said as he entered the warehouse.

"I was just talking to Mary about you. We were wondering when you would show up."

"This is not about Mary, this is about us. Let her and Becky go."

"But yer wrong MacLeod. You killed Jamie and now I have to kill Mary. Fair is fair. Life or Death MacLeod, it's what we lived by. You being a Highlander should know how important a clans Code of Honor is."

"I also know that revenge isn't the answer. Now let them go!" he said lunging forward.

"You think this is about revenge?" Duncan nodded as he avoided the blow Corinth aimed at his shoulder. "No, it's about the honor of me son. Jamie should have taken over the clan that day. He wasnae suppose to die, I was. I lost all the honor I had that day."

"No matter how you put it, it's revenge. And killing Mary won't bring Jamie back. Nothing will."

"No, but killing you will give me my honor back."

"Then let Mary go."

"No! When I take your head, I'll consider it." Corinth said with a smirk.

Duncan had to admit Corinth was strong. Then again, he was one of the MacLachlans that the MacLeods had fought both with and against many times. He was quick to guard against every move Duncan threw at him, and then to fight back.

"Let it go." Duncan pleaded one last time. "Revenge never helps."

"Shut up MacLeod. Boys!" Corinth called out.

Out of the corner of his eye, Duncan saw two men come out of their hiding places. One walked towards Mary and the other towards Duncan. The one near Duncan pulled a gun and aimed it at his chest. Duncan had just enough time to lunge close enough to the man, to knock the gun out of his hand, while taking a bullet in his shoulder. Duncan stabbed him, then turned his attentions towards the one near Mary.

"Step any closer, and she's dead." Corinth said. Duncan stopped and turned towards Corinth.

"There's no honor in having others fight your battles. Highlander, Immortal, or not. Call him off, and let Mary go. We'll settle this between us with no more interuptions."

"Ye killed one of me best MacLeod. Though you always knew how to do that. Fine!" he said turning to them. "Take 'em outside. When I'm done, I'll give ye further instructions." The thug nodded and took Mary in one arm and led the baby-sitter out the door.

The time it took Corinth to call off his thug, Duncan's arm had healed. It ached as he tested it, but there was no tearing of already broken flesh. His opponent turned slowly towards him, a look on his face that only spoke of one thing, vengeance. Duncan could not understand that, but he recognized the cold steel of the Immortal about to do battle. Deliberately, he raised his blade above his head and prepared to take up the challenge. Now it no longer mattered what the reasons for this meeting had been, all that remained in the moment of pause before the combat commenced was the test of skill and cunning.

Purely as a warrior, the way he stood, the way he handled his claymore, Corinth was admirable - well trained, focused, dangerous. MacLeod was not about to underestimate this man, and he waited for the first move to come from him. Suddenly, the stillness was over, low breathing became a shout of fury and the avenger lunged. Direction and pace came at the Highlander in a flurry of rage, and his first move had to be defensive. Both men were fresh, alert, and the blow could come to nothing, one blade glancing off another; they parted again.

The two men circled a while, taking a moment to consider what they had learnt from the first test of ability. Corinth also took the opportunity to vent some of his anger.

"Centuries, MacLeod, centuries I have waited and prepared, hoped for something like this. You cannae win, I am too strong!"

"We'll see about that," Duncan countered both in speech and movement, as he stepped in to the fray once more.

He brought the katana in towards the MacLachlan's body, ready for the block which inevitably came. He shifted smoothly, upwards, towards the now unguarded body, but Corinth was not to be caught so easily and shoved him away. Nothing unexpected - both men came away from the second clash perfectly balanced. Duncan side-stepped as his enemy followed into the shove with his own attack. The Highlander lifted the katana down over his shoulder and met the slice that was aimed at his mid back. The claymore slid down his blade and then the two men moved to face each other again.

Corinth's face was black more with fury than effort - he considered winning his right, and the fact that it was taking more than a few seconds seemed to bring out an added indignation to the already dangerously reckless pot of emotion. MacLeod recognized the knot of feeling, from which his opponent drew his strength, slowly becoming less useful to him. The man was close to stepping over the line where the anger would be more hindrance than help.

Then there was no more time for consideration - the elder Clansman moved in for another offensive, and the clash of steel became all important. This time the intensity of the battle stepped up, matching the need in Corinth to inflict some kind of injury on his enemy. Duncan took a risk, he blocked a slice, parried and then stepped into his opponent's next swipe. The katana deflected much of the blow, but he let the claymore catch him lightly on the lower leg. The man stepped away rapidly, letting his guard slip, limping more heavily than the wound required. His retreat was followed only by a laugh of triumph, as he had hoped.

"See, MacLeod, first blood!" Corinth gloated.

The Highlander did not reply, merely waited, appearing vaguely distracted by his injury. As he expected, the MacLachlan charged in again, but more recklessly this time. Overconfidence was as much a danger as your enemy's sword, and Duncan moved into what he hoped would be the last stage of the battle, an ace in his hand.

The heavy sword came at him full force; MacLeod had to step away and deflect the blow simultaneously. He was faced in slightly the wrong direction to take advantage of the stumble that Corinth made as he over reached, but it was something of which the Highlander made note. The next attack was Duncan's, but he made no real effort to impact on his opponent. He succeeded in driving him back a pace or two with a sequence of clashes. Then the younger Scot stopped short. He gave Corinth an opening, a risky one, but the maddened man was not about to reject it.

MacLeod's ribs were unguarded, and the MacLachlan made a strike for them. Duncan stepped neatly out of the way and brought his own blade up under the swing. The katana cut across Corinth's chest, and he grunted heavily. The wound was deep and the claymore fell out of the elder's hand. In shock, the man sank down to his knees. Duncan's blade went immediately to his neck.

"Scottish honor or not, revenge is not the answer." Duncan said as he raised his katana and made the final death blow. Corinth's head and lifeless body fell to the ground, and Duncan stood there waiting for the Quickening.

As the power escaped Corinth, it swirled through the air hovering above his body for a moment as if it were a vulture searching for carrion. Moments later it hit Duncan with a great force. Arching his back to accept the awaited intruder, Duncan screamed at the feelings his felt during a Quickening. Pain, pleasure, sadness, relief, sorrow- everything his opponent felt and thought.

As the Quickening subsided, Duncan looked at Corinth, and said "Life or death," as he knelt placing Corinth's rapier between his crossed arms. He slowly rose and walked out of the warehouse.

Scene 1 1

"It's over." Joe said as he hung up his cell phone. "A watcher just reported a Quickening coming from the warehouse district. It's the last place Corinth was spotted."

"Duncan?" Anne asked as she swirled a spoon in her morning coffee, now cold.

Joe shook his head. "They didn't see who walked out. We have someone going to investigate now."

"Joe, I can't wait any longer. I haven't slept since Mary disappeared. I have to know how she is."

Just then, Anne heard a cry coming from outside, and ran to open the back door. Coming from the woods, Duncan walked out holding Mary in his arms. Anne rushed out engulfing both of them in a big hug, not wanting to let go. When she remembered why she was doing this in the first place, she pulled back and took Mary from Duncan's arms.

"Anne, look. I'm sorry..." Duncan started.

"Don't." she said walking back to the porch with Mary.

Duncan held back as Anne fussed over Mary and debated with Joe about taking her to the hospital. Finally Anne sat on the swing and Joe walked over to Duncan and placed his hand on his shoulder.

"Are they?"

Duncan nodded. "He tried fighting dirty, but I put a stop to it. All of it." He said pausing. "I dropped Becky off at her house, she's still in shock, not quite sure what happened. How's Anne?"

"A nervous wreck and pissed as hell. I'll be surprised if she doesn't go after your head herself." Joe noticed the expression on Duncan's face change from relief that the whole ordeal was over with, to a smile. "I'll go and let you guys talk. I have to go finish things up."

Duncan nodded and watched Joe walk away and turned his attentions back to Anne and Mary. He walked behind Anne and looked over her shoulder at Mary. She had fallen asleep in her mother's arms smiling. "I didn't mean for her to get involved in this. I hope you believe that."

Anne nodded. "I was so worried about her. She's all I have and I can't imagine what I would do without her."

Duncan crossed in front of her at sat beside her gently, not to wake Mary up. "You know I'd never let anything happen to her."

"But you did, Duncan. You knew that Corinth would try to take her. Maybe not consciously, but you knew."

"I swear Anne, had I known, this would have never have happened. I hope you know I'd never allow Mary to be used as bait. I'd give my life to save hers." He paused, "and yours. I want the two of you to be part of my life. We both know the feelings we once had are still there, and I don't want that to change."

"But they have Duncan. You will always be a part of our lives, we owe you that much. You've done so much for us, especially Mary, but I can't allow her to be in danger every time another Immortal comes looking for you. Until you can promise me, that won't happen..."

Duncan looked at Anne and then at Mary. He knew what Anne was asking was impossible. "I can't guarantee that. But if it were ever to happen again, I'd give my life to protect her." Mary stirred in her sleep and Anne watched as Duncan played gently with her hair. "Mary means the world to me, and I don't want anything to happen to her. But that doesn't mean it won't."

Anne nodded. "I know how much she means to you, but you have to understand where I'm coming from. I'm her mother and it's my job to protect her... to keep her safe. But if you're involvement in her life compromises that... "

Duncan knew she was right. He stood up and looked at Anne and tried to smile. "I'll go now. I guess I'll see you around." He said as he turned and started to leave.

Anne nodded. She was still mad at Duncan, but part of her felt as if she'd seen him die all over again. "Duncan?"

Duncan paused, but didn't look back. "When Mary wakes up, give her a hug and a kiss for me." He took a deep breath and left.

Mary woke up in Anne's arms and struggled to sit up in her mother's lap. She looked towards Duncan's shadow fading behind the trees and pouted. "Unky Dunky bye?" she asked her mother.

Anne nodded and as promised, gave her a hug and kiss from the one person who would be the closest thing to a father Mary would ever have.

The End

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