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There was bizarre and then there was what a large group of the
sixthformers considered entertainment. They'd headed for the senior
common room straight after dinner and picked two seats towards the
middle of the TV lounge. James had tried to explain the merits of
Eastenders as soon as Richie had looked at him blankly when it was
mentioned. The description just didn't do it justice.
[How can you watch this?]
Richie was staring hard at the side of James' enrapt face. He just
didn't get the soap opera at all, it was like nothing he had ever
[There's a whole bunch of people all getting terminally depressed
together. Shall we all just make a suicide pact now and get it over
Finally he couldn't take it anymore.
"I'll be by the snooker table," he whispered and his companion turned
with a grin.
"I suppose it's an acquired taste," James whispered back with a grin,
"two days and you'll be hooked, trust me."
[If I am, promise you'll shoot me. No, scrap that, I'll just ask
Methos nicely to take my head.]
The addiction was too great and James could only take his eyes off the
screen for a moment. As Richie climbed to his feet his friend was
glued to the program again.
There was no one else playing snooker, every one seemed to be watching
the television, so Richie racked the balls and picked up a cue. He'd
been knocking colours into pockets for about five minutes when he was
joined in the outer room by two of the sixthform girls. He didn't know
them, they weren't in any of his classes, so he ignored them as much
as he could. They were having a hushed conversation which was
obviously more important to them than the revered Eastenders. He was
doing very well at concentrating on the table when he heard one name--
MacLeod. Suddenly he was all ears.
"Well he's cute," one of the girls--the redhead--was saying, "but no
way is he as drop dead gorgeous as the new Math's teacher. Did you see
him in assembly this morning? His name's Mr Pier-something."
"You have to be kidding," the other one--the brunette--returned, "the
muscles on Mr MacLeod are to die for. The man is a sex machine."
Richie was trying not the laugh.
[I wonder if Mac will kill me if I give them his home phone number?]
"But didn't you see Mr Pier ... Pierson, that it, Mr Pierson's hands?"
the redhead countered. "He has such long sensual fingers, and that
nose, now you know what they say about noses."
The two dissolved into a fit of giggles for a moment or so.
[I have to write this down! Why do I never have a pen when I need
"I'll give you that," the brunette returned, "but you have admit that
private coaching from Mr MacLeod would be worth the money. I'd bare
that man's children if he asked."
"Combined classes," the redhead decided with a very dirty giggle.
Richie had to put the cue down and walk out of the room, he just
couldn't stop laughing anymore.
Okay, there couldn't be anything worse than math with Methos, but the
art lesson might come close. He'd just never been the arty type, even
under Tessa's influence Richie had not picked up a paint brush for
anything but covering a wall. Why anyone would pick subjects like Art,
History of Art, Physics and Combined Maths as specialist subjects was
beyond the Immortal. Now all the sciences he could understand, or
languages, but such a mixture was weird to say the least. Trying to
explain how come he was taking the same classes to James had been a
real challenge and required some very quick improvisation. The thing
was, in Physics and Maths Richie could keep his head above water
thanks to the books Mac and Methos had thrown his way in the past
week, even Art History wasn't exactly a problem, but Art required
talent. The Immortal was pretty sure he was lacking in that area.
[This place smells familiar.]
The room was big, light and airy, the perfect setting for creative
juices to flow. There were several easels dotted around the place, and
the smell of the room tugged at Richie memory. He wasn't best pleased
when it finally came up with an answer.
[Kristov, oh great, my place of study reminds me of a psychopathic
drug dealer who drew a dotted line on my neck. I wonder if anyone will
notice a Russian accent ... can you behead someone with a pallet
"Good morning class," a diminutive woman in her early thirties had
appeared from what looked like a store room.
[So that's Ms Falcon.]
From the look on the face of the third boy in the class, there was
love in the air. The four girls in the group obviously saw exactly
what Richie saw because they were all hiding smiles. James was
oblivious to his classmate's lovesick state.
[Well looks like all the stories were true, girls do mature before
boys. If that kid makes any more puppy dog eyes at Ms Falcon he's
gonna be barking.]
"Well we discussed some idea's for term projects last week," the woman
started and turned her attention to the Immortal, "Richard isn't it?"
"Richie," he corrected her with a grin.
"Richie, if you see me after this morning's pep talk I'll explain what
we have in mind," Ms Falcon continued. "Today I want you to make a
start on whatever you decided is right for you. What we need to know
by the end of this morning's lesson is if we've all picked the right
direction to take. At this stage don't worry if you find you've gone
up a dead end. We have three sessions together this week, and we're
going to use all of them to decide where we want to be by the end of
She smiled at all of them.
"Okay, let's get to it people," she finished.
Everybody dispersed to different areas of the room, except Richie.
"We were looking through a few books on Friday," Ms Falcon said
cheerfully, "I have them set up in the storeroom so you can take a
The Immortal dutifully trailed the art teacher into the smaller room,
and the moment they were out of sight of the other pupils her body
language changed completely. She turned and looked him up and down.
[Woah, skizo moment.]
"Don't look so worried Mr Ryan," the woman said and the smile moved
back to her face, "I'm a friend of Joe's."
She pulled up her sleeve to reveal a Watcher symbol.
"The kids think it's cool that the art teacher has a tattoo," she said
as she made sure he saw the design clearly. "Nicole is staying with me
and I'm aware that you're here to protect James. I wanted you to know
that if you have any problems with anything in the school I can
Richie rearranged his knowledge about the slight woman and then smiled
"Thanks," he replied, "but I can handle it so far."
"Even the art lesson?" Ms Falcon grinned at him.
"Well, okay," Richie admitted, "this was the one thing I was
"You're in luck," she told him, "one of the projects this term is
abstract. Just go out there and cover paper in paint, between you and
me, no one will know the difference."
"I think I can handle that," the Immortal said.
[For a Watcher, Ms Falcon, you're an okay person.]
Behind the sports hall was scrub ground and it was also blocked off by
a small wooden fence. None of the Immortals found that much of a
obstacle, and that made it the perfect place for a covert meeting.
Richie was the last to arrive, having found it difficult to lose James
because at lunch they had once again attracted the attention of Lucy
"Arriving late, Mr Dawson," Methos said as he jogged up, "that really
"You know, you should join Barnstable," Richie shot back, "he's always
saying things like that. I'm sure you'll get on, you're both out of
Methos just raised an eyebrow and slouched against the wall.
"Okay, guys," MacLeod stepped in, "we're not here for our health. If
we could just stop bickering for a moment and actually see how we're
"Tell him to stop picking on me in math class and I'll stop
bickering," Richie replied peevishly.
"But it's so much fun," was all Methos had to say for himself.
The younger Immortal glared, and the ancient one just grinned.
"Children, shall we forget the rivalry," the Highlander had had
enough, and found that both of his friends had a very hard stare when
they wanted to.
"Watch who you're calling a child, kiltboy," Methos said slowly.
[This is ridiculous, this really is ridiculous.]
Richie's brain caught up with what he should have realised as soon as
the argument began.
"I can see we're all enjoying Woodfords as much as each other," he
pointed out before anyone drew a sword.
"Well I just love any place crammed with small petty minded
individuals, several of whom are Watchers," Methos agreed
sarcastically. "Remind me again just why I said I'd do this," he
paused. "On second thoughts, don't, I have no desire to relive my
moment of insanity."
"The food is truly disgusting," Richie pointed out.
"And there isn't a beer within three miles," Methos chimed in.
"Okay, enough about the school already," Duncan decided to stop the
conversation before it began. "Richie, how are you getting on with
"We are totally inseparable," the blond man returned, "especially
since Lucy and Caroline took an interest. I am his ticket to the
babes and so we are best buds."
"That wouldn't be Lucy who's blonder than blonde and Caroline of the
black bob, would it?" Methos asked with a wistful look in his eyes.
Richie looked at him hard.
"Yes it would," he replied, "not thinking of cradle snatching were we,
The ancient Immortal just shot him back one of his annoying grins.
"Not at all," he replied, "just remembering a time when I did."
The look on Duncan's face said he really didn't know what to think
about that. Richie was quite amused.
[I wonder what the governors would say if they found the math teacher
in bed with two of the sixthformers? No, we don't want to go there.]
"Any sign of anything out of the ordinary?" MacLeod steered the topic
back towards what it was supposed to be.
"Only that Ms Falcon the Art teacher is a Watcher and seems to know
all about us," Richie replied. "She was quite impressed with my
abstract view of a tree."
"That's it," Duncan finally decided, "I give up. If either of you do
see anything suspicious tell me, otherwise just keep out of my way. It
has to be something in the water. I'm going back to the main school
Methos and Richie watched him go.
"Was it something we said?" they chorused and grinned at each other.
There was Methos' math lesson, there was art class and then there was
Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday afternoon meant general studies, and James
had opted for self-defence. That meant one thing, Richie was entering
the realm where he always seemed to get to know the mat very well. It
was a mixed class, and much to the Immortal's growing concern, Lucy
and Caroline had chosen the same class. Where Richie could hide how
much he worked out under a school uniform, in a sports kit it was
rather obvious that he wasn't your average seventeen year old. Now it
wasn't just the two girls that were eyeing him up, it was every female
in the class. Luckily when "Mr MacLeod" entered the sports hall they
had something else to look at.
[I never thought I'd be glad that women admire Mac, but for now,
The Highlander fixed him with a look as he brought the class to order,
but much to Richie's surprise once the general introduction were over,
Mac did not choose him to demonstrate the first hold. In fact, his
mentor demonstrated several different grips and ways out of them with
several different people, and he never once glanced in Richie's
direction. Even when MacLeod divided the class into those who had some
martial arts training and those that didn't, there was not an inkling
that he was going to treat his ex-student as anything but another
pupil in the school.
Those with some experience were given more complicated moves to try,
and the absolute beginners just did the easy stuff. They had split
into pairs, but since James was in the novice group, and no matter how
good an actor Richie was he had to go in the more advanced half of the
class they were both stuck with people they hardly knew. The Immortal
did not like the glint in the eye of the boy he ended up paired with,
the teenager was at least six foot four and he looked like an American
footballer. For some reason Richie had the feeling this might be a
friend of Smythe's.
Everything started off okay--they went through a couple of moves, but
the tall boy seemed to be testing Richie's limits. From the few words
they exchanged, the teenager's discipline had been judo. They were
fine until MacLeod called the group over, showed them a gentle throw
and sent them back to their various spaces. Richie was quite happy to
play guineapig and he volunteered to be the one thrown first. When he
flew through the air and landed on the mat very hard he was suddenly
not so happy.
[Son of a bitch!]
When he climbed back to his feet he was definitely not going to let
that happen again.
"I don't think I got that quite right," the large boy said with the
falsest look of innocence on the face of the planet.
"Want to try again?" Richie said and the look of surprise on his
partner's face was there for several seconds.
"Sure," he replied and then smiled.
Richie let him get a hold, he even let him start the throw, and then
he performed the perfect counter move that Mac hadn't seen fit to show
the class yet. The tall teenager landed on his backside with an
"Interesting move, Mr Dawson," came from behind Richie and he suddenly
realised that had been a mistake.
[Don't do this, Mac, please don't do this.]
He turned slowly and the highlander was grinning at him.
"Would you care to demonstrate that to the rest of the class?" MacLeod
[No, not in this lifetime, in fact not even in the next, but you're
not going to take no for an answer are you.]
"I'm sure you're better at it than I am," Richie tried desperately,
and when he saw his friend's eye knew it was no use.
"But I need an assistant to help me," the Highlander returned.
Richie spent the next five minutes meeting the floor, but he grounded
Mac once which pleased him no end. After that he gave no resistance,
his landing could be hard or soft, he preferred soft.
[I have your phone number, MacLeod,] he thought as he got up for the
fifth time, [and I'm not afraid to use it.]
Tuesday evening Lucy and Caroline made their first approach, whilst
James was quite happy with this, Richie ran away and hid. One thing he
really did not need was a teenage girl chasing him across school
grounds. There had been three sentences of conversation, and then he
had left the common room so fast he left skid marks. He met up with
his friend again when they were on their way back to their room.
"You should have stayed," James said with a grin, "an evening of
diverting conversation and intellectual stimulation."
"Got to know her tongue well then, did you?" Richie returned with a
His friend put on a very mock expression of outrage.
"How dare you suggest such a thing," he said with the most awful
They rounded the corner into their doorway and halted. Nicole was
sitting on James' bed waiting for her son.
"Hi," she said cheerfully.
"Mom," James replied, "I didn't know you were coming over."
"Mother's always like to keep there son's on their toes," she replied
with a smile.
James walked into the room, Richie just hovered where he was, until he
finally decided what to do.
"I'll see you in a few minutes," he said brightly, "I left something
in the common room."
He was wandering down the corridor before anyone could reply.
[Half an hour should do it.]
Richie had been meandering around for a good ten minutes, when he
turned a corner and bumped into the one person he could do without.
"Well well, Dawson," Smythe said immediately, "out of your room after
curfew. That's an offence that must be brought to the attention of the
[Not now, Smythe. I do not need this hassle.]
"You know I really don't know what Caroline sees in you," the head boy
continued, "I knew you wouldn't be able to go for long without
breaking the rules."
Richie was about to reply when exactly what Smythe had said impinged
on his brain.
[You little rat.]
Instead of giving an angry retort he just laughed.
"You are so pathetic," he began calmly.
"How dare ..." was as far as Smythe got.
"This isn't about rules," Richie interrupted him, "it's about girls.
You saw me talking to Caroline tonight and you're jealous. Do you
really have to hide behind that head boy badge to get everything you
want? If you want the girl, fight for her like a man, Smythe, she'll
be far more impressed."
The boy looked somewhere between a cross between a goldfish and a
scared rabbit. He had been found out and he wasn't handling it very
well. He'd probably have rationalised the incident away by morning,
but for now Richie took his advantage.
"Don't worry, old boy," he said slowly, "I won't be telling anyone
about this little incident. A word of advice though--grow up."
Then he walked away.