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A FANCY PARISIAN HOTEL ADJOINING THE PARIS BALLET THEATER
A short walk through a glass passageway brought them from the theater
to one of Paris' most exclusive hotels. Its grand ballroom had been
transformed into a glittering collage of scenes from the Nutcracker.
An eighteen foot Christmas tree stood in one corner, surrounded by
beautifully wrapped packages and adorned with real candles. The
table which displayed items for the fund-raising auction was skirted
with an unlikely but effective combination of Arabian scarves and
oversized Chinese fans. A balalaika ensemble dressed in traditional
Russian garb played in one corner. Throughout the room costumed
dancers from the production mingled with champagne-sipping patrons.
Even the waiters were dressed as toy soldiers and mice.
Duncan accepted two glasses of champagne from a passing toy soldier
and presented one to Anne. He was about to raise his glass for a
toast when a Parisian matron dressed to the nines bustled up and took
"Oh, Monsieur MacLeod, we are sooo glad you were able to come. . ."
she began. Duncan smiled tolerantly and shot an apologetic look at
Anne. He wondered offhandedly if this woman could possibly be related
to Maurice; her timing certainly suggested it!
"I am so sorry, but might I drag you away for just one tiny moment?
The chairman of the gala would like to thank you in person for your
generous contribution of Ms. Noel's work. . . Oh but how rude I am!
I'm taking you away from this lovely lady. . ."
Introductions were made. Then, with another apologetic look, Duncan
allowed himself to be towed away by the matron, and Anne was left
alone. She moved slowly toward the silent auction table, wondering
as she walked why the mention of Tessa's name had set off such a
torrent of old emotions within her. Duncan had made no secret of his
past happiness with Tessa; indeed, it had not really been an issue
when they were a couple. Besides, she and Duncan had decided on the
friendship route. She wasn't thinking about re-opening the
relationship, was she?
She interrupted her self-analysis to gaze at a sparkling crystal bowl
on the auction table. It was an exquisite piece of work, with images
of ballerinas etched delicately into its sides. Impulsively she set
down her champagne glass and bent to pick up a pen to sign the bid
sheet for the item, knowing even as she did that her attraction to
the piece was out-of-character, and that the delicate bowl would
hardly fit in with the hand-thrown pottery and abstract carvings
which ornamented her home in Seacouver. As she straightened she
became aware of a presence at her side and turned, expecting to see
Duncan. Instead she found herself looking into a pair of ice-blue
eyes set in an impossibly handsome yet delicate face. The perfect
lips were moving. . .
". . . quite alright, Mademoiselle?"
Anne snapped back to reality and realized with deep embarrassment
that she had been staring.
"Oh yes, I'm sorry. . ." she began. "I was just . . " The godlike
creature smiled, and she looked quickly down at the crystal bowl. He
followed her gaze, then bent to read her name from the bid list.
"Dr. Anne . . . Lindsey, is it? I'm Nikolai Kijinsky. Would you care
for some champagne?" He flashed that impossibly perfect smile and
Anne felt a sudden wave of wild amusement. This was just like a page
out of the sort of silly romance novel she would never be caught dead
reading. Yet, for all his looks the man failed to project . . .
something, which she'd usually associate with a classic come-on.
Besides, she already had a date for the evening, and for that matter
she was holding a glass of champagne! Wait. She wasn't. She'd set
it down. Anne turned to retrieve her glass but found it missing--
the waitstaff here was nothing if not efficient!
"You know, I had a glass right there. . ." Her voice trailed off,
and Kijinsky chuckled and signalled to a passing mouse. He handed
Anne a new glass. She thanked him and took the obligatory sip, then
smiled and opened her mouth to speak but found that her tongue
suddenly felt like lead and her mouth wouldn't respond. Kijinsky's
handsome features swam before her and his voice came as from a great
"Are you feeling alright, Dr. Lindsey? You don't look so well.
Here, let me help you." Then the darkness engulfed her as she
thought frantically, "I've been drugged!"
AN ELEVATOR IN THE SAME HOTEL
Duncan MacLeod glanced at his watch as he rode the elevator alone
back to the ballroom level of the hotel. The "one tiny moment" with
the gala director had stretched into fifteen minutes, and then he'd
been called to the parking garage concerning a problem with what
turned out to be someone else's car. He felt like a heel leaving
Anne stranded for so long, and was planning the wording of his
apology when the elevator suddenly stopped and the lights went out.
A moment later the doors opened onto a service floor of the hotel,
and Duncan felt the unmistakable presence of another immortal.
Drawing his sword, he stepped cautiously from the elevator into a
dimly lit corridor. Circling, he moved slowly toward an open
doorway, from which light poured. In the doorway he froze as he
identified the source of the buzz, who sat comfortably in an armchair
in an otherwise empty storeroom.
"Kijinsky. . ." he breathed.
FLASHBACK--NEW YORK CITY 1900
Duncan MacLeod was on his feet, along with the rest of the audience,
giving a standing ovation to the performers of the ballet "Swan
Lake." The crowd was electrified by the performance, and by the
presence in the theater that night of the famous Russian composer
Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky. MacLeod shared the audience's exaltation
over the show, but he had found it "electrifying" in an added sense.
Someone on stage was emitting that special buzz which signalled
immortality. Vainly he strove to determine the source, but no
particular individual seemed to be scanning the crowd in a special
way. In fact, all the performers graciously looked in all directions
as they acknowledged their applause.
At last the curtain dropped for the final time and the audience began
to clear the theater. MacLeod made his way towards the entrance to
the stage area. He had no desire to initiate a challenge but felt it
imprudent to be near another immortal without at least knowing who it
was. At the stage door an usher stopped him with a cool "May I help
"Oh, I just wanted to congratulate one of the performers," MacLeod
"How nice," said the usher. "And to whom may I deliver your
message?" MacLeod had feared this question but before he could
respond his senses were filled with the presence of another of his
kind, as the male lead dancer appeared behind the usher.
"Thank you, Howard," the performer addressed the usher, "I believe
this gentleman is looking for me." He turned to MacLeod and gave him
a dangerous, glittering smile. "I've been waiting for you. Please
come with me!" Howard gave MacLeod an odd look which somehow
combined distaste and sympathy, then turned to a patron approaching
the stage door.
The Scottish immortal shrugged inwardly, then turned to follow the
dancer, assessing the man as he walked. The performer had the lean
but powerful body of a man who leapt fifteen feet across stage for a
living and routinely hoisted one hundred twenty pound ballerinas with
graceful ease. If his skill with a sword matched his physique this
man would be a formidable opponent. He was also startlingly
handsome, and there was something vaguely unnerving about the way he
looked MacLeod up and down as they walked. MacLeod hoped they could
keep their interaction brief and peaceful.
Such was not to be the case. The dancer led him through a door which
opened onto an abandoned alleyway behind the theater. He drew his
sword as the door swung shut behind MacLeod.
"Nikolai Kijinsky," he said, sketching a graceful bow. "There can be
"I am Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod, and I have no quarrel with
you," replied the Scottish immortal from behind his katana. "We
don't have to do this. . ." Kijinsky's response was a quick and
forceful thrust which MacLeod had to jump to parry. The dancer spun
gracefully out of reach.
"I feel 'on' after tonight's performance, and there's nothing that
tops a standing ovation. Except a good quickening, that is!" With
this he darted forward, leaping easily over MacLeod's swing and
delivering a nasty cut to his opponent's right hip. MacLeod grunted
in surprise and pain, and backed up a few paces. His adversary was
clearly a master swordsman and had the jump on him--literally--in
terms of agility. MacLeod realized that his best hope was to move the
fight to a more confined space where he might turn his own height and
strength to his advantage. He advanced aggressively, swinging
rapidly and forcing Kijinsky back toward a dead-end passage between
two buildings. Kijinsky's handsome face showed concern for the first
time as he found himself about to be forced into the narrow passage.
Panicking, he attempted to leap past MacLeod, but there was
insufficient room to get a running start, and his leap fell short.
The katana buried itself deep in Kijinsky's abdomen and he fell to
his knees in agony. MacLeod raised his sword for the final blow but
froze as he heard a horrified voice cry "No!"
MacLeod turned to look in the direction of the voice, then did a
double take as he recognized the white-haired bearded witness--it
was none other than the great composer Peter IIlyich Tchaikovsky,
himself! MacLeod stared at the man, but Tchaikovsky's attention was
riveted upon the fallen Kijinsky. The composer gave a strangled cry
and ran to the dancer, cradling his head in his arms and crying in
Russian, "My love!". Kijinsky, dying, could only look into the
composer's eyes as he faded toward oblivion. Then, in a final
effort, he turned his head toward MacLeod and gasped, "You shall
Kijinsky did not draw his sword; in fact he remained relaxed in his
armchair as he addressed Duncan MacLeod.
"You took away all that I had that night, Duncan MacLeod. My love,
my career. It's been almost a century and I have only just begun to
be able dance again without fear of recognition. And poor Peter was
never the same. You know, I risked visiting him a few months later.
I was ready to explain who and what I was, and to hell with the
consequences. But he took me for a demon and ordered me away. The
depression started soon after that--I think there was a touch of
madness as well--and he never really recovered. " Kijinsky leaned
forward in his chair and Duncan's grip tightened on his katana. "It
was all your fault, MacLeod, your fault. And now you shall pay. Not
only shall you die, but you shall do so in front of your love, so
that you may know in your last seconds of life that she will be
condemned to the same grief suffered by my beloved Peter!"
Two dancers stepped silently from behind the door and MacLeod never
saw the lead pipe which struck him on the back of the head. He fell
like a stone.
A DARKENED STAGE
Confusion, darkness and pain. Anne Lindsey attempted to raise her
hand to her throbbing head but found she could not. She tried to
remember what had happened--had she been in an accident?--but
focus eluded her as she hovered near the edge of consciousness. A
moment later she slipped back into the well of darkness.
It was "The Doctor" portion of Anne which recovered first and
commenced a self-diagnosis. She had a pounding headache and couldn't
see, nor could she remember how she'd come to be in this situation.
Let's see, could she have suffered some sort of epileptic episode, or
perhaps a minor stroke? That would explain the sense of paralysis in
her limbs, but not the blindness. . . wait. There was a simpler
explanation for that. Her eyes were shut! Her eyelids seemed to
weigh ten pounds each, but with great effort she forced them open. .
And found herself staring into the face of a giant bear! She tried
to scream but nothing came out, and in the next instant she realized
that it was nothing more than a giant stuffed toy. Behind it were
gaily wrapped packages under a huge Christmas tree. Something about
this scene seemed terribly familiar. Her eyes came to rest on a
large toy soldier with powerful jaws--the Nutcracker!
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