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We have a total of 23 episodes, and they're all available if you follow the HFS link.

 

 
 

Where the Waters Meet There Find Magic

Part 1


Scene 1

PARIS: 1998

Altea was perched on the windowsill watching as Richie rummaged through the 'clean pile'. Laundry apparently had two categories, and neither could be described as tidy. Consequently now that he needed clothes for a week it required a major search - on the whole, the windowsill was the safest place, she reflected, faintly amused.

"You sure you don't wanna come?" He emerged briefly to throw three socks and a shirt onto the bed, then vanished.

"No thank you," she said politely, a faint smile on her lips.

"Why not?"

"Because he invited you, not me."

"That means you're included - where you go, I go. And vice versa. Aha!" A pair of black jeans joined the pile.

"That's not the point, besides, I can't leave. I've got commitments."

"Horses," he said resignedly. "If they were human I'd be jealous. I might be jealous anyway." His head popped up from behind the bed. "Look, seriously, you can if you want to. Won't you think about it?"

"I think he wants you to himself for a while. I'm always around, and he's still not sure about me, I know it."

"Not that again? Altea, I keep telling you. . ."

"I know, I know. I just. . ." she shrugged fluidly. "Apart from you, and our Immortality, he and I have nothing - but nothing, in common. And he hasn't seen you much this last little while."

"Yes he has. Hell, I've barely been around for more than a couple of weeks at a time for years." He came over and stood in front of her, taking both her hands in his own and looked questioningly down at her. "Besides, just think what happened the last time I went off with him."

"But that was different, wasn't it?"

Richie nodded. "No brats to run after this time - I hope," he added fervently.

"It'll be fine then," she smiled reassuringly back at him. "Besides, I've things to do here. Tidying up for instance." Richie had the grace to look sheepishly at the floor, littered with bits of scribbled on paper, notebooks, printouts and clothing.

"Don't move any of my work! Please?"

She patted his cheek. "You'll be able to find it all, I promise. It may take a while to sort through the black bags, but it will all be in there."

"Al. . ." {That was a definite whine,} she thought with a smirk.

"Don't worry. You go do your male bonding, and I'll stay here where it's warm and dry. I've heard about Scotland."

Richie just looked at her.


Scene 2

"Joe! Hello Adam, Duncan," Amanda breezed onto the barge aiming light kisses at the three men enjoying the spring sunshine.

"Hello Amanda," Joe replied cheerfully, a faintly malicious smile on his usually kind face.

"Hmph," Methos grunted vaguely, and seemed to burrow deeper under the consoling darkness of his sunglasses.

Duncan didn't even answer, just looked at her pallidly, squinting painfully against the light, a sketch of a smile on his face.

Amanda assessed the situation and grinned unkindly. "Been having fun without me boys?" she asked, a little too loudly. Methos seemed to flinch, his already pale skin gaining an odd green shade before a gritted look thinned his cheeks, and he didn't throw up.

"Great stomach control," she complimented him.

"Thank you. S'amazing what you learn in five thousand years."

Amanda took pity on the two sufferers and perched next to Joe. "So how come you're the only one without a hangover this morning?"

"Oh, I was operating the tape recorder. . ." Joe said airily.

"What!" yelled Duncan. Methos moaned faintly and clapped his hands over his ears. "Dawson, that was off the record, and well you know it."

Joe just grinned at his irate Immortal.

Amanda smirked. "This is your 'fill-the-gaps' thing, right?" she asked Joe, ignoring Duncan's sputterings.

"Yeah," he nodded. "Got some great material too. Damn, I didn't know some of that stuff was physically possible," he teased wickedly.

"What!" Duncan hit a note unvisited since the early 1600's. Methos just moaned again.

"But don't worry, Mac," he went on brightly, "I sent it all off to be transcribed - posted it back to the States first thing this morning before you were able to crawl out to meet the day."

"Posted it?" It was only the second coherent sentence all morning from Methos. "You entrusted that to the French and US postal services? Dear gods, why did I think this was a good idea? Maybe I can do Oprah when it hits the news-stands." This seemed to comfort him momentarily.

Joe just laughed.

"Duncan?" Amanda said coyly, a finger rubbing up and down in a short line on his sweatshirt.

"She wants something," Methos observed.

"You spotted that well," Joe said admiringly.

"Comes with the territory, Watching. . ." they both collapsed into smothered laughter as Amanda glared warningly at them.

"Could we go inside?" making it more of a command than a request to the Highlander.

"2-1 she gets whatever she wants," Methos said. This time it was Duncan's turn to glare.

Amanda tugged Duncan to one side, since he showed no signs of moving to the interior of the barge. "I need your help."

"Amanda," he said plaintively.

"It's perfectly safe. Really." Her small face was almost earnest, with just a faint sparkle of mischief.

"No."

"No?"

"No. But if you want to come along with me to Scotland you're quite welcome."

"But Mac. . ."

"I've already arranged it all, and I'm leaving at noon, so you've got that long to make up your mind."

She pouted prettily, and sat down next to Methos.

"No," he told her firmly.

"But I haven't even said anything yet."

"You didn't need to. Your expression said it all."

"Oh. Well, you wouldn't be interested anyway."

"Interested in what?" Amanda looked up at Joe with a dazzling, and wholly spurious, smile.

"Ancient treasure!" she said dramatically. Duncan groaned. "Don't give me that," she said crossly, "you haven't heard anything about it yet."

"Go on," he said resignedly. "It'll kill the time till Richie gets here."

"Misery. Look." And she produced a photocopied map. "This is the Pyrenees - it took me a while to identify the right range - my contact told me it was in the Carpathians. And this is Mont St Remy du Bois. Now, half way up it, beyond the LaMartine Pass is a footpath which you don't-hey!" Methos had pushed the sunglasses up off his nose and casually plucked the paper from Amanda's fingers, and was looking at it wearing an faint expression of supercilious amusement. He smoothed it out on his lap, tracing the red dotted lines marked in on it.

"Dear me. This old thing again," he said, and waved it back at her, dropping back on the chair and lowering the dark glasses again, ostentatiously closing his eyes.

"Methos!" The aggravated cry burst from all three of his companions.

"Do you know about it?" Joe asked anxiously.

"What do you know about it?" Amanda said suspiciously.

Duncan just laughed. "You can't leave it like that," he finally composed himself enough to say. "you'll be on the receiving end of a lynch mob."

"Duncan, make him say something!"

"Me?" Duncan grinned innocently at her.

"Doh!"

Joe, with his long acquaintance with the man just waited. {He can work an audience like a pro,} he thought admiringly. {On second thoughts he probably is a pro - or was once.}

"You could be in for something of a surprise when you get there my dear." Methos remarked, apropos of nothing in particular.

"Why? You've got the treasure already? I knew it! When I find that con merchant I'll string him up by his nasal hairs." Even Methos blinked slightly at this one.

"No. If anything, you might say I put it there."

"Why? It is treasure!" Amanda's eyes could already see it, glinting in a veritable dragon's horde of ancient wealth.

"Nope." Was that a smirk? Amanda hrrumphed sourly at the eldest Immortal.

"Maybe it is treasure and you just don't want me to find it."

"Maybe," he said agreeably. "You won't find anything with that map though."

"Oh yeah?" Amanda took a step forward, hands on hips.

"Yeah." That was a smirk. Not only that but he folded his hands behind his head.

"What is 'it' then?" Duncan asked, trying to head off the inevitable confrontation.

"Treasures to die for." She said challengingly.

"Treasures of the dead. You really should brush up your Brythonig. A small difference in the wording, but a major difference in the meaning. Still, the subtleties of Old Welsh grammar always were beyond the grasp of most. Confusing the dative and the genitive is a common error among the semi literate."

Joe hissed quietly in sympathy as Amanda's face turned to stone. He and Duncan unconsciously stepped closer to each other, away from the sparring immortals.

"Hi guys!" There was a loud thump and a heavy bag, bursting at the seams landed on the deck. It was followed by Richie, bounding up the gang-plank. "Hey, what's up? Playing Quakers?"

"Richard?" Methos said softly.

"Yeah?" he smiled cheerfully, oblivious to the undercurrents.

"Shut up."

"Seconded." Amanda added sharply.

"Hey, all right, all right. Geez, you guys got out of bed on the wrong side for sure. Look Mac, are we still on for noon? Cos if so shouldn't we be hitting the road a s a p?" He lapsed into silence when MacLeod glared at him, but looked at his wristwatch ostentatiously, then sat down on the over full holdall, in a patch of spring sunshine.

"My source said, "that Charlemagne placed his greatest treasure there, and placed a guard over it of ten giants and a dragon."

Richie rolled his eyes and snorted quietly, and was ignored.

Methos laughed outright. "No such thing as dragons."

"Like there was no such thing as demons?" Joe asked mildly. "Sorry Mac,"" he added when he caught Duncan's wince.

"Besides, it was long before Charlemagne. He wasn't born till 742 or so, my ignorant little scavenger."

Richie, Duncan and Joe all flinched. Amanda smiled sweetly.

"How do you know?"

"Read a history book."

"Oh, so this treasure is mentioned in the history books."

"No, Charlemagne's dates are," Methos said as aggravatingly as possible. "If you're going to talk history you might at least get it right."

"So you put it there."

"In a manner of speaking," Methos turned slightly more cautious.

"So what is it?"

"You'll just have to go see."

"You don't know! You probably just want to stop me going so you can get there first. No, I've got the map, and you aren't getting your hands on it."

"Your loss."

"Accept it, you're wrong. There's something you don't know anything about and you can't bear to admit it. So you're sitting there pretending to be some kind of omniscient god on high, dropping remarks that could mean anything, and mostly mean nothing."

Goaded he retorted, "Accept this Miss skinny-butt. I was there."

Amanda was silenced, though only briefly. "Duncan, are you going to let him get away with that?"

Duncan raised his hands, "Don't involve me!" he said hastily.

"Wimp."

"Wuss." For a moment the two combatants found themselves in complete agreement. But only for a moment.

"I suppose you know everything," Amanda said nastily.

"Not everything, just that you'll be disappointed if you go to that cave." Methos concealed a grin. Amanda was going to fall for this silliness.

"Why?"

"Because it's not something you can sell."

"Think Scone," Duncan said helpfully, getting into the swing of things.

"I'll deal with you later," she fired at him. "So Mr Smart Alec, you know everything, then where's the Inca gold?"

"A mountain in the Andes, in sight of the Pacific."

"Camelot?"

"Never existed."

"What?" Joe burst out, and was quelled by a glare from Methos. "Oh, aye, I'm silent."

"Arthur's still alive." Duncan offered cheerfully, and with malice aforethought..

"He is not. He did not exist. Trust me. I saw a thousand petty warlords, and not one answered to Arthurus Rex." He finished contemptuously dismissive.

"Right, you were there too," Amanda scoffed. "Except you couldn't have been, because he didn't exist, so you couldn't have been, so what do you know anyway?" She glanced at the others with a hint of triumph in her eyes.

"He wasn't called Arturus Rex anyway," Richie cast aside good sense, again, and joined the fray. "It was probably a mishearing of a battle name - the bear. And Pendragon is like Celtic or something for top dragon. It was like a totem animal for the kingdom of Gwynedd. Or -- something like that," he looked around at his elders, all of whom had been stunned into silence, wearing expressions that suggested he should quit while he was ahead. Defensively he said, "You've gotta do research for this writing stuff."

"Richie, you write bodice rippers. Why. . .? No, no, don't tell me, I've changed my mind," Joe said, a pained look crossing his face, "I don't think I can bear the idea of what you are about to do to one of my favourite stories."

The distraction had served to take some of the vim out of the argument, and everyone but Richie trailed after Duncan as he went into the barge to collect the last of his baggage.

He looked at them with a faint smile. "Would you like to come along too?"

Joe's eyes twinkled.

Duncan couldn't help grinning. "Not you - I know you're coming along."

"If I knew where though I could book ahead," the Watcher said hopefully.

"Joseph, I'm shocked," but he was smiling back. "I've heard that the Royal Stag, Edinburgh, is a very pleasant place to stop for a week or two. But you didn't hear that."

Joe winked at him. "Hear what?" he said innocently. "I'll see you. Adam, Amanda," he nodded to the other two and walked slowly from the room.

"Well? Scotland's glorious this time of year. Cold and bright, no tourists, just glens and lochs so beautiful they'll take yer breath away."

Methos looked at Amanda. Amanda looked at Methos.

Hiking.

No shopping.

Boy Scout on home territory.

No amenities.

"You know, I think I'll help Amanda find that cave of hers."

"That's very kind of you, Methos," she said with heavy sarcasm. "Now, what was in it?"

"Oh, some Arthurian relic or other, supposedly. I never really understood the excitement over it really. It wasn't terribly important, but the fuss. . . "

Duncan shook his head and left them to it.


Scene 3

CUMBRIA, ENGLAND, 12 HOURS LATER

"So, tell me again Mac, why didn't we fly straight to Edinburgh and meet your friend?" Richie's tone of polite enquiry was belied by the glare.

Duncan avoided Richie's eyes. Not difficult, since they were both leaning over the inside of the rented car hood, peering at the cooling engine. The torch gripped between Richie's teeth made very little impression on the dark night and mist pressing in on them.

"I thought it would be a good chance for you to see some of the countryside, maybe take you up to Glenfinnan when I've finished the business with Jessica. You've never really seen--"

"Yes, I have Mac. I went to school here, remember?" If anything the scowl deepened, and he carefully unscrewed a cap from something.

"Only for a couple of weeks. And you never saw Scotland," Duncan pointed out. "This is about the best way."

"What is? Broken down in England? Stuck with someone who can't map read, in the middle of the night in a place that doesn't even know about chilli dogs, staring at a dead engine without so much as a telephone in sight. Yeah, right, great way to see Scotland. No, wait," he stood and squinted into the distance, shading his eyes. Duncan followed his gaze, but couldn't make out anything.

"Oops, sorry there, almost thought I saw a genuine piece of Scottish land there. My mistake." He leaned over to examine the engine some more.

"Rich..." he said warningly.

"Advice, free and gratis. Don't ever," a hand waved at him in emphasis, holding what appeared to be part of the carburettor, "piss off the guy fixing your car."

"Could it be the fuses? Or the starter motor?" he pushed lightly at something large and ridged. It moved slightly.

"Leave it alone!" Richie yelled. "Sorry," he added instantly.

Duncan straightened so fast his elbow caught the prop, knocking it sideways. It fell across Richie, followed by the hood, which came within bare inches of hitting Richie, saved only by MacLeod's reflex grab for it.

Richie froze, and carefully slid out. "Mac," he said patiently. "How about, you sit in the car, and I fix it?"

"Can you fix it?"

"It's a damn sight more likely than you fixing it," he told him brutally. "And I'm a damn sight less likely to become the first Immortal topped by a falling car bonnet without you around to 'help'."

Duncan took a couple of steps away, trying hard not to interfere, but not convinced. He looked around, reviewing what he could see of the landscape in the midnight darkness. To either side of the road was a low drystone wall, flat layers of stone stacked intricately over each other. The road was barely wide enough for two cars to pass. Off to the right he could hear water lapping softly. Another lake, and if he knew which one, they'd be that much better off. The other side was barred by a steep slope, he could just make out the tangled shapes of trees and tattered undergrowth. The sky was overcast, no light beyond the faint distant orange glow that could be Manchester, or Keswick - no telling. No stars visible, nor the moon, although it should be full. The forecast had been for rain, and more storms. {Oh well, at least it's not...} There was a distinct splat on his forehead. He wiped at it. Water. In moments it was pouring down, he glanced reprovingly up at the sky, and as the flood broke loose he saw a distant light, diffused through the fog, flick on, then off again.

"Rich?"

"Yeah?" Richie stuck his head out of the bonnet of the car and grimaced as he felt the rain hit his face. "It needed only that."

"I saw a light up the road." He jerked his head. "I'll go see if there's anyone around to help."

"Sure. I might get this thing working again," he shrugged, "If I do, I'll follow you. Otherwise, you'll find a dissolved puddle on the floor in the morning."

"You could--"

"Nah. I've almost got it - I think. I'll probably catch you up. Besides, I can always sleep in the car if I have to."

"You sure?"

Richie favoured him with a look, then turned back to the engine. "You take care."

"See you later."

There was no reply, so Duncan started walking.


Scene 4

THE PYRENNEES, EARLIER THE SAME NIGHT

"What was that?" Dominic rocked onto the edge of his seat, clutching his gun to him nervily. The others exchanged a patient look.

"Dominic, calm down," Pierre grinned at the youngest of the three guards. "There's nothing out there."

"No, I'm not panicking. I'm sure I heard something," Dominic repeatedly firmly, head cocked towards the exit of their hide.

"He's right, Pierre. Listen," the third man said, lifting his hand for quiet. In the evening still they could just hear voices, which were getting steadily closer.

Pierre nodded, the smile instantly gone, and the three of them noiselessly retrieved their weapons, flipping the safeties off, checking the clips were secure. They crouched, one at each lookout point, waiting.

A woman's voice came floating up. "If you'd listened when I said we didn't need -- wait up -need to take that last left turn. . ."

"My dear Amanda. If we hadn't gone left we would have fallen off the side of this mountain of yours."

"A minor inconvenience," she dismissed his objection blithely, to a muffled snort from Dominic.

"Tourists!" he said contemptuously, and was quickly hushed by the other two.

"Oh, and while we're on the topic of directions, who had the map till twenty minutes ago? Who said that there was this 'darling little auberge just around the corner' more than five hours ago? The man's voice was getting closer , his clarion British accent cutting the peace and quiet to ribbons.

"Methos, if you'd give me the map back I could tell you exactly where. . ."

"Not a chance kiddo." There were sounds of a scuffle, a ripping of paper and twin cries of dismay.

"Look what you've done!"

"Look what I've done? My dear Amanda,"

"Don't you patronise me, you over-ego'd under-brained pitiful excuse for a man," she said through gritted teeth.

"Oh really?"

"Yeah. Wanna make something of it?"

"Anytime you think you're up to it."

"Whenever you're ready old man." There was a rustle and a silence.

"I can see something!" The other two guards rushed to Pierre's vantage point. "Don't shove," he whispered harshly. "What the hell?" he added as they got their first clear glimpse of the two tourists.

Some fifty yards below them, circling each other warily in the moonlight, a man and a woman, both fair skinned and dark haired - almost alike enough to be related, Pierre thought absently. Both held a sword, gripping it competently, the blades flashing in the faint light. There was a brief flurry of blows, and the man cut across her shoulder. The onlookers gasped when they realised the blades were live, and blood poured down her shoulder, leaving a spreading stain on the pale blouse she was wearing.

She swore and dodged back, bringing the sword up again after a moment. "Look, Adam, this is silly. Can you imagine what Mac would ow!" There was a crash and a rush of sound. "oooooooOOoow!"

Adam peered at the hopping Amanda. "You'll live." She sat down with a humpf and rubbed at the offending ankle.

"Probably broke it, and we'll be stuck here all night, and it's your fault," she groused sourly. "Hey, are you paying attention here?" Pierson was walking around the almost circular flat area, frowning distractedly.

"Adam?" Amanda suddenly didn't sound half so whiny. There was an edge to it that included a question the three onlookers couldn't decipher.

"I--" he looked outwards towards the peaks surrounding them and paused, head tilted. He turned slowly, facing back up the mountain, dawning recognition on his face. "I know this." He said softly.

"Here?" Amanda scrambled to her feet, sprained ankle apparently forgotten.

"Just up here, I think. Good grief. That damn thing was right. I'd forgotten about this."

"Told you I knew what I was doing. And I knew you didn't know anything about it," she said smugly. For a miracle Adam let it pass. He was walking quickly towards the barely visible path that he had spotted, on a line directly past the hide, where the three armed men were giving each other alarmed looks.

"Give them some rope. . ." Pierre said in a low voice, pitched only to carry as far as his comrades ears. "Then. . ." The third guard grinned viciously, dragging the edge of his hand graphically across his throat. Dominic looked slightly green and Pierre frowned. It was the boy's first real test since being allowed to join the Watch. Mentally he shrugged, he'd get over it or he wouldn't. Time would show.

Methos scrambled up the path. It was only really the gaps between the tumbled boulders, not a real path at all. It was a couple of seconds though before he registered the footprints. Heavy boots by the look of it, leaving their mark in drying mud and trampled grass. Wordlessly he beckoned Amanda forward and pointed with the hand away from the direction of the prints. Their eyes met.

"Climbers?" she said hopefully, her tones suddenly quiet.

He shook his head and flicked his eyes around, never pausing as he caught sight of the hide. Without moving his lips he said, "Keep walking. Forty metres up, ten to the left."

She nodded slightly, face serious and calculating. "Some chocolate," she asked brightly, and swung her back pack around until she could reach one of the outside pockets. As she handed him a bar of candy she palmed the small gun tucked away next to it. He smiled approvingly as he bit into the chocolate.

"I heard, years back, there were dragons in these mountains." She spoke almost soundlessly. "That was oh, nine hundred or so years back."

Methos kept moving up the steep slope. "Guards. It was supposed to be three guards, all the time. The man setting it up was a fool. No understanding of reality or history." He shook his head in amazement. "To think he's still at it."

"At what?" she hissed.

"You'll see."

"That has to be one of the most irritating phrases in the universe."

"I know."

Past the hide. Pretending not to see it, burbling about touristy things - the weather, their feet, the distance to the next pub. Methos narrowed his eyes against the dark. Perhaps another hundred yards. Fifty. Ten.

He took a quick look around, then abruptly dodged sideways, heading for the almost invisible cave entrance. Amanda froze for a moment {You might give me some warning!} and she was following, but she'd hesitated that fraction of a second too long.

The still of the evening shattered with the chatter of a sub-machine gun.

{Uzi,} she identified absently as she dropped, rolled and scrambled for cover. Suddenly the ground was hard against her face, and a burning heaviness ripped into her shoulder. There was a moment of numb puzzlement as her body tried to tell her what her mind already rationally knew. She tried to pull herself to the cover of the cave where Methos was crouched, hand outstretched, but she was...so...tired...

Methos swore as Amanda's body jerked and fell. She moved, for a moment he hoped she had just tripped, but it was clear as she moved that she had been hit. There was something in the way she held herself. She was dead, and the most he could do for her right now was hide until they buried her, and then dig her up again. He retreated further into the cavern. It would offer concealment - and maybe he would finally find out whether the thing that idiot had put here was still waiting. It wasn't. What he saw instead was much, much worse.

"Impossible!" he exclaimed, foolishly shocked into speaking at the sight of the heavily built up room that lay where an empty cavern once stood. "Oh hell," he added, diving to get behind the great granite block, too late.

His last thought before he died was that someone was going to be very, very cross. And it was probably going to be him.


Scene 5

CUMBRIA

He stepped back from the car, and absently wiped his hands on his jeans. Nope, it wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Richie shrugged and wandered across to perch on the wall and wait, oblivious to the water soaking from the cold surface through his pants.

"Who are you?" The unexpected voice didn't seem to make much noise, but it was everywhere nonetheless. Richie jumped to his feet and backed up to the car, keeping it behind his back, hand finding his sword and loosening it in the scabbard. Just in case. He couldn't see whoever it was.

{Damn fog,} Richie thought. {why did I ever think going anywhere with Mac would be a good idea? Why the hell am I in this bloody place anyway?}

"Because I want you here." the voice answered his thoughts.

"What are you talking about. Show yourself. Who are you?"

"Ah. You are the right one then. Good."

"Huh? Hello? I mean, did I miss a part of the conversation there?" his back prickled, as if a bead were being drawn on it. Richie circled nervously, sword raised, straining to see through the heavy mist rising from the water. He moved slowly, trying to keep his surroundings under surveillance, whirling suddenly at each unexpected sound. "Where are you? Can you help? What do you want?"

"Calm down Richie."

Richie felt his heart rate and breathing slow. His anxiety subsided, and an odd calm took its place. {What the hell?} He finally connected the oddly authoritative tone of voice with his mental state, and asked, "How the hell did you do that?" Something Mac had once mentioned occurred to him. "Oh, I get it. You're doing that weird voice thing on me, aren't you?"

"Yes," It sounded almost amused. "I suppose you could put it like that."

"So," he cast around for something to say, this was way too weird. "You know Cassandra, right?"

The mist seemed to laugh, and Richie tried to localise the sound without success. "You might say that too. After all, she needed to learn from someone. . ."

"So you're saying what? You're older than she is? You an Immortal? How come I can't feel you?"

"Come closer," the voice suggested.

"No way. Who are you?"

"You could find out for yourself. I'm just the other side of the wall."

"So why can't you come here?" he asked but he was already walking towards the sound. He lightly swung over the wall, and looked around.

"Over here." The sound was still the same distance away, and he took a couple of wary steps forwards.


Scene 6

"But why?"

Methos woke noiselessly, going from dead to alive without the eldritch gasp for air of younger Immortals. His diaphragm muscles clenched, held under tighter control than the need for air, and gently drew air into his starved lungs. He lay still, aware of voices arguing nearby.

"Dead is dead. Why do all this"

The voice was going on, but Methos had a bad feeling about this. He carefully tried to move his arms. They were underneath him, and bound. {Not good,} he thought. When he very cautiously tried to open his eyes he discovered that he had been blindfolded.

"It's orders, Dom," another, older voice said laconically.

A third voice, "Sometimes. . .Dominic, it's to do with what we are doing here, you'll understand one day, that there are reasons. If you're lucky it won't be today. If there's nothing for twelve hours then we'll bury them."

{Damn. Two know something, but the youngest doesn't. Can I use that?} Even as his hands jerked at the ropes on his wrists his mind was crafting a possible escape. First the ropes. He carefully wriggled his hands, and wondered why he, apparently unlike every other Immortal he'd come across since, hadn't gone to Houdini to learn. {You'd think he'd've died richer, the amount of us who forked out to him.} His hands were moving under him, only tiny flexes in his shoulders to give him away. {I was out for thirty minutes, tops. Still dark. Amanda still down - maybe another five minutes? I wonder how her diaphragm control is?} He suppressed a scowl as the knots held, and a nail bent back. {I'd've done it this way myself,} he thought with grudging approval.

To his left came a gasping groan. {Too soon!} He scrabbled frantically at the knots.

"Pierre!" the youngest voice yelped.

"My word." Footsteps came close. There was a pause, a couple more steps, then a booted foot nudged at Methos' ribs.

"Good evening my friends." Pierre leaned over them. "You are fortunate, n'est-ce pas? Dead, alive." He pulled the trigger twice, the sound booming in the cave. "Dead again. Oh well. Nice talking to you." He turned to the other two men. "Help me here, Dom. Tim, go ring Mr Theron. Tell him we've got a special delivery."


Scene 7

It was more than forty minutes before Duncan found the source of that light. It was hanging over a small sign that swayed slightly with the breeze.

Thirlmere farm, was the legend on it. A small rutted track led up the hillside disappearing rapidly into darkness. He wracked his brains for the map. If this was Thirlmere farm, then that was Thirlmere itself in all probability. In which case they'd definitely taken a wrong turn somewhere. Somewhere in the dark, probably under cloud should be Helvellyn, and Scafell Pike off to the West. He nodded, sure of himself. Not easy country, but light going compared to say, the highlands.

He set off up the track, stumbling from time to time on the ruts that drifted from side to side in great ridges, slippery on the top from the rain, rock hard underneath after a long dry winter. A couple of times he had to stop to dislodge stones from his walking boots where they had jammed themselves between the grips.

Finally he reached a gate. He'd really been expecting just a five bar, and was rather startled at what he found. High metal barriers, barbed wire across the top, an intercom and camera system on the gate itself. As he approached a light switched on. A sign announced that 'Trespassers would be persecuted'.

Duncan grinned, {Typo or deliberate?} he wondered. After a moment's hesitation he reached for the intercom.

He hadn't touched it when that faint, indefinable prickle in the back of his senses told him that another of his kind was about. It vanished again after a second, but he'd changed his mind. He was tired, cold and wet, and any Immortal who took these many precautions to avoid contact with the outside world was probably best left alone. Particularly at midnight, with a total stranger at his front door. He turned to go.

He'd gone some ten yards when the gate behind him clicked and swung open. He half turned, looking back, and saw two men.

"Excuse me? Can we help?" The younger of the two spoke, clad in wellingtons and sweater over pyjamas. Next to him another man, this one in his forties, stood, holding a torch and what looked like a small bore shot gun.

Duncan raised his hand to shield his eyes. "No, that's all right, thank you. I - a friend and I, were driving towards Penrith, and we seem to have gotten ourselves lost, and then the car broke down, I saw a light and wondered... " he made a deprecating gesture, "but it's okay. Richie - my friend, should be able to fix it. No need to--" Whatever he was about to say was interrupted.

"Oh, you'll have to stay the night, I'm sure the owner would agree. Your friend too," the elder man said warmly, gesturing inwards with the hand that held the rifle. Duncan watched it wave warily, and the man flushed faintly.

"Sorry. It's not even loaded. But, you know, gypsies, raves - it's sometimes useful for intimidating the wrong sort of folk. I'm Ben," he transferred the torch to a pocket, where it shone upwards giving his features a demonic cast, and stuck out his right hand. Duncan walked back and shook. He nodded over to his companion, and added, "And that's Tim. Do come in."

"No, really," Duncan demurred, unable to locate the Immortal he was sure he had sensed earlier.

Ben fixed him with a steady look. "Every square foot inside this fence is Holy ground," he said bluntly.

Tim nodded, "Please do. No one wants to harm you here"

Duncan wavered, then, almost helplessly in the face of such hospitality, nodded and followed them in.


Scene 8

He was bustled into a the house, where he was surrounded by well-meaning folk, determined to help.

"Here, let me take that coat, it's soaked through."

"Whereabouts did you leave your friend? Maybe Ewain could go fetch him?"

"What kind of car? Will we need the truck?"

"The rover should do it."

"More likely to get the thing back up the hill with the tractor."

He found himself sat in a stiff, chintzy room, wrapped in a scratchy blanket and sipping at a mug of sweet, bitterly strong tea. The Immortal, whoever they were, hadn't deigned to show up, but half a dozen adults and a couple of children as well were scurrying with enough energy for twice the numbers.

A pile of clothes appeared next to him, and a bright eyes woman grinned at him, saying, "Everyone out! These should fit," she added, as she followed the last of them out of the room, "But if they don't just yell larger or smaller, and we'll sort you out."

The door slammed, and he leaned back in the chair for a long moment, letting his eyes fall shut. He let out a sigh of relief, relaxing. Then he set the tea down on the floor and rummaged through the clothes. Soon he was warm and dry in a borrowed jeans and sweater that were only a little too big. The socks were thick and warm, and the tea was still hot enough to be drinkable. He sat down again and stretched his legs, staring at the fire as it crackled and danced behind the grate.

He was half asleep, when the ringing in his head, which had never really gone away, swelled, and a sharp tap on the door heralded the Immortal he had sensed back at the gate. Immortals, he corrected himself as the door opened, and he got his first glimpse of them.

They waited silently by the door, two men and a woman. The woman had long dark red hair, deeper and redder than auburn, her face was narrow, almost pinched looking, and distinctly unfriendly. By contrast the others looked positively welcoming despite the suspicion in their eyes. The youngest looking of them all stepped forwards.

"I'm, Cedric. These are Vivian, Simon." Duncan nodded, pushing himself to his feet, and spread his hands. "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I got lost, me an' a friend, heading North. I'm not looking for trouble." He leaned into his accent a little, hoping to convince them that he was safe.

"Fair enough," Cedric dismissed his reassurances without even glancing at the other two. Vivian shot a glance at him, and an awkward silence was only broken when she smiled, as if she didn't do it often, and said, "Please, sit down. You must finish your tea."

They arranged themselves in a loose circle around Duncan, and Simon leaned forward in his chair. "Can we help at all? You say your car is back down the road, headed southwards?"

"Yes. Richie - my student," he fibbed slightly, for effect, "He's fixing it - or that's what he said." He laughed. The other's joined in, apparently relieved by something.

"Probably didn't want to get wet," Cedric nodded cheerfully. "Well, we may as well save you some grief, and a sleepless night, and bring them both, car and student, back."

"Thank you," Duncan replied politely, peering at the remains of his tea.

There was another uncomfortable silence. Finally Cedric said, "This is silly. Look MacLeod, Viv and Simon and I have been here for centuries. We're not used to visitors, not of our own kind, but you're very welcome. It's all holy Ground. I imagine Ben told you that outside." Mac nodded, and Cedric went on. "We don't take heads. I haven't taken one in years. If need be, we offer sanctuary. Rather like Brother Paul used to."

"You knew him?"

"Knew of him," he corrected. "We don't leave here. But it was good to hear you made his killer pay."

"A pity, really. He had such a beautiful voice once, until the soul started showing through," Vivian remarked sadly. "Then it became quite painful to hear him, long before you matched the sound to the reality." She shook her head. "Mr MacLeod, I'll say good night, and see you in the morning." She kissed both the other men, and left.

"He killed Kalas?" Simon asked, eyes alight with curiosity.

"That's what I said," Cedric replied with a hint of impatience around his eyes. Simon bit his lip, and stood to go also. "If there's anything I can--"

"I'll call you. Now go to bed." Duncan was startled at how absolutely Cedric used the tone of command. Simon just smiled faintly, brushed a kiss on Cedric's forehead and nodded goodnight to Mac.

Once the door had closed Cedric relaxed and smiled at the Highlander. "We'll go in a minute. There's no hurry. There's pretty much nothing that can happen to your young friend bar a touch of frostbite, and I'm morally certain he'll recover," he finished drolly. Duncan smiled briefly, finding all this camaraderie distinctly off-putting.

"It's just farms around here. Farms and us." he amended. "The locals are used to us though. Well, we've been here longer than most of their families. Longer than some of their races, come to that," he added, frowning for a second, before going on. "It's a pity you left him by the lake, but he'll live, I'm sure. You should have both come up here, and we could have left worrying about the car until it was daylight again."

"Why did you pick here?" Duncan asked, politely interested. Cedric got to his feet and took a couple of coats off the stand in the corner. "Here, put this on." He opened the door and headed down the corridor.

"Because it's quiet, and peaceful, and spectacular views. Out of the way from everyone but the few, and anyone who does find us is easily spotted." He held the front door for Duncan.

"And stopped."

"If necessary, yes." He aimed the keys at the car and smiled happily when the lights flashed a couple of times and the car chirped. "I've set this damn thing off so many times without meaning to, I swear we'd never even notice if a burglar took it away except for remarking on the silence... In you go."


Scene 9

"Richie?" Duncan opened the car doors and peered inside, as if expecting the young Immortal to suddenly manifest from under the back seat.

"I don't understand it. When I left he was right here, tinkering with the engine." He waved at the still open bonnet, now glistening with the misty drizzle. "He'd never leave an engine like that. Richie!"

He scooped up the leather coat, draped on the roof, almost as if it had been thrown there. He looked back towards the lake, wondering whether Richie would have gone off exploring. {In this weather? In unknown country?} He grimaced ruefully, "More than likely," he acknowledged.

"Hmm?"

"I was just thinking, he's probably just wandered off. He'll turn up when he gets hungry."

Cedric looked concerned. "This isn't a good place for exploring. The water is very close." In the quiet after Cedric's words they could here the slap of water on the lake banks.

Duncan shrugged, "He can't come to any permanent harm. Even if he falls in the worst that can happen is he drowns a couple of times.

The other Immortal was shaking his head, and in the landrover's lights Duncan could see the frown on his face. "I just hope you're right." He glanced out over the dry-stone wall to Thirlmere. "I've lived here a very long time, and I wouldn't go into the water round here."

"Polluted?"

"After a fashion. Strange things happen," he clarified.

Duncan looked sceptical. "What kind of strange things?" The dark and the quiet were unnerving, he had to admit. The hills loomed all around, blocking out the stars, towering above them.

Cedric stared out over the lake. "Magic." He looked at Duncan. "Don't mock," he said gently at the Scot's expression. "You of all people have seen enough to take it on trust that there are extraordinary things in this world."

"Perhaps." He gave Cedric a sharp, puzzled look, but Cedric had turned and was closing the bonnet of the hire car. He opened the boot of the rover, taking out a length of cable. He quickly linked the two together and turned back towards the Highlander.

"You steer, I'll tow. We'll come back for the boy in the morning," he said brightly. And not one more word about it could he get from him.


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