Disclaimers: This is the sequel to "16 Again" which was inspired by Richiefic's "I Never Liked Art in High School". Very AU so please read "16 Again" before you get into this. And as always please review!

AN: I had to wait for the server upgrades to finish, but since they are ready, I am ready. I hope you are!

Finding Time

"I look worse in green than I did in maroon," Richie complained looking at himself in the three-way mirror at the tailor's shop. He was getting his new school uniform fitted.

"I think you look very nice," Tessa told him straightening the shoulders of his hunter green blazer. "This is a good color for you."

"It makes me look sick; which I guess works."

"What do you mean?"

"Rhode Island Prep? R.I.P.? I sound like I should be dead."

"Good." Duncan appeared in the mirror. "We'll bury you in this." He held up a black dinner jacket.

Richie made a face. "What do I need that for?"


"What's tomorrow?"

"We're meeting Marcus and his family for dinner."

"Is Marcus the new boss?" Richie asked.

"Yes. And an old friend. He called as soon as he found out we were here and invited us to dinner."

"And I need one of those?" Richie eyed the jacket. "Can I stay home?"

"No," Tessa told him helping him out of his school jacket and into the one Duncan had picked out. The tailor started chalking the sleeves. Tessa stepped back and looked Richie up and down. "New pants, too," she decided.

"We're going to be here all day," Richie grumbled.

. . . . . .

"Dad, I can't breathe!" Richie protested as Duncan straightened his tie for him.

"Good, then you won't be doing much talking."

"And the evil plan comes out."

Duncan smiled. "Shut up and mind your manners."

Richie smirked and yanked at the knot in his tie earning himself an exasperated, yet amused, look from Tessa as she moved in to readjust it. Duncan went to the hostess to see if Marcus and his family were at the restaurant yet. He gestured them to follow.

"Now, Marcus has a daughter about your age, but she doesn't know about immortals so watch what you say," Tessa warned.

"Okay," Richie shrugged yanking at the tie again.

The hostess led them to a table where an average family of three sat.

"MacLeod, good to see you," the man who Richie guessed was Marcus, said standing up slightly as they took their seats.

"Good to see you, too, Marcus. How long has it been?" Duncan returned his greeting.

"Too long, old man, too long." The woman next to Marcus cleared her throat. "Oh, yes darling I was just getting to that. This is my wife, Margot, and our daughter, Amber." They all murmured their 'nice to meet yous.'

Duncan smiled. "So, Amber, your father, ow!" Tessa nudged him forcefully in the ribs. Duncan smiled and put his arm around her. "I almost forgot."

"Purpose," Richie coughed into his napkin.

"This lovely woman here is my wife, Tessa. And this, quickly becoming very obnoxious, boy is our son, Richie."

"Well, Richie," Marcus smiled at him. "It's good to see MacLeod got stuck with somebody who can keep him on his toes."

"I try my best," Richie assured him smiling back. He decided that he liked Marcus, and his wife and daughter, while quiet, weren't that bad to look at.

"So, Amber," Duncan started again. "Your father says you're a senior at Rhode Island Prep."

"Yes," she answered sweetly. "I'll be going to the University next fall."

"Richie will be starting the prep school this semester," Tessa added.

"What year?" Amber asked.


"Oh." She gave him a look that showed she clearly thought he was beneath her.

"It's not my fault," he mumbled taking sip of his water.

Duncan and Marcus happily chatted as did Tessa and Margot. Richie stared at the table and Amber huffed because she had to cancel a date to be there.

"So, Amber," Tessa started when she noticed the teens were trying their hardest to ignore each other. "What are you going to study at the university?"

"History," Amber answered sweetly. "Ancient. Perhaps I could get into one of your husband's classes."

"What about you, Richie?" Margot asked. "Any plans for college?"

"Not yet," he shrugged. "I'm still trying to decide."

"You should get a move on," Amber told him. "Everyone at R.I. prep goes to college. It's a very academic school."

"I never said I wasn't going," Richie told her. "I just said I hadn't decided."

"Do you have any hobbies?" Margot asked.

"Not really. School kinda eats up my time."

"What about you, Amber?" Tessa asked. The mothers were clearly trying to find something for the children to talk about.

"I dance, sing, shop, draw, write, and read. I love reading. Do you read, Richie?"

Richie shifted in his seat. "Not really. I'm not into it." The truth was he had been reading all winter vacation so he would be caught up in his English class. He had been given three weeks to read "Kidnapped" and was barely going to make the dead line.

The food came and Richie happily distracted himself eating. Amber went back to her huffing and the adults resumed their conversations.

. . . . . .

Richie stared blankly at the book in his hands. He had been reading for almost two hours and it was still a total mystery to him. Sighing he marked his place and closed the book. He rolled over on his bed and decided to hook up his new stereo and television.

"No wonder you're having trouble getting the book done," Duncan commented in the doorway.

"I'm just taking a break," Richie answered plugging his stereo speakers into the auxiliary ports on his TV.

"Most people relax on breaks."

"I've been sitting still hurting my brain for too long. I have to do something."

"You're still supposed to be reading." Duncan picked up the discarded book to see how much progress Richie had made. "Looks like you're doing pretty good. Are you understanding it?"

"The words are a little hard sometimes. They use, like, Scottish slang or something. The old stuff. How am I supposed to understand it?"

Duncan smiled. "They use old Scottish slang? And you're having trouble understanding it. I wonder who could help. Maybe the four hundred year old Scot who lives downstairs?"

Richie grinned self-consciously. "Why didn't I think of that?"

"Because you got frustrated and gave up?" Duncan suggested handing the book over. "Start where you got confused."

Richie took the book and sat next to Duncan on his bed. "'He struck the lad repeatedly,'" he started. "'Are you gone gyte?' he cried. 'Do you wish to hang your father?' See what I'm saying. What the hell does 'gyte' mean?" He looked at Duncan with a pointed expression.

"Mad, crazy, loony, off the deep end. See where they're hiding the evidence and the kid starts burning these papers?" He proceeded to explain the scene paragraph by paragraph to Richie.

"Why doesn't he just say that?" Richie asked. "Maybe if you wrote the book it would make more sense."

"Or if you would just ask for help when you need it. There's nothing wrong with not understanding. It's the pretending part that hurts your grades."

They sat side by side until dinner and slowly worked their way though the book. Duncan figured a few more nights like this and Richie would have the book done and be ready for any pop-quiz the teacher might throw at him.

They spent the rest of Richie's vacation unpacking, painting, and quizzing Richie over what he read the nights before.

"See, you'll be fine," Duncan assured him after he answered all his questions correctly the night before school started.

"I hate changing schools in the middle of the year," Richie complained as the loaded the dishwasher.

"Did you do that a lot growing up?" Tessa asked.

"Yeah, I've been to every public school in Seacouver save one high school. I dropped out before they tried to transfer me."

"Are you serious?" She had seen Richie's records but had concentrated more on the grades than the schools. And judging by the look on Duncan's face he had done the same.

"It's kinda typical the way I grew up. All my friends did it too."

"That had to have been hard on you," Duncan commented. Until Richie mentioned it, he hadn't given a second thought to changing his school. So much for giving the boy the stability he never had growing up.

"Eh," Richie shrugged it off. "You get used to it. You don't have to feel bad about it," he added sensing Duncan's sudden guilt. "I mean, this is the last time right?" He offered a smile. "It's Rhode Island Prep from here on out. A whole year an'a half. Almost a record."

"What is your record?" Tessa asked.

"6 weeks short of two years," Richie announced. "Longer than any of my friends," he added proudly as if it was all some sort of contest.

"They wouldn't let you keep your school for the last six weeks?"

"It wasn't the end of the year," Richie explained. "Middle of the semester. And besides, I moved across town; it would have been a real pain to keep going there."

"But still," she protested.

"Mom, it's no big. I was like, ten. I'm way over it."

. . . . . .

After finally convincing Richie to go to bed Duncan and Tessa cuddled on the couch.

"I hope we did the right thing moving him here," Duncan sighed.

"He seems okay with it," Tessa said. "Besides, he decided to move; it was his decision."

"I wonder if we should have stayed. He was so desperate to get away from who he was. He actually asked me if he could switch to being Joel permanently. He really is too young to make a decision like this. He moved across the country to get away from his past. It was a rash decision. We should have made him think about it more. Given him more time. What if he felt obligated to do it?"

Tessa, who had been leaning against his chest, sat up and turned to face him. "Because of the adoption?"

"What if he didn't want to insult us by not going along with it?"

"Duncan, have you ever noticed how quickly he stopped calling us Mac and Tessa? How happy he was when we told him what he had done? He cried because he was happy. He's away from what happened to him; he can pretend it never happened. Nobody knows about it but us. I'm sure he likes it here. It's not too different from Washington. He doesn't have to keep track of who he's supposed to be and how old he is anymore. He's himself again."

"I suppose you're right." For a minute they sat in the comfortable silence that came with thirteen years of being together. "Have you noticed he was more mature when he was pretending to be eighteen than he is now that he really is?"

Tessa just laughed and kissed him.

. . . . . .

"Get up!" Tessa chirped happily turning on the lights in Richie's room. Something that could have been 'Go away' came from the tangle of limbs and blankets on the bed. "Time for school." She got Richie's uniform out of his closet and draped it over his chair. "I told you not to stay up so late last night," she chided. Richie had talked them into revoking his bedtime and a few of the other rules he had decided he was too old for.

"Mustamahur," Richie slurred covering his eyes to block out the light.

"You're stomach does not hurt," Tessa told him. "You're just stalling. Get up or I'll send Duncan up here to sing to you." It was a threat they had only had to carry out once.

"Fine," Richie groaned struggling to sit up. "The last thing I want is the strangled goat in here."

Tessa smiled. "Be down in twenty minutes or he will be."

Duncan stood at the base of the stairs looking for any signs of life from Richie's room. They had given Richie the entire second floor to himself since the master suite was downstairs. He had picked the largest room as his bedroom and a second room was his office of sorts and contained everything he might need to do his homework. The third and smallest room he had yet to decide what to do with.

"Come on, Rich!" Duncan called. "You have five minutes!"

There was a painful sounding thud as, presumably, Richie rolled out of bed and onto the floor.

Upstairs Richie hurriedly untangled himself from his bedclothes and got dressed trying to keep himself out of the cold air as much as possible. He reached behind his window blinds and put his hand on the glass to check the outside temperature. It was freezing. He decided to skip the blazer and went with a thick wooly school distributed sweater. He pulled it over his head and looked at himself in the mirror.

"You look like a dork," he told his reflection. He opened his closet and surveyed his options. His only choices were what he was wearing, a sweater vest, or a Mr. Rogers-worthy cardigan, all of which he had to wear over his oxford shirt and black tie. "So the options are geek, nerd, and dork. looks like you're stuck." He sighed and looked in the mirror again. "I guess it's not that bad. At least you have options here." At St. Matthew's Academy, his only choice had been which shirt to wear: the really itchy starchy clean one or the less itchy starchy one that he had worn the day before. "And hey, bonus they have casual Fridays too."

"Giving yourself a pep talk?" Duncan asked from the door with an amused smile.

"Trying to convince myself I don't look as stupid as I think." Richie turned to face Duncan and get his opinion.

"Not really your style is it?"

"See, I look stupid!" Richie turned back to the mirror.

Duncan moved behind him and put his hands on his shoulders. "I'm just not used to seeing you like this," he tried to take the unintentional insult back. He could see Richie's insecurities surfacing. "It doesn't look bad. just new."

Richie's eyes met his in the mirror. "So I don't look as stupid as I think?"

"Not nearly."

Richie gave himself one last look before turning to get his bag. "Not like there's anything I can do about it anyway."

Because of limited parking the school only allowed seniors to drive. So, since Duncan only had three classes this semester, he drove Richie to school and afterward Richie would walk the five blocks to the university and do his homework in Duncan's office until they could go home.

"You're sure you're okay to walk?" Duncan asked pulling to a stop in front of Rhode Island Prep.

"It'll be warmer this afternoon. I'll be fine," Richie insisted.

"You know my office number in case you change your mind right?"

Richie rolled his eyes. "I'm perfectly capable of walking."

"Just in case. If you decide it's too cold, or you're tired, or you just don't."

"Dad!" Richie groaned opening the car door and getting out.

"If you change your mind, just call!" Duncan yelled after him.

Richie acknowledged him with a wave of his hand before disappearing into the sea of students.