Disclaimers: Don't own, don't sue.

AN: This is intended as a companion piece to "University Love" but can function perfectly well on it's own.

Richiefic: I swear I wrote this and had the idea before I read chap 2 of 'Rite of Passage'!!! (This is getting scary!)


Richie stood on the edge of the dock and looked out over the murky water.

"What do you think?" Duncan asked proudly gesturing to the cabin behind them.

"It's. rustic," Richie answered. Duncan had decided to take Richie and Tessa to the cabin after a rather drawn out fight with an immortal to give them all some time to relax.

Duncan looked at Richie who had turned back to the water. "I'm sure there's time to go swimming before dinner if you want," he suggested.

"Nah." Richie pulled his brand new Game Boy out of his pocket. "I really want to beat this thing."

"You've been playing that thing non-stop since you got it. What's so appealing about it?" Duncan pulled the video game out of the boy's hands and looked at it for a minute examining it from every angle. "Look around you; it doesn't get any better than this."

"Level twelve is better," Richie said reaching for his Game Boy. Duncan held it up out of his grasp. "Mac give it back!"

"Do something active until dinner and you can have it back after you clean up the dishes," Duncan told him.

"You can't do that!" Richie insisted. "I bought it!"

"And you've been sitting on your butt ever since. It's not healthy." Richie made another grab for it and Duncan held it up higher. "You can have it back later."


"What's going on?" Tessa asked coming out of the cabin and walking towards the two.

"Tessa, tell him to give it back," Richie whined.

"Give what back?"

"His video game," Duncan laughed, jumping at the same time Richie did, keeping it just out of reach.

"And why did you take it in the first place? He bought it himself," Tessa reminded him.

"It's not healthy for a boy his age to just sit around straining his eyes all day. He can have it back after dinner if he does something active for a while."

"Makes sense," she nodded thoughtfully. "Richie, you can have it back after dinner." Tessa took the Game Boy from Duncan.

"That's not fair!" Richie insisted moving to try to take it from her. Duncan stepped between them and picked Richie up. "Mac," Richie said in a warning tone. "Put me down."

"Sure thing, Rich." Duncan held the boy up over his head and walked toward the end of the dock.

"No!" Richie screamed and began to struggle. "Mac, don't!"

"Why don't you take a swim?" Duncan offered with a smile throwing him, shoes and all, into the water.

"Duncan!" Tessa scolded laughing. "He was still dressed! Couldn't you let him change first?"

"He's fine; aren't you, Rich?" Duncan looked down at the water. "Rich? Richie come on, you're not being funny," Duncan scolded trying to figure out where the boy was hiding.

"Richie, come out," Tessa ordered. "Richie?" She edged toward the end of the dock; she could see water being stirred around. "Duncan, he's not coming up!"

"What?!" Duncan went to where Tessa was standing and saw the mud being churned up from the bottom of the lake.

Without a moment's hesitation he dove into the water. As he struggled to get a solid grip one of the flailing arms, Duncan realized Richie was wearing his new steel-toed boots that he had saved for three months to get. In a blur of thought, Duncan decided to buy the boy some new boots and games for his Game Boy. Finally, he got a hold of one of Richie's now lifeless hands and pulled the boy toward the surface. Richie didn't react when the air hit his face. Duncan drug Richie the few feet back to the dock and lifted him up so Tessa could pull him onto the dock.

"He's not breathing!" she told Duncan as he knelt beside her.

Duncan shoved Tessa, a little too roughly, aside and started doing CPR on the pre-immortal. Tessa tightly held onto Richie's hand a nearly cried when the boy started coughing and gasping for air.

"Oh God, Rich, I'm sorry," Duncan insisted rolling the boy onto his side as water was forced out of his lungs. "I am so sorry. I didn't know." Richie coughed a few more times but otherwise didn't respond. "Are you okay?" Duncan put his hand on Richie's cheek. He groaned and tried to push his hand away. Duncan looked up at Tessa. "Let's get him inside." He reached down and slid his arms under Richie's knees and shoulders and picked him up.

Inside the cabin, Tessa rummage through Richie's bag for something warm to dress him in as Duncan helped the boy out of his wet clothes. Richie mumbled protests the entire time but did nothing to stop them as they dressed him in dry clothes and bundled him in a thick wool blanket before settling him on the couch for a nap.

"I didn't know he couldn't swim," Duncan insisted to Tessa after Richie had fallen asleep.

"Neither did I. You have no need to feel guilty. You saved his life."

"Because I nearly drowned him."

"You didn't know; you had no way of knowing. He's safe now and that's all that matters."

"Even if he could swim he would have had a hard time because of those boots," Duncan continued. "I'm not sure how he can walk in them they're so heavy and I still threw him in."

"Then went in after him."

"After sitting around waiting for him to come up.I thought he was playing a joke."

Tessa nodded. "So did I. It seemed like something he would do. I thought he was under the dock having a good laugh."

"Instead he was under the water having a hard time breathing."

Tessa put a calming hand on Duncan's arm. "Look at him." She gestured to the sleeping figure on the couch. "He's fine. A little shaken up, maybe, but fine. You didn't know and there was no way you could have."

Richie didn't wake up until two thirty the next morning. Duncan insisted on sleeping in the easy chair so he would be the first thing Richie would see when he woke up. Richie looked at Duncan awkwardly reclined in the chair fast asleep. He couldn't decide if he was furious at or grateful to the man. He had saved his life. but it was his fault his life needed saving in the first place. Richie unwrapped himself from the blanket and padded his way to the kitchen to get something to eat. He found a pot of chicken soup that undoubtedly Tessa had made with him in mind. Not immediately seeing a microwave, Richie put the pot on the stove and began looking for a bowl and spoon.

"Second drawer on the left," Duncan told him standing a few feet away.

Richie looked at him for a split second then retrieved the spoon. Duncan was relieved to see that Richie wasn't completely ignoring him as he had feared he would. The soup had begun to boil so Richie took it off the heat and waited another couple minutes in silence merely starring at the liquid before dunking the bowl into the pot.

"You could have asked for the ladle," Duncan said getting it out of a drawer and filling a bowl for himself. "I didn't know, Rich," he said sitting down. "I've seen you in the water before; I assumed you could swim."

"Nobody knows. except Angie and Gary," Richie told him after a minute.

"So what do you do when you're friends want to go swimming?"

Richie shrugged. "Stay on the beach, play volleyball, and if I go in the water I only go in as far as my waist. people don't notice."

"I can teach you. while we're here," he added at Richie's look. "Nobody will see you, just Tessa and I."

"I don't know," Richie mumbled.

"I'm a pretty decent teacher."

Richie looked at him. "You're not going to try to kill me again?"

"Richie, I swear it was an accident."

"And nobody's going to know?"

. . . . . .

After a week and a half of endless pampering and time to recover, with Tessa's encouragement Richie went out on the dock with Duncan. Duncan took off his shirt and Richie took off his shirt, Duncan swung his arms forward and back to stretch them and Richie swung his arms forward and back to stretch them, Duncan walked to the edge of the dock and Richie walked to the edge of the dock, Duncan jumped in and Richie watched.

"Come on in, Rich. The water's fine. It's a little cool at first but you get used to it."

"No way, I'll drown," Richie protested.

"It's not that deep, look." Duncan held his breath and let himself drop to the bottom of the lake holding his hands straight up as he did so. His wrists and hands were still visible above the water. "See?" he asked when he came back up. "Nothing to worry about."

"You can drown in as little as three inches of water," Richie said matter of factly.

"Yes," Duncan allowed. "But if you get in here I can teach you to not drown in thirty feet of water."

"I'm not just jumping in," he insisted.

"Fine." Duncan swam back to the dock and hoisted himself up. "We'll start slower." He led Richie to the rocky shore. "Follow me. Be very careful," he instructed slowly. Richie carefully picked his way down the gradual rocky incline to the water. "You ready?"


Slowly the two waded out into the water about chest high. "You've never been out this deep, have you?" Duncan asked. Richie shook his head. Duncan smiled. "How about this far?" He led Richie out a few feet farther from shore and a few inches deeper in the water. He turned around and with a smile and took both of Richie's hands. The boy had barely enough time to get a questioning look on his face before Duncan pulled him out just too far for him to reach the bottom.

"Mac!" Richie yelled out in surprise desperately reaching out to the immortal for support.

Duncan allowed Richie to support himself by putting his hands on his shoulders. "Kick," he told him. "Nothing's going to happen to you." He could feel movement in the water at the same time Richie's pull on his shoulder's lessened. "Now let go."

"No! You'll just drop me!" Richie's grip tightened for fear of going back under the water.

"Let go," Duncan repeated. "Remember what we were doing on the dock, stretching our arms?"

"Yeah," Richie looked at him with a raised brow.

"Keep kicking and do that. You'll stay up. You ready?" Richie looked at him obviously not believing that he wouldn't sink. "You do it on your own or I'll make you," Duncan warned. "I'm going to be right here; you have nothing to worry about."

Eyeing Duncan carefully Richie slowly dropped one hand then the other. He let out a yelp as he went under. He reached back out to get a hold of Duncan, but the immortal had swum out of reach. "Mac!" He coughed on a mouthful of water.

"Move your arms," Duncan instructed. "Don't panic, you're fine." It seemed however that Richie was not fine. The boy couldn't seem to keep his head above the water. Duncan went back to him and held him up until he caught his breath. "I think you're defective," he smiled at the boy. "It works on everyone else."

"I wanna go back," Richie said. "This is stupid and pointless."

"I'm not letting you go back on land until I can get you to at least tread water," Duncan insisted.

"Why? You said it yourself; I'm defective."

"Richie, you know I was joking. Try again."

"I don't want to, Mac. And stop dragging me out farther."

"Are you scared?" Duncan asked.

"If I say yes can I go back?"

"If you tell the truth I'll consider. Now, are you scared?"

"Yeah, I'm scared, alright? You happy? I'm scared!" Richie snapped still clinging to Duncan's shoulders.


"Because I don't want to die just yet, that's why!"

"Richie, I'm not going to let you die. I'm right here and I've been swimming since I was younger than you."

"Exactly. What's the point of teaching someone my age to swim? I survived this long without it, why not another eighteen years?"

"How about another eighteen years with no work experience? Another eighteen years with no manners? Another eighteen years just the way you are. Richie, I've never taught you anything pointless. This isn't either. Try again."

"Mac, no."

"You know what it's like now; there aren't any surprises left. Try again."

"No, I wanna go back."

"Well, at the moment you're stuck out here with me. So try again. Once you get this right if you still want to quit, we'll quit," Duncan told him with a smug grin.

It did the trick; Richie got a defiant look on his face. "I'm not a quitter."

"Sounds like that's what you're doing to me. It's hard and you're scared so you're quitting."

"No I'm not!" Richie insisted. One of the things Duncan had learned about Richie was that he had a reputation for doing things no one else would and he would keep trying when no one else would. If anyone ever questioned this aspect of his personality he would do anything to prove them wrong. And sure enough, Richie let go of Duncan and gave treading water another shot. It took almost a minute of bobbing in the waves before he got the hang of it. "It's not that hard," he commented.

"I told you it wasn't." Duncan swam wide circles around the boy. "You'll be ready for the Olympics in no time."

Richie laughed and began to pant a little. "I wouldn't go that far."

"Hold your breath," Duncan told him.


"Hold your breath," he repeated.


"You trust me, don't you?"

"Not as much as you think I do."

"Then you should trust me more." Duncan swam up behind Richie and put his hands on his shoulders. "Take a deep breath," he warned before pushing the boy under.

A couple seconds later Richie popped up to the surface coughing and spitting out water. "Mac!!!" he yelled flailing toward him.

Duncan smiled. "I warned you."

"I'm going to kill you!"

Duncan slowly backed away and Richie scrambled after him splashing water everywhere. "You might want to kill me, but you have to catch me first," he laughed.

He backed toward the shore and Richie followed using a stroke that somewhat resembled the doggy paddle. Duncan carefully climbed the algae covered rocks and a couple minutes later Richie not so carefully came after him. He pulled himself to his feet, glared at Duncan, and stalked right past him up the porch stairs and into the cabin.

"Richie!" Duncan called running after him.

"Freeze!" Tessa ordered and Richie slid to a stop. "Out." She pointed to the door. "I'll get you a towel and after you dry off you can clean this up."

With a scowl set firmly on his face Richie turned and went to wait on the porch. Duncan came up beside him and tried to talk to him, but Richie stubbornly turned away each time Duncan moved into his line of vision.

"Here you are," Tessa smiled stepping out onto the porch. "How did the first lesson go?" One glance between the angry teen and apologetic immortal's faces told her it had not gone well. "What happened?" she sighed fighting the urge to roll her eyes. Somehow she knew it wouldn't be as easy as Duncan made it out to be.

"He did it again!" Richie exploded angrily accepting the towel she gave him, but only holding it in front of himself.

"Did what again?"

"He tired to kill me!"

"I did not!" Duncan defended. "I warned you."

"'Do you trust me?' Is NOT a warning!"

"How about 'Take a deep breath'?"


"I just wanted you to go under," Duncan explained.

"Why didn't you. ah, screw it!" Richie wrapped the towel around his shoulders and stormed into the house.

"What did you do?" Tessa asked knowingly.

"I just. Wanted to show him there was nothing to be scared of."

"So you." she prompted.

"Pushed him under."

"You did what?!"

"I was right there, nothing was going to happen."

"Why didn't you just ask him to? Duncan, this isn't different from anything else. You couldn't force him to be comfortable around us, you couldn't force him to make good choices, and you can't force him to do anything. All you can do is make a suggestion and wait for him to do it on his own. Especially with something as dangerous as this. He doesn't know how to swim--therefore he has some apprehension toward the whole idea. He trusts you enough to go in with you, but he won't trust you if you keep tricking him. I think you owe him an apology and an explanation."

. . . . . .

After three days of constant pestering and apologizing from Duncan and constant explanations and gentle encouragement from Tessa, Richie decided to give swimming another try. The morning he was to once again brave Duncan's teaching style Richie was oddly chipper.

"What are you so happy about?" Duncan asked with a grin as he and Richie stepped out onto the porch.

"Race you there!" Richie said excitedly and took off at a dead run.

"Richie! Don't go in!" Duncan called after him as Tessa delayed him with last minute instructions.

"Let him do it on his own," she reminded him. "Don't push."

"Okay," Duncan promised.

When Duncan made it in sight of the water Richie was perched precariously on the rocky shore with a grimace on his face and his hands clamped tightly on his left knee.

"You okay, Rich?" Duncan asked going to help him.

Richie sucked a deep breath through his teeth and held both hands tightly over his left knee. "I'm fine."

"I told you not to go in." Duncan put both hands on Richie's. "Let me see."

"I'm fine," Richie insisted through clenched teeth. "And I wasn't going to get in deep."

"Richie, let me see," Duncan ordered. Richie grinned at him and before he could ask why, Richie grabbed hold of both his arms and heaved him into the water. Duncan let out a yelp of surprise when Richie jumped on top of him.

"Try an' drown me twice, huh?" Richie laughed pushing Duncan under.

"I'm sorry!" Duncan told him flipping the boy over his shoulder. "Won't happen again."

They were still in only knee high water so the rough housing wasn't too dangerous. They pushed each other, pulled each other back down when one got the courage to stand up, rolled over and over; generally engaged in a friendly wrestling match. Duncan was surprised at how good Richie was. especially since he couldn't do half the moves he was doing now when it really counted.

"This is how you teach a teenager to swim?" Tessa asked from the shore having come out to sun bathe.

Duncan and Richie stopped 'fighting' and looked at her. Duncan on his stomach and Richie half on top of him half-floating in the water.

"I think she looks really dry," Richie whispered in Duncan's ear.

"Richie!" Duncan scolded.

"What did he say?" Tessa asked.

"He's plotting against you," Duncan laughed. "If you go out on the dock, he won't be able to sneak up on you," he advised kicking Richie under the water.

"Ow!" Richie took advantage of being in the dominant position and pushed Duncan's head under the water. "He kicked me!" he explained indignantly at Tessa's shocked expression.

"I'll do you a lot worse for that!" Duncan laughed pushing Richie off his back and in an expert-wrestling move pulling him out of the water. Richie's arms were sticking out at awkward angles because Duncan was standing behind him with his elbows hooked under Richie's underarms and his hands behind the boy's head.

"No fair!" Richie complained trying to break free. Tessa laughed her way to the sunniest spot on the dock and settled down on a beach towel with a book. "Let me go!" She heard Richie yell most likely still in the wrestling hold. "Tessa!!!"

"Duncan, let him go!" Tessa called not looking up from her book. "It's like having two teenagers, I swear," she mumbled fondly.

Duncan let Richie's arms down but switched his grip to around the boy's waist and clamped a hand over his mouth. Duncan cast a glance over his shoulder and saw Tessa was completely oblivious to the goings on. Richie screamed into Duncan's hand and tried to pull it away.

"Richie, shut up," Duncan hissed. Richie yelled something that Duncan was sure he was glad he couldn't understand and continued fighting.

Apparently he made enough noise to catch Tessa attention because she started yelling at Duncan to stop scaring him.

"Richie, shut up and listen," Duncan hissed again loosening his hold. "Do you want to get Tessa or not?" Richie stopped struggling and looked at Duncan over his shoulder. "This is what we're going to do."

"There you go! You're doing great, Rich!" Duncan cheered as Richie somewhat awkwardly swam towards him.

Tessa looked up to see the progress and smiled. Richie had never looked so young before. He was panting and concentrating hard on his goal, Duncan, through matted curls. "You're a quick learner," she told him over her book. Richie panted something in response and continued trying to catch up to Duncan who was leading him toward where Tessa was sitting.

"Just a little farther, tough guy," Duncan prompted. "Just to the dock. You're almost there."

A few minutes later Richie was clinging to the dock catching his breath and trying, unsuccessfully, to pull himself up. "Can I get a hand here?" he asked irritably not able to keep a grip on the smooth wood.

"I'm sorry," Tessa apologized. She wouldn't admit out loud that she was too busy inwardly laughing at how much Richie looked like a puppy as he struggled to get on solid ground. Trying not to grin too noticeably, Richie kept 'loosing' his grip on Tessa and let his hand slide out of her's. "What are you smiling about?" she asked grinning herself.

"Didn't you see him, Tess?" Duncan asked pulling himself up on the dock and leaving Tessa to pull the still slippery boy out of the water. "He's doing great; he takes to water like a fish."

"Thanks!" Richie panted, suddenly finding a grip just above Tessa's elbow.

"Oh, no! Richie, don't!" Tessa squealed just as Richie gave a mighty yank and pulled her into the water.

Laughing Duncan pulled Richie up and the both stood looking down at Tessa who was panting and screaming at them in French.

"What is she saying?" Richie asked as Tessa swam toward the latter.

"Nothing I want you to understand," Duncan mumbled.

Tessa continued ranting as she stalked across the deck toward the pair. Grinning, Richie repeated a few of the words as best he could. Tessa froze and glared at Duncan.

"What have you been teaching him other than swimming?" she demanded.

Duncan smiled. "You taught him that, not me."

"Then I should punish him," she said resolutely turning toward the boy

"Aw man," Richie said backing away. "It was all Mac's idea! I didn't want to! He made me!" he insisted maneuvering himself behind Duncan. "I don't even know what I said!" he continued ducking away from a playful swing. "I'll never say it again, I swear!"

"Say what?" Tessa asked.

Richie half repeated what he had said then stopped. "You tricked me!"

"Come here, Richie," Tessa grinned evilly. "I'll show you what my mother would have done if I had said that at your age."

"Mac!" Richie screamed as Tessa chased him into the cabin.

"Come on, Tessa!" Duncan called jogging after them not in a hurry because he knew Tessa would never do anything more than lecture the boy. "Be a sport. It got him swimming didn't it?" Duncan entered the cabin and found Tessa standing over Richie, who was cowering in the corner, with a spatula in her hand.

"Don't you ever say that again, do you understand?" she barked.

"I'm sorry! I didn't know what it meant!" Richie insisted holding his hands up in a feeble attempt to protect himself. He spotted Duncan in the doorway. "Mac, get her away!" he begged.

"Tessa, what are you doing?" Duncan demanded grabbing her by one arm and whirling her to face him. "It was just a joke. What's wrong with you?" To his surprise Tessa leaned in and kissed him hard.

She pulled away with a smile. "We really need to stop using him against each other."

Duncan looked at Richie who had gotten to his feet and was smiling at them. "You guys have really twisted senses of humor, you know that?"

"You little." Duncan started toward him. Richie backed into the wall and looked at Tessa for help.

. . . . . .

The next afternoon Richie was back on the dock with Duncan.

"Jump in," Duncan told him.

"You're kidding right?"

"It's the easiest way to get used to the water." As if to demonstrate he dove in. "Come on in, Rich!"

Richie shied to the edge of the dock and looked down and the brownish- greenish water. He took a few steps back and moved to jump in, but didn't go through with it. He took a few more steps back, then a couple more. He ran toward the water.

"Come on, Rich!"

. and stopped at the edge. Sighing deeply he assured Duncan he was coming and went to the very back edge of the dock.

"Here it goes," he told himself and took off at a sprint. He ran out of dock to run on before he had time to notice and was soon immersed in murky wetness. Trying his best to stay clam he tried to pull himself upward and sucked in a lung-full of air when he broke the surface.

"Alright, come on back!" Duncan called.

Richie mentally kicked himself for not realizing that getting a running start just would just propel him further into the lake. Taking a deep breath Richie began struggling toward the dock. Once he made it back Duncan was waiting for him.

"Come on up."

"You made me jump in just to get back out?" Richie asked.

"I need to explain something to you before we get started today."

"Fine." Richie pulled himself up the latter and stood in front of Duncan.

"Today I'm going to teach you how to kick," he told him.

"Teach me?" Richie repeated. "How do you teach someone to kick? You just kick."

"But when you swim you have to control your kicking. You can't just keep flailing around like you do. There's a certain method. If you learn to kick properly you'll go faster and in a straighter line," Duncan explained.

Richie thought about it. "Huh, makes sense. So what do I do?"

"Lie on your stomach," Duncan said. Richie gave him a questioning look but did as he was told.

"Okay," Duncan knelt beside him. "Just do what I tell you and hold still." He produced a length of rope that he had been hiding behind his back. He put one knee in the middle of Richie's back and as quickly as he could tied the boy's hands together.

"Mac! What are you doing?" Richie shrieked trying to wiggle out of his grasp.

"Teaching you how to swim," Duncan explained pulling him to his feet and leading him to the water again.

Richie pushed against him. "Look whatever I did, I'm sorry. I won't do it again!"


"Can't we talk about this?!"

"Richie." Duncan turned him so they were face to face. "Calm down. This is how my father taught me and it worked out just fine."

"Minor difference, Mac. You are immortal; I'm not. Now let me go!"

"I wasn't at the time. Would you stop yelling?"

Richie took a deep breath. "Mac, I'm serious. I don't want to do this anymore."

"Give it one try. If anything goes wrong, I'll find a more conventional way. It's how Connor learned, too. I've seen dozens of kids younger than you learn this way. None of them ever drowned." He turned Richie back around. "You ready?"

"You swear this works?" Richie asked hesitantly.

"I swear. And I'll come in right after you," Duncan assured him.

Richie took a deep breath. "Okay." he said reluctantly.

"Now what you have to remember is to just jump straight in and kick straight up. Keep your legs as close together as you can; only let your feet get no farther than a foot apart. Okay?"

Richie nodded ever so slightly and Duncan gave him a gentle push into the water before jumping in himself a few feet to the left of the bubbles Richie's entrance had left.

"You okay, Rich?" he asked as soon as he broke the surface.

"I think so," Richie panted shaking his hair out of his eyes. "If you knew this was going to work how come you tricked me?" he asked trying to scoot himself toward Duncan.

"Because I knew you wouldn't do it willingly," Duncan laughed slipping a hand under one of Richie's arms and helping him stay up. "So do you trust me now?"

"I'm debating that right now," Richie told him with a slight smile.

"Do you trust me enough to keep going?"

"I guess."


Duncan only left Richie's hands tied for half an hour then let him go so he could catch his breath and stretch his arms.

"You're doing a great job, Rich," he complemented, rubbing his arms.

"I can't feel my fingers," Richie complained.

Duncan just laughed and helped him to his feet. "You must have worked up an appetite. Let's see what Tessa's made."

Richie looked very tired after their snack and Duncan told him that they were through for the day.

"Did you have fun?" Tessa asked sitting on the foot of Richie's bed.

"Mac worries me," Richie told her relaxing under her hands as she massaged his back.

"I told him to tell you before he did it," she laughed.

"You knew?"

"Of course."

"And you didn't warn me? Tess, I thought we had an understanding!" Richie complained refusing to move for fear of loosing his masseuse.

"He said he would explain it to you," Tessa said.

"He did, after he had tied my hands."

Tessa stifled a giggle. "You have to understand; he was raised and taught some things a very long time ago. But he knows what he's doing. It just seems strange to you."

"What can I say, while my friends were telling me about their swimming lessons at the Y there was no mention of 'Today they tied us up and threw us in just to see what would happen.' It was more along the lines of 'We blew bubbles under the water.'"

"Why didn't you ever learn how to swim?" Tessa asked. She felt Richie's back muscles tense.

"When all my friends learned, when we were eight or nine, I had this foster dad who had this real aversion to water. He wouldn't let me near it. One of my friends had a swimming party and he wouldn't even let me go."

"He wouldn't let you go to a friend's birthday party?" Tessa was shocked.

"He didn't want me near the water. But he took me to a baseball game that day so I wouldn't sit around all day pouting. So I wasn't too traumatized."

"Why didn't you take lessons after?"

"I was thirteen. It was kinda embarrassing that I couldn't swim."


"Hey, don't tell Mac, okay?" he asked rolling over to look at her.

"I won't," Tessa promised. She wasn't sure why Duncan shouldn't know but if that's the way Richie wanted it, wouldn't hurt to keep it between them. Richie yawned and Tessa grinned at him. "You must have had quite a workout out there. Why don't you take a nap and I'll wake you for dinner."

. . . . . .

After a few more days of Duncan's unusual teaching techniques Richie easily passed as a swimmer. Anytime someone went outside and was willing to stay in sight of the water he went out to practice. He got pretty good but Duncan still wasn't willing to let him go out in the water without someone there to watch him.

"Come on, Richie, you need to pack. Get out of the water," Duncan told him closing his book.

With an audible sigh Richie splashed his way to the dock. "Hey Mac, I've been thinking," he said as he climbed up the short latter. "Have you ever thought about an internet antique business? You can run it here."

"And you wouldn't have a store to clean or customers to help and could spend all your time out here?" Duncan finished.

"I could do deliveries, too," Richie added.

"Richie, no."

"It was just an idea," he shrugged going up to the cabin. "Can we come back every time you face another immortal?"

Duncan just grinned and opened the door gesturing the boy in before him. "If I did that, we'd be up here all the time."

Richie grinned. "Exactly."

"Did I ever teach you the dead man's float?" Duncan asked with a wicked grin.

Richie laughed nervously and went into his room closing the door securely behind him. "I don't even want to know," he mumbled to himself as he began gathering clothes off the floor.