Disclaimers: Standard disclaimers apply.

AN: This is the sequel to University Love. It is necessary you read that before this.


Richie took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. He heard voices then footsteps and then felt the familiar buzz of another immortal. He shifted his bag to the other shoulder as the door opened. Duncan stood, stunned on the other side. It had been seven years since they had last seen each other back in 2000.

"Richie?" he finally managed to get something out.

"How is he?" Richie asked, avoiding the awkward greetings.

"He's as well as he can be. But it's a good thing you're here now; we don't think he has much longer."

"What did the doctors say?"

"They can't find anything wrong. He's just old."

Richie nodded. He always had hated doctors. They were never reliable enough. "Can I come in?" he asked after a pregnant pause in the conversation. "Or are you so mad at me that I can't?"

Duncan stepped aside. "No, no... come in." Richie entered the house and put his bag by the door. "Are you staying?"

"If Joe will let me. Where is he?"

"Living room." He gestured to the left.

Richie took the lead and confidently walked down the hall. Joe was tucked into a recliner and Adam was sitting on the couch across from him. Both looked up at Richie's entrance.

"Hi," he ventured.

A broad smile broke out across Joe's now old and weathered face. "Heh, heh, heh, well look at you," he chuckled. "It's about time you got here." Richie smiled shyly and advanced across the room to give Joe a long overdo hug.

"I just heard. I got here as fast as my bike would go."

"I have no plans of dying before I'm ready, young man. You don't have to worry about me. How are you doing?"

"I'm doing okay." He knelt by Joe's chair and rested his chin on his hands, which were propped up on the armrest, a child waiting for his father to tell him a story.

"You look like hell."

"Well I just drove all the way from Cincinnati to Washington on a motorcycle what do you expect?"

"You didn't have time to stop for a hair cut?" He jostled the blonde curls that now hung to the young immortal's ears.

"I know; I'm going though an ugly stage right now. I'm growing it all out."


He shrugged. "A change."

"I'm on my death bed and that's all the information you're going to give me?" Joe laughed. "I'm a retired spy, for God's sake, boy. You have to give me more than that!"

"Looks to me like you're on your death Lazy Boy," Richie told him.

"Richie..." Duncan started to scold the younger man for what he saw as an inappropriate joke.

"Oh, MacLeod, stop protecting my ego and go to the store already," Joe cut him off with a wave of his hand. "You go with him, Adam. Richie's humor will be a welcome change from the stoicism that I've been getting. And we have a lot of catching up to do."

It wasn't until the other immortals had left that Richie spoke again. "So how are you?"

Joe sighed. "I'm doing alright. The damned doctors can't find anything wrong. No cancer, no cysts, no infections, just age. I'm not this old."

"I know you're not. Is there anything I can do for you?"

"I'm just glad you're here. That's enough for me."

"How're Mac and Adam treating you?"

"Like a fragile antique. At least MacLeod is. Adam seems to have a better grip on this, but MacLeod is a bit irritating."

"I'm sorry."

"Nothing you can do about it. So now that it's just you and me, you mind explaining the hair?"

Richie smiled. "It's for my new identity. I'm starting over this year."

"Didn't like law?"

"No, I loved it, actually. Did a lot of pro bono, stuff like that. Mostly came out on top, too. But it's just time to move on. I don't want to be a rookie lawyer the rest of my life. So, I'm going back to school."

"And this requires shaggy hair?"

"I'm going for a more surfer look now. I thinking all I need is a tan and some board shorts and I'm all set. Don't you think I can pull it off?"

Joe smiled. "I think you have some more explaining to do. Are you moving to California or Florida?"

Richie grinned broadly. "Hawaii."


"Yeah." Richie rocked back on his heels then took Adam's seat on the couch. "I was there a year ago buying this resort that someone in the law firm I worked for was attached to somehow... any way... I fell in love with the island while I was there. Joe, I'm telling you, it's beautiful there. I mean, you see the post cards and TV specials, but that's nothing. I didn't realize how much I missed the beach and the water... So, anyway, I'm going to start at Hawaii State in the fall."

Joe smiled and shook his head. "Why would you put yourself through college again?"

"Look at me, Joe. It's all I can do. But I'm not waiting tables anymore you can bank on that."

"So what are you going to do? Another dojo?"

"I'm going to give myself a job as a life guard at my resort."

"So you can watch girls in bikinis all day?"


"Are you playing any sports for the, uh, what's the mascot?"

"The Ne Ne. It's kind of like a Canadian goose, but not. But, no, I'm not playing for the school. I tried out for the soccer team, but didn't make it."

"Tough break."

"Eh, not really. A bunch of the guys who didn't make it got together and formed a league team. I joined that."

"I see." They sat in silence for a minute. "Are you staying?" Joe asked.

"I was hoping to, if you don't mind."

"You're family. Of course you can stay! I would insist on it anyway."

Richie smiled. "Somehow I knew you'd be the one to understand what I did and not be mad."

Joe gave him a knowing look. "Are you worried about MacLeod?"

"I know he's mad. I was mad when he did it to me, too. I just didn't see any other way. Do you think I did the right thing?"

"Do you regret what you did?"

"Ultimately, no."

"Then you did the right thing."

Richie nodded. "Are you hungry?" he asked suddenly. "I haven't eaten all day and I'm starving."

"Me, too. Let's go get something."

"Are you sure that's okay? I mean, I'm a good cook; I can make whatever you want."

"I want to go out somewhere."

"What about the doctors, Joe? What would they say?"

"They'd say they can't find anything wrong with it."

They left a note of where they'd be and Richie's cell phone number before they left for Joe's favorite Mexican restaurant. They got a table for four because Richie's gut told him that Duncan was going to be there to glare at him for the entire meal.

Sure enough, the waitress had just left the chips and salsa on the table when the buzz hit Richie. Duncan stalked over to their table, grabbed Richie's arm, mumbled a quick "Excuse us," and drug Richie out to the parking lot before Adam had made it to the table.

"What are you thinking?" Duncan demanded as soon as the door shut behind them.

"I was thinking I was hungry. I asked Joe what he wanted; this is what he wanted."

"Richie, he is a sick, dying man. He can't eat this food!"

"Why not, because you say so?"

"Richie, stop being so stubborn."

"Mac, you said it yourself; the doctor's don't know what's wrong with him. So we don't know what he can and can't eat."

"Richie, he's dying."

"Yeah, he's not dead yet. Give him a chance to live while he can."

Duncan shook his head and sighed. "Fine. We just have to make sure he takes it easy."

Joe did a good job of keeping himself in check, ordering rather plain, bland food and refusing Richie's offer to share his jalapeno jack Fajitas. That night, Richie took the couch and was awakened by loud coughing. He tracked the noise back to Joe's bedroom.

"You okay?" he asked softly.

"Come here," Joe wheezed, pushing himself up in the bed. Richie moved his pillows to support his back. "We need to have a little talk."

"What's wrong?"

"Richie... I'm dying."

"I know."

"And I had to make out a will. I left most of my things to you."

"Why me? Why not Mac or Adam."

"Because you're the youngest. You're not settled financially yet."


"And you're like a son to me. I know the last thing you want to hear is that. But you're a great kid and you deserve some time off. Promise me that when you graduate again, you'll use my money to take some time to travel around, vacation, relax. You're too old to have to worry about midterms and papers. So that's what I want you to use it for."

"I will."

"And one more thing."


"Try and get along with MacLeod. He hasn't been the same since you left." He coughed a few times.


"He's not the same. Just try and make amends."


"Promise me. A MacLeod's word is better than any contract."



"I promise." Joe started coughing again, this time harder. "Are you okay?" Joe nodded and tried to wave Richie's concerned hands away. "Joe?" He saw blood dribbling though the old man's fingers. "Mac! Adam!" he yelled jumping to his feet and trying to figure out what to do.

"What's wrong?" Duncan asked pushing the younger man aside, Adam at his heels.

"I dunno he just started coughing up blood."

"Duncan, call an ambulance," Adam ordered moving him aside. "Richie, turn on the light then get me some water."

Richie was going down the hall on his third errand when the EMTs showed up and charged after him.

"Out of the way, kid," one warned before he got shoved into the wall so they could get by.

Adam stayed in the room talking with the EMTs as they worked on Joe while Duncan and Richie stood in the hall trying to make sense of what was going on.

. . . . . .

The funeral had been simple and well attended. The Watchers in attendance openly stared at the three immortals who seemed to be the primary mourners at the service. They served as half of the pallbearers, and all delivered a eulogy.

"You'd think they'd never seen an immortal before," Richie grumbled, as two started whispering and pointing as people paid their last respects.

"They've never seen one so human before," Adam added glaring at them.

"I fell like I'm an animal in the zoo." Richie shifted uncomfortably in his suit. "Did it have to be so hot today?"

"Richie, stop complaining," Duncan told him.

Richie thought about saying something snide back, but decided to be the bigger man and just kept quiet. The three stayed until the last mourner had left, then all went back to Joe's house. It took all three of them five days to clean the house up enough to have it ready to go on the market. As soon as they were done, Richie was on the phone making arrangements to leave for school. Duncan caught him packing that afternoon.

"You weren't planning on sneaking away again, were you?" he asked.

"No, I was going to tell you tonight that I have a plane to catch tomorrow afternoon."

"You're leaving?"

"Yeah, I'm starting school again. I need to go get settled and everything before classes start."

"It's the end of July, you have plenty of time to get ready. Stick around a while."

"I have to get my house ready and find some roommates. Plus I start work soon."

"Where are you going?"

"Somewhere new. Start over completely. I'm going to have a new identity and everything."

"Do you have it all set up, properly? Do you want me to double check your papers?" Duncan asked eagerly.

"Adam taught me how to do it all a while ago. I'm fine," Richie shot him down. "Thanks, though," he added, remembering his promise to Joe.

The next afternoon Adam and Duncan took Richie to the airport. "Bye, Adam, it was good seeing you again," Richie gave him a firm handshake.

"Watch your head."

"Duncan," Richie offered him his hand reminiscent of the same solemn way they had parted years before.

"Bye, Richie," Duncan shook his hand. "Be careful."

It had not been the farewell Richie had been expecting. He tried for a hug anyway and got a stiff pat on the back in return.

"See you around," he finally said, taking a step towards the ticket counter. "Maybe you can come by and see the new place sometime," he offered. Deciding that letting Duncan know where he would be wouldn't hurt anything. Coming home and leaving again was harder than he thought it would be. He had been determined to not get attached again. It didn't work out. "What do you think?"

"Maybe," Duncan nodded and walked away. Richie cast Adam an appealing look.

"Give him time," he told him.

"Yesterday he would have asked where I was going."

"Yesterday is not today."

"That's why they call it yesterday."

"And they is always tomorrow."

"I really screwed this up didn't I?"

"You made a decision that he wasn't ready for you to make."

"I just wanted to prove I didn't have to rely on him anymore; I can do this on my own."

"And you did. He just wasn't ready, yet."

"It wasn't his decision."

"He knows that. He just still felt that you needed guidance."

"It's not like he was even really teaching me anymore. There was Miller and you and..."

"And when you were in trouble who did you go to?"

"Why is it that no matter where I stand in an argument, I'm always wrong?"

"I'm just telling you where MacLeod is coming from," Adam said. "Give him time," he repeated before leaving.

With a sigh, Richie went through the line and presented his ticket and ID to the woman behind the counter. Two hours later Rick Noel was on a plane to Hawaii.