I have had the worst writers block this break. But, I did finally write something. I won't be able to write much the next few months. I'm taking 17 hours at school so I will be pretty busy. Anyway hope you like!
OH! and I would love some title ideas. I just can't think of ANYTHING!
(for lack of a better title)
It was the last quickening the world would ever see. The power of every immortal ever in existence would soon come to rest in the veins of the only one of their kind left, Duncan MacLeod. Red-hot surges of blinding power attacked him from every angle, lifting the Highlander in the air, tossing him as an older brother tosses his sister's rag doll. Strangers' memories stormed his mind, mixing, mingling, and over powering his own. His childhood, immortality, and life-times became as foreign as the memory of building the sphinx.
Abruptly, the quickening released Duncan, dropping him hundreds of feet to the hard, rocky, mountain ledge. When he hit the ground, his head struck a bolder, fracturing his skull and robbing him of his consciousness.
Slowly, he opened his eyes. Somehow he had ended up in a plain, sterile looking, white room. He was lying in a soft, warm bed. He couldn't ever remember feeling to so comfortable and at peace before.
"You're awake," a voice said. A young woman approached him from across the room.
"Who are you?" he demanded. "Where am I?"
She smiled and sat in the chair next to his bed. "I'm here to show you to the prize."
"You are the last," she told him. "That means you win."
Duncan sat up against the pillows. "Win what?"
"I can't tell you," she said. "I can only tell you how to get there."
Duncan nodded. "And how do I get there?"
She smiled and stood up. "Close your eyes and think over your life."
He lay back down and shut his eyes. "Now what?"
"When it's time, open your eyes and you will have your reward."
"How do I know when it's time?"
Duncan sighed deeply and let his mind wander through his life.
His earliest memory was watching his father birth a goat. He had been around five at the time. Back then, just being around his father made him happy. Many of his earliest memories were of following his father around. Sometimes his father would let him help with the chores. Duncan loved helping to feed the animals and felt very important when his father let him carry the bucket of milk into their hut.
Conner had been a great comfort when he had been forced to leave his clan.
Conner was the only family that he had. He was a constant source of support and familiarity. He was always there for him…well, he had been there for him. When he had been around.
Just like he had tried to be there for Richie.
Geeze, he missed Richie. He wished he could go back and make more memories of the time before Richie had died. Before Tessa had died. That was a great time in his life. For the first time in a long time, he had an almost real family. But like the time before, the relationships had been doomed from the start.
"Duncan, wake up, they'll be here any minute."
Duncan opened his eyes. He wasn't in the sterile white room anymore. He was lying on an over-stuffed floral print couch with a hand-knitted afghan over him. He sat up and looked around the familiar living room. It was the antique store loft; Duncan was sure of that. But it looked different than he remembered. There was something not right about it. He got up off the couch and began looking over the shelves.
Who were the babies in those pictures? He felt he should know them, the names just out of memory's reach. Duncan smiled at the babies, ; he knew he loved them.
Many of the books looked familiar. Hard covered, first editions of old classics, paper backs worn and falling apart for multiple readings. Then something caught his eye. On the top shelf…six books in a row, all with the same writing on the spine. Large red-block letters, HIGHLANDER.
With a slight frown, he took the first volume down and looked at the cover. The same title was written across the top with "The Gathering" written beneath it. The cover featured a highland warrior in full Scottish dress running into a battle. The tagline read "In the end there can be only one"
His curiosity peaked, he opened the book to read the liner summary, but familiar handwriting on the inside cover caught his attention.
"Mama and Da
Guess the history lessons finally paid off.
Duncan turned around. Tessa stood just a few feet away. She was alive!.... she had aged.
"I know, I look so old," she said with a friendly frown.
"Wh-wh-What?" he stuttered.
"That's what you were thinking," she accused.
"On the contrary," he told her, tentatively approaching the woman and putting his arms around her. "I was thinking you are more beautiful than ever."
"Like a fine wine." He kissed her forehead.
"Don't start what you can't finish," she warned.
"We just need a few seco- -"
A key rattled in the kitchen door and soon a small heard of children ran to them. "Grandmere! Grand-da!" The three yelled throwing arms around waists and thighs.
"Chou chou!" Tessa leaned down and kissed each in turn.
They were the babies from the pictures, just slightly more grown up.
"How'd you three get here?" Duncan teased, hugging and kissing each child. Their faces were each vaguely familiar, elfish features accenting their cherub fair skinned faces.
"Daddy," the younger of the two girls told him seriously.
"He knew that, Devon," the older girl sighed, rolling her eyes.
"Be nice, Caris," a tired male voice instructed from the kitchen.
Duncan looked up from the children at a disheveled very grown up Richie… no, he liked to be called Rich now… standing in the doorway loaded down with suit cases and shopping bags of wrapped Christmas presents at his feet.
Tessa laughed, went over to him and kissed his cheek. "You look like you've had a long day."
"Let's just say I'm rethinking my aversion to TVs in cars."
Duncan stared. Tessa had died 13 years ago, Richie 10 years ago, ; yet , here they were standing not 20 feet away, older than he remembered but here none the less.
"You okay, Da?" Rich asked, bringing Duncan back to this new reality.
'Da?' Duncan's mind questioned, then remembered the autograph in the book 'Rich MacLeod'.
"Da?" Rich asked again before casting a worried glance at his mother.
"He's fine," Tessa assured him. "He was taking a nap when you arrived; he's just still asleep."
"Looks awake to me!" the little boy announced.
"Keegan…" the oldest girl groaned.
"Caris…" Rich warned.
Caris, a 9 year old, female version of her father looked up at him in exasperation. "But Daddy," she whined.
"Don't 'Daddy' me," he interrupted. "You have been ragging on them all day and I am sick of telling you to stop it." His tone was stern and his finger shook authoritatively. "You do it one more time and you are going to bed right after dinner, you hear me?" She rolled her eyes and turned around. "You hear me?" he repeated.
"Yes," she snipped back.
A foreign grandfather instinct prompted Duncan to casually mention that the presents under the Christmas tree needed arranging. Forgetting her reprimand, Caris went off with her younger siblings to inspect their gifts.
"Take these, too." Tessa picked up the bags Rich had brought in and followed their children.
"You seem tired," Duncan said walking toward Rich. "I'll take these back to the bedroom."
"Not with your back," Rich said taking up the bags. "What's for dinner?"
"Your mother made manicotti," Duncan answered the words coming naturally, yet sounding odd.
"My favorite." Rich put the bags in his old childhood bedroom, still decorated as it had been when he left for college. "I forgot to say hi," he added, giving Duncan a warm, strong hug.
"Hey, tough guy," a gruff whisper answered.
Rich chuckled. "You haven't called me that since…"
"Your wedding day," Duncan supplied.
Rich pulled back and gave him a sad smile. "Erin's funeral," he corrected.
Duncan nodded. "God, you're huge," he commented before he could stop himself. Now that he was so close he had a real chance to see how Rich had changed.
Tessa, dying as an adult, had merely aged. Her blonde hair had streaks of platinum, her skin was a little wrinkled. Rich had not only aged into a man, making his childish features more rugged and angular. He also seemed to have gone through a growth spurt, shooting him up until he was a fraction taller than Duncan.
"I tell the kids it's because I ate my veggies."
"There you two are," Tessa said from the doorway. "Dinner will be ready in a few minutes."
"Need help?" Rich offered.
The three went out to the kitchen and fell into familiar roles getting dinner ready. Duncan sat quietly during the meal, trying to sort out all the conflicting memories in his head. He could remember his first death in 1627, but he also remembered begging his father to borrow his car in 1967. Hadn't he proposed to Tessa in 1993? He was sure he had. Then why did he remember marrying her in 1974? He was immortal and so was Rich. Why didn't he feel Rich's presence and how did Rich manage to have three kids?
"Are you sure you're alright?" Tessa asked him in hushed French while Rich settled an accusation of garlic bread favoritism.
"Head ache," he lied.
"Are you sure that's all?"
"I'll be fine by tomorrow."
She nodded, accepting the answer.
The next few hours were spent listening to the jumbled, rambling stories of six year old twins and watching the taped step-dancing recital of the oldest. Once the stories had been laughed at and the recital applauded, Rich announced it was time for the kids to go to bed.
"Me, too?" Caris asked.
"You, too," Rich answered with no room for argument. The kids said their goodnights and then the four disappeared into the bedroom.
Tessa snuggled into Duncan's chest from her seat on the couch. "Caris is mad," she said. "She misses her mother."
"Rich can take care of her," Duncan answered. "He seems tired. If we go to bed, maybe he will, too."
"And what will we do at eight o'clock at night?"
"I have an idea…"
"Not with our grandchildren in the next room," she insisted.
"I'd be happy just to be with you."
"You've been very romantic today."
"I feel like I haven't seen you in ages."
"Which me have you been looking for?"
"The one I fell in love with."
"And? Have you found her?"
"She's right here." He leaned down and kissed her softly, then with the reassurance she wasn't going to vanish, with more passion. "I love you so much," he told her. "I've loved you ever since the day I met you on the tour boat."
"I love you, too."
"I love you more today than I ever have in all the years I've known you."
"Rachel Caris MacLeod," Rich's angry voice carried down the hall.
"He needs sleep," Tessa said getting up. "As parents we should set a good example."
Duncan smiled. "I like the way you think."
"Just stay quiet," she told him.
They ran into Rich on their way down the hall. "Turning in?" he asked.
"Want energy for tomorrow with the kids," Duncan said, squeezing Tessa's hand.
"Sure, I'll go with that," he agreed. "I'm gonna do some writing." He held up a spiral and pen. "I'll just be in the living room so if the kids start something, I'll hear them." He left them to their own devises.
No sooner had the door been closed than he had her back in his arms holding her tightly to him. She giggled and rested her head on his shoulder as he began humming and slow dancing to his own music.
"You have been in the best mood ever since your nap," she told him. "Pleasant dreams?"
"A horrible dream," he admitted.
"What happened?" she straightened up, but kept her hold on him.
"It was just a dream."
"Must have been something to make you act like this."
"I dreamed I had lost you," he admitted sadly.
"Oh," she said softly.
"I'm just so happy it wasn't real." But it had been real, hadn't it? All his memories were so jumbled up it was hard to sort out the real from the fictional.
"You have that look again," Tessa interrupted his thoughts. "Are you sure nothing is wrong?"
"Let's go look at some pictures," he suggested.
There was a knock on the door. "Mama?" Rich called. "Da? Can I come in?"
They exchanged a look. "Sure."
The door opened and Rich came in clutching his cell phone. "Sorry," he apologized with a stupid grin plastered across his face. "But I just got the best news!"
"What?" Tessa asked, his excitement rubbing off on her.
"I just got off the phone with my publishing agent," he told them. "I've just gotten an offer to turn my books into a TV series!"
Tessa's eyes grew wide. "Oh, Rich, that's fabulous!" she threw her arms around him.
"That's great, Rich," Duncan beamed. "What sort of deal did you get?"
"I dunno, yet. They've just sent an opening offer."
"How exciting!" Tessa kissed his cheek. "Are you going to wake the children?"
"Are you kidding me? I just got them to sleep!" he laughed. "I'll tell them tomorrow."
"We were just going to look at some photo albums," Duncan said. "You want to join us? A little inspiration, perhaps?"
"How are baby pictures going to inspire me?" he asked.
"But you've got that Cole kid; you may remember a few ways to get him in trouble."
"That's right, you haven't gotten into trouble since you were 17."
"Okay, okay, I'm in."
They went out into the living room and Rich got the photo albums out of the bottom cabinet of the hutch. As they flipped through the pages, Tessa and Rich laughed at the memories, rehashing the stories and arguing over who remembered them correctly. Duncan, however, was still sorting out his conflicting sets of memories.
He was positive Rich hadn't moved into the spare room until he was 18, but the pictures in front of him insisted he had been just 4.
The picture with Tessa and Rich smiling at the camera alongside Duncan's parents in front of a modest house in Scotland cause him to suck in a sharp breath. It was nearly too much.
Tessa and Rich fell silent when they came upon a crisp white wedding album. 'Richard and Erin MacLeod May 17, 1996' was embroidered in silver thread on the cover.
"Do you want to skip it?" Tessa asked.
Rich turned the gold band on his finger. "Yeah… for now."
An hour of prom, graduation and first days of school later, Rich announced he was turning in and Tessa followed soon after.
"Don't stay up late." She kissed his cheek before leaving him alone in the living room.
He went back to the book shelf and took down the first book on the top shelf. This time he turned to the back cover.
"He is Duncan MacLeod," it read in bold red letters. "Born 400 years ago in the highlands of Scotland. He is immortal and he is not alone. Now is the time of the Gathering when the stroke of a sword and the fall of a head will release the power of the Quickening. In the end there can be only one."
He blinked a few times then reached for the second book titled "Revenge is Sweet". It was followed in the series by "Band of Brothers", "The Hunters", "The Watchers", and "Eye for an Eye".
He took up the first book again and opened it to the first page.
"The streets were silent except for the echoing footsteps of a young, anonyms, teenage thief as he hurried his way through the shadows cast by the shops. He stopped when he reached the side window of his target. An antique store with small, expensive, solid gold rings and necklaces just begging him to take them. Out of his nearly empty duffle bag, he extracted a glass cutter and a pair of small wire cutters to disable the alarm system. Smoothly and professionally, he let himself into the store through the window.
Inside the building and above the store, a couple celebrated a birthday privately in their bedroom. Mid-celebration, the man froze.
"I feel something."
The woman giggled from her perch over his hips. "I should hope so.
"No, someone's here." He moved her aside and got up, putting on his jeans.
"I didn't hear anything…" She got up and found her robe.
He looked at her over his shoulder as he took up his sword, an ancient Japanese katana, which was never out of reach. "Neither did I."
Downstairs, the teen had loaded up his bag with small, easily pawned items. As he glanced around the darkened store for one last check, his eyes stopped on a sword display case. With a wide, childish grin, he picked the lock and reached in, extracting the jeweled Spanish sword. He held it up in front of him and swung it through the air.
He was so caught up in playing with the sword, he did notice anyone else in the store until the lights snapped on. He whirled around and found himself posed at odds with another swordsman.
"I am Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod," the half-dressed man announced. His tone was low and dangerous, frightening the young thief almost as much as the very sharp looking sword did."
"You can't possibly find those things interesting," Rich joked walking through the living room on his way to the kitchen.
"I love your books," Duncan told him. "And I can't help but feel a little proud that you named the hero after me."
"You're the one who used to tell me the stories," his voice drifted from the kitchen.
"I didn't tell them like this."
Rich came out with a glass of water in a plastic cup. "Close enough. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a six year old insisting he can't sleep until he gets some water. And if he can't sleep, he won't let me."
Duncan spotted Rich's notebook. "Hey, Rich?"
"You mind if I read this? I can't sleep either."
"Uh…sure. It's just possible endings. Trying to figure out what I'm leading up to, you know?"
"Alright. See you in the morning."
Duncan sat down on the couch and opened the spiral to Ending III.
"It was the last quickening the world would ever see. The power of every immortal ever in existence would soon come to rest in the veins of the only one of their kind left, Duncan MacLeod…