Rated PG: some language, mild violence.

Alex/Wes, Jen, Trip, Lucas, Katie and all other characters from Power Rangers belong to Disney/Saban. Methos and Duncan belong to Davis/Panzer Productions. I am using them without permission, however I have not and don't expect to make money from this.

My thanks to Rach aka The Fink for help with plotting and the finer points of Highlander the Series. Many thanks to MzDany for betaing and all-around encouragement.

This is a Power Rangers Time Force/Highlander crossover, written mostly for TF fans but I think HL fans would also find some points of interest in it. My story 'After the Fall' is a prequel to this, and establishes the necessary background. It would be helpful but is not absolutely necessary to read that first.

Reviews are always appreciated.

The Price

Endings

Alex Drake's Journal, May 3, 3001

I saw Jen today. Funny, I'd almost succeeded in not thinking about her for a whole day, and there she was. As if she was trying to remind me of her existence, not that I need it. And not that she probably wastes her time on thinking about me. Or maybe she does, but not the version of me I'd like her to think about.

That sounds crazy, doesn't it? But this whole situation is crazy. Jen broke her engagement to me in the present because she fell in love with me in the past. She doesn't know, and I can't bring myself to tell her. How does a man compete with himself? A past self who didn't know how different he was, who didn't yet know he'd been cursed with immortality, and who wasn't weighed down with a thousand years of memories, of loss, and of loneliness?

- - -

There she was, amid a small group of people stepping out of a doorway and into the hallway he was walking through. A glimpse of a face, the flash of brown hair. She was smiling, listening to something one of them had said. For a moment he felt an overwhelming envy of those people, of whoever had received that smile or knew the laughter he heard a moment later was meant for them.

He considered turning around and going back the way he had come, but that would look like he was afraid. No, he had every right to be here in this corridor, and every right to keep going, to walk up to the group which was now standing in his way. He had every reason to stop and say hello to her. Brown eyes lifted to his face, and the smile died from hers.

"Jen," he said, nodding, keeping his voice neutral.

"Hello, Alex."

"Nice to see you again."

"Yes, you too. How are you?"

"Fine. You?"

"Fine."

He tried to think of something else they might talk about, anything to prolong the conversation, an excuse to walk down the hall with her and invite her to lunch... but what would that accomplish? There was no reason to stay. Alex nodded again and started off, continuing on his way, resisting the urge to turn and see if Jen was watching him. It made no difference, after all. Nothing could change the fact that she had fallen in love with another man and broken their engagement. The additional fact that the other man happened to be himself hardly mattered.

- - -

Jen watched him go out of the corner of her eye, wondering if he'd look back, half-hoping and half-dreading. But of course he didn't. Looking back was not something Alex did.

He certainly showed no signs of wanting to go back to their old relationship. Their encounters so far since her return had all been like this. Stiff, cold, without even the emotion of anger. He had changed so much from the kind and loving man whose ring she had once worn. She wanted to feel hurt, to believe she had never really known him, to dismiss him as shallow and convince herself he wasn't worth thinking about, but - there was always something in his eyes when he looked at her, something that told her he was feeling considerably more than he showed on the outside.

And what did she feel? Jen sighed. She had lost both of the men she loved. Wes was gone, dead for almost a thousand years. She had even tried once to find out how and when it had happened, perhaps to make herself accept it, but a search of the history files had turned up nothing; Wes had disappeared from the historical record after Eric's tragic death at the hands of an apparently random attacker. If only she could have been there with him when he lost his friend and partner, so soon after losing his father. Instead, her absence had only been another cause of sorrow in his life.

And Alex... he could pretend all he wanted, but she knew she had hurt him. If only she had the courage to break through the wall he had built around himself, even if only as a friend. But maybe that would only make things worse. With another sigh, she turned her face away and her mind back to the day's business.

- - -

Patrick opened the door carefully, quietly, not wanting to disturb her if she was asleep. Inside the small but private hospital room, Dory lay in her bed, head turned slightly towards him, eyes closed, her hand draped over a book that rested, still open, on her chest. After a moment's hesitation he stepped closer, still making no noise.

Automatically his eyes watched for breathing, and found it. Her hands caught his attention next. So thin, so old, the skin almost translucent, looking as worn and fragile as her face. Cheekbones a little more prominent than the last time he had seen her. She was losing weight, losing strength. Losing life. For a moment he seemed to be in another small room full of the shadow of death, watching another fragile woman in her final struggles...

"Patrick?"

He was pulled back by her voice, and looked up to find her eyes open. He returned her bright smile. "Yes, it's me. Hope I didn't wake you up."

"Not at all." She considered him with a thoughtful glance. "I can't be napping while you're here, anyway. I'm the one who's supposed to be watching you, not the other way around."

He laughed in response. "Right, that's why I'm here. So you can keep an eye on me."

"I'm glad to see you; I need to talk to you. Sit down." She reached out to him when he took a chair beside the bed with that hand that seemed so weak and wasted, her fingers resting on his wrist with a feather-light touch. "I heard you visited our headquarters. You told them you don't want another Watcher."

"Yes. I told them not to bother. I can watch myself. Done it before."

She ignored the attempt at humor. "You know that's not possible. They'll just assign someone anyway."

"And I'll spot them. And make sure they never see anything worth their trouble."

"Patrick... Why?"

He could have turned her aside with a quick joke, or a false reassurance. But in the face of those troubled eyes, so soon to be closed forever, he couldn't. "Dory... how can I have another Watcher after you?" he said simply.

She took a moment to answer, her eyes clouded by uncertainty. "How many Watchers have you had?" she asked finally.

"I don't know. But I managed to avoid all of you for quite some time, remember."

"Yes... You were very clever. Even becoming one of us."

"It was clever, rather."

"But you know what we're doing is important. No one knows where Immortals come from. All of you simply appear, as foundlings. You seem perfectly normal, until you die. The first time. Then, you become what you are. Immortal, never ageing, able to survive any injury except beheading. Knowing by some strange instinct that you must inevitably destroy each other until the last Immortal is left with some unimaginable prize."

"I know all that."

"Do you? Don't you see that it's vital to humanity to find out why you're here? What the reason for your existence is? That's why the Watchers exist. It's our purpose. As the oldest Immortal we know of, you are especially important to that purpose."

Patrick sighed. "I know you're right. But... I don't want another Watcher. I want you."

"You're very sweet. But you've known so many people, over the years. The centuries. I can't be that special."

"But you are." He looked into her eyes again, wondering... How had she become so important to him? Had it started the first time they met, when he was living in a different city and using a different name? Must be well over sixty years ago, he thought, looking down into her time-worn face and seeing it as it was then, youthful and pretty...

He had noticed her right away, from the day she started work as an assistant in the research department of the company he was working for. At first glance she reminded him of another woman, long dead. But a second glance told him there was no real resemblance, just some intangible quality in her expression that brought another face to mind. He smiled at his own foolishness.

But he noticed her again when she began to appear in other places where he often went. His favorite restaurant. A nearby theatre. He occasionally saw her car on the street in front of his building; once in a while spotted her in a crowd when he went walking or shopping.

He knew better than to think it was a personal interest, and yet, she intrigued him. So he decided to do something about it. A day out in the local park seemed like a good opportunity when he spotted her on one of the walking trails behind him. Nothing much she could do about it when he abruptly turned back and headed towards her.

"Dorianne Grayson, right? From research?" He put a pleasantly surprised look on his face.

"Yes." She quickly hid a flash of dismay. "Uh - Mr. Anderson, right?" she went on, using the name he was going by at the time.

"You recognize me. How flattering." He smiled. "And what a surprise to see you here, so far from home."

"How do you know where I live?" Her glance held just the right mix of suspicion, confusion, with a hint of flirtation. She was good.

"I'm not a bad researcher myself." He let just a little sarcasm creep into his voice. "And I couldn't help noticing the way you seem to keep showing up everywhere I go. If I was inclined to be vain, I might think you were stalking me."

She gave him an indignant look. "I most certainly am not."

"Don't be insulted."

"I just happen to like going to the same places you do."

"Of course you do."

"This isn't a big city, you know, and maybe we just have a lot in common."

"I suspect we have a great deal in common."

"Good. As long as that's straightened out, I have to-"

"You know, it's a shame the Watchers don't use visible tattoos for identification anymore. This would have been a dramatic moment for me to grab your arm and push up your sleeve, but... of course there would be nothing to see."

Somewhat to his surprise, she didn't bother to deny it. With a sidelong look and a crooked smile, she said, "They warned me about you. Said I couldn't expect to fool you for long."

"Now I really am flattered. Tell me more."

Dory was grinning. "Did I ever tell you how much you scared me back then?" she said.

"Scared you?"

"Yes. You were intimidating, to a very young Watcher on her first assignment. I used to wonder why they had picked me."

Had it been her resemblance to a woman he had once loved, long ago? No, the likeness was much too subtle, it depended too much on a certain similarity of manner and expression, something in the brightness of Dory's eyes and the gentleness of her smile. No one who hadn't known both women personally would have seen it. Whatever the reason was, she had been assigned to him and the combination had worked.

"I'm glad they picked you. And I'm glad we became... friends."

"So am I." Her hand reached out again, and he took it, feeling bones sharp under brittle, paper-thin skin. "We came awfully close to breaking the rules a few times, didn't we?"

"Ah, your precious rules. Yes, we came close. But we never did."

He had been waiting for her to say it for the last hour, as they sat, silently except for a little small talk, in a secluded corner of one of their favorite restaurants. He wasn't sure what it was, but was quite sure he wasn't going to like it.

"You know I've been seeing someone." Her voice was strained, her words sounded forced.

"Yes. Adrian Beck, from Accounting. For a few months now."

"I - We're going to get married."

"Well." He sat back, trying not to show his dismay. "I suppose I should congratulate you."

She sat, twisting her fingers together, staring down at them. "I hope you're not... that you didn't..."

"Didn't what? What makes you think I'd have any objection to your getting married?" But he couldn't quite keep the hurt and anger out of his voice.

"I wish things were different." Now her eyes were locked on his, their expression almost pleading. "But we both have to face reality. You're an Immortal. I'm a Watcher. I took an oath. I cannot interfere. Our friendship may have been tolerated, but anything more... it's out of the question."

"The rules have changed over the centuries; the Watchers have accepted that many of us know about you, and sometimes friendships develop. They could change again."

"Maybe. Maybe in your lifetime. But not in mine."

"People have broken rules before, and survived. God knows I have."

"There's other reasons." She hesitated, and then rushed on. "I'm a very selfish woman. I want children. I want a husband who will stay with me, and grow old with me. Not one who will disappear sooner or later, either because he has to move on or..."

"Or because he's lost his head."

Her lids finally dropped over the sparkle of tears. "I'm sorry, I truly am. For both of us."

"I'm sorry..." Her voice in the present echoed the regret of years ago.

"Maybe it was better this way. Sometimes friendship lasts longer than love." Patrick smiled. "Strange, isn't it? We still ended up staying together."

"While my marriage ended."

Patrick nodded. "Sorry I wasn't around while you were going through that."

"Yes. I've never quite forgiven you for taking off without a word. For fifteen years I had no idea where you were."

"I was quite proud of myself for giving you Watchers the slip. But I came back."

She was smiling when he saw her, standing outside the door of the small office where he had been working as an antiquities expert for the last year. Just as he remembered her - it was only a second look that revealed a few subtle lines in her face, a few extra pounds; the inevitable marks of the passage of time. Inevitable for mortals.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I work here."

"For the company? Or as a Watcher?"

"Both."

"Who's your assignment?"

"You are."

"Really? And what does your husband think of you taking off to follow an Immortal around?"

"We're no longer married."

"Oh. I'm sorry," he said, trying to sound like he meant it.

"Thanks. When we picked up your trail again, I was reassigned. So I packed up the kids and here I am."

"Kids?" He took her arm. "Come on. I owe you lunch, at least. You can tell me all about it."

It had seemed only natural that she followed the next time he moved and changed identities. And the time after that. The last time, when he took his current identity of Patrick Wilford, he hadn't expected her to move again, not at her age, but he found himself unwilling to leave her behind. In the end, he had stayed here in Silver City and taken a job as a Time Force security guard.

"Over seventy years..." she was saying, almost to herself. "A lifetime. You've watched me grow old. And you're exactly the same."

"Not exactly. Even Immortals can change. It just doesn't show on the outside." He stopped at the sound of a soft knock, and then the softer sound of the door opening. They looked up to see three faces peering cautiously into the room: a woman in her forties and two boys in their early teens.

"Hi, Grandma," the woman said. "How are you feeling?"

"Better today, Ivy. Hello, boys. Would you give us just another minute, please?"

"Sure. Nice to see you, Patrick." Ivy smiled at them and withdrew.

Patrick stood up. "I'd better be going anyway."

"Are you all right?"

"Of course. Nothing hurts me, remember? You're the one..." He swallowed, unexpected grief welling up in his throat. "Dory... if I could give away my immortality..."

"No, don't even think it." Her fingers pressed his again with surprising strength. "I've had a long life. A good one, a worthwhile one. I have no complaints. Besides..." She nodded at the door. "I have my own kind of immortality. Part of me will live on, in them."

- - -

He felt it, even before he heard a knock; that odd sensation in his nerves that meant it was an Immortal at his door. Alex felt his stomach tighten in reaction, and then relax again when he saw Patrick's face in the viewer, as much as he could ever relax around another of his own kind.

"Wasn't expecting you," he said as the door swung open.

"Is it a bad time?"

"No. Come on in."

"Thanks."

"Anything the matter?" Alex asked as they walked into his living room.

"No." Instead of sitting, Patrick stopped at the large windows overlooking the main part of the city. "I was in the neighborhood, visiting a friend in the hospital."

"Nothing serious, I hope."

"You know mortals. Always getting sick. Getting hurt. Dying." The tone was casual, but the tense set of Patrick's shoulders contradicted it. "You'd think at my age I'd be used to it."

"Mine too. But you never get used to it."

"Not when it's someone you..." Patrick's voice lowered as his words trailed off. "I've seen thousands of people die. Been responsible for more of those deaths than I care to think about. And yet, I still feel all the things mortals feel about death. Anger, regret, denial. I'm so sick of seeing people, good people, die, while I go on."

"I'm sorry." Alex paused awkwardly. He had felt the same thing so many times over the thousand years that he had been immortal that he knew exactly what Patrick must be going through, and he knew that words would be of no help.

"That's just the price of immortality, right?"

"One of the prices. Can't the doctors do anything?"

"They've tried. All they can do is make her comfortable, and delay the inevitable."

"What about tissue regeneration?"

"The device you took to 2001 and used to save your father? It wasn't enough. She's almost a hundred years old. At her age, apparently nothing's enough."

"Unfortunately, mortals die. There's no cure for old age, at least not yet."

"I know." Patrick hunched his shoulders. "Mortals die, and I can accept that... but the real tragedy is when they die before their time, before they've had a chance to complete their lives. The way your father would have died, if you hadn't stepped in."

"Yes, Dad lived another thirty years after that. I'm glad I could give him that time."

Patrick's voice was distant. "Thirty years... She could have done so much if she had been given another thirty years. She was so young..."

"I thought you said your friend was older."

"Someone else, someone I knew a long time ago, before you became immortal."

Alex looked up with real interest. Patrick had never said much about his life, not even how old he was. "Who? Tell me about her."

"Not much to say. We had very little time together. She was already sick when I met her. I loved her. Until she died." Suddenly Patrick seemed to refocus, looked at him, and smiled. "But I didn't come here to complain about my problems. How have you been?"

Alex shrugged. "The same."

"And that girl of yours? Jen?" he asked with his usual directness.

"She's the same too."

"Then you haven't told her. Have you at least talked to her? Tried to get back together with her?"

"No." Alex avoided his eyes. "I'm not sure anymore if it's the right thing to do."

Patrick finally came away from the window and sank into a chair, leaning forward, elbows on knees. "What's wrong with you?" he inquired.

"What do you mean?"

"After the delightful heart-to-heart we had after your latest death, I know you love Jen. You need her. You've loved her almost all your life, which is saying a lot for an Immortal. Now, after losing her as Wes Collins and waiting a thousand years to get her back, you're just going to give up?"

"Even if she could accept what I am, it wouldn't be fair to her. I realize that now. I can't have children with her. I'd stay the same as she gets older. Eventually I'd have to leave. She deserves better than that."

For some reason his words seemed to make Patrick almost - angry. His face hardened; he sat up tensely straight. "There are mortal women - and men - who are willing to make those sacrifices. Don't you think Jen deserves the truth? Don't you think she should have the chance to decide for herself? She may be mortal, but she's not a child."

"If she finds out Wes and I are the same person, and I didn't tell her..."

"Oh, so that's the real reason!" Patrick broke into a bark of laughter. "You're afraid! Afraid she'll get angry, or maybe afraid to compete with yourself." He leaned forward again, eyes intent. "You're a fool, Alex, Wes, whatever you call yourself; you're a fool. Real love is rare, especially for us. You should be moving Heaven and Earth to keep Jen; you should be holding on to her with both hands, instead of letting her slip away. You have something very few of us get: a second chance. If I had that kind of opportunity..."

"I just..." Alex shook his head. "I want what's right for Jen. If she doesn't love me anymore, I won't push her."

"Right, she loves Wes, not you. Oh, but wait, you are Wes."

"Not anymore," Alex said stubbornly.

"I can see you're a lost cause." Patrick softened it with a smile. "However, I am not. When a second chance offers itself, I intend to take it."

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing at all." Patrick climbed to his feet. "It's late, and I should be going. Thanks for listening to my tale of woe."

"Anytime."

With the door locked behind his Immortal friend, Alex returned to the living room. He had been watching television before the interruption... but it had lost its appeal. Had Patrick been right about him? Was he losing his chance at happiness out of fear? Did he owe Jen the truth at least? And why did he have the feeling that there had been something else said tonight, something he had missed?

- - -

TBC...