"Hearth and Home"

Summary: Duncan learns some surprising news about Richie, which only makes his resolve to give the boy a home and family that much stronger.

Author's Note: For the purpose of this story, Richie is only fifteen; takes place in season one just after "Family Tree".

Warning: This story will contain spanking of a teenager. If this offends, PLEASE don't read it.

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, nor will I ever. I am simply writing this story purely for my personal enjoyment.

Chapter 9: Richard Ryan MacLeod

Richie survived being grounded without complaining TOO much. Sure, he'd give Mac dirty looks every now and then, especially when he was in the middle of a particular dirty chore, but he didn't really mean it.

Over the next few weeks, a routine began to form for them. Mac changed the work schedule in the store so that Richie worked in the afternoons each day, while he and Tessa alternated opening the store and working in the mornings. This was because they began tutoring sessions with him.

One Mondays and Wednesdays, while Tessa worked the store, Mac began teaching him History, Science, and Math. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, while Mac opened the store, Tessa began teaching him French, Literature, and Art. He got Fridays off, both from his lessons and from working in the store. Saturday was his day to open the store while Tessa and Mac took care of anything they needed to; usually meaning they spent the morning "enjoying each other's company".

On Sundays, they started doing things together. One week they spent the day in the park, eating a picnic lunch, throwing a Frisbee around, and they even tried to teach Tessa how to play basketball. The next week, they went and saw the latest "Arnold" film; which he thought was completely awesome but he wasn't so sure Mac and Tessa found it so. The week after that, they closed up Friday and went to the cabin for the weekend. They went canoeing, Mac taught him how to fish, and even went swimming. All three enjoyed themselves very much.

It was on the fourth week that Mrs. Harrison came by. It was Tessa's morning to be in the store, while Mac and Richie were in the office. The Immortal was trying to get the kid to understand the strategic maneuver of the Emancipation Proclamation without much success.

"It's was a piece of paper, Mac," Richie told him, stubbornly, "how could it have been a weapon to beat the Rebels?"

Duncan sighed. "It wasn't technically a weapon, Rich," he explained, patiently. "It was a strategic move on Lincoln part to weaken the Confederates. It worked, by the way."

"I bet," Richie said, grinning. "Hey, did you ever meet him? Lincoln, I mean? What was he like? Was he really all that honest? Did…"

"Richie," Mac said, warningly. He was always amazed at how easily the boy could go off on a tangent and get them completely off the main point of the lesson.

Richie grimaced. "Right," he said, "sorry."

Mac smiled. "It's okay," he said, "and no I never did really meet Lincoln. Although, I did see him once or twice."

"Cool," Richie said, impressed.

A knock on the door had them looking in that direction. Tessa was standing there, smiling at them. "Yeah, Tess?" Duncan asked, curiously.

"Mrs. Harrison is here," she told them. "She wishes to speak with us."

Richie lost the smile. What did that old bat want? He should have known things were going too smoothly to last.

Duncan came around the desk and put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "It'll be okay, Rich," he told him. "I promise. She said she'd be stopping by to check on things and let us know how the adoption is coming."

Richie nodded, though he still wasn't convinced.

"Show her in, love," Duncan told Tessa, gently.

Tessa nodded and returned a few moments later with Mrs. Harrison and an older man wearing a suit.

"Mr. MacLeod," Mrs. Harrison greeted the Immortal, shaking his hand, "thank you for seeing us. Hello, Richie." She turned and smiled at the boy.

"Yeah," Richie said, not really looking at her, "hey." He didn't sound too enthused.

"Richard," Duncan said disapproval and warning in his voice.

Richie blushed. "I mean," he said, standing up, "hello Mrs. Harrison."

Mrs. Harrison smiled at that. She turned to the man standing beside her. "This is my husband, Peter," she introduced her companion.

"Mr. MacLeod," Mr. Harrison said, holding out his hand, "it's a pleasure to meet you."

"Likewise," Duncan said, shaking the man's hand. He then looked questioningly at the social worker.

"I have some very good news, Mr. MacLeod," Mrs. Harrison said, smiling.

"About the adoption?" Duncan asked, hopefully.

She nodded. "Yes," she told him. "You see, Peter is a Family Court judge."

"I would be more than happy to approve this adoption, Mr. MacLeod," Judge Harrison said. "Even though Joyce explained the circumstances to me, I still wanted to come by today and meet with you before I made my final decision. We spoke at length with Ms. Noel out in the store before coming in here and from what I've seen so far it seems you are doing a very good job with young Mr. Ryan."

Mrs. Harrison reached into her briefcase. "I have already had the adoption papers drawn up," she said. "All that is needed is for you and Richie to sign them. I believe Ms. Noel could act as our witness, so she will have to sign as well." She smiled at Tessa.

"I'd be happy to," Tessa said, overjoyed.

"Once I sign it," Judge Harrison explained, "it will still have to be filed with the Family Court, but other than that it will be official. You, young man, will forever be Richard Ryan MacLeod."

Richie smiled at that. "MacLeod, huh?" he said. "I can live with that."

Duncan felt a lump form in his throat. So can I, lad. So can I.

"Well then," Mrs. Harrison said, smiling, "let's not belabor the point. Mr. MacLeod?" She handed Duncan a pen, and then showed him where to sign. He did so, and then handed Richie the pen.

The boy took it with trembling fingers. He had waited for this day for so long, he really couldn't believe it was finally happening. "D-Do I sign my new name?" he asked, curious. He'd noticed that was what was under the line where his signature went, so he thought he'd ask.

Judge Harrison nodded. "It signifies that you accept Mr. MacLeod as your father," he explained, "and are willing to take his name as a significance of becoming his son."

"Oh," Richie said, "okay." He signed his new name: Richard Ryan MacLeod.

That's just so cool!

"Ms. Noel?" Mrs. Harrison said, handing Tessa the pen. "You sign here, bearing that you witnessed these proceedings." Tessa nodded and signed her name.

Judge Harrison then took the pen and signed his name on the final blank line. "I will still have to place my official seal on it before it can be registered with the family courts," he told them, "but I'll do that first thing tomorrow morning."

"After that," Mrs. Harrison said, "I will send you copies of the papers for you to keep." She put the cap back on the pen and then placed the papers back into her briefcase along with it.

"Congratulations, Richie," she told the boy. "I'm so happy for you." She meant that. She had always thought it such a shame no one ever wanted this smart, somewhat vexing, youth; but she supposed he had always been meant to be with MacLeod and that is why his placements had all ended as they had. Fate always gets its on way, or so she had heard.

Richie was smiling from ear to ear. He was adopted!

Duncan was smiling, as well. He had a son! After four centuries, he had a child of his own.

Tessa was nearly beside herself with happiness. Their family was now complete!

"Mrs. Harrison," Duncan said, "I believe a celebration is in order. Would you and your husband please join us?"

Both Mrs. and Judge Harrison smiled. "We'd be delighted, Mr. MacLeod," she said, accepting his kind invitation.

An hour or so later found them at a restaurant; the adults were sipping champagne while Richie was given a soda.

He had grumbled a little about that…or until his new father had given him a pointed look. He suddenly decided soda was just fine, after that.

"To Richard Ryan MacLeod," the Immortal said, raising his glass in a toast. He was so happy at this moment he wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

"To Richard Ryan MacLeod," three other voices said, and four glasses clinked.

They looked to the fifth, wondering why he had not joined in.

"Uh," Richie said, sheepishly, "to me!" He then raised his glass and took a sip.

The four adults at the table burst out laughing.

Richie was a bit insulted, but then he too joined in.

It was a good day.

He was now Richard Ryan MacLeod…of the Clan MacLeod.

Now and Forever.


The End.

A.N: Sequel: Kith and Kin. Coming soon.