As usual, the characters of MacLeod, Richie, Joe, and Amanda belong to P/D and all those folks. Lee Boch is mine as is Kit and Geigo. No money for this (darn). All comments and feed back immensely appreciated.
The crisp mountain air was still damp from the dew from last night. The morning birds were serenading each other and somewhere off in the forest, a squirrel chattered. Along the highway, the only sounds were of the girl's shoes as they crunched against the gravel of the shoulder. Her breath came in small vaporous puffs. She stopped walking as, in the distance she heard the faint whine of an engine. She listened just a moment before identifying it: 350cc engine, Kawasaki most likely. The pitch was too high for a Honda, too light for a Harley. A minute later, the motorcycle rounded the bend in the highway and was in sight. She grinned at herself proudly. Kawasaki.
Richie Ryan had been on the road all of the day and most of the one before. Ever open to new experiences, he'd taken a hand at skiing the Mount McKanzie ski area. Voices of reason had cautioned him about the wisdom of taking a motorcycle so far into the Canadian wilderness so early in Spring, but the weather had graced him with mild temperatures. That was due to change, the weatherman had warned, and he was now anxious to make it back to Seacouver ahead of the forecasted late snowstorm. As he noticed the hiker along the roadside up ahead he briefly argued with himself that he was in a hurry and did not have the time to pick up strays. At least he could already identify the person as not a threat in one respect--he was not an Immortal. Old Duncan's making me paranoid he kidded himself. As he passed, the walker turned to look at him. He thought it was a young boy from the slim body, but now realized it to be a girl. Her very short blonde hair poked out from the edge of her jacket collar; her freckled face pixie-like. He wasn't fond of assisting strangers and if she'd not been so young and so female he would not have stopped. "Need a lift?"
She shifted her small pack. "Do I look like I need a lift?"
He hesitated. "It's ten miles back to the last town. Eight miles ahead to Parker. How did you get here?"
"I picked a ride with a trucker who decided he wanted more than the pleasure of my company," she remarked. "I got out in a hurry."
He raised an eyebrow. "Oh. Well, my offer stands."
She sized him up silently.
"Suit yourself," he revved the motor and started to pull away.
"Hey! Wait!" She quickly jumped on the back.
The high ceiling of the drawing room had been architecturally designed to enhance the acoustics from the small, raised platform. The rich, mellow sounds of the cello filled the chamber as the small group of invited guests listened. Listening was perhaps too simple word. It was more like bathing in the experience of music. Duncan MacLeod enjoyed good music. He knew it was his patronizing of several other Seacouver fine arts programs that had landed him on the mailing list for Reina Levenson's Scholarship fund raiser. It did not matter. It was the pleasant moments like this one in Levenson's drawing room that made Immortality endurable. And Reina's unusual arrangement made Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in A Minor come to life--or perhaps come back to life. It was too easy to become enveloped in the past here. He recalled Antonio Vivaldi, the musical priest with his persistent wheezing and hacking cough. His stock of blazing red hair shimmered in the sunlight as he went on and on about the merging of his love of his God and his music. It had been a good time, a warm and gentler time. MacLeod had been much younger then with little experience, only one hundred and thirty or so. Impetuous in war--and love.
The group around him broke into a polite applause and he quickly joined them. Reina was standing beside her cello, bowing, and when she lifted her gaze it settled directly on him. There was obvious humor twinkling in her deep close set brown eyes.
"Thank you so much for your attention this afternoon," she said, a mild European accent to her melodic voice. "You will find refreshments in the main hall. Please feel free to browse the gallery and do make note of the literature regarding the Levenson Music Scholarship Fund."
The group of forty guests rose, as if on cue, and moved towards the gallery, commenting on the fine quality of Reina's compositions amongst themselves. Duncan lifted his black leather jacket from the back of his seat and moved with them.
"Did you enjoy the concert?"
He turned and was face to face with Reina. "Very much so."
"Good." She was obviously pleased. "So many of my patrons are, well, considerably older, and very dull conversationalists," she added softly.
"I wear my age well," he remarked. "Your arrangement of the Concerto in A Minor is a work of art all its own. I've never heard a piece intended for violin done so well by cello."
She nodded a thank you.
"Your credentials list that you compose your own works as well."
She gave a polite smile. "Pale things next to the works of Vivaldi."
"I would like to hear them sometime."
They, by this time, had passed out into the hall where the rest of the guests were milling about. "Perhaps you shall." She moved away from him towards an old gentleman she knew to be a billionaire.
Parker was a small one diner town. Richie ordered two meals of eggs and sausage while the young girl visited the rest room. Just as the waitress delivered the food, she reappeared, hair combed and face washed.
"I don't have money to pay for that," she remarked flatly, sliding into the other side of the booth.
"I sort of figured that," he replied, not surprised.
She gave him an uneasy look.
"Name's Richie Ryan," he introduced himself.
"Hello," she said simply and picked up her fork.
He watched her eat the eggs for a minute and finally said: "You running away from something?"
"No, why?" She wiped her mouth on the napkin.
He shrugged. "Out here, no money and all--"
"I decided to see the country," she commented. "That's not crime."
"I suppose not. You haven't told me your name."
She gave an unexpected grin. "Is that all? It's Katrina. Most people call me Kitty. Kit will do."
He gave a puzzled expression, directed at his plate. "Where you headed--Kit?"
For the first time, he had a clear view of both her wrists--clean. He relaxed a little more. Why does being Immortal make me feel so vulnerable?
"Something wrong?" she asked.
He shook his head. "No."
"You're looking for something."
"Well, where are you going, Mister Richie Ryan?" she asked, a twinkle in her deep blue eyes.
"Back to Seacouver."
"You live there?"
"Sometimes. I've got a friend there."
He laughed. "Isn't that sort of personal?"
She giggled. "I've never seen Seacouver."
"It's another day's ride," he commented.
She shrugged. "Got no where else to go."
He gazed at her briefly. That was probably true. In a millisecond, he wrestled mentally with the choice of whether Kit was in danger, or was creating one. There was something beneath her tough exterior that caught his interest. Maybe it was her candor. There was a sadness about her that seemed to reach out to his heart and his longing to be able to give to another lost stray some of the hope MacLeod had given him long ago. He often wondered if there was a desire in everyone to make a difference in their world, or if it was a feeling reserved for him alone.
"I'll take the couch," she added, misreading his thoughts.
Reina lifted the bow from the strings of her cello and continued to sit, frozen in position a moment as the vibration of the strings faded away. She opened her eyes--for she usually played with them shut and focused them on the thoughtful face of Duncan.
He poured two glasses of bourbon. "Your composition is--- thought provoking," he commented gently.
She loosened the bow hair and placed the bow beside her cello. She gave a self conscious half laugh. "Isn't that one of those half compliments like 'interesting interpretation.'? Tell me it isn't that bad."
He offering her one glass. "Not at all," he hastened. "It's just that -- well, it seems so sad."
"Sad," she said softly, accepting the wine as she sat down beside him. She thought for a moment. "How about brooding."
"My father used to call it brooding--like I was thinking something bad would happen. He used to tell me to compose cheerful things. He never liked to see his little girl frown." She raised the glass towards the portrait of her deceased parent. "Here's to dear old Dad." She added sardonically: "One can never be sad for too long when there's Daddy's money to buy a new playmate."
Is that what she sees me as? A new playmate? Duncan thought, And what happened to the last playmate? He sensed the bravado behind her words.
"So, Duncan, tell me. You have a taste for the rare, the fine arts, yet you live in a dojo. Why is that?" Reina changed the subject, oblivious to his thoughts or feelings.
He chuckled, permitting the subject change. "Have you checked me out?" Inside he felt considerably less humor about the idea than he expressed. Anyone checking him out was a possible threat.
"Only a little," she said with a smile. "Anyone who can show a consistent profit while running a dive like that little martial arts studio must be a financial wizard." The words would have been cold had the tone not been so playful. Her fingers brushed lightly across the hair of his lower arm. "I thought you might prove to be an interesting man."
"Interesting?" he whispered back, their faces close. "Like in 'interesting interpretation.'?"
She smiled as her lips touched his cheek.
He suddenly jumped from the couch to his feet as the Immortal sensation gripped him. Not now.
Reina gasped in embarrassed shock. "Duncan!" Her face flushed with mortification. I never would have figured this guy as a prude!
"Someone's here," Mac announced.
"What?" she gasped, confusion registered on her features.
"Stay here," he ordered going to the door of the room.
"What?" she repeated.
He closed the door behind him. Katana in hand, he hurried across the darkened ball room into the large foyer area.
There was a movement in the shadows as two figures dressed in black were scrambling from the library towards the door.
Mac's defenses heightened as he identified not just one Immortal, but two. He brandished the sword and announced: "I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod!"
"Shit," uttered a familiar female voice. "Why must you keep lousing up my life."
"Amanda?" he gasped in shock and disappointment. The was a small flashlight on the side table, but when he checked it, it did not work. He flipped the wall switch.
Looking foolish in the black catsuit in the bright light, Amanda pulled off her ski mask; an act that left her short dark hair a shambles on her head.
Her companion slowly did likewise. "You know this guy?" the young man asked. His clear, blue eyes were glued to the gleaming sword. "Aren't swords a bit much, fellah?"
It was uncannily like a moment seven years ago. Mac remembered Richie breaking into the antique shop, staring at the sword wheedling MacLeod. The look on this young thief's face was much the same. In fact, the young man himself looked very much like Richie. Mac lowered the katana slowly. "Amanda," he murmured quietly, "what's going on?"
Reina's voice suddenly spoke behind him. "Just what is going on!" she demanded hotly. "Duncan what is--" She stopped, her mouth dropping open. "You!" She pointed at Amanda's companion.
He moved backwards towards the door. "Reina, there is an explanation!" he declared.
"Lee, what are you doing here?" she shouted, stepping forward to confront him.
He seemed clearly unsure what presented the greatest danger, Duncan's sword or Reina's wrath. "Look I know what it looks like."
Mac tucked the sword back over his arm and gave a sardonic smile. "Yeah? And what does it look like."
"Shut up, this is my business," Reina snapped.
Mac winced, glancing at Amanda who returned a surprised look.
"What are you doing here?!" Reina demanded of Lee.
"What are you doing here?" Mac whispered into Amanda's ear, almost comic.
"Shut up, MacLeod," Amanda whispered back, intrigued by the developing scene with Reina.
"What am I doing?" Lee shouted back, stalling for an idea. "I live here, remember?"
Mac smiled inwardly. Aha, the last playmate.
"Used to live here," Reina corrected. "Lee, you are a two timing little gigolo."
"Two timing! Never!" he denied.
"Then who is she?" Reina jabbed an accusing finger towards Amanda.
"Nobody," he answered.
"Nobody?" Amanda glared at him, now angry as well. "See here, Lee, I am not-"
Mac caught her arm and whispered. "Shut up, Amanda."
Lee glanced desperately from Amanda to Reina, condemned no matter what he said. His eyes stopped for a moment on MacLeod who gave an innocent smile back. "I just met her for drinks, Reina." Lee finally offered.
Reina glared at them both.
"Reina," Lee stepped closer, trying to smooth the incident over. "You know there could never be anyone but you."
"Anyone as rich as me you mean," she retorted. "Get out, Lee, and take your floozy with you."
"Floozy!" Amanda squeaked in outrage.
Reina turned her back. "Get out, all of you!" The door to the drawing room banged shut between them.
"Reina!" Lee called after her, watching as his financial security slammed the door. "Just great," he muttered. "Amanda, this was all your idea."
"What idea?" Mac asked.
She shrugged. "He wanted to get her attention."
"Oh," Mac gave a sly grin. "Well, you certainly got that."
Lee shook his head in frustration. "Reina was getting tired of me. I knew she was going to find someone new. I wanted to do something to--well, get her back."
"I was going to steal her jewels, Lee was going to get them back for her. Simple really," Amanda offered.
"Well, I agree about the simple part anyway," Mac remarked. "And what were you getting, Amanda?"
She shrugged. "Just a little part. One or two little bobbles."
Lee looked one more time at the closed door. He turned a critical eye on Mac. "So, are you and she--"
"No," Mac corrected. He let it stop there.
"Come on, Lee, you can stay at my place till we think of something," Amanda offered, patting his arm. "Besides, I have a few other things to teach you, too." She exchanged a knowing eye with Mac.
So he doesn't know. Mac glanced one more time at Amanda's charge and thought about offering help, then changed his mind.
Lee sighed once more. It was a bit surprising that Amanda had taken such an interest in him; they had only met at noontime. Nor could he understand the strange compulsion he felt towards her. He felt some kind of unexplainable tie to her.
"Amanda." Mac stopped her.
Mac took the small bag from her belt. "Reina's jewels stay here."
She sighed. "You make it so hard for a girl to make a living."
Outside, Lee took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "That guy sure is spooky."
"MacLeod?" Amanda said with a playful grin. "He's a pussy cat."
"What's the deal with the sword?"
"He has fantasies that he's Zorro."
Lee reached into the pocket of his black jacket. "The night wasn't a total loss." He pulled out a large diamond ring and diamond studded necklace.
Amanda paused, an expression of delight coming over her. "Lee, I definitely need to teach you a few tricks to go with this one!" As they walked towards her car, she glanced at Lee one more time mentally noting: I need to teach him a lot more than just a few tricks.
Duncan stood opposite the oak stained door that represented Reina's final comment on the preceding events. He suffered a moment's hesitation, not certain what his reception would be when he knocked. Gripping the small bag of heirlooms in his left hand a little tighter, he rapped gently with his right. "Reina?"
There was no immediate answer. He debated the choices of trying again or leaving, the leaving option winning. Just as he turned to go, the door opened revealing half of Reina's flushed face. "What?" Her voice was hard.
"Are you all right?" he asked gently, noting her red eyes.
She opened her mouth to speak, then stopped. Wordless, she opened the door all the way and turned back into the room.
Mac saw the single rumpled tissue on the coffee table. He placed the small black bag beside it. "These are yours."
"Thank you," she said softly, still not facing him. She smoothed her hair and straighten her shoulders.
Like preparing to perform, Mac thought.
She turned back to face him, a smile glued to her lips, but the pain still in her eyes. "Thank you so much for your time, Duncan. I hope to see you again sometime."
"Reina," he said tenderly.
"And I thank you in advance for your support of--"
"Reina. I'm sorry."
She blinked once. "It's nothing, really. You should know well enough. There's always some leach out there just trying to live off those of us who care enough to excel." She blinked quickly again. "I caught him with her downtown this morning. She was all over him--and he sure wasn't objecting. Anyway," she shrugged, "he's old history now."
Mac finished the last turn with the dust mop and headed down the last strip of flooring. It was early still, his first pot of coffee was still dripping through the filter in the office, its aromatic scent permeating the air.
The door opened and even before he saw him, Mac knew it was Joe by the sound of his walk. "Morning, Joe," he called.
"How goes it, Mac?" Joe asked. "That coffee smells great." He eased himself down onto the chair in the office.
Mac poured him a cup.
Joe inhaled the coffee as he cupped the mug in his hands. "Predicting snow tonight."
Duncan did not give a response. He knew Dawson had not come to discuss meteorology with him.
Joe had hoped Mac would make small talk before he had to go into his purpose. Duncan's silence told him it wasn't going to be like that today. "There's a problem with an Immortal you once met."
"Oh?" Mac murmured, trying to sound uninterested.
"Geigo. Big guy. Bully. Picks on new Immortals. Ring a bell?"
"Geigo," Mac murmured. "Nits become lice," he added in a whisper. He stood the dust mop in the corner next to the empty metal bucket...
(Venice, Italy 1703)
The second story shutter banged loudly against the stucco wall as the washer woman heaved the dirty water from the wooden bucket towards the street below. It spattered on the cobblestones, momentarily drowning the sound of Segur's voice.
"Practice, practice, practice! I'd hoped we would return to Paris with you a little better at least," Segur had admonished. "Parry, octave!" He tapped Duncan's blade to the lower right. "Counter parry." He spun the blade using his own in a counter-clockwise fashion nearly spinning it from Duncan's hand. "Ha!" He smiled as Mac countered the move. "Now you're getting there!"
Mac suddenly stiffened as they both sensed a presence. Across the courtyard stood a tall, black man leaning against a pillar. He was dressed extravagantly in maroon velvet and gold, the white plume of his hat contrasting with the neatly trimmed beard. His brilliant white teeth shone as he smiled broadly. Mac turned his sword towards the newly arrived Immortal.
"I am Geigo, the one who tests the young," he stated, slowly drawing the long German two-edged broad sword. "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, I have been watching your instruction for some time," he announced in a deep baritone voice, "are you ready for me?"
"Aye, I am," Mac replied boldly, but his hands shook.
Geigo had roared with laughter. "Segur, he's a little rabbit."
Segur had taken a step closer, between Mac and the large Immortal. "Geigo, I am a much more worthy opponent."
"Perhaps, but I have not come for you today!" He tossed his hat aside with a flourish that revealed a bald head glistening with perspiration. "I don't desire the workout. The easy mark will do. Take him before he becomes a problem. Nits become lice."
Duncan drew his saber, pride swelling within him. "Then do your damnedest." He lunged forward with the blade and Geigo feinted deftly to the side, then turned with a high thrust himself. Duncan dodged around a pillar as the metal of Geigo's large broadsword clanged loudly against it.
The broadsword was not used by many. The German weapon was heavy, bulky, but in the hands of a powerful man like Geigo, almost unbeatable. Duncan's favorite ploy--the counter parry was nearly useless against such a heavy weapon. Duncan dodged the blows repeatedly, trying to counter the moves, but feeling clumsy and awkward. Segur had moved into the shadows, but his expression was no less intense than that of his pupil. His was the agony of watching the years of training, drilling and dedication come to fruition in just a few moments of time.
Duncan and Geigo had moved into a stone corridor. Duncan drove in a sudden cutover, followed by a disengage as his blade slid beneath Geigo's forcing the broad sword to the side and into the wooden beam of the oaken door.
Geigo uttered an oath, pausing in his stride to yank the sword from the wood with both hands. In the moment, he left himself open and MacLeod drove in, his saber blade slicing into his opponent's neck. Geigo gave a shriek of pain and anger, managing to duck away with only the deep neck wound. His long velvet coat flapping around him, he dove through the thick hand blown window and by the time Duncan made it through after him, Geigo was gone.
"What about Geigo?" Mac asked.
"There was a watcher: Henry Sorrell."
"Was?" Duncan noticed the word.
He gave a half nod. "He was killed last month."
"Sorrell was watching a young Immortal who had just left her teacher after two years of training. We know that Geigo met her and took her head. The same night, an intruder broke into Sorrell's home, ransacked the place, he was stabbed to death." Joe shook his head. "Prevailing theory is Geigo. According the Chronicles, Geigo is a good swordsman. He's won some impressive battles," Joe commented. "But he goes through periods when he avoids real combat and picks the easy targets."
"Geigo is an Immortal. He wouldn't have any reason to go after a mortal," MacLeod said quietly.
"Sorrell was stabbed to death," Joe insisted.
"There are lots of punks in the world with knives, Joe!"
"There's more to it than that," Joe added, biting his lip nervously. Mac stood in silence, patiently waiting. There was always something more with Joe if one just waited long enough.
Duncan sensed Dawson's urgency and fear as he spoke. "In the last month, Geigo has found and beaten two more young Immortals. What are the odds of that just happening by luck? Since Sorrell's death, Geigo has successfully eluded his Watcher over and over. He must have learned about Watchers somehow."
"Do you think Sorrell gave him the names, Joe?"
Joe wiped a hand across his brow. "He wouldn't have. I knew Henry, Mac. He was my friend. He was careful!"
"Maybe not careful enough!" he answered, anger kindled.
"Mac, do you know where Richie is?"
"Richie?" Mac's tone was defensive. "What's he got to do with this?"
"We've had a tap on the entry files for the last several days. Two days ago, somebody inquired about Richie using a new log-in created by Henry's old one ."
"Henry gave Geigo his log-in?"
"No!" Joe shouted, frustration plain. "I knew him. He'd have died before he told anyone! He did die."
"Then how, Joe? Give me an explanation I can believe."
"Sorrell had a daughter. She vanished the night of her father's death. For a while I didn't know if Katrina was alive or dead. Then the report was filed on the death of one of those new Immortals. Just before his death, he'd been in the company of a girl fitting Kit's description."
Mac gave a slow nod. "Did Sorrell's daughter know about the Watchers?"
"She had just applied for training, but I know she was working with her father for at least two years. Look, Mac, right now we need to find Richie and warn him."
"Don't the Watchers know where he is?" Mac demanded.
He winced. "Not at the moment. He left Mount McKanzie yesterday ."
Mac took a moment to consider his own experience with Geigo. "Richie is a lot better than the average novice." He rose from the bar stool. "Besides, Joe, you shouldn't be telling me all this."
"Well somebody's got to stop that bastard," Joe answered, a bit disappointed. This was a dance he and Mac had done too often.
"I am not the Immortal policeman," Mac remarked. "Geigo comes after me, I'll deal with him."
"And in the mean time to hell with everyone else?" Joe shot back. "What about all those other newbies out there? What about Lee Boch?"
Mac remembered how surprised Lee had been about the sword. Could it be Amanda had taken on this new Immortal and told him nothing? He turned towards the door. "Amanda will need to know."
"And that's it!" Joe demanded, following him. "'Amanda will need to know.' What, the hell, kind of an answer is that?"
Mac stared at the door, his hand on the knob. "It's the only answer I have right now."
"And you're not going to do anything about Geigo."
He straightened some, his shoulders back, a gesture that reminded both of them of who exactly he was, and the Immortal rules he was honor bound to live by. "We'll see, Joe."
There was the faint whisper of a steel blade escaping the scabbard. Richie jumped from an afternoon doze into a full alert from amongst the tall weeds. He gasped as he beheld Kit, his sword in her hand.
"Funny thing to keep on a cycle," she remarked.
He nervously made it to his feet. "Put it away."
She did not. Instead she held it close to her face watching the sun play off the brilliant steel blade. "Why do you have this thing?"
"A gift from a friend." he murmured through tight lips. He reached out and she placed it into his hand. He felt as though he was taking his first breath in minutes. He slid the sword back into its scabbard on the side of the cycle. He slowly exhaled and looked around for his helmet. "Time we were going."
"Will we make Seacouver tonight?" Kit asked, picking up the spare helmet.
He glanced at his watch. "Maybe--if the weather holds." He gestured to the thunderheads collecting behind the mountain ridge.
Kit hesitated for a moment, gazing out over the valley below in its primeval splendor. "Sure is pretty here."
He straddled the bike, kicked the engine to life, and twisted the throttle with his right hand. "Ready?"
Kit stepped backward onto the roadway, drinking in the last moment of the beauty around them.
The bike engine had drowned out the sound of the approaching diesel engine, but not the blare of the air horn. Kit froze in shock.
"Kit!" Richie shouted, grabbing her arm and throwing her over the far side of the cycle. It saved her, but not him as the front fender of the eighteen wheeler clipped the rear of the motorcycle, sending it and Richie spinning over the edge of the overlook.
The cry of terror caught in his throat as he plunged over the side. He knew this was going to hurt. There was a boulder jutting out from the cliff half way down and he struck it feet first. The crushing of leg bones up into the hips and the spine brought agony and a scream that was lost in the rocks. He prayed he would be unconscious by the time he hit the ground and then in his last moment wondered as the trees rushed up if he could lose his head in the branches.
Kit had rolled several times across the coarse gravel, skinning her hands and tearing one knee of her jeans. She rose up on all fours as the large truck hissed to a stop. The driver jumped down and looked back.
"Help us!" Kit shouted, tearfully.
He paused in fear and indecision, then jumped back into the truck and sped off.
Sobbing at her near brush with death, Kit got to her feet and stumbled to the edge of the cliff to look down. The trees blocked the view of the ground. She looked back once more at the now empty highway. There would be no help coming. Do I go down there after him? He is Immortal, but I'm not supposed to know that. She took another slow breath. He saved my life. I can't just leave him down there. I'm supposed to say with him. Would he be better off if I left? She began the slow, dangerous descent to the valley.
Lee picked up the diamond ring and let the sunlight flash across the gem, sending little shimmering rainbows of refracted light across the walls of the hotel room. He smiled, watching the beams dancing through the otherwise drab little roach motel place. It did offer a little repayment for the loss of Reina's company. It wasn't as nice as the elegance and luxury he'd shared with Reina simply because she had liked his good looks, but it might offer him enough money to get out of this cold country to some place warmer. And maybe, if he played his cards right, he could get Amanda to go with him. She wasn't a bad looking lady either. If only she didn't wear that blasted perfume that gave him a headache.
Amanda brought a cup of hot coffee in a sat it next to him on the table.
"Think we can get a good price?" he asked flashing the ring.
"Lee, we've got to discuss something more important," she said, trying to appeal to his serious side.
"Yeah?" He grinned. He continued to watch the little beams of refracted light play on the walls. He managed to get one to play continually in Amanda's eye.
"Lee, knock it off," she remarked.
"Okay." He lay the ring down and put his elbows on the table, chin in his hands. "I'm all yours." He looked remarkably juvenile.
She sipped her coffee choosing to ignore the implication. "Lee, last night you asked about MacLeod and the sword."
Lee straightened. "Awh, don't go and tell me that you and he-"
"No, well-- at least not right now," she answered. "No, Lee, there is a reason he had that sword."
He waited, sensing she was trying to be serious.
"Lee, you know that headache you get?"
"You mean from your perfume?"
"It's not from my perfume." She put the coffee back down. "Do you remember having any weird accidents lately? Maybe a near death type experience?"
Lee made a face. "No." Ah great, she's some kind of out-of-body-experience freak. Why can't I ever get a normal girl anyway?
Amanda suddenly turned, sensing a presence as Lee gripped his temples. There was a knock at the door and Lee jumped, stuffing the ring back into his jeans' pocket.
"Open the door, Amanda, it's me," came Duncan's voice.
Lee recalled the voice from last night and the sword that the man had carried as well. Issuing a curse, Lee scrambled for the window. He pushed hard on it, but it had been caulked and painted shut at some ancient point in time.
"It's okay, Lee, really." Amanda tried to calm him. She went to the door and opened it.
"Amanda," Mac said, placidly.
Lee looked around desperately for either escape or defense and saw none. "Go away, man!" he shouted, but knew that helped little.
"I'm not going to hurt you--or turn you in. I want to talk." Mac struggled to make his tone sound friendly.
"Mac is a friend, Lee," Amanda repeated. "What do you want, MacLeod?" she asked.
"I told you--to talk."
Lee slowly retreated to a far corner of the room where he could observe both Amanda and Mac from relative safety.
Mac could tell Lee was terrified, and obviously knew nothing about who he was. "Got a headache?" he asked.
That seemed to catch Lee off guard. "How did you know? Who are you for real?"
Mac gave a simple grin. "Have an accident lately?"
He backed away, not following the line of questioning. "No. What is this?" He glared at Amanda again. This is some kind of gimmick. She's trying to trick me out of the jewels. I knew she was a con artist. She must really be good.
"That headache. We all get them," Mac remarked, trying to remain non threatening.
"Huh?" He squinted. "I don't know what you're talking about. I'm allergic to Amanda's perfume."
"No, you're not. Did you have an accident lately?"
"No!" he repeated in a shout. She asked the same thing. She also told me the headaches weren't from her cologne. Whatever it is, they are in this together. Time for this boy to make an exit.
Amanda crossed her arms. "Lee, there is a lot you don't know about us--about yourself. We met yesterday because I could sense you--that headache."
Lee glanced at the door, plotting the distance to it and deciding if he could make it there faster than MacLeod could grab him.
"You, Amanda, me, we're something special." Mac offered.
Lee's face twisted in sarcasm. "Yeah, right--the three musketeers? Is she something to you? Listen, I just met her yesterday, okay? I didn't mean to mess anything up for you here. Besides, you were messing with Reina and she used to be with me, so I guess we're even, okay?"
He frowned. "What?"
"Been great. So long Amanda." He bolted for the door, had it open, and was gone.
Mac sighed. At least this kid was fast; that might keep him alive for a while.
Kit perched on a granite bolder in a spot of sunshine waiting and watching the sprawled, lifeless body of Richie Ryan that lay several yards away. Her grief had passed because she knew he would revive, but the shock of her own near demise remained, as did her newly revived conscience. He saved me. I would have died. It doesn't matter that he knew he would come back, he risked himself for me. I should tell him what this is about. I owe that to him. No, he's smart enough to know he should run. Then what would become of me? There was a faint rumble in the clouds that were gathering in the west. It reminded her of that rainy night not so long ago.
"Stay close, Kit," Henry whispered softly.
She obeyed quickly. The field experiences were always the best. The Immortal battle was fascinating when one could forget that a person was dying at the end.
"They know this is their fate," Henry told her gently. "It is as ageless as the battle of good and evil."
"Then there are good Immortals and bad Immortals?" she asked.
"There is a little good and bad in each them, just like us. But some are better than others." He stopped speaking as the clang of steel blades rang out.
"And these two?" she whispered.
"The shorter is a novice; it is not likely she will win. They both know that. The other," Henry just shook his head, but there was a glint of admiration in his eye that Kit could not quite understand.
Within minutes, the fight was over, just as Henry had predicted. The Quickening had been brief but mesmerizing. Kit knew it meant a death had occurred, but it was still something she never tired of watching. She always anticipated the next. She wondered if it was the same for Immortals. She wondered if Quickenings were habit-forming.
After they had retired back to the house, she'd made them some hot cocoa to dispel the wet and chill of the night. "Dad, I have a question," she said as she rounded the corner into the small library carrying the tray of cups.
"As do I," replied the deep foreign voice.
She dropped the tray in shock and the cocoa spilled across the oriental carpet. Before her stood the tall Immortal they'd seen in battle earlier that night, a knife to the throat of her father.
"Daddy!" she whispered in horror.
Geigo whispered hotly into Henry's ear, "tell me who you are and
why you are spying on me." ----****************************
Kit heard Richie give a moan. He opened his eyes, feeling a tremendous sense of relief--he was alive. At the same moment, he felt agonizing crushing pain everywhere. He raised his arm and it thumped against the side of his helmet. He managed to pull the helmet off and bright sunlight struck his face. The pain was slowly starting to fade. He was a slow healer, which when one was discussing events from which mortals died, seemed like a hollow complaint. He knew that sometimes Immortals lived or died by who took less time to recover from death.
He moved his head, surprised to hear the voice.
"I can't believe it!" Kit knelt down beside him. "You're alive!"
"Yeah," he murmured, trying to quickly come up with an excuse. "Good thing I wore a helmet, huh?"
She looked at him, a confused look on her face. She knew she had to maintain her facade of ignorance.
He forced his aching muscles to action and half sat up, to find his left leg wedged tightly between two large rocks. "My leg seems to be caught."
"Your leg?" she asked. "Good God, Richie. What is this? There's blood all over." She gestured to the ground and rocks. "Your clothes are all ripped up, but you haven't a scratch."
He put his weight against one rock and managed to pull his leg free. He gave a yelp of pain.
"Let me see," Kit said, leaning forward.
"No!" He shouted so loudly his voice cracked as he tried to scramble away. "It's fine. My leg is fine."
Kit remained silent as she glanced back up the five hundred foot cliff. "You expect me to just simply accept that you fell off that cliff and you are just fine?"
He shrugged, gingerly getting to his feet. His muscles still were stiff and ached. He noticed the debris of the shattered motorcycle. "Going to be a long walk to town." He rummaged around, finding his backpack and sword. Wrapping the weapon in a T-shirt, he slid it in the side of pack, and threw the pack over his shoulder. He started away in the direction of the town of Moose Crossing, then stopped and glanced back. "You coming?"
She hurried to catch up, the unresolved conflict still raging within, but unseen outside.
"Joe!" Mike, at the bar, waved the phone receiver in his direction.
Dawson finished wiping out a glass. "Dawson," he mumbled into the phone.
"Hey, Joe, it's me," Richie said from inside the phone booth in the small drug store of Moose Crossing. Moose Crossing was just about what its name implied. There was only one main street in town with a gas station at either end. A few well worn houses dotted the street along with the drug store, a grocery, and handful of novelty shops designed to catch the eye of tourists as they came in off the main highway. Nestled amongst the pine trees on the edge of Moose Crossing was a small brick and white church. It seemed the best cared for building having recently received a coat of paint. The cemetery to the side, surrounded by a low white picket fence held a population greater than that of the town.
"Richie!" Dawson exclaimed with a quick glance at Mike. "Where are you?"
"Ah, the town of Moose Crossing--one Moose town if you ask me," Richie replied.
Kit had waited out in the street. She glanced up at the sky, noticing the dark clouds blowing in quickly. The wind had shifted, blowing down off the mountains and the temperature was dropping rapidly. Not many people were outside. She spotted the tall man wearing a long gray coat that the wind whipped around his legs. In the same moment Geigo noticed her. He began to come towards her, but suddenly stopped short.
"Could you--" Richie was saying and suddenly stopped as the sensation gripped him like a cold hand. He quickly looked around the store, finding nothing, seeing no one.
"Richie!" Dawson's voice was calling through the phone.
Geigo took several steps backward quickly and motioned Kit to come to him.
The feeling had gone, but the fear had not. Almost as disquieting as the feeling was not being able to find the Immortal from whom it had come.
"Talk to me, Richie!" Dawson's thin voice on the phone begged.
"Yeah, sorry," he said putting the receiver back to his ear. "Sorry, I uh--. Look, I wrecked my bike. I need a ride to town. Mac didn't answer his phone. Could you find him and have him come up here?"
"Yeah, I'm sure I can find him," Dawson replied, trying to settle his nerves. Something had just happened at the other end of the line. He had observed Immortals long enough to know what it was. "Richie, is there another Immortal there?" He noticed Mike glance up.
Richie hesitated. "Yeah, I think so."
Dawson felt the twinge of needing to choose a path. The oath of non-interference was once again conflicting with his sense of right and wrong. "Listen to me. I want you to get to Holy Ground and stay there till one of us gets there. Will you do that?"
He frowned into the phone. "Dawson, what is this?"
"Just do it, Richie. It'll take a couple of hours to reach you. Get to Holy Ground."
Kit watched Geigo for a moment. The tall man seemed to be the personification of malevolence itself. "You did well," his deep voice purred to her.
"I told you I would bring him." But she did not look him in the eye.
"You will be one step closer to your lovely reward," he whispered quietly. He cupped her soft face in his large hand. "I will come when the time is right. For now, stay with him and keep him--occupied." He planted a gentle kiss on her cheek. He hesitated. There was something different about her, as if she had stiffened at his touch of affection. He dismissed it. She was, after all, mortal, and therefore prone to weakness. And wasn't that what had attracted him to her? So brave, yet so fragile.
(Milwaukee, WI)(one month earlier)
"...I know about your kind!" She had told Geigo with a boldness she did not feel. Her face had been deathly pale, trying to fight the panic of watching her father die for his cause before her eyes. Her own death was but a few heart beats away. I wanted to live as a Watcher. Am I willing to die as one?
"You know nothing but fairy tales," he sneered, the bloody sword still in his hand.
"I know! I know about Immortals--and that in the end there can be only one! I can help you be that one!" She was terrified, just trying to devise a way to stay alive.
"I need no help from a mortal!" he roared, "and certainly not a female child!"
I am afraid to die! Father forgive me! She whispered intently. "I can help you find them. I know how the Watchers work. I plan to be a Watcher myself." The sound of her own voice making such a vile commitment revolted her.
"Watchers are merely mortal," he growled, wrinkling his face. "Little parasites, living off of our lives. And such fragile little things, too. It is so easy to kill them." He touched her dead father's body with his toe.
"If I can seek them out for you--you can strike them quickly, without warning," she explained. "These new Immortals first--then perhaps we can move on to the more experienced. Who knows, Geigo, in just a year or two--it could be all over!" Her stomach twisted in nausea as she struggled to keep back the vomit. How could I do this? God, just don't let him kill me!
"And what do you get for this? You puny, little mortals live so briefly."
Can he see my fear? Does he know I am a coward? I am selling my soul to the Devil."Ah, but to be your consort for thirty or forty years? To me that would be glorious--and to you it is nothing to give up when you have immortality and rule the world." I have betrayed everything I thought I stood for! She could tell by his eyes, she was winning him over. This was going to work. Now, how do I escape this cage I have locked my self into? I will find a way later.
He looked at her closely. A pale, young thing, but she seemed intelligent, brave; fearlessly looking her father's killer in the eyes. He believed she just might be helpful. In his nearly seven hundred years, Geigo had never permitted himself to love a mortal woman. It had always seemed like such a futile thing to do. His lovers were always Immortal, the hot-blooded kind. He'd had four women, each of whom He had stayed with until their deaths. One had lasted nearly three hundred years before she had lost her fight with Xavier St. Cloud. At least the Highlander had done him one favor. This young Kit was different from all his great loves. Mortal, fragile, she would age before his eyes. In the grand span of his time, she would be just a brief glimmer, then gone. Part of him distrusted her. Just what kind of person would go into alliance with her father's murderer? Yet, Kit captured his imagination, his vanity, and, at last, his heart. Being with her gave a new breath of life to the world he had found increasingly boring. She enjoyed the simple things like kittens and puppies and yet could debate heatedly about the morals, or lacking thereof, in this present century and the impact on generations to come. Geigo found himself often wishing she was Immortal. Several times he had almost told her of his affection--love, dare he call it that--for her, but always stopped. She was a Mortal and would die. He steeled his heart, trying to deny the growing feelings and swore never to reveal them to her.
After the last contest had been won with such ease, Kit had brought him with information about Ryan. In spite of his youth, he had made a good showing for himself and he was, after all, the student of MacLeod. Geigo had never forgotten his first encounter with MacLeod and the taste of near failure. His hatred of the Highlander had festered over the centuries. If he took Ryan's head, the Highlander would certainly come for him. Rage makes a poor companion in combat.
Geigo would seek Ryan out as a vehicle to conquering the man who had once almost conquered him.
Kit would seek Richie as the youthful Immortal champion who stood at least a slim chance of taking Geigo and liberating her from this living hell.
Reina had ignored the doorbell the first time, but as it played out its' melodic chimes a second time, she peeked through the side window. She recognized the back of Lee's head as he hunched close to the door against the cold weather.
She did not want him here or to talk to him. He's just seeking a free ride. I must send him away, no matter what.
He knocked loudly with his fist. "Come on, Reina. I know you're there!" he called. Please be there. In his rush to escape before, he had left his coat behind. Now the chilly wind whipped through his light sweater.
She sighed. Go away.
"Please, I need to explain!" he begged to the door. He'd decided that she wasn't going to answer, so when there came the click of the door latch, he was surprised.
"What is it?" she asked, just opening the door a crack.
"Can we talk?" he asked meekly, adopting his best lost puppy look.
"We have nothing to discuss," she replied coldly, hoping her heart could catch up with her head. He certainly did look so sorry though. Against her will, Reina recalled his light-hearted jokes, his laughter....
....and he was standing there. "I thought I could prove how much you meant to me."
She did not answer. I can't give in to him. I can't take him back. I can't.
He held out the ring. "I was afraid I'd lose you. I was going to be the hero. I was going to bring them back after Amanda stole them."
It had been the fatal flaw. Reina's softening heart hardened. "Amanda."
"I just met her," he offered quickly. "It wasn't anything. I was at the cafe, just minding my own business. I was eatin' a sub. She just walks right up to me like...." He remembered the headache at the small sandwich shop.
Reina was standing in the doorway before him. "Like what?"
He shivered. "Can I come in? It's cold out here."
Reina was recalling the scene of Lee and Amanda standing in her foyer, caught in the act of larceny. "Why not just go to Amanda? Or did she see through your act, too?"
"No she didn't--I mean--no she didn't throw me out. I left on my own. She's in to some kind of cult. Gives me the creeps." Well, that part is true enough. "Look, Reina, it's you I want to be with." He shivered again. Just get me inside this house, please.
"How big a fool do you think I am?!" Reina shouted.
"Not a big one," he stammered. "I mean--not a fool at all, really." He winced. The damage is done.
"Get off my step and off my property," she stated.
"No, wait, Reina, wait..." he begged.
She slammed the door, having allowed one small wave of warmth to escape and brush past his face. She leaned heavily against the thick door, eyes shut, trying to deny the emotional pain. This is for the better. We are both better off. It has to be this way. On impulse, she almost spun around and yanked the door back open. No, there is no going back. Instead, she brushed away a tear.
Richie slipped out of the rear door of the drug store into the alleyway. Not that an alley was really there--it was more like slipping out the back into a field. He recalled the small church and he made his way to it. Kit crossed his mind and he thought about finding her first, but then dismissed the idea. If things were as dangerous as Joe sounded, he did not want to involve her. Fear was rising and he hastened his stride. Another Immortal was in this small town and whoever it was must have sensed him, too, and wanted to remain hidden. The reason was plain--he was being hunted. He wondered what Dawson knew that he did not.
He arrived at the church, but the door was locked. He knocked, but there was no answer. Annoyed, he looked around. Although Richie had changed from his torn clothing earlier, the wind bit through the holes in his jacket. Light snow was starting to fall. Regretfully, he stepped around the side of the church into the small cemetery. It would have to do.
"Too bad pool halls can't be called places of worship," he grumbled as he slumped down behind an old headstone, using it for a wind break. It was getting dark quickly. His hands were already blue and numb and he wondered absently if he might freeze to death sitting out here. No matter, he would still be alive. But it would be a bummer to die twice in the same day.
Lee stepped out of the relative warmth of the liquor store and into the icy blast of the northern wind. He hunched his shoulders and jammed his hands into his pants' pockets. Damn, I hate the cold. His available cash had not even been enough to buy a bottle of whiskey to numb some of this cold. One or two stray snow flakes streaked past him--testament to the approaching storm.
The sudden pain in his head made him grip his temples. A car horn honked and he spun to see Amanda at the wheel of the red Mustang waving to him.
It occurred to him to turn and run, but he was cold and the car warm, and he had nowhere to go.
"Get in," Amanda implored.
I'm going to regret this. He plopped himself into the passenger side. "If you are going to start that game, I'll just get back out right now," he declared.
She waited to speak until she had maneuvered the car back into traffic. "We're not trying to scare you." She handed him his jacket.
"Right," he muttered. "Your ex-boyfriend, lover, whatever he is, is running around swinging swords--and that's not supposed to be scary?"
"Look, Lee. There are just--things that we can't always explain easily. You know? Mac was trying to tell you-"
"He is a lunatic!" Lee shouted, hand on the door handle.
Amanda winced. "Lee," she said quietly, "It's not as crazy as it sounds."
He stared at her. "Are you going to tell me you believe him!"
"It's not whether I believe him or not," she said quietly.
Bluntly, he said: "I know that MacLeod must be something to you. Exactly what, I don't know." He raised a hand. "I really don't care. I don't wanna hear." He gazed at the traffic wishing he had never met Amanda or MacLeod. He wondered why he felt so drawn to Amanda. Chemistry, that's what it is. Or is it destiny?" Where we going anyway?"
"Where you want to go?"
It was reassuring that she hadn't told him she was taking him somewhere. It offered some kind of sense that he still had a little control over what was happening. "It's too wet and cold here." His anger spent, he placed his left hand over Amanda's on the seat next to him. Quietly, he added: "Let's go south." Is wooing women the only card I know how to play? Perhaps, but it's usually a good one. "South?" she asked.
"Ever seen the Baja Peninsula?" He hoped he could charm her into abandoning whatever the scheme was she was running with MacLeod. "There are some beautiful places there so private."
Amanda sighed. "Lee, we can't run away from this."
"Why not? And what is 'this' anyway?"
"'This' is who and what you are, which is Immortal. And where-ever you run, you can't run away from yourself."
He studied the look of her profile as she drove. "Immortal, huh? Like in live forever Immortal?" He gave a single laugh. "Which turnip truck do you think I just fell off?"
Amanda grabbed the cigarette lighter from the dash and jammed it hard against the back of Lee's hand.
He issued a cry of pain and cursed. "What the hell--"
"Look at your hand," she commanded.
Even as she ordered it, he could feel a tingling, the pain decreasing. Openmouthed, he stared as the burn-blistered flesh gradually repaired itself until nothing remained of the injury. "What kind of trick is this?"
"No trick. Immortality."
"You're pullin' my leg."But he was beginning to doubt. What if she is right? What if this is for real?
Kit was surprised when she did not find Richie in the drug store. Had he sensed Geigo? Probably and she scolded herself for being so careless. She returned to the hotel but after an hour he had not arrived. She couldn't tell Geigo he was missing. Like a bolt, the answer suddenly came to her and she headed up the street against the wind and driving snow towards the little church. It was dark now, the street lamps glowed dimly in the weather. There were a few cars outside the church and the doors were open for prayer meeting.
She slipped inside and shook the snow off her jacket. It was plain to see she was not dressed for this unexpected storm.
"May I help you, sister?" asked an old woman who came in from the side room.
"I--I'm looking for a friend," Kit said with a slight hesitation. "I thought I might find him here."
The lady gave a smile of amusement. "I doubt he'd be here. This is a women's missionary study. We are filling boxes to go to India."
"Oh." Puzzlement crossed her face. "May I look around anyway? Perhaps he might have gone to your prayer chapel?"
"Your young man must be godly. It is rare to find young people seeking out a prayer life."
"Well," Kit forced a smile, "Richie probably spends a lot of time in church." She got away from the woman and quickly searched every unused room she could find, including the janitor's closets. Nothing. In mild anger, she gritted her teeth. Where could he be?
Kit left the church, sweating in spite of the bitter cold. Did I misjudge him? I can't imagine he would leave town without me. God, I have gambled my life on this. Should I have told him the truth? As she slowly walked down the steps to the sidewalk, she noticed the small cemetery to the north side. "Oh yes!" She left the shoveled walk and made her way through the calf deep snow. Rapidly falling snow and blowing wind attempted to fill her prints. Visibility was not good and she wound her way amongst the monuments for several moments before virtually tripping over Richie's snow covered form.
"Richie!" she gasped in relief.
He murmured but did not open his eyes.
She could tell he was nearly frozen from the cold; his skin bluish white, dry, beyond shivering. "Richie, we've got to get you back to the hotel." He cannot meet Geigo like this.
"No," he whispered. "Wait for Mac."
"Mac?" She glanced around. This was not what she hoped to hear. Geigo might choose to slip away. He would find me and kill me for betraying him. There will be no second chance. "We'll leave a message for him at the hotel."
He shook his head slowly. "Here."
Kit rose, hands on hips. Where was Geigo anyway? Watching somewhere? Waiting for her to do something. What? She doubted she could physically force Richie off Holy Ground. Was her best chance for freedom about to die with this freezing Immortal?
Just as the thought occurred to her, a shadow moved inside the gate. "Don't you know about Holy Ground?" Geigo's voice growled at her.
Richie moved now, forcing his eyes open as he sensed the presence.
"I couldn't find him. He came here," Kit claimed bitterly.
Geigo's black eyes, nearly hidden in the dark, narrowed. "It was careless of you."
She was shivering slightly. "I was going to get him to go back to the hotel with me." Well, it was a half truth.
"You are ignorant," he snapped. "He will not. Did he call anyone."
"I--I don't know."
She is lying to me. It was painful to Geigo to acknowledge that this mortal he had befriended, shown pity for, trusted, was now betraying him. His gaze settled on Richie. Has she chosen this weakling over me? Does she now protect him at risk of her life? "Has he called MacLeod?" he asked, looking steadily into her eyes.
The fear in her was growing, threatening to choke the words from her throat. She wondered if Geigo could see that the rapid pounding of her heart was causing her coat to shake. "Maybe," she answered. "He could have." Then, she quickly added. "We can leave here, Geigo. We can come back later. I can always find him again."
He resisted the urge to strike her--this was after all Holy Ground. "Do you think I am afraid of MacLeod?!" He shouted.
Headlights suddenly illumined the scene. Geigo turned and seemed to vanish into the night. The car pulled up into the cemetery on the small spot of snow spattered tarmac. With the engine still running, a figure exited from the driver's side.
Kit remained frozen where she was. It had to be MacLeod, she guessed. She would have to fabricate something quickly. She crouched back down next to Richie. "You're going to be all right," she whispered into his ear, hoping he had not been conscious enough to have been aware of her involvement with Geigo. The silhouette of a man was approaching, but it Could not be an Immortal--he used a cane.
He came to Richie and bent down. "Richie," he said quietly.
Kit recognized the bearded face and took a few steps back, but knew she had been seen.
Richie, knowing the voice, opened his eyes a crack. "Hey, Dawson," his voice was weak.
"We'd better get you warmed up," Dawson replied and glanced up at Kit. "Hello, Kit." He wasn't sure of her involvement here, but was suspicious. He thought he had seen someone in the shadows. "Why are you here?"
"We just sort of stumbled across each other," she murmured. "The guy who killed my father is after him. I wanted to warn him."
Dawson did not give a reply. He had long outgrown trusting anyone about anything and knew that he could, for the moment at least, avoid making a judgment on this one. "Help me get him to the car."
Casting a quick glance around, but seeing no one in the darkness, Kit helped Richie into the back seat of Joe's car, then, after one more look, got in front with Joe. He put the car in gear and pulled out of the cemetery.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"Home," Joe grimly answered in a word as they passed the city limit sign.
It had just started snowing, but the weather man was warning this would be a big one and last all night. Lee watched the flakes drifting downward, disappointment clear on his face. He did not want to be snow bound in Seacouver. He wished he had gotten Amanda to leave earlier. Instead, he now stood feeling helpless and stupid as Amanda closed the grate to the elevator that would take them to the loft. As the barred door slammed down, Lee could not help but see it as a symbol of his entrapment in Amanda's scam with MacLeod. Why didn't I just go the other way instead of getting into the car? There is something irresistible about Amanda. Beyond explanation. He studied her profile as the elevator car hummed its way upward. She looked at him and he quickly shifted his gaze towards the front of the car.
Amanda wanted to reassure him, comfort him, scare him into reality if necessary. She felt irritated because she wanted to help and Lee was so resistant. Most new Immortals she'd taught were confused, frightened, awed, but willing to listen. Lee had the confused part down well, but even the burned hand incident had not seemed to make a lasting impression. She knew that Mac had introduced Tessa to his Immortality by shooting himself. Methos had impressed Salzar's wife by slicing open his hand. Well, if there's gonna be bleeding and pain here, it isn't gonna be mine.
The elevator bay door opened and Lee follow Amanda into Mac's apartment. He looked around quickly.
Duncan turned from the kitchen. "Hungry?" he asked with a friendly smile. He dumped the boiling water off the pot of pasta and a cloud of steam rose.
There was no discussion of anything more serious than the weather as the three of them ate the Italian meal. In spite of his suspicious nature, Lee had to admit that Mac sure could cook. I need to learn some of this. I bet this cooking stuff really turns chicks on.
"Where'd you learn to cook like that?" he finally asked.
Mac grinned. "Lots of practice. I studied with a chef in Paris for awhile in the 1840s."
Lee just looked at him, expressionless.
Amanda cleared her throat. "Okay, Lee, look. We really need to talk about this."
"About what?" he demanded, firing a defiant scowl towards MacLeod.
"Do you remember me asking you about a near death accident?" she asked.
"Yeah--I thought you were new age or something." He suddenly glanced at Mac. "You asked the same thing."
"Yeah," he replied. "This isn't easy for any of us to understand at first, Lee." He paused long enough to take a breath. "Amanda wasn't kidding before. We three are all Immortal."
He cracked a grin. "And I'm the Boy Wonder. Sure. You must really think I'm a sap." Shaking his head he pushed back from the table "Amanda, it's been great and all, you know. But if this guy means something to you---that's cool, I'm outta here. All right?" He threw his coat over his shoulder. "Thanks for the meal and all. I've gotta be going."
"Lee. Listen to him," Amanda implored, jumping after him.
"I know what you're thinking. It sounds unbelievable. We've all been where you are now. Confused, not understanding." Mac continued. "I was born in 1592 in Scotland. I died in battle in 1622."
He laughed. "You look pretty well preserved, guy."
"This is not a joke," Mac declared, mild frustration finding its way into the tone.
"I became an Immortal in 850," Amanda added, hoping it would offer endorsement.
Lee's eyes narrowed slightly. "Just supposing I believe this--so what?"
"We become Immortal after our first death. We sense each other's approach--like an early warning system," Mac explained. "You know when another Immortal is coming."
"The headaches," Amanda interjected.
Lee started to say something then stopped.
"We only die if someone takes our head," Mac instructed.
"You mean really die, right? As opposed to what--pretend dying? Suspended animation or something? Little problem with your scenario, pal--I haven't ever died," Lee commented.
"Yes, you did," Mac answered. "And apparently, you don't know it."
"Great," Lee chuckled. "I'm dead and I was the last to know."
"That is the only explanation," Mac insisted. "That you died doesn't matter. What you are does."
Lee threw up a hand. "This just keeps getting better. First you tell me I'm dead, then you say that it doesn't matter. Well, you sure do a lot for a guy's self esteem, MacLeod." He ran his fingers through his short brown hair. "Fine. I died and all that. Now what? Huh? I mean, if I'm gonna be around for a million years, there aren't too many vocations available, are there? Don't bother learning auto mechanics, cause we'll be driving hovercraft in a century. Skip medicine---too changeable." In spite of his red-faced rage, there were tears fighting their way into his eyes. "I know! Landscaping. Hell, the grass will keep growing forever. Right?" He dropped onto the couch and covered his face with his hands. "Why are you doing this to me?"
"Your Immortality is not a curse," Mac comforted. "You have all the time in the world to do and become everything you have ever wished. I have been a soldier, a farmer, a journalist, a smuggler, art dealer, and martial arts instructor, just to name a few. It's up to you what happens."
"Lee Boch for President, huh?" he remarked.
"If you want it enough. But you have to learn how to protect yourself first," Mac answered.
"Lee, there are Immortals who will come for your head. You need to train--to be prepared to defend yourself," Amanda said softly, sliding onto the couch next to him.
Lee gazed at her. "Come for my... Who signed me up for this?"
The head lamps illuminated the flying snow streaking past the beams as Joe's car headed across the United States' border. The visibility was poor, and conditions slippery. For a long time they rode in total silence, the only sound that of the engine and the thumping wipers. In the warm car, Richie dropped into a sound sleep within minutes. Joe ached to talk to Kit, thinking through several conversation starters and deciding none of them fit. How had she come to be with Richie in that cemetery? He admitted to himself that he was afraid to ask. He knew she was stealing occasional glances at him Probably thinking of how to phrase her opener, too. He finally chose a generic phrase. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," she whispered, her voice nearly lost amongst the sounds of the car. Even as she spoke, tears brimmed her eyes.
He was remembering how little Kit had climbed into his lap as a toddler and hugged him, her blonde curls tickling his cheek. There was an ache in his chest wondering about what she might have become. "Kit, what happened?" he asked gently.
One tear slid out of her left eye and she brushed it away. "What do you mean?" The tone was mildly defensive.
He winced inwardly. "Kit, we are almost family. Your father was my friend. After he was killed, no one knew what had happened to you."
She shrugged, but said nothing.
"Let me help," he offered.
The tears were coming more quickly now, but she half- laughed as she wiped them. It's too late for that, Joe. I sold my soul to stay alive. My father died to keep the secret of the Watchers. And I betrayed that--I betrayed him. I thought I was so brave. I wanted to be a Watcher! Instead I have endangered everything and helped Geigo kill two innocent people to save myself. But she said nothing.
"Kit, talk to me," Joe almost begged.
"Are we going to your place?" Kit finally asked meekly, changing the subject.
Joe turned to face her. "You bet we are." His disappointment was plain in his face and tone. He turned his attention back to the highway. He kept looking in the rear view mirror, wondering if Geigo was in pursuit.
Kit glanced at Richie, sprawled across the back seat and sound asleep. "Geigo's not going to come for him now," she said knowingly, "he's unarmed."
"How do you know that?" Dawson demanded.
"His sword is in the trunk."
"No, that Geigo won't fight an unarmed immortal?"
She faltered a moment, staring at her hands.
Her look hardened. I have to keep Joe out of this. No one else will die because of me. "I know Geigo was following him."
"How do you know that?" Joe responded.
"He got into my father's files that night! He knows who the young Immortals are and he's going to kill them!" she shouted. Dear God, I have got to find a way to keep him out of this!
There was a brief moment of silence as Joe's mind raced through the possibilities. He knew Geigo could not have broken the code. He knew that Henry would never have revealed the answers--that was the cause of his death. "Did you give him the files, Kit?" His tone was much more calm than he would have believed possible.
She stared at him, wide-eyed. "I was hoping to find another Immortal who would kill him." It was only partly true, but she hoped it would sound possible.
"To avenge your father?" Joe asked. "This isn't the way it's done, Kit."
"Isn't it?" she challenged, turning her tear reddened eyes towards him. "I heard the arguments you and my father had about MacLeod and how you enlisted your Immortal to stop Thorne, Killian, Kalas and that list goes on and on!"
Joe recalled how just this afternoon he'd attempted to persuade Mac to go after Geigo. "I can't explain it, Kit."
"Of course not, because you know what I'm saying is true."
"Do I?" he remarked, not looking at her. "Your father and I took an oath, Kit. We watch, we don't make it happen."
"'Watch,' just like a lab experiment. Like scientists watching little bugs in a dish. Put in an extra bug and wait and see what happens," she challenged.
"Stop it, Kit," Dawson snapped. He forced himself to concentrate on the driving, he did not want to face or think about Kit right now.
She turned her blank expression back to the scene from the windshield. She wished she could just reach out and sob on the shoulder of this man, the only living person she still cared about. She hated herself for what she was doing, but knew it was the only way to keep Joe safe from Geigo's blade. She stole one more look back at Richie slumped asleep in the back seat and wondered how safe he was going to be. Hadn't her father once told her that for every pardon there was an equal sacrifice?
The wind had kicked up and traveling by any means, even on foot, was rapidly becoming dangerous. There were only two customers at the bar, hunched over their drinks, as if to block out the weather and their circumstances. It was just past midnight when Mac, Amanda, and Lee entered Joe's, brushing the snow from their coats.
Mike looked up expectantly, and revealed mild disappointment. "Hello, MacLeod." He put three glasses up on the bar.
"Evening, Mike. Joe around?" Mac asked.
He shook his head. "Went out of town." He poured Mac a shot of whiskey, Amanda her gin and tonic. He glanced at Lee, trying to decide if he was of age or not.
Lee offered no assistance except to utter: "Beer."
Mike, without comment, turned and drew a mug from the tap.
"Where did he go?" Mac asked as Mike placed the beer in front of Lee.
"Canada. Said he'd be back tonight, but--" Mike gestured towards the door, "in this weather I doubt it."
Mac sighed. "Rotten time to go sight seeing in Canada."
"Sight seeing? Then he didn't talk to you before he left?"
"No, why?" Mac felt concern tingling up his spine.
Mike scowled a moment. Joe's involvement with his Immortal was well known. Mike was not sure he wanted to go down the same path. "It's just that...." he stopped, trying to weigh his answer.
"Come on, Mike," Mac snapped. "What's going on?"
"That guy--Geigo. He found him. Or rather, Richie found him--at least Joe thought so."
"Richie?" Mac's protective mode was in full alert.
"Not to worry. I heard Joe tell him to get to Holy Ground. He was going to bring him back here," Mike said quickly.
Amanda was watching Lee during the conversation. His brow was furrowed in confusion and disbelief. "We don't fight on Holy Ground," she whispered.
"Fight? Fight whom?" Lee mumbled back.
He took a gulp of beer. "Right."
"Look we brought you here because Joe's a friend who can sometimes throw some light on--things," Amanda reminded him.
At that moment, the door opened and Joe, Richie, and Kit stepped through it as snow swirled in behind them.
"Joe!" Mike exclaimed in relief, snatching up glasses.
"Hey, I told you I'd be right back," he said, making his way down to the bar. He motioned towards the two patrons. "We're closed, guys."
As the door closed behind them, Kit slid into a table in the darkest corner, her eyes quickly glancing towards MacLeod. She recognized him instantly from the photo in her father's files. Perhaps there was another way. Maybe she could get him to challenge Geigo. Surely he would be more likely to succeed. But how could she get him to do it? Although Joe had never seen Geigo behind them, Kit knew very well he'd been following, waiting for her to set up his mark.
Richie slid onto the bar stool next to Amanda on the other side from Lee.
Lee was still rubbing his forehead. "Are they all----"
She shook her head no. "Just him." She pointed her thumb towards Richie.
"Oh." Lee glanced at Richie. He didn't seem like a bad sort of guy.
"Lee Boch, Richie Ryan," Amanda introduced. "Richie is Mac's student."
"Was," Richie corrected.
"Student?" Lee remarked. "Student of what?"
Richie gave a half laugh. "He's kiddin', right?" he asked of Amanda.
She sighed. "No."
Kit rose from her table and went in search of the rest room. Internally, she decided she would find a way to involve MacLeod. She remembered how interested Geigo had been in him. Perhaps he would rather have the Highlander's head than the pups he had been killing. From the things Joe used to say, she was confident that MacLeod was more than a match for Geigo.
She bent over the small bath sink to wash her face, then reached for the paper towel roll by the window to dry it. Just as she put out her hand there was the tinkle of breaking glass. She gave a yelp as her arm was suddenly held fast in Geigo's large fist, his anxious face framed in the broken window.
"Quickly, come with me. I'll help you through the window."
She could tell he had sincerely come to rescue her from the clutches of Joe Dawson and felt a sharp jab of guilt that she did not wish to be rescued. "Ryan is here," she uttered.
He wanted to deny the expression, but it was too much. His mortal woman would betray him if she could. Geigo swallowed his emotion. I will give her the chance. Perhaps it is just a passing fancy. I am her future. "Come with me. I will show you where to bring him." He tugged on her arm.
She bit her lip, but could see no simple way to turn back. Just follow the plan like you always have, she told herself. Stay safe, set it up. Maybe Ryan can win. Or maybe I can deliver MacLeod instead. "Ryan is with friends," she answered, fear hanging from her words. "He's with MacLeod."
There was a new gleam in Geigo's expression. "MacLeod. You were to give Ryan to me back in that village."
"It couldn't be helped. Dawson showed up."
"He means nothing. You should have killed him," Geigo replied.
"Me? I don't do the killing here," she replied. "Listen to me, MacLeod is here. Why not just challenge him and take his head? Forget about Ryan." She watched him intently, hoping he would take the bait.
And he studied her, revealing none of his thoughts. She is so lovely, so fragile. And she has betrayed me for another. I spared her life and she repays me with lies. He wished for just a moment he had told her of his affection for her. Perhaps we could have just left the Game for a year or two of peace. Would she have loved me? I shall never know. "Come with me," he ordered, pulling on her arm.
"I can't. They will miss me!" She tried to draw back.
"That is nothing to me," he replied. He half helped, half pulled her through the window into the snowy alley with him.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"To lay the trap," he replied, not looking at her.
"For MacLeod?" she asked, hopefully.
"Always keep your goal in mind. Ryan first, then MacLeod."
Mac spoke up. "Joe, Lee here needs a little help."
Joe grinned. "Well, what exactly can I help you with?" He looked Lee in the eye.
Lee looked away.
"You have a first death on him?"
Lee snapped around, giving Joe his undivided attention.
Joe slowly made his way around behind the bar. "Remember a college weekend about a month or so ago?"
"I remember lots of them." Lee smirked.
"Yeah. This particular party you attended with a girl named Pamela."
Lee squinted. "Blonde girl. Yeah, I remember her."
"You drank a lot."
"You also used some crack that night."
He shrugged. "Maybe. I've only done that but once or twice."
Joe nodded. "You did that night. Alcohol and drugs--bad mix."
Lee stared at him. "But I woke up the next morning..."
Joe grinned. "Yeah, you did--Immortal. And Pamela, she was already Immortal. That's how I came to know about you."
"Pamela?" He shook his head. "Is there anybody who isn't Immortal?"
"Me," Joe answered, with a chuckle.
"I haven't seen her in a while," Lee remarked.
"She's dead--last week," Joe replied.
"But you said--"
Mac interrupted. "Lee, it's like I tried to tell you. You die if someone takes your head."
"But why would...." He stopped. "Oh, yeah, that Quickening thing." He glanced at Richie. "You believe in all this stuff, too?"
Richie lifted an eyebrow and took a drink of his beer. "Believing isn't an issue here, Boch. You learn how to stay alive or you die."
He muttered an oath. "One minute he's telling me I'm Immortal--I can't die. The future is mine. The next, there's boogie men around every corner waiting to decapitate me."
"Yeah, that's just about right," Richie agreed. How many times have I thought the same thing. And the injustice of it.
"And I suppose you were born when--600 BC or something?"
"1974." Richie gave a lopsided smile and tipped his beer towards Lee.
It had been meant to be reassuring, but to Lee, it was the last straw. This whole thing was going too far. And cold thought in his mind that maybe this wasn't a game was getting harder to ignore. The little scene with the cigarette lighter before had kept nagging his mind. Just how had Amanda pulled off that trick? And if it was not a trick, what then? What if my life is really going to be about lopping heads off and going after people with sharp swords? Boch jumped off the bar stool, the pitch of his voice rising in anger. "And what if I don't want this thing, huh? What if I just say no? I don't wanna be part of this. I'm out!"
MacLeod stepped towards the confused, infant Immortal as Boch backed away. "There isn't any choice. Not for us. Not for you. Being angry with it, afraid of it, won't change things. It is a fact."
"Not for me it's not." He snatched up his coat and threw it over his shoulders.
"Where are you going?" Amanda asked in alarm.
"Somewhere else," he announced nearly running for the door.
"It's freezing cold outside!" She reminded him.
"So what? It can't kill me, right?" He slammed the door behind him.
Amanda grabbed her jacket. "We'd better go after him."
Mac shook his head. "Let him be for now. Maybe he needs some time to think."
"And what about that Geigo dude who was after Richie?" She demanded. "He's out there somewhere, isn't he?"
"I don't think he followed us," Joe interjected. "He probably won't be around till the weather clears."
"You guys have been Immortals so long you've forgotten that it can be quite a shock," Richie commented.
"I haven't forgotten," Mac insisted.
He didn't argue the point. "I felt so cheated out of having a normal life. Wife, kids, job, family, friends. All that stuff. Life had been reduced to staying alive by killing others. Not a pretty prospect."
There was total silence except for the snow blowing against the window.
"And now?" Mac finally asked.
"Oh, well, now--" he broke into a forced smile. "Hell, Mac, it's so much better. I mean, I've killed like ten, twelve people. My best friend has tried to kill me several times. I'm dead in Europe. Who could ask for more, right?"
"There is Altea," Amanda commented.
He stopped and gave a small smile. "Yeah," he said sincerely, "there is Altea." He picked up his coat.
"Where you going?" Joe asked.
"I'm gonna go find Lee. I'll take a shot at helping him through this. We probably have a little more in common."
"Like what?" Mac asked.
"Well, for starters, we were at least born in the same century." He gestured towards Amanda. "Besides, even if we did leave Geigo in some snow drift in Canada, there might be some other polar bear Immortal too stupid to be inside in the middle of a blizzard." Snow billowed into the room as he opened the door and closed it behind him.
Joe sighed and glanced at Kit, or at least where Kit should have been. "Damn," he muttered.
Lee jammed his ungloved hands deeply into the pockets of his jacket and shuffled through the snow. He hated the snow, hated the cold, hated this town. Why had he not just left Amanda and headed south in the first place? This whole business of Immortality had to be another one of her games. Maybe those guys were in it with her. But why? What could she gain? He'd even lost Reina. The last few weeks with her had been great--until he'd met Amanda. Life had not been the same since.
He remembered he still had the necklace. He could go get it, pawn it, and use the money to get a bus ticket to anywhere warm. Glancing up at the snow filled sky, he sighed. Not now. Buses wouldn't run in this mess. He seemed painfully out of options. He thought about going back to the bar, but his pride was greater than that. Amanda's apartment? Or maybe Reina. Certainly she wouldn't turn him away in a snowstorm.
Reina. She had been one of the few bright moments in his music theory class. As a mechanical engineering student, it was to have been one of those fluff electives. Notes go up, music goes up. How hard could it be? Then he'd gotten into the class of the maestro from hell who raved in a foreign tongue about ostinato and mezzo forte; ritardando and allegro. The crisis had peaked when he was told he must create a sixteen measure tune and play it on the piano. As he struggled in the music lab, cursing this one credit course that was destroying him, Reina had appeared like a saving angel. She had changed his life. He had even decided to drop school a semester. Why do all my milestones seem to be centered around chicks?
He was just passing the ice covered brick front of an old fish processing plant when the throb of the headache shot through his temple. "Amanda!" he called out, looking around. There was no answer. "MacLeod!" He wondered if they were watching him from somewhere. Inside the old building maybe? The padlock on the entrance door of the plant had been cut off. He pushed the door open and peered into the darkness. "Amanda?"
Something, or someone moved in the shadows and a deep voice spoke. "I have been awaiting you."
Richie turned up the collar of his coat, wishing he had gotten a hat from somewhere and quickly spotted the tracks leading away from Joe's. The snow was falling quickly and they would not be here for long. He hurried to follow them. He rounded the corner and nearly ran into Kit.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded in surprise. "I thought you were at the bar."
She exhaled slowly. Now was the time to choose. If I want him to win, I must be willing to do what it takes. I will need to make a stand. I've got to trust someone. Maybe it should be Richie. She took another slow breath. He's waiting. He knows something is up. I've got to do something. "I'm supposed to be bringing you," she said quietly.
"Bringing me? Bringing me where?"
She examined the furrowed brow and the look on Richie's face that seemed older than his years. He looks like a teen, I know he's twenty-four, right now he has that aged look of the Immortal who believes he is in immanent danger. Her heart was racing, beneath her jacket, she was sweating in fear, shivering in cold, and felt about to faint. I have to tell him. At last, I must tell someone the truth.
Richie could see the fright and doubt that clouded her expression. "Kit, what is it?" He glanced around. He glanced around, reminding himself he was in search of Lee. "Walk with me."
She did not move." I'm supposed to bring you to Geigo. He's an Immortal."
Richie's frown deepened. "Is that what this has been all about? You've been tracking me?"
"There's more to it," she murmured.
"No kidding, there always is," he remarked dryly. "Why don't you enlighten me, okay?"
"Please, Richie, don't be angry," she begged.
He grabbed both her wrists, noting again there were no tattoos. "Who the hell are you!" he shouted angrily.
"My father was killed by him."
"Your father. Why?" Richie snapped.
She licked her chapped lips. "Do-do you know what Watchers are?"
"Yes," he replied a little more calmly.
"My father was a Watcher. Geigo killed his Immortal and spotted him. I know it must have been my fault! He had never been noticed before. Somehow Geigo saw him, tracked him to our apartment. When my father wouldn't betray the Watchers, Geigo killed him." Tears were falling now. The dam had cracked and the last month of horror was about to burst forth. "Geigo forced me to help him. He would have killed me! He made me set up the young Immortals and he fought them. They were so helpless. They couldn't hope to have the experience to defeat him."
"He made you help him?" Richie growled. "He couldn't have made you. You sold them out to save your skin. Didn't you?"
She stared at him, feeling naked. Isn't that just what I did? "I was so scared. I just wanted to stay alive." She latched onto Richie's arm. "You are my best hope, Richie. I've looked at your chronicle. Please, avenge my father. Free me from him!"
"Just like that, huh? I'm supposed to just challenge him and-"
"You aren't afraid to kill him, are you?"
He frowned. "It's not that easy."
"He's been killing Immortals for over 600 years."
"Did he tell you that?" he asked.
She shivered. "Yes. He tries to take ones that are new. They don't fight well."
"He's a coward," Richie muttered.
"I know where he is, Richie. If you could catch him unprepared, you could take him."
He did not reply at first. "What's in this for you?" he finally demanded. If she betrayed others, she will betray me.
"I told you--he killed my father. Wouldn't you avenge the man who killed your father?"
He was silent again, trying to decide her sincerity and honesty. But would I hang out with the guy for a month first?
"Richie, Geigo is powerful--that Quickening can be yours," she commented, hoping that she might appeal to him this way. What if he just walks away and leaves town? Geigo will kill me for sure. I think he suspects me. Whom else can I turn to? MacLeod? "I-I didn't mean that the way it sounded," she apologized. "If you want me to go to MacLeod, I will. But, the power could be yours," she said earnestly. "Richie, I can take you to Geigo tonight if you let me."
Lee strained to look through the minimal light in the old fish plant towards the source of the voice. "Who are you?" he called.
"Geigo--seeker of the young," came the reply, as gentle as a mother's voice to her baby.
"Don't tell me, let me guess--you're an Immortal, right?" Lee remarked.
Geigo hesitated. He knew his quest was young, but not that young. "I thought MacLeod was a better teacher than this," he muttered.
"MacLeod?" Lee continued to peer into the dark. "What's he got to do with this?" The floor of the old plant had accumulated trash and old packing boxes scattered across the floor. The only light originated from what the street light outside managed to provide through a filthy window up in the second floor storage area. A rat scampered up the rope and pulley that had once lifted crates to the loft. Lee jumped, then settled himself, trying to calm his thundering heart. This is a gimmick. It's a trick of Amanda's.
Geigo stepped forward now from behind the base of the wooden ladder that also led upward. The scant light glimmered faintly off the broad sword he had resting on his shoulder. "I hope you came armed this time, Ryan."
"Ryan?" Lee gasped. "Hey, wait, you've got the wrong guy here."
Geigo chuckled. "Unlikely. Medium build, short light hair, blue eyes. Twenty or so. I have the right man."
"No! Wait! Wait!" Lee backed away, arm extended before him. "This is a mistake. I am not Ryan. My name is Boch, Lee Boch!"
Geigo smiled quietly. "Then you will do." He leveled his sword towards Lee.
Lee had his back to the wall now, fighting panic. "Amanda!" he shouted, hopefully. "Enough of this game! Show yourself."
Geigo laughed openly. "You really are quite inexperienced. Unfortunate for you because it is time to prove your training. Final exam time. Ready your sword."
"Sword? What sword? All I've got is a Swiss army knife, guy." Lee grabbed it from his pocket and flipped open the blade with shaking hands.
"Enough of this fraud! Present your weapon!" Geigo roared. In frustration, he swung the broad sword towards Lee in a sweeping arc that clanged against the brick wall with a shower of mortar as Lee ducked. Was this some trickery of Kit's that sent his prey to him unarmed?
Mac fingered the broken edge of the lavatory window that was giving admittance to the winter wind.
Joe stood behind him, a mixture of anger and concern. "I knew there was something more to her, Mac. I just didn't want to admit it to myself."
He turned back to face the pained Watcher. "Where would she go?"
She shook his head. "She doesn't know anyone here. Geigo must have followed us. I didn't see him, but--" he sighed, "--he obviously came for her."
They headed back for the bar. "Why for her?" Mac asked. "As a hostage or as a compatriot?"
"I wish I knew."
"I'd better go after them," Mac decided, heading for his coat.
"Where will you go?" Joe pointed out. "Give me a few minutes to make a few contacts."
"I thought Geigo got away from his Watcher," Mac remarked.
He gave a wry look. "He's not the only Immortal out there, is he?"
Richie and Kit made their way up the snowy street. Richie wondered if he was a fool for letting her lead him into this confrontation. "You're not a Watcher. How did you get into all of this? Was it your dad?"
She stopped momentarily and glanced at him. "When I was 13, I accidentally found a journal my father was keeping. At first I thought he was writing a novel, which was cool because I'd always seen him as a loving, but dull, insurance salesman. I didn't tell him what I'd found, but every so often, I'd go back and read the progress. In time I began to realize it wasn't a story--it was real. Finally I asked him about it and after a lot of denials and lies, he told me the truth. After that, he started telling me it all, taking me to watch with him once or twice. I was going to be a Watcher when the time came. I guess I never really understood the details of what this is all about."
He forced a smile. He thought of Lee and Mac's attempts to help the young Immortal understand what their life was all about. "Well, Kit, maybe if we make it through this, your time will come, huh? You should have just told Joe this whole thing. He's a pretty resourceful guy."
She managed to return an uncertain smile. Her mind was filled with the images of Richie pulling her from the path of certain death, the large truck slamming into him. Now I am endangering him again. "I never really said thank you," she suddenly offered.
"That thing with the truck."
He shrugged. "It's nothing."
"Richie." She again touched his arm, stopping him in mid stride, eye to eye. "I know you felt the pain. You didn't have to. I owe you my life. And for a thank you, I'm making you risk it again. Let's just forget this whole thing. You and me, we can just run."
"How long, Kit? I've been that route before. Look if Geigo wants me--or you--he won't stop till he finds us. Let's just draw the line right here where we know when he's coming." Richie was thinking of all the times he'd known Mac to risk a battle with an evil Immortal to protect others. "It's all right," he said quietly.
"Oh, please, Richie, you have to believe--"
Richie stopped suddenly, sword drawn, his breath coming in puffs.
Kit turned to speak, but he silenced her with a gesture.
He turned to face the door of the old fish plant.
Inside, both Lee and Geigo sensed the new presence.
"Amanda!" Lee shouted. "I sure hope that's you!"
"She cannot interfere. We each must fight our own battle," Geigo told him.
Richie stepped cautiously into the large room. "Show yourself!" he commanded.
"Richie!" Lee gasped in relief.
Geigo drew three steps back as Richie approached them. "I trust you can loan him your sword," Geigo commented. "You may not interfere with the fight."
"Fight? What fight?" Richie commented. "This isn't a fight, it's a slaughter! He doesn't know how to defend himself."
"His ability does not interest me," Geigo answered, his dark voice echoing back through the blackness.
"Then maybe mine had better," Richie snapped, maneuvering himself between Lee and Geigo and raising his sword. "Wasn't I the one you were seeking? Haven't you really come for me?"
There was a low, menacing chuckle. "I rarely have the occasion for one of the young to call me out," the voice said slowly. "Very well." Geigo stepped out of the semi-light, seeming like nothing more than a shadow. "I am Geigo, harvester of the ill fortuned young."
"Ill fortuned, huh?" Richie smirked. "We'll see who's ill-fortuned." He lifted his blade to a ready position.
Kit slipped inside the doorway, eyes wide.
"Aha," Geigo smiled in pleasure. "One who truly appreciates my work. She is quite good--really. She brings them to me with such --"he searched for the word "--certainty. They all wish to be the one to take my head." He chuckled. "But at some point, they run away. Too late, might I add."
"Why don't you just shut up and fight!" Richie shouted.
He tisked. "In such a hurry to die, this one." He shrugged and took a step closer. "Very well." He raised the huge double-edged broad sword. "Meet Meine Machen. My most trusted companion through the ages." Their blades touched, then Geigo made a sudden sweeping lunge that Richie parried as he side stepped.
Lee fled to the corner, horrified, but also angry with himself that he was such a coward. He wanted to do something to help, but didn't know what that was. Bitterly, he admitted to himself, he did not know what to do. Amanda had tried to tell him. MacLeod had tried. Now it was too late and all he could do was watch this death struggle.
The swords clashed and the power behind the broad sword nearly knocked Richie off his feet. He scrambled aside, regaining his stance, already realizing that Geigo was his better. Steel against steel rang out repeatedly in the cold night air.
Kit stared at the combat in a mix of awe and horror. Never had she been quite this close to an Immortal battle and it was exhilarating. Yet, at the same time, she clenched her fists in fear that Richie would lose, that this living nightmare of a relationship with Geigo would go on and on. Worse yet, that Geigo would see through her pitiful facade and kill her also.
Richie could feel sweat on his back in spite of the freezing temperature. Geigo was not only as strong as he appeared, but incredibly fast. He knew his battle so far was all defense. For every move he made, Geigo was quick to respond with a pounding blow that showered the plant with sparks and smoke. He knew this was the time to run, but could not; he would be leaving Lee behind.
Geigo's white smile gleamed in the dark. "Are you thinking about running yet? Most are by now."
Richie's anger flared. He was embarrassed Geigo could have so accurately have known his thoughts.
Their blades locked, faces close for a moment. "There are worse things than dying." Geigo whispered intently. "Has MacLeod ever told you that?" He chuckled, stepping back and breaking free. "For instance, how long would you last in the Game with a severed limb--or other parts." His sword whistled through the air. Richie countered it just below his waist, but just as their blades touched, Geigo swung his upward and Richie had to leap back just in time as the tip of the blade cut his cheek. "What do you say, Boy? To live a few hundred years like an altered cat?" Geigo roared at his own joke. "Or with one eye!" The blade lunged towards Richie's face. He ducked it, leaping forward, sword extended, but only caught Geigo's coat which ripped as it passed. Geigo's laughter echoed through the warehouse again. "Three strikes and you're out!"
Richie stabbed towards him in humiliated rage and Geigo spun out with a counter octave that nearly took the sword from Richie's hand. Richie fell back to strengthen his grip and when he did, Geigo reached out and grabbed Kit by one arm.
She gave a yelp of fear as Geigo laughed again. "We shall add a new twist to the game."
"Leave her out of this!" Richie shouted, lowering his blade and backing away.
"What do you care about her? She betrayed you. And never, never lower your defense!" Geigo thrust his sword out, piercing Richie's right arm.
He gave a cry and stumbled back. Unwilling to attack Geigo while he held Kit before him, Richie knew his best option now really was to run. And that was no option. This was not good.
"Richie! Forget me! Just get him!" Kit shouted. "Get him!"
Geigo's expression was rage, but the words of Kit had cut deeply into his heart. It is true. I cannot deny it! She has betrayed me for this weak child! Or has she always lied? Just awaiting the moment when she thought she could get the better of me? I gave her my heart, my soul! See how she betrays me! Kit cried out as Geigo twisted her arm viciously. "Look at her! Do you pity her?" Geigo screamed at Richie. "Did she tell you it was she who gave me the chronicle of names? That her goal is to be the consort of the ruler of this world?" He laughed at Richie's frown. "Yes, do you still want me to let her live?"
"I know you murdered her father in cold blood!" He shouted back.
"Watchers," Geigo sneered. "Ones who find amusement in Immortals like spectators of a sport. They pick favorites, place their bets. They wait, they watch to see who wins the wager! We are nothing to them You are nothing to her! Just as I was nothing!"
Kit struggled eyes wide in fear. "Let her go," Richie insisted, his blade extended within inches of Geigo.
"You were of such use to me," Geigo whispered coldly into Kit's ear, "and now you shall do me one more service."
She gave a gasp of pain and Richie's mouth dropped open in shock as Geigo's gleaming blade suddenly burst through the center of Kit's chest. Her legs buckled and Geigo let her fall like a sack of flour.
"NO!" Richie leapt forward swinging his sword repeatedly in fury. It took all his discipline to step around Kit's form and keep fighting. Her arm was moving--yes she was still alive, if barely.
"That's it! Come now!" Geigo chided, out-maneuvering him easily. It was easier for him to concentrate on battling Ryan and not think of what he had done. Kit, my Kit. How could she? It is because of this little worm. This Immortal nothing. He caused her to abandon our cause. He is to blame! He swung the sword with controlled ease towards Richie's head. Richie dodged it and it slammed into a steel beam, with a shower of smoking sparks. The return swing sliced deeply into Richie's back, and through a kidney. He gave a cry of pain, managing to put of few steps of distance between them.
Lee hurried to Kit and knelt down, collecting her trembling body into his arms. She was struggling to breathe as blood flooded into her lungs. Lee stared at her. He'd never seen a dead body, never seen someone die, had nothing to help him deal with what as transpiring before him. He held her close, as if somehow to keep her alive by the force of his will.
Richie was fighting his own panic as much as Geigo now. He tried to remember all those long hours of tactical training and the importance of controlling the fear, using it to sharpen the senses. He knew he was frightened, in pain, almost past thinking. He had never encountered someone like Geigo before. He had thought this hunter of the young would not be a skilled fighter, but he had been wrong. This savage warrior was on level with Mac--or better.
The blade of Geigo's broad sword sliced through the air and slammed into the ladder to the storage area, just missing Richie's chest.
On the sudden impulse, Richie took hold of the ladder and started to climb it. By the time Geigo was bringing in his next thrust, he was above reach. He remembered the window of the loft. If he could get to it--escape was still possible. But what of Lee? "Lee! Run! Run! Find MacLeod!" Richie shouted, hoping Lee would follow the order.
Lee sat in shock, on the floor, witnessing the confrontation unfolding before him. He looked down at Kit. The dark stain on the front of her coat was growing larger, her breathing was ragged, struggling. "What can I do?" he whispered to her in bewilderment.
Her lips moved, but he could not make out the words.
Geigo looked up, gave a grin of pleasure and snatched the rope looped through a pulley. Wrapping one foot around the rope, placing his sword in his teeth, he heaved his great strength against the other end of the rope and propelled himself up to the second floor with the speed of an elevator.
Richie's head had just reached up to the top of the ladder when Geigo suddenly appeared before him in the loft. Like a cat tormenting a mouse before the kill, Geigo struck forward running Richie through the left shoulder puncturing the brachial artery. He gave a groan in pain as Geigo tugged the blade back. In desperation, Richie entwined his left arm into the rung of the ladder to keep from falling as blood pulsed out of the wound.
Lee felt a spasm of nausea wash over him. This can't be happening. What do I do? I have to help, but what do I do? He could see Richie was bleeding badly, obviously losing this strange battle. This is my fault. He came to my rescue. This cannot be happening! This girl, now him, I have to do something. What do I do?
"As I said," Geigo gave a smile. "They choose to run too late." His sword started its downward sweep and Richie, feeling his strength draining away in his blood, in a last desperate counter brought up his sword. In a shower of sparks, the ancient sword of Graham Ashe spun out of Richie's hand into the darkness. Geigo, due to the weight of the Germanic broad sword, was thrown off balance. As he side-stepped to recover, Richie reached out and yanked hard on his enemy's ankle, pulling him forward. With a loud cry of unexpected shock, Geigo plunged over the loft to the concrete floor twenty feet below. Richie hung on the ladder, gasping for breath staring at Geigo's silent form in the darkness. He began to back down the ladder to the floor. He was growing dizzy, faint, and realized he might die. He lost his grip and fell with a thud the last three rungs. He issued an audible moan, tried and failed to get up. He couldn't see his sword in the dark. "Lee," he whispered. "Help..." He died.
Lee knelt, still clutching Kit. The only sound was that of her failing breathing that gurgled through the blood in her lungs. Geigo dead. Richie dead. Kit dying. Dear God! I'm the only one alive!
"Find the sword," Kit managed to say.
"What?" Lee gasped in disbelief.
There was a sudden deep gasp and the body of Geigo moved.
"Shit!" Lee exclaimed, feeling like doing the same in his pants. Geigo staggered to his feet, seeming to ignore Lee, searching around in the dark for his lost sword.
There was another gasp and Richie now started to move also.
Lee looked back at Kit, lying still in his arms. Her breathing had stopped, her body limp, lifeless. She died while I wasn't looking. He felt instant guilt that he had not been attentive at the critical moment. Then for an insane instant, he wondered if she, too, would revive.
There was a scrape of metal on stone as Geigo picked up his broad sword.
Richie still wavered on his hands and knees, trying to regain his strength, peering into the darkness for his missing weapon. "Lee, the sword!" he gasped.
Lee recalled Kit's dying words about the sword.
Geigo walked over to Richie. "So, you see, Ryan, student of the great Highlander, it always ends the same--for the unenlightened youths."
Richie looked up at him, unable to speak for terror. My God, this is it. I'm not ready! Where is my sword?
It had been intolerable minutes. Mac drummed his fingers on the bar of Joe's, exchanged impatient looks with Amanda, then finally rose. "I'm going to start looking. Joe can find me if he gets a lead."
She jumped up. "I'm coming with you."
The phone rang and Mike answered it. "Joe's." He was silent a moment. "Where..."
At just that moment, the crackle of a Quickening was heard in spite of the blizzard.
"Oh my God!" Amanda threw her coat on.
"The old fish plant!" Mike shouted. "Field agent--she says it's Richie and Geigo!" He was also grabbing a coat.
Mac was already through the door and running towards the light show. I should have stopped Lee. I should not have let him go. He was unprepared. No matter what, we should have held him. I Should not have let Richie go. I should not have waited for Joe's people. Maybe I could have found them sooner. Mac cursed himself.
Amanda and Mike were at his heels, Joe's progress would be slower through the mounting drifts.
Just as they arrived at the fish plant, a wooden overhead door blew off its hinges. The window shattered as electric current shot through it, struck the street lamp outside, and exploded the globe. Snow skipped across the roof in a strange unnatural dance as it evaporated off into steam. Then, total silence. Smoke drifted slowly out of the open doorway.
Swords drawn, Mac and Amanda carefully approached.
Smoky steam was still misting from the back of Lee's coat as he knelt, keeping himself upright by leaning against Richie's sword. The headless body of Geigo lay before him. Eyes wide in confusion and fear, he turned as he sensed Amanda and Mac's presence. "I remembered," he whispered to them as he panted. "You said it was the head." Tears began to cloud his frightened eyes. "What have I done? What is happening to me?"
"You saved my life," Richie informed him quietly from where he was getting to his feet.
Mac put an arm around Lee. "You'll be all right," he said in comfort. He gave a semi-smile. "Guess it all is starting to make more sense, huh?"
The sound of the shuffling gait announced Joe's arrival. In true Watcher fashion, he summed up the entire story at a glance that he shared only with Mike. He looked down at Kit's dead body and wept.
As is frequent with the weather in early Spring, the snow of the night was met by the warm sun of the morning, and water dripped from rooftops and gurgled in the street gutters. In just a day, small wild flowers of yellow, white, and purple were pushing their heads up through the first green grass.
The stark black of the hearse gave a disquieting contrast to the promise of new life. The group was small that clustered around the coffin that held Kit Sorrell. The voice of the minister was a light tenor.
"...Yea though I walk the valley of the shadow death, I will fear no evil. For Thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me..."
When the short ceremony concluded, they each placed a rosebud on the casket. Joe regretted not being able to do more for this child who had become entrapped in affair she knew little of. He moved aside to allow the four Immortals time to themselves and to grant himself time to reflect
"So, did I interfere with Richie's fight," Lee asked. "Did I, you know, break one of those rules?"
Mac pursed his lips and squinted into the sun. "Well, you could say that their fight was over and you were issuing a new challenge--but--" his expression mellowed into a small smile. "Yeah, you did. Then again, sometimes you just take things however they turn out."
Richie held up the broad sword. Nearly five feet long, and weighing four times what the average sword did, the sunlight shimmered and danced off the double-edged blade's surface. "It's yours." He passed it to Lee.
He looked at the weapon in awe. "What do you think of it?"
Mac took the sword, testing the weight, then accomplished a slow arc with it. Near the hilt in microscopic German were a few notations. "1522," Mac read.
"What?" Lee looked closer.
"Initials indicate Franz von Sickingen. Probably from the Knights War."
"Oh. Well, I meant as a weapon," Lee remarked.
Mac gave him a tolerant look. "Maybe we need to start with something just a little smaller. It'll make a nice trophy--on your wall."
He shrugged, hands stuffed into his pockets in a way Mac recalled Richie used to do when he was younger. "A lot to learn, huh?" Lee muttered.
"Yeah," Mac agreed. He turned the blade back to Lee and the younger Immortal tucked it back under his arm the way he'd observed Mac doing. "Amanda promised to help me out," he commented. "We're gonna go south to the Baja for awhile. She knows of a Mission there where we won't be disturbed."
Mac glanced at her. "She's a good teacher." To her he added: "Teach him something besides second story work, okay?"
She gave a teasing smile. "I'll do my best, MacLeod. I'd like to have this man around a long time."
They moved off and Mac and Richie turned in the opposite direction.
Richie gave one look back towards Kit's casket. "I wish there was something I could have done for her," he said regretfully.
"I know," Mac said quietly, touching Richie's shoulder. "She was unprepared for what she got in to." He walked in silent thought for a moment. "We could have lost all three of you. Lee got lucky."
"If you'd have been there, Mac, would you have done when Lee did?" Richie asked.
Mac gave a chuckle, but did not answer the question. "Well, you know, Lee is a bit impulsive. Kind of reminds me of someone else I know--or used to know."
"Huh?" Richie frowned, not following the comment.
Mac grinned. "Young, smart-assed, know-it-all, impulsive."
Richie shook his head. "No, sorry. Don't know anybody like that."
Mac gave a laugh, and gave Richie a slap on the back.
The door was answered after just the first knock. Reina quickly ushered Joe Dawson inside and shut the door again. "Well?" she asked breathlessly.
He nodded, with a cautious smile. "You did just fine."
"And Lee--he'll be MacLeod's student?"
Joe picked up the small flashlight Mac had seen on his first visit there. "Not exactly. Amanda's." As he noticed the distress on her face he hastened to add: "Amanda's a good teacher Reina, she's had some of the best students." He pressed the button on the flashlight and turned it towards Reina's outstretched left wrist. The invisible light illumined the small blue Watcher tattoo. When he turned the light out, the mark was gone.
"And we were successful?" she confirmed. "I went to this trouble to get Lee in with MacLeod, not Amanda. She just got in the way."
"I know that. But Lee has a good teacher," he repeated. "And MacLeod never detected you. If he didn't pick you up, no one will."
She turned her back on him for a moment. "Lee is just really special to me, you know? My first assignment and all."
He cocked a semi-smile. "You aren't the first Watcher to develop an attachment to your Immortal. Nor are you the first to sleep with your assignment."
She spun back to face him, cheeks flushed crimson.
"You mean they didn't tell you? Watchers watch new Watchers, too." His smile was more open.
"Damn," she muttered.
"I convinced them you could still be his Watcher. Keep your distance, okay?"
She hadn't quite recovered from the shock enough to look grateful. She said nothing.
He turned the small penlight over in his hands a few times. "Nor has it gone unnoticed the risks you took piloting the Enlightener. Perhaps your close contact was what helped prove it will work. We can finally make things right again. It'll take years, maybe thirty or more, but for the Immortals, that is nothing. They will just see fewer and fewer Watchers until all of us with the tattoo die off--and only the ones with the Enlightener remain. No obvious tattoos, medallions, or scars. Eventually, there will be no communion with Watchers and Immortals."
"Do you really believe MacLeod and those like him who know about us will lose track of us?"
"Eventually. Mac will be my friend till the day I die. I cannot and will not change that. Someday, Reina, the damage that Horton did with finally be past." He gave a smile. "And your Immortal, Lee Boch, stands a better chance of still being around then because of the choices you have made now."
She poured two cognacs and handed Joe one of the glasses. Lifting the other, she gave a soft smile. "To the Age of Enlightenment."