Wild Mountain Thyme

by Parda, July 1999

Oh, the summertime is coming,

And the trees are sweetly blooming,

and the wild mountain thyme

grows around the blooming heather.

Will you go, lassie, go?

Alexandra Johnson was a determined woman, and she liked it that way. "You're a stubborn one, Alex," her father had often said, with a laugh that let her know he thought it a good thing. Her mother had simply sighed and shaken her head, but Alex didn't care. She was stubborn, and she was proud of it.

She needed all her stubbornness, for Alex was hunting a man. Not just any man, but one certain, specific man. Very certain. Very specific. And very much a man. From their two brief meetings, Alex suspected he might be almost as stubborn as she was. She was going to find out.

Right now, all she really knew about him was his name, and she was not totally certain even of that. Alex stared out the airplane window at the wrinkled gray Atlantic far below, fingering the small plastic bag in her pocket. In that bag was a piece of very old cloth, a scrap of tartan in a pattern that had been designed over four centuries ago—designed for one certain, specific man.

Connor MacLeod.

The airplane landed in Glasgow, and Alex waited in the long line at customs, her foot tapping almost imperceptibly. She was used to traveling; in her work as an archeologist she had been to all of the continents except Australia and Antarctica, but she hated waiting in lines, and her father had never laughed and told her she was patient.

Finally, her passport and visa were stamped and authorized, and she could start hunting. She rented a car and headed for the hills, for the Highlands of Scotland, to a little town called Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel.

It took her four days to get even a hint. Looking for a man named Connor MacLeod in the Highlands of Scotland was like digging for a shard in the remains of a pottery factory. She circled the loch, visiting each village in turn—Glenfinnan, Glenaladale, Gaskan—then widened her search, traveling east and north. The inhabitants of the villages were less than effusive, even worse than her great-uncle Lars Johnson, a Norwegian bachelor farmer.

But in the village of Glencoe, on the shores of Loch Leven, determination and stubbornness and a liberal amount of smiling and listening finally paid off. Jamie, the boy who bagged food at the local store, said a stranger had come in to buy food a few days before.

"About 180 centimeters, light brown hair, gray eyes?" Alex asked.

Jamie shrugged. "Maybe. He bought a lot though, all cans and dried stuff, like he was camping out. Not many do that this time of year, with the snows still coming now and again." He dumped a bag of potatoes into the bin. "He tipped good. Gave me a fiver."

That sounded promising. MacLeod certainly had money; his Porsche and large apartment in New York City made that obvious. And he was definitely the type to camp out in the Highlands in March, even with snow on the ground. "Did he have an accent?" Alex asked.

He shrugged again. "Maybe. Didn't talk much, but it sounded funny. Not Yank. Not Brit."

Taciturn, funny accent, lots of money—that was definitely Connor MacLeod. Alex gave Jamie her most brilliant smile and a ten-pound note. MacLeod was not going to best her.

It took her two more days to find him, on the side of a hill a few kilometers east of town, off Highway A82. In a way, Alex reflected as she started to climb the steep hillside, hunting a person was not all that different from digging a site. You had to be willing to sift a lot of dirt to find anything worthwhile. And sometimes, you didn't even recognize what you had found until the layers of dirt were carefully brushed away.

She knew MacLeod was dangerous; she hadn't needed the New York cop to tell her that. She had seen it for herself during the sword fight—sword fight!— with that creep named Kane, and she had seen it in MacLeod's eyes when he'd grabbed her and slammed her up against the wall.

"Whatever you saw, you saw nothing," he had snarled at her, after she had seen him take a sword thrust through the shoulder, after she had seen Kane start to cut off his head, after she had seen the Buddhist shrine—holy ground, MacLeod had called it—erupt in showers of glass and howling winds, while Kane seemed to fly away in the form of a bird.

"You don't know what you're getting yourself into."

But Alex knew enough. She knew Kane had said that four hundred years was a long time to hate, and she knew that the cave of the legendary Japanese sorcerer Nakano had been sealed about four hundred years ago. She knew that the man found near the cave had been beheaded by a sword, and both MacLeod and Kane carried swords.

Or had carried swords. MacLeod's sword had been broken during the fight with Kane, snapped off near the hilt. That was one of the reasons she had come.

"Stay away," MacLeod had ordered her, right before he had left in a stumbling run, right before the cop had arrived. The cop had told her to stay away from MacLeod, too, but she had ignored both of them. MacLeod was her only lead to Nakano, and Alex wasn't going to let that go.

She wasn't going to let MacLeod go, either, not just yet. She wanted some answers, to questions such as why he carried a sword, why Kane carried a sword, what MacLeod knew about Nakano, and why he was out here in the Highlands at an abandoned farmstead.

Alex evaluated the site as she climbed. The small waterfall against the rocky cliff would have provided an easy source of fresh water, and the flood plain near the river would have been good farmland. A pile of jumbled black stones lay on the top of a small rise, probably the remains of one of those old Scottish towers. MacLeod wasn't near the tower, though; he was sitting on a rock near the top of another rise, staring at the river below, while a forge fire smoldered behind him at the base of a broken-down stone wall.

"Hey, MacLeod!" she called as she drew nearer, though he had obviously seen her coming when she had started up the hill.

He didn't move from the rock he was sitting on, merely watched her and gave a dry quiet laugh, an odd triple chuckle. "I thought you'd find me."

That was either a compliment to her persistence, or unmitigated arrogance on his part. She wasn't quite sure which. Just because she had spent days finding out his name, tracked him down in New York City, followed him when he drove to the Buddhist shrine and then appeared uninvited on his doorstep at six o'clock in the morning, flown across an ocean, and tramped up and down the Scottish highlands for a week didn't necessarily mean that she had nothing better to do with her time than to chase after him. She did have better things to do, but right now, she wasn't doing them.

When she reached him, he asked, "Why did you come?" He seemed honestly bewildered that she had tracked him down again.

So, maybe it had been a compliment after all. For answer, she reached into her coat pocket and took out the small block of steel she had found two months ago in Japan, in the cave she believed had belonged to Nakano. She said nothing, but offered him the block on the palm of her hand. Even through her glove, she could feel the sharp edges of the metal. The inscribed lines of the kanji for knowledge showed dark gray against the polished blackness.

He took the block and clenched his fist around it, then smiled as he whispered one word. "Nakano."

Alex knew then that she had found her man.

Connor wasn't sure what to do about the woman. He had needed that metal, but he hadn't asked her to come here, and he didn't want her hanging around. She was entirely too observant and too inquisitive, even if she didn't come right out and ask a lot of questions.

And she was entirely too distracting. Dr. Alexandra Johnson, renowned archeologist, expert on esoteric legends, researcher at the Museum of Ancient History in New York, was an attractive woman. Blonde, tall and slender but with definite curves, her dark-blue eyes were direct and steady, with long lashes over high cheekbones. The woman was curious and quiet, interested and persistent. A very dangerous combination.

He thanked her briefly and then he ignored her.

She followed him to his campsite near the ruined wall and watched as he cleaned out the mess he had made while he had tried to forge a blade for his katana. He had been working at his old blacksmith shop in the Highlands for over a week, and all he had to show for it was a pile of melted slag and a heap of ashes. But now, with the proper steel from Nakano, his former teacher and a master swordsmith, now he could fashion a sword.

"Can I help?" she asked, and he shrugged. But she did help, carrying away the ashes, hauling water up from the stream that ran from the waterfall to the river. Connor decided to start working on the blade tomorrow. It would be dark soon.

"I have something else for you," she said, just as he was about to tell her goodbye. She held out her hand to him again.

Connor took the small scrap of cloth from her, the roughness of the weave barely discernible through the clear plastic. The blues and greens of the sett were faded almost to gray; only a slight tinge of red remained in the thin stripe. The first time he had seen this pattern, the colors had been crisp and clear.

The first time he had seen this pattern had been Christmas day, over four and a half centuries ago, a week before his nineteenth birthday.

==================== 1536 ====================

"Connor!" his mother called, as she and his father came into the clearing, the white trunks of birch trees silent sentinels around them. "Connor," she whispered, as she held him close in her arms. "Oh, Connor," she said again, as she pulled back to look at him, tracing the side of his face with her hand.

"Mother," Connor said, standing quiet before her, seeing the thinness in her cheeks, the paleness of her skin. A few days ago, he had met his father on the mountain top to watch the sun rise on the winter solstice. His father had told him that his mother had been ailing these last few months, but it still hurt to see her so. "It's glad I am to see you."

She smiled then, and looked better. "And I you." Her smile faltered, then she exclaimed, "You must be hungry! I brought your favorite. Colin?"

"Aye, Liadan," he said, as he rummaged in the bag. "Let's eat."

They sat on the logs around the small fire Connor had built, their plaids drawn close against the cold winter air, which was heavy and damp with the scent of snow soon to come. His father spoke the blessing, then Connor forced himself to eat the beef pasties. They spoke little, a question or two that went unanswered, a comment started, then stopped.

They had all but finished eating when his father's head went up, like a stag scenting the hounds, and voices sounded in the distance. "Go now!" he said to Connor. "Up the hill, to the waterfall where we fished last summer. Your mother and I will meet you there, in a bit."

Connor jumped to his feet, swallowing the last of the pie in his mouth, the food going down hard, then grabbed his dorlach and started up the hill. He half-turned for another look at his parents sitting by the fire, pale but calm, sharing a simple meal.

"Go!" his father urged him, while his mother poured his ale into her own cup and hid his cup in her bag.

Connor went.

It was nearly an hour before his parents came to the waterfall, making their way among the gray tumbled rocks, beneath the shadows of dark firs. He could hear the wheeze in his mother's breath as she climbed the steep hill.

"A hunting party," his father said cheerfully, "wondering if we were daft to eat outside, lolling about as if it were Mayday."

His father was too cheerful. "Were they hunting meat?" Connor asked bitterly. "Or me?"

"Aye, lad," his father muttered, looking away. "They did ask of you."

They had, no doubt, and they would again. "I can't come back here," Connor said. "They'll be after you next, for sheltering the devil."

"You're no devil, Connor," his mother said, holding his hands between her own, her gray eyes red-rimmed.

"I think not, Mother. But they do." He tried to smile at her. "I have to leave."

"We can come with you," she said quickly, "go to my kin's village."

Connor's heart soared with fierce elation. He wouldn't have to be all alone. But a glance at his father's worried face told him that he would. His mother was ill, and the snows would be deep soon. She could not survive a journey across the mountains, not this winter. Nor could they travel in the spring. Connor would not take her away from her friends, from her home of more than twenty years, from her grandchildren. "Nay, Mother," he said, forcing a smile to his face, wishing he had not seen the relief jump to his father's eyes. "I'll go on. You know how I've always wanted to travel, see the world."

"You always did talk of such things, when you were a boy, listening to the tales," she agreed, looking up at him. "You want to go then, Connor?" she asked.

No! A thousand times no! "Aye," he said, speaking the hardest word in his life. "I may even become a sailor, and you know they'll not allow women on ships."

She nodded. "Well, children do grow up," she said in a light tone that did not match the sorrow in her eyes.

His father cleared his throat and came closer, laid his hand on his shoulder. "Connor, you know you were a foundling, given to us by old Brigit of Donan Wood."

"Aye, I know," he said. His parents had told him the tale two years past, on his birthday. He had thought on it often of late. "Do you think that is why, that is how...?" How this evil had come upon him, this difference, this curse?

His parents exchanged worried glances. "Your mother and I have talked on it," his father said, "but we do not know."

"But you're still our son!" his mother said.

"Aye," his father said strongly. "And you're still a MacLeod. You always will be."

Connor wanted to believe that, but things were not so simple now.

"Liadan?" his father said, turning to her.

His mother reached into her bag and pulled out a plaid, newly woven, in the familiar greens and blues he had worn all his life, but with a darker shade to part of the pattern. "I made this for you, Connor, with the new dyes from last summer." She helped him put it on, fastened the brooch at the shoulder, rearranged a drape of the cloth, then stood back to admire him. "Aye, you look braw. Doesn't he, Colin?"

"He does, Wife. A son to be proud of."

"Father...," Connor began.

"You are, lad." His father pulled him close in a hug, and his voice came muffled against Connor's ear. "And don't you be forgetting it."

"No, Father, never," Connor said, tears cold on his cheeks. His father thumped him hard on the back, then stepped away. Connor turned to his mother, but no words came. How could he say goodbye to her?

His mother knew how, as his mother had always known what to do. "I'll give you my blessing, Connor, as I did when you were little." She stepped closer and placed both hands on his cheeks, though she had to reach up to him now.

"The joy of God in thy face," his mother said. "Joy to all who see thee." Her hands slid lower, to his shoulders, rested there a moment. "The circle of God around thy neck."

She walked around him, saying the words of the prayer, surrounding him with her love. "Angels of God shielding thee. Angels of God shielding thee."

Connor let the words flow over him and through him, remembering her voice from many a firelit evening, in the home he would never see again.

"Joy of night and day be thine," she said, and kissed first his left cheek, then his right.

"Joy of sun and moon be thine," she said, and kissed his hands, one and then the other.

"Joy of men and women be thine," she said, looking deep into his eyes, laying her hands upon his heart.

Then she knelt before him, laying her hands gently on his feet. "Each land and sea thou goest. Each land and sea thou goest."

She stood then, tall and straight, and his father came to stand beside her, and together they finished the blessing, a hand on each of his shoulders, while Connor knelt before them.

"Be every season happy for thee, Be every season bright for thee, Be every season glad for thee."

His father bent to him, kissed him on the forehead, roughness of beard scraping cold skin, voice warm yet broken. "Thou beloved one of my heart."

His mother kissed him then, and whispered, "Thou beloved one of my heart."

==================== 1994 ====================

Connor had never seen his parents again.

He closed his fist around the scrap of tartan. It wasn't the same cloth his mother had made, of course. His wife Heather had copied the pattern when she had made his plaids, and after she had died, Connor had paid to have his clothes made. This cloth had been made in 1630, by a woman whose name he didn't remember, in a village that no longer existed. But the pattern was still there.

"That's not from Nakano," Alex Johnson said. "And that cloth is not Japanese. It's a Scottish tartan, an old one."

"You're right," he agreed, as he slipped the small bag into his pocket. She opened her mouth to protest, and Connor said forcefully, "Good night, Dr. Johnson."

She closed her mouth and stood, then said with a deliberate ironic twist to his name, "Good night, Mr. MacLeod."

She was back the next morning. Connor didn't speak to her, didn't offer her food, didn't smile at her. She sat on a nearby rock and watched all morning while he added charcoal to the fire and pumped the bellows, while he sweated as he hammered the steel block into a strip. When the strip reached the proper length, he heated it to a cherry glow, then left it to cool slowly while he ate lunch. She had brought her own.

"Pretty up here," she said when they were almost finished eating.

Connor nodded and reached for an apple. The few young trees on the hill top were bare now, and there were no wildflowers in bloom yet, for the glen was still waiting for spring, but it was pretty. His wife Heather had said the same thing, many years ago, when they had first come here.

"It's a bonny place, isn't it, Connor?" Heather had asked, her face flushed with the climb, her gold hair escaping in ringlets from under her kerch. "With the water from the stream, and space for a garden and the geese, it'll be grand. We can live in the tower; the sheep can graze on the hills, and there's already a forge."

"Aye, Blossom," he had answered, well-pleased with the site. "We'll buy it with the money your father left to us, and we'll raise our family here."

Heather had twirled about, laughing in delight, her blue skirts flaring, then come into his arms for an eager kiss. "Let's start now," she had suggested, and they had made love in the summer sunshine, the crushed grasses beneath them as warm and spicy-sweet as she.

Afterward, she had lifted her head from his shoulder and gazed out at the three hills. "Look, Connor," she had said softly, "you can see forever."

"Aye, love," he had agreed, holding her close. "You can."

But you couldn't. Connor had had enough time to learn that. He crunched into the apple and chewed.

"What are those hills?" the woman asked him now, pointing. "The three all in a row?"

"The Three Sisters," Connor answered shortly, glad of the chill in the air and the brown barrenness of the place. He didn't want to remember that summer.

"And that's the River Coe," she said, turning to look at the shallow water chattering below them.

Connor didn't see any need to answer that. He finished his apple, tossed the core into the bracken and went back to the forge. He was ready to start folding the metal. The woman stayed and watched all afternoon.

She was there the next morning, too, watching while he shaped the strip. He lifted it high, seeing the straight edges outlined against blue sky. It wasn't a katana yet, the deadly arc would emerge from the cooling, but it looked like a blade. He smiled in triumph, and then he smiled at her. She smiled back, a quick flash of warmth and pleasure in those cool blue eyes, and Connor was caught staring.

But it was time to make the strip of metal into a weapon. First came the heating and gradual cooling, over and over again, letting the metal learn its new shape, flow within its new skin. He spent the afternoon grinding and shaping, getting just the right balance. The next day Connor built up the fire with small, precisely placed pieces of charcoal. He carefully stoked the fire, keeping a constant temperature during the annealing, as the blade glowed red for more than an hour. As the sun settled behind the hills, he took the blade out of the fire to let it cool slowly overnight.

Tomorrow he would put the clay coating on the steel and harden the edges. Then he would see if all his work had been in vain, when the time came to plunge the red-hot blade into the water, to quench the weapon and see if it hardened into a sword, or cracked into useless shards.

But she didn't come the next day. She wasn't there to smile at him when he pulled the blade from the water, when he held it in his hand and knew that this was a sword even Nakano would have approved of. Connor shrugged and prepared the forge for the final stage.

She wasn't there the next day, either, when he tempered the sword in the fire three more times, heating the blade, then letting it cool gradually in the air. Connor slowly cleaned out the ashes for the last time, then went into Glencoe to pick up some supplies.

"So she found you," said the boy at the grocery store. "Thought she would."

Connor didn't much like the sound of that. Or maybe he did.

The boy added, "I saw her yesterday, out walking, and she told me."

So, she hadn't left the Highlands. At least not yet. Not that it mattered.

"She's staying at the Barrington Lodge," the boy volunteered.

Connor nodded and left. He ate lunch at the pub, then went back to his forge. She was waiting for him there, sitting on the rock, stubborn as a rock. He liked stubborn women.

"Hey, MacLeod," she called. "Is it done yet?"

"Except for sharpening and polishing." He sat down with a sharpening stone and got to work.

"Where did you learn how to make a sword?" she asked.

He smiled as he polished the blade with an even steady rhythm. She was still fishing for information. "From a man who knew how to make swords."

"From Nakano," she said, not quite a statement, not quite a question.

Connor wasn't going to confirm or deny anything.

She tried a different bait. "How did you know this forge was here? It looks very old."

His smile became a grin, but he did not look up. "It is old," he agreed.

When he paused in his work, she hopped off the rock and came over to him, looking at the blade in his hands. "I've never held one before," she said. "May I?"

He never let anyone touch his sword. Well, he amended, almost never. And it wasn't sharp yet; she couldn't do much damage with it. Connor nodded, then bowed slightly and presented it to her, hilt first. She took it awkwardly, one handed. "Use both hands," he suggested. "And don't crowd them together."

"Yes, that's better," she said, gripping with both hands. "Should one hand be at the base, and one hand closer to this circle thing at the top of the handle?"

"That circle thing is called the tsuba, and your grip depends on what you're doing."

"You mean like swinging, or thrusting?" she asked, trying out both maneuvers.

Connor stepped back. "Yes."

"Sorry," she said with an apologetic grin, then swished the blade through the air a few more times. "This is heavier than it looks."

"And it gets heavier the longer you hold it."

"I'm sure," she murmured, then looked more closely at the blade. "You said it needs polishing. The stone does that?"

"This stone is more for the initial sharpening and getting out big scratches and nicks. There are other stones, of different roughnesses. Normally I use an uchiko ball for the polishing."

She glanced up from her inspection of the handle. "What's an uchiko ball?"

"It's about the size of a golf ball, made of cotton, covered with silk, saturated with stone dust."

"So, like fancy sand paper?"

"In a way," Connor agreed. "And I oil the blade to keep it from rusting."

"Can't have rust on your blade," she agreed, then waved the sword around some more. "Would you mind showing me how to do some moves with it?"

There wasn't any harm in that, either, was there? Connor stepped behind her, then placed his hands over hers. "Spread your feet a little," he suggested. "And bend your knees, so you won't get knocked off balance."

"Is this good?" she asked, then tilted her head back to look at him. The wind blew a strand of her hair across his cheek, a whip of silken softness.

Connor cleared his throat and nodded. "You're right-handed, so for a lunge, step forward with your right foot and extend your arm." She followed his movements, stepping with him, reaching forward. She fit neatly against him, the lengths of their thighs matching, her curves within the circle of his arms. Connor let go and stepped back.

"Should I do it faster?" she asked.

"If you like."

She tried it again, the tip of her tongue caught between her lips, intent on the move, on the sword. She looked good. Of course, she looked good walking up a hill. She looked good sitting on a rock. She would look really good— No. Better not go there.

She stopped after the fifth lunge. "Do you like it fast?" she inquired, eyes wide, expression innocent.

"Sometimes," he answered. "Sometimes slow."

"Just lunges?" Her cool stare and arching eyebrows challenged him, and her voice was husky as she asked, "Or thrusts, too?"

Connor grinned, a slow amused smile, and decided to accept her challenge after all. Why not? "Thrusts, too." He added a challenge of his own. "I know a lot of moves."

"Yes," she said, smiling now in the same way. "I'm sure you do. Do you use your sword everyday?"

"Everyday," he agreed. "Sometimes twice a day."

He was answered by a quick lift of her eyebrows and a twitch of her lips, but then she went innocent and unaware once more. "By yourself?"

"Usually," Connor answered, straight-faced. He stepped closer, walked behind her, paused there. "But it's better with a partner," he said softly, watching as his breath set her fine golden hair aswirl. "More ... challenging."

"I'm sure," she murmured again, then she turned around and faced him, the smile gone, but the challenge still there. "Your sword, Mr. MacLeod." She bowed and handed him the blade.

He bowed back and took it from her. The hilt was warm from her hands.

"Can I watch you use your sword?" she asked.

"If you like."

She smiled, a slow, lingering smile that warmed the rest of him. "I do." She went back to her rock and sat down to watch.

Alex sat in silence, as she had sat in silence for hours over the last few days, and watched as he moved through various poses and motions with his sword. No, not through the postures, Alex decided. Into them. Within them. He was completely focused on that sword, on his movements.

She had gotten used to being ignored by him, but even when he didn't speak to her or look at her, she had known that he was aware of her. It had been a game of waiting between them, and she had won, at least that round. She had been sure she could out-stubborn him, but he was adept at not answering her questions. This might prove more difficult than she had thought.


But now he was ignoring her again. Completely. She wrapped her arms about her knees and huddled into her parka, shivering even in the sunshine. It was always windy up here, and the wind was always cold. At least it wasn't raining or snowing today. Not that MacLeod would notice. MacLeod probably wouldn't notice a hurricane.

He was moving faster now, his hands and wrists weaving a rapid pattern of blurred steel from the blade, his feet advancing step by step, coming closer, his face nearly expressionless. She was almost ready to consider getting out of his way when he looked straight at her and gave her a whisper of a smile, then pivoted away.

Round two.

Alex smiled to herself as she watched the graceful strength in the long line of his back, the power hidden in his shoulders, the shifting play of muscles under his jeans. The man definitely knew how to do more than thrust and lunge, and if he gave a woman as much attention and energy as he gave to his sword... She shivered again, but not from the cold.

He was coming toward her again, but more slowly now, each step deliberate, each sword stroke carefully executed, exquisitely controlled in slow motion, a silent dance of man and steel. He stopped in front of her, a few paces away. He was breathing evenly, but his hair had darkened with sweat, and small tendrils curled above his ears. He tucked the sword into a resting position against his side, then bowed in the Japanese style.

Alex stood and returned the bow. "That was lovely," she said, truly meaning it, impressed by the countless hours of training and practice evident in his display, remembering the long hours she had spent at the barre, hoping—as many young girls do—to become a ballerina. "Have you used a sword long?"

"Most of my life," he said, with a slight lift of his eyebrows that reminded her of their earlier conversation.

She hadn't meant it that way, not this time. Her cheeks went hot, and his grin widened at her flush of embarrassment. The grin shifted slowly into a smile, and the color of his eyes shifted, too, lightening from gray to the soft washed blue of an evening sky after rain. He looked almost quizzical, his head tilted slightly to one side, the corners of his eyes crinkled in good humor.

Alex froze under that stare, mesmerized by his complete and focused attention. He was close enough to touch, almost close enough to kiss. She flushed again, but not from embarrassment.

"Want to get your hands dirty?" he asked, his voice very quiet.

Alex remembered to breathe and tried to collect her thoughts. "What?"

"You're an archeologist, right?" he said, the smile going back to a grin. "I know a few places you might find interesting. We could go look at one this afternoon."

"Don't you need to finish sharpening your sword?"

He shrugged. "I can work on that tonight, when it's dark out."

"Is that what these long Scottish nights are for?" Alex asked, trying to regain the upper hand, or at least to get back in the game. "Sharpening your sword?"

He was ready to play, too. He nodded solemnly and said, "Darkness is good." He leaned closer and confided, "Sometimes in the daylight, I close my eyes, so my fingertips can feel every curve, every indentation, every place that needs special care."

He was studying her again, his eyes tracing out the curve of her cheek, the indentation in the hollow of her throat, all those places that needed special care. She had studied him, too, over this last week, and she had seen the power and the sensitivity of those hands, and she had imagined those fingertips on her skin.

But she had seen, too, the silence about him, the words unspoken, the thoughts never said, the emotions expressed only with the lift of an eyebrow or the shrug of a shoulder. It wasn't the silence of her great-uncle Lars, who simply didn't have much to say, or the silence that came from within, from a peaceful quietness. It was an enforced silence, long cultivated, the silence of a man in hiding. She wasn't sure if he were hiding from others, or hiding from himself, but she wanted to know.

She wanted to know everything about him. Yesterday, while she had been out walking, she had decided she wanted more from this man than just some answers about Nakano, and she had come back today to see if she could get it. Connor MacLeod wasn't only business to her anymore. She wanted to know where he came from, who he was, what he had been, what he wanted, what he liked.

What he loved.

But she wouldn't find everything she wanted during a quick lesson or two in "sword-play," and if she didn't concede this round to him immediately, she was going to drag him down on the ground right now. Neither of them was ready for that. Not emotionally, anyway. Alex stepped back and said brightly, "Digging sounds like a good idea. What site did you have in mind?"

They drove for several hours that afternoon, and even talked on the trip. The road was narrow and unmarked, but he knew the way. He took her to the ruins of Castle Tioram, Eilean Tioram he called it, Castle on the Dry Island.

"You speak Gaelic," she said, not surprised.

"On occasion."

They walked across the sands at low tide, and he told her things about the castle that weren't in any of the guidebooks. He had brought his sword with him, and she watched him from the shelter of the wall of the castle as he practiced again, a longer sequence this time, a sword kata from Japan.

"Nihon-go o hanashimasu ka?" she asked him, and he replied with a smile and a bow. Alex bowed back and added another language to his credit. That made at least four: English, French, Gaelic, and Japanese, and she had spotted books in Latin and Greek in his apartment in New York. She spoke only English, French, and Japanese, and her Latin was rusty at best, for she had spent most of the last five years working with Norse runes, and Angle and Saxon. She didn't think Connor was as old as those languages.

"Do you like to ride?" he asked, as they started across the sands once more, for the tide was coming in. He leaped over a widening streamlet of water, then turned back to her. "Horses?"

Alex jumped across and landed neatly beside him. "I love to ride," she answered. She did not clarify what kind of riding she meant.

He didn't ask. "Good."

The next day, they rented horses and went riding on the moors. Alex chose an eager filly for her mount, a beautiful bay with a white blaze down her nose. "She looks like Theseus," she said, reaching forward to pat the filly's neck as they cantered along. "I got him when I was twelve, after I had pestered my parents for a horse for nearly three years. He was a great jumper."

"Not much room for a horse in New York City," Connor commented from his seat on the gray gelding.

"I grew up in Pennsylvania, in the farm country north of Harrisburg. My dad was a teacher, not a farmer, but we had a couple of acres." Alex watched him closely as she asked her next question. "Where did you grow up?"

His eyebrows went up and down, his subdued version of a shrug. "I've traveled a lot."

"You didn't answer my question," she observed.

"No," he admitted, with no sign of contrition or embarrassment. "I didn't." He pointed to a rounded hill in the distance. "Want to race?"

Alex didn't answer his question either; she just leaned forward over the neck of the filly and took off. Connor followed immediately, but Alex won. "Good girl," she said, dismounting to give the horse a carrot from her pocket. "Beautiful, lovely girl."

"Fast, too," Connor said as he rode up. "You picked a good mount."

"I think you're right," Alex said, but she was looking straight at him.

Connor paused for an instant, then dismounted. "Come on," he said, and they tied the horses to a wind-twisted tree, then climbed up the gorse-covered hill. From the top they could see the sea, and the air tasted sharp with whiffs of fish and brine, and a sweeter, fainter smell of vanilla. There were no ruins to be seen, but there were ruins there, a great burial mound of stones hidden under the bushes.

"How did you know this was here?" she asked, though she thought knew the answer. He merely shrugged again. "It's beautiful," she said, looking out over the hills to the gray-billowed waves, where the lowering clouds merged sky and sea.

He was watching her again, hands in his pockets, collar turned up against the wind, but she didn't retreat from him this time. Alex went to stand before him and stared back. His eyes were gray today, gray as the sea and the sky, always changing, always something waiting to be discovered, always something new.

A gust of wind hurried up the hillside and whipped her hair across her face. She reached up to push it away, but his hand was there before hers, his fingers warm against hers. His hand brushed the hair back from her cheek and lingered there, his fingertips tracing each curve, each indentation. His eyes were hungry now, and haunted, and they watched each other.

Alex didn't pull away, but he did, his fingers curling into a fist, his hand dropping to his side, his eyes going flat and cold, changing to barren rock, hiding everything.

"We should go," he said, and his voice was cold, too. "The rain is coming." He started down the hill to the horses, and after a moment, Alex followed, silent.

The silence lay between them as they rode the horses back to the stable, and as they drove back to her hotel. It was an enforced silence, a blank, protective wall, while raindrops followed meandering streams on the car windows, blown by the wind.

"Another site tomorrow?" she asked when he stopped in front of the hotel, but he shook his head.

"It'll be raining."

"Lunch?" she suggested.

"No." He made no move to open the car door for her, as he had done earlier that day, and the wall of silence permitted no entry.

Alex nodded once, then left the car. She watched from the shelter of the porch as he drove away, but he never looked back. Alex swallowed the hurt and the disappointment and went to her small room at the end of the hall, then sat on her bed and thought about Connor MacLeod.

During these last two days they had spent together, she had caught glimpses of the man behind the silence, and she had seen what he was trying to hide. The cop had been right; MacLeod was dangerous, even deadly, though he usually hid that, just like he usually hid his sword. But he was also lonely, maybe even afraid, and he always hid that. Probably even from himself.

Alex pulled a blanket around her shoulders and stared out at the loch, remembering the strength of his hands, the teasing challenge in his smile, and the quiet laughter in his voice. He had been willing to show her that side of himself, but she seen still further. She had seen the hunger and the need in his eyes, the pain and the loneliness in his soul. He didn't want her to see that. He was still trying to hide, but he couldn't hide from her.

She wanted that man. She wanted him to hold her and make love to her. But more than that, she wanted to make love to him, to hold him and let him know he didn't have to be alone all the time.

"You are an idiot, Alex Johnson," she said to herself, throwing back the blanket and getting off the bed. She stood at the window, wondering just how and when she had started to fall in love with a man who had only begun speaking to her yesterday. Wondering just what she was going to do about it now, because Connor MacLeod wasn't merely hiding anymore; he was running away, and she knew she had to let him go.

She wanted him to come back.

I will build my love a bower,

Near yon pure crystal fountain

And in it, I will pile

all the flowers of the mountain.

Will you go, lassie, go?

You must leave her, Brother.

His teacher Ramirez had said that to him long ago, at the harvest fair in Glen Nevis. Connor had pulled away from Ramirez angrily and gone to hold his wife Heather in his arms, her laughter warming him, the bright sunshine glinting on her golden hair. He had sworn to cherish and protect her, to love her until the end of his days, and he would never leave her.

But nearly fifty years later, she left him.

==================== 1587 ====================

"I don't want to die," Heather said, lying in his arms in their cottage in the glen they had chosen that warm summer day, her frail body no burden on his lap, her hair gone white with age. "I want to stay with you, forever."

"I want that, too," Connor said, but he knew there would be no forever, not for her. Only for him, a forever of emptiness, a forever without her. Heather's next words came softly, and he leaned forward a little to hear them.

"Will you do something for me, Connor?"

He would do anything for her, but there was nothing he could do. "What, Blossom?"

"In the years to come," Heather asked, "will you light a candle, and remember me on my birthday?"

He would remember her every day of his life, and every night. Every dawn, and every sunset. But she had asked, and he would give her anything. "Aye, love," he answered, trying to smile, his voice hoarse from the tightness in his throat. "I will."

==================== 1994 ====================

And he had. Heather had died over four hundred years ago, and every year he had lit a candle for her. Every day he missed her, every day he loved her. But she was dead, rotted away in a grave, while he remained forever young, forever Immortal, forever alone.

Connor downshifted viciously as the car slowed on a steep hill, and the engine whined in protest until it caught, and the car chugged up the hill.

He drove to the sea, to the edge of world, where the gray rock of the Highlands was carved by wind and wave, where the bare bones of the earth stood exposed and stark against the sky. He left the car by the side of the road, and he started to run.

He ran on the beach, where the rock had been hammered and pulverized into sand, and he ran on the cliffs, where the rock was solid and unyielding beneath his feet. He ran across hills, and he ran through narrow glens. He ran all afternoon, and he stopped only when darkness came, but he was still running.

Running from his memories, running from the pain. Running from her. He should have told her to leave that first day. He should have walked away.

But he hadn't.

Connor pulled his coat more tightly around him and stared out to sea, the white of the waves just barely visible in the gathering dusk. He could not go through this again. Not again, and again, and again, and again. Not with Heather, and with Anne, and with Sarah, and with Brenda.

Not with Alex.

"You know what's kind of weird?" Brenda had said to him once, while he held onto her hand and told her to leave him. "Most people are afraid to die. That's not your problem. You're afraid to live."

Brenda had been right about many things, but she had been wrong about that. He hadn't been afraid to live. He had been afraid she would die, and he would be left alone, his heart sliced and bleeding, his soul shattered.

And seven years ago, that was precisely what had happened, eleven months and twelve days after he had married her. Brenda's life had been ripped away, bled out onto the rain-slicked road, crushed from her bruised and mangled body. He had died in the car crash, too, but that didn't matter. When he had revived, he had been alone. He had held her broken body in his arms while another car's radio played her favorite song, a song she had often sung to him, a song they had sung together.

Hey, Jude, don't be afraid.
You were made to go out and get her...
For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder.

The wind was cold tonight. Connor lay down between the shelter of rocks and buried his face in his arms. He could not do this again.

When Connor woke the next morning, a light rain was falling, and he was soaked through and shivering. Nothing a little exercise wouldn't cure. He went running again, then drove to the nearest loch and rented a rowboat. He hadn't done much rowing since the last time he had been to college, seventy-five years ago, but his body remembered the rhythm: pull and back, pull and back, pull and back. Connor rowed until his legs hurt and his arms quivered and his back and shoulders were throbbing. He ignored the pain and kept rowing.

He quit when the healing couldn't keep up with the blisters forming on his palms, then just let the rowboat drift. He hadn't been on a loch in a rowboat for centuries, not since Ramirez had taken him for a ride.

Ramirez had been his teacher and his mentor, and gradually, over the year and a half they had spent together, they had become friends, brothers in the strange and murderous family of Immortals. Ramirez had taught him how to use a sword, had explained to him about the Game and the Prize, and Ramirez had told him what it was to live as an Immortal, while all those around you die.

"When my wife Shakiko died," Ramirez had said, his voice quiet, his dark eyes intent, "I was shattered."

Connor knew what that meant now. He had buried two wives of his own.

"But I had to go on," Ramirez had continued, "never again to hear the sound of her voice, her laughter." His gaze had wandered away from Connor, off into some emptiness only he could see. "She left behind such a silence."

That silence had engulfed Connor, too, buried him, entombed him, left him aching and alone. He had stared into that emptiness many times. He was staring into it now.

It was best this way, to simply leave. Connor picked up the oars again and started rowing back to shore. He would finish sharpening his sword, and then he would fly back to New York, face Kane and behead the bastard. After that, he could go back to his adopted ten-year-old son John, who was waiting for him in Marrakech.

In the evening, after dinner, John and he would go riding together and race their horses across the desert sands, or they might play catch or draw pictures of spaceships or watch a video. After he tucked his son into bed and kissed him good-night. Connor would go up on the roof and sip whisky and watch the stars come out, and then he would go to bed alone.

It would be good to see John again, to go home to his son. He needed to get out of the Highlands.

But when he went to the telephone the next day to call the airline, he remembered Brenda's voice once more, challenging, direct, and unafraid.

"Ramirez was wrong," Brenda had told him as she lay in his bed, watching him from across the room while he tried to ignore her. "Just one year of love, even though it ends in death, is better than an eternity alone."

He hadn't been able to ignore her then, and he couldn't ignore her now. "Hey Jude," she had called him, a private name between them, her wise and irreverent eyes teasing him out of his melancholy, daring him to dance with her, to sing "Na na na na, na na na na," with her at the top of their voices, to be crazy with her, to *live* with her.

To love her.

Hey, Jude, don't let me down.
You have found her, now go and get her.

Brenda was right. Connor called Alex's hotel.

"She's not here," the desk clerk said, her voice thin and reedy with age.

Connor nodded slowly. He shouldn't have expected her to wait, not after the way he had left her. Maybe it was for the best.

"She said she'd be back from her walk at tea time," the woman added, and Connor closed his eyes.

Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.

"Would you like to leave a message?"

Connor cleared his throat. "Tell her, 'He's at the forge.'"

"No name?"

"No," Connor said. "She knows my name."

If my true love, she were gone,

I would surely find another,

where the wild mountain thyme

grows around the blooming heather.

Will you go, lassie, go?

Alex was a stubborn woman, but she wasn't patient, and she didn't like being stupid. She wasn't going to make an idiot of herself over a man. Any man. Even this one. She'd waited two days, even gone to the forge yesterday and waited there, and all for nothing. Connor MacLeod had up and disappeared, and Alex wasn't going to chase him anymore.

She knew when she wasn't wanted.

She would leave tomorrow, she decided, as she walked along the shore of Loch Leven and watched the wind on the water and the otters swimming offshore. She would go back to her job and her small apartment and the long nights spent working late, and she would forget all about this visit to Scotland. She had enough information about Nakano to link him to the cave. She would write more papers and get more grants and go on more digs and start writing her book.

It was time to get back to work and to get on with her life.

Alex took off her muddy boots in the porch of the hotel, then went into the lobby. A welcome fire burned in the stone fireplace in the sitting area, and two of the other guests nodded to her as they sat sipping their tea.

"Miss Johnson!" Mrs. Cameron called to her from the hotel desk, and Alex went over to her. "A man called for you, a little while ago," the elderly woman said. "He said to tell you that he was at the forge." She shook her head in disapproval. "But he wouldn't tell me his name."

"That's all right," Alex replied, speaking calmly over the sudden pounding of her heart. "I know who he is."

But did she? Alex went to her room and sat in the chair by the window, wondering again about this man, wondering if she knew what she was getting into, wondering if she should still be angry at him, wondering if she should take his advice after all and stay away.

Wondering if she would be able to go to sleep by herself, night after night in her small, barren apartment, while she thought about Connor MacLeod.

Connor started a fire in the forge, for the day was cold, then he started to wait. She might not come, he knew. She might not want to see him again. But he would wait for her here, today, and tomorrow as well. Two days. Two more days of being alone, two more days of silence.

Or maybe much longer.

But it was only two hours before she came to him again, climbing up the hillside with an even, steady stride. "You seem like you belong here," she said, as she watched him from a few paces away.

"Maybe I used to," he agreed, looking about at the old forge, at his old home. "But that was a long time ago." He turned to her and took her by the hand, helping her up the last of the steep climb, then he let her go.

She was still watching him. "You spend a lot of time alone."

Connor shrugged, hearing both the accusation and the truth. "I'm used to it."

"Nobody is," she whispered, and that was true, too. Her eyes searched his face, but Connor didn't try to hide. "You don't let people in, do you?"

Another accusation, and another truth. "I can't," he admitted, then tried to break through that wall of silence and tell her why. "It hurts to love..."

"...and see them die," she finished for him, when he could not say the words, when the wall was too strong. "Like the woman in the painting," she said, referring to the portrait she had seen in his apartment.

"Yes." Sara, of the dark hair and laughing eyes. "I loved her very much." He had loved her, and she had married another man over two hundred years ago, and then she had died. They all died. Alex would die, too. "I would spare you that pain," Ramirez had said, and he had known. But Brenda had known differently, and now Alex said the same. Connor spent a lot of time alone. It hurt either way.

"I know who you are," Alex said, no longer searching for answers.

Did she? He wasn't sure himself sometimes.

"You're Connor MacLeod, born into the Clan MacLeod, in Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel."

Connor almost smiled. She had certainly done her homework. Usually he was the one to say that part. Yes, that had been him, many lifetimes ago. Many deaths ago.

"You were driven from your home in 1536..."

Connor added the unbelievable part. "...and I cannot die..." No argument from her, no disbelief. She knew. At least he wouldn't have to kill himself to prove it.

She went on, "...and you have wandered the world ever since."

Wandered, yes, and wondered, year after year after year, while the old ways faded and the world and the people changed around him, and he went on alone. But not always alone. His mother had given him her blessing, and Heather and Brenda had, too. Joy of men and women be thine.

Connor reached for her, and Alex came to him. She tasted of coffee and of winter winds, of sunshine and of fire, but she kissed him with the sweetness of springtime. He wanted to drown himself in her.

But he couldn't. Not yet. He pulled back and rested his forehead against hers for a moment, then stepped back. "Alex," he said, saying her name for the first time, the first time out loud. "We have to talk."

"Talk?" she said, her eyes gone dark-blue and smoky, her voice smoky, too.

Connor dropped her hands and turned to the fire, staring at red embers above gray ash. "About ... immortality."

"I know who you are," she said again, coming to stand behind him, her warmth close by.

"Yeah," he said, turning around to face her even as he moved away again. "But you need to know what I am."

"You want to talk?" she challenged him, the same way he had challenged her in New York, with a small half-smile on her lips and an invitation in her eyes. "Talk."

So he did. He told her of the Game and of the Prize, of quickenings and beheadings, of ancient enemies and old friends, of teachers and students, of lovers and wives and of his son John, of saying goodbye.

"It's different than I had imagined," she said when he had finished. "So sad."

He couldn't argue with that. Connor tossed a small stick onto the fire and watched it as it started to burn. Now she would leave, and he would go on alone. He had been expecting this to happen.

But she didn't leave. She joined him by the fire and laid her hand on his arm. "So, do you have anything else you want to talk about?"

"Alex...," he began, shaking his head.

"Don't you ever think about anything else but immortality?"

Connor recognized that line. He had once asked her the same thing about her business, and he echoed her reply to him now, as a grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Do you have something better to offer?"

"I think I might," she said softly. "What do you want?"

Connor didn't get asked that very often. He had a son, and he wanted a wife. But he couldn't ask her that, not yet, not until Kane was dead, not until she really knew what it would be like, not until they were both sure...

"Connor?" she asked hesitantly, suddenly unsure of herself, and of him.

"Just thinking," he told her quickly. It was the first time she had called him by his name, and he wanted to hear it again. "I've always ... wanted a family," he told her finally, watching her eyes.

They darkened with sudden desire, then shifted away. "Things are going kind of fast," Alex said nervously.

"For both of us," he agreed. "But I need what's between us to be more than..."

"Swordplay?" she offered, a hint of mischief in her eyes, and he answered with a grin. "I need more than that, too," she said, "and I'd like the chance to find out how much more."

"Good," Connor said, eager now to take that chance.

"Maybe we should get started," Alex suggested, and her hand went around to the back of his neck and urged him closer.

Connor waited until she kissed him before he pulled her to him, and this time he let himself drown.

Alex laughed shakily when they finally came up for air. "Well, you certainly have something better to offer than business."

"I think so," Connor answered, smiling as he ran his fingers through her hair, letting the silk slide across his fingertips, holding her close against him with his other arm. Be every season happy for thee.

She wasn't smiling as she said softly, "You don't have to be alone all the time, Connor."

Be every season bright for thee.

"You can let me in." She hugged him to her, her arms tightening around his back. "It doesn't have to hurt."

But it would eventually. He knew that; he had done this before. Be every season glad for thee. And he would do it again. It was worth it. Thou beloved one of my heart.

Connor kissed her again, tasting both the sweetness of spring and the promise of summer, then he rested his cheek against her hair. "Want to get started?" he asked.

"Yes," Alex said, and took him by the hand. "Let's go."

And we'll all go together,

to where wild mountain thyme,

grows around the blooming heather.

Will you go, lassie, go?



This story is rated G, but the movie definitely isn't. If you are interested in seeing Connor and Alex "get started," watch the Director's Cut of Highlander 3. The love scene is toward the end of the movie. In case you're wondering, Connor beheads the evil Immortal Kane (surprise!), then he and Alex and his son John move to the Highlands at the very end of the movie. My other stories abut Connor and Alex are:

- All the Good Women: the courtship of Connor and Alex

- All the Fun: the wedding of Connor and Alex

- Overtones: In 1996 Connor and Alex go Christmas shopping for Cassandra

- The Oak and the Ash: Connor and Alex navigate the maelstrom of an immortal/mortal marriage

They also appear in the Dearer Yet the Brotherhood, The Only Game in Town, Goddess Child, and the Hope Remembered series.


- Bridget for allowing me to borrow her character Anne again, for asking for more details, and for reminding me of subtle and important things about Connor.

- Debi Kay Em for finding confusing parts and telling me about roads.

- Cathy Butterfield for suggestions about forges


Not my characters, not my universe. No money is being made from this story. Connor MacLeod, Alexandra Johnson, Heather MacLeod, John MacLeod, Brenda Wyatt, Kane, Sarah Barrington, and Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez belong to Widen and Davis/Panzer. Some of the dialog is directly from the movies Highlander 1 and Highlander 3, and some is from an earlier version of the script for HL1. The songs "Wild Mountain Thyme" and "Hey Jude" aren't mine, either. Connor's lover Anne is the creation of Bridget Mintz Testa.

The rest of "Wild Mountain Thyme" and Connor's parents Colin and Liadan MacLeod are mine, and the flashback of Heather dying is from my earlier story "The Solstice Sun."


The third Highlander movie introduced the song "Bonny Portmore" into the HL universe during Connor and Alex's time in the Highlands. ("Bonny Portmore" was also used in the TV series in the episodes "Homeland" and the season finale "Not to Be".) When I watch the movie, however, the song "Wild Mountain Thyme" also comes to mind.

"Wild Mountain Thyme" is a Gaelic folk song (the tune is sometimes described as Irish, more often as Scottish). The words were written by Robert Tannahill (1774-1810), a weaver from Paisley, Scotland. The three verses are:

Oh, the summertime is coming,
And the trees are sweetly blooming,
and the wild mountain thyme
grows around the blooming heather.
Will you go, lassie, go?

And we'll all go together,
To where wild mountain thyme
grows around the blooming heather.
Will you go, lassie, go?

I will build my love a bower, [sometimes "tower"]
Near yon pure crystal fountain
And in it, I will pile [sometimes "bring"]
all the flowers of the mountain.
Will you go, lassie, go?


If my true love, she were gone,
I would surely find another,
where the wild mountain thyme
grows around the blooming heather.
Will you go, lassie, go?



The blessing from Connor's parents is from the book "The Celtic Way of Prayer" by Esther de Waal.


Thanks to Randal Graham for putting up his site about sword-making. Any errors in the description about how to make or to polish a sword are mine.


"Nihon-go o hanashimasu ka?" is "Do you speak the Japanese language?" Since Connor lived in Japan and France, I assume he speaks those languages. In 1672, Connor received a degree in Latin from Trinity College. In the 1700-1800s, a knowledge of Greek was also expected among educated people, so I'm also assuming he learned that somewhere along the way.


"Hey Jude" was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. No infringement of copyright is meant by including some of the lyrics to the song; no money is made from this story.


After watching (or simply hearing about) Highlander 2, many people have never even bothered to watch Highlander 3, and those who have watched it are often less than enthusiastic. It is in many ways a repeat of Highlander 1. (Thankfully, it is NOT a repeat of Highlander 2.)

Although I didn't care much for the villain part of the plot in HL3 (Kane using powers of illusion to turn himself into a bird, yet another wild car driving scene, and stuff like that), I did like the love story between Connor and Alexandra Johnson, and I liked the chance to see Connor as a father.

We didn't get to know much about Alex during the film, and I extrapolated from the little we had. The following information is canon:

- famous archeologist, probably speaks Japanese, as she is well-known and respected in that country. Works at the Museum of Ancient History in NYC, has a doctorate.

- seems to be interested in baseball (wears baseball hat, gives Fuji Takamura a baseball souvenir, mentions Babe Ruth)

- likes horses (has a picture of herself and her horse Theseus (or possibly Tarsus) taped to her computer monitor)

- is a workaholic (Tommy tells security she'll be "working late again")

- disregards conventional rules when she's on the trail of something interesting (takes unauthorized samples from the cave in Japan, lies to cop, listens in on Connor's phone conversation)(Connor finds that amusing)

- doesn't scream hysterically when confronted by evil Immortal (a nice change from a lot of the HL universe).

- is very stubborn and persistent. (Anybody who can sit around and watch somebody else make a sword has got to be stubborn).


The locations mentioned in the story (Glen Coe, Eilean Tiornan, Glen Nevis) are the actual filming sites. I make no claims as to the accuracy of road directions in the story.