Author's Note: The idea to this story came from a suggestion made by one of the readers for its predecessor, Gemini; which was the origin for my character of Richie's sister, Richelle Ryan. Hope you enjoy!
It was a few days before Halloween and New York City was crawling full of even more frightening looking freaks than usual. Connor MacLeod was accustomed to all the lower forms of life however, he'd been living there for many years; and he considered himself above being surprised by just about anything anymore, but what he hadn't counted on was receiving an unexpected visitor that afternoon.
"Duncan told me that you were flying out to Paris to see some relatives," he told Tessa, "He didn't tell me that you were stopping through New York first."
"He doesn't know," Tessa said, "I told him the flight was nonstop to France, but I couldn't go without seeing how Richie and his sister were doing, we were starting to get worried after not hearing from them for a few days."
"Oh yeah, those two have been holed up in the bedroom for the last week, trying to crack some new computer game Richelle got," Connor explained, "6th King Quest or something like that. Has a hundred different ways to die in it and they keep getting thrown back to the beginning."
"I didn't know Richelle had a computer," Tessa said.
"Well she and Richie talked me into getting it for them, they've won the last five games in the series but they're stumped on this one, something about puzzles and catacombs and trap doors and spears flying through the walls. And when they aren't doing that, they're getting their costumes ready for a Halloween party…won't let anybody in, won't let anybody see until they're ready."
"Why's that?" Tessa asked.
"I have no idea."
Tessa sat down across from Connor and said, "I'm really glad that you've been letting Richie come out here and stay with the two of you, he seems to really enjoy it."
"Well he is family," Connor replied, "Besides, Richelle gets a kick out of it, it gives her somebody new to drag into her plans, and leave me alone. But tell me, how does Duncan like having Richelle come out to Seacouver every month to stay with you two?"
Tessa smiled a little and answered, "I think you know how much he likes it, he doesn't."
"Good, that's what I thought," Connor laughed.
Connor got up and went over to the door to Richelle's room and called in, "Listen up you two monkeys, Tessa's got a plane to catch in an hour, so get out here and let her see you."
"We'll be right out," they heard Richelle call back.
A minute later the door opened and out first was Richie, who was holding his head as high as was possible while wearing a white dress, a chocker bead necklace and a bright red tight permed wig.
Tessa successfully managed for the most part not to laugh, though one minor snort did get past her. "Uh, Richie, it's very…"
"It's drafty is what it is," Richie replied.
"That's what you've been working on all week? Why are you dressed up like Wilma Flintstone?" Connor asked.
"Well," Richie started to answer, "There's a very good reason for that…one of us had to be, and I lost the toss."
"Oh boy," Connor laughed, "I can't wait to see what Richelle's going as."
"Oh I think you can," Richie told him.
The door opened again and Richelle stepped out looking completely different from her brother; her face was caked in a pale makeup powder, her hair was covered by a short, flaming hot red wig, and her clothes were a mess of blue and red and yellow, a pair of plastic red boots, and a blue guitar slung over her shoulder.
"Greetings, Earth intelligentsia or lack thereof," she announced, "My name is Ziggy Stardust and I am here to entertain you."
Connor was about to fall over from laughing but Tessa went over to Richelle, looked her over and only commented, "Richelle, you look terrific, but where'd you get the guitar from?"
"I stole it," Richelle answered with a smirk on her face.
"Where else?" Connor asked, "You look ridiculous."
"So what?" she replied, "This is New York, and it's Halloween, nobody's going to notice. Tessa are you sure you can't stay and see how we do in the costume contest on Sunday?"
"I'd love to, but I've got a plane to catch," Tessa explained.
"I've heard that one before," Richie said.
"Well you can tell me all about it when I get back," Tessa said, "In a couple of weeks."
"By then we'll be back in Seacouver," Richelle told her.
"So will I."
"I knew there was a catch," Richelle said, "Well come on, Richie, let's get this whore paint off."
"I'm not wearing any makeup!" Richie told her.
"Sure," Richelle sarcastically replied, "And I'm wearing a pushup bra." She grabbed him by the ear and dragged him back towards her room, "Come on, Wilma!"
Connor and Tessa stayed in the living room and laughed. "Are you sure you can't stay a while longer?" Connor asked her.
"I'd love to but I really must be going," Tessa told him, "They go back to Duncan on Monday, and I'll be home in a couple weeks after that. I wouldn't think they could get into too much trouble while I'm gone."
"You know, Richelle," Richie said as he looked around her room as they finished changing back into their regular clothes, "When we first met you said your room didn't have as much crap as mine does…well what do you call all of this stuff?"
There was enough available space on the floor for them to walk through the room but that was the only good part. The room looked like a tornado had blown through; toys were scattered everywhere, a pile of comic books rested by the bed, there was a large drum set over to one wall, a bowling ball by the trunk, over to another wall was a desk with a computer and a few floppy disk games, and a mess of junk in between everything else.
"Hey, this stuff is not crap, it's all very important to me," she told him.
"Oh yeah, I'm sure," Richie said as he picked up a large Gremlin doll she had propped on the nightstand by her bed, "What's this for?"
"I've had that since the movie came out, I can't possibly part with it now," Richelle said.
Richie put the doll down and picked up a blue rag by the bed, "And how about this?"
Richelle grabbed the rag and unfolded it, "That's my Superman T-shirt."
"I didn't know you were a fan of Superman," Richie said.
"I'm not," she said, "I use it when I play Jesus in Godspell," she said, "You never saw that, did you, Rich?"
"No, I didn't," he said.
"Oh it's good," she said, and started to sink into character, "What if your brother…"
"You already did that back home, I remember that," Richie said, "And you're not knocking me into that drum set over there like you did Mac."
Richelle grinned and said in response, "That was good though, you have to admit that."
"He didn't think so," Richie reminded her.
"Well he doesn't like anything," she insisted, "Especially me. Even now he doesn't acknowledge me as being in the family."
"Oh come on, Richelle, don't start that again," Richie said.
"Come on, Richie, we're all adults here, you know he hates me, he's never outright said it but he doesn't hide it either, and I've given him plenty of time to get used to me."
"Richelle, he could live another 400 years and he'd still never get used to you, there's not enough time in the world for that."
"Very funny," Richelle bitterly replied, and reached for the nearest thing within her reach to bash him over the head with, but before she could, he saw her coming and jumped out of the way.
On Halloween night, Richie and his sister headed to a bar on Second Avenue and mingled among the other freaks of New York's night hours. They danced and tossed back a few drinks and made a little lively talk amongst the night's undead; and with neither being Immortal they were completely unaware that there were two people in particular watching them at the bar that night. The two men who stayed close to the back and drew no attention to themselves watched the two young redheads and picked up every word of whatever conversation they had either amongst themselves or their friends. Later in the night, one of the two men went to a phone and called a third associate to let him know that all was going according to plan and awaited further instructions; which were that they were to keep close surveillance on the two subjects and wait until they received further word to make their next move.
The only concern on either teenager's mind was that tomorrow they'd have to go back to Seacouver and stay with Duncan for the next two weeks. They tried to push the idea to the backs of their minds for the rest of the evening and enjoy their last night in New York. Finally around midnight they left the bar and headed back to Connor's place, and once there, they stripped out of wigs, jewelry and funny looking clothes and back into their regular clothes and their normal frightening faces and relayed the night's events to Connor, who was smart enough to stay home that night.
"And now what do you two have planned?" he asked.
"Now we're commandeering the TV in the living room," Richelle told him, "There's a marathon of horror movies on tonight and it's always better on a bigger screen."
"Somehow I saw that one coming," Connor replied as he got up from the couch, "Well, goodnight."
"Goodnight," they called after him.
Connor stopped short of reaching his bedroom and doubled back to them and said, "I think I recall hearing that X the Unknown is going to be showing on channel 91."
"What's that?" Richie asked.
"Oh you haven't seen it?" Connor asked, then smirked as he added, "Good, neither has Richelle, I think you'll both find it very…stimulating." Then he turned on his heel and murmured a sinister laugh as he headed back to his bedroom.
"What was that about?" Richie asked.
"He's weird," Richelle answered simply, "Everybody knows those old movies aren't scary."
And about an hour later, Connor quietly passed through the living room towards the kitchen and saw the room was dark and the only light on was coming from the black and white picture on the TV screen, and he saw that Richie and Richelle weren't anywhere near the TV. He looked and saw the two of them backed up to one corner of the living room with their eyes wide open and their arms around each other's necks like a couple of children as the movie neared its climax. He didn't say a word to them but knowingly smiled like the Cheshire cat as he headed into the kitchen.
These living conditions weren't easy by any means, but he believed they were necessary; ever since they'd found out that Richie had a twin sister living in New York in much the same manner that he had been over on the other side of the country. Every month one twin would fly over to the other coast to spend two weeks with their sibling and whatever adults were around as well. He'd had the kids for almost all of October because they wanted to stay in New York for Halloween; but tomorrow morning they'd be getting on an airplane heading back to Seacouver, and he was sure within the hour they landed, he'd be getting a phone call from his cousin complaining about one thing or another that Richelle was doing wrong.
Connor had to laugh, somehow Duncan had managed to live for 400 years and he had walked away from many fights, battles, and wars, most times the victor, but somehow he had absolutely no idea what to do with an 18 year old girl staying at his home for 2 weeks every other month. He already had enough trouble figuring out what to do with Richie, and compared to his sister, Richie was no trouble at all.
Maybe it was because Connor had almost 100 years more on his cousin, or maybe he somehow managed to stay more in touch with the current younger generations, but for whatever reason, Connor never had any of the trouble with the two that Duncan did; and he especially couldn't figure out what Duncan's problem with Richelle was, he liked the girl, he'd taken her in, made her a member of the family, gave her $5,000 to survive on incase she ever decided to take off, and he'd taken her 3,000 miles to meet her brother and arranged to this joint custody of sorts so the two could be together and bond. Connor firmly believed at that time that it was in Richie's best interest to meet his sister because he knew the boy had a confusing enough time already in failing to find out where he came from. And he knew that Richie didn't have a lot of friends and was usually left to his own devices; at least this way he always had a partner in crime with him.
For a while Connor started to entertain the notion that maybe when he put Richie and his sister on that 747 tomorrow that he ought to go along with them; if nothing else it would keep Richelle from playing her naked-man-on-the-wing game with the other passengers and causing mass hysteria on board, he was getting tired of receiving phone calls from the airline about that. Also, he believed it would help if he was around to help keep WWIII from breaking out in Duncan and Tessa's loft; it was bad enough when both of them were there but Tessa was gone for two weeks, it'd be just the kids and Duncan, and that was a deadly combination, he was sure of it. There was also the fact that when they came to New York this last time, something had been wrong; something had happened back in Seacouver that neither they nor Duncan were willing to tell him about, but he was determined to find out before they left the next day.
In the morning Connor had come out and found a mess on the living room floor; empty soda cans knocked over, popcorn and pieces of potato chips everywhere, and Richie and his sister were asleep sprawled out in the midst of it all on pillows and blankets they'd bunched up in the middle of the floor. There was a long running theory that children always looked cute when they were asleep and quiet for the only time of the day, and the scene before him was no exception; he about hated to get them up, but he did and had them get dressed and get everything straightened up.
"Do we have to go back today?" Richelle asked as she folded up the blankets.
"You can't put this off forever," Connor told her, "And I might remind you that this was your idea."
"My idea was compromise or we'd disappear on you," she replied, "It was you and your idiot cousin's idea to play boomerang with us."
"I don't get you two," Connor said, "I know neither of you gets along well with Duncan, but this time when you came back, neither said one word about what happened to cause the problem this time."
"It's just more of the usual," Richelle finally admitted, "That moronic cousin of yours insults my intelligence."
"What now?" Connor asked.
"Okay, the last time we were there, we have a little fun and MacLeod gets all bent out of shape, bitching and moaning about us." And that was where the long story began.
Duncan came upstairs to find out just who it was who was playing with a paddleball and made the ball break off, bounce down the stairs, hit and knock over a priceless 14th century vase. But when he got to the head of the stairs, he was dumbstruck; the paddle in question rested in the hand of an alabaster statue of a naked man, Richie and Richelle were nowhere to be found. He finally caught them a short while later as they were trying to sneak out.
"Alright," he said as he marched them in to see the shattered pieces of the vase, "Who's responsible for this?"
"Well…" Richie started to say.
"You are," Richelle answered to Duncan.
"Well it's your own fault," she said, "If you hadn't left that vase there, it would never have gotten broken."
Duncan did a double take when he heard that. He grabbed them both by the arms and told them to clean up the mess.
"Or what?" Richelle asked, "You're going to take me over your knee and spank me? I bet you'd like that, probably gets you off." In her typical demeanor, Richelle was emphasizing the sleaze in every word as she said it.
"Don't think it's not a tempting idea," Duncan told her, "The way you're acting right now…"
"And how is that?" she asked.
"Like a couple of rotten kids," Duncan answered.
"Regardless of how we act, MacLeod," Richelle told him, "It would do you well to remember that Richie and I are both 18, meaning we could legally be tried as adults in your murder trial. And if you hit an adult, that qualifies as assault, which means either we can press charges against you, you go to jail and the business you and Tessa worked so hard on goes right out the window with your face plastered on the front page for battering; or, we can be expected to hit you back in self defense, and if you would so much as lay a hand on us, I'd bash your face in, then when it healed I'd bash it in again and again and again."
Duncan put his hands on his sides and hunched down as he asked her, "And where do you come off acting so high and mighty?"
"It comes with the territory, MacLeod," she replied as she mocked him by putting her hands on her sides and hunching down likewise, "What life did you have growing up? A mother and a father? A whole damn clan to belong to and they protected you? And you lived with them until you were 30 years old and killed in battle. Richie and I never had any of that, we've been on our own all our lives and we've survived…so if anybody's acted like a kid, it's you. And I might remind you, it looks very bad for you when a 400 year old man has to resort to beating a couple of adults to make them obey him like a sadistic dog trainer, because he's too mentally incompetent to communicate with them verbally."
Duncan was left awestruck by what she said and he didn't know how to respond to that, so Richelle took that opportunity to take a step closer to him and add, "Besides, any idiot over 10 knows that a paddleball's going to break and the ball's going to hit something, and you're 400 years old so what's your excuse for letting us have it in the first place?"
"Now I know why you're not looking forward to going back to Seacouver," Connor said, "How did Duncan respond to that?"
"About as you'd expect," Richelle answered, "He made a lot of threats but he lost the battle of wits through forfeit because he was unarmed to begin with."
"I see," Connor said.
"So do we still have to go back?" Richie asked.
"I'm afraid so but if you'd like, I'd be very happy to pay my cousin a visit," Connor said, "Maybe take him over my knee and give him a piece of my mind."
"Thanks for the offer, Connor, but we can handle ourselves," Richelle told him, "That's the whole point I was trying to make to that idiot Duncan. Richie and I are adults, we can take care of ourselves just fine."
"Okay, now," Connor said, getting both their attentions, "Are you going to behave yourself when you get back?"
"No," Richie answered.
"Good, give him hell!" he laughed, "Okay, have a good trip and I'll see you in two weeks."
"Right," Richelle turned around and saw her brother dressed in a regular pair of blue jeans, his red boots, and a stars and stripes T-shirt he'd gotten at one of the shops there.
"What is it?" Richie asked, not understanding why she was staring at him.
"Take that thing off!" she told him as she went over to him, "What're you trying to do, get us killed?"
"Ow!" Richie replied when she hit him over the head, "What'd I do?"
"Take off that shirt!" Richelle told him, "If Iranian terrorists hijack our plane we're going to be the first people whose brains they blow out!" she hit him again for good measure, "Every idiot knows you don't wear anything political or patriotic on an airplane because those are the first people they kill! Where're your brains? Combat and survival, Richie, don't you know anything about that?"
"Alright that's enough out of you," Connor said as he came up behind Richelle and grabbed her, "Leave him alone, Richie go change your shirt before you leave."
"Is what she said true?" Richie asked, "Would they kill us just for that if we got hijacked?"
Connor nodded his head in answer.
"Rough airline," Richie murmured.
As Richie and Richelle walked to the airport, they had no idea that they were being followed; nor did they have any idea that their stalker made a phone call to his associates again to report that everything was going as planned and that they would be leaving on the 9:45 to Seacouver. They didn't know anything about that. They went to the airport, went through the metal detector, carried their bags onboard with them and took a couple of seats away from the window. Both were nervous about flying so even before the plane took off they engaged in conversation about anything and everything they could think of to take their minds off the flight.
"You're lying," Richie said as they sat down.
"I am telling you, Richie," she said, "Somewhere out there is an old Disney cartoon with Donald Duck as a Nazi, you ask Connor when we land, he'll tell you, he was there when it came out. Everywhere you look it's swastikas and 'Heil Hitler! Heil Hirohito! Heil Mussolini!'"
Richelle leaned in closer to Richie and told him, "Now remember, if the plane gets hijacked, act sick, don't overdo it but act like you gotta get off the plane or you'll die, the terrorists might let us get off if they believe it."
"Is that true?" Richie asked.
Richelle nodded her head, "Oddly enough, most terrorists can be very sympathetic towards ill people, remember the hijackings in '71?"
"I wasn't alive then," Richie reminded her, "Neither were you."
"Well you remember," she said, "Before they blew the planes up they got the hostages off, even carried some of them down the stairs."
"Oh yeah?" Richie asked, "Where'd you hear that from?"
"From Connor, he told me a lot about that kind of stuff," Richelle said, "Like, if somebody ever sets off a grenade, what you want to do is throw yourself on the ground as far away from it as possible, cover your head and keep your legs together."
"How come?" Richie asked.
"My guess is to avoid having to pick pieces of Shrapnel out of your ass for two weeks," she said, "Assuming you still have one after the blast."
"Life with you is never boring," Richie dryly commented as he looked over towards the window and saw they were starting to move.
What Richie and Richelle might have suspected but didn't know was that after they had left, Connor had placed a very long distance call to Duncan and gave him a piece of his mind that lasted for half an hour; concluding with the fact that were it possible, Connor would crawl through the phone lines and give the last piece of his mind to Duncan in person.
"And if I hear one word from either of them about you acting like the ass you are," Connor finished, "I'm going to come over there and kick it up to your teeth. Do you hear me alright over there, you stupid haggis?"
"I hear you!" Duncan replied dryly, "But I don't understand how it is every time something happens here, I'm always wrong, but somehow it seems I'm always the bad guy around here."
"Well if you're looking for an argument you better find a new topic," Connor told him.
"Connor, you've known me for over 300 years," Duncan said, "Why are you taking this girl's side?"
"Because I happen to think she's right, if what she said is true and you haven't denied it," Connor pointed out, "You have been acting like an ass to them, and her especially, why is that?"
"I can't explain it because she apparently doesn't do the same stuff over there with you that she does here with me," Duncan said, "When we agreed to keep these two together, you said she'd stop all this and get off my case, well she hasn't."
"And have you gotten off of hers?" Connor replied.
Duncan ignored his cousin's last comment and said in his own defense, "They keep pointing out that they're both 18, well it's time they started acting like it instead of like a couple of spoiled brats."
"Look who's the big fat pot calling the kettle black," Connor said.
"Everything is a game to Richelle, she doesn't take anything seriously, at this rate she's going to get herself killed and take Richie down with her, I'm only looking after their best interests."
"So long as it coincides with your idea of what perfect children are," Connor retorted, "I know you've never had any before, neither have I, but it's high time you figure out that those two are going to do what they want to, they're like people that way, and you can't stop it from happening, no matter how much you yell and threaten them or even if you try beating them into submission."
"This isn't going to end until one of us is dead, is it?" Duncan asked.
"Not from where I'm standing," Connor told him, "Now when that plane comes in I want you to be on your best behavior, do you hear me?"
Six hours later the plane landed at the Seacouver airport and Richie and his sister collected their carry-ons and followed everybody else off the plane. What they were unaware of was that another plane had landed in the same place only a few minutes before their own did. Contact was made again and an order was given to watch the two youths and wait until they returned to the antique shop to attack. The two men remained inconspicuous and watched as the two redheads walked through the labyrinth which was the airport's interior until they finally met with MacLeod who was waiting for them.
"Well Richie, how was New York?" he asked.
"It was great," he said, "We had a good time."
"We won first prize at the costume contest last night," Richelle added, not that she thought MacLeod would pay any attention, and as expected, Duncan didn't say anything to her.
"So where's Tess?" Richie asked innocently.
"She's in Paris for the next two weeks seeing relatives," Duncan answered as they headed out to the Thunderbird.
"So for the next two weeks it's just going to be us three?" Richelle asked, and dryly added, "Whoopee."
When they got outside and found the car, Richie and his sister climbed over the side and sat in the back as Duncan drove them back to the antique shop. Richie and Richelle had been too busy getting reacquainted with the sights of Seacouver, and Duncan hadn't noticed either, that the black van had followed behind them all the way from the airport and parked half a block behind them when they reached the store.
"So what's for dinner?" Richelle asked as they headed in through the back door.
"It's not even 4 o' clock yet," Duncan told her.
"Alright then, what's for lunch?" she asked.
"Didn't they serve lunch on the plane?" Duncan asked Richie.
"Yeah, but we couldn't eat it because they served fish," Richie said, "And she went on the whole flight about food poisoning, got everybody nervous."
Duncan started to respond but stopped when he felt a quickening approaching. He turned and looked to the back door and told the twins, "Get upstairs."
"What is it?" Richie asked.
Duncan didn't answer, he grabbed his katana and headed towards the back, and Richie and Richelle followed after him.
They stopped behind him and saw what he saw; two men wearing black clothes and hooded masks had walked into the shop, neither had swords drawn but it was obvious they were Immortals.
"What do you want?" Duncan asked.
One of the men drew out a gun and shot MacLeod as an answer. Duncan fell back on the floor and the man shot him again; and Richie saw this and felt his bones turn to jelly and his feet became glued to the floor, he couldn't move. Richelle saw the other man take something out of his pocket and saw it was a grenade, he removed the pin and tossed it at them. She grabbed Richie and they both threw themselves on the floor over by the wall and Richie remembered what Richelle had told him; he covered his head with his arms and kept his legs together and winced as he anticipated the explosion.
Instead of the whole room blowing up, two small explosions emitted from the grenade which were just a couple of small flashes and a lot of smoke; but Richie and Richelle were both blinded for five seconds and felt their ears close up on them. The time they were incapacitated was long enough for the two men to grab them up and drag them out of the shop; but before they left, one of the men left a note on MacLeod's chest for him to find when he revived, reading simply: You know the rules, no cops or they both die.