The Chieftain's Daughter

Mary Ellen

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DISCLAIMER : Joe Dawson, Duncan MacLeod and Methos belong to Davis-Panzer Productions. Richie Ryan used to belong to them. He belongs to his fans now. Fiona MacDonald belongs to me. All characters are free to return to their original owners, but they refuse to go, so I guess I'm stuck with them or now. Please do not repost this story without asking me first. Direct all comments to me. I want to thank Richard Ruth for being a long suffering and encouraging beta-reader for all the Fiona stories.

Absolutely no permission is granted to use this story in whole or in part in another piece of writing.

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Although he sensed the presence of another Immortal, Richie continued his workout. Mac was due back at the dojo at any moment. Richie heard the outer door open and close. When no greeting came from his friend and mentor, Richie quickly turned toward the dojo entrance. He had been foolish to ignore another Immortal's approach. A mistake like that could cost him his head.

A woman stood just inside the wooden doorway. Richie thought she was kind of ordinary. Attractive, in a way, but not sexy or drop-dead beautiful like Amanda.

"Can I help you?" he asked when he realized the woman wasn't going to speak first. There was a long pause before she answered him.

"I'm looking for Duncan MacLeod."

"What else is new?" he muttered.

Richie frowned. She didn't seem dangerous, but looks could be deceiving -- especially where Immortals were concerned. He picked up his towel and draped it around his neck to give him some time to think. He moved toward the woman in his normal quick, bouncy pace. She took a step backward, so he stopped.

"I'm Richie Ryan. I won't hurt you. Mac's not here right now. Do you want to wait? I expect him any minute."

"Maybe I should."

Richie thought she sounded like she wanted to run, not stay. He smiled and walked toward her slowly. She didn't back away this time.

"Why don't you wait in Mac's office? It's more comfortable in there. He should be back real soon."

She moved toward the back of the dojo more quickly than Richie expected. He noticed she avoided walking too close to the windows. Richie shrugged and went back to his workout, although he remained acutely aware of the Immortal sitting in the office with the lights off.

It seemed like an eternity, but it was actually more like fifteen minutes later when Richie sensed other Immortals. This time he stopped his workout immediately, although he could already hear Mac debating something with Methos as they approached the dojo's entrance. He wondered if the other man's unexpected presence would interfere with whatever the woman wanted. They greeted Richie between barbed remarks.

"Mac, there's someone --"

Richie hesitated as Mac and Methos stopped talking and stood staring at the woman now positioned in the office doorway.

"Hello, Duncan."

At first, MacLeod's expression seemed happy and surprised. Richie expected Mac to move toward the woman and hug her. Instead, his friend's expression hardened suddenly.

"What do you want?" he asked harshly. "Go back to Holy Ground."

MacLeod abruptly walked into the old freight elevator, closed the gate and started it on its noisy way up to his apartment.

"I need your help," the woman said. She seemed about to cry. Uncertain what to do, Richie looked at Methos. Methos looked from Richie to the elevator back to Richie and shrugged. Both men realized MacLeod couldn't have heard her over the noise of the elevator.

"Hi, I'm Adam Pierson," Methos said cheerfully as he walked toward the woman, "and you look like you could use a drink. I know just the place."

To Richie's surprise, the woman did not back away from Methos. As he left the dojo with her, Methos nodded toward the elevator. Richie rolled his eyes. As usual, Methos took the easy way out by taking care of the distraught woman. Richie was left with the angry Scot upstairs.

Opting to take the stairs up, Richie tried to think of what to say to Mac. Duncan turned and looked at Richie as he entered the loft.

"Is she gone?"

"Methos took her to Joe's for a drink. What was that about Mac?"

Duncan got himself bottled water from the refrigerator, ignoring Richie's puzzled expression.

"None of your business, Richie."

"Wow. I hope you never treat me that way if I ever need your help."

Richie could see Mac's reflection in the window. Mac had that weird far-away look, like he was remembering something from long ago.

Duncan stared out the window overlooking the nearby rail yards. If Fiona said anything about needing help, he didn't hear her. He was sorry he had snapped at her. It was just the surprise of seeing her again without warning. He wasn't even aware that she knew where he was. There was only one way she could have found out.

****

Duncan and Connor had gotten very drunk celebrating the former's 200th birthday. The two drunken Scots were currently stumbling around Connor's London house looking for additional alcohol to consume. Duncan unexpectedly found some very feminine clothing in a drawer in Connor's bedroom.

"Who belongs to this?" he asked, waving underwear in front of Connor.

"Ah, Fiona left some of her things here when she moved out."

Connor tried to snatch the garment away from Duncan. Duncan kept it from Connor's grasp and stood fondling it thoughtfully.

"Fiona's a fine lass."

"Yes, a fine Highland lass," Connor agreed.

Something Connor had just said managed to cut its way through all the drink Duncan had consumed. Part of him suddenly became very sober and very angry. Duncan unexpectedly punched Connor squarely in the face. Connor staggered back.

"What's wrong with you?" Connor asked, wiping blood from his nose.

"Fiona lived with you? You bedded her?"

"She doesn't belong to you, Duncan."

Duncan tried to punch his kinsman again, but Connor ducked. The momentum of his swing caused Duncan to fall. Connor laughed drunkenly as Duncan struggled to stand up again.

"You wouldn't let us get married. It was you stopped us."

Connor became extremely serious.

"Duncan, that was at least a century and an half ago. Fiona's been married and widowed since then. You went to the wedding."

"Aye," Duncan said, but that was different. She had married a mortal. The man died over 40 years earlier. Connor wasn't some mortal stranger. He was Duncan's teacher and kinsman. Someone Duncan trusted. Now it seemed to Duncan that Connor discouraged their marriage plans to pursue Fiona himself. He doubted Connor's warnings about the difficulties married Immortals faced.

Since that time, Duncan had been unable to completely reconcile his feelings about the Immortal triangle he seemed to be part of. His reaction had become more complicated when he discovered the relationship had been going on for nearly 80 years before he found out.

****

MacLeod's thoughts snapped back to the present. He'd seen both Fiona and Connor since finding out that they were lovers. It was impossible for him to abandon either of them. They were the only link to his Highland past. He'd occasionally lived with Fiona since the revelation at Connor's. Her attitude towards him never changed. She enjoyed playing Mrs. Duncan MacLeod. When they were together, Connor didn't exist.

The image of Fiona standing in the office doorway haunted him. She seemed almost timid. MacLeod smiled. Timid wasn't a word he'd ever think of applying to Fiona MacDonald. Like the MacLeods, her first death had been the result of wounds received in battle. She was a Chieftain's daughter raised to be a Chieftain's wife and the mother of his sons. She would have married someone exactly like himself . . . or his kinsman Connor.

MacLeod shook his head. Something was wrong. Fiona was off Holy Ground and she seemed very frightened. It bothered him that Richie said she asked for help. The noise from the elevator must have drowned out her request. MacLeod frowned. Fiona had come to him for help and he had sent her away. He felt guilty. She would never treat him that way.

He could feel Richie staring at him. He turned back towards the younger man.

"C'mon, Richie. We're going to Joe's."

Mystified, Richie followed his mentor onto the elevator. He had been tempted to go to Joe's by himself and offer his assistance to the strange woman. He had no clue who she was or why Mac had been so harsh with her. MacLeod rarely treated women that way. At least, Mac wanted to go after her now.

Richie was curious about the Immortal woman. He was sorry he hadn't spoken to her while she sat in Mac's office, but he tended to steer clear of Mac's friends. Most of them seemed to be more interested in his head than his friendship.

****

On the way to Joe Dawson's bar, Methos tried to make conversation with his companion without much success. The bar was empty except for its owner. Joe looked at Methos questioningly when the pair entered. The woman asked for the restroom. Joe pointed the way and she wandered off in the indicated direction.

Methos took two chairs off of a table and set them on the floor. He slumped into one of them. Trying to draw the other Immortal out had been exhausting.

"Very interesting company you keep," Joe said, coming toward Methos.

"A friend of MacLeod's or something."

"Or something. You don't know who she is? I'm surprised you haven't run across her in the Chronicles."

"Why? Who is she aside from someone MacLeod doesn't want to see?"

"Mac doesn't want to see her? Hoo, very interesting."

"Who is she, Joe?"

"Fiona MacDonald. Daughter of a Chieftain of another Clan. About the same age as MacLeod. They must have known each other before they became Immortal, but we can't prove it. It just makes sense. She owns a place on Holy Ground. About ten years ago she retreated to it permanently. She just never goes anywhere. After a few years, her Watcher was reassigned to research. If she does show up somewhere, someone else's Watcher reports on her."

****

In the privacy of the ladies' room, Fiona MacDonald allowed herself to shed a few bitter tears. There were only two Immortals she truly trusted and one of them had just refused to have anything to do with her. Duncan's behavior puzzled her. He never treated her like that before. Recent events had been confusing enough. She didn't need Duncan to add to her uncertainty.

She'd left Holy Ground to attend the funeral of the mortal widow of an Immortal friend. Although they remained in touch, she hadn't seen Gail in many years. Gail didn't know about Fiona's Immortality. Fiona thought it best if the mortal woman never found out. Mortals involved with Immortals could be exposed to unnecessary dangers. Fiona shook her head. Gail died under suspicious circumstances. The authorities suspected murder.

At Gail's funeral, a mortal man made threatening gestures at Fiona. He obviously knew about Immortals. The cutting motions he had made across his throat frightened her. She assumed he was Gail's killer and that the mortal woman's murder was a ruse to draw her out into the open. The thought terrified her. Holy Ground offered her no protection from a mortal. She had to find a safe place for herself. Immediately after the ceremony, Fiona fled, knowing she could reach Duncan within a few hours.

Frowning, Fiona pictured the man again. He had an odd tattoo on his wrist. She still remembered the circular design. She'd seen a similar pattern long ago on a medallion that belonged to a mortal friend of the Immortal couple who acted as her mentors. She wondered if the designs were related somehow. It seemed unlikely.

Splashing water on her face, Fiona sighed. She had to go back out into the bar. The Immortal who called himself Adam Pierson seemed harmless enough. She didn't think he'd try to take her head. She was uncertain about the mortal. She surmised he knew Adam Pierson, but something about his expression indicated he also knew her. It troubled her. He could know the mortal who was pursuing her. She wished Duncan were here. She wouldn't feel so alone. If he had only listened to her earlier, she was certain he would have offered her his protection. She wondered if she could reach Connor before the sinister mortal found her again.

****

When she emerged into the bar a few minutes later, Joe and Methos watched the woman walk uncertainly towards them. She stopped suddenly and stared at them for an instant before bolting for the door just as Duncan and Richie were coming in. She ran into MacLeod so hard, he was forced to grab her by the arms.

"Where are you going?" MacLeod asked.

Her reply shocked everyone. Fortunately, no outsiders were in the bar to hear her words.

"Take my head, Duncan."

MacLeod frowned. Over 250 years earlier, she was living as his wife when Connor had arrived to visit them. During the elder MacLeod's visit, she had expressed her belief that she would not survive The Gathering. She asked the men to promise her that one of them would take her head before The Gathering began. She hoped her Quickening would help one of them win The Prize. Both Highlanders had been repulsed by the suggestion. At one point, Connor had become so angry that Duncan thought he might have to try to physically restrain his kinsman. MacLeod shook his head. He couldn't see why she would offer him her head now.

"Why should I do that?"

"They're trying to kill me!"

She glanced back at Methos and Joe. Duncan looked at them questioningly. They appeared as baffled as he was. Methos looked at Joe. He suddenly realized he could see Joe's Watcher tattoo. He looked down at his own wrist. His tattoo was also partially exposed.

"The tattoos," Methos said.

Richie looked at the woman's face and thought about all the terrified actresses he had seen in countless movies. Their expressions were obviously fake compared to the look in this woman's eyes. He saw Mac tighten his grip on the woman's arms. Richie made certain the door was closed behind him. After a gesture from Joe, Richie locked it.

"These are my friends. No one here will hurt you."

MacLeod led the woman to the chair Methos had set down for her earlier.

"Sit down," he said to her gently, followed by a firm "Stay put."

Richie walked slowly toward the table making certain to keep himself between the woman and the door. She sat looking down into her lap. MacLeod returned from behind the bar carrying a glass and a bottle of his favorite Scotch. Duncan poured some of the alcohol into the glass. Richie thought it strange that Mac would pour himself a drink. MacLeod handed the drink to the woman. She sniffed it and then drank it in one gulp. Richie was amazed. Mac was the only one he had ever seen drink Scotch that way. The one time Richie had tried it, he nearly choked, much to MacLeod's amusement. MacLeod took a chair down from another table and sat facing the woman. She was staring into her empty glass.

"Fiona, tell me what happened."

When he got no response, MacLeod sighed. His earlier reaction had obviously hurt her. He would have to regain her trust. He covered her hand with his.

"Fiona, why are you off Holy Ground? Why are you so frightened? I can't help you, if you won't tell me."

The woman murmured something in a language Richie didn't understand. Mac shook his head.

"No, I won't take your head. Joe and Me - Adam - won't hurt you," MacLeod said and paused. He glanced up at Richie. "Nobody here will. Just tell me what's wrong."

"Someone's after me."

"It's The Game, Fiona. You're off Holy Ground. You can still fight, can't you?'

She nodded.

"Connor sees to that."

MacLeod's expression darkened for a moment. Joe was intrigued.

"Then why are you afraid?"

"It's not one of us, Duncan. It's a mortal . . . with a tattoo like that."

Richie grabbed himself a chair. This was going to be interesting. After a moment's deliberation, Richie placed the chair between Fiona and the door. Joe pulled up a chair on the other side of the table. As he sat down, Joe shook his head in disbelief.

"Not one of my people."

Fiona slammed the glass down on the table so hard Richie thought it would shatter. There was a fierceness in her expression that Richie hadn't expected after her earlier terror. He glanced at the others. Both Joe and Methos were as startled as he was. Only MacLeod wasn't surprised. The Highlander was grinning as if he was amused.

MacLeod was relieved by Fiona's reaction. This was the Fiona he knew growing up in the Highlands. She was better at spitting than most of the boys. She wasn't afraid to climb a tree, either. Both skills seemed extremely important to children too young to be allowed unsupervised access to real weapons. The boys had convinced themselves that spitting and tree-climbing were indicators of future prowess in battle. Perhaps they hadn't been wrong. Fiona could fight along side any Highland man.

When they were children, a marriage between them had been discussed to bring peace to the Clans. Serious discussions began when they both came of age. Eventually, her father declined to agree to the arrangement and the hoped for peace was never actually achieved. MacLeod couldn't say he had loved her then, but a marriage between them would have been comfortable. Fiona had remained a friend and companion despite the shifting politics of the Clans. In a way, they knew more about each other than anyone else knew about either of them.

After his death and rebirth into Immortality, Fiona was the only one from any of the Clans to come looking for him. When they met, he had felt the vague sense of her own impending Immortality, although he hadn't understood it. Connor had explained it to him after she left. Duncan didn't know much about her first few years of Immortality. When they met again, all the restrictions of the Clans were behind them. They became lovers, set up house together and talked about marrying, but Connor discouraged them. They had remained close, seeing each other from time to time, much like Duncan and Amanda.

Much later, Duncan discovered her involvement with Connor. It was the only thing he could not completely forgive his kinsman and mentor. He and Connor both had keys to her house on Holy Ground. Duncan rarely used his, but he knew Connor drifted in and out of Fiona's life. In turn, Connor kept them informed about each other.

"Your people? Your people!? One of your people killed a friend of mine. A mortal friend," Fiona said angrily.

"Fiona," Duncan said gently, "Joe's not responsible for your friend's death. Tell us what happened."

"About a month ago, someone shot at me while I was in the garden with my dogs. I had no sense of one of us. Besides, what good would shooting me on Holy Ground do an Immortal? I was only grazed. The dogs and I were able to get into the house before any of us really got hurt."

MacLeod smiled. Fiona always had dogs. She seemed to have a great rapport with them. They loved her as much as she loved them.

Richie had a sudden flashback to the dojo and Fiona's avoidance of the windows. She sat in the dark for the same reason. She feared a mortal with a gun.

"What has that got to do with the Watchers?" Joe asked.

"Is that what you call yourselves?"

Duncan gave Fiona a quick history of the Watchers. She looked at Joe and Methos thoughtfully. Mac encouraged her to continue her story.

"Last week, the mortal widow of an Immortal friend of mine died under mysterious circumstances. The police are calling it homicide. On my way to her funeral, someone tried to run me off the road."

Fiona paused. Duncan looked at Joe. He shrugged.

"So that's why you're off Holy Ground. Did the woman know you're Immortal?" Duncan prodded.

Fiona shook her head.

"Her husband did, of course, and she knew about him, but we never told her about me. I just kept my distance after a while."

MacLeod understood immediately. It was easier to hide your Immortality if a mortal didn't see that you weren't aging. Letters and phone calls could maintain a friendship without revealing potentially dangerous secrets.

"How does this tie into the Watchers?" Methos asked impatiently.

Fiona narrowed her eyes at him wary of the Immortal who also happened to be a Watcher.

"A man at the funeral -- with a tattoo like that -- threatened me with a cutting motion across his throat. That's when I saw the tattoo. I know he's the one who killed Gail, but I can't prove it so I can't go to the police. That's why I came to you, Duncan. Holy Ground won't help me." Fiona paused. Talking about Gail's funeral reminded her of someone else. "I was sorry to hear about Tessa. I liked her very much."

Duncan nodded. He had forgotten that the two women had met long ago at Fiona's house. He had endured an awful lot of teasing from Tessa and Fiona once they warmed to each other. Fiona had made many of his favorite foods from the Highlands. Tessa's modern French palate hadn't appreciated the centuries old Scottish recipes which, of course, had led to her being teased by Duncan and Fiona. He remembered laughing during most of that visit. It had been an enjoyable break from the Game. Afterward, Fiona and Tessa exchanged occasional letters, but Duncan hadn't visited or spoken to her since then. Fiona knew about the dojo, too. Connor really did keep her well informed.

"Look," Methos said, breaking the silence. "No one here is going to hurt you. You have our word."

"What did this guy look like?" Joe asked. "I know most of the Watchers in this area. Maybe I can find out who he is."

Fiona gave him a quick description. Joe frowned. There were many possibilities.

"You can stay with me," Duncan said softly. "I'm sorry I was so rude to you earlier. I should have listened to you first. You would have listened to me."

Fiona smiled slightly. This was the Duncan MacLeod she expected to meet at the dojo. Richie liked her smile. When she smiled, she didn't seem like someone who would try to take his head.

"You can't still be angry, Duncan. Not after all this time."

MacLeod didn't answer her. They had plenty of time to discuss the past. Trying to ignore the smirking faces of his friends, MacLeod convinced Fiona to leave Joe's. Richie insisted on going back with them, since he had left most of his stuff at the dojo and his bike was still parked behind it. At first Duncan was annoyed by Richie presence, but later thought it might be for the best, considering Fiona's fear of being killed. There probably was safety in numbers.

During the ride, Mac tried to think of something to say to Fiona. He came up blank. Fortunately, Richie was babbling about everything and anything. Although Richie hadn't behaved this way in a long time, Mac recognized the pattern. Richie was uneasy. The younger man often covered his nervousness with chatter. Fiona responded to the younger man's remarks cautiously. MacLeod knew she was measuring Richie.

When she laughed at one of his jokes, Richie made another. Pleased that Fiona laughed again, Richie continued to try to entertain her. Duncan could see Fiona relaxing under Richie's casual companionship. He was suddenly sorry he hadn't taken Richie to Fiona's house on Holy Ground. The younger man might have benefited from her unquestioning friendship. Life and Quickenings had made Richie increasingly angry and bitter. Mac frowned. He had only added to the hardening of Richie's attitude. Fiona could do a lot to soften the younger man's outlook. Richie already seemed mellower in her presence. MacLeod laughed to himself. Richie's attitude would soften or Fiona was likely to make him suffer until it did.

They said goodbye to Richie in the dojo. Fiona unexpectedly approached Richie as he shoved some of his possessions into his duffel bag. She said good night to him softly before stroking his hair affectionately and kissing him briefly. Richie's stunned expression made Mac grin. Fiona had that effect on men. Mac watched Richie open and close his mouth a few times, but no sound came out. MacLeod's grin widened. He had seen her fluster royalty. A street kid must be easy by comparison.

For her own part, Fiona seemed unaware of the effect she had had on Richie. She came back to Duncan and slipped her hand into his. The elder Immortals took the elevator to Duncan's loft. It was fortunate that Amanda was not in residence. Fiona would be hard to explain. Once in the loft, Duncan had to squash the temptation to run downstairs and ask Richie to stay for dinner. The younger man's presence might ease his feeling of awkwardness. He hadn't been alone with Fiona for nearly 50 years. During most of that time, she had been married to a mortal and he had been with Tessa.

Duncan poured them each a glass of wine. Fiona sat watching Duncan prepare dinner for them after he firmly refused her offers of help. Later, she lit the candles as Duncan put the food on the counter. When Duncan sat down, Fiona refilled their glasses.

They ate quietly, discussing bits and pieces of their lives. For a long time, Fiona had lived a life much like Duncan's. Her latest husband, Phillip, had been killed in a car crash. Actually, they had both been killed in the accident, but by the time rescue workers came upon the scene, Fiona looked like the miracle survivor. With Phillip's death, Fiona retreated to her house on Holy Ground. Duncan studied Fiona. She seemed much calmer than she had at Joe's.

"I'm sorry about earlier."

"You've said that already. How can you still be angry about me and Connor? You never questioned my relationship with anyone else -- mortal or Immortal. Why Connor?"

Duncan shrugged. He didn't know how to verbalize his feelings. It was irrational, but he couldn't stop feeling betrayed by his kinsman and near-fiancee. Because Connor was also a Chieftain's son, the elder Highlander seemed to be his only real rival for the affections of a Chieftain's daughter. Although he loved them both, Duncan couldn't quite forgive them for loving each other.

"I've always loved you, Duncan. I thought you knew that."

Duncan got that uncomfortable feeling he used to get when he knew Fiona as a child. She seemed able to read his mind. He nodded. He had always known she cared for him a great deal.

"Is that why you've avoided me for so long? When . . . when Connor told me about Tessa, I expected you to show up on my doorstep, but you never did."

Duncan didn't know what to say to her. He had thought of the big house on Holy Ground, but after the trauma of Tessa's death, he didn't want to walk in on Fiona and Connor. He felt foolish about it now. He would have been received with sympathy and concern. Fiona might have made the transition easier for Richie as well.

Fiona kissed him gently on the cheek. Duncan suddenly felt like they were meeting for the first time as Immortals. Pulling her closer to him, he was content to hold her. She seemed relaxed in his arms. He had to push down thoughts of her and Connor.

Later, she lay dozing next to him. He toyed with a piece of her hair. He hadn't expected to make love to her. They'd been apart a long time. He had planned on sleeping on the couch. Stroking her hair, he kissed her forehead gently. Sighing, she looked at him sleepily.

"Come home with me, Duncan. It's Holy Ground. We'll be safe there. You can stay as long as you like."

"What about Connor?"

Duncan was immediately sorry he had spoken. Fiona frowned at him.

"What about Amanda?"

She had met up with Amanda a few times. It wasn't that she didn't like Amanda, but the woman was a little too light-fingered for Fiona's taste.

"Ouch," he said playfully. Connor obviously told her more than he expected. Fiona moved closer to him.

"Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, I want you to promise you will come visit me. You do still have your key, don't you?"

"Of course."

"Bring your student. I like him. Reminds me of you when you were first banished."

Puzzled by the comparison between himself and Richie, Duncan waited for her to continue. Fiona remained silent. He was almost convinced she had fallen asleep when she spoke again.

"I had such trouble getting away from everyone to look for you. There were such stories! I didn't believe a word of them until I saw you and Connor. I could feel there was something different about both of you -- and about me."

She shrugged. Duncan kissed her again. The 50 years they had been apart seemed to collapse into a few hours. He wondered why he had let his anger and jealousy keep them apart. He was only punishing himself by staying away from her.

"I'm sorry I've been such a fool. I should have told you about Tessa myself."

"Stop being sorry, Duncan. I --"

Whatever Fiona was about to say was cut off by the sound of breaking glass as a bullet crashed through one of the loft windows. Duncan pulled a panicked Fiona back down to the safety of the bed. He relaxed after a few moments of silence. There was only one reason to fire a shot into the dark, quiet apartment. The shot was not intended to wound or kill, but to terrify.

****

Richie lay awake thinking about Fiona. He had been unable to move after she kissed him. He'd just stood there staring at the empty elevator shaft. Fiona's open affection in front of Mac startled him. Every time Fiona mentioned Connor MacLeod, Mac's expression darkened. Richie assumed his mentor's problem was jealousy, but Mac appeared amused by the kiss Fiona gave him.

Finally, he'd forced himself to stuff the rest of his possessions into his bag. He wanted to go up to the loft and talk to the Immortal woman, but rejected the impulse as a bad idea. Despite his earlier show of amusement, Mac wouldn't tolerate being disturbed.

Richie rolled over. Whenever Amanda came that close to him, she was trying to get him to say or do something. Fiona didn't seem to want anything. Richie was puzzled. He'd just met Fiona and knew next to nothing about her, but he couldn't wait to see her again. He was glad Mac had gone after her. He didn't understand why Mac had let her go in the first place. She seemed nice. He closed his eyes and remembered the kiss she'd given him. It was just as overwhelming in retrospect.

****

In an office in the back of the bar, Joe sat looking through Watcher employee profiles. Any of the men could have been the one Fiona described. He rubbed his eyes tiredly. This could be impossible. He decided to take a break and go into the bar. Perhaps the music and activity would clear his head. Joe was happy to see the place was fairly busy. He began helping out behind the bar, serving drinks and chatting with customers.

"How's it going, Joe?"

Joe looked up from the drink he was pouring to see Robert Walsh, a Watcher researcher.

"Not bad, Bob. Like the place?"

"Very nice . . . I heard Fiona's off Holy Ground."

Joe tried not to react. It never occurred to him that Walsh was Fiona's former Watcher. He couldn't imagine how the man could have found out about Fiona so quickly. He doubted Methos would have filed a report about her appearance. Even if he had, there wasn't really enough time for the report to circulate very far. Of course, someone could have reported her earlier through a channel other than himself. Joe shrugged.

"Maybe I heard wrong. I miss the field sometimes. I just thought if it were true, I might be assigned to her again."

"I don't know, Bob. I haven't heard anything about her," Joe said. Technically, he wasn't lying to Walsh. Fiona had been in the bar. Joe had spoken to her. He hadn't heard that she was off Holy Ground.

Walsh seemed content with Joe's response. He ordered a drink and passed some time discussing research with Joe. After Walsh left, the older man retreated to his office to read Walsh's employment profile. Walsh matched Fiona's description and suddenly showed up in the same city as his former ssignment. Joe got the distinct feeling it wasn't a coincidence.

****

The conversation at Joe's had peaked Methos' curiosity. It was fortunate for him that he could access the Watchers' archives any time of day or night. First, he skimmed Duncan's record for mention of Fiona. He found a few scattered references. Apparently, Fiona and Duncan lived together from time to time during the first 200 years of their Immortality. The contact between them became more sporadic after that, but didn't stop completely. The last mention of Fiona was a visit by Duncan and Tessa to her house on Holy Ground after the death of Fiona's mortal husband.

Methos turned his attention to the records on Connor MacLeod. Methos knew Connor was Duncan's kinsman and teacher. He had been puzzled both by Fiona's mention of the elder MacLeod and Duncan's reaction to it. Methos read the reports quickly, slowing down only when Duncan began to be mentioned. Suddenly, Fiona's name caught his eye. She was linked romantically to both MacLeods. Well, Methos had guessed that much from Duncan's reaction at Joe's. It appeared that Fiona and Connor also lived together occasionally.

Fiona's records indicated she had been married a few times to mortals. The only consistent Immortal companions she seemed to have were the MacLeods. The first of their kind to come into contact with her after she became Immortal was Connor MacLeod. He gave her some simple training before turning her over to an Immortal couple. They taught her to defend herself. She also learned social graces and some reading and writing from the pair. After she left them, she was eventually reunited with Duncan MacLeod. Other Immortals had been seen visiting her at her house, but only Connor MacLeod appeared to have a key.

****

Duncan put his arm around a trembling Fiona. She curled into him. She usually did that when she felt insecure. Although he didn't quite understand her fear, she was his first concern. He'd repair the damage to the window in the morning.

"Now do you believe me?" she whispered.

Pulling her closer, he kissed her forehead.

"I always believed you. Don't be afraid. Go to sleep now."

Eventually Fiona did fall asleep, but Duncan lay awake thinking. He hoped Joe would find an answer in the Watcher files. Tomorrow, he would let Joe know about the shooting. For now, it was probably best to get some sleep himself.

****

Richie arrived at the dojo early the next morning. After spending some time on the road, he had resumed his old job managing the dojo for Mac. As he unlocked the front door, he heard the familiar sound of clashing swords. Inside, Duncan and Fiona were fighting. Richie watched them carefully. Duncan, taller and stronger, did not seem to have an advantage over his opponent. With a few quick movements, Fiona had Duncan pinned to the wall. Her sword was at his neck. She had a fiendish look in her eyes. Richie was stunned. Had she been planning this all along? Was her story a ruse to trick Duncan into letting his guard down long enough to take his head?

"Relax, Richie," Mac said. He looked at Fiona. "You, too."

Fiona grinned mischievously before putting up her sword.

"Here, Richie, try your luck against this Highland lass."

As Fiona laughed, Richie hesitated about accepting Mac's suggestion. Although he had defeated other Immortals, training was different. Fiona was quite possibly too good for him. Mac hadn't been going easy on her. She turned on him brandishing her sword. Without warning, she lunged at him. Richie had to draw his sword quickly to fend her off.

"Always be ready, Richie," she said, laughing. "Don't hesitate when challenged."

Duncan grinned. Fiona's attack and advice were pure Connor. MacLeod watched them fighting. He was pleased with Richie's ability against Fiona's superior skills. He could see Connor's touch in her technique. Fiona was backing Richie toward the same place she had just pinned Duncan, using the exact same moves. Richie surrendered graciously.

"Connor has kept you in practice. You fight like him. Not very graceful, but effective."

Thinking about Duncan's remark, Fiona looked at Richie. She still had him pinned to the wall with her sword against his neck. She tilted her head at Duncan.

"Graceful and effective enough to beat both of you."

Fiona laughed again as she withdrew her blade from Richie's neck.

"Ah, Connor thinks he has to ambush me constantly. I never know when he'll appear, sword drawn. When he's around, I'm glad I'm on Holy Ground. He's truly relentless. Once he jumped out of the pantry at me while I was preparing dinner. I nearly cut my thumb off."

Richie suddenly thought of the Inspector Clouseau movies and the demented houseboy Kato who constantly launched surprise attacks on his boss. Duncan was looking at Fiona thoughtfully.

"Connor's right. He's worried about you living on Holy Ground and forgetting who and what you are."

Fiona shrugged and began gathering her things. Richie thought Fiona fought somewhat like Mac, but that was easily explained if Connor had taught both of them. Richie wondered if he would end up fighting like Duncan and if other Immortals would be able to recognize his teacher's style in him.

"I need a shower," Fiona said with a note of disgust in her voice. "I'm hungry, too."

"You shower. I'll make breakfast," Duncan replied, following her to the elevator. "Want some, Richie?"

Richie glanced around the dojo. It was early and there wasn't much to do before he had to open the place. He got on the elevator and helped Mac pull down the gate. When they got up to the loft, the first thing Richie noticed was the patched broken window. Duncan followed his gaze. Their eyes met. Duncan shook his head vigorously. Fiona went into the bathroom and closed the door. When they heard the shower running, Duncan nodded toward the window.

"Someone shot at us last night."

"So there is someone after Fiona. Did you see anyone?"

"I didn't get up to look. Fiona was so frightened you would have thought she was mortal."

"Death is death, Mac. If this Watcher guy is really trying to behead her, she has every reason to be afraid."

Duncan nodded in agreement. Dying from a bullet wound was nothing to an Immortal, but the shot proved the man was following Fiona. It would be much too easy to take the head of an Immortal incapacitated by death. MacLeod stopped pondering the implications. The shower had been shut off and he hadn't even started breakfast. Richie poured orange juice for each of them as Duncan started the coffee. Duncan was scrambling eggs when Fiona emerged from the bathroom wrapped in his bathrobe. She made herself comfortable at the counter.

"So, Richie," Fiona said between sips of orange juice, "did Duncan tell you how the window got broken?"

"Yeah. You okay?"

"I'm an Immortal, Richie."

"That's not what I meant."

Fiona shrugged. Duncan put a plate of eggs and toast in front of her. She began eating immediately. Duncan gave Richie his food and a warning look. Richie frowned. Mac seemed to be ignoring the issue.

"Can we go back to Joe's later? I want to see if he found out anything about the mortal who's trying to kill me."

"If you want."

Duncan was surprised at how relaxed Fiona sounded after her reaction last night. Richie noticed the change in her attitude as well.

"You sound pretty cool about all this, Fiona."

Duncan frowned at Richie. The last thing he wanted to do was pursue this with her. If she was getting herself under control, Duncan did not want to upset her again.

"I'm frightened out of my mind, Richie, but it won't help me to act that way. I've been in tight situations before. Of course, those usually involved one of us. Mortals aren't so different. There's just no Quickening."

Duncan whipped around to meet her gaze.

"You've killed mortals?" he said aghast.

"Only when I had to. If I have to kill this one to survive, I will. He killed one of his own. He's shot at me twice. I have no reason to believe that he'll just go away."

Her statement sounded reasonable to Richie. Duncan still seemed troubled. He didn't approve, but he had killed mortals to survive. He couldn't deny Fiona the same recourse. He worried about her. Sometimes, he wished she would just stay on Holy Ground.

Fiona finished her coffee and stood up. She walked across the loft and began rummaging through a backpack, but stopped suddenly.

"I have no clean clothes!"

Remembering the previous evening, Duncan smiled wickedly. Fiona looked at him impatiently. Richie wondered if he should find himself something to do downstairs.

"Got a clean T-shirt, Richie?"

"Yeah, Mac. In my gym bag. Downstairs."

"Get it. I think it'll fit Fiona better than anything of mine."

"Thanks, Richie," Fiona called after him. "On the way to Joe's, I'd like to stop and buy some clothes."

"Only if you have to," Duncan teased.

On his way downstairs, Richie heard the door to Mac's loft lock behind him. He also sensed another Immortal in the dojo. He cursed to himself. His sword was upstairs. Richie peeked around the corner to see a grinning Methos.

"Is MacLeod upstairs?"

Richie nodded, retrieving a T-shirt for Fiona.

"Is he alone?"

At that moment, they heard the elevator being locked in the up position.

"What do you think?" Richie asked, looking at the T-shirt in his hand. He would leave it on the loft's door knob. Mac would know where to find it. When he came back down to the dojo, Methos was gone. Alone, Richie began sweeping up. Immortal or not, sometimes he couldn't figure out the people he knew.

****

When Duncan and Fiona walked into Joe's, it was still fairly busy. Methos stood at the bar downing a beer and talking to Joe. Fiona sat down at an empty table. Duncan went to the bar to order drinks. When Mac started talking to Joe, Methos took Fiona's drink and brought it to her at the table. He thought it interesting that she was wearing the T-shirt he had seen Richie carrying in the dojo earlier. Somehow, it looked different on her. He smiled at her. She looked at him suspiciously.

"Adam, right?"

"That's me," Methos said.

"How can you be one of us and one of them."

"It's a long story. I'd much rather hear about your house on Holy Ground."

Fiona studied him a moment. She couldn't read him the way she could read Duncan, but his intent was obvious.

"You're looking for an invite."

"Perhaps."

"What are you up to . . . Adam?" MacLeod asked, returning to the table.

"Oh, he's trying to get me to invite him to my house."

"Well, I . . . um . . ."

MacLeod enjoyed seeing his friend uncomfortable, but he had better things to do.

"Joe's got a lead."

Fiona turned to him quickly. Duncan could see the fierceness in her eyes again. He almost wished Joe hadn't told him anything.

"What's the bastard's name and where can I find him?"

"Maybe you shouldn't tell her, Mac."

Fiona turned to see Joe standing behind her. She frowned deeply at him.

"He killed Gail. He's trying to kill me. I want him and I want him now."

"No," Joe said simply as he turned to walk away.

Duncan grabbed Fiona by the arm to keep her in her chair. She whirled toward him angrily.

"Calm down, Fiona. Let the mortals deal with him."

When Richie opened the door to Joe's, he immediately sensed other Immortals inside. He could see Duncan, Fiona and Methos sitting together at a table. They made an interesting group. Fiona and Duncan appeared to be arguing. Methos turned toward him as he came to the table to join them. Fiona smiled at Richie when he pulled up a chair. Richie greeted her before going to the bar to get himself a beer and find out why Joe looked so grouchy.

"You really do like Richie, don't you?"

"I told you he reminds me of you, except he isn't afraid to talk to me."

Duncan frowned. He had no idea what she meant.

"You keep avoiding discussing this Watcher who's after me."

Methos winced at the way she said Watcher. He saw Joe glance their way while talking to Richie. Richie was shaking his head. The crowd was thinning out and Joe's bartender was cleaning up behind the bar and getting ready to leave. Methos watched Richie and Joe return to the table together. Joe appeared to become increasingly unhappy the closer he got to Fiona. Richie placed a chair next to Fiona, but sat in the chair farthest from her. At that point, the only empty chair at the table was next to Fiona. Joe and Fiona looked at Richie angrily as Joe sat down. The last thing Fiona wanted was to be seated next to a Watcher. Joe had no desire to be so close to an Immortal whose current goal was to kill a Watcher. It was all Methos could do to keep from laughing. Fiona turned back to Duncan.

"You say Joe's your friend. If someone harmed him, wouldn't you want to find the person responsible?"

Duncan looked at Joe across the table. He couldn't disagree with Fiona. Joe's expression softened slightly. He knew how he would feel if MacLeod lost his head.

"I wouldn't rest until it was finished."

"Then give me a chance. I need to do this, Duncan."

Duncan frowned. She made it sound much too easy. He couldn't help her kill a mortal, no matter what the person had done. What he would do in similar circumstances was another story entirely. He shook his head. When Fiona stood up in disgust, a shot rang out. She staggered back a few steps before collapsing to the floor with blood pouring from a wound in her chest. Everyone at the table hit the floor. Until that moment, they hadn't realized they were the only ones left in the bar. Richie crawled to Fiona. She was dead, but he knew she would be back.

"Move away from her."

Richie looked up. There was a man just inside the door of the bar holding a gun in one hand and a sword in the other. Joe was pulling himself from the floor using his cane and the table for balance. Richie reached up to pull him back down, but Joe shook him off.

"Don't do this, Bob."

"You know this idiot?" Richie asked.

"Shut up or I'll shoot all of you."

"Just put the gun down," Joe said, ignoring both Richie and Walsh.

This was not turning out the way Robert Walsh had expected. He thought anyone with Fiona would scatter when they saw a man with a gun. Now, a fellow Watcher was challenging him. He decided he had waited too long for this opportunity to stop now. After it became clear that Fiona wasn't going to leave Holy Ground, Walsh had been reassigned to research. He considered it a demotion. He expected to climb through the Watcher ranks, but he had been passed over repeatedly. When he accidentally ran across Fiona's name during his research, it reopened all his old wounds. Initially, he hoped to draw her off Holy Ground so he could become her Watcher again. He abandoned that idea quickly. She seemed determined to remain on Holy Ground. Somehow killing her seemed the only way to resolve the situation.

Instead of putting the gun down, Walsh aimed it at Joe's chest. As he pulled the trigger, Duncan threw a chair at him. Although the shot went wild, Walsh managed to retain possession of the gun. Joe felt a tug at his pants leg. He looked down at Methos who gestured Joe to get down again. Joe shook his head.

"If you all move away from her, no one else will get hurt."

"Not a chance, Bob. I ain't movin'."

Walsh frowned at Joe. He didn't know the man very well, but he was a superior in the Watchers. He had recognized Pierson as a fellow researcher from the Watcher archives as soon as he saw him at the table. It didn't matter. He would also kill them if he had to. He thought the man who had thrown the chair might be Duncan MacLeod, an Immortal. He'd heard rumors that a friendship had developed between Dawson and his assignment. It troubled Walsh that he might have to shoot and behead two Immortals. The younger man with the reddish crewcut was unfamiliar to him. They were all unimportant. The only one who mattered was Fiona MacDonald. She was responsible for his fall from grace with the Watchers.

Richie crouched next to Fiona, trying to think of a way to protect her short of drawing his sword and risking getting shot. He had already had several unfortunate encounters with bullets and did not want to repeat the experience any time soon. Suddenly, he heard a gasp. Fiona was back. If he guessed correctly, she would be less than pleased at having been shot and killed. Personally, he never cared for the sensation. Fiona jerked back to consciousness.

"Stay down," he whispered, throwing himself on top of her.

"What do you think you're doing? Get off me."

"Sorry, I always throw myself on top of attractive women who are about to be killed. Call me old-fashioned."

Fiona continued to struggle with Richie, but he could see laughter in her eyes. He wasn't about to let her up. The demented Watcher would probably only shoot and kill her again. He tried to keep an eye on the action behind them. He didn't want a man with a sword and a gun to get too close to them.

Hearing Fiona's voice, Joe stepped out from behind the table so he was standing between Walsh and the Immortals on the floor behind him. He watched calmly as Walsh leveled the gun at him.

"Move."

Joe shook his head, thumping his cane on the floor for emphasis. There was no way he was going to let this man kill anyone -- especially in his bar. Suddenly, Duncan and Methos dashed out from under the table. Staying low, they managed to get close to Walsh, shortening his reaction time. Walsh tried to change his target from Joe to Duncan, but hit Methos instead. Hearing the shot, Richie ran towards the action. He saw a badly wounded Methos crawl behind the bar. Walsh's gun went off again as Duncan tackled him. The bullet shattered one of the light fixtures, sending a shower of sparks over them. When he hit the floor with MacLeod's weight on top of him, Walsh's weapons slipped from his hands. Richie kicked the gun and sword away from Walsh's grasp.

Richie turned around when he heard Fiona cursing. Joe was struggling to keep her away from Walsh. Joe tried to use his cane as a barricade, but she wrestled it away and swung it at him viciously. He lost his balance and fell. Duncan heard the ancient war cry emanating from Fiona. She probably didn't even realize she was making the sound. If she was remembering her own death and rebirth, she would be very dangerous.

Fiona raced across the room, swinging the cane wildly. Richie dove onto the bar to avoid being hit. As he did so, he got a glimpse of Methos' lifeless body behind the bar. Fiona hesitated after she hit Duncan in her effort to get to Walsh. It gave Richie a chance to take the cane away from her. He helped Joe up from the floor and returned the cane to its owner.

When Richie pulled the cane from Fiona's hands, she was left off balance. It was easy for Duncan to grasp her ankle and pull her to the floor. He was immediately sorry that he had. Crawling quickly across the floor, Fiona made a grab for the gun. Duncan pulled her away. If the police found Fiona's fingerprints on Walsh's weapon, it would seriously complicate matters. She managed to get the sword instead. Duncan ducked when Fiona swung it at Walsh who had gotten up from the floor. Heavy and badly balanced, the sword slipped from Fiona's grip and clattered to the floor. Duncan slid it to Richie. Now weaponless, Fiona connected a hard kick with the back of Walsh's knee, keeping him from escaping. Duncan pulled Walsh up from the floor and propelled him back to the table the Immortals had occupied earlier, forcing him into a chair.

"Why, you bastard? Why'd you kill Gail? Why do you want to kill me?" Fiona yelled, pounding Walsh with her fists. Duncan grabbed her by the arms. She stopped struggling when she saw the blood on Duncan's face.

"I was your Watcher. They demoted me to research because of you."

"I resent that remark," Methos huffed. He was standing behind the bar. Joe noted he had helped himself to a beer moments after regaining consciousness. Walsh had not seen how badly he had wounded the man he knew as Adam Pierson, so he was still unaware of his fellow Watcher's Immortality. The bar blocked Walsh's view of Methos' bloody shirt and recently healed wound.

Fiona frowned. She was not at all certain she liked the idea of Watchers. It made her feel dirty somehow. It was as if she couldn't trust or believe anyone again. She wished she could ask Connor what he knew about all this.

"And Gail? What about her?"

"She was married to one of you. I read the reports about her husband and knew you would go to her funeral. I tried to get to you before, but I couldn't get close enough to the house to get off a good shot. The dogs kept barking."

Fiona's temper flared. He had killed a woman she had known for over 30 years because dogs barked at him. Duncan managed to keep Fiona from breaking free.

"Let me go, Duncan. I want to finish this."

"Let the mortals handle it."

"I've called the police," Joe said. He had retrieved his own gun and was holding it on Walsh.

"What did you tell them?" Duncan asked.

"A man just fired two shots in my bar."

"Three," Fiona said bitterly.

"Four," Methos corrected.

"You want to stay here and tell them where the other bullets went?"

Fiona shook her head in response to Duncan's question. Police sirens were becoming audible. Duncan pulled Fiona toward Joe's office in the back of the bar. The police would have too many questions about her bloody T-shirt. Methos trailed after them picking at his shirt. He liked this shirt. Now the design included a bullet hole and large blood stain. Carrying Walsh's sword, Richie reluctantly followed the other Immortals at Joe's insistence. He could hear the police talking outside the bar as he joined the others.

Once the police were inside the bar, Joe showed them the damaged light fixture and the bullet hole from the shot that went off when Duncan threw the chair. Joe recognized one of the cops as a semi-regular customer. He pulled the man aside and told him that Walsh had admitted a connection to an unsolved homicide.

After the police left, the Immortals emerged from Joe's office to find him pouring drinks for everyone. He grinned at Fiona. He could tell from her expression that Mac had been giving her a hard time. He filled them in on what had happened with the police. Fiona seemed dissatisfied with the outcome. She wanted to see Walsh dead. Fiona drained her glass in one gulp. Joe refilled it immediately.

"What did he mean he was Fiona's Watcher?" Richie asked.

"Fiona doesn't have a permanent Watcher. She rarely leaves Holy Ground. It's just not necessary to have someone assigned to her all the time. The last report on her is from the Watcher of an Immortal she defeated. That was two years ago."

"Walsh resented being assigned to research after years in the field," Methos said. "I've always liked research myself."

Fiona frowned, as Joe refilled her glass again. This didn't quite make sense to her.

"Fiona, he wanted revenge," Duncan said softly as he slipped his arm around her.

Fiona sipped her drink thoughtfully. She also wanted revenge, but having Duncan nearby always made her feel better. Duncan stood on one side of her. Richie was on the other. She glanced at Adam Pierson who was still fussing with his shirt. Fiona looked down at the T-shirt she wore. It was bloodier than Adam's clothing.

"I guess I owe you a shirt, Richie."

Grinning, the young Immortal shrugged.

"I'll just add it to my collection of bullet riddled attire. At least I didn't catch any bullets for a change. "

Richie's remark was met by laughter from Fiona and an impatient glare from Mac.

"Adam, come by my house sometime. Just not too soon."

Startled, Methos stopped pulling at the bullet hole and looked at Fiona. She sighed. She had just knowingly invited a combination Watcher/Immortal to her sanctuary. She studied the mortal behind the bar. Joe had engaged Duncan in another hushed conversation. Just watching them, she could tell Duncan hadn't been lying when he said Joe was his friend. Joe stopped talking when he realized Fiona was staring at him.

"You, too, Joe. You're welcome to come visit me."

"I'd be honored."

"Might not be a good idea, Joe," Duncan said cautiously.

"The lady invited me, Mac. Somehow it just wouldn't be polite to refuse because I'm a Watcher."

Fiona smiled. She could see Duncan was right. Joe Dawson could be trusted. She could read him like she could read Duncan. Richie was easy to read as well. There was something Adam Pierson was hiding, but Joe Dawson and Richie Ryan were exactly what they appeared to be. She knew she would see Richie again. Dawson would visit her eventually. She was looking forward to it.

To Part Two, "Heart's Desire"

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