Disclaimer: Connor/Richie/Methos belong to Rysher Ent. and were borrowed without asking. Sarah, Kim, and Meg belong to me.
This is the first story in the Worlds Collide trilogy, penned by Heidi McKeon and myself.
Keep an eye on that elder MacLeod, he's about to come back in the other two stories and raise a little hell. And pay attention, there are lots of little details here that will make sense once you have the whole trilogy under your belt. Oh..and yes, I chose Methos' new name *quite* carefully. As for Richie's wife, that was pure coincidence and I apologize profusely to the *real* Meg Ryan--the Kid told me her name was Meg and I was done with the story before I realized...for the record, they look nothing alike. The title comes from a line in an Indigo Girls song.
"Sirens wail, history fails, rose colored glass begins to age and crack."- E. Saliers "Let It Be Me"
"There's a David Logan downstairs to see you."
Richie looked up from his keyboard and smiled at his young wife. "David Logan?"
The name meant nothing to him. But he had felt the man arrive not moments before and hoped that the immortal had the decency not to try and pick a fight in his home.
"Shifty looking fellow in a trench coat, should I send him away?" Margaret asked.
"No, send him up," Richie sighed and leaned back in his chair, making the keystrokes to dim the screen on his memoirs.
The pretty brunette smiled, "Just don't let him keep you, we have tickets to the Opera tonight."
Richie nodded. Those tickets had been hard to come by. There wasn't much culture left in the world and what little there was came in high demand. He sighed and stretched as she left the room, then crossed to the fireplace and pulled down his rapier. It had been nearly three years since he had taken a head and he was out of practice. Duncan would chastise him for it, but really, there was little time to do kata between running his various businesses and working on the manuscript.
A few moments later a tall man entered the room hesitatingly and shook the rain off his coat in a gesture that showed Richie he was unarmed. Fifty four years had passed, but Methos hadn't aged a day, despite the light streaks of grey he had added to his temples.
"Lovely girl, your Margaret," Methos said with a smile.
Richie leaned his sword against the desk and extended a hand in greeting, "Methos! What brings you here? I thought you were off running some small country in the Ukraine."
"The *former* Ukraine, we're now the New Republic of Krakow. And I'm just an Ambassador."
"Have a seat," Richie gestured to one of the two antique leather chairs near the blazing fire and settled into the other. "I don't think I've seen you since the party."
Methos nodded and heaved a small sigh as he sank into the other chair, waiting for the next question.
"I don't know. We're...we're not exactly together any more."
Not exactly together any more....that was a euphemism if he had ever heard one. Not exactly together any more...that made it sound like there was hope for reconciliation. He sincerely doubted that.
"What?!" Richie exclaimed. "What happened?"
"It's a long and complicated story that ends badly, can we save it for some time when I have a belly full of liquor?"
Richie fought back the urge to push for more information about Sarah and what had happened between them and hoped that Methos wouldn't see the picture sitting on the mantle. It was an old fashioned photograph in a day of fully active holographic images and was a lovely shot of them on their Wedding Day. Both were grinning widely and Methos had one arm wrapped around her waist while the other held the umbrella they were standing under. Like most Spring days in Scotland, it had been raining and chilly, but they had barely noticed.
"She's fine. I used some old Watcher connections to check up on her after the Gaelic Rebellion and found out she was living in Johannesburg," Methos said. "Don't ask me why, she hates the heat."
The Gaelic Rebellion was over fifteen years ago. Richie had been there, rallying the troops in the lowlands of Scotland as they finally won their independence from the English. That had been a war that was centuries in the making and the bloodshed had been horrific. To the best of his knowledge, Sarah hadn't been involved with it in the slightest measure, but he supposed she could have been there under a pseudonym.
Richie searched his friend's face for some sign of what had transpired between him and Sarah, but there was only a calm acceptance to be seen. The Gaelic Rebellion was nearly two decades ago and they had been apart at least that long, perhaps Methos had gotten over it. Gotten over it? How do you get over losing your soul mate?
"I'm sorry," Richie said.
Methos shrugged. "Nothing gold can stay."
There was no need to tell the boy--who, despite his one hundred and twenty two years, was still just that--that the last time he had seen Sarie she had been lying in a pool of her own blood, pinned to the floor by the tip of his sword.
He doubted that Richie would believe the heinous scene had been in self defense.
Methos shook his head, confused.
"How long were you guys together?" Richie asked.
"We're you fighting?"
"I thought we agreed to discuss this suitably drunk," Methos grumbled.
Richie got up and pulled a bottle of 1996 Glenmorangie from his liquor cabinet, grabbing two glasses and dropping back into his seat. He filled one for Methos and handed it to him.
"I think I have a right to know."
"Good Lord, why? Just because you have part of her quickening? Richie, that was over a hundred years ago and even if I was beholden to you for it, the statute of limitations has surely expired."
Once, a hundred some odd years ago in Seacouver, before the United States had degenerated into squabbling racial factions and political wars that he had fought in, before Japan had returned to its isolationist ways and left the rest of the world lagging behind in technology, before the borders of what had once been Europe dissolved into the Commonwealth he presently lived in, Richie would have let the subject drop out of deference to the other man's great age.
That was before he had come to know and love the woman that Methos was speaking of; before he had saved her life and managed to wind up with part of her power and essence, before he had watched her mourn this man who was sitting before him here in London and before he had walked with her down the aisle on their Wedding Day, deeply honored by her request to give her away.
"If you don't tell me, she will," he said evenly.
Methos laughed. "You don't know where she is any more than I do."
"No, but ten to one she wouldn't greet *me* with drawn sword if I dropped by for some tea."
Drawn sword. Sarie had indeed greeted him with drawn sword. She had nearly severed his left leg at the thigh and had come dangerously close to taking his head. That was why he had been forced to kill her.
Methos sighed. "We were fine. Wonderful. Perfect, for fifty nine years three hundred and forty five days. Then...we weren't."
Richie nodded. Something big must have happened. And Methos wasn't telling the whole truth.
"Do you still love her?"
Methos took a long gulp that drained his glass and handed it to Richie for a refill. "Of course I do. But we're over."
"Does she still love you?" Richie handed it back to him. Of course she did.
"No. I don't think so."
Richie sighed and looked at the bookshelves, searching out the now rather antique copy of Sarah's Ph.D. thesis on WB Yeats. Now adays, books were on-line, like everything else, but he still preferred the old fashioned way of reading and had amassed a considerable collection of very priceless books. He was still a child compared to most of his immortal friends, but Richie found himself drawn to the past in a similar manner to the one that fueled Duncan's obsession with antiques and Amanda's penchance for stealing ancient artwork. He supposed looking toward the things that comforted you in your youth was part of getting older.
"So, why are you here then?" He asked.
Methos looked up from his drink. "I need your help. And it has nothing to do with Sarie."
Another lie. Well, more of a half truth, really.
"What does the world's oldest man want from me, Richie Ryan, boy immortal?" He chuckled.
"I want you to train someone for me."
"Me? Why not do it yourself? Or get Duncan?"
Methos shook his head. "I'm a diplomat, I can't be running around teaching a new immortal how to fight, and MacLeod is off in the Orient somewhere. You're the one for this job, trust me."
"And what's in it for me?"
Methos inhaled deeply and let it out in a rush and a smile; improvising. "You get to have your first student a full three hundred years before I had mine."
Richie laughed. "Okay. I'll do it, but I want you to pull every Watcher string you have left to pull to make sure *that* makes it into the Richie Ryan Chronicle."
Methos offered his hand, "Deal."
"Will David be joining us for dinner?" Margaret asked from the doorway.
"Will you, Dave?" Richie echoed.
Always one to light up in the presence of a beautiful woman, Methos flashed Richie's wife a smile that sent all her previous thoughts of shiftiness flying out the window.
"My dear Mrs. Ryan, I would be honored to," he said.
"Would you like to freshen up first?" She asked with a smile of recognition.
Methos nodded and stood, allowing her to give him directions to the nearest bathroom and exiting the room with a smile.
"That's Sarah's husband, isn't it?" She asked, Richie, coming to sit on his lap.
"That's him, all right," he said.
"Is she coming too?" Margaret was eager to meet this woman whom she had heard so much about.
Richie shook his head and wound both arms around her slim waist, kissing her hair lightly. "No. They aren't together any more."
Margaret frowned. "I thought you said they were soul mates."
"Then how can they be apart? You can't be separated from your soul mate...not unless..." she trailed off, knowing that what she had been about to say would disturb him deeply.
"She's not dead, Meg. I'd know it if she were."
And he would. That part of him that sometimes dreamt of a burnt out village on the shore of a Scottish loch, the part that sometimes spoke in Gaelic in his sleep, the same one that occasionally had the urge to call Methos Petey--which he always managed to stifle just in time--would know if the larger part of itself had been lost.
Three days later, Methos appeared at Richie's door with a young woman in tow. She stood only to his shoulder, was very slight, and held his hand with a grip so tight it left the ancient's fingers white.
"Richie Ryan, I would like you to meet Kimberly Shelley," he said with a smile that was clearly tainted with relief.
Richie offered a hand and smiled warmly at the girl. She looked to be twenty one or so and her eyes were the precise shade of an African Violet he had seen once.
"Nice to meet you."
Margaret appeared at his elbow, smiling as well. "Welcome to our home, Kimberly."
"Thanks," the girl said, still gripping Methos' hand and looking around the foyer nervously.
"Come on, I'll show you upstairs and you can pick out a room to stay in," Margaret took the girl lightly by the elbow.
"So, what's her story?" Richie asked, watching his wife lead Kimberly up the stairs.
Methos shrugged. "She's brand new. I told her the rules and explained everything, but she needs to learn how to fight."
Richie motioned for Methos to follow him through the hallway and into the kitchen. "I'm a bit out of practice myself," he said.
How did Meyhos know that? The younger man paused at the table and searched Methos' face for some trace of a hidden agenda, but none was evident.
"What's she like?"
"Young." Methos sank into a nearby chair and began to pick at the crust of a black currant bread Margaret had cooling on the table.
"Could you give me a little more to go on here?" Richie asked, taking the seat across from him.
"She's timid and a bit too willing to be protected."
Richie chuckled and was about to ask what Sarah thought of the girl, but caught himself in time.
Methos broke off a chunk of the bread and chewed it thoughtfully, then smiled. "Imagine someone completely opposite of Sarie and that's Kimberly Shelley."
"What was she like when she was that age?"
"Sarie?" Methos laughed. "The first thing she did when we met was pull a knife on me. They are *nothing* alike."
"Then why won't you train her?"
Methos sighed. He had forgotten that Richie had some of Sarie in him.
"You know," he said, "it's really uncanny when you do that."
"When you pull a Sarie and read me like that."
Richie shrugged. "So, why won't you train her?"
"I told you," Methos looked up. "Ambassadors can't be running around with swords, chopping people's heads off."
Richie cocked an eyebrow at him and an uncomfortable silence fell while Methos continued to pick at the bread.
"Okay," he said at last. "I won't train her because the last time there was a student around it came to swords between Sarie and me and I just can't do it again. Not yet."
"Fair enough," Richie said, pleased that he got some information, but concerned about the nature of it. Swords? "Do you think she'll be any good?"
"I don't know. She's pretty slight, but I think she might have been a dancer, so the athleticism is there. She might get along okay if she has the stomach for it."
Richie frowned. Not many had the type of stomach it took to survive in the Game.
"You'll stay for dinner?"
Methos grinned, relieved that the conversation had shifted. "Only if I get to sit next to your Margaret."
Call it female intuition, but Margaret Ryan, knew this Kimberly Shelley was not what she seemed from the get-go. Nothing the girl had said or done had aroused suspicion--things simply just didn't feel right and Meg was big on following her gut feelings. She doubted either of the two men had noticed, men were funny that way sometimes and easily blinded by a girl as lovely as Kimberly.
The girl hardly seemed a threat at present, though the situation would bear watching. She wouldn't mention it to Richie until there was more than a hunch to go on. Meantime, she would concentrate on that nagging feeling she had seen Kimberly before and see what panned out of it.
"You do understand that I am going to try to find her," Richie said, watching Methos stare into the fire.
Both were satiated from a fine meal and had spent the previous twenty minutes in silence, avoiding the one topic they knew would inevitably arise.
The older man nodded. "I wouldn't expect anything else. And I told you, fifteen years ago she was in Johannesburg."
Frankly, he was hoping that Richie would find her, knowing that the lad wouldn't be able to resist reporting back to him on how Sarah was doing.
"No," Methos cut him off. "There is no maybe here, Richie. Do yourself a favor and don't get involved in what happened between Sarie and me. It'll only dredge up old pain for her and new hurt for you."
"I know she still loves you. She'll always love you."
Methos sighed. "And I'll always love her. But there is a difference between loving someone and being *in love* with someone. Sarie and I were lucky to have both."
Richie heaved a sigh of his own, wondering what could have come between them. An affair? Politics? Both were equally unlikely. A student, Methos had mentioned a student...but that hardly seemed like something that either would allow to go that far.
"What happened?" He asked, not expecting an answer.
What had happened was a long and complicated series of lines that had been crossed by each of them, culminating in the one thing Methos had hoped to avoid most in the world.
Sarah's reflexes had always been quicker than his own. And her survival instinct was more primal than he had expected. His heart hadn't been in the fight until she had sliced a deep cut into his shoulder in a stroke that would have taken his head if he hadn't thrown himself to the floor at the last second. Then, he had been given an opportunity to live in the face of certain death and had taken it; opting to spill the blood of the woman he loved and leave her dead on the floor of their dojo, her head intact, but their bond severed.
"Let her tell you the story," he sighed again. "I don't think I can."
Kimberly wandered into Richie's study cautiously, feeling a bit like a trespasser, but determined to believe that Margaret Ryan-or Meg, as she had asked to be called- was sincere when she told her to make herself at home in the ancient Brownstone. She stood between the two leather chairs and took in the details of the room.
Ambassador Logan had told her a bit about this Richie Ryan who was to be her teacher. He had been born in the United States in 1974 and spent his formative years on the streets. Hellion was the word the Ambassador had used. He had been evasive when pressed for the details about the nature of their relationship, but the Ambassador had been nothing but evasive since their first encounter on the streets of Old Paris, near the cathedral by the Seine.
Kimberly had been about to hurl herself off an ancient stone bridge into the waters, knowing that she wouldn't stay dead, but longing for even a few minutes of peace. Her life had been nothing but chaos since that night in Toronto when James had lost his head.
She sighed and moved to the mantle to examine the objects placed there. They were photographs mostly; people standing or sitting or posing with her new teacher: Richie, a blonde woman and a dark eyed man, standing in a room filled with dust and drop cloths, the same dark man, the Ambassador, and her new teacher in fishing gear...
Her eyes fell on one of Richie and a woman whom she recognized from a photo she had seen in Krakow. Next to it stood one of the Ambassador and this same woman, both beaming and wearing wedding clothes.
Kimberly's first intentions toward Methos had been to attach herself to him as she had to James. He was handsome and charming, delightfully bashful at times, and had an air of mystery that she found incredibly appealing. She knew she could learn to love him. But he had been either oblivious to immune to her coy suggestions. After two weeks, she had begun to harbor suspicions that perhaps he was a homosexual, which was perfectly acceptable, but useless to her.
Then, one evening she had crept into his study, determined to either seduce him, or lay the matter to rest once and for all. She found him sleeping, slumped over a huge oak desk and snoring softly. Near his elbow were two framed photographs of himself and this same woman. In one, they were bent over a newspaper crossword, cuddled together in some kind of swing. The other was a copy of the one that she held now; obviously taken on their Wedding Day.
There was no trace of this woman, his wife, anywhere in the house. And they were photographs, not holos, so it had been years before she was born when they had said their vows. Perhaps the bride was dead.
Kimberly had abandoned all plans to attach herself to Ambassador David Logan that night as she watched him sleep. She knew what it was like to lose a spouse. And she knew with stolid certainty that mourning was a scared task best accomplished alone.
"That's Sarah MacGreggor," Margaret said from behind her, startling the girl.
Kimberly turned and smiled, embarrassed to be caught snooping. "She was the Ambassador's wife?"
Margaret nodded. "And one of Richie's best friends."
Kimberly set the picture down carefully. "How did she die?"
"She's not dead. She's one of you."
"There was nothing of her in Krakow. I had no idea he was married. What's she like?"
Margaret shrugged. "I've never met her, but I've heard lots of stories. She and David knew each other for about a thousand years before they fell in love...it's a wonderful story, you should ask Richie to tell you sometime."
Kimberly smiled, she knew all about romance that spanned time, for she had truly loved James. "What happened then?"
"I don't know, but it must have been something big," Margaret shrugged and crossed the room, pointing out Duncan and Tessa and telling a snippet of their great romance as well.
"They're immortal too?" Kimberly asked.
"No, Duncan is. But Tessa was killed back in the twentieth century."
"Have you met Duncan?"
Margaret smiled warmly. "Many times."
"What's he like?"
Richie's wife paused a moment, trying to find the right words to describe her husband's teacher.
"He is, quite simply, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," she said at last.
A wave of ice ran down Kimberly's spine at the name and she paled visibly. She was here because of a MacLeod. James was dead because of a MacLeod; same clan, different vintage.
"Did Dave give you a sword?" Richie asked his student.
His student. This would take some getting used to. And none of the libraries had How To Train a Young Immortal books.
Kimberly shook her head and looked around the large attic room that Richie used as his dojo. "He said that he didn't have one that I could wield effectively."
Richie nodded. She was slight enough that she would need a pretty light weight sword. A rapier would suit her nicely. He crossed the room and knelt in front of a huge oak trunk, raising the lid and laying aside several folds of thick cloth.
Kimberly knelt next to him. "That's some collection," she said, eyeing the wrapped oblong bundles.
"This is nothing, you should see the one Mac has," he grinned.
Kimberly smiled thinly.
Richie rooted around in the trunk for a few moments and produced what he knew to be a 16th century Cup Hilt Rapier, holding the blue package out to her. Kimberly took it and unwrapped the sword, admiring the elegantly etched hilt and holding it gingerly.
"It's lovely," she said.
"It's yours," he responded. "Make it part of you. It's the one constant in your life."
James had been the one constant in her life. Cold steel was a poor replacement. But, if she was to keep her head, she'd have to learn to make due.
"Women don't stand a real chance in the Game, do they?" She asked.
Richie shrugged. "Sure they do, you just have to learn to fight any way that will keep you alive."
"I'm not a warrior," Kimberly said.
True, Richie thought. She was no Ceirdwyn. No Sarah.
"There is an immortal I know," he said. "She is almost two thousand years old and she survives by her wit. If Amanda can do it, so can you. Knowing how to fight is one thing, knowing how to *survive* is quite another."
"And how many women do you know that made it past a hundred?" Kimberly asked with a sigh.
"Four. And they are all over a thousand. It's kind of like baby animals in the wild," he smiled. "If you can make it through the first fifty years or so, your chances are good."
Kimberly sighed again, wondering if those fifty years counted if your husband was doing all your fighting and you never even so much as touched a sword.
"And what about *your* first fifty years?"
Richie chuckled. "I'm only here because of luck. I did some pretty stupid things and had some really great friends to bail me out of them."
"Did you ever let anyone do your fighting for you?"
He nodded. "Well, sort of. Mac did a lot of it for me while I was still learning to use a sword. That's part of being someone's teacher; their battles become yours until they can fight them for themselves."
Kimberly looked up at him. Would he fight Connor MacLeod for her just because Ambassador Logan dropped her off on his doorstep? It didn't matter. She wouldn't ask. It was time to learn to survive on her own.
"I don't want you to fight my battles for me. I need to take care of myself," she said.
Richie smiled. This girl was more like Sarah than Methos had suspected. And that could either make his role as teacher far easier, or a living hell.
"It's about time you turned off that damn computer," Margaret said as her husband climbed into bed next to her.
Kimberly had been there nearly a month and between her training and his memoirs, Mrs. Ryan rarely saw her husband.
Richie smiled. "I'm sorry, Meg, but when the feeling hits, I have to write."
She rolled her eyes good naturedly. Margaret was doing the initial read of his memoirs and enjoying it immensely, but some days he cranked out more pages than she could handle, expecting feedback nearly immediately.
"Did you and Kimberly have a good time in Picadilly?" He asked, settling into the pillows.
"Fabulous. We talked theatre all day. She has an incredible knowledge of it, for someone so young."
Despite her nagging suspicions, Margaret was really beginning to like the girl. And there was still nothing to put her finger on about why she thought something wasn't quite right with Kimberly. The young immortal was polite, witty, grateful, and trying her hardest to learn how to fight; the perfect house guest--when your husband was over one hundred and had friends who might be able to confirm the existence of Christ.
Richie chuckled. Young was a relative term. Meg was only thirty.
"Have you had any luck tracking Sarah down?" She asked.
"No," he shook his head. "I've been trying to get a call through to Mike Bennett's grandson, who's the Watcher Regional Coordinator for the Americas, but you know how the lines to the West are."
Margaret nodded. "Well, I'm sure she's fine."
"Oh, no doubt about that," he said with a sigh. "I just wish I had never lost touch with her in the first place."
"Even mortals lose touch with their friends, Rich, and I imagine that it's even harder for you all to stay close, with hundreds of years to play with and this whole Game to worry about."
"Still," he said. "I wish they had been at our wedding."
"They weren't together when we got married," she responded.
"But it might have helped them..."
Margaret frowned. "Why is it that men like you and Duncan feel the need to play Matchmaker? Both Sarah and the Ambassador know what's best for them far better than you do."
"I don't know," he sighed again, changing the subject. "Did Kim's arm heal okay?"
Margaret nodded. "She's an immortal, isn't she?"
"I know, I just felt guilty about it."
"You have to stop blaming yourself for the fact that she let her guard down. You're her teacher, Rich, better you slice into her shoulder than someone else take her head."
He rolled onto his side and smiled at her. "You want to teach her?"
Margaret grinned. "The way I see it, I already am. You're doing the swords stuff and I'm doing the rest. From what you say, being handy with a sword isn't the only thing that keeps you guys alive."
"You're too much," he laughed.
"Can I help it if you're the brawn and I'm the brains?"
Summer faded into Autumn slowly, bringing rain and chilly winds off the Thames. In early September the news came across the TV Net that the New Republic of Krakow was in mourning over the assasination of their beloved Ambassador from the Commonwealth, David Logan. Richie spent the next two weeks waiting for Methos to arrive on his doorstep again, but his expectance was in vain. The world's oldest man had made yet another successful attempt at fading into the woodwork.
The news sent him into somewhat of a funk and he moped around the house for nearly a month, wallowing in self induced guilt for allowing his immortal friendships to dissolve into history. John Bennett, grandson of the Watcher that used to tend bar for Joe Dawson back in Seacouver, had promised to track down Sarah for him, but the communications lines to the Western Hemisphere were down yet again. Duncan, like Methos had said, was off in the Orient somewhere and also impossible to reach. Richie suddenly realized that he had gotten caught up in life and lost touch with the ones who were the most influential in teaching him how to live it; and that set his heart on edge.
When he looked at Margaret, he tried not to see the small laugh lines forming around her blue eyes, a physical reminder of what he tried so hard to keep buried in the back of his brain. Someday, she would die and he would be left alone. He knew that when he married her. He knew that the day they had met at the opening of the "A Century of Rock and Roll" exhibit at the Sydney Museum of Twentieth Century Culture. And that knowledge only made things harder.
Kimberly's training was progressing slowly. The girl was graceful, but had next to no instinctual ability to fight. Every move, every block, every thrust had to be carved out deliberately and choreographed, or she would completely miss the chance. Had he been that uncomfortable with a sword at her age? How did Mac ever survive the sheer boredom of sparring with a partner who knew *nothing*? At least she lacked the wild streak of rebellion that had given Duncan so many headaches back in Seacouver. Still, a little fire would be nice. At this rate he'd be a thousand before the girl would stand a chance in the Game.
He was almost relieved when the call came saying that he needed to attend a meeting at the Melbourne office of Clan Ryan Incorporated. Maybe the warm Australian air would do him some good. Maybe he'd have the chance to swing through Africa on the way home and see if Sarah was indeed where Methos thought she was. Maybe a miracle would happen and Kimberly would learn how to fight while he was gone.
Kimberly spent much of her time while Richie was away up in the attic dojo, working slowly through the motions of the kata he had taught her and trying to get used to the weight of a sword in her hands. The meditation itself was easy to memorize, it was a lot like blocking out the movements of a scene in a play--something she was very good at.
Her theatre training failed her when it came to projecting the slow, deliberate motions into how they would help her in the heat of a fight, though. Memorizing a pattern of steps and swings might get you through a kata or a stage fight, but it would only get you killed if your opponent was real and not willing to do the same dance. And the few times she had sparred with Richie had taught her very quickly that her size and relative lack of physical strength would always be a liability. Still, she'd never get anywhere if she gave up. So, Kimberly practiced until her muscles burned, hoping that some day, the motions would become instinctual instead of planned.
She missed James terribly, but knew that wallowing in grief would get her nowhere. Connor MacLeod was ever in the back of her mind and she often dreamt of the night he killed her husband. Sometimes the dream ended the way reality had, with James' body lying in a heap and lightning licking the skies. Sometimes it ended with Kimberly running her rapier through MacLeod's chest and taking a swing for his head as he crumpled to the ground. Regardless, she always awoke drenched in sweat and alone. She knew she would never be good enough to fight the man who killed her James, but the fantasy gave her fuel when she was ready to abandon all hope of surviving in the Game.
"Is there anything else I can get you?" A small man with a pudgy face and horn-rimmed glasses asked.
Margaret shook her head, "Thanks, no. These will do just fine."
The Librarian nodded and shuffled off to dust the Ancient History collection, grateful that, unlike his grandfather and his grandfather's father, his shelves held rows of compact disks instead of musty books.
Margaret popped the CD into its tray and waited for the screen to boot, humming a tune from the ancient Rogers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific. She was grateful that Nancy, her Assistant, had taken a personal day to be with her six year old son on his birthday. Being the Curator for the London Museum of Theatre Arts rarely left time to indulge in the research aspect of the art form that she loved so much. Her specialty was late Twentieth Century Broadway, but the order of the day was pre-Commonwealth European Revival Theatre.
Margaret sighed contentedly and gestured across the top of the track pad, bringing up the index for the CD. She scanned it quickly, looking for anything that would add a touch of style to the exhibit they were building. The Swedish version of Cats was most certainly out; not only had it failed miserably, but she was tired of hearing about that godforsaken show. Hispanica does MacBeth? No. Ethnic theatre had it's own wing. The Case Group's version of The Music Man was good, but over done; as was the Glasgow Players 2065 run of Hair. Ahh...Brigadoon. The Hackney Troupe had done a fairly successful run of it in 2058. It was eclectic and well received. Perfect.
She skipped the plot summary and the credits, heading straight for the stage photographs with the hopes of finding the perfect costume to add to her display. The second image brought her up short and elicited a loud gasp. Standing there, arms outstreched and dressed in period costume, was none other than Kimberly Shelley, who by all rights shouldn't even have been born for another twenty years or so. Why hadn't she thought to do research before?
[end part 2]
"Come in," Kimberly said.
She looked up from her book to see Margaret enter the room, frowning and carrying a folder. Her teacher's wife said nothing, but tossed the folder onto the bed, allowing its contents to spill across the comforter.
Kimberly sighed and leafed through the printouts without comment, then looked up at Margaret again. Ophelia, Juliet, Sister Maria...all roles she had played and gotten standing ovations for.
"Would you care to explain, Kimberly Spencer?"
Kimberly shrugged, surprisingly calm. "I was born in Vancouver in 2021. I acted in the Hackney Troupe until about fifty years ago. We were doing a run of Oklahoma in Vancouver and I had the misfortune of being caught in one of the Freemen Riots."
"So, what are you doing here, pretending to be a brand new immortal?"
"I'm not pretending anything. No one ever asked me how old I was, the Ambassador just assumed that I was new. And I really *don't* know how to fight," Kimberly lowered her eyes. "I married an immortal, James Shelley, who did all my fighting for me. I had never even picked up a sword until Richie gave me one."
"You should have told us," Margaret said, still glaring.
Kimberly shrugged again. "Maybe. But isn't part of the Game surviving any way you can? Playing the role of ignorant rookie was working well, and it wasn't taking much effort...or research."
Despite her anger, Margaret felt a distinct pang of sympathy for the girl. What little she understood about immortals and the Game lent her an understanding of Kimberly's rationale. In the end, it was staying alive that counted, not how you managed to do so.
"Are you going to tell him? Or are you going to make me?" Kimberly asked.
Margaret sighed. "We're both in luck, he's not due back for another day."
Richie met an unexpected guest on his front steps, smiling a greeting before Connor MacLeod could ring the bell. A note on the banister foot told them that Margaret and Kimberly had gone out for the evening, but that there was a casserole in the oven, should Richie be hungry. It also alluded to their standard welcome home ritual, which solicited a knowing chuckle from Connor and a slight flush from Richie.
The men had a quiet dinner in the kitchen, then retired to the study for drinks and a long talk before the fire. Connor was unusually sedate, but obviously not ready or willing to talk about it, so Richie made idle conversation.
"I take it things have been quiet for you since the Rebellion," Richie said, offering Connor a glass of Scotch.
The Highlander nodded. "Thankfully, yes. And I see that the great military leader has settled into civilian life quite well."
"I'm sure there will be other wars to fight," Richie sighed. "So I am enjoying my days as a Businessman while I can."
"And who's this Kimberly?"
Richie chuckled. "Would you believe she's my student?"
"The boy immortal has a student?" Connor laughed. "How did that happen?"
"Methos dumped her in my lap, then went and got himself assassinated before I could foist her back on him."
"She's that bad?"
Richie shook his head. "She's okay, I'm just not sure I make a good teacher. She still couldn't last more than three minutes in a fight and we've been working for months."
"Some people are never meant to survive in the Game, Richie. That's just the way it is. It's not your responsibility to keep her alive, it's her own."
"It's my responsibility to give her the skills to survive," Richie said.
"Spoken like a true Teacher."
"I just wish Mac were here, he would know what to do about her."
A shadow passed over Connor's face, but Richie mistook it for firelight and continued.
"Or Sarah, she'd know too."
"Why don't you foist this Kimberly off on her then?" Connor asked.
"I'd love to," Richie laughed. "If I had the faintest clue as to where she was."
"Wish I could help you," Connor said. "But I haven't seen her since the Rebellion."
"Sarah wasn't involved in that."
Connor laughed loudly. "Oh really? And just who do you think it was that lead the Highland troops?"
"Maeve Wallace. She died on the field at York."
The Highlander laughed again. "So, you really believe that Scotland finally won her freedom and Sarah MacGreggor had nothing to do with it? Who do you think Maeve Wallace really was?"
"No," Richie gasped, then frowned. "Why on earth would she have avoided meeting with me then?"
Connor shrugged. "That's something you'll have to ask her. I can only speculate that she probably didn't think it was your war to fight and that she couldn't face a reminder of Seacouver."
"Okay," Richie sighed. "Just what the hell happened between her and Methos anyway?"
"You don't know?" Connor's eyes grew wide over the brim of his glass.
"No, he wouldn't talk about it and I haven't been able to contact her."
Connor sighed. "I wish I could tell you. But if Methos wouldn't, and Sarah saw it fit to shut you out, then it isn't my place."
Richie threw up his hands in abject frustration. "Damnit, I'm not a kid."
"No, you're not. But, what happened between them is between *them*."
"Well, she told *you*," Richie snapped.
"No, she didn't. I had the misfortune of being there."
"You saw it?"
Connor nodded. "And it's not something I'm likely to forget. But I really just don't feel comfortable telling you about it, not if Sarah has left you in the dark. I'm sorry."
Richie sighed and slumped backwards in his chair, suddenly tired from his travels.
"Did you come for a reason?" He asked. "Or just to taunt me with hints of information that I'll probably never get?"
Connor heaved a sigh of his own. Now was not the time to tell Richie why he was in London. "You look exhausted, why don't we continue this tomorrow?"
"Good idea," Richie lurched to his feet. "You can sleep in the room at the end of the hallway. I'll see you in the morning."
The elder MacLeod watched his clansman's student leave the room and sighed again, reaching for the half empty bottle of Scotch Richie had left behind.
There was a note on his pillow in Margaret's handwriting. He expected it to be another allusion to their ritual, but it wasn't. There, in her crisp print was an eleven digit number and one word: Sarah. Richie parked himself in front of the vid-phone and keyed in the number sequence, waiting for the wall screen to come to life. He checked his watch...it would be late evening in Johannesburg.
After six rings, a vivid image filled the screen and he blinked at it for a few seconds before a grin came to his face.
"You look incredible!" He said.
And she did. Sarah MacGreggor had let her hair grow long and it fell past her shoulders in cascading sun-streaked waves. She was tanned from the African sun and smiling widely at him. Methos' heart would have skipped a beat. As it was, Richie's breath was taken away.
"Look at you, Richard Ryan, Business Tycoon!" She grinned. "I own stock in one of your companies, you know. And I'm none too pleased with the dividends. The silicon for those neural co-processors can be bought cheaper than you are."
"So sell," he smiled.
"Oh no," Sarah laughed. "One of these days I'm going to show up at a Voter's Meeting, just you wait."
"You're always welcome, you know that."
A thousand miles away, Sarah ran her fingers through her hair and pulled up a stool, allowing him a view of the window behind her and the purple African dusk.
"What's up, Kid?"
Richie chewed his lip and watched a fabulously colorful bird fly past her shoulders.
"Methos was here."
"Before or after Ambassador Logan was assassinated?" She asked.
"Before. It took a while to track you down."
Sarah sighed. "What did he tell you?"
"Nothing really, just that you weren't together any more."
Sarah laughed. "Well, *that's* a euphemism if I ever heard one!"
He laughed with her, but only for a moment. "What happened?"
"Oh Rich," she sighed again. "It's a long story with a bad ending. Let's just say things went bad and leave it at that, okay?"
"No," he shook his head. "He said it came to swords. How come you didn't take his head?"
Sarah half laughed, but her expression was dark. "Because I lost the fight. He should have taken mine."
"Who started it?" He asked, knowing the answer had to be Methos. Sarah would never do something like that.
Sarah looked down at something in her lap that was out of view, most likely her hands, and sighed again.
Richie was taken aback and filled with both a sudden rage and a strangling confusion. One of the greatest lessons she had ever taught him was that, no matter what, friendships and relationships came first.
"Why?" He choked out.
She looked up and their eyes met across the Dark Continent. "Because he took something very precious from me."
The last time he had seen Sarah and Methos together was in March of 2042 for her one thousandth birthday party. It had been an elegant evening in the midst of the grim news that was pouring out of what used to be the United States and Methos had procured Royal Albert Hall for the affair. He, Duncan, and Methos himself had gone all out and worn their best kilts and Prince Charlie jackets, drawing more than a little attention from their fellow party go-ers clad in the loose washed-silk clothes that had been in fashion at the time.
They had danced until dawn and greeted the sunrise from the Tower Bridge. He vividly remembered sipping champagne with the cold breeze in his hair and one of Sarah's hands clasping his own while Methos stood behind her with both arms wrapped around her waist. A very ancient Joe Dawson stood nearby, batting away the soothing hands his long time immortal lover, Fiona, who would have used them to wrap her coat around him. Even in his nineties, Joe had remained cantankerous. Later that same year, he finally slipped from this world and they had all mourned him greatly.
Methos had told the story of Sarah's one hundredth birthday in Ireland, when he had convinced the King to declare it a national holiday and hold festivals in her honor. Sarah elbowed him in the ribs playfully, still embarrassed by it. He had bent close to her ear and whispered something that brought a smirk to her face and Richie had known that Methos said he would make it up to her later. It was hard to believe that, about ten years later, the couple he had been certain would outlast even the Game had come to swords.
"What?" He asked.
What on earth could have been so important to her that she felt the need to try to kill the man she loved?
Sarah shook her head.
"Do you think..."
She shook it again. "I doubt it."
"Every marriage has it's rough spots," Richie offered.
Sarah chuckled. "But I bet your Margaret never tried to take your head because you did something like forget to take out the trash."
"I don't even let her near the swords, I'm afraid she'd learn too fast," he laughed. "Hey, how did you know about Meg?"
"I bumped into Mac about a year ago," she grinned. "He showed me holos...she's beautiful."
"I think so," Richie smiled. "When are you coming to visit?"
"As soon as you can assure me that Petey won't be there. Don't be trying to play Matchmaker, Kid, okay?"
"I have no idea where Methos is, he vanished with David Loan's funeral."
"It's been how long?"
Sarah thought a moment, "Thirty eight years."
"That's a long time, even for us."
She nodded. "And I miss him."
"You guys have such a history together, I can't believe that it's over," Richie said.
She looked down at her lap again, then caught his gaze with a small sigh. "Sometimes even history fails, Kid. I imagine that someday I'll be able to be in the same room with him again, but not any time soon."
"What about me?" Richie asked.
Sarah shot him a quizzical look. "What?"
"Connor told me that *you* were Maeve Wallace. Why didn't you ever meet with me? Why didn't you come to my wedding? And why won't you tell me what's going on with you and Methos?"
Sarah chewed her lip and pushed her hair out of her eyes in a very familiar gesture. "I didn't hook up with you during the Rebellion for a lot of reasons, Richie, the least of which was that I couldn't face someone who reminded me of Petey. And I didn't come to your wedding because I didn't know about it. You must have sent the invitation to Petey and he never passed it on to me, not that he could have. As for the last question...I promise I'll tell you the whole damn story someday. Just not today. And not over the phone."
"I'll come to Africa then," he said.
"No," she shook her head. "Look, I know that you feel like I'm shutting you out, and I suppose that's what I did, but it wasn't because of anything *you* did or didn't do. I was trying to pick up the pieces and get on with things and the easiest way to do that was to close a door. I promise you, Richie, I'll tell you everything you want to know. But you have to give me the time I need to digest it all."
"It's been forty years," he snapped.
Sarah wanted to reach out and hug him, seeing the pain on his face and knowing that it was an echo of her own. But they were a continent apart.
"Okay," she said quietly, "I'll be on the next flight into Hethrow that I can book."
[end part 3]
[Note: If you want to know more about Joe and Fiona, read Heidi McKeon's "Fiona" and the "Say Good-bye" Eurominutes. ]
Kimberly walked into the kitchen the following morning expecting to find biscuits and tea. Instead, she came face to face with Connor MacLeod and her first instinct was to run like hell. In fact, if Margaret hadn't come in behind her and blocked the door, she would have done just that.
"Kim? You're shaking. Are you okay?" Margaret asked, steering her to a chair and hovering with an air of maternal concern.
All Kimberly could do was mutter and point at the Highlander, who was beginning to wonder if he had neglected to put on his pants or committed some other social faux pas.
"I always have this effect on women," Connor grinned and offered her his hand. "Connor MacLeod."
"You killed my husband, you bastard," Kimberly blurted out.
"What?" Margaret and Richie asked in perfect unison.
"Husband? What husband?" Richie added.
Connor, however, flashed a small smile and ducked his head in slight chagrin. "I'm afraid I don't remember doing anything like that, though I'm sure it's a possibility," he said.
Without thinking, Kimberly grabbed the butter knife in front of her on the table and plunged it into the Highlander's chest up to the handle. Connor's expression went from pure shock to agony in an instant as blood and orange marmalade stained his new shirt in rapid succession.
She looked around wildly for something--anything--sharp enough to take his head off with, but Richie was hauling her out of the room before her eyes found the knife drawer. Margaret watched in horror as Connor died on her kitchen floor. She stood there a full five minutes before it occurred to her that she'd have to remove the knife if he were to revive.
With grim resolve, Richie's wife braced her foot on the Highlander's chest and yanked the knife out, tossing it into the sink and grabbing a towel to wipe her hands on. Before she could wonder if the bloodstain would come out, Connor was gasping and sitting up, clutching his chest and looking around wildly for his assailant.
"Is there anything I can get for you?" Margaret asked.
Connor shook his head. "I take it that was Kimberly?"
"Yeah...I don't know what got into her..."
"Well, it sure as hell wasn't a butter knife," Connor said, struggling to his feet.
Richie wound up half carrying, half dragging his student up the stairs to the attic dojo and locked the door behind them, pocketing the key.
"Just what the hell was that all about?" He demanded.
"He killed James!" Kimberly shrieked, suddenly unable to control her emotions.
"Who is James?"
But the girl was shaking too hard to answer him. Instead, she collapsed into a heap on the floor and began to sob. He sank down next to her and opened his arms, surprised when she threw herself into them and clung to his neck.
Things were happening all too rapidly for Margaret Ryan. She hadn't even had her morning coffee yet and someone had committed a murder on her kitchen floor. Murder? Could it be considered a murder if the body walked away muttering about how much he hated orange marmalade? Richie would be upset with her for not telling him about Kimberly. And the girl might try to kill Connor again. Or worse, Connor might try to kill her. How did immortals survive for so long? Nothing in their lives was even remotely uncomplicated.
She had just heaved a heavy sigh and settled in with a steaming mug of coffee when the doorbell brought her out of her moment of peace. With another sigh, she trudged down the long hallway and yanked open the front door. There, on her doorstep was a woman she had been hearing about for the past ten years.
"Sarah!" She exclaimed.
The immortal blinked at her for a moment, then smiled widely. "You must be Margaret."
"Come in! You couldn't have picked a better time to arrive, all hell's just broken loose!"
Sarah followed her into the foyer, knowing that her buzz would bring Richie to greet her and not expecting to find one of her ex-husbands at his heels. Both men hugged her and she asked Connor why he had orange marmalade on his bare chest.
"For that matter," she added, "why are you half naked? It's *freezing*."
"That would be my fault," Kimberly said from the top of the stairs.
Sarah looked up at the girl, trying to figure out the meaning of that phrase. Was she Connor's latest wife?
"This is..." Richie started.
"Kimberly Spencer," Sarah said with a smile. "I saw you do Brigadoon about forty years ago, with Connor here, actually."
The Highlander squinted at his assailant. "I knew you looked familiar."
"Kimberly is Richie's student," Margaret explained. "Kim, this is..."
"Ambassador Logan's wife," Kimberly said.
"Ex-wife, actually," Sarah interjected with a half smile. "Sarah Taber, but you'd probably know me better as Sarah MacGreggor. You knew David?"
The girl nodded.
"Dave is the one who brought Kim to me," Richie said.
Sarah looked around the foyer, wondering just what had been going on before she arrived. The tension between Connor and Kimberly was almost palpable. And Methos had pawned off a student--especially a lovely young girl--on *Richie*?
"You and I have a lot of catching up to do, Kid," she smiled.
Margaret and Richie exchanged a look that established that she would see to it that Kimberly was not allowed a second chance to kill Connor.
"I can bring some breakfast up to you in the study," she offered.
"Wonderful," Richie smiled and held out an arm to Sarah.
"Can I borrow a sweater or something?" Sarah asked, ducking under his arm and looping her own around his waist. "I'm freezing."
Connor snorted in the drafty hallway. "And you call yourself a Highlander."
Sarah threw her head back and laughed loudly as Richie told her what had transpired in the kitchen before her arrival. "She's got spunk then, eh?"
He laughed as well and pulled the leather chair closer to the fire, patting it as an indication for her to sit. "I'd appreciate it if you could help me out with her, actually."
Instead of taking her seat, Sarah wandered over to the mantle and picked up the picture of Richie, Duncan, and Methos that she had taken over a hundred years ago on a fishing trip to the island. She examined it for a moment, then set it down carefully.
"If he thought you were ready to have a student, then you are," she said.
"Suddenly you buy into his whole Older and Wiser routine?"
Sarah sighed and sank into the chair, tucking her knees up under her chin and hugging them. "He *is* older and wiser, Rich. He can be a total pain in the ass about it, but that doesn't change the fact that it's true."
"Still," he said. "Here I was thinking *I* was older and wiser than Kimberly, but I'm only a few years older than she is..."
"Don't sell yourself short. Your only fault is that you are trusting and believed what she told you. Hell, even Petey thought she was a newbie. And, for all intents and purposes, she is. She could be three thousand, but she still doesn't know how to fight."
He watched her eyes slide over the rest of the photographs on the mantle and wondered if she knew that the sweater he had loaned her was one that Methos had left behind.
"You're not going to tell me what happened with you guys, are you?"
Sarah shook her head. "Not yet. I came because I needed to fix things with you, but baring my soul about Methos isn't part of that."
Richie nodded. "You'll tell me someday?"
"Someday," she said quietly.
Kimberly watched in awe as Richie and Sarah paced back and forth across the attic dojo in a heated spar. Margaret sat next to her, not sure if she should be grinning, or cringing when Sarah scored a good move against her husband. They came often enough that she alternated.
"Do you think I could ever learn to do that?" Kimberly asked quietly.
"Sure," Margaret said. "Maybe Sarah would even teach you. But you'd have to swear to her that you'd never try to kill Connor again. They're very close."
Kimberly frowned. "He told me last night that James challenged him and he was only defending himself. I thought the Game was about good and evil."
"The Game, from what little I understand of it," Margaret said, "is about survival. And the lines of good and evil are pretty grey sometimes....especially in the middle of a sword fight. Connor probably thought your James was a bad guy."
"He wasn't," Kimberly said stoutly. "He was good and loving...the most wonderful man in the world."
"Yes, but he kept you from learning what you needed to to survive, didn't he? And he *did* challenge Connor unprovoked."
"What are you saying?" Kimberly glared at her teacher's wife.
Margaret shrugged and winced as blood spilled on the dojo floor and Richie began to apologize profusely to Sarah.
"All I'm saying is that there are many perspectives to each story. You only know your own."
Richie was kneeling next to Sarah, still apologizing.
"Relax, Richie," she rolled her eyes and looked down at the wound on her side. "I'm fine. I let my guard down and you got through."
"Still, I'm sorry."
Sarah grinned at him and punched him lightly in the shoulder. "You've gotten pretty good, Kid."
"I had good teachers," he smiled and offered her a hand up.
"I need you to do me a favor," Margaret said.
Sarah looked up from the book she was reading.
"Will you talk to Kimberly?"
"I don't know..." Sarah frowned. "She's not my student. I'm not so sure it's a good idea to get involved."
"But she'll listen to you about this Connor thing."
"What makes you think that?" Sarah closed the book and set it on the arm of the chair. "She just met me yesterday."
"A thousand years old?" Sarah interrupted. "All that means is that I'm handy with a sword, not that I'm some kind of deity."
"Still," Margaret sighed. "You must have gained some wisdom over the years that you can share with her."
"The greatest piece of wisdom I have learned is to never come between a teacher and their student," Sarah said flatly.
Margaret leaned against the doorjamb and searched Sarah's face, wondering if she should just drop the subject.
"Don't do it for me then, do it for Richie. He's beating his head against the wall about this whole mess and feeling like it's his fault somehow."
Sarah looked up at her and their eyes met. It was a curious moment for both women. Margaret saw a depth in those green eyes that she could only guess came from having survived the centuries and Sarah saw that this young woman loved Richie with all her heart and soul.
"Okay," Sarah sighed. "I'll talk to her, but I'm not making any guarantees."
Margaret Ryan smiled. "I'm not asking you to solve his problems for him. I just think that Kim might listen to someone who has been through what she has."
"And," Margaret said hesitantly, "if you ever want someone to talk to about what happened between you and the Ambassador, I'm here. I may only be a kid, but I'm a good listener."
Sarah's smile was one of genuine thanks. "I'll keep that in mind, Meg."
[end part 4]
Sarah heard swords clanging in the attic dojo and quickened her pace up the stairs. Connor was supposedly waiting for her to join him in a late afternoon spar, but apparently had started without her. And she knew it wasn't Richie he was fighting, for the young immortal and his even younger wife had just interrupted her in the middle of Chapter Eight of her favorite Sandra McDonald novel with a symphony of moans and banging headboards.
She entered the dojo quietly, seeing exactly what she had expected to. Connor was half-heartedly defending himself from Kimberly, who was swinging wildly with her sword and panting for breath. The Highlander shot an amused, but harried, look at Sarah over the top of his opponent's head and flung his sword up to block a blow that might have actually broken skin.
"You bastard," Kimberly growled.
"I'm telling you, he challenged me," Connor answered in his best impression of dismay. "Tell her, Sarah, tell her I wouldn't kill her husband in cold blood."
Kimberly spun to face the older woman. "You can't interfere."
Sarah held up both hands and tried not to smile. He was a terrible actor. "I wouldn't dream of it."
"Good." Kimberly said.
Sarah cocked an eyebrow at Connor and sank to the floor, tucking her ankles into the lotus position and laying her sword across her knees. "Be nice to her," she said to Connor in ancient Gaelic.
"Of course," he answered.
She watched the battle closely, sizing up this new immortal and thinking that there was potential for the girl to be passing fair, if she didn't lose her head in a poorly chosen fight. Connor was indeed being quite nice to her. He blocked with only enough force to stop the blow and only swung when he knew she was ready for it. Kimberly, of course, had no idea. And if Connor didn't have lightning quick reflexes, the girl would have lost her right arm when she turned to look as Richie entered the room.
"What the hell is going on?" He yelled.
"Kimberly is trying to kill Connor," Sarah said rather matter-of-factly.
"WHAT? Why didn't you stop them?"
Sarah leveled an even gaze at him that she hoped he would understand. "It's a rule, Richie. I can't interfere. And neither should you. This is Kimberly's fight."
"Have you lost your mind?" He strode rapidly across the floor and caught Kimberly's sword arm as she swung at Connor again. "What do you think this will accomplish Kim? You can't beat him!"
She needs to figure that out for herself, Sarah thought loudly, hoping to project it into Richie's head. But she was an immortal, not a psychic, and he continued to admonish his student.
"He was playing along with you, can't you see that?"
Kimberly looked down at her feet, realizing how stupid she had been to challenge the Highlander and suddenly understanding that he had been humoring her all along.
"Look," Richie said quietly, "you have two choices in the Game. Live or die. Picking your battles is half the job. And revenge will get you nothing."
"It might make me feel better," she answered, her face hot with both embarrassment and anger.
Richie shook his head. "It won't. Revenge is what causes wars. Revenge is what fuels the hatred that kills people slowly from the inside."
Sarah cocked her head at Richie, both amazed and pleased to hear such wisdom coming from his young mouth.
"Immortality isn't about revenge," he continued. "It's about living the best way you can for as long as you can."
Kimberly looked at her teacher defiantly for a few moments, then turned and quietly left the room. Sarah looked from Richie to Connor and back, then got up and followed her.
She knocked lightly on the open door of Kimberly's room and waited for the girl to acknowledge her, then made herself comfortable on the edge of an antique steamer trunk and watched Kimberly pace a line from the bed to the desk and back.
"How old are you?" The girl asked suddenly.
"One thousand and fifty four," Sarah answered.
"How did you ever survive that long?"
Sarah sighed. "By learning how and when to fight and by doing whatever it took."
"And I don't suppose you ever made mistakes as colossal as the one I just did, huh?"
"Worse. I just got lucky. And then I got smarter."
"I feel like such a fool."
Sarah smiled. "Connor wasn't mocking you, Kimberly. He was trying to help you learn a valuable lesson and give you a chance to practice your skills with a sword."
Kimberly stopped pacing and looked down at the woman sitting casually on the trunk, trying to imagine her with the Ambassador. She had some of that same quiet wisdom that he did, but, seemed to be a far more open individual.
"Did you ever have a husband killed like James was?" She asked.
"My first husband was killed by an immortal who was hunting on the rumor that there might be an immortal in my clan. Everyone in the village was murdered. I know all about why you think you want Connor's head."
"So you agree with me?" Kimberly brightened.
"No. Killing Connor-even if you could-which you can't-won't make any of your pain or fear go away. And don't make the mistake of thinking that he won't fight back if you challenge him again."
"What *will* make it go away then?" Kimberly asked, sinking into the desk chair.
Sarah sighed and shrugged. "Time. Things won't be so scary once you learn to defend yourself."
"Who defended you when you were first learning? Did your teacher fight for you?"
Sarah laughed. "Hardly. My teacher told me that I would live or die by my own wit and sword. Then he handed me one and picked a fight."
Kimberly chuckled, wishing James had done the same for her. It would have been easier to learn to fight when she was still cocky with the notion of new immortality.
"Who won?" She asked.
"That first fight?" Sarah laughed. "He did. Ran me through in about three seconds and told me never to let my guard down again."
"And did you?"
"I'm here, aren't I?"
Kimberly smiled at the older woman and wondered how many times her teacher wound up at the losing end of their spars. Somehow she doubted that Sarah had remained a novice for long.
"And so are you, Kimberly," Sarah continued. "You're here. You survived by doing what you needed to. There was no shame in letting James do your fighting for you. But, he can't do it anymore. Now it's time to figure out how to do it for yourself."
"Will you stick around and help me?"
Sarah chuckled softly. "I didn't come here to dole out bits of wisdom and pick up new students. Richie is an excellent teacher, he just doesn't know it yet. Push him back as hard as he pushes you. Question his authority. You both can learn a lot from this and *you* owe it to yourself to get the best training possible. You wouldn't be here if the Ambassador didn't think Richie could provide that for you."
Kimberly sighed. "What's with him, anyway?"
"David?" Sarah smiled. "What do you mean?"
"He's so...I don't know....enigmatic. He's very old, isn't he?"
"Older than you?"
"Older than me. Older than Connor, Richie and me put together."
"How long have you known him?"
"Since I was twenty six."
Kimberly whistled softly. "That's a long time."
"Yes," Sarah nodded. "It sure is."
"Trying to steal my student?" Richie asked from the doorway.
Sarah looked up at him and smiled. "Heck no. This is just girl talk."
Richie returned the smile. Girl talk. Right. "Can I steal her away? I think I need to apologize for screaming at her like that."
"Write this down, Kim" Sarah said conspiratorially as she got up. "He doesn't admit he's wrong very often."
"It was a lovely wedding," Connor said from the doorway of Sarah's bedroom.
Sarah turned to him, the picture from her Wedding Day still in her left hand, and half smiled. "It was. I think it was the best one I've had."
Connor chuckled and wandered into the room to stand next to her. "The image of Duncan and Rachel doing the Hustle at the reception will haunt my memory for all time."
Sarah laughed. "Come on, I bet you had your own polyester leisure suit. Trench coats and sneakers weren't in style in the seventies."
"Trench coats and sneakers are timeless," he said. "But what are you doing carrying around your wedding pictures?"
"I don't know," she said, quite truthfully. "I was in the study and saw it and picked it up. It seems like a lifetime ago."
"It was," he said. "Almost a hundred years."
Sarah nodded and tossed the picture onto the chair.
"Richie says you and Methos haven't spoken since..."
"Since I tried to kill him," she supplied the phrase he was hoping to find a euphemism for. "It's true."
Sarah shook her head. "No, just not ready yet, that's all."
Connor acted on an impulse and pulled her into a hug, slightly surprised that she relaxed against his chest so readily.
"So," Sarah said, resting her cheek on his shoulder and speaking almost directly into his right ear. "Why are you here? We both know it's not just for a visit and a spot of orange marmalade."
"I'll tell you later," he sighed.
Sarah pulled back and looked at him a moment, then echoed his sigh, not willing to push when he had just allowed her an escape. "You and I, Connor," she said. "You and I."
He liked the way that sounded. They weren't in love and never had been, but sometimes there was a need for a physical presence in life, to remind you that you were still living it.
"I know what you're thinking," Sarah smirked.
Connor cocked an eyebrow at her. "Oh do you?"
She nodded. And then she kissed him. It was warm and soft and left him smiling.
"You were right," he said.
Before he could think twice about it, Connor MacLeod was doing something that Methos had never had the chance to; carrying Sarah toward the bed with long blonde hair falling on both of their shoulders and getting tangled in his fingers.
"Okay, Connor, what gives?" Richie said, breaking the comfortable silence that had fallen between the three immortals as they sat sipping brandy. "You've never just dropped in to see *me* before and you didn't know Sarah would be coming."
The elder MacLeod sighed and leaned forward in his chair to rest his elbows on his knees, still reluctant to share the reason for his visit. He had nothing really concrete to go on; just a series of hunches and a gut feeling, none of which he liked very much.
"I'm worried about Duncan," he said at last.
"Why?" Sarah asked.
"I'm not sure," he shrugged. "There is a bunch of circumstantial evidence that looks pretty bad when you weigh it all together."
"Such as?" She questioned again, making herself more comfortable in the leather chair.
"When is the last time either of you two saw him?"
"About a year ago," Sarah said. "August, I think."
Richie thought a moment. "Last November."
"I heard from him in early December," Connor said. "But that still makes it close to a year for all of us."
Sarah sipped at her brandy thoughtfully. "We all go through periods of self induced isolation, Connor. And Duncan is more prone to them than just about anyone I know, apart from Petey."
"Do you have any idea where he might be?"
"Petey?" She laughed. "Hardly!"
Sarah shook her head. "I bumped into him in Rome, but he was on his way somewhere else, I forget where."
"The Orient," Richie said. "Methos said that he thought Mac was somewhere in the Orient."
"Japan, I think," Connor sighed.
"Japan?" Richie and Sarah said in perfect unison with identical inflections of shock and disbelief.
Connor nodded. "I got a package from Tokyo about a week ago."
"What in the hell is he doing in *Japan*?" Sarah muttered.
"He's always had a penchance for Japan," Richie said. "You know that."
"Yeah, but they are beheading Gaijin in Japan right now," she countered.
Connor sighed. She was right. When Japan returned to its isolationist policies in the early part of the century they had also reverted to ancient methods of government. Criminals, religious dissidents, and enemies of the Emperor were executed brutally and use of a Samurai sword to part offenders from their heads was not all together uncommon.
"What was in that box?" Richie asked, fearing he would hear the phrase 'the katana'.
"Personal things: pictures, some legal papers, the pocket watch," Connor said, intentionally not mentioning that one of those papers had been a last will and testament. "No note. No instructions."
"Just things that he would want someone to have," Sarah said.
Connor glared at her and cocked his head slightly in Richie's direction.
"So," Richie said quietly, "you came here to tell me that you're worried about Mac. What am I supposed to do about it?"
Both Highlanders turned towards him, shocked to hear such a very Methos-like statement come from the young man's mouth.
"I don't know," Connor said. "I just thought you should know what's going on."
Richie snickered. "You don't even know what's going on, Connor."
"He's right," Sarah said, forcing a smile. "Duncan could have just sent them to you for safekeeping. Maybe he's ready to do something like retreat to Holy Ground."
"Without a note?" Connor said flatly. "That's not like him."
Sarah watched the frown form on Richie's face and shot one of her own in Connor's direction.
"Maybe he didn't have time to write one, the mail boats from Japan only leave once a month or so," she said.
"That would have left him plenty of time," Connor grumbled.
Sarah caught his gaze and held it hard.
"Oh for Christ's sake. Cut it out, both of you," Richie said suddenly. "I'm not a kid anymore, you don't have to protect me."
Sarah seemed a bit taken aback by his tone, but Connor chuckled.
"Okay then," she said. "What do you propose we do?"
Richie shrugged. "I'm not sure what we can do."
"Too bad we don't have any Watcher connections," Connor said, looking pointedly at Sarah, who sighed.
"They've changed the tattoo since Adam Pierson's days," she said.
"Still, he might know someone who'd be willing..."
Sarah sighed again, then looked up at the ceiling. "How long has it been since Logan was shot?"
"About two months," Connor answered.
Sarah narrowed her eyes in thought and ran her hands through her hair. "He might still be there," she muttered.
"Where?" Connor asked.
"There is an island in the Greek Archipelago that he likes to go to in between lives," she said. "I'll give you the address, but I'm not going with you."
"I have a Watcher connection," Richie said suddenly.
"Who?" Connor asked.
"Bennett's grandson?" Sarah added.
Richie shook his head. "Margaret."
"What?" It was Sarah and Connor's turn to speak in unison.
"She doesn't have the tattoo," Connor said.
"Not in a place where you can see it, no," Richie smiled.
Sarah laughed, but Connor was still in shock.
"You can't ask her to do this, she's risked her life to marry you in the first place," he said.
"Nobody said she was *my* Watcher," Richie answered.
"Would she help us?" Connor asked.
"She helped me find Sarah, but she doesn't know I know that."
Sarah sighed. "You'd think after that whole deal with poor Joe they would have eased up a bit."
"You'll talk to her?" Connor prompted.
Richie nodded, wondering how he was going to tell his wife that he knew the one secret she had taken pains to keep from him.
A cliffhanger? In *Highlander*? Never!
(i think this should have been titles "Conversations In Doorways" since so many
started in them!)
Also, I really need to thank Sharon Maness for writing me a wonderful letter
about the MacGreggor saga that gave me the stamina to come back and finish
this. Thanks also to Giner, for suggesting that Methos have grey streaks at his
And about Meg being a Watcher given her relationship with Richie....who knows
what kinds of changes to the Watcher Rules will come out of Joe Dawson's
precedent setting case?
A cliffhanger? In *Highlander*? Never!
(i think this should have been titles "Conversations In Doorways" since so many started in them!)
Also, I really need to thank Sharon Maness for writing me a wonderful letter
about the MacGreggor saga that gave me the stamina to come back and finish
this. Thanks also to Giner, for suggesting that Methos have grey streaks at his
And about Meg being a Watcher given her relationship with Richie....who knows
what kinds of changes to the Watcher Rules will come out of Joe Dawson's
precedent setting case?
And about Meg being a Watcher given her relationship with Richie....who knows what kinds of changes to the Watcher Rules will come out of Joe Dawson's precedent setting case?
To Part 12: In Need of Rescue
To the Authors pages