All Your Immortality
MacLeod wandered through the Paris streets soaking in the pain his latest return to the historic city had brought him. At least he was feeling something, he reminded himself. He had only thought he could leave this city. He'd made a big production of it, turning over the keys for the barge to Methos, quite certain he had left for good the last time. Part of him, the part that couldn't live with the loss of his family, never cared to see this lonely old city again. But sometimes he could swear that was the same part that pulled him back.
Both Tessa and Richie were buried here. And that's all he really had left of either of them. The woman he'd loved more than any other and the son he was never suppose to have- his one true family. He'd come this close once before with Little Dear and Kelani, but no matter how much he'd loved them he knew he was just borrowing them from his friend. They would never have been his for all eternity. But he had been Tessa's one true love and the only father Richie had ever known. Unlike past losses he could never get over the two of them. The truth was he didn't want to. At least in his grief he had some part of them.
There were so many regrets. Why hadn't he married Tessa earlier? Why hadn't he officially adopted the boy? Why hadn't he taken his makeshift, misfit family and run for cover when he realized that he'd reentered the game? Why had he ever sent Tessa and Richie to the car alone that night? The horrible night that Tessa died and Richie's newfound immortality paradoxically robbed him of his remaining childhood and trapped him for eternity in his youth.
And then when he had his second chance with Richie, he had blown it. When Tessa had first died, he had clung desperately to the boy. Later, when it became clear Richie would not be able to stay out of the game, he began pushing the teenager away, trying to force the boy from his heart before fate could break it entirely. He hadn't been very successful. No matter what he did to Richie, the kid always came back. Duncan MacLeod was his hero, but it had gone beyond that. Some deep, inner wisdom kept guiding the young immortal back to his teacher.
MacLeod pulled the small flask from his pocket, clumsily unscrewed the lid, and took another drink. He never imagined he'd become a drunk, but here he was. It had happened so casually. A year and a half after he'd taken the life of his student, his friend, his son, he finally quit trying to outrun the pain and instead tried to drown in it.
He stepped onto the barge and swayed a little bit to the rocking of the Seine River beneath his feet. He could sense that Methos wasn't there, so he fished around under the bench for the extra key. It felt so good to be here. Only in Paris could he ever feel at home again. Had he gone back to Seattle he would have surely lost his mind. There would have been all those questions. Where's Richie? How's the kid? He would have had to look into the eyes of the boy's friends and try to come up with some way of explaining how someone so young had died. There were the young men Richie had shot baskets with, the girls he dated, the shopkeepers and hot dog vendors he'd relied on for food when good old Mac wasn't cooking. There were hundreds of reasons not to return, every one with a name and a face. Every one who would be trying to find out how Duncan MacLeod had failed to protect his ward and student.
At least here on the barge he only had to answer to the ghosts.
"Tess, I'm home." MacLeod hollered out the way he always had for them both. "Richie!" When he received no answer, he fell on the couch and passed out.
He awoke the next morning to the smell of bacon and eggs and the sharp buzz of another immortal. The laughing, gentle, I've got a secret buzz of Methos. Funny how he could tell them apart- Methos, Richie and Amanda. Richie's had always been clear and uncomplicated, childlike and fresh. Methos mocked the world and still managed a glimmer of youthful hope. He was well practiced at starting over again and again. Duncan doubted his deceivingly young in appearance but truly ancient friend, would ever really grow up. It was his way of escaping his pain.
He decided to stay on the couch till Methos came back to the room. How had he got past him? It worried him that he hadn't been awakened by the ever present buzz their kind projected.
"Just as I thought, you're drunk."
"At your age I would think you could manage hello."
Methos sat a hot cup of coffee in front of his friend. Duncan pulled himself up a bit, and found his flask. It was empty. Damn, now he'd have to drink the coffee. He tossed the deceitful bottle behind him.
"Welcome back." Methos said with quiet worry. "How was your journey?"
"Not bad. Picked up a new bad habit."
"I see that. Why?"
MacLeod started to answer but he knew the reply would sound crazy even to him. How did he tell him that only when he drank enough could he make the ghosts leave him alone?
MacLeod shot Methos a, did I say that out loud, look.
"No, I picked up mind reading while you were gone."
"Don't be fresh, kid." Duncan collapsed back on the couch.
"Sometimes, but not as often. She seems to be at peace."
"I'm sorry." Methos shook his head and stared at his tennis shoe. He untied the laces and retied them several times, feeling awkward and stupid. Why was he doing that? That was Richie's bad habit, not his. But it was handy.
"I have a confession to make."
"Not interested." Duncan pulled himself to his feet and went to the shower.
Methos watched his tormented friend fade into the other room. He was grateful MacLeod had walked out. How could he ever make this confession? It was going to destroy their friendship, and depending on the Highlander's temper possibly Methos' very life.
About half way through his shower, MacLeod realized how rude he had been to Methos. Besides, after everything the ancient Greek had admitted to in the past, what could he possibly have left to confess?
Methos had rarely cried in MacLeod's presence, but right now the irritable Scot could swear he saw tears in his eyes. Still, he was not really in the mood to be sympathetic.
"Methos, just tell me what you did."
"I don't know how to start, really."
"From the top."
"Right." Methos took a few steadying breaths. He held tight to yet another cup of coffee, hoping it's warm embrace would see him through this. "The night Richie went to the race track- "
MacLeod cast a hard stare in Methos' direction that was almost his undoing. This shouldn't be so hard, he told himself.
"What about it?"
"Mac," The words caught in his throat until MacLeod's intense eyes drew them from his soul. "Richie didn't die that night."
MacLeod was silent as the thought absorbed into his mind. He was puzzled and confused as he tried to sort out the simple statement. Richie didn't die that night. What could Methos possibly be talking about?
"Methos- Richie died in front of me. With my hands...." Mac stretched his hands out examining the blood he would never be able to wash away.
Methos rapidly shook his head. "No, I found him still alive..."
"Then you saw one of Horton's demons. Or you saw Richie's ghost. I see him all the time. I talk to him..."
"You talk to him?" Methos folded his hands together over his mouth. Duncan nodded
"Oh Mac, I'm so sorry I didn't tell you this before you went so far over the..."
"I understand. He was very special. I like to believe he's still hanging around. Funny, I don't feel him inside. I feel nothing from his Quickening. But sometimes he hangs out with me."
"Mac, he isn't dead. You don't understand. I found Richie alive. He was in another area. Horton only made you believe you killed him, to destroy you. At the same time he made Richie believe that he had killed you."
MacLeod could only stare blankly ahead. He wanted to shut Methos up, but at the same time he wanted to share in this wonderful fantasy. If he spoke, he would break the spell. He fought to control his breathing as he silently pleaded for Methos to continue with his explanation.
Methos recalled the painful night when MacLeod had begged him to take his own head after he had accidentally killed his young student. He remembered how Joe had defied every last rule of the Watchers as he stood over the boy's body and fell apart.
"It was after you left. Joe went to pieces for awhile. Then we called in a team and had Richie's body taken care of. Something didn't feel right. It was like I still felt the presence of another immortal. While Joe was busy with the other Watchers, I began to look around. I had thought that it might be you.
"I found Richie in a room on the other end of the old racetrack. He was clinging to your body, begging you to live again. It was quite a horrible scene. If I hadn't just seen the opposite, a little earlier, I would have sworn that was the way it had happened."
Methos remembered trying to break through to the distraught younger immortal. No matter how much he pleaded, Richie would not release the body of his teacher. He took hold of Richie and gave him a bit of a shake. Finally he had to knock the kid out just to get him to let loose of MacLeod. He managed to carry him out past the guards and into his car.
"Once I got him back to my flat I began to make the necessary arrangements to get us out of town. When he awoke- "
"What?" MacLeod insisted, finally beginning to realize this might be true.
"He couldn't talk. He was pretty much catatonic."
"Richie, come on, wake up. I didn't hit you that hard." Methos wiped the boy's face with a wet cloth. Come on." Blue eyes fluttered open eventually, but there was nothing like comprehension about him. He was awake and that was about all that could be said.
Methos was finally able to get him into a shower and a fresh set of clothes. The outfit was a little long on him but considering the current fashion, Richie wouldn't look that out of place. Fortunately, he and Richie shared pretty much the same taste in clothes. He could never go back to the barge for the kid's things.
The guilt was setting in. Why hadn't he or Joe or even MacLeod prevented Richie from leaving the barge? He had just been so frustrated with his teacher's ranting and raving about demons and monsters. He'd wanted some air and had left his older friends to hopefully straighten Mac out. They had failed. Now they had really made a mess of things.
"Richie, what am I going to do with you?" Methos sat on the side of the bed studying the vacant expression of his newest friend. "Have you completely lost your mind? Can't you hear me at all?" Methos smoothed Richie's hair away from his forehead hoping for even the slightest hint of awareness.
"With everything you've been through I would just be tempted to give it all up, too. Just shut the whole world out. I think I did, once or twice. But you're not going to make a very tough immortal in this state. I'll never be able to leave you alone, even for a moment. You'll end up the favorite toy of someone like Kronos- and trust me, that's not something you want to be."
Methos was startled by a loud clanking noise. Before he moved a muscle he was aware that something unnatural had entered the small apartment. The air had suddenly grown cold. A hint of a red mist passed by his youthful countenance tormentingly. He turned his head slowly. A small gasp faded in his throat as he recognized Kronos standing across the room.
"Did I frighten you, brother? Didn't you just ask for me?"
"I don't understand." Methos stared incredulously.
"And you just thought MacLeod had gone stark raving mad." Kronos smiled with mocking warmth.
"But you're dead."
"I am the beginning and the end. How can I be dead?"
"What are you doing here?"
"It looks as though you're packing." Kronos glanced at the several bags Methos had thrown together. "Good. Leave town before MacLeod comes back and finds the boy. He will kill him. He thinks he's one of Horton's demons."
"Is he?" Methos studied the catatonic youth before him.
"No. He's the real thing."
"Why are you helping us?"
"I'm just here to warn you. What you do with the information is your business. I'd highly recommend you leave this town and never come back."
"Why warn me? Why not just kill us now?"
"Simple. The two of you are more useful to us alive. If Horton decides he needs you, he'll come for you. Otherwise go about life as usual."
"Right." Methos looked back at Richie who didn't even know he was in the room let alone that Kronos was.
"All you have to do to continue to live, is to take good care of the boy. And never, ever try to contact MacLeod or Dawson, or anyone who knows them." Kronos added the last as he saw the thought enter his former student's mind. "If you do, you sign both of your death warrants."
"So we carry on just on the off chance that you may need us again to get to MacLeod?"
"You always were the pick of the litter."
"But MacLeod took off. He didn't stay to fight. You got what you wanted. He won't fight anymore. You've destroyed him."
"MacLeod's gone off to lick his wounds and mourn for his precious Richie. When he makes it back, you'll be hearing from us."
"He'll make it, eventually." Methos had a sudden thought, but could not force himself to move. Perhaps thousands of years of conditioning still made him fearful of Kronos. Much of what he had been and done had been the result of his fear of the immortal that he now justifiably believed was evil incarnate. "What if I decide to take his head myself? I'm not exactly fond of babysitting. Especially for someone who seems to have lost all his RAM."
"You won't do that. After all, you've been reformed."
"Are you sure?"
Kronos gave his deceitfully warm smile. "Take his head, take your own." With that he disappeared.
Methos' was regaining his balance just a bit. His hands only trembled slightly as he poured MacLeod another cup of strong coffee. Now that the confession had been made he was feeling much more comfortable with the older appearing immortal. A great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Besides now he could share in his guilt. He could tell Mac the whole truth. It was getting easier to convince himself that he had made the right decision.
"Where is he? Is he all right? Can he talk yet? Has he told you what he saw?"
"We spent a year in Greece. I have a home there near the sea. I knew it wouldn't do us any good to try to hide from Kronos, but I needed to get him away from Paris. Some place quiet where he could recover. It's rather secluded there. After several months of therapy and medications-"
"Who was his doctor?"
"Me, of course. I still hold a license to practice medicine there." Methos frowned at MacLeod's scornful look. "Well I couldn't exactly check him in at the Betty Ford clinic, could I?"
"Anyway, he finally started talking again. He can't remember anything that happened, though he had lots of very confusing nightmares, considering he saw you kill him and him kill you. He has no clear memories. And he doesn?t remember anything before that night."
"Nothing? Not me? Or Tessa?"
"No, not even his earlier childhood. It?s as though his mind has been wiped clean. His hard drive crashed- "
"I get the picture." Duncan rested his face in his hands. Was this a blessing in disguise? If Richie couldn't remember him, it might be easier to start over again. A second chance as father and son, or teacher and student. At this point he didn't care what relationship they maintained, he just wanted the boy back.
It wasn't difficult for Duncan to accept the fact that Richie had been catatonic for so long. Whenever the boy was seriously hurting he withdrew in silence. Duncan had often suspected it had something to do with the abusive childhood he'd had.
He remembered how Richie had grown so quiet when he had sent him away shortly after he became immortal. Richie's quiet acceptance of his fate had broken Duncan's heart. The boy had believed he had angered his mentor and accepted his punishment without so much of a protest. What hurt Duncan the most was that Richie had so quickly classified him with all his past abusive foster parents and easily moved on.
He tried to shake the memories but found he couldn't. The image of Richie standing outside the antique shop in total silence after Tessa's death still haunted him. He had not asked Richie to go with him to Paris for Tessa's funeral. Neither of them had barely spoken once Richie had discovered he was immortal and poor Tessa wasn't. They wandered around the next few days in total silence. The only conversations were held with detectives investigating her murder. When at last Duncan had been granted permission to take her body to Paris, he told Richie he would be leaving that afternoon. He said nothing about returning. The boy had disappeared shortly after that, and Duncan hadn't seen him again until he started to leave for the airport. He'd walked over to him and gave him the keys to the shop and told him to sell it. Richie never said a word. Duncan reminded him to watch his head. When Duncan started for his car, Richie had turned and followed him. Getting into the passenger seat he never even looked at Duncan.
"Richie? Of course you want to go." Duncan blinked back tears. What had he been thinking? How could he have expected less from the boy? "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. You should go. Go pack your bag, I'll wait here. Bring a suit, okay?"
Richie looked terrified. He was afraid to get out of the car.
"It's okay. I won't leave without you, but I can't go back in with you. Now go quickly before we miss our plane. I'll have to get you a ticket."
Richie still wouldn't move.
"Here, you take my ticket, Richie. You can't believe I'd leave you here? You can't be left on your own. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm sorry." Duncan pulled him into a long reassuring embrace. "Now come on we have to go."
Richie had finally taken Duncan's ticket with him and went back into the house. He reappeared with a carry on and a garment bag within a minute. He'd obviously packed earlier believing he was going. When Duncan had told him he was leaving he'd been so offended he had left.
Richie had remained silent all the way to the airport and then during the long plane trip. During a lay over in New York, Duncan had tried to call Connor, only to discover he was in South America. When he returned to their table in the airport restaurant he realized that Richie hadn't eaten.
"You haven't touched your food. Eat up, our plane boards in a couple of minutes."
Richie shoved his plate away from him.
"You know you could pick a better time to hold a grudge." Duncan snapped at him. Richie looked up giving Duncan his full attention. His tear filled eyes spoke for him. It was then that Duncan realized Richie wasn't silent because he was mad, he was merely avoiding any conversation that would make him cry in front of everyone.
"I'm sorry, lad. I did not mean that. I know you're hurting, too."
Richie had swallowed down his tears and half covered his face with a baseball cap.
"Richie, son, you should try to eat something." When Duncan still didn't get a response he finally stood and left a tip. "Well, come on then, let's go. I?m sure you'll eat when you get hungry enough."
Once onboard the plane, the boy had fallen asleep shortly after take off. He remained that way until they landed in Paris. Once they had gone to the barge, Richie had disappeared into his room where he stayed until the next day when it was time for the funeral.
Richie had yet to speak. He allowed Duncan to stop him and fix his tie. After a long hug, they had left for the funeral. Richie had demonstrated his forgiveness by sticking close to Duncan through the afternoon. They somehow managed to get through the day. It wasn't until Tessa's old friend tried to speak to Richie that Duncan realized the boy was not all right.
Richie had tried to respond, but the words wouldn't come. He looked up at Allan, suddenly terrified.
"It's okay, Richie, you don't have to try to talk."
Duncan had quickly joined them. "What's wrong?"
"He can't seem to find his voice. Duncan, I think he needs a doctor. He doesn't look like he's eaten in days."
"Only what I make him eat. I think I'd better take him home."
"Yes, of course. I'll take care of things here, Duncan. Take the boy home and get some rest."
Back at the barge, Duncan had finally managed to get Richie to eat a sandwich and drink some milk. Still, the boy had not tried to speak again. Duncan had led him to his room and turned the covers down. Once Richie had lain down, Duncan covered him up and sat down next to him taking him in his arms. Richie had started to cry almost immediately. "Why am I still alive? It should have been me. I'm so sorry I'm immortal and she isn't. Why didn't you tell me? Maybe, if I could have got between her and the bullet, she would still be alive. I don't think there was time, but maybe I could have done something different!"
Duncan finally realized the damage he'd created by shutting Richie out these last few days. He had been in so much pain and torment of his own that he had not been able to acknowledge that Richie was hurting also. He couldn't deal with the boy's pain as well as his own until now. So Richie had just hung on quietly, waiting to offer his help if needed but politely remaining shut out. Much the way he'd spent his life. Always eager to please and gain acceptance, but quite used to being shoved aside.
Of course Tessa's death would have hurt the teenager to his very soul. Other than Emily Ryan, Tessa was the closest thing Richie had had to a mother. There had been one or two foster mothers who'd actually been kind to him, but they had had no more choice in keeping him than he did in staying. Tessa had stuck by him no matter what he did, worried about him when he was late, scolded him when he was wrong, and protected him to the end. Richie had loved her equally. He had grown to respect her opinion, listened to her advice, and usually followed her rules better than he did Duncan's. They hugged, they kissed goodnight and goodbye, and in any argument between her and Duncan, Richie always took Tessa's side. He waited with her when Duncan was off battling evil immortals and often tried to protect her from them. And they had died together.
And then Duncan had almost closed him out as though none of that had ever mattered.
"Shhh, Richie. There was nothing you could have done to save Tessa. It's not your fault. You must never think that. You died that night also, remember?"
"But I woke up. It should have been her. You're going to think that every time you see me. That's why you didn't want me to come with you."
"That's not true. Richie, I knew for years that Tessa was mortal and this would someday happen. I knew that you were immortal from the moment we met. I had hoped you would have had the chance to grow up first. I don't blame you for being alive. I'm thankful that you are. I couldn't get through this without you, son. Do you understand me?"
Richie only nodded.
"Let me hear the words, Richie."
"I understand. I do."
Duncan had held him the rest of the night, finally falling asleep next to him. He couldn't bear to sleep in Tessa's bed, so he stayed there holding on to the one person he had left in his life.
Duncan was drawn back to the present when Methos moved uncomfortably for another cup of coffee. "My God, if he doesn't remember he's an immortal- "
"Don't worry. We had to start that over just as soon as he got past the catatonic stage. I started re-training almost immediately."
"But he can't be ready to be left alone."
"He's not alone. He's with someone we both trust very much."
Methos smiled and shook his head.
"Connor! " Duncan shot to his feet. "Connor knows of this? When did you tell him?"
"After a year went by, the visits with Kronos stopped. Richie's nightmares all but went away. I picked up the phone and started to call Joe and no evil spirits popped up."
"No. I hung up. I didn't want him involved until I was sure things went okay. So we tracked down Connor. I told him what was happening and that I needed to come back to Paris and find you. He refused to let me for awhile. He didn't think I stood a chance against you or a demon. Let's just say it was his show from that point on. He's called all the shots since then."
"He tends to do that." Duncan nodded.
It was raining when Connor felt the buzz of at least one immortal. He was looking around for something to cook and had just about convinced himself not to give into his craving for pizza. Right now he'd give his best katana for a young student who loved pizza. That's all you really ever had to feed the young ones, to hear his friends talk about their teenagers.
He went to the door, sword in hand. When he opened it he was surprised to see two young soaking wet immortals before him. "One would have been fine." He spoke upward toward God.
"I'm sorry?" The older of the two immortals asked.
"Nothing, what can I do for you?"
"You don't know me."
"This much I know...," Connor let his gravel on velvet, ancient voice drift off. There was something familiar about the younger one. He tried to look beneath the hat he was wearing.
"My name is Adam Pierson."
Connor casually plucked the hat off of the boy and smiled his recognition. The agitated look on Richie's face demonstrated how little he appreciated Connor's forwardness.
"This is Richie Ryan. We're friends of Duncan MacLeod."
"The boy I recognize. How have you been, Richie?"
"You know me?"
"Don't you remember me?" When Richie only stared at him Connor cast a worried look at Adam.
"He has amnesia. We've had quite a time of it."
Methos was at a loss for words beyond that. He didn't know what else to say. Connor studied the pathetic figures before him. They hadn't spoken as if Duncan was dead, but it was obvious that they were in trouble.
"So, you want pizza then?"
"I'd kill for pizza and beer." Methos looked as desperate as possible.
"Me too." Richie swallowed hard.
"Good." Conner nodded. He knew his life had been going too smooth lately. He had been growing complacent. It was all about to end. "So is Duncan alright?"
"As far as I know. It's sort of a long story."
Conner had them come inside. "Would you like to get out of those clothes? Richie, go take a hot shower before you get sick. Right through there."
"According to Adam, I can't get sick."
"Sure you can, but a couple hours of sleep will make you as good as new."
Richie left the room happy to be the one chosen to hit the shower first. They had walked in the rain for several miles trying to find Connor MacLeod. He was tired and hungry and cold and wet. And he could sense that Adam wanted to talk to Connor alone. He knew that Adam had kept secrets from him, but he believed that his friend had tried not to force memories on him, preferring to let Richie remember his past on his own.
He let the hot water run over him for the longest time, hoping to wash away the last year and a half of madness. His life had been so confusing. Nightmares and terrible memories filled the void where his childhood and teen years should be. Things had been better the last few months, but he was still frustrated by his inability to remember anything about himself. It had unnerved him to see Connor's confusion with his lack of recognition. It was like the man knew all about him. He could only relate it to invasion of privacy.
"That's quite a story, Adam." Connor slowly shook his head.
"You don't believe me." Methos sighed heavily and stared at Connor who didn't respond. " That's okay, I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't lived through it."
"So do you think this Horton is a real demon?" Connor avoided offering an opinion on the validity of the story.
"I don't know what to believe. It could all be tricks. I don't know. I do know that when first I saw Richie dead at MacLeod's hands and then he at Richie's, I had to get the boy out."
"I'm sure Duncan will feel the same when he finds out."
"I hope." Adam smiled weakly. He was so tired with this burden of hiding Richie.
"It must be difficult for you to keep this secret, Adam."
"It's been horrible. I can't believe I'm doing this to him. I had to come just to see what you thought. I don't mind looking after Richie. We've become great friends through this all. I just can't carry this deception any longer. I hide the truth from them both every minute."
Conner gave him an understanding smile. "I don't remember Duncan mentioning having you as his student. How long have you been immortal?"
"Oh, longer than you might think. I've had several teachers, but no one was ever quite so determined as MacLeod to keep my head on straight."
Conner could tell the young man was uncomfortable giving away so much information about himself. He would respect that. This kid didn't know him from the next immortal. Apparently Duncan had said enough about him that he felt safe bringing Richie to him, but Connor was glad to see Adam was cautious.
Perhaps he did have a bit of a past to hide. Duncan had obviously gotten Adam's "head on straight" rather than remove it all together. It was enough for Connor that young Pierson had protected Richie for and from Duncan. This is the way Duncan would have wanted it.
"Adam better hurry up or the pizza is going to be gone." Richie laughed as he bit into another slice of pizza.
"Yes." Connor smiled kindly. "So you have no recollection of me?"
"No sir, I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry. It's me who's sorry. When I left you with Duncan and Tessa I thought you were going to live a safe and sheltered life. Get through college before becoming immortal, at least. We can never be sure, can we?"
"No sir. So are you the one who found me?"
"Well, actually you found Duncan and me. You broke into his store one night just as we were about to take on another immortal."
"I thought it was one on one. And why did I break in?"
"We were still debating who's opponent he was. You were living on the streets. A thief who stole to survive."
"Wow, that's harsh. Maybe I don't want to remember who I was."
"Ahh! You were a fine boy. Just a little misguided by desperation. That all changed when you started living with Duncan and Tessa."
"Adam told me Tessa was killed when I first was. She seems incredible. I wish I could remember her."
Connor studied the boy. He was so young. How could Duncan have attempted to kill him? What could have possibly taken over him to explain the bizarre behavior Adam had described? He was so tempted to leave immediately for Paris and try to track Duncan down. But it had been a little over a year since it had all happened. Who knows where he was by now. If he believed he had killed Richie, he wouldn't come out of hiding until he was able to deal with what had happened.
"Do you remember Duncan?"
"No. Adam won't let me see him. He insists he's still alive."
"Why do you doubt that?"
Richie started to tell him but thought better of it. "I'm not sure."
"Is it the nightmares Adam told me about?"
"Yeah, they're really confusing."
"They'll sort themselves out eventually. When you're ready."
"That's what Adam says."
"How old is Adam?"
"I'm not sure, I know he attended the fist Woodstock. I think he's older than he looks." Richie began to look around at all of the antiques that filled Connor's large and spacious apartment.
"Our kind usually are. Was he a student of Duncan's?"
"Yeah, but he said Mac wasn't really his first teacher, just his best." Richie stood up and wandered over to a large sculpture.
Connor nodded. He wouldn't have expected less from his best student. Adam obviously enjoyed being mysterious. Perhaps he felt it gave him an edge against more experienced immortals such as the Scot. He would let the kid play his game for now.
"Do you recognize that work?"
"No- not really. There's something about it."
"Well everything in here is at least 200 years old except that. Like the desk for instance. That was probably made in England around the 17th century."
"Pretty close. What's your point?"
"Well this just seems so new. So modern."
"Well yes. Tessa sent me that. She made it shortly after I left. "
"What is it suppose to be?" Richie stared at the three blobs arranged in a circle. A step or two behind the tallest blob was a fourth form.
"You got me." Connor lied. He had immediately understood that the forms in the circle represented Duncan, Tessa and Richie. He assumed that he was the fourth form standing off to the side behind Duncan. It had arrived about six months after he had last seen them. The card had only said, "Merci, love Tessa and your family." If Richie had any memories left he would have understood what it represented.
After all the pizza, beer and cherry coke had been consumed Connor sent Richie off to the guestroom to sleep. The kid was exhausted and could barely keep his eyes open. He and Adam talked awhile longer, but all the younger immortal did was give him more details about the problems they had been having.
Connor was shocked to learn that Duncan and Richie's relationship had been plagued with trouble, including several separations and two instances in which they had completely severed their ties. Duncan should have understood that once you take in an eternal teenager you protected him for life. On top of that, this had been the third incident in which Duncan had tried to kill his young student. Was there something more to this, or could Richie just not stay out of the way? Whatever the case, they had to keep the two separated until they were sure.
"So Connor knows about this also?" Duncan was rocking back and forth slowly trying to calm himself. This just couldn't be true. He couldn't focus. "All this time, all the grieving- My God- the pain. Have you any idea how much pain I went though? Do you have any idea how often I prayed for death? How close I came to taking my own head?"
"I'm so sorry." Methos choked on tears.
"How could you do this to me?"
"I couldn't have found you after the first time you left. I tried. But every time it was like I told you. Horton wouldn't let us."
"After I killed him..."
"I wasn't here. How could I know? I couldn't use my connections with the Watchers. I could only keep him alive. After several months without any visits, we contacted Connor. I couldn't live with the responsibility of keeping this secret on my own anymore. I thought perhaps I was making the wrong decisions..."
"You were." Duncan nodded, on the verge of tears.
"Connor didn't think so. I expected him to track you down and check you out immediately, but he wouldn't. He had your credit cards monitored. We realized you were back in Paris and seemed to be living a fairly normal life. He hired a detective to watch you. You never knew. He insisted Richie and I stay with him for awhile. Man, he's a tough trainer. We thought we'd died and gone to boot camp. After a few months he sent me to see how you were doing. He thinks my name is Adam and that I'm one of your students."
"Honesty is not your long suit."
"I did what I had to. I kept Richie alive. Helped him find his mind. If that's not good enough for you, I'm sorry."
Duncan suddenly shot a hard punch to Methos' jaw, knocking him onto the floor. "I want you out."
"Mac, there's more." Adam continued under MacLeod's hard stare. He propped himself up on his elbow a bit, rubbing his jaw. "I can't find Connor and Richie. After you left Paris a couple of months ago, I went to report back to Connor. He made me swear I wouldn't tell you anything until after I went back to see him." He paused for a moment before continuing. "They were gone."
To Part Two