Disclaimers: The MacLeods, Methos, Richie and Rachel Ellenstein are property of Rysher and Davis/Panzer Productions. Methos' alias of James Powell is used with the kind permission of Sandra McDonald. Gregory Hayes was all mine (not that I wanted him). Dialog between Connor and Ramirez was borrowed from the first Highlander movie.
The two Immortals had been fighting for what seemed, to them, like hours. Exhausted, Connor MacLeod barely deflected a blow from his opponent. He sidestepped then moved forward, only to see his own swing blocked. He spun away from another attack. Back and forth, the two men continued to circle, attacking and blocking.
Both were waiting, searching for the opening that would give him the advantage. Finally, Connor saw such an opening. With what felt to be the last of his strength, he attacked, cutting Hayes's sword arm. As he completed the swing, Hayes's sword went flying. Without pausing, Connor brought his sword around and neatly removed the Immortal's head. He heard himself utter quietly, "There can be only one."
Too physically and emotionally exhausted to move, Connor stood near the body, waiting. All around him, everything was quiet as though time had stopped to watch the transfer of the Quickening.
The Quickening. Even after the many years, no two Quickenings felt the same. Sometimes it came with more force, sometimes less. Often he could feel the personality of the defeated immortal and the Quickenings his opponent had taken. This time he simply didn't care. Nothing else mattered except that Hayes lay dead.
There was a low hum as the wind begin to swirl and blow around Connor. As the first wave of power and lightning erupted from the body and wrapped around Connor, he cried out in pain and anguish.
"This is the Quickening!" He heard Ramirez shout as they ran and jumped off the cliff into the water.
"How does one fight such a beast?" Connor asked Ramirez.
"With heart, soul and steel. In the end, there can be only one." his teacher had answered.
The power of Hayes's Quickening and the Quickenings of the hundreds of Immortals whom Hayes had killed over the centuries continued to batter at Connor. He reached out as though trying to touch the images of the memories that came with the Quickening. Intent on the emotions and images, he didn't notice the sword falling from his grasp to the ground. He cried out again as another powerful bolt of lightening cut through him.
In the midst of the Quickening, he remembered the day, over 400 years ago, he returned home to find his house destroyed, Ramirez dead, and Heather hiding in fear. They had buried his teacher and friend near where he had died. Heather had never spoken of what had happened that day.
The transfer of the Quickening continued. He felt as though the wind picked him up and spun him around, but he would not have a real recollection of that. All around him, windows shattered and nearby power lines exploded with the power overload. Lost in the flow of the Quickening, Connor never noticed the surrounding chaos.
Past battles with Fasil, Kurgan, Kane. The numerous mortal wars he had fought in, the American Revolution, the French Revolutions, World Wars I and II. The friends that he had watched come and go, both mortal and Immortal. The centuries became a blur of faces and events. The memories of his clansman, Duncan MacLeod, dominated the uncontrollable flow.
A month ago, Duncan arrived in New York to enlist Connor's help in hunting for Gregory Hayes. Hayes had a reputation of hunting new immortals and killing them, usually in front of their teachers. Hayes had killed Duncan's last student, Richie Ryan, and Duncan wanted revenge. Connor remembered the young man he had seen in Duncan's shop the last time he was in Seacouver and was willing to help his clansman. He himself had done his share of headhunting in his 478 year history. Connor also knew his kinsman, still in shock and ill with grief, needed his help.
After two weeks of fruitless searching, the MacLeods believed that Hayes had left New York. There were signs that Hayes had headed for Europe and they planned to follow him to continue the search there. The evening before their flight to London, Connor arrived at the apartment to the unmistakable sounds of clashing swords in the alley behind the antique store. "Mother of God, no" he whispered as he ran, turning the corner to see Duncan fall to his knees with Hayes standing triumphantly over him.
"You're too late, MacLeod!", he called out. "Now you can watch your student die as he watched his student die in Seacouver. Your turn will come, MacLeod. Pity that Ramirez is no longer with us to watch you die. There can be only one!" and the sword dropped as Connor cried out in horror, unable to stop the deadly blow.
He watched stunned as Hayes absorbed Duncan's Quickening. He had never felt so helpless as he held his sword ready to challenge Hayes. The accepted practice of not challenging an Immortal immediately after the Quickening did not matter. As the last of the power transfer faded he moved towards Hayes. Only the sound of approaching sirens stopped him.
"Soon, Highlander." Hayes promised as he disappeared from the alley.
Connor dropped his sword and did not hear Rachel move quietly behind him to pick up the weapons. He did not feel her hand on his shoulder as she went back inside before the authorities came.
The police arrived to find Connor kneeling over Duncan's body. He made no noise, just rocked silently over the body. There were no weapons found and all Connor could not talk enough to tell them anything. Only Rachel's arrival prevented them from hauling him to the station for questions. Connor managed to give a slight description of the figure he witnessed disappearing into the shadows. But during the questions, his eyes never left the body, now covered, laying on the ground.
He knew they would never find the figure he described. He did not intend for them to find Hayes. He would do that himself and vowed that night that the head of Gregory Hayes would be his.
The next day, Connor left the preparations for Rachel to handle. He would return to Scotland with Duncan's body. Never before had he felt so lost and even the katas that he had spent all night doing failed to relieve the desparation and darkness that threatened to swallow him. Hayes was still in New York and Connor wanted to find him as soon as possible. Bad news spread quickly and it would not take long for other immortals to start searching for Hayes. Connor wanted that privilege for himself.
From the edge of his vision he could see Rachel as she quietly stood by the door of the workroom watching him. She had never seen the Highlander so devastated. Unwilling to interrupt and unable to say words that would comfort him. she turned silently to leave.
She said nothing of the different katana that Connor used, and said nothing of the tears that she saw in his eyes.
Two days later, Hayes came for Connor, attacking him the in the same alley behind Nash Antiques. Connor knew that Hayes expected him to be an easy kill, overcome with grief over his student and kinsman. Instead Connor was ready for him. In the two days since Duncan's death he had done nothing but prepare, using his grief to keep him going. In his hands, Connor carried Duncan's katana. With that same katana, he took Hayes head.
Now Hayes lay dead and Connor cried out in agony as he felt Duncan's Quickening merge with his own. He saw Duncan as he had found him centuries ago. Confused and terrified, hiding in rock formations, not knowing why he was still alive. Connor had taken his younger clansman and trained him in the skills needed to survive as an Immortal. Even after they had parted, they still kept in touch through the years.
He remembered seeing Duncan grieve for his mortal lover, after the Lakota tribe was destroyed. "You can't stay out of the game forever." His words to Duncan when Duncan, shattered, had moved to a cabin on Holy Ground. "You are not Darius, the Game will catch up to you."
"I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, and you are dead." Connor again heard the words of Duncan's challenge to the young Richie Ryan. Duncan had not realizing that the Immortals he felt were Connor and Slan Quince, both lurking outside of the antiques store in Seacouver. He could vaguely feel the young Immortal's Quickening mixed with the hundreds Hayes had taken over the centuries.
As suddenly as it began, the chaos ceased. Unable to move, Connor fell to the ground, the only sound was his gasping breaths. Then he felt the buzz of another Immortal. He struggled to sit up and reached for his sword when a familiar voice quietly said, "Easy MacLeod, I'm not here for you. But it looks like you've beaten me to the person I did come for."
Connor looked up to see a face that he hadn't seen since World War Two. "James Powell? Is it you?"
Methos, known as James Powell when he and Connor had fought against the Germans in World War II, reached out to help Connor up. "It's It's Adam Pierson." He told Connor. "And that, I presume, was Gregory Hayes."
"Good", the ancient Immortal murmured wearily.
Connor looked at him, unable to speak.
Methos added. "Yes, I know. There were several us looking for him, but no one will argue your right to the kill and the Quickening. I only wish I had been a few minutes earlier to have seen it. Damn this bloody Game."
Connor continued to stare at the body unable to move. Methos saw that he was near collapse from the Quickening and the stress of the past several days. He put an arm around Connor to steady him. "Come on. You can't do anything else here." Methos picked up the familiar katana, studying it carefully, quiet with his own memories of Duncan MacLeod. He handed the katana back to Connor. Taking one last look at the body, the two Immortals left the warehouse to see their friend and kinsman home.