Disclaimer: Sarah MacGreggor, Linna and Paul Wolfram, and Mitch Jacobs are mine. The rest belong to Rysher and the other Highlander Powers That Be. I promise to give them back when I'm done playing.
Misc. Author's Notes:
Title taken from the Robert Frost poem of the same name, which I had cause to memorize when a dear friend was taken away from me six years ago this week. This one is for you, Sam.
Sarah fell out of her dream and back into reality with a gasp. She lay there, staring at the ceiling, fighting off a dark sense of foreboding and trying to make sense out of the images that still lingered in her brain.
A burnt out village on the shores of Loch Lomand. That was an easy one....it often haunted her dreams. Ravens over a battle field. She'd seen that many times over the years. Her rapier, broken off about ten inches from the hilt. And Petey. Petey with grey hair and a wrinkled brow, holding a swaddled infant and staring at her from across a fire. Petey. Wrapped in the cloak of an old man, weathered and frail. It sent waves of ice down her spine.
It wasn't until he stirred in his own sleep that she came back into the present fully. There he was, five thousand years old, but looking like a perpetual graduate student; hugging his pillow and drooling just a little bit. She heaved a sigh of genuine relief.
Once, back in the Middle Ages, he had woken her up, screaming in his sleep in a language that she now knew to be ancient Greek. At the time, she had no clue what he was saying, but there was genuine terror in his tone and he had been shaking like a child. He had sobbed on her shoulder for nearly an hour before finally drifting back to sleep. Later, he spoke of a volcano that had wiped out an entire village in the course of an instant. Later still, he told her of the wife he lost to the flames.
She sat up and swung her feet to the floor, the dream images still hanging on the edge of perception. Her mother would have told her it was a bad omen...so many dark things in one dream spoke of a great loss to come. She would have made her a charm to carry for three days, despite the fact that the local Vicar would have disapproved. Mother's charms always worked. Except the one to bring a child.
As she was about to stand and wander into the kitchen for something to distract her from such dark thoughts, Adam rested a hand on the small of her back.
He sat up and tugged gently at a stray lock of her hair. "Maybe it's the chemicals seeping into your brain. Were there giant hair dryers and curlers? Stylists with rubber gloves and peroxide?"
She ran her hands through her newly red shock and grinned, somewhat abashed. "I thought you liked it."
"I do. I'm just not used to it yet. Why did you do it anyway? You were positively fetching as a blonde."
"Amanda said it would turn heads," she answered.
"Well, it does. But since when do you listen to Amanda?"
"Since she convinced me to tell you how I felt," Sarah smiled.
"Smart woman." He pulled her down and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "So, what was this dream about?"
Sarah shrugged and made herself comfortable on his chest, "I'm sure it was nothing. Just a dream."
Petey would never age. And with any luck, her sword would stay whole.
A silent figure slipped out of the snowy shadows and into the side door of the dojo. He had seen two people, a man and a woman, leave not moments before, but the lights were off and everything looked settled for the night. The upstairs loft was also dark, indicating that MacLeod was out for the evening. This would be perfect, he'd just wait for his return and they'd take it from there.
He was prowling toward the lift when the buzz hit, followed shortly by the sound of two voices. A man's and a woman's. Ducking into the alcove beneath the stairs, he drew his sword.
"It's probably just Richie, coming back to check something," the woman said.
"Just let me go first, okay?"
The woman sighed. "Fine. I'll just go get my book and you fight the bad guy."
Light footsteps sounded across the floor toward the office, while slightly heavier ones headed toward him.
"I'm telling you, it's just Richie, I bet he's upstairs or something."
"Humor me, Sarie."
The man stopped short as he rounded the corner and a sword caressed his throat.
"Who are you and what do you want?" A low voice growled.
The lights came on suddenly and the woman, a tall red head, strode over rapidly.
"Oh for heaven's sake Connor, lighten up, will you?" She said, shoving his sword aside.
The Highlander's face worked in a study of confusion, anger, and finally recognition. He shoved the sword into Adam's hands and scooped her into a huge bear hug, planting a deep kiss on her mouth.
"Sarah MacGreggor! You've finally come to your senses and come back to me!"
"You wish," she said, disentangling herself from his arms and taking a step backwards with a smile.
He pulled her into another hug and would have kissed her again, but Adam cleared his throat.
"Who's this?" Connor asked, draping an arm around her waist.
"Connor MacLeod, meet Adam Pierson."
"The latest in the long line of MacGreggor men?" Connor asked, offering his hand.
For once, Adam had nothing to quip back. He simply shook hands with Connor and handed him back the katana.
"How old is this one, Sarah? Looks pretty green to me," Connor said with a grin.
"I'm older than I look," Adam said, stashing his own sword inside his wool coat and straightening his scarf. "Sarie, we're going to be late."
Sarah looked from one man to the other and swallowed a grin. There would be plenty of time to straighten Petey out about the nature of her relationship with Connor. For now, this was amusing.
"Connor, why don't you come with us? I'm sure Joe would love to talk with you," she said. "And he makes a mean plate of pasta."
"Food? You bet I'm there," Connor concealed the katana under his coat and smiled.
Adam worked to keep the frown off his face, but failed miserably.
Sarah smiled at him and tucked an arm into the crook of his elbow. "Now, if Mac were here, I'd get to have dinner with four of my favorite men," she said.
About three hours later, Adam slammed a dish into the sink as he heard a new peal of laughter come from Joe's living room. Sarah and Connor were going shot for shot into a bottle of Absolut; laughing uproariously every few minutes, speaking in what sounded like a mix of Gaelic and maybe French, and falling off the couch repeatedly.
"Watch it, those plates don't heal you know," Joe said.
From his spot at the table, Joe chuckled. "You don't do jealous well," he said.
"I'm not jealous," Adam shook the water off his hands and set the last pot in the drying rack.
"You could have fooled me," Joe chuckled again.
Adam fished in the fridge for a beer and sat down next to him, cringing as a thud and Sarah's laugh floated into the room again. The Highlander just simply wasn't that funny.
"What do we know about those two?" He asked, prying off the top and tossing it into the trash.
"Can't help you, my friend. Watcher Chronicles are not to be used for getting background on your girlfriend's ex-husbands."
"Oops," Joe deadpanned.
Adam shot him an "oops my ass" look and craned his head back to look at the ceiling. Nine hundred years he had known Sarah and not once had he felt the need to comment on anyone she had been involved with. Now, seven months after they had finally figured out they were in love, he wanted to rip Connor's head off with his bare hands.
"I had an old friend call today," Joe said. "She used to be a field agent, now she's a researcher...she's interested in the Methos Chronicles. Can I give her your name?"
Adam shrugged. "Sure."
"Did you call Dawson?"
Linna Wolfram nodded. She ran her fingers through slightly greying hair and watched as her husband, Paul, sharpened his sword. "He said he'd ask the guy who is researching Methos to talk to me. But I still think this is a waste of time. You're hunting a myth."
Paul shook his head. "I don't think so. Rumors have to come from somewhere and all myths are rooted in truth."
"Well, even if there *was* a Methos, he's probably long dead by now. Nobody can survive in the Game for five thousand years."
Paul ran a burnishing cloth over his curved blade and smiled at her. "Kalas went hunting Methos and came back minus his head."
"MacLeod killed Kalas."
"Maybe MacLeod and Methos are old drinking buddies."
"Okay," she sighed. Linna knew he wouldn't give up until they followed every clue. "I'll book us a flight to Seacouver."
Falling in love with Paul was not what she had planned. Then again, not much of her life had turned out the way she planned. Becoming a Watcher was hardly in the master scheme; it had just happened. And getting involved with Horton and his crowd was certainly not what she had intended. But, he had been very convincing at a time when she was wavering in her beliefs about immortals. Thank God he was dead, or she would have wound up on the wrong side of a bullet when he found out about Paul.
Linna still wasn't convinced that immortals were much aside from freaks of nature, but she was in love with Paul, and if there really could only be one, she would do her best to make sure he was it. Even if it meant hunting a five thousand year old myth.
Sarah groaned and pulled the closest pillow over her head in a vain effort to shut out the noise of the stereo and clattering dishes coming from the next room. It was no use. She threw back the covers and climbed out of bed, wishing she and Connor weren't so good at being drinking buddies.
In Adam's living room, the stereo was suddenly cranked up another notch. It was far too early for the Rolling Stones, hangover or not. She wrapped the blankets around her shoulders and yanked open the bedroom door. Adam's back could be seen over the countertop as he slammed around inside a low cabinet near the stove. She walked into the kitchen and kicked him soundly in the ass.
"Bit of a hangover?" He asked, standing up with a grin.
"You're evil," she responded. "Turn that music down."
Adam reached for the remote and hit the stop button. Sarah heaved a sigh of relief and collapsed onto the floor.
"You did that on purpose," she said.
"Who? Me?" He filled a glass of water from the tap and handed it to her, along with two aspirin.
"It can only help," he said, sinking to the floor next to her.
Sarah downed the pills and thunked her head back into the cabinet door. "I hate being hungover."
"It'll wear off soon, have some more water."
She finished off the glass and set it over her head on the counter top. "Go ahead."
"I know you have a million questions about Connor and me, go ahead and ask them."
Adam sighed. "There's plenty of time for that. Why don't you just go jump in the shower and wake yourself up? Then we'll catch some lunch."
He smiled and got to his feet. "It's 1:30, Sarie."
She held out her arms and he boosted her up with a shove toward the bathroom. At least she had the comfort of knowing Connor was feeling undoubtedly similar...if he was even awake yet.
A cold shower erased the effects of the hangover and she came out feeling much better and very hungry. Adam was sitting on the couch reading; more proof that the music and noise were just a plot get her out of bed. She should probably tell him the truth about her and Connor, before he over-reacted too badly. He'd never presumed to say anything about the various men she had been with when they were traveling together in the Middle Ages...but they hadn't been a couple then.
Sarah scrubbed at her hair with a towel as she made her way into the bedroom. This was all still rather new, this romance with Petey. It was positively wonderful, but a bit confusing. Love always was. She'd had no less than four husbands over her nine hundred years, and many lovers, but only two men had found their way into her soul: Alan MacGreggor and this one who was presently calling himself Adam Pierson.
It had been a while since she was faced with the concept of ownership that comes with being romantically linked to someone, not that Petey was acting like a jealous husband. But there had been an unmistakable claim made on her after dinner the night before when he had matter of factly disengaged Connor's arm from around her waist on the way into the living room under the guise of replacing it with his own. The worst part was, Connor had been aware of it too and would undoubtedly revel greatly in tormenting poor Petey.
She came from the bedroom, pulling one of his sweaters over her head and flopped on the couch next to him. "Okay, so before you get all uptight again, there is nothing to worry about with Connor. We're just old drinking buddies."
Adam closed the book and looked at her, "Joe said something about him being your ex-husband."
Sarah stared at him blankly, allowing an unintentional moment of suspense to build as she searched her memory. Then she laughed loudly.
"Shows what the Watchers know! Ha! Connor's gonna love this one."
"So you weren't married?" He sounded relieved.
"Oh, no, we were...it just wasn't by a Priest."
"What?" He was envisioning wild Celtic ceremonies with dancing and people painting themselves blue.
She grinned. "We got piss drunk in Glasgow once and woke up married. Only it turned out that the 'Priest' was really just a Blacksmith."
"Why did you let a Blacksmith marry you?" Again, relief marked his tone. "And why would you want to marry him at all, no matter how drunk you were?"
"It seemed like a good idea at the time," she shrugged.
Adam rolled his eyes. This was not a side of her that he was used to seeing. Rowdy and raucous didn't seem to fit with the quiet dignity and sharp wit she usually wrapped herself in.
"So you and Connor drank your way through Europe?"
"Pretty much. We didn't really travel together...we just ran into each other every once in a while. He actually reminded me of you...a little bit."
She nodded and got up, pulling him to his feet. "Come on, lets get some lunch, I'm starved."
Adam followed her to the door and grabbed their coats. "How did he remind you of me?"
"He snores," she shot an amused look over her shoulder at him.
[end part 1]
Connor was nursing his fourth cup of steaming black coffee when Richie entered the loft. The young immortal seemed a bit shocked to find him sitting in his underwear at Duncan's table, but managed to pull off a casual hello.
"You look like hell," he added.
Connor grunted and emptied the cup.
Duncan came out of the bathroom wearing his robe and toweling his hair. "Morning Richie," he said.
"Hiya Mac. Got any cereal?"
Duncan nodded and pointed to the top of the refrigerator. "More coffee, Connor?"
The elder MacLeod shook his head and turned the cup upside down, still trying to piece together the previous night's events. He vaguely remembered being dumped rather unceremoniously into the lift by a skinny Englishman.
"Who's the Brit?" He asked.
Duncan shot him a look of confusion. "Who?"
"The Brit...Adam something or another."
"Oh, Adam Pierson," Richie said.
"That's it." Connor pointed at him. "He and Sarah are together?"
"You know Sarah?" Richie asked.
"Old drinking buddies," Connor grumbled.
"Is there like some secret club for you Highlanders?"
"Adam and Sarah are old friends," Duncan said with a smile in Richie's direction. "And newly together."
Connor snickered. "He doesn't have much of a sense of humor."
"I suspect he was a bit put off by *you*," Duncan poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down across the table from him. "Ordinarily he's got a pretty good one."
The elder MacLeod snickered again. That skinny Englishman seemed awfully tame for the Sarah MacGreggor he knew.
"Be nice to Adam," Duncan said. "He's not what he seems."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Duncan shrugged enigmatically and changed the subject. "I hear you met Joe Dawson last night."
"Nice guy, for a Watcher."
Linna stepped up to the door and checked the slip of paper Joe had given her one last time. This was the place. She knocked three times and stepped back, waiting for Adam Pierson to answer.
Instead, a young woman came to the door, wearing a heavy cashmere trench coat and carrying a leather satchel. She looked a bit harried.
"Can I help you?"
Linna studied her for a moment, there was something familiar about this woman. Red hair, muted Scottish accent...beneath a woolen scarf, Linna could just see the seam of a scar under the woman's chin.
"Can I help you?" Sarah repeated.
"I'm um...I'm looking for Adam Pierson," Linna responded, still trying to place the face. The hair was wrong. But the moss green eyes and that scar...
"Oh, he's not here. Is there something I can do for you?"
Sarah MacGreggor. The name came to her in a flash. Sixteen years ago she had traded stories with Sarah's Watcher in a cafe in France. And now the Lady Highlander was in Adam Pierson's apartment. Linna wondered if Joe knew about Pierson's transgression. Or her own, for that matter.
"I'm Linna Wolfram...Adam was going to give me some books."
Sarah looked down at the middle aged woman, making a mental note of the glimpse of a Watcher tattoo that showed at her wrist.
"I'm sorry, I don't know anything about it."
"Adam and I were going to share some research," Linna offered. "We're in a class together at the university."
"I'd love to help you, really, but I'm late. I have a class to teach in about three minutes," Sarah stepped outside the apartment and closed the door firmly behind her.
"Well, could you tell him I was here?" Linna fished in her pocket for a scrap of paper and scrawled a number on it. "This is my number, could you ask him to call me?"
Sarah nodded and shoved the paper into her briefcase. "Will do. He should be home this evening."
Linna thanked her and watched the immortal dash down the hallway. Adam Pierson and Sarah MacGreggor? How did a mere researcher manage to get involved with an immortal like her? And would Horton's men want to know about this? She filed it away on the back of her mind. It was very likely that Mitch Jacobs and his crew of Hunters would learn she was in town. This might prove to be a good card to hold.
"What are you doing here?"
Connor looked around the small office, taking stock of the stacks of Norton Anthologies, the shelves of textbooks and novels, the ivy plant climbing up the window, and the long sword hanging on the wall above the desk where Adam was sitting.
"I came to see Sarah," he answered.
"She's got class until three," Adam responded.
"Nice sword," Connor grunted, pointing.
Adam looked up and nodded.
"That's the one she was carrying when I met her. She had a lighter weight one that she was using, but she never went anywhere without that thing strapped across her back. Quite a sight really," he laughed. "Some guy tried to take it from her once, saying women shouldn't carry swords. She broke his jaw in three places. I don't think the Kurgan ever got over that."
Adam smiled at the image and gestured to the leather chair across from the desk. "Have a seat?"
Connor flopped into the chair and thumbed through a copy of "My Antonia" that was sitting on the corner of the desk, then looked up at Adam and smiled.
"She looks good as a red head."
"I think so."
"Now, if you could just talk her into divorcing me, you might have a fair chance with her."
Adam was slightly taken aback, but managed to find some words. "She's not your wife."
"She didn't tell you? We were married in Glasgow, in 1680. Lovely ceremony. Lovely honeymoon in Burgundy," he wagged his eyebrows expressively.
Adam frowned. "She told me you were just drinking buddies."
"Well now, don't you agree that all the great romances start off as friendships?"
"So you've been married to each other for three hundred and sixteen years? Sounds like you have a wonderful marriage...considering she's sleeping with me."
Connor snickered. "We have a very...*open* relationship."
"Yes, well, ours is rather closed, so don't get any ideas." Adam slammed the journal he had been writing in shut and glared across the desk.
Connor snickered again. Duncan was wrong, this skinny Englishman had no sense of humor what so ever. And he was very sensitive about Sarah. This could provide hours of entertainment.
They both looked up as Duncan's buzz hit, followed shortly by his arrival in the office. He took in the scene with a hint of a frown and was about to say something that he hoped would diffuse the tension and let Adam know that he was being toyed with, but Sarah arrived before he could open his mouth.
"Well, aren't I the popular one today?" She asked with a smile. "What can I do for you gentlemen?"
"I came to take you to dinner. We had a date, remember?" Adam said.
"I came to see if you wanted to go out for drinks later," Connor added. "I thought we could talk about the old times."
Sarah turned expectantly to Duncan.
He shrugged. "I just came to borrow some chalk."
"So you're just going to let this woman have a gander at the Methos Chronicles?" Sarah asked, her eyes wide with shock.
Adam shrugged. "Sure. She's a friend of Joe's and a Watcher. And she'll only know me as Adam Pierson."
Sarah scowled. "Well, I think it's a bit risky."
He sat down next to her on the couch and put his feet up on the coffee table, resting them on top of the two large leather-bound books and accidentally knocking over the smaller pile of notebooks next to them.
"I'm not going to let her see my journals. Just the official Chronicles, which are very vague and cryptic."
"Do you have any idea what would happen if someone figured out who you are?" She restacked the books and sighed contentedly as he snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her back against his chest.
"Of course I do. But really, Sarie, you worry too much."
"Petey, I came to Seacouver to have some semblance of a normal life. I really don't want to have to deal with every immortal in creation coming for your head. And we won't even mention the Hunters that are undoubtedly lurking in the shadows."
"Relax, I've managed to stay alive this long, I have a few more years in me. And all the motivation in the world to stay alive is sitting here on the couch with me."
Sarah sighed again and looked down at his arm. Her left hand was laced through his fingers, but she used her right to pull up the sleeve of his sweater and examine the tattoo.
"Just what is your connection to the Watchers anyway? And what's the story with this? Is it real?"
"Of course it's real. Do you think I have it drawn on after every shower?"
Sarah chuckled. "So? What's the story? Richie thinks you started the Watchers as a means to keep track of fellow immortals."
"It's a long story. And very boring. Tell me about you and Connor."
She rolled her head back to look at him, recognizing that to be a cue to drop the subject. "There isn't anything to be jealous of, we're really just pals."
"Then how do you know he snores?"
"What? And every time you and I shared a blanket we had sex?" She shifted in his arms so she could see his face.
"I wish. We have about five hundred and sixty seven years to catch up on still, if I haven't lost my count."
Sarah laughed. Amanda had been right in her guess about his many years lending to an enhanced knowledge of the female body. The past seven months reminded her of the first year of her marriage to Alan MacGreggor, when they had made love at every chance, desperately trying to have a baby. Only this time there was no heartbreak over a child she could never bear. Just long afternoons spent under down comforters in front of the fire. It was almost too good to be true.
"What are you thinking about?" He asked. "You look sad all of a sudden."
"Alan...if we had had a son, he would have ruled the clan."
Adam wrapped his other arm around her and squeezed her tightly. "If you and Alan had been able to have a son, we never would have met. And then where would I be, with you dead some nine hundred years?"
"What is this Adam Pierson like?" Linna asked.
Joe chuckled and leaned back in his chair. "He's a bit enigmatic, but he has a wicked sense of humor. You'll like him."
"And there are no repercussions for his involvement with Sarah MacGreggor?"
Joe looked up from his drink, wondering how Linna had obtained that piece of information.
"Relax. I stopped by his apartment today and the Lady Highlander opened the door. I assumed they were involved."
He shrugged noncommittally. "They're friends. And you're one to talk about Watchers getting involved with immortals, Mrs. Paul Wolfram."
Linna looked down at her lap. If Joe knew, that meant the Hunters most likely did too. Why hadn't they come for Paul?
"Here's your chance now," Joe said, waving a hand in the air to attract attention to their corner table.
Linna followed his gaze across the moderately crowded room to the door. Sarah MacGreggor was walking in; holding the hand of a man she knew quite well. Or maybe it was his father that she knew well. Or a brother. An uncle perhaps. There was no way that Alan Rosen could have aged so well.
Near the bar, Adam stopped in his tracks, then spun quickly on a heel and headed for the door, yanking Sarah along and muttering a string of curses that would have made a merchant marine blush.
"What was that all about?" Sarah asked as the door shut behind them.
Adam paced a circle around her and continued to swear.
"Go in there...tell them I got sick. Or dropped a contact or something," he said.
"I know her. We met in Paris about sixteen years ago. Except she thinks I'm just a Watcher."
"And now she's come looking for Methos..." Sarah trailed off, muttering a string of curses herself.
Adam nodded. His face lit up as Richie pulled up in a beat up Chevy. Before it was even turned off, Adam was yanking Richie by the sleeve and urging him out of the car.
"*What* is your problem?" Richie snapped, straightening his coat and slamming the door.
"Give me your keys," Adam responded.
"What? No way."
Adam looked to Sarah in a mute appeal.
"Give him your keys, Richie. I'll explain later," she said.
Richie shook his head in confusion, but handed Adam the keys.
"Help him out. He's got to be me," Adam said, jumping into the car and speeding off.
"What's going on here?" Richie asked.
The door opened and Joe and Linna stepped outside. Sarah threw her arm around Richie's waist and steered him for them, mumbling that he should just play along until she could explain.
Joe was about to open his mouth, but Sarah beat him to it.
"Linna Wolfram, right? I'd like you to meet Adam Pierson. Adam, this is the woman who stopped by the other day."
Linna offered a hand in confusion, then turned to Sarah. "Didn't you just walk into the bar with another man? A tall man with dark hair?"
Sarah nodded. "That was a student of mine who was going to join us, but he suddenly felt very ill and decided to go home."
Joe put an arm around Linna's shoulders, not really knowing what was going on, but used to the strange situations that sometimes arose when dealing with immortals.
"Come on, let's all go inside out of this snow," he said.
"Do you think she bought it?" Richie asked.
"I don't know. It depends on how good a look she got at Petey," Sarah answered, watching Adam pace a slow circle around her living room. "You're not still going to give her the Chronicles, are you?"
He stopped at the fireplace and examined a cobalt blue vase on the mantle. "I have to."
"So, wait a minute, you agreed to let some woman you had never seen take a gander at the Methos Chronicles?" Richie asked incredulously. "Are you crazy?"
Sarah smirked at Adam and got up to get herself a glass of water.
"Yes. To both," Adam answered. "And don't you tell me that you told me so either, Sarie."
She shook her head from the kitchen and leaned out through the window that linked the two rooms. "Not a word."
"Why not just take the books and get the hell out of town?" Richie asked.
"Because that would raise suspicion. What I have to do now is smooth this all over. The only way to do that is for you to give her the books and for me to lie low until she leaves."
"She's just a researcher, how much damage could she do?" Adam said, not sure if he was trying to convince himself or the others.
[end pt 2]
A knock sounded on the door of Linna's hotel room. Paul was out prowling the streets, hoping to bump into Methos. She chuckled...like he would know him if he fell over him. She stubbed out her cigarette and got up, still trying to piece together the incident at the bar last night.
There was no way that the red headed kid was Adam Pierson. MacGreggor had answered most of her questions about Methos...evasively...but still. How did she know so much about him? And that was no student of hers that she had walked in with. Professors don't hold hands with their students. Not in public anyway. That was Alan Rosen. But, aside from a different hair cut, he looked exactly the same as he had in Paris, all those years ago. How was that possible? Maybe she had been hallucinating.
She yanked open the door and immediately wished she hadn't.
"Linna, so good to see you again."
"What do you want Mitch?"
"The same thing you do."
Linna glared up at him. "I told you, hunting is not for me. You guys have your fun."
Somewhere in her heart, Linna believed that helping Paul find other immortals differed from using her skills to aide the Hunters. Semantics, really.
Mitch elbowed his way past her and sat down on the bed. "Rumor has it you have a lead on Methos. Now, he'd be a good one to add to my trophy case, don't you think?"
"Methos is a myth," she said flatly.
"Oh, but your husband doesn't seem to think so. Where is Paul anyway? Out doing a little hunting of his own?"
Linna sighed. The cat was out of the proverbial bag. "Okay, what do you want?"
"I'll strike you a deal. You bring me Methos and I'll kill him while your Paul is in the room."
Linna crossed to the desk and lit another cigarette, "If I bring you more than Methos, will you let Paul walk out of that room?"
Mitch flashed a positively evil grin. "Just what do you have in mind?"
"Both Sarah MacGreggor and Duncan MacLeod are here. If I bring you the two Highlanders, will you let Paul take all three quickenings and walk out with his head?"
Another malevolent smile. "Linna, you should come back to our little club, you have a wonderfully ruthless mind and the disregard for immortals that could help you go far."
"There is only one immortal I have any regard for," she said. "Now, do we have a deal or not?"
Connor ducked the end of Sarah's quarter staff and swung at her feet, hoping to knock them out from underneath her. It didn't work. She jumped up about a foot and slammed the butt of her staff into his solar plexus, knocking the wind out of him, then flipped the long pole in her hands and swept his left ankle upwards. He landed hard on his back and heard an unmistakable chuckle come from the skinny Englishman.
"Lucky shot," he muttered as Sarah offered a hand up.
"Oh, I think you're just getting rusty," she said.
"Just you remember who taught you how to use one of these things, lassy."
"It was the other way around, actually," she countered, tossing his staff back to him with a smile.
"You know, if we were still in Scotland, I could beat you for that. A husband had the right to smack his wife around if she was mouthy."
"I don't think that was the case if they were married by the local Blacksmith," Adam said from his spot near the window.
"And I'd like to see you try to smack me around," Sarah added, glancing at her watch. "Oops. I have to go. I have an evening class."
She tossed Connor her staff as well and grabbed her bag, heading for the showers. He watched her disappear into the locker room, then turned to Adam.
"Is that what she told you? That it was the Blacksmith that married us?"
Connor shrugged and lofted the staff to Adam, who caught it in self defense.
"How long have you known her?" Connor asked, twirling his own staff absently.
"Since she died her mortal death."
"So you're *that* Petey?"
"Yes," Adam tapped the toe of his shoe with the staff and looked over at the Highlander. "What about you? How long have you known her?"
"Oh, since I was a pup."
"And it wasn't the Blacksmith that married you?"
Connor shook his head, "Nope."
"You two play nice now," Sarah said, coming from the locker room dressed in street clothes and smiling.
"Yes mother," Connor snickered.
"You too, Petey," she gave him a quick kiss and vanished out the door with a wave.
"Okay MacLeod," Adam said, flipping the staff into a ready position. "Talk."
Connor flashed a grin and crouched into a fighting stance. "If you want to know the whole story about your Sarie and me, you'll have to beat it out of me."
Adam cocked an eyebrow and aimed the first blow for Connor's head.
"What the hell happened to you?" Sarah asked, setting down her satchel and shrugging off her coat.
Adam shrugged, but Richie chuckled from his spot on the couch.
"God Petey, that's awful," she touched the livid bruise on his cheek lightly.
She was about to ask what happened again, but the sensation of another immortal arriving distracted them all.
"That would be Mac," Richie said, getting to his feet. "And Connor," he added, as both MacLeod's greeted him at the door.
Sarah turned to say hello and slapped a hand over her mouth to conceal a bark of laughter. Connor was moving very gingerly and his face was marred by a black eye and a swollen lip. She bit back a smirk and covered her mouth again as Adam and Connor exchanged looks.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Duncan asked out of the corner of his mouth as he hugged her hello.
Sarah nodded and took the wine bottle he offered, watching as Adam took their coats and headed for the closet. "You have to admit, it's kind of funny to see someone get under Petey's skin like this."
Duncan cracked a grin. "And you know Connor is just loving it."
Later that night, after the company had left and Sarah was busy doing the dishes, Adam wandered into the kitchen and leaned against the counter between her and the drying rack. His face had healed, but he was still looking a bit wounded.
"So," she said, "did you and Connor have a nice little spar?"
Adam opened his mouth, then closed it and repeated the action. "What's the real story with you two?"
"I told you."
"He tells a different tale. Said it was the Arch Bishop of Glasgow that married you. White dress and all the trimmings."
"White dress?" Sarah laughed and reached behind him to set a pot in the rack. "He's just messing with your head. You're so gullible about this...he's having a blast watching you get all twisted up."
"So you were never involved with him?"
"Not that it matters, but no," she sighed, trying to keep annoyance from creeping into her tone. "Connor and I met up a few times in Europe. Then we took a boat to the states together and hung out in New York for a while. What is with this whole jealously thing? It's not like you."
Adam shrugged. "I guess it just kind of bothers me that you have this part of your past that I know nothing about."
"By that same token, there are about four *thousand* years of your life that I have no clue about. And then there are the six hundred between Germany and now."
"I'll tell you, if you want to know."
Sarah finished spraying out the last pot and set it on the rack. "And I'll tell you whatever you want to know...but you have to trust that I'm telling the truth. Or, you can go look me up in the Watcher files, but they've already been proven to be wrong about me and Connor. It's your call, Petey."
Adam looked at her and smiled suddenly. "Did we just have our first fight?"
Sarah narrowed her eyes and poked him playfully in the chest. "You'll know it when we have our first fight, Petey."
Adam sat with a beer in hand and his ear to the bedroom door, listening to the conversation taking place in his living room.
"You're welcome to borrow the Chronicles," Richie was saying. "But they're very cryptic and mostly in ancient languages."
Linna Wolfram said something Adam couldn't quite make out. Then Sarie's voice came clearly through the door.
"Look," she said. "I've been around for nearly a thousand years and all I've ever heard of Methos is that he's a myth."
"Yes, well, myths don't spring from nowhere, do they?" Linna answered.
"Can I ask why you have the sudden interest in Methos?" Richie said.
Adam heard what he assumed to be the sound of Linna rising from the couch and picking up the heavy books.
"I'll get your coat," Sarah said.
He heard the closet door open and close.
"How is that student of yours?" Linna asked.
"The one who got sick the other night."
"Oh!" Sarah exclaimed. "Food poisoning. Nasty."
The door to the apartment opened and their voices carried into the hallway, out of his earshot. Then heavy footsteps sounded back into the living room.
"Here," Richie said. "You forgot these."
Adam said a silent prayer. Please no. Please not the journals he had stacked so carefully on the corner of the desk and hidden under yesterday's newspaper. Please let the forgotten objects be her gloves.
More voices in the hall. The door slammed.
"Idiot!" Sarah exclaimed.
Adam swore and came out from the bedroom.
"What?" Richie asked indignantly. "*What*?"
"Why didn't you just take her by the hand and lead her back into the bedroom shouting look, here he is...Methos!" She said loudly, waving her arms in exasperation.
"What? You told me to give her the Chronicles!"
"Those books, from the desk," Adam said, "those weren't the Chronicles. They were my journals."
Richie paled. "Oh shit! Why didn't you stop me?!"
"What was I supposed to do, say -no Richie, I mean Adam, not your journals. Those will give it all away?" She snapped.
Richie looked wounded. "I'm sorry."
Sarah looked like she was about to light into him again, but Adam lay a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay," he said. "This will all work out like it's supposed to."
Richie hung his head. "I'm sorry, Adam. Really. I should go," he looked to Sarah, but her jaw was set.
"Thanks for all your help," Adam said.
"Help, yeah. Right." Richie grabbed his coat and trudged out the door.
"You were awfully hard on him," Adam said. "He made an honest mistake."
"An honest mistake that could cost you your *head*," she grumbled.
"Just because Linna is married to an immortal doesn't mean they are after my head."
"For someone as old as you are, Petey, you're awfully naive."
Adam sank onto the couch and pulled her down into his lap. "Now who is trying to protect whom, my Sarie?"
"Don't get wise with me, I'm in no mood," Sarah got up and paced over to the window.
"Well, you're in a mood all right. Just not a good one."
Sarah glared at him, but said nothing.
Three hours later, he decided he was done tossing and turning alone in bed and got up. She was still standing at the window. He pulled the quilt from the back of the couch, threw it over his shoulders and looped both arms around her waist.
"You should leave now, before it gets any worse," she said.
"I'm not going anywhere."
"Petey, don't be stupid. If you go now, you can just wait a month or so and it will all blow over. If you don't, you'll wind up bumping into her in the grocery store or something and then all hell will break loose."
Adam shook his head. "I'm tired of living secret lives. And I won't leave you again."
"I'm a big girl, I'll survive. I'd rather have you gone for a few months than lose you forever."
He turned her around and took her by the shoulders, resting his forehead against hers. "I am not going anywhere. You and I have a shot at eternity together and I wouldn't trade that for anything."
Sarah smiled and wrapped her arms around his waist. "How is it that you always have the perfect thing to say to melt my heart?"
"Just lucky, I guess."
The next morning, Sarah woke up to the smell of bacon cooking and the sound of the Temptations on the stereo. She stretched lazily and glanced at the clock, then threw herself out of bed with a loud oath. Her eleven-fifteen lecture on Symbols in 19th Century Woman's Literature had started twenty minutes ago.
Adam came into the bedroom holding a tray of breakfast and hot tea and laughed as she struggled into a pair of jeans and yanked the nearest shirt over her head. It was his pajama top.
"Have you looked out the window yet?" He asked.
Sarah shook her head and looked around frantically for her left shoe. This living in two places was beginning to get confusing. She could never remember what was where.
He set down the tray and crossed to the window, pulling back the curtains. A wall of swirling white snow was all she could see.
"Duncan called earlier, they closed the University," Adam said with a grin. "Something about not being able to find it."
"Thank the gods," she said, flopping back down onto the bed, missing shoe in hand.
He closed the drapes again and brought her the tray. "Now, take off your clothes."
"You don't really think I am going to pass up an opportunity to spend the day naked in bed with you, do you?"
[end pt 3]
The blizzard was precisely what Linna Wolfram needed. The pounding snow pretty much guaranteed that Mitch would not darken her door and that time would prove to be precious.
They ordered room service and began to pour through the Methos Chronicles, skipping the ones they couldn't read due to language barriers. After hours of pouring over cryptic text, she was about to give up. Then she remembered the canvass bag the boy claiming to be Adam Pierson had given her and the look on Sarah MacGreggor's face at the exchange. Those leather bound notebooks would be the key to Methos.
There were sixteen of them; she picked one at random and sipped her coffee while thumbing through it.
"What are those?" Paul asked.
"I think they are journals of some sort."
Linna snorted a laugh. "I doubt it. What kind of five thousand year old man gives his journals to the Watchers? No...these are Adam Pierson's journals. And we weren't supposed to get them."
"What do you mean? He gave them to you himself."
She shook her head. "I don't know who that was, but it wasn't Adam Pierson. For one thing, he didn't have the tattoo."
Paul sat down next to her and rested his chin on her shoulder, glancing at the handwriting in the book. It was bold and crisp and slanted slightly upwards on the page.
"What do you think is going on?"
"I don't know," Linna pointed to the word Sarie buried in one of the paragraphs. "But Sarah MacGreggor knows both Adam Pierson and Methos."
"Well, let's go *talk* to her then," he smiled.
Linna rolled her eyes. "Paul, she would cut you to ribbons. She's over four times your age and knows more about how to fight with a sword than you ever will. She's good. She's fast. And she's lethal."
"I'm no slouch with a sword myself, you know," he responded, slightly hurt by his wife's tone.
"No, of course you're not. But you don't need to fight Sarah MacGreggor to get to Methos, so don't try to. There is no sense putting your head on the line before you have to."
"But her quickening would help me get his."
Linna shook her head. If things worked out how she planned, he wouldn't need to pick up a sword at all. "Just trust me, okay? And here," she tossed him a book, "see if you can figure out what the connection between Methos and MacGreggor is."
The next evening, Linna Wolfram came face to face with the real Adam Pierson; in the grocery store, of all places. She rounded the corner of the magazine aisle and crashed headlong into him, sending the produce he had stacked precariously in his arms flying in all directions.
He was a gentleman and stooped to pick up her carton of cigarettes and box of Zingers before tending to the lettuce on his sleeve. They bonked heads on the way down. He muttered an apology and looked at her for the first time.
Linna was transported back in time to a cafe in Paris in the eraly 80's. This very same man was sitting across the table from her, sipping a glass of wine at ten am. She was picking at an almond croissant and wondering how many more hints she would have to drop before he got the fact that she wanted him in her bed. Alan Rosen made her weak in the knees. And so did Adam Pierson.
"Alan..." She stammered.
"You must be mistaken," he shoved the box of pastries back into her hands.
"Alan, it's me, Linna."
Adam shook his head, feigning confusion.
"Don't you remember? Paris? We walked along the Seine and you taught me how to swear in French. I was watching Fitzcairn, and you were still in training. God, you look so good, like you haven't aged a day."
Suddenly, it began to make sense that Sarah MacGreggor had been found in a Watcher's apartment. Linna dropped the Zingers again. She grabbed his arm and yanked up his sleeve to reveal the tattoo.
"God! *You're* Adam Pierson! And you're an immortal."
He grabbed her by the elbow and yanked her to her feet, dragging her out the door and around the corner of the building.
"You're hurting me!" She exclaimed, pulling out of his grip.
"Sorry." Adam paced away a few steps and tried to bring his racing thoughts under control.
"Alan..." she began. Then the pieces fell into place. "Methos! Brilliant! You watch yourself!"
Adam spun around and took her by the throat, gripping hard and backing her against the wall of the building. "Nothing Linna, not one word, do you understand? If Paul Wolfram comes looking for me, I'll take his head. And then I'll come for yours."
She nodded and gasped for breath, clutching at his arm.
"And don't get any brilliant ideas about Sarie, either. If she winds up dead, you'll wish you were as well."
Linna nodded again and nearly collapsed as he released her.
"One more thing," Adam caught her by the arm. "I want the Chronicles back. Tonight."
"Okay," she croaked. There were already finger shaped bruises forming on her throat.
Adam looked down at the small woman. He should really just kill her. That was the only way to guarantee that she would hold to her word. But a crowd was forming and he was tired of killing to survive. The only way out of this now was to find Sarah and get the hell out of Seacouver.
Sarah wasn't at home. She wasn't at the University, the dojo, or at Joe's. She most certainly wasn't in Adam's apartment, much to his dismay. In fact, Sarah MacGreggor and Connor MacLeod were together, in a small bar near the docks. He was finishing his third beer and she was swirling what was left of her first around in the glass.
"So, let me get this straight," Connor said. "Methos is real, and he's your skinny Englishman."
"And Richie gave that Watcher not only the Methos Chronicles, but his journals as well?"
She nodded again.
"Now, her husband, an immortal, will likely come for Petey's head. And if he doesn't take it, word will spread about Methos and soon everyone will be here in Seacouver, brandishing swords at my door."
Connor drained his glass and laughed loudly.
"I fail to see the humor in this situation, Connor."
"You! You always manage to get yourself involved with men who have bounties on their head."
She frowned. "I was never *involved* with you, and if you don't quit tormenting poor Petey about it, I may just have to take your head."
"You don't call saving my neck from the Kurgan involved?"
Sarah shrugged. "It was just a coincidence of time and place. And he insulted me."
"Yes, well, I still owe you for it."
Sarah smiled, "I know."
"And it was worth it, just to see the look on his ugly face when you stepped into things wielding that long-sword of yours. I don't think he'd ever seen a female immortal before."
"And you won in the end anyway. It just took you three hundred years to work up the nerve to fight him again."
"I was biding my time," he said.
She smiled again, then reached into her satchel and pulled out the ringing cell phone.
"Hello? Okay Petey, calm down....okay. I'll be there....I'm with Connor, why?...Yes, I'll tell him to keep his hands to himself," she smiled. "Okay...I said I'll be there....half an hour....right."
She hung up the phone. "I have to go. Linna Wolfram knows everything."
Connor frowned as she stood and pulled on her coat. "Let me go with you. If she knows everything, they might try to use you as bait."
Sarah laughed. "Bait?! Isn't that an honor reserved for mortals?"
"Just humor me."
Sarah rolled her eyes, but nodded.
They were mugged on the way to the car. Three men, hired by Linna Wolfram to trail Sarah, appeared out of nowhere and drew a gun on them.
"We don't have any cash," Connor said, stepping in front of Sarah protectively.
"We're not after cash," the one with the gun snarled. "We want the girl."
"I don't think the *lady* would be interested in going with you," Connor smiled. "Would you, Sarah?"
The gunman snickered. "I don't think you have much of a choice."
Connor let a kick fly that sent the gun spinning into the alley and followed through with a punch that broke the gunman's jaw.
"There is always a choice," he said.
Sarah made short work of the one who tried to grab her elbow and both immortals turned to the third, who simply ran away.
Connor snickered and dusted his hands, but Sarah swore.
"Those three have been following us for hours," he said. "Now do you see why I wanted to come along?"
"Why do I have the feeling that I'm going to be used as bait, regardless of my physical location?" She tossed Connor her keys and climbed into the passenger seat, pulling out her cell phone again.
Sarah dialed Adam's home number, but there was no answer. She tried his cell phone as well, also to no avail. That was most likely due to the fact that it was sitting on the empty driver's seat of his car.
Duncan and Richie were sitting at the bar when they arrived.
"Adam has been looking all over for you," Richie said.
"Is he here?" Sarah scanned the crowded room.
"No, he was, but he got a phone call about twenty minutes ago and left," Joe said.
"What kind of phone call?" Connor asked as Sarah paced away clutching her head.
"He seemed really agitated about it though," Richie offered.
"Joe, who is Paul Wolfram's Watcher?" Sarah paced back to the bar.
"He knows about Adam," she said. "And that phone call could cost Petey his head."
"Linna!" Joe growled. "I can't believe she'd do this to me!"
"Is Linna Paul's Watcher?" Sarah asked.
Joe shook his head. "Let me make a phone call, I'll be right back."
He limped back a few minutes later and handed her a slip of paper with an address on it. "This is where Wolfram is, Linna is with him, but there's no sign of Adam yet."
"Thanks Joe," Sarah threw her arms around him quickly and spun on her heel.
All four men followed her to the door.
"My car isn't that big," she flashed a smile. "Mac, why don't you and Richie go back to the dojo? I'll get Petey there...he'll need a fast escape."
Richie started to protest, but Duncan clapped him on the shoulder. "The honor isn't always in the fight, Richie."
"I'm with you, Sarah," Connor said, reaching for the doorknob.
"I'm coming too."
"This isn't your fight," Connor answered.
"Maybe not," Joe said. "But Linna Wolfram has some books that I'd like to borrow."
[end part 4]
"Well, well. The legendary Methos."
Adam spun around at the sound of his name. He had sensed another immortal present, but assumed it was Sarie. He didn't really believe that Sarah would allow herself to be used as bait, but he couldn't take the chance. Linna Wolfram had said that Sarie was in no condition to talk, but that she would be spared if he arrived by nine PM. He should have just killed that woman when he had the chance.
"Who are you?"
"My name is Paul Wolfram."
Adam frowned. The man wielding a curved blade and smiling at him was most certainly not Sarah. "And?"
"Methos, meet my husband," Linna said, stepping out from the shadows.
Three more men stepped out from across the room, one brandishing a wicked looking axe.
"And I suppose you were the groomsmen?" Adam asked.
"You have a wise mouth, for someone who is about to lose his head," one said, pulling a pistol from his pocket.
Paul Wolfram looked around nervously. His eyes fell on Linna, but she offered no explanation as to who these people were.
"You need four people to fight your battles for you, Wolfram?" Adam asked, backing away and looking for an escape route. "You know that's against the rules."
Paul shrugged in genuine confusion. "I have no idea who these people are," he said.
Adam felt a pang of sympathy for the man. It passed quickly. "They're Hunters."
"A branch of the Watchers you'd rather not marry into, trust me," Adam answered.
"Linna, you promised me two Highlanders as well," Mitch said, leaning casually on the handle of the axe.
"Things didn't work out. But MacGreggor will show up to rescue her lover here," she said. "I'm sure Dawson told her where we are, and I'm sure MacLeod is with her."
Adam breathed a sigh of relief. So, Sarah was safe. Hopefully one or both MacLeods would keep her that way.
"Well, that negates our deal, doesn't it?" Mitch made a barely perceptible nod and two shots rang out.
One brought Wolfram to his knees, clutching at his stomach. The other tore through Adam's chest and sent him spinning to the floor.
Linna reached for her own revolver, but the shorter of Mitch's men pointed one at her and asked that she not make any sudden moves.
Before he lost consciousness, Adam saw an axe swinging toward Wolfram's head.
Sarah, Connor, and Joe arrived in time to see windows shattering and flashes of bright lightning licking the frame of the building. She would have run in headlong, but Connor grabbed her around the waist and held on until the quickening stopped. She took a deep breath and nodded at him, indicating that her urge had passed.
They entered the warehouse cautiously. Connor was holding a pistol in one hand and his sword in the other. Sarah's rapier was tucked inside her coat, but she had refused to carry a gun.
"Ah...not the two Highlanders I had expected, but these will do nicely," Mitch said, his axe poised to fall across Adam's neck.
Without thinking, Sarah grabbed Connor's wrist, leveled the pistol at Mitch's chest, and pulled the trigger. His body was thrown backwards and the axe fell with the butt end of the head crashing into Adam's nose.
"I thought you said you didn't know how to shoot," Connor said.
"I said I didn't like guns," Sarah responded on her way to Adam's side.
Connor chuckled, but leveled the gun at the other mortals before the element of surprise could wear off. The man near Linna raised his arm to shoot and Connor put a bullet in his chest. To his own surprise, the woman drew a small revolver of her own and shot the third Hunter squarely in the face.
"You on our side?" Connor asked.
"Hardly." She aimed and fired, grazing him across the shoulder.
"That wasn't very nice," he said, advancing on her.
Linna backed away. No matter how many times she had seen them heal, it always unnerved her to watch an immortal ignore pain.
Sarah was kneeling next to Adam and didn't hear the exchange. "Come on Petey, get up. You have to get out of here."
Adam blinked up at her for a minute, then sat up groggily and scratched his head. He touched his broken nose gingerly and scowled at the blood on his fingers. "Looks like you were right, Sarie. Go ahead and say I told you so."
She smiled, despite the situation. "Get out of here. Go to Duncan, he'll get you out of town," she pulled him to his feet and pointed him toward the door.
"Come with me."
Sarah shook her head. "I have to get the Methos Chronicles back. Maybe we can cover this up still. I'll meet you at the dojo."
"Then we'll take a slow boat to China together?" He asked, wiping the blood from his nose with the corner of his sleeve.
"This is not the time for jokes, Petey. Get out of here."
He pulled her into a hug and kissed her gently. "That wasn't a joke. I'll wait as long as I can."
"I'll be there."
Sarah nodded and shoved him toward the door. She watched him weave his way through the rubble from the quickening, the tip of his sword clanging as it dragged across the floor. Behind her, Mitch was struggling to his feet.
"Bullet proof vest," he said to Connor, whose jaw was slightly slack at the sight.
Sarah turned to find Linna Wolfram pointing a revolver at her chest.
Mitch grabbed the axe and hefted it, charging headlong at Connor, who brought his sword up reflexively. Sarah laughed. If there was anyone who knew how to defend against and axe, it was a Highlander.
"I'll take your head with your own sword," Linna said, drawing Sarah's attention once more.
"Oh, I don't think so."
Sarah lashed out with an open palm uppercut to the jaw and Linna reeled backwards and fell to the ground clutching at her face. In one fluid motion, Sarah grabbed the gun, took the woman by her hair, and pointed it at her temple.
"Where are the Chronicles?"
"Why should I tell you?" Linna asked through broken teeth.
"Because if you don't you'll have a bullet in your brain," Sarah cocked the hammer with her thumb and yanked Linna's head back.
"It's too late, they've already told people Methos is real. Someone will come hunting for him. Everyone will come hunting for him. And you. We have pictures of you two together."
"Where are the chronicles?"
"You won't kill me."
"Don't push your luck."
Something in her tone told Linna that Sarah would all too gladly pull that trigger. She glanced over at Paul's body; then looked to Mitch, who was losing his battle with Connor. There was no way he would walk out of this one. But maybe she could.
"I didn't give them to the Hunters."
"Where are they? And the journals. And your files. I want everything, or you die here and now."
"It's all in a locker at the train station. Number 612. The key is in my left pocket."
Sarah pulled out the small key and examined it briefly, allowing Linna the luxury of slumping forward into the agony of her bleeding mouth.
"This all ends here, do you understand?" Sarah asked, pocketing the key. "If I ever see your face again, or if anything happens to Petey, you'll know what it's like to be hunted."
Linna simply nodded. Paul was dead. She had no more reason to get involved with immortals.
Sarah heaved a sigh of relief and slammed the woman's head into the ground, knocking her unconscious. She threw the gun aside and took off at full speed for the car. Connor culd take care of himself. She and Joe had to get the chronicles and make it back to the dojo before Petey left.
"I'm not leaving without saying good-bye to Sarie," Adam said stoutly.
"Methos, you have to get out of here, *now*," Duncan responded. "She'll understand...we all have to make quick escapes now and then."
Adam shook his head. "I'm not leaving without seeing her. We've done this before and it took us six hundred years to find each other."
"That was different, you guys thought the other one was dead..." Richie said.
"And if you don't get out of here soon, you *will be* dead," Duncan added.
Adam sighed and his face ran through a series of emotions, heart wrenching pain being the most frequent. "Give me fifteen more minutes, she'll be here."
Richie was about to remind him of the urgency of the situation again, but a sharp look from Mac silenced him.
Adam wandered into the office and sat down at the desk, praying that Sarah would make it in time. He thunked his head down and sighed again. She had to make it in time. He couldn't do this again. Not after all they had been through. They were supposed to wind up together this time.
"Why don't you leave her a note? Just in case."
Adam looked up and saw the Highlander leaning against the doorjamb, compassion evident on his face. "There is too much to say in a note," he said. "If I miss her, will you make sure she understands?"
Duncan nodded, "Of course I will. And there is paper in the top drawer." He left the office slowly and sat down next to Richie on the weight bench.
Adam took out a pad with the dojo letterhead on it and picked up a pen. He stared at the blank sheet for the better part of five minutes, trying to come up with the right words. How do you convey nine hundred years of emotions on a single piece of five by seven paper? Finally, he carefully wrote two words and a question mark and folded the sheet in quarters. A glance at the clock told him there was no more time to wait.
Sarah slammed the car out of gear and ran into the dojo at top speed, leaving Joe to close her door and turn off the engine. Duncan was sitting alone on the weight bench, his head bowed and his elbows slouching on his knees.
"Where's Petey?" She asked, coming to an abrupt halt in front of him.
Duncan stood slowly and offered his arms in a hug, but she backed away, her face stricken.
"He and Richie left about twenty minutes ago," he said quietly.
"Where were they going? Maybe I can catch them..."
Duncan shook his head. "I don't know. And even if you could, it'd only be endangering both you and Methos."
Sarah squeezed her eyes shut and slammed her fist into her thigh.
Duncan thought she might break down and cry, from the look on her face, but instead, she paced over to the weight bench and collapsed in defeat. He sat down next to her and put an arm around her shoulder.
"It's not the same as it was six hundred years ago, Sarah," he said. "He'll find you. He'll be back or he'll send word when everything is safe again."
Joe limped into the dojo, carrying two large books and a small canvass bag that looked to be heavy. He saw Duncan comforting Sarah and swore inwardly. Connor arrived not moments later and took in the scene with a grave frown.
"I can't wait another six hundred years," Sarah said, leaning against Duncan's shoulder. "I just *can't* do it."
"You won't have to. Come on," he pulled her gently to her feet, "let's go upstairs. I think we could all use a drink."
Sarah allowed him to escort her to the lift and tried not to think about whatever plane, train, or boat Adam was on, speeding his way to parts unknown. Who were they to think they could lead a normal life in the middle of the Game?
Once inside the loft, she took the glass of scotch he offered and sat down on the couch, staring off into space and trying to figure out if there was a way to fill the large hole forming in her chest.
The three men gathered in the kitchen and spoke in hushed tones.
"Did he make it out okay?" Joe asked.
Duncan nodded. "He asked Richie to take him somewhere. They left about twenty minutes before you guys got here."
Joe sighed heavily and drained his glass, holding it while Connor poured a refill. "I never should have told Linna about Adam and the Methos Chronicles."
"Don't blame yourself," Connor said. "It all would have come out eventually. It always does. Then we pack up and vanish, leaving everyone we love behind."
"And you took care of the Hunter?"
Connor nodded. "And the woman."
Joe swallowed hard. Linna and he had been young together. Gone through training together. Crossed paths several times during their field work. But that was nothing. Not compared to the history shared between Connor and Sarah, or Sarah and Adam. He knew the elder Highlander didn't kill indescriminantly. This had been to help Methos, despite the somewhat strange nature of their relationship. Maybe it had been done out of loyalty and caring for Sarah. Regardless, it had been done. And maybe it would be enough. But he doubted that very much.
Duncan took the bottle and joined Sarah on the couch. She was staring into the amber liquid in her glass and barely looked up as he sat down. He frowned deeply, watching her struggle to keep the lines of tension and sadness from forming on her face.
"He wrote you a note, but I think he must have given it to Richie."
Sarah drained her glass in one gulp and looked up at the ceiling. "We were supposed to go ice skating tomorrow. Can you believe it? Like we were a normal couple or something. Ice skating."
Duncan pulled her into a hug and kissed the top if her head tenderly. "It'll be okay, I promise. He's been around a long time...he'll be okay."
In the kitchen, Connor pulled up a stool and hung his head over his empty glass. Joe took a seat next to him and swirled the remainder of his own drink around thoughtfully.
"Does he have a Watcher?"
Joe shook his head. "We couldn't risk anyone knowing about him. I should have assigned someone though...then at least I could tell her where he was."
Connor shrugged, but made no response.
They had been sitting in silence for nearly an hour when Joe recognized the look that suddenly came across Connor's face. Sarah leapt up from her spot next to Duncan, hoping against all hope. Her face fell noticeably when Richie pulled the gate up on the lift.
He entered the room slowly, slapping his leg nervously and looking from Sarah to Duncan and back.
"I took him to the docks."
Sarah nodded. "Did he get out okay?"
She was about to ask him if Adam had his scarf along, but decided it was a stupid question and even more stupid to be worrying about him getting cold when soon every ill mannered immortal on the planet would be after her Petey's head. Instead, she nodded again and paced over to a window, hugging herself against a cold that went deeper than the Seacouver winter.
Richie shucked off his coat and followed her. "He said to tell you to wait for him. And that he loved you."
Sarah bit her lip hard and nodded a third time. She knew that if she spoke, it would all come pouring out.
"And he gave me this," Richie pulled a slightly crumpled piece of paper out of his back pocket and handed it to her.
Sarah took the note and held it for a minute, unfolding it once, then handed it back to Richie.
"You read it, I can't."
He hesitated, but opened the piece of paper and fought back a wave of emotion himself as he read it.
"Well?" She asked.
Richie shook his head. "I...here," he shoved it back into her hands.
Sarah looked down at it and a soft smile formed on her face, then she closed her eyes and sank to the floor. Richie dropped to his knees and wrapped both arms around her.
Connor started across the room, but a gesture from Duncan brought him up short. Mac took him by the elbow and steered him toward the door.
"Let's let Richie handle this, they...well, he's closer to her than any of us," he said.
"And right now, he's her only link to Methos," Joe added, picking up his coat. He looked at the stack of Watcher Chronicles sitting on the chair and decided that tomorrow would be soon enough to deal with them.
Richie looked up briefly as he heard the door click shut, then directed his attention back to Sarah. She was shaking and trying to catch her breath. He hugged her tightly, then pulled back and crooked a finger under her chin, wiping a stray tear from her cheek.
Sarah drew her sleeve across her face and sniffled. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be, it's okay. Adam was pretty upset too."
"Do um...do you know where the boat was headed?"
Richie shook his head. "He said it was better if no one knew."
Sarah nodded, he was right, of course.
"You should probably vanish too."
"Anyone who comes hunting for Adam will most likely go through you first."
She sighed and rested her head on his chest. "If I go anywhere, I might run into him by accident...or lead someone to him. I should just stay here and pretend nothing happened. And I'm tired of living secret lives."
Richie hugged her again. He didn't know what to say. But Adam had asked him to take care of her and that he would.
[end pt 5]
"This is delicious, Sarah," Duncan said, finishing off his plate of grilled chicken.
Richie wiped his chin on a napkin and bobbed his head in agreement.
"Thanks," Sarah reclined in her chair and looked out over the porch railing and across the street.
The leaves were beginning to turn and the nights were getting colder. She had already had two fires to warm up the apartment in the evening and it was barely mid September. Things just weren't the same under the down comforter.
Six immortals had come looking for Petey in the past nine months. Duncan had taken care of the first two for her, while she was still reeling from having to clean out his apartment and pack away that part of her life. Two of the next three were women and she had defeated them easily. The fourth was a bit of a struggle, but he had told her that there were rumors of Methos in Egypt before she took his head. The last one most likely would have killed her, if Richie hadn't walked in at the right time. He had just returned from a week of tracking the Chinaman...victorious.
Richie got up and pulled another piece of chicken off the grill. He recognized the look on Sarah's face. She had worn it for a week straight when they were sorting through Adam's things and deciding what to put in storage and what she would bring to her house. This Sarah was a stark contrast to the one he had known while Adam was around. For one thing, he had noticed a stack of Big Band CDs added to one of the boxes going into storage and a corresponding empty space in her CD rack. Her smile, which used to come so easily, was now quite rare and she often spent long periods of time in deep thought. Whether it was remembering days long past, or projecting into the future, he didn't know. He did know that she was training harder than ever and pushing him even harder than that. They often sparred to the bitter end.
"So, rumors have it that the English Department wants to make you a full professor," Duncan said.
Sarah nodded. "They want me to get a PhD so they can give me a seat," she chuckled suddenly. "Sometimes I wish I could just haul all my various diplomas in and tell them exactly how many doctorates I have."
"How many is that?" Richie asked.
She thought a moment. "Four. Medieval History, Renaissance Literature, um...Modern Lit and..."
"Archeology," Duncan supplied the fourth.
"Right," she said. "That one was a while ago."
"So, are you going to get another one?" Richie asked, finishing his plate and shoving it toward the center of the table.
Sarah shrugged, then waved as the mailman walked up the front steps. "Hey Jim."
"Hello Sarah," the older man smiled. "Here you go," he handed her a stack of mail and turned to fill the boxes for the three lower apartments.
Sarah waved again as he headed back down the walk and tossed the mail onto the table. She picked up her beer and swirled it around in the bottle.
"Anything good?" Richie asked, pointing to the pile.
"Have a look. I think I might have won the Publisher's Clearing House. They keep telling me I'm a finalist."
Duncan chuckled, pleased to see her sense of humor returning. He had gone for about three months without seeing a smile at all after Methos left. There had been no word from him, not even through the Watchers, and Duncan was beginning to fear the worst. Certainly nine months was enough time to erase any trace of Adam Pierson and create a new identity, especially for someone who had as much practice at it as Methos did. Sarah had been pushing ahead, leaning on Richie occasionally, and wearing shirts that had come from Adam's closet about five out of every seven days. The one she had on now had paint on it from the day he and Duncan had worked on Anne's porch in the rain.
"Car Insurance, Seacouver Gas and Electric, a bank statement," Richie muttered, sorting through the pile of envelopes. "Newsweek, The New Yorker...a letter from someone named Jason Green..."
Duncan perked his ears up, that was not a name he recognized.
Sarah shook her head. "A friend from Ottawa," she said.
"Ed McMahon sends his regards...PETA wants money...God you get a lot of mail."
Sarah chuckled. "Fill out one sweepstakes entry in a fit of boredom and suddenly you're on every mailing list in the world."
"VISA bill...and a postcard from Fiji," Richie set the stack back on the table and picked up his beer. "If you win the lottery, can I have half?"
"Sure," Sarah picked up the postcard and frowned at it. Who would send her a card with a picture of a naked woman walking away from the camera and a priest carrying a sign that said "The End is in Sight"? How bizarre. She flipped it over and just about did a backflip out of her chair.
"Who's it from?" Duncan asked.
Sarah handed it to him with a smile. No. It was a grin. And it lit up her face.
Duncan looked at the picture and shook his head. Tacky didn't even begin to describe it. Only someone with a truly warped mind would find this amusing. Then it hit him. He flipped it over and read eagerly.
"Mysterious Frenchman on my tail. This is getting tiresome. Heads will roll. Still waiting for your answer..."
Six months later, precisely three days after Sarah's nine hundred and fifty sixth birthday, Duncan received a phone call on the dojo line. They had celebrated her birthday quietly, pizza and beer at Joe's and a movie afterwards. Joe had wanted to make a big deal of it, saying that it might do her good. But Richie had convinced him that it was best to keep things low key, as she had asked.
"MacLeod," he said, out of habit. "Connor! How are you?"
He was cut off by the sound of Connor's voice and listened numbly for a few moments, watching through the blinds as Sarah and Richie paced through a sparring match. With a mumbled thanks, he hung up the phone and stood in the doorway for a moment before crossing the floor slowly and catching their attention.
"That was Connor."
"How is the old coot?" Sarah asked with a smile. It faded quickly as she caught the expression on Duncan's face.
Mac swallowed hard. "Methos is dead."
"You're wrong," she said flatly.
Duncan shook his head, "Connor..."
Richie set his sword down and moved close to her, ready to lend whatever support she would accept.
"Sarah...I'm sorry," Duncan said.
She shook her head emphatically. "No. You're wrong."
Duncan thought his heart would break as he saw her shoulders began to shake. She stared at him defiantly, daring him to repeat the offensive phrase. Nearby, Richie reached for her rapier, which she let fall from her rapidly numbing hand.
"Connor bumped into him in Rio," Duncan began. "He said...Methos went out to fight and didn't come back. There was a quickening."
He would never tell her that Connor had said the skinny Englishman had been preparing to come home. That would only make things harder.
Sarah almost physically leapt at the statement. "The same thing happened in Germany. He's fine. He's not dead. He's *not* dead."
"There was a fire from the quickening, but Connor saw the body. And...he has Methos' sword. It's broken."
Sarah backed away from him, still shaking her head, and came up short against Richie's chest.
"Come on Sarah, let's sit down," Richie said, guiding her to the floor with an arm around her waist.
Duncan knelt in front of them and took her face in his hands. "I'm so sorry, Sarah."
She sat there, half in Richie's lap and surrounded by four very strong arms, trying to keep her chest from exploding. Richie's tears were wet on her shoulder and Duncan was rocking her gently, murmuring soothing words that she only half heard. Sarah was thousands of miles and hundreds of years away. Standing on the shores of Loch Lomand with Petey's arm tentatively draped around her shoulder as they stood by the graves of her husband and family. And then, on the shores of Lake Constance some three hundred years later, looking out over the water and trying to block out the image of a quickening that she had been certain was his.
She never should have come to Seacouver. If she had stayed in Ottawa the pain of that great loss would still be six hundred years old. Not fresh and raw and searing through her soul. Sarah found herself murmuring as well. Alan. Or was she saying Adam? Methos. Mother. Petey. No.
Both sets of arms tightened gently as she began to weep great heaving sobs that tore from her soul with ragged cries.
"Go ahead and cry, Sarie," Duncan said quietly.
Sarah's head snapped up and she kicked out reflexively, back pedaling away from both of them. "Don't call me that. Don't you *ever* call me that!"
Duncan hung his head. He hadn't meant to say that aloud. It was what he had imagined Methos would say. Methos. Who would never flash another enigmatic smile or toss him another beer.
Sarah scrambled to her feet, but Richie caught her by the wrist and drew her back down. His arms were too bulky. His cologne was too pungent. His hair was the wrong texture against her neck. This was not the man she wanted to be holding her.
The phone rang again. Duncan let the machine pick it up, but dashed for the receiver as Connor's voice drifted through the room. Maybe there had been a mistake. He'd give just about anything to spare Sarah the pain of this.
He listened quietly as his kinsman told him the flight schedule. Gurgled out a No when Connor asked if Sarah was all right. Grunted a Yes at the query of whether or not she would want the broken sword. Then he hung up the phone and sank into his chair, his own face wet with tears. Joe Dawson would want to know about this, but that could wait. No mortal could understand what they were going through.
On the floor in the outer room, Sarah was struggling to regain her composure. She was fighting back the anger and the urge to yell and scream and carry on; stamping down the small voice in the back of her head that kept suggesting that Connor might be wrong. There was no use in entertaining false hopes--they would only be dashed again. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Who was she to wish for anything else?
Richie was saying something. Asking her if there was anything he could do, anything he could bring her. Yes. He could bring her Petey. Alive and well.
She shook her head and stood up, looking around the dojo like she had the first time she had arrived there. They had been in a similar position then, her and Richie. Only he was at arm's length because he had challenged her and lost. Then, Duncan and Petey had walked in, laughing from an evening of carousing at Joe's.
No, that night had been nothing like this.
And a little over a year ago, she and Duncan were standing in this very spot. He was telling her that Richie and Methos had just left. Telling her that Petey would be okay and would come back to her soon. She looked to the door. Nothing. They were forever missing each other by minutes and lifetimes.
Richie was talking again.
"What?" She asked absently.
"I'm sorry," he repeated. "That's a lame thing to say, but it's true."
Sarah nodded. "I know you are. I am too. Thanks."
"Where are you going?"
She hadn't even realized she was heading for the door. Sarah stopped and looked down at herself. There was a hole in the knee of her leggings from a slide she took in the spar, before...before Duncan had taken that phone call. The tape on her wrists was fraying at the edges. A faded bloodstain marred her sweatshirt--Petey's actually--from the day they had sparred and he had accidentally sliced into her leg.
She clutched her not so newly red hair and pushed it out of her eyes. "I need to walk for a while," she said.
"Do you want me to come with you?"
She thought about that for a moment, then nodded.
Richie dashed into the office and grabbed their coats. "She wants to walk," he said to Duncan.
Richie looked from Mac to Sarah and back, uncertain of who needed him more and unaccustomed to playing the paternal role. He wondered what he should do. The answer came as he saw Sarah pull off the sweatshirt and let it fall to a heap at her feet.
"I'll take care of her, Mac," he said.
"Methos would have wanted that."
[end pt 6]
there's still an epilogue folks
Nothing Gold Can Stay
LC Krakowka firstname.lastname@example.org
"Haven't seen you in a while."
"Hi Joe," Sarah smiled a greeting and straddled a bar stool.
He offered her a glass, but she waved it off.
"Nine hundred and fifty-six years old, and you still don't know enough to come in out of the rain," he chuckled.
Sarah smiled again and slicked her wet hair back out of her eyes, tucking the loose strands behind her ears.
"What brings you to Joe's?"
"I need a favor," she said.
"Anything, you know that."
He hadn't seen her in the month since the news came about Methos. She looked the same. She would always look the same. No, there was a sadness in her eyes; it lingered, despite the fact that she had been smiling.
Sarah sighed. "I need you to call off my Watcher for a while."
"Joe, I need to get out of here and be alone. Really alone," she leaned forward and gripped his arm. "Now, I can ditch him on my own, but I'm asking you to please let me have some time."
"It's not really safe yet. I'd feel better if we knew where you were..."
Sarah turned over his arm and examined the tattoo, then pulled down his sleeve and patted his hand.
"It's over, Joe."
He drew in a deep breath, then nodded slowly. "Okay."
"Where are you going?"
Sarah cracked a grin and wagged a finger at him.
"Okay, okay," he smiled, chagrined. "But you'll keep in touch?"
A brief silence fell and he wiped a meticulous circle on the bar, wondering if she blamed him. She had every right to. For no less than the thousandth time in the past year, Joe Dawson swore to himself that he would never get involved again. Nothing, but nothing good had ever come out of it.
"I never got to tell you how sorry I am," he said.
Sarah gripped his hand again, "I know you are. And I'm sorry I haven't been around sooner. I...I just couldn't. I don't blame you, Joe. It's not your fault. It's how we live. It's what we are."
"I know," he sighed and leaned heavily on the bar. "But you two kids deserved your shot."
"I'm not a kid, Joe. And Petey certainly wasn't one either."
"Maybe Connor was wrong..."
Sarah shook her head and cut him off, "Don't go down that road, Joe. It only leads to oblivion."
Joe looked at this woman, who appeared to be at least twenty years his junior. They could be mistaken for father and daughter on the street, and probably had been at some point. But she was older than he could really fathom. And she spoke with a wisdom that could only come through centuries of loss.
Sarah reached into her coat and pulled out an oblong package. She weighed it in her hands a moment, then set it on the bar and nudged it over to him. Joe unwrapped it carefully, guessing what lay inside. Still, he was shocked to see Methos' broken sword. Somehow, that made it all very real.
"I want you to have it, for the archives," she said.
Joe shook his head, "I can't take this. It's all you..."
"It's not all I have left of him," she said quietly. "I have hundreds of years of memories that will never be in any Watcher Chronicle," Sarah paused and pushed her hair back again.
"I know what it was like to ride a camel with him swilling wine from a skin behind me. I know what it was like to hold the back of his shirt while he barfed over the side of a raft on the Nile. I know why he was afraid of spiders. And I know what his nightmares were about. I know what it was like to have a bond that transcends everything but death. But you...you only knew Adam Pierson," she tapped the hilt with her index finger. "This belonged to Methos and it is all *you* have left of him. Read the Chronicles, Joe. Learn what you can. I'm sorry you never got he chance to really know him."
Joe nodded slowly and traced the jagged edge of the blade with his thumb. He hefted the pieces and tried to fit them back together.
"It won't work, believe me, I've tried," Sarah said.
"I'd give anything to bring him back for you, you know that."
Sarah smiled and nodded. "I know."
The following morning, the three men stood in a semi-circle watching Sarah place her duffel in her car. She closed the trunk gently and turned to them, smiling tentatively.
Joe spoke first.
"You be sure to keep me up to date."
"I will," she hugged him and planted a kiss on his cheek. "And thank you."
"You just make sure you come back to us," he said.
Sarah smiled and moved to Duncan. "Well, Mac, we'll always have Paris," she grinned.
He swept her into a hug and held on tight. "You be careful, Sarah. I can't imagine a world without you in it."
"Oh Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, don't you worry about me." She kissed him on the cheek and pulled back. "Thank you, for everything."
"Anytime, you know that." He returned the kiss and released her.
"Well, Kid," Sarah turned to Richie, "catch."
He caught the keys she tossed with his left hand and looked down at them, confusion evident on his young face.
"Keep an eye on the place for me?" She asked. "The rent is paid through this time next year."
"Yes, you can." She folded his hand over the keys. "That place you live in is a dump and the rent is too high. Stay here. Read my books. Use your money to do something you've always wanted to. Just don't trash the place."
Richie didn't know what to say. He threw his arms around her and squeezed tightly.
"You were my strength when I didn't have any," she said softly in his ear. "Let me do this for you."
"You don't have to leave you know."
"Yes, I do," she gave him a squeeze and released him. "This town has way too many ghosts."
"Then, can I come too? I mean...Adam asked me to take care of you..."
Sarah touched his cheek gently, then smiled and gave his jacket a good tug to straighten it. "And you did."
She gave Duncan one last hug and climbed behind the wheel. Joe held up a hand as she pulled out of the driveway.
"You think she'll be okay?" He asked.
Duncan nodded. "She's buried him before."
To Part 7: Everything Moves In Circles
To the Authors pages