The Scrapbook

This is the place where various stories inspired by photographs are housed.

Disclaimer:  The characters of Connor MacLeod and Duncan MacLeod belong to DPP.
This fanfiction is for entertainment only, there is no profit involved.

Anchor links to individual stories:

Don't Look Twice
The Caress
Perfect Balance
For Tessa ("Smile, You Damn Scots!")
Heather's Love
Paws'd In The Park
Listening for Home
Connor and The Cat Adult themes
Forever Rushing
Holding the Edges
It's Always Raining, One Language
It's Always Raining, Two Language
Counting the Lifetimes Adult themes
Ironman Language
What Might Have Been
Pocket full of ...
Wild Hair
Amorous Play



So tired.

The weariness settled into his bones and cramped up his joints, lingering like fog across his mind. It had been a numbing month. The strain manifested its presence on his face and in the stiffness that replaced his customary gracefulness. There could not possibly be any pain ... but there still seemed an indefinable ache somewhere so deep inside that he couldn't even pinpoint the problem.

His dominant hand trembled ... the evidence was obvious in the dance of the overhead light along the sword he held outstretched. Even tightening his fingers around the carved handle did not still that telltale bobbling light.

He used to think immortals could not wear down like this, eroded by time and losses and the constant fighting to survive. But that was 360 years ago when he childishly believed that. He was older now --

Today he was tired. Tired and weary and worn.

Duncan caught him in the flare of the camera, illuminating in the snap of the shutter everything that his comrade felt. The dark Highlander merely nodded at the dour look shot his way. Catching Connor unguarded was no small feat. He pocketed the instant camera and knew this was the one single photo out of the entire bunch that he would treasure.

The younger man knew just where it needed to go - in the pages of his phone book beside the bed. [His clansman switched phone numbers frequently to shake the Watchers off his trail.] Every time he picked up the directory to place a call, this photo would catch his eye and he would stop and contemplate it. He would have to keep the negative in a firebox. Constant handling would bend the edges and ruin the picture after a while ... he would need to make a copy almost every year.

Duncan needed this picture of Connor Macleod ... to remind him that his friend did get weary and needed companionship with someone he trusted to recharge his energy. A kinsman and brother. One to drink with, shoot pool with, to sit quietly beside while reading. Someone to come alongside and just walk with him when the journey was long.

And immortality was a very long journey.

Photo taken of Christophe when shooting for Endgame was completed.


Don't Look Twice

She wasn't quite sure how she had arrived at this place, here alone beneath moonlight on the patio with this man. The air carried a sweet perfume of roses and hyacinths and the music drifted from inside the crowded dance.

"It's hot," she noted, seeing anew the blue of his eyes that matched his shirt. Duncan had been right to warn her, she thought somewhere vaguely in her head. Her laughing dark-haired friend had told her quite seriously to not look twice at his kinsman Connor MacLeod. His expression had been very solemn that morning: a curious thing when his eyes danced so merrily at the same time. Duncan warned her not to look twice.

And she had.


Connor MacLeod stared back, eyes level and piercing right through her. The medium length brown hair was a bit unruly in the back and he was unshaven, altogether a bit untidy as if a room unswept. He wore a typical blazer and dress shirt. No tie. A white undershirt peeked out from his neck and she had the sudden urge to see if there was another layer beneath it.

All evening, while music played and wine was served and people laughed, she watched him -- constantly aware of where he was in the room. He stared right back boldly.

Duncan caught her eye at one point and just shook his head at her as if admonishing a child. She frowned at him and could hear him laugh aloud from halfway across the room. He waggled one forefinger at her as if she had already committed a sin.

Don't look twice. Forbidden fruit. Don't touch. Don't taste. Don't look.

And now, the garden. She finally had to escape the heat and noise ... the sensation of her skin being on fire. And he was waiting; eyes just as measured, face just as stilled.

Those eyes! she thought, drawing irresistibly close to him. Blue on blue, like endless summer skies and when she looked in them, she could see ... forever.

He didn't move when she reached to touch the coat and draw the lapels aside. It fell off his arms unhindered and pooled on the tile. The buttons were a small matter ... how many times had she stripped a man's shirt off of him anyway? She had lost count.

He didn't move until she reached the very top button and then it was only to lean slightly, eyes drilling intently into her face, lips parting -- asking without a sound. Yes, of course, the kiss is the next step, she thought and straightened to meet him.

Wine. Heat. Softness impossible for a man's lips, but truly his. Gentle fingers creeping around her waist. A curious tongue, touching hers only briefly and gently before his teeth nipped along her lips, exploring. She had to lean on him under the press of longing, waiting to be possessed again.

He took his time: nibbling, breathing, tasting the flavors on her lips and neck and ears.

Duncan warned me not to look twice, she said within. Damn. I should have listened. Damn. I'm glad I didn't. What would he know about this?

She tugged on the undershirt until it was loose and slid her hands up the warm skin, so soft and nearly hairless beneath her hands. His nipples peaked under her circling fingertips and he sighed very softly against her neck. She could feel the thrum of energy and power gathering in his lean body, the instinctive press of his hips against her.

"Duncan warned me not to look at you," he said and pressed his mouth over hers.

Heat. Passion. An insistent kiss that she surrendered to, plundered by those eyes that had watched her all evening and ravished by his sudden hunger. It was too hot outside under this moon and her clothes were too confining. He groaned against her teeth and blew his breath like a steed when she sucked on his tongue. Desire was like a fire through all their clothing.

"I warned you not to look!" cheerfully called Duncan MacLeod from the patio door. "By moonlight? Really, you two! Get a room or the dance will be called because of the night show!" He pointed his finger up at the window on the second floor. "Third door on your left," then he turned to go.

He was almost inside, the music swelling around his silhouette, when he called back, "oh, Connor? Tuck that shirt in before everyone knows what you're after. And you," he fired at her in mock irritation, "try to keep your hands off him until you get upstairs, hmmm?" He returned to the swaying music and the swirling people, shaking his head in mock consternation.

Duncan grinned widely all evening as he danced ... and never saw his two friends reappear. He had to sleep on the couch. "I tried to tell them," he said to the round moon through the window. "No one ever listens to me." He was still smiling when he went to sleep.

Fru attack by SharzCDC!
The title was supplied by the person who fru'd the picture on the board


The Caress

He expected her to react. It was the entire point to this little display of pain, the shock of driving a knife through flesh and bone communicating itself through his hand to hers. He hated to die and aimed precisely beside the heart, piercing the pericardial sac but missing the vital organ. Still, the swift stroke of pain from the steel sent him to his knees and she came with him -- horrified to the core.

He kept his head down and watched the floor swim for the few moments it took prior to the tingle of healing. He was rested and hadn't been fighting: recovery would be swift. She didn't need to see the strain on his face as an added trauma, but she worked with the police ... he knew it would take something this severe to convince her of the truth.

"I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I was born in 1518 in Glenfinnan by the shores of Lock Sheil and I am immortal," he had told her. Now, by pain that crumpled him and the fresh blood on his shirt beside his heart, Brenda Wyatt could not deny or disbelieve his truth.

Tears on her face?

Connor was still, wondering. Her hand came up, touched the dapple of slick blood on his shirt and then crept to his stubbled cheek and lay open on it. By instinct, his hand came up and reached for her face, mirroring her action ... only to stop partway there.

He expected shock and dismay, horror, at this exercise of immortality. He never expected the power hidden in the hand resting like a benediction on his face. He never expected the leap of his pulse to answer that strength, sending courses of faint pain echoing through the tissue still barely healed deep in his chest.

He was 468 years old and a woman's caress could still transfix him, fingers curled slightly as if afraid to reach out to touch ... to taste the tears ... to smooth over the soft skin. He was immortal and so very fragile beneath her hand.

Title supplied by the person who fru'd the picture on the board


Perfect Balance

Connor leaned his head back wearily against the couch and closed his eyes. He heard the clink of the melting ice in the shot of scotch and felt himself drifting into the edges of sleep right where he sat.

Just at the balance point of waking and sleeping, where the curtain of mind and soul was thin and easily pierced ... he saw it. A sudden vision of himself, eyes evenly gazing at some far horizon and his face placid and calm. The mountains were rising beyond the spectre of his face ... the ghostly illumination of a castle hovered behind him, as if his face was truly transparent.

The claymore of the clan MacLeod was a crucifix in the center of the image. Lightning coursed through the handle in a paroxysm of energy ... and the blade defied the element and remained steadfast. Connor felt his heart soar at the sight.

And more wondrous than anything: the rich lines and features of Duncan MacLeod began to solidify into the picture on the other side of the claymore. His younger counterpart was looking downwards with a small smile on his face, peaceful and contented.

Connor smiled, slipping into sleep. It was a perfect balance ... he on one side and Duncan, stalwart and true on the other. He feared no lightning with that image resting in his heart.

10/11/00 Impromptu party


For Tessa ("Smile, You Damn Scots!")

All she wanted was a damn photo. How hard could these two blustering men make things? It was enough to make her take the swords away from them and give each of them a rap on their tight rears to get them to cooperate!

And they were clansmen and trained together? Tessa Noel rolled her eyes dramatically.

They had been bickering about Slan Quince all morning. She didn't think she had ever heard such swearing ... and she didn't even know the language, but knew for sure that they were swearing vehemently at one another.

Finally, they settled enough for her to get the focus and take the photo. It would be the only one she ever took of them ... she would not live to see Connor and Duncan together again.

Duncan MacLeod fingered the edges of the frame and regarded the picture within the glass.

Happier times, even though Connor and he had been at odds. His clansman's face was calm and unreadable, but the sullen eyes belied the tranquillity. He was using his classic cross-grip on the handle of the katana -- if it were true battle, Duncan would be watching for the twisting lift of the bright blade as it came around to slice his shoulder. And Connor moved like the wind.

The younger man grinned at the gray trenchcoat, unfashionable as ever ... and the tennis shoes. Connor was stuck in a fashion rut. He idly wondered why.

But he was alive ... ultimately that was all that mattered.

Duncan looked at himself, seeing a man much younger. The black coat wouldn't fit his shoulders now, he had filled out so much more in the intervening years. He couldn't wear those slim jeans anymore either. But the hair was the same, long, pulled back in a familiar clasp.

He had crossed his own katana with Connor's, fashioning a crazy X in the photo. The flash of the camera off of his old mentor's blade was a brilliant line of light.

Much happier times. Connor at least had the chance to meet Tessa before she was gone and had an opportunity to finally see Duncan at peace and content.

One photo. All that was left. It was just enough.

Impromptu CDC party 10/11/00


Heather's Love

Can't you hear the music? Swelling up around him, drifting on a wind so soft he never realized it was there?

... who wants to live forever ... who dares to love forever ... "

And he stares off at the white peaks remembering playing in the snow with the fair-haired lass that sleeps so still below his feet in the frozen earth. All around him is the barren earth of winter and the silence of the Highlands ... but in his heart, aye, that is where something burns that will never die.

Sometimes small and faint, sometimes a conflaguration that consumes his dreams--a warmth, a glow, an ember, a spark. He can wrap his arms round himself and feel it fill him from the inside out.

A love that never fades nor recognizes any winter.

MacNair -- teary eyed and all that.
Feb 3, 2001


Paws'd In The Park

She wanted a photo of the dog. Just the dog, she said, but it wouldn't hold still and it wouldn't look at the camera and it wouldn't quit barking!

"Just hold the dog for me," the lady in the overdressed hat said. "I want to send the photo to my little boy at camp ... it's his new puppy, you see, since his papa passed away. I want to surprise him and make him eager to come home even though his daddy won't come back."

Connor held the dog ... and it wouldn't hold still and it wouldn't quit barking at everything that moved and it wouldn't quit licking his face! He finally locked a hand, fine boned and strong from gripping the handle of a sword, around its shaggy throat to contain it.

For a moment, feeling the happy wriggling and the racing heartbeat beneath his fingers, the 482 year old Scot remembered what it was like to be a boy ... with a puppy who had enormous feet and wouldn't hold still for the world



Listening For Home


It was good, so good, just to be back home. To listen to the wind rustle through the heather nearby and watch the birds circle in the eddies high above him. The misty smell of water-laden air off the loch could not steal his contentment with any real or perceived threat of rain. The rocks dug into his back, reminding him of strength--the inflexibility of this wilderness.

He could lie here for the rest of the day, he suspected. Sigh. Just to rest and feel the sense of eternity bound up in the earth beneath him. If he closed his eyes, he could imagine that flow of strength and surety seep up around him and take him down whole and alive, trusting and subjugated. He could hear the heart of the stone, the busy hum of life living all around him. In the core, in his bones, through his soul, he could draw power from this wild land. It would take a little time to attune to it--to tap into it--but it had always given him strength before. Today should be no different...

Footsteps intruded, along with a familiar tingle. He clenched his eyes against it and grappled for the rapport of the land again, as if a toy dropped ... or a fond friend lost.

"What are you doing, Connor?" curiously asked Duncan from above him.

Connor sighed and shifted slightly, eyes on the sky. Count on the younger Scot to intrude on him. "I'm listening to the ground," he said, knowing how foolish that must sound.


Then the shuffle of someone sitting down close by ... close enough to touch and feel the warmth coming off his skin. Duncan was staring up into the sky beside him, flat on his back. His outstretched fingers brushed Connor's, establishing contact and trust. A connection between immortals and the immortal land.

"Help me to hear what you hear, Connor," he said simply.

A pause, to choke back feelings provoked from nowhere. "Aye, Duncan. Close your eyes and listen with me... ."

March 26, 2002


Connor And The Cat

She came in the room quietly and sat the drink on the nearby table. Two cats on the floor ... one named Connor. She stole over softly, feet noiseless on the plush carpet and lay down on his back, full length, resting her cheek against his shoulder.

Connor groaned softly at the weight and let all the tension of the day bleed its way out of his muscles. He put his head down across his folded arms and listened to her soft breaths and the purr of the cat nearby... .

This is like melting into the carpet, he thought with a mental sigh. The events of the day: the phone call, the meeting time, the fight that left him angry and breathless and exhausted all at the same time coursed around through his thoughts. Connor allowed them to settle like electricity in his skin, prickle across the nape of his neck where he could feel her hair fall, draw into his fingertips like fire and pain ... until, finally, he forced the images out of himself. The blood and death pooled around him--and he imagined the carpet soaking up all of it, wicking it away, until even the fibers were clean again and it was as if he never fought, never coughed his blood through pierced lungs, never heard the fall of a skull hit the concrete like a pumpkin--never killed a man for no other reason than some game thrust on him.

And then there was nothing left except the woman folded across his back like a benediction and the cat, purring gentleness near him. He was tired, but not too tired. Hungry, but not wanting food. Thirsty, but not for drink. Everything felt jumbled inside like the pieces of a puzzle tossed haphazardly on the floor.

He shifted his hips and suddenly felt her teeth on his neck and the warmth of her breath across his cheek. The sensation shot through his over-tested nerves like electricity and he abruptly knew exactly what he wanted. A soft groan escaped with a rumble.

"Here, kitty-kitty-kitty," she whispered near his ear. "I hear you purring." Her voice was all air and magic and light ... a twitching morsel enticing a willing feline.

Stolen by the muse...
Posted by MacNairCDC on 10/2/2000 and revisited again on October 13, 2002



Duncan half listened to John, now eight years old, enthusiastically identify the sea shells he picked up, inspected, and stuffed in his pockets. Most of Duncan's attention, even though he tried to hide it, was on John's father: his kinsman. Connor was sitting on the beach, seemingly oblivious to the brisk fall breeze and Duncan's concern.

"You're worried about him, aren't you?" John asked.

The automatic denial died on Duncan's lips when he saw the expression on John's face. "Yes," he answered, "yes, I am. Connor seems," Duncan paused, searching for a word to describe the melancholy he felt from his old mentor, a word that John could understand and one that wouldn't frighten him. How Connor had the strength to raise a child and raise one alone was beyond his comprehension.

"Daddy's sad." John supplied, his dark eyes meeting Duncan. "Aunt Rachel says it's because Brenda died during this month and because it didn't work out with Terri. I liked Terri," John explained. "She liked Chinese food and had a dog."

And she also had the gall, Duncan thought, trying to keep a murderous expression off his face, to call Connor nothing more than a serial killer, unfit to raise a child. Duncan felt like throttling her if ran across her. Connor was never one to give his heart lightly and for someone to tromp on it was unpardonable to Duncan. "Your father loved Brenda very much," Duncan answered. "They were both so excited when they called me to tell me the Clan would have another son."

John grinned. He knew the story; he was special. "Hey, Uncle Duncan, look!" John pointed to the tell-tell sign of a burrowing crab. He dropped to his knees and began to dig. "I'm going after him!"

Duncan started to tell John that he'd never catch it, but vaguely recalled it was sometimes more the thrill of the chase than the apprehension that was the appeal. "I'm going to go talk to your Dad, sport. Stay in view, OK?"

John nodded, laughing as he dug in the sand. Duncan gave him a fond smile and looked back at Connor. Connor's immortal constitution had quickly righted the ravages that a long weekend of drinking would have taken on a mortal. It had just been by chance that Duncan had read about the auction at Christie's in New York while airborne, returning from a trip abroad. He had been scheduled to have a 4-hour lay over in New York and on a whim he had decided to stay the weekend. He hadn't seen Connor in quite a few months and it had been in the back of his mind that he might be able to check out the new girlfriend. His phone call to the shop had gotten no answer, so he had called the upstairs residence. No one had answered there either, and he had started to leave a message when Connor, hearing who it was despite or because of being drunk, had picked up.

Connor, already a bottle of Glenmorangie ahead of him by the time Duncan arrived at the loft, had been, for the normally reticent man, fairly communicative. Duncan gathered quickly that Connor and his girlfriend of almost a year had broken up the night before.

Connor had surprised Rachel and John with tickets for a weekend jaunt to Vermont to check out the fall foliage and Connor had been drinking and brooding since they had left that morning.

"She broke my fucking heart, Duncan. How could I have been so wrong? I introduced her to John and to Rachel. I was thinking of marrying her. I'm such a stupid fuck," the inebriated immortal had lamented.

It had not been pretty to see Connor so, but Duncan had listened, argued with him, drank with him and his heart had been gladdened to hear Connor murmur before he had slipped into the nothingness he had sought, "Aye, Donnachaidh. You're a good friend, clansman. Good to have you at my back and my side."

It was now Tuesday. Rachel had brought John with her to work this morning and the boy, pleading a visit from Duncan was reason to miss another day of school, was allowed to stay home. After a late breakfast of only coffee for Connor, Duncan had suggested an outing somewhere to let the boy run some. He had also thought it might be good for Connor to get some fresh daytime air. The elder MacLeod had always loved the sea. Duncan still found it hard to believe the stories Connor spun of being like most Clansmen of the time, afraid of water, until meeting Ramirez.

The last three days had been a blur of self-indulgent whisky soaked excess. Duncan was tired and he had only been accompanying Connor. He sat down beside Connor without asking if he wanted company. "I can't believe how big John is getting. He's a great boy, Connor. You're raising him well."

It took a moment for Duncan's words to register, but when they did, Connor turned and stared into the guileless brown eyes. "He's a good lad; curious, bright. What do you think he'll do when I tell him what I am?"

Duncan swallowed, "You're going to tell him soon? He's so young... "

Connor's gaze intensified.

"You're his father, Connor. He'll love you same as he does now."

Connor kept his face unreadable, but his thoughts weren't silent. That was my hope with Terri. He had fought the attraction in the beginning. It was only going to be a fling that would burn itself out like all the others, but then it changed into something more. Gradually, she had become a part of his life, a part of John's life. Dim sum and videos every Friday night, pancakes on Saturday morning, and runs in the park Sunday afternoon with John and her dog.

Now that part of his life and John's life was gone. Gone because she couldn't accept his immortality, couldn't accept him. Would John accept it? Rachel, a child desperate for aid and love had. She had been a child in need of magic. The things she had seen and lived through had prepared her to accept that death was the unavoidable price of his immortality. How Connor hoped Duncan was right.

"He is young," Connor considered, "maybe I'll tell him gradually. Start with the good points and then in time, tell the rest."

Duncan smiled, "You could be quite useful to him in school. A living history reference and all."

Connor shot him a look trying to keep a smile off his face, "At least I have heroic, important historic tales to tell."

"Yes," Duncan nodded his head sagely; "There was the lone Scot who mooned the English at Falkirk, nights of wenching with Robert Burns, dueling drunk on Boston Commons, gun running on the high seas, spring training with Babe Ruth and no doubt a score of other incidents I'm overlooking."

Connor smiled, all good memories even if not quite what you wanted your son to know. "Like I said, all heroic, important doings. He'll be proud of his old man, and there is more to know but you're too young, laddie."

"You're going to be all right." Duncan made it a statement, not a question--trying to give Connor no other option.

"I'll be fine," Connor answered, "I always am." He would be, he realized. Life had been good. There had been loss and sadness, but greater joy. He had known great love; his father and mother, Heather, Brenda, Ramirez, children he had raised, others almost as near and dear and there was Duncan. "And you will be too, Duncan." Connor turned piercing eyes on him. "Even if I'm not, even when the time comes that I'm not here, because of me you will be fine."

Duncan started to argue with him, but stopped, understanding. He felt a lump in his throat and swallowed, nodding.

Connor smiled a rare smile with no malice or pretense, "I love you too, Duncan." Duncan almost thought he hadn't heard him because Connor continued on as if he had never spoken, "Where did you leave John?" He paused, "I'll race you there."

Duncan sprang on his feet and took off like a shot. Connor sat watching him run like a fool down the empty beach, and because he had tricked him, and because they were alive, and because Connor had known love--he laughed out loud. Laughter bubbling up from down deep, the joy of the past giving hope for the future.

March 29, 2003


Forever Rushing

The trees in his peripheral vision were a blur of green and brown ... tangles of color flashing past too quickly for them to be separated in his mind. He blinked to clear his vision of wind-swept tears. A rocky bluff passed--a vague impression of gray hues, and then the vegetation took its place again ... green walls forever rushing. A rivulet of water whipped by and he knew it only by the whiff of moisture rather than any clear sight. He couldn't look away from his focal point, fifteen feet in front of him.

It was like this by horseback, he thought, but with less strain, less speed, and definitely less endurance. Sometimes I didn't care and ran the horse to death.

The greenery to his right gave way, dropping out of sight, and the molded white curve of guardrails took its place. He couldn't spare a glance to look, but he knew the mountain fell away beside him ... a dizzying distance of thousands of feet, dotted with outcroppings of rocks and ending with a river far below. One false move, one moment of carelessness with his hands, one rock turning beneath a wheel, and that pitiful guardrail wouldn't stop his plummet into the depths.

It had been desert sand I raced through, then. It stifled the senses and choked those who fell behind. An auto whipped past going the opposite direction and it was just a blur of blue with two notes of stereo as it passed. This is clean. Fast. Nearly tireless on the downhill. The next curve was banked incorrectly--he had to lean hard and use both brakes. Definitely *deadly* if I don't pay close attention, he thought.

At the five thousand foot elevation sign, he stopped for a drink and realized his forearms were aching. He was gripping the bars too hard despite his gloves. He spent a moment meditating, hands open and fingers curved to the sky until the ache dissipated. A gentle kick started the descent again and the world sped up beside him. Almost immediately, he fell back into the sensation of being motionless while everything else moved around him. A mountain that divided the berserker storm. A rock in the gushing stream. An immortal, amidst mortality.

I've felt this way before. After a brief desert rain, my stallion could gallop with little effort and we would run for miles at a time. Then, as now, he had been a single thought of flesh while the surroundings streamed past. He remembered the tug of air on his long hair, the jounce of the necklace he wore beating a tempo on his chest. When they finally stopped riding for the day, he staggered after dismounting--the world abruptly and oddly still.

Four-and-a-half thousand, three thousand, two-and-a-half thousand ... the descent was rapid and full of curves. Methos cursed at some, smiled at others, and was grim and mute during the worst of them. By the time he was halfway down highway 212's treacherous downhill, his back and neck ached. He knew his face and torso were sunburned. Sunburn atop windburn atop sunburn again.

There was a turnout ahead indicated a signpost that he barely had time to read as it whipped past. Something for people to see alongside this dangerous highway? Maybe to take their grip off the wheel for a few moments. His tongue was dry and felt fat as a lizard. He slowed, turned right, and braked to a stop--ignoring the hum of immortal presence coming from one of the vehicles parked at the viewpoint. Fat chance that they'd catch me, let alone pick a fight along a cliff face. He swished the last swallow from his water bottle around in his mouth before focusing on whomever else was idling in the turnout. Part of him was surprised, and part of him unsurprised, to see Connor MacLeod sitting in his car near the edge of the small parking area.

"I thought it would be a horse, you know," said Methos, coasting closer. He bought one for MacLeod on his birthday and I told him I wanted one for mine. He leaned across the handlebars and looked into the car. "A horse like Duncan's, a thoroughbred full of fire and spirit," he said pointedly. Instead, I'm a rider of flesh upon a steed of titanium and carbon. No life to this thing at all, no guts, no heart ... no courage.

The Highlander smiled from the air-conditioned interior, a paperback book open and facedown across one thigh, and offered nothing in his defense.

"I thought it would be a horse and instead you bring me something of wheels and alloys and rubber."

"Yes. And speed and effort, thought and balance," said Connor. "Easier to keep. Easier to haul around. You are the thing in the middle that must supply the fire and spirit." The Scot looked him over and flicked his eyes back to Methos' gaze. "If you've had enough wind in your face, I'll give you a lift back home."

Methos quirked his tiny smile and considered. The wind in my face. "How about another ten miles and then pick me up?" he suggested. Then he pushed off, turned onto the highway, and headed downhill. One man, at the center, with the world rushing past him.

MacNair March 19, 2003
Fru Challenge by the CDCers.


Holding The Edges

"So, we've fought for two hours now, have you had enough?" he inquired, coughing through blood and his rapid breathing. He wiped the corner of his lips with a sleeve, eyeing the other man. My muscles ache and I can't keep my wind very well. If he doesn't reach what he's after soon, he's liable to kill me.

"Another round?" gasped Connor. His shirt was wringing wet and bloodied. A crimson trail led down the side of his face and he was winded as well, but deep in his eyes was a haunted and hunted look--a fury--a rage still unquenched.

They went another round. The dragon swords clashed and rang, snarled the air with flashes of light. There was no finesse to this war of skills; no banter, no grins, no pauses for catcalls or to compare notes on how a maneuver was executed. Neither gave ground, neither seemed to be able to advance either--they spun along the edge of the crescent reach of the steel.

Connor, uncharacteristically, added a physical element to the battle--one that Duncan could meet easily and escape unscathed. The darker immortal used skill and ultimately superior strength to keep his opponent at bay. Connor threw seven different styles at him--all within the same eighteen minutes. I hate it when he's like this. Overwrought and pressured... he comes in like a blitz and it takes every ounce of me to meet him. And it's sloppy and ferocious--twice as dangerous, like some berserk brawl in an alley. Duncan grunted through a flash of handwork that made his forearms go numb. I taught him this; this swiftly moving assault that bounces through patterns unpredictably. I crave the order of precise designs--he taps into speed and overwhelms his opponents.

Minute by minute, maneuver by maneuver, Duncan helped his clansman bleed off his rage. The swords came back into deadly action and they backed away to give the steel room to slide off each other, spitting sparks like explosions.

Connor broke off, staggering from a stab that had penetrated his guard. The flash of pain fired across his face--the first expression besides sullen ferocity that Duncan had seen.

Don't kill him, instead, spoke Duncan's inner teacher. He's borderline: you've got to hold all the control for him. He watched his former mentor stagger, go to one knee.He's still got the sword up, though. We might not be done with this dance.

"Have you had enough?" Duncan called again, hoping to hear the answer he wanted to hear, but willing to give his friend the savagery that could burn out his pain. What has provoked this? he questioned for the thirteenth time.

"Enough," gasped Connor. The sword tip dropped: abruptly too heavy in his hand.

"I'm glad," Duncan said, walking up and circling so he met his Clansman face to face. He carefully reached to take the katana from Connor ... and Connor let him--a sure sign that he was set right. Duncan smiled at the two swords and put them both at rest, another assurance that the current fray was ended. "Go take a shower and I'll fix us some sandwiches."

Connor rose ungracefully; limping and unbalanced. His hair was matted and a crust of blood covered one ear. "Thank you," he whispered, before turning and hobbling away.

"It was your turn, if I remember," called Duncan after him. Last time I worked out my fury at the world upon you. And you held all the control for me while I beat us near to death for three hours in New York.

Mar 29 2003


It's Always Raining, One

I'm frustrated and losing my patience ... and it feels like it's raining in my head, he thought. Duncan MacLeod knew all of this was evident on his face as well as in his stride down the darkened street. He didn't dodge the occasional puddles or rivulets of water in his path; he sloshed straight through them. His companion, who was nearly the same height, matched pace silently. The occasional whisper of Duncan's long coat as it tangled about his calves could be heard, but otherwise, there was silence. Blessed, eventual, almost desperately necessary, silence.

I've been arguing for hours, thought Duncan. Connor is so intractable and pig-headed--I don't understand, *he* won't explain, and when I *ask him to explain,* he goes straight to defense and peppers me with questions to deflect the original one! He took a right turn at Fourth and New Holland, not even waiting for the crossing light before stepping into the deserted street. We used to speak so easy, now it's like I'm some enemy he must back down.

"Where are we going, Duncan?"

"Nowhere," retorted the younger Scot, stating the obvious. "I'm just walking. You can find your way back to the dojo any time you're done walking."

"You're pissed and pounding the pavement over this?" demanded Connor. He halted in the circle of a streetlight, but Duncan kept walking, forcing him to walk faster to catch up again. "I came before it happened. I thought I should at least talk to you first and this is the reaction? Well, next time I'll just keep my hole shut!"

"Telling me something like this just adds the burden of knowing when I see him next." Duncan growled the hot words out of the side of his mouth without even turning.

"So I shouldn't have come? I should just confront and whack him without even talking to you?" Connor's voice switched to full sarcastic mode. "Just mention it to you like some postscript in a letter? 'By the way, Duncan, I killed your old friend Sterrett--hope he didn't owe you money'?" Connor stopped in the glow of the next streetlight and this time, he didn't pursue the immortal in the lead.

Duncan halted ten feet away, fists clenching and unclenching ... then retraced his steps. The other man's face was in shadow, but he could tell that Connor was very agitated. He's gritting his teeth the same way I'm digging my nails into my palms. "Tell me why, dammit? Tell me why you are so intent on confronting him?"

"You wouldn't understand," retorted Connor.

Deep breath. Pause. Let his heart beat. The more you clash with him, the more he fights back. Duncan turned and looked out over the front lawn of the college. Someone had left their bike parked near the front steps and the shadow was twelve feet long in the lights illuminating the marble columns. The pools of rainwater were black--black like blood on the ground. "Try. Try to help me understand. How can you even know I won't understand when you won't even tell me?" he admonished.

"Because I DO know you," snarled Connor. "You're cleaner than I am--you stay out of shit that I get trapped up in. By the time I get it figured out, it's messy and unclear and I just have to hack my way through it. It's not pretty, it's not elegant, and it's not simple." Connor's harsh voice halted, then resumed somewhat softer, acquiescent to explanation; aware of how he sounded against Duncan's soft request. "It's old, Duncan. Something from way back ... before you were born. You won't understand."

Duncan took another deep breath, willing his unsettled feelings to remain calm. "When you were young?"

"Still in the clan." Connor wasn't looking at him. He stared at the shadow of the bicycle on the walkway. "I wasn't immortal, and even after I became immortal, I didn't get it until I met him again, later. He was immortal! I couldn't believe what my memory was telling me and I denied what I knew for years. But," he paused for one deep breath, drawn slowly as if it hurt, "Every time I see him, I have to confront it inside my heart again. I've tried to let it go, I've tried to forget, I've tried to believe he didn't really intend it--but it's eating me from the inside out."

Duncan drew a shuddering breath. I know about dark things that haunt you until you have to deal with them, regardless of the cost. He didn't have time to say anything, because Connor's voice lurched on.

"It's something leftover from an older, more savage era--an era that I was born to. An age where there were consequences for certain actions that wouldn't have consequences today. I have to know if he understood that, back then. And if he thinks no one from that old barbaric lifetime would still be around to render judgment and justice." He turned his head and looked into Duncan's face, accusingly, daring him to deny his own judgments and executions. "Tell me, if it was your good buddy Methos telling you that someone you cared about had to die because of an old, old wrong that finally had to be set right--would you be taking him to task as much as you are me?"

"Let me ask you something," returned Duncan. "If it was my good buddy Methos telling me that you had to die to settle an old, old wrong, what do you think I would be saying?"


"This is why immortals are not suppose to be 'friends' with one another."

An answer that wasn't an answer at all. Duncan gritted his teeth and stepped closer to his old mentor. "I would be interfering, Connor. I would have him cornered in the bar explaining his reasons the same way I'm grinding on you right now for Sterrett. That's what friends DO in this fucking game. It's about the only thing we CAN do--persuade one another not to fight. Not if it can be avoided." He looked hard into his kinsman's eyes. "People change Connor. The whole world changes and we have to ride those changes and not get stuck in the past."

"Who always has the right of judgment, Duncan?" asked Connor, driving straight to the point.

Duncan sighed and looked away, watched the tree branches wriggle with the wind. On another night, they would seem beautiful. Tonight, they writhed as if tormented. "The person wronged, or the family of the wronged, has the supreme right to exact justice."

"I'm not planning to whip out steel the next time I see him," Connor said, "but we will have to talk; try to reach an understanding."

"Will you try?" Duncan gestured at the surroundings, as if the world was his witness. "You haven't really tried with ME tonight, have you? You've just fought and argued, thrown my mistakes and my decisions to kill back at me."

"It's not EASY to come and tell you this!" barked the other man. "You've known James for three hundred years!"

"He's my friend." Duncan's rage and pain was in his voice. "And you're here to tell me you're going to kill him."

"I might have to."

"You don't have my permission, Connor."

"I know." Connor sighed, sounding resigned and tired. "I didn't come here to ask for it. I have tried to avoid this confrontation with him ever since I knew you two were friends. I just can't carry the burden any longer, Dhonnchaidh ... " He met his gaze openly, unguarded. "I figured if I was going to deal with this that I'd better have the balls to come and talk to you first. You're Clan. You deserve this, no matter how it hurts us."

Silence for a few moments. Duncan breathed in the damp night air, wishing it would soothe old injuries and prevent future ones--future deaths. The sprinkle of light rain grew more serious, but did nothing to cool his mind or heart. I need to see James before this goes down. How am I going to hide that this is a possibly a final meeting with him? And is this my goodbye visit to my kinsman-brother? His soul was a tempest and there wasn't a sound. He struggled to keep his voice even, to keep the agony out of it and focus on Connor's face. "Try to reconcile with him over this; try to find the road to peace."

"I'll give him a chance to justify himself, to try to explain, but," Connor's voice hardened, "if he's not able to defend his actions, it will likely end with swords." A beat. "And he's very good with the sword."

Connor knows what I'm thinking, too. Duncan turned away, gloomy and disheartened, afraid. It's bad enough to have to kill my friends myself. Now my *friends* are killing my friends and I can't stop that either. His spirits sank even deeper when a current of immortality snatched his thoughts awry. Connor jerked beside him. They were both so edgy on the darkened street that the dragon swords were in their hands before they'd moved apart or turned to search for the other immortal.

"Ahhh, there you are," laughed a basso voice. "I've been looking for you, MacLeod." A figure dressed in dark clothing cleared the nearby shadows and stood backlit by streetlights. He didn't have a sword revealed, but his hands "floated" near the edges of the long coat like a gunfighter waiting for the draw.

This isn't good, thought Duncan. I'm angry and unsettled and a fight would feel better than this terrible conversation and its final conclusion.

"Which one did you want?" rasped Connor.

"Which ... one?" said the approaching immortal. He paused twelve feet away and looked at them.

"I'm Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, and this is Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," announced Duncan. He watched their opponent appraising the two of them and it deepened his irritation. Sizing us up for which looks to be the easy kill. I've talked too much about death tonight.

"Twins? That's rare."

And he's obviously stupid on top of it. "Not twins. Twins look identical or similar. We're kinsmen."

"Oh, those 'Scot' types ... they're all the same. Nice for talking about 'brotherhood' and all of that rot, but when it comes down to killing, they'd sell their 'kinsman' for their own neck."

"Quit talking and pick your man," growled Duncan.

"Oh, I don't think so. I'm not going to fight either of you with the other one standing right there--what do you think I am? Stupid? You'd take my quickening while I was still down from the first one!"

"That's not how I fight," retorted Duncan, insulted. "It's not honorable."

"And you're a man of honor, right?" sneered the other man. He darted a look at Connor. "I notice your 'friend' is suspiciously quiet on the matter."

Duncan turned his head and looked at Connor. For a fleeting instant, he saw the fire of an older, more savage era staring out of the elder man's eyes. It took a barbaric and inhospitable land to birth strong men. *This* man. Myself. I never thought about the fact that Connor was born and bred less civilized than I-- His mind conjured the image of Kristin. He saw the terrain, her sword, and her pitiful defenses. Then he saw Methos emerge from the shadows, heard again, "A man who was born long before the age of chivalry." His mind flicked ahead to the same man with Kronos; deadly, conniving, plans within plans, the one who went with the winners. There's a dangerous old civilization living in Adam as well... Different rules of conduct for different men--jaguars and jagged depths, hiding beneath the casual exterior.

"You're right, there," slowly admitted Duncan. "I'm telling you that I wouldn't kill you right after you killed him--but Connor? I can't speak for Connor ... his was a fierce generation." A sly smile crept across his face. "You'll have to take your chances with him. Good luck." With that, he tucked his katana up behind his arm at rest, waiting for the decision to be made.

Connor said nothing. He watched from beneath his brows, a thunderclap unspoken.

The silence grew. The stranger stammered something about the rainy night, the timing, that there were two of them. Within a minute, he faded back into the darkness and the two Scots were again alone under dark skies with the trees writhing above them.

Connor waited.

Duncan waited.

The world seemingly waited.

"Do what you need to do to find peace, kinsman," finally said Duncan. "Settle the matter. I want you both as friends, not one as friend and the other struggling to be a peacekeeper." He gripped Connor's elbow, just above the joint. "I wish this wasn't happening. I wish I could fix this; wish there was a way... " he halted. Words can't change this. We're *immortal* and this is what we do... . "Call me when it's over. And if you have to fight, be sure to tell him that whomever wins must call me when it's over. I will want to know." There. I've said it. It's out in the open.

"I'll come and see you, or he will. You deserve that from us." Connor gripped the arm that held his and looked just as fiercely into his face, then let him go.

"You staying?" asked Duncan, willing the subject to change completely.

"No." The rain was plastering Connor's hair down, making him gaunt and older than his years--as if he too felt the rain on the inside. "I won't stay this time. You're unhappy with me and it would be a lie to stay." Then he walked away, slogging uncaring through puddles and the rush of endless street debris in the gutter.

Duncan watched him go until the tan coat became smudgy gray--until the gray began to blur around the edges--until the shape became a shadow only by streetlights--until there was no shadow at all. Then he stood staring down the vacant street after him, a silent farewell that he could not wish away and the water trickled like tears upon his face and streamed down the lines of his coat. "It's always raining in my head," he whispered to the night, but there was no answer. Just rain and more rain.


March 27, 2003

Note from the author: It was impossible to get into ConnorMuse's head for this piece to find out exactly what this immortal friend of Duncan's had done. He would not tell me out right, would give me impressions and then change them, and generally was uncomfortable about talking about them. The best picture I can give is that it had something to do with a Clan skirmish, Clan allies, an act of cowardice, and the death of a clansman as a result of that act of cowardice.

As to the fate of James Sterrett--Connor killed him. I don't "see" the actual confrontation or swordfight, but I can see Connor at Duncan's door to tell him what happened. It's raining that day as well. Somehow fitting.


It's Always Raining, Two

This man is not my enemy. I can't blame him for the way he has chosen to live his life--I carry no grudge for him, no animosity. He doesn't kill for sport or gain. He doesn't even *like* to kill ... he's just in this game along with the rest of us. I cannot fault his conduct. There is a reverence and decency in the man. He isn't *evil.* Yet ... I can't just stand by and let it happen, not when the boy has asked for protection and I know how desperately he needs it.

The visit wasn't unexpected, not in the least. Duncan called a day ahead and Connor emptied his calendar of appraisal appointments and canceled his plans to attend the upcoming antique shows. He thought of all the news that must be caught up, some terrible jokes to share, and four new swords that would make the younger Scot whistle through his teeth. There were also two bottles of Scotch that needed to be liberated.

Consequently, when the hum of an immortal arrived and the elevator grumbled into life, the elder man smiled and took the staircase two steps at a time to greet him. Oh, he still took his sword, because some habits are ingrained, but he just knew it was his kinsman. He was on the landing, waiting, when the machinery muttered to a halt.

The steel grate revealed Duncan MacLeod standing in the lift, but he wasn't smiling. He just stood in the elevator looking back at Connor and his body language made everything "pause" in the other man.

The friendly greeting died unspoken. The bear hug failed before it was enacted.

"Not good news," said Connor without breaking away from his clansman's gaze.

Duncan did not answer, which confirmed his guess.

"Can you come in?" was the older immortal's next comment and Duncan slowly nodded for this one.

They made their way down to the open main floor in silence and Connor dropped his sword back into a sheath in an umbrella stand. It was telling that Duncan did not drop his off. He's not staying, thought Connor internally. Something is up.

"A drink?" he offered.

Duncan shook his head: no.

"This bad? You'd better just out and tell me, Duncan." Connor's hands went still on the glasses. He did not even retrieve a drink for himself, though he suspected he would need it. "You took a red-eye flight from Paris to see me, so spill it, brother."

Duncan was prompt with answering and Connor realized that his old friend had been rehearsing what he was going to say probably for hours on the flight over. It was delivered smoothly and calmly ... but Duncan's eyes spoke everything that was left unsaid.

"An immortal killed a student of mine back in 1795. He hadn't beheaded him out of malice--it was just the game. He was following the rules. He told me if I still wanted to kill him the following day he would be ready, but I never went back. He wasn't my enemy and I chose not to make him one," he said simply. "Now I've just taken in a brand new immortal who's not even sure he can kill someone let alone wield a sword ... and he's been targeted by this older man. I might have to go after him to protect this beginning student." Duncan hesitated just an instant, "You know him. It's Damon Case."

Connor closed his eyes. Damon. His memory conjured the quiet man; the moments of lighting candles in church, singing mass, sharing crude meals blessed by Damon's extraordinary prayers of thanksgiving. They had spent several long evenings reading Latin, discussing life and death, arguing immortality and God. One should never argue scripture with someone who fought in the Crusades and has the book memorized. Every book *IN* the book, memorized. Case marked the line of immortality--neither good nor evil, a pawn to the laws of the game and the testing of immortals. He took no pleasure in killing; rather viewed it as a holy duty--something God had ordained despite what it cost. The silent man often spent the entire night in prayer both before and after beheadings.

Connor did not argue scripture with Damon anymore--all the arguments had been had. They settled to the quietness of not being enemies: immortals who understood where each other was coming from. Connor learned to sleep on the pews during all night vigils. Damon learned to sit during Connor's drinking and venting tirades to share his pain. They sought out new country to explore; Damon to marvel at God's handicraft and Connor to just marvel--and escape the world for a short time.

Connor walked with Case in quiet contemplation, absorbing being in the presence of someone who constantly worshiped without the trappings of meaningless rituals. He learned peace amidst fury, thankfulness amidst the morbidity of his life. It reminded him of Nakano, who could hear the heart of a mountain and commune with the soul of the sea. It reminded him of simpler things. The monks cloistered themselves on holy ground, but Damon Case seemed to carry reverence around within him--except for the bloodshed of the game. And even then, his faith and belief sustained him.

The next breath took a long time in arriving to Connor. The one after was better. When he opened his eyes, Duncan was looking at him--waiting.

"Okay," he finally said.

Duncan stared at him. "Okay? I thought he was your friend?"

Another breath that hurt. "He is."

"You're not going to try to talk me out of this?" Duncan sounded incredulous and bewildered. Almost appalled.

"I know you, Duncan. You've already considered everything, weighed every course, and had every argument already." Connor shrugged. "You've already decided what you can live with and what you are going to do. Your decision is okay with me."

Now Duncan looked angry ... no, not angry ... disappointed. Bewildered. And he didn't say a word.

This will take more than just surface words. Connor took a deep breath and put a hand out to place on Duncan's shoulder. "If I could see the two of you standing side by side and a voice asked which one of you I wanted to see live--and only one could live--I know what my choice would be. Though it grieves me to have to choose; the answer would still be the same."

Duncan closed his eyes and mutely nodded. He looked pinched, exhausted, and sleepless. "I can't let this young man be slaughtered like a lamb, even though he's being foolish about his immortality. He just doesn't get it yet, and I'm hoping to buy him enough time to understand." He regarded Connor grimly. "I don't know any other way to stop Case. "

"I know. Damon is a straight stick: a line in the sand. He doesn't bend or change." Connor looked intently back at Duncan. "And you're a straight stick and fixed on your course. Neither one of you will divert from what you hold true."

The younger Scot sighed heavily. "If I can get him down, I'll try to get him to leave it--to let the boy go."

Connor smiled sadly. "He won't, Duncan. It's who he is. Those who don't take the game with brevity, who showboat or play it for sport all wind up on his list. This is a serious game to him and he expects somewhat the same seriousness from everyone."

"Even the new ones?" Duncan asked harshly.

"Even the new ones," replied Connor, sternly. "There aren't any rules protecting new ones and if that boy is being stupid about his immortality, then that's why Daman has targeted him. I bet your student in the past was an arrogant little fool, wasn't he?"

"Yes," admitted Duncan. "He was sure that he could take on anyone."

"Reminds me of you."

"You didn't run into Case back then with me."

"If I had of, I would have taken you and run until your foolishness was tempered with more understanding. Case doesn't just kill every fucking immortal he crosses paths with--he's known me for close to two hundred years and has never tried to fight me." Connor felt a surge of anger rising in him and quelled it. You can't turn these two stubborn men. They are on a direct course. Trying will only make it hurt *you* more and hurt *Duncan* more if he has to kill him. Case believes he's here to test immortals as dictated by the game and Duncan cannot help defending the weak, even when they don't deserve it. "You can't stop defending and Case can't change his purpose. It's his vocation, his quest before God as much as it's yours to guard the vulnerable.

Duncan sighed again, resigned. "I have a 767 to catch straight to Paris. I'm sure they can find a seat for you if you pay enough money. I know where Damon is; you can have a chance to see him."

Connor shook his head. "I don't need to see Damon."

Duncan had that appalled look in his face again, though it was tempered a bit.

"That's not where Damon would want me to be," Connor softly explained. "He has no fear and no regrets, nor does he need a friend standing by. He is always prepared to die, much more than any of us. I'll go to the church."

"To light candles," Duncan quietly said.

"And pray--though I'm not so good at it as Damon... " He couldn't meet Duncan's eyes now. The future was colliding with all his past memories and all he wanted was for the younger Scot to leave. The hand that gripped his shoulder, wordless with regret, seemed far away. "Ring my cell, one ring only, when it's over will you? That way ... I'll know."

Duncan was silent, though his hand pinched and pinched--revealing his anguish at this position. "I'll call, but then I'll probably fly and see you." He didn't add that he would also tell Damon Case to phone if he won.

"I won't want to see you, Duncan," Connor admitted.

"I know. That's why I need to come."

"I'll be angry ... and upset."

"I know. I can handle it."

Connor sighed, exasperated. "I don't want to hurt you, Dhonnchaidh."

"Those who love much, suffer much," Duncan quoted. "I'll come. You can swear and hurl things and bite at me with the sword ... and then we'll sit up all night and remember."

"All night," Connor whispered. "I sat up many times with him over others. It would be proper to sit up all night for him... "

The fog was slowly dissipating when Duncan fumbled for his phone. The signal strength was poor. He went outside and punched the numbers from memory with his mind tumbling with old chants, candle scent, and liturgy. Somewhere ... somewhere ... somewhere ... the phone rang once and he cut off the signal. Then the anguish came, both for the life he had to take and the man amidst candles far away, whose soul was now pricked. And he imagined him there, with thousands and thousands of candles ... all of them streaming tears.

Within the day, Duncan discovered the worth of the young immortal he had spared at the expense of another man's friend. "Amanda was right," he said grimly when he was alone. "Sometimes the game just sucks."



Because the muses wouldn't let it go and they liked the title so much.

Damon Case was the one immortal in the series that I thought Duncan made a mistake in killing instead of considering other options--like running with Danny Cimoli. Damon Case did not strike me as a man who would rage and then attempt to use all resources to try and track them down ... by the time they met again, Danny would have been trained or would be sequestered on holy ground. Duncan himself voices his regrets about this outcome in the episode and it isn't until later that we see how right he was. It's a bitter weight.

Ultimately, it still comes down to making the best choice at the time and living with the consequences.


Counting the Lifetimes...

Don't look back, she told herself. You can't look back until you're in the terminal. Not until there is distance and safety glass between you. She pushed through the doors and sucked in her breath. She could still smell his scent and feel his lips from his kiss good bye. He had offered to wait with her until her flight but that would have only made it harder. Exhaling she turned around and was rewarded to find Connor MacLeod studying her. Memorizing her.

They were Immortal but that was no guarantee that they would live to see one another again. At any time, one or the other could be swallowed by the Game. She smiled; his hair, even this short, was unruly. Wasn't that one of the things that attracted her most to this man? He was untamed, a bit wild. From a time more accepting of raw emotion and, therefore, the truth, than the end of the nineteenth century that had born her.

His expression, for Connor, was open and unguarded. He was, she was surprised to register, going to miss her. She flushed, remembering less than two hours ago she had been writhing under him, her fingers kneading his bare flesh as she had urged his body further in hers.

His eyes were a contradiction. They rarely showed his true feelings but if one with intent looked just a bit further under the facade of distance, arrogance, and amusement... the passion that infused him was evident. Once he was committed, Connor MacLeod did nothing half way. He fought, he loved, he hated with everything he had.

And she was walking away from that!

She took a step forward and had to raise her hand to stop from running into the window plate. The flash of her wedding ring in the light stopped her. She couldn't do that to Jacob. They had had a good twenty-six years together. He had sacrificed much to be with her. She could live with the guilt an unexpected, unplanned meeting that had resulted in a tryst with Connor brought--but not with walking away from the mortal who loved her. A man she loved too. It was guaranteed that his time would run out. Connor and her might have more.

She looked up from her hand and froze Connor as he was in her memory and gave him a small smile. If they were both lucky, maybe another lifetime.

May 23, 2003



§ § § There aren't many equalities between mortals and immortals. They are strong survivor types and are generally in excellent health compared to most of humanity. They are canny and watchful, with little to fear except a swordfight--and even then, fear is not allowed. How do you relate to someone that cannot be killed without a beheading and is highly trained to prevent such a thing? § § §

He liked it out in the barn. He knew the shadows, the sounds, and the smells ... the patiently watching steeds that hoped he'd approach with a treat in his hands. The air was filled with a mix of sweet alfalfa, pungent manure, and dust. The sound of hooves on the wooden floor and the coo of the pigeons overhead were all familiar sounds. Home sounds, though his home had not been a barn for hundreds of years.

"Jesus was born in a barn," he said to himself, and smiled. A striped cat rubbed against his calves and purred raggedly. He reminded himself that this feline was getting too old to be mousing for his dinner. "I have to start feeding you everyday, old timer."

In the center of the spacious barn was the training area where they used to work the horses on the lunge line. They moved the training area two years ago because trotting the horses in the confines of the barn stirred up too much dust. Connor stood a moment looking out over the dirt floor and Duncan's mare, Arabask, whinnied shrilly at him. "Not today, you frisky thing. I'll send Duncan out to give you a run later," he called soothingly

§ § § Part of understanding an immortal is understanding that while they change their identity, their living spaces, virtually every aspect of their lives every twenty or thirty years--some things inside them they do not change. Call it a worship of their once mortal life. Call it a throw back. Call it a longing for something permanent. Call it a sense of "home." But something beside their face resists the change forced upon them as immortals. And they cope and make allowances for it. You can trace the pattern through their entire life in the chronicles. § § §

The forge was outside the barn: a heavy anvil, a cold trough, and a box for the live coals. A stack of wood for leisurely days and a bin of charcoal for quick tasks were beneath an overhang of the roof. Connor had installed a permanent waterline to the site long ago, hence there were no more buckets for hauling water.

Sometimes he missed the sheer monotony and focus of the task of hauling water. Other times, when it was 102 degrees outside, he did not.

The forge was outside ... but last winter Duncan and Adam had put in a second forge inside the center ring of the barn. And not just a forge, but also an acetylene torch, an arc welder, and several tables to work on. Connor groused at the equipment expense, then inspected it all and studied the layout. The two immortals left him swearing at the welding helmet when they walked away.

Fire. Heat. Metal. Hammers. Sweat. Tongs. Water. Steam. Vision. Persistence. Speed. Endurance. Power. The forging of something strong into something else that was wanted.

§ § § When you watch immortals in their everyday lives, it's easy to forget that they're different. Especially if you're Watching a 'white' one instead of a 'black' one. No, I'm not talking about skin color, here--I'm talking about whether they are considered good or bad immortals. Unless they're fighting all the time, or raising havoc amongst the mortals, they blend splendidly with their surroundings. They are just another person on the street instead of the savage denizens that they truly are. § § §

Connor set all the stray sprigs of hay on fire the first day he started welding. They went up in little flames all around him while he focused on the welding in front of him. His pant leg caught on fire and after a moment, the heat alerted him. He patted the flames out on his jeans and then stomped on all the little fires he'd created in the shower of hot sparks.

He tore a knee open on the cart for the acetylene tank the following day. He used an entire box of welding rods figuring out what type of current to use (AC verses DC) and what amperage to use. He ruined three pieces of iron. The forth piece sported a ropy uneven weld that looked like a badly plowed field. When he attempted to straighten it out, he left three burn throughs in it instead.

Adam heard him swearing up a storm, but wisely did not investigate.

By trial and error, the elder MacLeod figured out the dials and gauges and tools. The hot metal popped in a shower of missiles and burned tiny holes in his denim right at crotch level. One sizzled clear though and he nearly dropped the clamp holding the welding rod. He forgot his welding helmet once and blinked for a half an hour before he could see straight again.

"Stupid infernal helmets! You can't hear a thing; you can't SEE a damn thing... " he yelled out the barn door.

"Burning your eyeballs out and being blind for close to an hour is better?" shouted back Adam. "Wear the damn helmet!"

§ § § The question that remains for the Watchers is: was Horton right? Is the extermination of immortals the route to go to prevent the domination of mankind? Humankind has stopped many a megalomaniac bent on world domination before, in many countries. Is it different now, seeing that we have Watched for thousands of years, both the good and the bad, and have it well documented that one day there WILL be only one--and he will have the power to rule this planet? Are they "part of us" or merely "amongst us"? Are they human or something else? Do we, the keepers of the chronicles, only stand by while we watch the fate of our humanity be decided by the stronger, the craftier--the one who cheats? Will history record that we knew the end was coming and we did ... nothing? § § §

By week five, Connor attempted to fix the gate that was listing on a poorly fastened wheel. It fell off the first time and he welded it again. Next he reinforced the rod holding two sections of the corral taut. He had to put out two small fires with the hose near the fence after that one and the mares whinnied in alarm at the smell of burning grass. When he went back to work, his shoes were wet from dousing the fires and he gave himself a resounding shock when he picked up the arc welder.

From then on, Connor put out fires with pails of dirt.

In month two, he studied the book on oxy-acetylene welding, which reinforced his impression that the Oxygen tank was merely a loaded bomb in disguise. He toyed with the flint and steel lighter. Then he experimented with the various mixes of gas and their color until he figured out what he needed in the two flames to get what he wanted from the lighter metals.

"This is like working with hot iron," he said, though he knew it was anything but.

Within two weeks, he had graduated from working with aluminum and tin and was working on silver and gold--creating jewelry from misshapen lumps. Some of the jewelry continued to look like lumps and Duncan said as much. Connor threw one at him for good measure.

Adam came and inspected Connor's current preoccupation, saying nothing. But when he returned from a trip to town the next time, he brought a jewelers torch fired by a propane mix. He laid it on the workbench in the center of the barn without a word and went away.

Connor stared at it suspiciously and then picked it up. Shortly thereafter his jewelry no longer looked like lumps and he turned out a slew of silver conchas for Arabask's bridle. The next time Duncan took her out for a ride, she gleamed from a quarter of a mile away.

Adam ended up with a key fob crafted with a host of interrelated symbols and imagery, many with several meanings. When he was drunk, the fob told him the stories. Duncan didn't care for pretentious ornamentation, but he still took a few pieces off the workbench that caught his eye. One he sent to Amanda. One he sent to Cassandra.

At last, something a girl can use from all that training of his. Tell him I need earrings and a bracelet to match said the email from Amanda. Duncan could almost hear her voice through the computer.

There is power in this medallion... came the handwritten script from Cassandra on a leaf embossed card. Connor merely nodded and said nothing.

§ § § The immortal creed is and always has been, 'there can be only one.' Do we allow one person to decide the fate over all of mankind, good or bad? Should anyone be permitted to take away our rights, our choices--especially an immortal, dictating from a position of power? If not, then what is to be done about the immortal question? Do we stand by and do nothing? Evil flourishes all the time because good men do nothing. § § §

Thursday, late in the morning, a stranger approached Connor and Duncan in town. The exchange was cool and Connor attempted to walk away twice. Finally, all three men stood uneasily poised and then Connor and the newcomer walked off down the street, turned right at the intersection next to the closed packing warehouse, and ended up next to the loading platform. Here, where the crane number 7280 was posted as 'out of commission,' they fought. The shadows swallowed the flash of the blades and the sounds of desperate men.

Connor won with minor difficulty. When the lightning vanished, he wrapped his trenchcoat back around his bloodied shirt and splashed water from a standing puddle over his tennis shoes.

Duncan, following at a distance, lifted the wallet and the fallen man's sword. "Leave the body. This isn't our territory and it's not likely to be pinned to you," he said.

"I agree," murmured Connor, then he scowled. "He chose me because I looked young and easy compared to you. He didn't even know me; he didn't even have to do this."

"And you couldn't talk him out of it," added Duncan quietly. "I know. Some of them are like that and there's no convincing them to stop before they start."

"Well ... he's stopped now." Connor's eyes were angry and dark.

§ § § It all boils down in the Watcher arguments to: "Do we stand by and let the Game run its course?" or "Do we interfere and hope our interference averts a potential catastrophe?" If we wait to see what the Prize really entails, will we be too late to alter mankind's choice in the matter? Mentally, the 'talking heads' think of James Horton, who interfered and killed the white knights. If he had merely killed the black knights, would we have had 'problems' with it? § § §

They drove home without incident, but when Connor went to the barn, he ignored his crafting of ornate pieces. He went outside--to the old forge, to the iron and fire and hammer. For hours, he heated and hammered and reheated the dark metal ... pounding and shaping and enduring the steam of the cooling trough until his fingers ached and his muscles were in spasms in his shoulders. Then he threw the piece down and picked up another and went on.

Duncan and Adam did not approach him that afternoon and it was past nightfall when the older Scot finally covered the coals and walked back to the house. His gait was slow and he stood in the shower for an hour with the cold water running.

Duncan brought him a double with no ice to drink, but Connor left it on the nightstand untouched.

§ § § "Supreme power, even in the hands of someone good, is a Bad Thing." Thus say the group pushing for exposure, for change, for intervention--though what form that intervention should be, they cannot say. To expose the immortals means they will become prey--for registration, for study, for experiments. All I know is what I observe and record of my own immortal: a man who lives while he can and fights when he must, like a schoolyard boy in the play yard of life. And he doesn't seem so smitten with winning the prize as much as he protects it from someone evil. In essence--he's the honor guard. Enduring his burden because he must and because we need him. A "good man who does something." For that, there is no fault. And besides ... sometimes he's a sexy beast.§ § §

Connor strode out of the barn in his welding clothes and into the swimming heat waves of the summer sun. He had burnt his fingers touching a cooling piece that was not quite as cool as he thought it would be, and, when he saw he wasn't alone, he shoved them into his pockets to hide the healing.

"Hi, April," he said. "I thought you weren't working today?"

"Are you kidding? We've got three pregnant mares about to deliver and you think I'd miss it?" replied the brunette with the push broom tucked under one arm. She shoved a lock of hair behind one ear and rolled her eyes at his question.

Connor laughed and shook his head. "I guess not."

"Mr. MacLeod said lunch was ready at 12:15 and if you didn't show on time, he was throwing it out."

"I bet he said that to you and you're just needling me with it, aren't you?"

"Of course. Needling you is a favorite pastime," and she strode away with her broom, catching a partially filled bucket of rolled oats as she went by the feed room. "I gave the sorrel his oats already," she called over her shoulder. "Don't you go feeding him again!"

"I'll sneak him an apple if I want to," he shouted back.

§ § So, we play our own little game, Connor and I. I am quite certain that he knows who I am, but he has made no attempt to run or hide. Instead, I see the love of his first art still alive in him after centuries have passed. I see the care taking of him by other immortals and his way of care taking back through his skill. They are family, besides being friends. Who amongst us has the right to say they are not human, just like us? Who has the right to register them, study them, or decide to exterminate them? Shall we be like Hitler to the Jews, or Hussein to the Kurds? I for one would like to know what The Last Immortal has on his mind before I start screaming that the sky is falling, the sky is falling.§ §

May 27, 2003 Snuck up on by a blacksmith hiding behind the bibs. Intriguing conversations on ATH also inspired this one. Photo by Celedon


What Might Have Been

Duncan sat on the cold gray hardness of the rock, but felt nothing except for the warmness from the baby he held tenderly and protectively in his arms and the touch of the woman at his side. He gazed down, lost in wonder, into eyes that were mirror images of his own.

The blonde woman stood next to him, one hand on his arm and an indulgent and playful smile curving her lips while she caressed the baby's tiny foot through the blue knitted bootie with her free hand. The day is peaceful and the baby smiles, but Duncan does not see it because he is turning to take a long slow kiss from the woman at his side. The joy inside of them is immense--their hearts can barely contain it and it beams from their eyes piercing through the slight blanket of fog rising from the warm earth at their feet.

Their kiss grows deep quickly, but is broken as the hum of an approaching immortal's song shatters the peace of their perfect moment.

With a hurried gentle smoothness Duncan placed the baby in the woman's arms and armed himself with his katana. The woman holds the baby tightly against her chest looking at him with question in her eyes. Duncan smiles a smile that is meant to reassure her before spinning to scan the landscape before him. As the hum grows stronger so does his stance. Visibly he pulls energy into his body readying for battle.

Connor appears over the outcropping of gray rocks moving through the mist like a specter, his eyes concentrated on his clansman--beckoning to him.

Duncan senses immediately his kinsman's distress. Worry wrinkles his brow in concern as he moves towards his kinsman, his brother.

Connor's eyes seem to devour the scene before him and there's a harsh sadness just barely veiled in his intense eyes.

Duncan sees Connor's mouth moving, forming words, but the words have no sound. "What? What is it Connor? I can't hear you!" he calls out, his voice strangled.

Connor's lips continue to move as he drifts closer and closer to him, but there is still no voice to bring out the words.

Duncan stands frozen unable to move any further. Something is wrong--terribly wrong. The baby, startled by the urgency in his voice, begins to cry. Duncan turns in the direction of the sound; the woman has tearing streaming down her cheeks and is standing where he left her with the baby in her arms and her eyes locked to his.

She and the baby are fading like a mist burned away by the rising of the summer sun.

Duncan screams out, "Nooooo!" He turns to chase after the fading woman and child, but is held back by the strong grip of Connor's hands on his shoulders.

"Let me go, Connor!" he raged, fighting against the superhuman hold Connor had on him. "I have to get back to them, please!" Duncan begged, his hands reaching out desperately trying to grasp the fading image of the woman and the child. The sound of the baby's crying ceased as the woman and child vanished slowly from sight.

The scream from his mouth was a wounded sound echoing across the gray face of the mountain. As his scream died, the sound of his Clansman's voice fell on his ears,

"Duncan, Duncan!" the voice rasped close to his ear. "Duncan you have to come with me out of here!" Connor's voice was pain wracked; yet commanding.

He struggled with his clansman, desperate to wring himself from his encompassing hold. The grip on his shoulders tightened to the point of pain. Connor's voiced rasped louder and louder in his ears, breaking through the pain tearing through Duncan's body at the loss of the woman and his child.

"Brother, this is not a journey I'll have you take ever again. I'd gladly take your pain and spare you this if I could," the voice continued. Arms snaked around him and held him tightly. "Wake up Duncan! Wake up now, and let this go. It's not meant for us!" Connor's voice was demanding and unrelenting.

Duncan sat straight up in the bed, slipping loose of the arms that held him. His body was covered with a fine sheen of sweat and his heart was slamming against the wall of his chest.

The body next to him in the bed stirred, rising to sit next to him, "Are you all right?" Connor's voice broke through the spell that had wrapped him in such taut layers of painful longing. Grasping the strong column of Duncan's neck he held firm, anchoring him back to the present.

"You were there," Duncan stated, simply shaken.

"Yes, cousin, I was there." Connor spoke without apology. Safeguarding the man under his hand was caustic for them both. Rescuing Duncan, taking him from a dream that was bringing him great joy had hurt him, but Connor would have him suffer this small hurt to save him from the unknown in their futures.

"Damn it, Connor! I wish... . I wish... " he faltered lamely, falling silently back to his pillow. Connor's hand was still clamped firmly to him.

"You wish what, Duncan?" Connor asked softly, knowing already what the answer would be.

Duncan's eyes clouded over, "I wish you could have waited just a moment longer before bringing me back."

The End!

June 4, 2003

A thousand and one thanks to Lahoffy, my friend and greatest fan (no blushing, aw shucking or snerking at me for thanking you) what would I do without you?. To Cel and Sheeza who drooled through over 2000 frus trying to find one that must only exist in my mind. I wish I had that problem *g*. To MacNair, who was the one who really started all of this by replying to a curious woman's e-mail and last, but never least, all hail to the voices in my head, that I dearly call my beloved muses. They seem to know exactly when I can handle writing a piece like this without falling to pieces myself.



For once, he's not in that coat. Duncan kept to the stone lined path that spiraled through the green space alongside the river. The flowers encroached across the boulders and hummed with bees. It was early and the morning after a holiday--no one sane was afoot at this hour of the day except the occasional bicyclist whizzed by with a *brr-iing-brr-innnng* of warning. He's not in his coat and that's why I'm a little bit anxious.

"He can use my sword just as well as his own," he said aloud, pausing beneath a tree and telling himself to calm down. The leaves made dapples on the ground around his feet. "And there are just enough unsuspecting passers-by to give us a bit of protection."

Connor was twenty yards away, running zigzag through the trees and circling the hedge. A golden retriever bounded after him with its tail wind-milling in excitement. "HA!" the Scot yelled from behind the oak. It was challenge and bait in one word. The dog barked once and tore after him.

It's a nice morning to take Rachel's dog out for a walk, though there's not much *walk* in this walk Duncan thought to himself. "You lost him," he called to Connor. The retriever had stalled by a small water fountain and was lapping up the pool from a leak. I know Connor wanted me to stay longer, but I've got to get home. There's inventory to check in and the new class rotation starts--I need to be there to supervise the instructors and make sure they have what they need.

"Hey, YOU!" Connor shouted at the hound. He waved one arm to get attention, then sprinted off across the green. The canine was a butter colored streak that looked six feet long in a rush after him.

The two vanished over the crest of the hill and Duncan picked up his pace to keep them in sight. To keep this sword near he reminded himself. "I didn't come down here to RUN after you after I was up shooting pool with you half the night!" he yelled.

"Nimbus needs exercise or he tears up Rachel's back yard," wafted Connor's voice. He had doubled back and was parallel now, jogging the way they had just come.

"Will you quit? I'd like to see more of the waterfront, not the same 300 yards!" protested Duncan. He halted with his hands on his hips, watching.

"Not the water! Nimbus--NOT the water!" ordered Connor. The retriever halted a rush towards the river and looked at it longingly. "Come on, boy--GET me!"

The dog ignored him and continued to stare at the water. A trio of ducks floated by in formation. A jay chattered from a log on the bank, irritated. A Styrofoam cooler lid with one corner broken drifted past. Someone had consumed a six-pack and left the bottles stuck upside down in the mud.

"Nimbus, don't you dare! I'm not hauling you muddy and wet back in my car," warned Connor, striding directly towards his charge. "Come on, waterbrain! You haven't caught me yet!"

Numbus continued to watch the water. A fish flipped mid-river with a splap-p of glistening tail and the watching dog whined. He crouched over his forelegs as if to launch himself.

"No!" Connor ordered. "Stay!" His advance quickened to derail the catastrophe about to happen ... and he had almost reached his target when Nimbus whirled and lunged at him! Forty pounds of dog hit around midsection and knocked Connor flat!

"And, he nails him... " Duncan said to no one, grinning. "Rachel said this was a canny pup." The wrestling match down the hillside was punctuated by a few yells and excited barks. "Get him, Nimbus! Chew him up!"

"Hey!" protested Connor. "I thought you were on *my* side?"

"I'm on the dog's side. He's better looking."

"Why do I bother--ouch, that hurt! To even--let go of that! Invite you off for--not the buttons! A holiday with me when--no licking! You take the DOG'S side?" retorted Connor amidst the nipping, wriggling, tugging match going on.

Duncan chuckled to himself and sauntered leisurely down the knoll again. By the time he reached the level, Connor had the dog down and was mock snarling in his fur. Nimbus looked smug and completely stupefied with pleasure.

"You must be happy with yourself. You've reduced him to being a complete idiot first thing in the morning," Duncan said.

"Rachel said he needed a run with someone young enough to give him a good workout," protested Connor. "I'm just getting all the energy out of him--and he loves it!"

"I was talking to the DOG," Duncan smugly returned.

"Oh, you're a bonehead!" retorted Connor. His expression was pure delight--Nimbus had him by a black sleeve and was shaking it for all its worth. Connor wrung the hound around and around on the grass as if he was twirling a top, but Nimbus never let go.

Rachel had it right. Before he turned into a city dweller, Connor always had dogs. There's no room in his loft for one now ... no room in his life for one. There're no cows to herd, no sheep to gather, no varmints to hunt anymore. And if he fights and loses--then the dog might suffer before someone finds it. Besides, he can't just tear around in a park like this with a long coat and a sword on him.

"Let the young pups play," he said, remembering Rachel's exact words from earlier. Now I understand that twinkle in her eyes and that smile as we left...

"What?" returned Connor. He had to raise his voice over the top of Nimbus's furious and completely harmless growling.

"Nothing important, Connor." Duncan looked at the retriever, who now had a mouthful of pant leg and was tugging furiously. "Give him hell, Nimbus!"

The growls became louder. "Count on you to root for the dog!" shouted Connor.

"I'd rather it be him than you wrestling with me this morning, dogbreath!" Duncan picked up a likely stick and hurled it out into the river. "Get it, Nimbus!"

"NO!" barked Connor, aghast.

The retriever released his grip on the jeans, crossed the twelve feet of grass, and launched himself off the bank hard enough to land seven feet out in the river. His long tail floated for a bit before becoming waterlogged and sinking as the dog paddled furiously after the floating branch

"Duncan, you numbskull--I'm going to brain you one! I have to put that wet dog in my car to get him back home to Rachel!" protested Connor. He stared incredulously after the animal.

Duncan dangled a forearm over his kinsman's shoulder and Connor had to brace his footing to keep from losing his balance. "No, it just means you have to run around with him longer."

"You said you wanted this to be a 'short' walk-the-dog. You had a flight to catch back home, remember?" Connor eyed him suspiciously, but hopefully.

"Looks like I'm going to be delayed." Duncan pointed off at the hound, which had hauled the stick ashore and shook a cascade of water droplets off. "I'm not riding in the car with that!"

Connor didn't answer him with words--just a smile that crinkled up the corners of his eyes. Then he yelled "HA!" at the hound and ran up the hill. Nimbus took one look at Connor's retreating figure, dropped the stick, and was after him like a shot.

*There's* that light inside of him, Duncan thought to himself. They named him true.

July 3, 2003

Conchobhar, the Gaelic name for Connor, has many meanings amongst which is: keeper of hounds.


Pocket Full Of... .

Duncan identified the origin of the sound; Connor's bedroom and the maker of the sound; Connor, but he couldn't quite label the sound. If any other had made it, he would have said it was a shriek, but he was sure Connor did not shriek or at least would never admit to it. He arrived at the threshold of Connor's bedroom as John MacLeod, now five, threw open the door and bounded towards his father.

"Daddy," he bubbled with enthusiasm, "you found them!"

'Daddy,' Duncan noticed was almost dressed for their evening out. Except for his hair, stunned expression, determined grasp to keep his pockets and their contents from touching himself, and the pile of dirt and wiggling earth worms lying on his bare feet.

Duncan couldn't help himself. He started laughing.

Connor managed to close his mouth and shoot Duncan a dirty look before he looked down at his son who was bent over picking up worms.

"Daddy," John scolded, "you have to keep them in your pockets, or they'll get away."

"Johnny?" Connor unwillingly let go of his grasp on one of his pockets and touched the boy's shoulder to get his attention. "Son, why did you put worms in my pockets?"

Duncan had almost regained his composer when a worm made an escape attempt and John clamped his small fist on it only to have it squirt up in the air. Connor without thinking about it made a grasp and caught it. The look on his face sent Duncan off again and, despite the knowledge that Connor believed in paybacks in spades, Duncan laughed louder. John, never one to let anyone laugh alone, joined his Uncle. "That was a good catch, Daddy!"

"John!" Connor reminded his son that he was waiting for his answer. Unsure of what to do with the worm, Connor dropped it back in his pocket.

John gave his father a look that, while loving conveyed, signified he thought adults were exasperating. One always had to explain the obvious to them. "Because you're going fishing."

Connor looked at Duncan, who had almost managed to stop laughing. He briefly considered tossing a handful of worms at him ... but decided that explaining why to John wouldn't be worth it. "John, I'm not going fishing."

"Yes, you are." John was confident. "I heard Rachel tell you there were plenty of fish in the sea yesterday and this morning you told Uncle Duncan that you were ready to test the waters again. So, I dug them up while I was at the park this afternoon." John looked puzzled then sly, "Why do you have to fish this late? If you waited until morning I could go, too."

A smile crossed Connor's face and he glanced at Duncan. "What say you, Duncan? You up to taking the boat out and catching some lunch tomorrow?"

Duncan nodded, "All right, but tonight I want live music, dancing, and *fish* of a different sort." His gaze on Connor intensified, "You promised."

"Perfectly good drink in my liquor cabinet and as for fish, the ones on the corner are... " He caught John looking questioningly at him and Duncan's eyebrows climbing and paused. John wasn't old enough to open that can of worms. "OK, give me a few minutes to get ready. Could you take our worm procurer here and clean him up a little so Rachel won't take me to task, Duncan?"

Duncan took off his cashmere jacket and slung it over the back of the easy chair. Rolling up his sleeves he laughed, "Come on, John, can't have Rachel cross at *us*.

Connor snorted, as if any woman stayed cross for long at Duncan.

"I heard that," Duncan's voice drifted back from the hallway. "Brush your hair and no running shoes."

Conner could only hope that whatever fish Duncan caught tonight had cold hands and Duncan, always the gentleman, would offer to warm them for her in his pocket. With a smile, Connor dumped the contents of his pocket into one of Duncan's.

DeniseCDC from Kansas City
July 26 2003


Wild Hair

At least the weather forecaster had predicted a brisk autumn night, and that was just fine with him. The suit was more than enough protection from the cold but add a long coat and his sword the briskness would be more than welcomed, Connor thought.

Dressing before the mirror, he watched the reflections before him, Mac fussed over young Richard, who obviously hated the tux Mac had ordered for him. Connor couldn't fault the young immortal, his clansman had the uncanny need to properly dress and accessorize all of those who he came in contact with. Everyone that is, except him, but it was a constant battle he fought with Duncan and one Duncan had lost tonight. Connor threw a mutinous look at the black tux complete with tails still hanging on the hook behind the door.

Young Richard had such a tortured look on his face Connor had to hide the smile that crept to his lips. Richie winced and wiggled uncomfortably as Mac knotted the white silk bow tie at his throat.

"Come on Mac, I look ridiculous!" Richie groused as Duncan perused his handiwork.

"You look fine, very distinguished in this tux Richie, unlike another who shall remain nameless," he tossed the comment over his shoulder at Connor while once again re-tying the bow tie at the young immortal's neck.

"Where are we going anyways?" Richie asked his voice hitting a particularly high pitch when Mac tightened the bow tie.

"The opera," Duncan intoned, "and you'll like it," he finished in a voice that brooked no argument.

Connor barely suppressed the laughter that threatened to erupt from him as he viewed the look of horror on the young immortals face. He understood Duncan's attempts to bring some culture into Richie's life, but, at the same time, Duncan could be rather serious for the young one. Connor reached for the conditioner that Duncan insisted he use on his hair, which did need more than some control at the moment.

Duncan still had his back to Connor and was expounding to Richie the merits of the opera. Richie's face was one of polite interest coupled with absolute misery. The look was fuel enough to fire Connor's inner child.

Grabbing the conditioner, he ran it through his hair, pulling it up from his scalp and leaving it standing. The look was sort of a Johnny Bravo gone badly, minus the sunglasses. Spinning quickly he stared straight at Richie, whose eyes widened at the sight of all of Connor's hair standing on end!

To give the young one credit, Richie did not explode into laughter.

Duncan noted the particular look on his student's face and turned to see what had caused it, but all he saw was Connor applying the conditioner to his unruly hair. He turned back to his young student and the lecture he had been delivering.

Richie's face became impassive once again ... and to Connor, it was a challenge!

Pulling his hair back straight up he grabbed at the baggy legs of his pants and pranced a little reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin. Richie's face turned a most unusual shade of red and his eyes were suspiciously bright. He looked as if he were going to burst, but once again to his credit, the young immortal suppressed his laughter!

And once again Duncan twirled quickly--only to find Connor still attending his hair, his normal intense face frowning at himself in the mirror. Spending a lot of time on his hair tonight and it's about time. Maybe he's finally going to realize... Duncan hoped.

Turning back to Richie, who was still a little bright eyed, but whose face had resumed its normal boyish color, Duncan continued briefing Richie on what type of conduct was expected.

Connor could contain himself no longer. Pulling his hair back up, he grabbed the baggy trousers once again and rocked his head back and forth in time to the words coming from Duncan's mouth.

It was too much for the young immortal who began to howl in laughter, tears spilling from his eyes. Duncan swung and caught Connor's antics...

The dark immortal's face first went white ... then red ... at the sight of his normally serious clansman clowning about in that ridiculous suit. Struggling to keep his composure in the presence of his student, Duncan assumed a pained, miffed expression. Donning his long coat and ignoring the howls of laughter coming from the other immortals he strode towards the door, "We're still going to the opera! That is, if you two can compose yourselves!" he tossed out as he exited the room.

Richie watched his teacher leave and turned to the elder MacLeod, "Do we really have to go to the opera, Connor?"

"Yes, Richard," Connor rasped while placing an arm about the young man's shoulders, "but afterwards I know of a club where the women... ... ."

The rest of what he was going to say was cut short by a voice calling from the hall, "I heard that," which immediately set the two off in another bout of laughter!

July 2003


Amorous Play

VidaliaCDC ~with a wikkid grin~

I was doing a little research and found this. I was using the thesaurus giggled myself silly...

Entry: dalliance

Function: noun

Definition: love affair

Synonyms: amorous play, caressing, carrying on, coquetry, cuddling, fling, flirtation, flirting, fondling, fooling around, frolicking, hanky-panky, making out, messing around, necking, nooner, petting, relationship, Roman spring, screwing around, seduction, spooning, stringing along, toying

Concept: immorality

Source: Roget's Interactive Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.0.0) Copyright © 2003 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

"Armorous play, now that's what I was all about," said Duncan. A grin crept across his face as well as a bit of sadness. "It was what Fitz was all about, too--I learned my best stuff from Fitzcairn."

"I'll bet Fitz had you beat at it. He had hundreds of years more practice," interjected Methos, critically. He was buried eyebrows deep in the latest research handbook put out by the Eastern Division Archeology Committee--otherwise known as EDAC.

Six months ago, archeology student Brian Tennison (known by a select few as Adam Pierson) published a dossier speculating that Scythian cities were likely located to the North/Northwest of the current excavation plan of the EDAC. He extrapolated his idea from the combination of topography, water availability, type of soil available, and climate. Plus, the natural valley between mountains encouraged travelers along that route ... leading them to be looted, captured, or simply tolled heavily. After careful review and criticism, the EDAC sent a team of five North, where they found ruins 75 feet down. All plans for the current dig were scrapped and the entire twenty teams moved to the new find.

Duncan shot his friend a glance. "How's the dig going?"

"Fine, fine," said Methos. "At least they're not sniffing around where I didn't want them to. I should have been more discreet in my younger days on where I buried my archives. A tomb wasn't very smart, though it seemed a good idea at the time. I mean, who raided tombs? All the curses of the Gods fell on you."

"You buried what?"

"Notes. Writing. You know, stuff that wasn't supposed to be done during that time? It's kind of like Brenda sniffing around for a sword that shouldn't have been in existence five hundred years ago?"

"I thought writing of some type was done during that period."

Methos cocked an eyebrow at him like a parent skeptical of a child's thought. "Not writing like mine." He rustled the page of his journal, derailing the current conversation. "You were talking about 'amorous play' were you not? They called it the 'Roman spring' in one of my former lives."

Duncan laughed at the term. "That sounds as funny as the one Connor told me the other day: frigging in the rigging."

"I surmise that your kinsman's 'frigging in the rigging' was a whole lot more than just foreplay and kissing."

"You're probably right about that... " Duncan shook his head.

"You mean, you don't know? I thought you sailed with Connor a few years?"

"I sailed with Connor in later years, when life was more civilized--"

"Life always was more civilized than Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," interrupted Methos."He just took longer to act more civilized."

"Like I was saying, I didn't sail with Connor when he was running guns and other things. I sailed when he'd settled down to more, shall we say, honorable seafaring trades?" He smiled at private memories. "There always has been a little pirate in him, though."

Methos harrumphed softly and turned another page. "There's a little pirate in all of us, MacLeod."


Oct 16 2003


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