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Shades and Shadows (Part 2)

By Lyria Wollich - 2000

Chapter 2

Richie hadn't said anything to Mac, but he knew something was up. He watched as the watcher boarded the Barge and smiled to himself. He had promised Mac he would get some supplies for Tessa at the local art store, but he figured he had plenty of time. He wished he could hear what they were talking about. He rose from his crouch behind the bridge as the man with the limp and the cane and Mac dropped out of site into the heart of the Barge. As he was about to turn around, that sudden rush hit him. An hand fell onto his shoulder before he could raise his sword to fight.
     "It's not a good day to die."
     Richie's stunned face relaxed instantly as he recognized Methos's voice. "Christ, Methos, you scared the crap out of me."
     "I'd suggest you be more careful next time, hey?" Methos scolded him with a raised eyebrow and a tone lace in sarcasm.
     "Yeah, sure. So are you here to see Mac?"
     "That was the plan, yes. Why don't you come with me? I'm sure he'd be glad to see you."
     "Who me, oh, no, no, that's ok. I have to get some things from the store for Tessa, yeah. Gotta go, I'll catch ya later though."
     "Do you mind if I come with you?" Methos offered unexpectedly. Richie didn't know what to do. He figured that Methos suspected something after finding him here spying on the barge. It would probably be best to just go along.
     "Sure, yeah lets go."
      Methos smiled to himself.

Tessa Noel beamed as she admired the boxes of two dozen long stem red roses that were delivered to her. "For me? Who are they from?" The delivery agent handed her the white card that was attached. Tessa opened it carefully with one long fingernail and pulled out the card. It read "To the most beautiful woman in the world, I Love You, Duncan."
      "Of course they would be from Duncan, who else." She said to no one in particular. Taking one of her sculpture pieces she carefully filled it with water and placed the flowers inside. As she was arranging them, a man's voice spoke from behind her.
     "They are quite beautiful are they not."
     "Yes, yes they are." Tessa replied turning around to face the man. She didn't recognize the face, but there was something about his eyes she didn't like. They were crystal blue and piercing. She felt as though he was looking right through her. He held a single white rose in his hand.
     "Perhaps you would add this to the collection," he said smoothly, his eyes unblinking.
     Tessa didn't know what to do, she stood there like a captive bird, unmoving.
     The stranger handed her the flower, and Tessa watched herself as if in a dream, reaching out to accept the flower…
     "…I think she's in here." A voice said in the stillness. The tent flap moved aside and Methos stepped inside.      "Tessa!"
    Tessa snapped out of her dreamlike state. The man that had tried to give her the white rose was gone. On the floor was the single pale flower.
     "Methos, Richie, am I glad to see you."
     "Hey Tess, what's up?"
Methos scanned around the tent with a penetrating look. Out of the corner of his eye he caught movement, and then it was gone.
     "There was a man, he was standing right here and he tried to give me this flower, but now he's gone." Tessa bent down to pick up the rose.
     "Don't touch it!" Methos shouted. Tessa froze in mid motion and glanced up at him. Methos motioned to Richie.     "Toss me those gloves."
     Richie reached out beside him and handed Methos what appeared to be leather gloves. "What is it?"
    "I can't be sure yet, but I'm not taking any chances." Methos motioned Tessa to step back away from the rose. As she did, he reached down and picked up the delicate flower by the bud, carefully looking at the stem. He saw nothing out of the ordinary.
     "What did he want you to do with this?" he asked Tessa.
     "Mac sent me these beautiful flowers this morning and that man wanted me to put that in with them."
     "I'm sure he did." Methos said dryly.
     "Who was that man and what does he want with me?" Tessa asked her two companions.
      Richie shrugged, but Methos' face became dark. "I'm not sure, but I have a strange feeling that our friend Horton is back, and if he is, Ahriman in not far behind."

Joe Dawson couldn't sit. He was too wound up to even try. As Duncan paged through the Watcher Chronicles, an ache that Joe had been feeling for a while now was growing.
     "I don't like it MacLeod. It's as if the whole world's been turned inside out, it's just not natural. We don't know whose still around or who died, it's all crazy."
     "I don't like it any better than you do, Joe, but Methos says we have to play this out. I don't see that we have any other choice."
     "Mac, I've got thousands of watchers out there, everyone of um is probably feeling pretty insane right now."
     "We can't know that Joe, Certain people aren't being affected. Richie is immortal and he doesn't remember anything about the old past."
     "Yeah I suppose you're right, but we can't just sit here until…."
     "Until what Joe?"
     "Well, you know, until…"
     "Until Ahriman comes here to kill me, or Tess, or Richie? Don't you think I haven't thought about that?"
     "I'm sorry Mac, it's just that…"
     "Listen, I can't fool myself into thinking that he's not out there to hurt me. Using the people that I love. I just thought that I got over the pain Joe, that I was learning to live without her, starting my life with Amanda…"
     "And now.."
     "And now I have her back, and I don't know if I'm willing to let her go again."
     "So what, you just let him take over and to hell with it? Christ, Mac, we've been through this once before with him.   Remember? God, he offered me my legs, my legs Mac. Do you know what that means? What it would have meant for me? But I gave them up, for you, for what you stand for. Dammit, I won't let you throw that away."
     Duncan thought about the sacrifices that his friends had made for him. Joe was right. It would invalidate everything they had suffered through to give in now. He would fight Ahriman again, and he would have to take his chances.

Methos, Richie and Tessa returned to the Barge a little after sunset. The air was cool and the smell of the river was strong, carried about on the breezes that swept through the canals. Mac head rang as Methos stepped on board, feeling a double blow as Richie followed him.
     "Mac?" Joe said looking up.
     "It's ok, it's Methos and Richie.
     "Well it's about time he got here, he's four hours late."
     "I'm sure he had a good reason…"
     Tessa opened the barge door and ran into Duncan's arms. "Mac, oh, Mac."
     "It's all right Tess, " he said taking her close to him. Looking squarely at Methos he asked. "What happened?"
     "I think our old friend Horton happened." Methos said giving Mac a 'what are you going to do now' stare.
     "Horton!" Joe yelled. "It can't be. He's dead!" Then suddenly it hit him.
     "Seems like that's been happening a lot lately." Duncan muttered to himself.
     "Duncan, what is going on?" Tessa demanded.
     "Just a little problem. But we're going to take care of it, right now."
     "A…just a second Mac, but what are you doing with this watcher guy anyway. You know they're out to kill us all. Including your "friend" Horton."
     Duncan flipped a quick look at Methos and Joe and then responded. "Joe's different, Richie. You'll just have to trust me on this one."
     "Ok, what ever you say, but I still don't trust him."
"We have to find Horton, and fast."

Methos and Duncan stood across from a row of flats, one of which the watcher Horton called home. "It kinda gives you the creeps, doesn't it?" Methos said impassively.
     "You could say that." Duncan replied, a tinge of sarcasm in his voice.
     "So what now?'
     "We wait."
     "For what?"
     "For Horton."
     "Listen to yourself, MacLeod, you're not making sense. Let's just go in and shoot this bastard and get it over with."
Duncan gave him a surprised look.
     "Well what do you think MacLeod, that I'd have trouble killing? Don't forget that it was my whole life once."
Duncan's eyes clouded over. "Yeah, I remember." Moments later a light flickered on in one of the rooms of the flat.
     "Show time."

As Methos and Duncan made their way to Horton's flat, the familiar rush swept over both of them. Looking around for their new companion, Duncan readied his sword as did Methos. A tall lithe figure stood several feet from them both, and instantly Mac knew they were in trouble.
     "Amanda!" Duncan called out in a loud whisper. "What are you doing here?'
     "Nice way to greet a lady, " Amanda shot back, joining them. "It's nice to see you too Duncan. Miss me?" She batted her eyelashes at him.
    "NO!" He replied firmly.
     If he had hurt Amanda's feelings, she wasn't showing it. She snuggled up to Methos and began to purr in his ear.    "You missed me though, didn't you sweetie?" It was the first time that Duncan had ever seen Methos blush. The effect was quite comical. Duncan wasn't sure if he should laugh or be jealous.
     "Amanda." Duncan said firmly. "We're busy, would you please just…go away."
     Amanda placed her arms akimbo and stared at him. "I'm going with you."
     "That wouldn't be such a good idea." Methos interceded. "I could use you to go back to the barge and watch over Joe and Tessa. Richie could use all the help he can get.
     "Tessa? Isn't she the one…"
     "Not now Amanda." Duncan said firmly, his voice low and dangerous.
     "Right. Ok, anything for you Poopsie." She said to Methos, tweaking his behind, who jumped up and flushed again.
     The two men watched her go. "You never told me she could be so much … fun." Methos remarked admiringly.
     "Yeah, something like a train wreck." Duncan shot back. "Careful she doesn't ram you between the cars."

Duncan wanted to kick himself for sending Amanda away so soon when the reached the rear door. It was triple locked and nothing simple.
     He turned to Methos, "Any ideas?
     "Not a one. Well, I suppose we can try climbing in."
     "With what?" Duncan asked curiously, a tone of sarcasm sneaking in.
     "I don't know, Genius, you were the one who sent our best chance of getting in away. Get her back."
     Duncan was irritated, but he knew his 5000 year old companion was right. "Well we can't just stand here all night." Suddenly, Duncan and Methos felt yet another immortal presence.
    "You are the luckiest bastard in the world, do you know that MacLeod?" Methos said cynically after poking his head around the corner to see Amanda, all dressed in black, sneaking to the front door.
    "Let me guess, Amanda. Well it's good to know she doesn't listen to you any better she did to me."
    "That's highly comforting. I'll go get her."
     Moments later Methos and Amanda appeared at the backdoor. "I thought I'd find you boys here." She said with a grin. "Need a little help?" She flashed her best puppy dog look at Mac.
     "Amanda, what are you doing here, I thought you were going back to the Barge, like you promised?"
     "Well, just to let you know, I did, and well, there was no one home, so I just decided to come back here."
Mac and Methos looked at each other, Duncan's panic rising. "What do you mean there was no one home?"
     "Just like I said MacLeod, no one home. Empty."
Methos asked Mac "Didn't you tell them to stay put?"
     "Yeah, and even though Richie might go wandering, Joe would keep them there." Duncan's mind whirled with the possibilities. His guts twisted into tight knots and his anxiety level was noticeable.
     "Hang on now, let's finish the job first, then we'll go find them." Methos advised.
     "Right. Amanda…."
     Amanda pulled out a set of lock picks out of a specially designed case. She inserted them into the locks one by one, each one gratifying her with a single "click".
     "You're a love." Methos said quickly as he headed into the darkened doorway. The smell of burning incense surrounded him immediately, being drawn out the open door. "Smells like burning dog." He commented briefly.
     "Burning dog?" Mac asked.
     "Yeah, burning dog. Like you tossed Fido onto small bonfire."
     "Oh that's gross." Amanda said wrinkling her nose at the stench that was getting worse. "Who would want to do that anyway?"
     "Horton." Her two companions said.

The trio made their way around to the staircase an began going up. The smell that was strong at the bottom of the stairs was becoming chokingly strong towards the top. "I can barely breathe." Amanda complained in a loud whispering moan.
     "Try to hold your breath." Methos advised.
      As they approached the flat door, Duncan began having a strange, disorienting sensation. He felt a presence, around him, everywhere, on every side. He tried to hold down his rising panic as the floor began to move under his feet. Amanda picked the final lock and Methos stepped into the lit flat, gun drawn. He wasn't taking any chances.
     "How nice to see you again, Adam." Horton's nauseating voice greeted him. "Or should I say, Methos."
Methos said nothing, he just stared at the small, bright eyed man with contempt.
     Duncan was loosing his balance. Amanda noticed something was wrong as he staggered against her. "Mac?"
     In his mind, whirling images of the past were like a roaring wind, deafening and strong. He could barely recognize Amanda's worried face next to his own. All four hundred years of memories came flooding in all at once. It was more than he could take.
"What do you think, Methos, that you can come in here and kill me, just like that?" Horton asked.
     "Actually, that's exactly what I think." Methos raised the gun and shot three times. The look on Horton's face was priceless to him, the mixture of shock and surprise. It was the first time in a long time that he had enjoyed killed someone. He was shaken out of his reveree by Amanda's panicked voice.
     Methos raced back to the doorway where Duncan MacLeod lay, his eyes staring deeply into nothingness. He was still, very still, and though his mind raced with a trillion thoughts, his body appeared dead.
     "What happened to him?" Methos asked kneeling down beside his friend.
     "I don't know, one minute I was watching you shoot the bastard, and the next Mac was falling on me."
     "Christ! What next? Just stay with him, I've got to clean up this mess."
Amanda nodded briefly, tears welling in her eyes as she cradled Macs head in her lap.

Methos walked back into the room where Horton lay sprawled on the floor in a spreading pool of blood. He hoisted the body over his shoulder and carried him to the small bedroom where he proceeded to wrap the body in sheets from the bed. As he tied off the ends, he bumped the dresser and a heavy book fell to the floor next to him. Methos looked over and saw an ancient watcher text and picking it up, stuck it into his long coat before picking up the body again and taking it out the door.

Methos looked at Amanda on the way out the door. "Try to wake him up, will you. I don't really feel like carrying him all the way to the barge. I'll be back as soon as I know this son of bitch is never coming back."
     Amanda saw the raw determination on Methos' face and just nodded again. She knew that Methos had more of his fair share to hate Horton and his watchers. As Adam Pierson, he had a first hand look at their path of destruction.

Duncan MacLeod was lost. For the second time in his life, a power more fierce than any he had known had invaded him. Inside his broken mind, vivid images of horror and death came and went in an endless array of evil. Some small corner of himself still existed, though it was not strong enough to fight the pure malevolence of Ahriman's power.
     "How does it feel to lose her all over again…hey MacLeod…I am the man you cannot kill.."
The last time he had to fight himself to save himself. This time he wasn't sure he was going to get the chance.
     "So how does it feel, Highlander, to be a prisoner of your own mind." Ahriman's voice asked mockingly.
Duncan wanted to lash out, to fight the invisible foe, but there was nothing to fight. He sat cross legged in the center of the maze of memories that was forming around him and he waited.

Methos and Amanda reached the barge shortly after midnight. To their surprise Tessa, Richie and Joe were all there waiting for them. Tessa saw the immobile form of MacLeod over Methos' shoulder and immediately ran over.
     "Oh my God Mac, Mac!"
     Methos pushed her gently aside. "He's still alive, though I don't know why he's like this."
     "Did you finish the job?" Joe asked
     Methos nodded. "I buried him at the bottom of the Seine. He is not coming back."
     Richie helped Methos get Mac down and laid him out on the sofa. Tessa rushed to his side and laid her head on his chest.
     "Why is he looking straight up at nothing like that?" Richie asked, the blank stare giving him the creeps.
     "We don't know, he just fell over at Horton's place. Amanda said he fell on her and was like this ever since?"
     "Any ideas?" Joe asked looking around.
     "Well, I found this at Horton's." Methos said. He reached into his long coat and pulled out the old watcher's chronicle.
      Joe took the dusty book in hand and whistled appreciatively. "I haven't seen this in years. It's supposedly as old as you are." He said motioning towards Methos.

Amanda sat next to Tessa and gave the blond woman a hug. "I'm sorry Tessa."
     Tessa nodded, her tears flowing freely down her cheeks. This was the moment she had dreaded all her life. She knew that each time Mac left there was a chance that he wouldn't come back. Now, he might be lost to them forever.
     "Dammit Duncan," Tessa yelled, beating her fist against his chest. "You can't leave me here like this."
Amanda tried to soothe her. "He's strong, he'll get through this."
     "She's right Tess, you know Mac, he's the hero. Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod and all that." Richie said, trying to help.
     Joe Dawson turned to Amanda, Tessa and Richie. "Methos and I have some work to do. Will you all be alright here?"
    "Amanda and I will stay with Tess and Mac." Richie promised. "Hey Joe, ya gotta get him back."
     "I know Richie, I'll do the best I can. Just keep out of sight for a while and stay out of trouble until we get back."
     Looking at Richie and Amanda, Methos silently wondered it that was possible, considering the source. Nodding his silent goodbye he followed Joe out the door into the darkness

Up ] [ Shades & Shadows PT2 ] Shades & Shadows PT3 ] Shades & Shadows PT4 ]

Designed and Maintained by Lyria Wollich - 2001    

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