Rated: E · Other · Fanfiction · #1584939
This is "Highlander" genre, so expect swordfights & such!
|This was written as a television episode for a website after a disappointing last season for the series “Highlander”. We got to pitch the story, and if selected, choose our own cast of characters! I had a lot of fun with mine.|
Duncan MacLeod Adrian Paul
Richie Ryan Stan Kirsch
Methos Peter Wingfield
Joe Dawson Jim Byrnes
Jennifer Bellan Melissa Gilbert
Farley Brent Spiner
Michaela Montchalin Patricia Tallman
Methos stood at the window, staring disgustedly out at the blowing snow. "Sure," he said sarcastically to his friend who was building a fire in the fireplace. "The one time I let you talk me into roughing it, we get a blizzard." He snorted and shook his head, giving a wry laugh. "You can't see two feet past the window, and you swore the weather would be fine."
"Roughing it?" MacLeod looked at him in amazement. "You've been around 5,000 years, and you call this 'roughing it'?" He sat back on his heels and laughed. "Now I've heard everything!" He turned back with a grin to the fire. "Besides, the weathermen all said the storm would hold back at least another week."
"Storm?!" Methos made a face at him, then looked back out the window at a wall of white and shivered. " Now he tells me about the storm! Well, MacLeod, it's been a few hundred years or so since I've actually roughed it, but since you're the woodsy type, I'll just let you handle the ax and shovel." He held up his hands. "Can't ruin these writer's hands."
MacLeod snorted and gave him a we'll-see look.
"Nice place your friend has in this hunting lodge, MacLeod," Methos said. "I hope your cabin has a hot tub, or at least a water heater?" He rubbed his arms with his hands, thinking of the cold snow outside, swearing the temperature had dropped 20 degrees on the inside. "How about a furnace?"
MacLeod shrugged. "I come here to get away from it all, Methos, not to take it with me." He glared at his friend. "See how soft you've gotten? You can't live without modern conveniences." He ducked his head, trying hard not to grin.
Methos sputtered and had just turned from the window when he froze, caught by some small sound barely heard between the howling wind gusts. MacLeod looked at him in puzzlement before he, too, heard the sound. They looked at each other as they both realized it was a faint human cry. MacLeod was pulling his parka on when Methos grabbed his shoulder.
"Don't go, MacLeod! It could be a trap!"
"In this weather!?" MacLeod was incredulous
"Especially in this weather!" Methos was emphatic.
MacLeod paused a moment, then shrugged off his friend's hand. "I still have to go check it out." He quickly zipped his parka and pulled on gloves as his friend glared at him.
"The Eternal Boy Scout, aren't you, MacLeod?" Methos turned away to drag a hurricane lantern from the closet. MacLeod looked at Methos, hearing the concern and worry that lay under the sarcasm.
"Just be ready for me," he requested in a quiet voice.
Methos handed him the lit lantern in answer. They paused a moment, not speaking, then MacLeod gave Methos a sharp nod and opened the door. A snow-covered figure surprised them both by practically falling into his arms and sobbing, "Thank God you're here!" MacLeod tightened his arms as the figure suddenly went limp.
"Do all your vacations start off with this much fun?" Methos inquired as he leaned against the wind to shut the door.
MacLeod didn't answer but headed straight for the couch in front of the fire and unceremoniously dumped his armful. He quickly shed his parka and gloves, then left the room to get some blankets while his friend took over.
When Methos started working on the stranger, he discovered a young woman under the snow and ice crystals. He stripped the cold wet clothing from her body, then wrapped her in some quilts that MacLeod handed him. He gestured to the fire, and MacLeod built it into a roaring blaze. Methos stood back a moment, considering the woman's still form.
"Well, how is she?" MacLeod asked quietly.
"She should be fine," Methos answered, wearing a frown. "We just need to get her warmed up. She doesn't appear to have been exposed to the blizzard for very long, but she certainly wasn’t dressed for it!" MacLeod nodded, remembering his own bitter experiences with the cold in the past.
"I'll heat some water," MacLeod offered. Methos nodded.
"Make sure it's just lukewarm. We don't want to cause any damage if there IS some frostbite." He sighed, then looked at MacLeod. "Well, go finish your good deed for the day! Get the water heated!" He smiled as MacLeod gave him a quick 3-fingered salute with a raised brow.
When MacLeod came out of the kitchen with a dishpan of warm water and some cloths, Methos unwrapped the girl and they started warming her arms and legs. They kept working on her until Methos was satisfied with the look and feel of her now warm limbs. They carefully tucked the quilts back around her, then stood up.
"She should stay here on the couch, since this is the room with the heat," the old Immortal told his friend. He dragged a sleeping bag from a pile of camp gear next to the door and shook it out in front of the couch. "I'll stay here, just to make sure she is ok."
MacLeod dragged his own sleeping bag over in front of the fire and shook it out. "So will I."
Methos shook his head. "MacLeod," he said, rolling his eyes. "She'll be fine. Trust me."
MacLeod made a show of plumping a pillow from off the couch. "That's just it. I DON'T trust you."
They each hid their smiles as they got into the sleeping bags and turned their backs to each other. They both drew a breath, and then, "Goodnight!" rang out in unison. Not another sound was heard until dawn.
Methos slowly became aware of every hair on his body standing on end. He opened his eyes and looked up into the frightened and glazed eyes of their mysterious visitor. He was totally unprepared for her comment.
"Have we met?"
"What?" He stared a moment, then burst into laughter. He started to move as he said, "I guess we should explain ourselves..."
"Ourselves? Plural?" If possible, her eyes grew even wider. Then, when MacLeod walked in with a tray of food, she tried to become invisible. "Could someone please tell me what happened?" she asked in a small voice. Methos reached out a hand, but she shrank away, her face full of fear and distrust.
MacLeod set the tray down, then sat on the arm of the couch, his hands clasped loosely between his knees. "We found you outside in the blizzard last night. You were unconscious, underdressed for the weather, and suffering from hypothermia when I brought you in. We had to get you warm as quickly as possible". He sat calmly, trying to convince her with his body language that she was safe.
"It was all perfectly innocent, my dear," Methos said quietly. "MacLeod saved your life." He moved slowly, propping himself up on an elbow, afraid that he would spook her. He could see that her eyes were starting to lose their glazed look.
MacLeod broke the uncomfortable silence. "Maybe you'd like your clothes." He gave a smile as he spoke. "Things tend to look a bit different when one is fully dressed!" He gestured to her clothes, which were neatly folded and piled on the end of the couch. She gave him a quick smile that lit up her face, then tried to stand up still wrapped in the quilts. She almost fell over on top of Methos, but when he moved to try to steady her, she pulled away from his touch. She picked up her clothes and looked at MacLeod, who pointed to a back room, barely managing to keep back a grin.
As she closed the door behind her, MacLeod looked at Methos and shook his head. The older Immortal tried to sit up, forgetting he was in a sleeping bag. Methos scowled as he tried to unzip the uncooperative zipper. "What is wrong with this thing?" he muttered.
"Probably nothing that a little wax could have helped," MacLeod said as he watched his friend.
Methos shot him a dirty look as he struggled with the difficult sleeping bag zipper. Trapped, he managed to struggle to his feet and turn to the light from the window to continue the fight. MacLeod stood and poked him in the chest with a finger, making him fall back on the couch, and breaking the zipper's hold.
"MacLeod!" Methos hissed. He pulled his long legs out of the bag, then pulled off his shirt to exchange it for the clean one the younger Immortal offered him. "How's the weather now?" came a muffled question.
MacLeod gave him a wry grin. "Same as last night, only deeper. I'm afraid we'll be here for a while." He looked serious as he continued to speak. "I wonder what your friend was doing outside in a blizzard. For that matter, what is she doing up here in the mountains at all? There aren't any campgrounds nearby." He raised his eyebrows as he looked at Methos.
Methos pulled his head through the neck of his T-shirt. "Ha! She's no friend of mine! And don't look at me like that!" He took a breath, then calmly continued. "You know just as much about her as I do."
"Which isn't much, is it?"
Both men whipped their heads around to stare at the woman who came out of the back room. She slowly walked up to them, a slim woman with shoulder length dark blond hair. She looked at each of them a moment. "You know as much about me as I know about you." She blushed. "Maybe a bit more, since I'm fairly certain that I didn't undress myself."
Methos gave her an apologetic grin of his own. "It was a necessary evil. When you passed out in MacLeod's arms, we discovered you were a Popsicle. We had to get you warmed up. I hope you don't take it personally."
She walked up to MacLeod. "I take it VERY personally. After all, you two saved my life. I'm deeply in your debt, Mr. MacLeod. Thank you." She turned to Methos. "And you, Mr...?"
"Pierson. Adam Pierson." Methos said hurriedly. "Please, just call me Adam."
She smiled. "Adam. Thank you." She shyly offered her hand and Methos took it, bowing over it.
MacLeod cleared his throat and stepped between them, taking her hand from Methos, and raising it to his lips European style. "Please, call me Duncan."
"Duncan it is," she said with a smile. Methos gave his friend a disgusted look, then folded the comforter up and sat on the couch.
MacLeod settled back onto the arm of the couch. "We were hoping you could tell us some things. Like, how did you end up on the mountain, and with no gear? This is private property." He looked at her expectantly.
She shifted uneasily on the couch. "Sorry about that. I didn't have time to check if anyone was using the cabin. All I could do was hope there wasn't anyone up here." MacLeod crossed his arms and Methos sat back, both men waiting to hear more. "All right!" She threw her hands in the air, then got up and started pacing.
"My name is Jennifer Bellan. I work...or worked...in the Seacouver Police Department as a dispatcher. And now I'm in deep trouble." She sat on the edge of an old overstuffed easy chair. "Listen. I overheard a couple of strange radio transmissions while I was working overtime one night. I put two and two together, and realized that something odd was happening, so I started looking and digging a little. I found out that a high city official was on the take, hiring paid killers to eliminate people that were getting in his way politically.
COUNCIL MEMBER FARLEY'S OFFICE: FAIRLY RECENT PAST
"I don't care what you say, you just can't do that!" A fist thumped violently on the desktop. The man sitting behind the desk just leaned back in his chair and smiled a lazy smile at the owner of the fist.
"And how are you going to stop me, Owen?" he asked condescendingly. "I have the power. The people gave it to me. Only they can take it away, and they will never know my agenda." His smile grated on the nerves of the owner of the fist, a short, middle-aged balding man. Owen ran his fingers through his thinning gray hair in a nervous reaction.
"I don't know how, but I will find a way to stop you!" He started pacing in short, agitated steps. He pointed a finger at Farley. "The people voted you in because you promised them certain things. They don't deserve to be treated like this!" He ran his fingers through his hair again.
Farley continued to smile, but as he stood up, the smile was no longer lazy. "Owen, it is time for you to leave. Now, I don't care if you do it by the door, or by the window," he gestured to the glass wall, then continued. "But personally, I think a 12 story drop is a bit hard to recover from." He advanced on the older man, his tall frame as menacing as the sudden tone change in his voice. Owen slowly retreated from him, backing towards the door. He bumped into it and turned to fumble with the knob.
"You'll never get away with this! I'll see to it! Just wait!" He couldn't get out the door fast enough, a scared expression on his face as he caught the look Farley gave him. He barely made it through the door before Farley slammed it shut.
"You can't do anything, you sniveling little pipsqueak!" He snarled. He strode back to his desk and punched a number out on his phone. "Jack? I have a pest control problem that you need to take care of. Yes ..., yes..., no, no need to farm it out. Just call one or two of our inside boys. They can handle it. They ARE professional "exterminators", after all." He gave a sneer as he hung up, and swung his chair around in circles. "You're just a cockroach, Owen, and I will squash you like the little pest you are!"
RETURN TO PRESENT
"Uncle Owen was working with the D.A. and was wearing a wire that day. He was 'found' dead the next day, and then Farley came after me. I guess he thinks that because I'm Owens' niece I have the tapes or know something." She drew a shaky breath, then continued. "There's no way to convince him that I didn't know anything. I provided the D.A.'s office with the radio transmissions and frequencies, but my testimony is just hearsay and not enough to put him away."
She took a sip from the juice glass MacLeod handed her. "Nothing stops Farley, and no one can stand in his way for long without something dreadful happening. They aren't out and out murders that anyone can tell; some of them are real works of art. People committing suicide in assorted ways for all sorts of scandals and the like.
Methos sat forward. "And now what?"
Jennifer reached for a muffin from MacLeod's forgotten tray. "Well, since I'm not testifying, I don't rate the Witness Protection Program. However, the FBI did assign me my own little protection force. Didn't stop the bastard from finding me, though." She took a bite of the muffin, then looked up at MacLeod with appreciation. "Hey, this is good!"
He grinned as he poured a glass of orange juice and handed it to her. "I do what I can," he said modestly. Methos gave an irreverent snort.
Jennifer grinned. "Glad to see you two get along so well." As she took a drink of juice, MacLeod grinned at Methos, who rolled his eyes.
MacLeod looked back at Jennifer, who missed the exchange, as if nothing had happened. "So, you look in pretty good shape for him having found you."
An odd look crossed her face. "Yeah, well, the agent assigned to me isn't doing so hot. In fact, she's dead. And it's my fault."
"What do you mean, *your* fault?" Now it was Methos' turn to raise his eyebrows. He sat forward, his elbows on his knees.
Jennifer pursed her lips, then sighed. "I ignored her warnings to stay inside the safehouse. The hitman found us just because I couldn't listen to her. He did a sloppy job, and Agent Montchalin managed to save my life, but I saw her gunned down. No human could have taken that many hits and survived! When I saw she was dead, I ran. Farley would know his plan had failed, and would come again, so I went to a safe place the only Michaela and I had discussed." She swallowed a couple of times, then looked at them with pleading eyes.
FLASHBACK: 2 WEEKS PAST
"Jennifer, I wish you'd take this seriously!" Agent Montchalin said exasperatedly. "This is *not* the time to take a stroll through the neighborhood!" She ran her fingers through her blond hair, trying to think of a way to drill this into her charge's stubborn head.
Jennifer rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Michaela! He killed my uncle. Of course I take this seriously!" She walked past the agent and took her coat off, hanging it on a wall hook. "I just needed some ... air." She waved an arm around vaguely. "Being cooped up is starting to get to me!" She started down the hall towards the kitchen of the safehouse. "I need some coffee. How about you?"
Agent Montchalin ground her teeth. "If you need air, just breath, ok? No, I do not want or need coffee." She checked the door lock and muttered to herself, "I need something a helluva lot stronger!" She turned and stalked down the hall to the kitchen, raising her voice to make sure Jennifer heard her. "If you ever lie to me again, or sneak away, whatever happens will be on *your* head, and I'll just wash my hands of you!"
Jennifer came to the doorway with a cup of coffee and a repentant look on her face, but before she could say anything, the front door burst open with a bang and a shower of splinters. Agent Montchalin shoved Jennifer back into the kitchen as shots rang out. The agent's body twisted from the shock of the bullets, but she managed to get her gun drawn. "Run!" she hoarsely instructed Jennifer. She fired at the unknown assailant, killing him, but not before his final bullet ended her life.
As the silence grew, Jennifer finally managed to crawl across the floor and carefully look towards the door. There was a body lying across the threshold, unmoving. She dragged her eyes back to the agent, finally seeing the blood staining the front of her shirt. She reached a trembling hand out to touch it, then stared at her fingers. She saw splatters of red on her own shirt, and realized it was the agents'.
She staggered to her feet, trying to think. She could hear sirens in the distance, and this jarred her into action. She headed for the back door, grabbing a small overnight bag left next to it, just as Montchalin had made her rehearse repeatedly. Contingency plan, she'd called it. Just in case. Jennifer was horrified that the worst case scenario had come to pass. She didn't hesitate now, but slipped out the door, headed for the location only she and Montchalin knew.
"You have to believe that I'm not crazy, okay? I mean, I know Michaela was dead! I was standing so close I had her blood on my shirt! But then she showed up at the safe place, and I kinda lost it." She didn't see MacLeod and Methos exchange serious looks over her bowed head. "I remember clobbering someone that was trying to get in, then escaping out a window. I like to camp and had a bunch of camping gear stored in a locker, so I grabbed it and ran. I've always wanted to come here, but under better conditions." She shivered and wrapped her arms about herself.
She looked up at the men, only to discover them not paying any attention to her. "Hey, you guys okay?" They were both looking around like they heard something, then they zeroed in on the door, just seconds before there was a knock. Before they could move, the door burst open and a snow-covered figure burst into the room, a gleaming sword in hand.
The figure quickly scanned the room, then put the sword away. "It's alright, gentlemen," the figure said as it stomped its' feet and knocked the snow off. "I'm not here for you." An arm raised and removed a snow-crusted ski mask to reveal a female head covered in blonde hair. "I'm here to protect her." She pointed at Jennifer, who was on her feet, staring in shock.
Jennifer shook her head, uttered "Michaela!" Then her knees gave way. Methos griped her shoulders to steady her as she stared at the woman.
Michaela shook her hair out, then shrugged out of her backpack. She looked at Methos with a wry grin. "Why is it some people have that reaction?" She turned to MacLeod, who was standing next to the couch, casually holding his sword in his hand. Quirking an eyebrow, she looked at him.
"I hope you aren't planning on using that."
MacLeod leaned a hip against the couch. "Oh, it all depends on you. I take it you're a friend, not foe?"
She laughed. "I'm friendly! Very friendly!" She removed her parka and kicked off her boots. "That is much better!" she sighed. She walked over to where Methos was helping Jennifer into the easy chair. She knelt on the other side of the chair and looked soberly at Jennifer.
"You shouldn't have run like that, Jenn. How can I protect you if you run from me?"
Jennifer looked vacantly back at her. "You are dead," she stated slowly. "I saw it. Your blood was all over my shirt. You're dead." She looked at Methos. "I'm not crazy. I know what I saw. I'm not going crazy..." her voice trailed weakly off as she slowly sank back into the chair. "I'm not going crazy," she whispered.
MacLeod looked at Michaela, who shook her head. Methos watched the exchange, then got up and dragged the other two just out of earshot of the shaken Jennifer.
"We can't tell her!" He hissed at them. "The less that she knows about us the better!"
Michaela shook off his hand. "She saw me killed. No one could have survived being shot like I was, and it was right under her nose." She looked over his shoulder at Jennifer, who was just sitting there, staring at them. "Look, if you can come up with a feasible way to explain how I managed to survive, let me know, ok?" She shouldered past him, headed for the fire, holding her hands out towards the heat.
Methos turned to MacLeod, who just raised his brows. "We have to tell her something, Methos. Look at her!" Methos reluctantly turned to see Jennifer watching Michaela as if she were a fish with legs. He glanced at Michaela, who made a gun of one hand, aimed it at him and mouthed "bang", and sighed.
"No other way?" he asked plaintively. Michaela's mouth twisted into a wry smile as she shook her head. Methos sighed again, then walked back to Jennifer.
He gently placed a hand on her shoulder. "No, you're not going crazy. What you saw was real." He glanced at the others, but they didn't interrupt. "Jennifer, there is something a bit ... 'different' ... about us, about some of the humans that walk this earth. Can you hear me?" He knelt next to her, turning her head to face him. When her eyes locked on his, he continued.
"Some of us are considered 'immortal'. We've been around for a long time, some of us are hundreds of years old." He ignored MacLeods' snort. "We can die, just ... not as easily as the rest of you." He stared into her eyes, seeing the internal struggle to believe him, and pushed on. "You saw the proof yourself, when Michaela 'died'. She did die," he shot a quick glance at Michaela, who was nodding her head, "so you know this is a real thing. You can shoot us, knife us, hang us, run us over, but we keep coming back, some say like a bad penny." He clasped her hand in his, trying to lighten the mood.
The FBI agent slowly rested her hand on the arm of the chair. "Jenn, we may be different from you in that respect, but not in the rest. We live, breath, laugh, hurt, and yes, we can die..." She gave a sigh. "You weren't supposed to find out like this. Hell, you weren't supposed to find out at all!" Jennifer shifted and looked at her. "Well, it tends to throw you mortals off balance to discover we all aren't the same..." She gave an apologetic shrug, then got to her feet.
"Listen, Jenn, you are still in trouble. Farley is still running around loose, and he has managed to follow you to the mountain. I tracked him this far before I lost his trail in the blizzard." She turned to MacLeod.
"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this Farley is not a nice guy. In fact, not only is he NOT a nice guy, he's one of us, and totally ruthless, evil, and uncaring about who he hurts." She looked around the cabin room. "Do you have any sort of defenses here?"
MacLeod looked askance at her. "Well, we weren't exactly expecting a modern day siege!" He carefully replaced his sword while Methos slowly climbed to his feet next to Jennifer. "We should be safe enough here. The cabin was built by a couple of savvy mountain men who cared to keep their scalps. I'm just borrowing it." He walked over to add more wood to the fireplace. "We have plenty of food; enough to get us through several blizzards..."
"...if you like that much SPAM," Methos tossed in. MacLeod ignored him and continued.
"The woodpile is right outside the door, and I just finished chopping enough wood to see us through the end of the week, but as for weapons..." He paused, thinking. "I don't keep any guns around." Michaela gave him a disgruntled look. "There may be a bow in the attic, but it's very old and brittle by now."
Methos sighed and started pacing. "Terrific. We're trapped on a mountain with a mad immortal, a blizzard, no weapons and a large box of canned meat byproducts. Just ... terrific." He paused, then calmly said, "Yes, I know. We're not exactly weaponless...but we are facing an unknown element, and we'll need as many resources as possible."
Through all this, Jennifer remained seated, watching the three of them. She stood, then walked to Methos, placing her hand on his arm. "Maybe the blizzard will take care of our problem?"
Methos gave her a quick hug. "Sorry, love, but that would just be a temporary fix." He looked down into her face. "Did you see MacLeod's sword?" He waited for her nod. "Well, we can die, but the only way to kill us permanently is by beheading." Jennifer gave a horrified gasp and took a step back. He didn't try to stop her. "Death is a part of life. I don't know why the game is being played, or even who started it, or why. But we can either choose to play, or die." He gave a shrug. "Now, MacLeod and I, we are what you would call passive players. We kill mostly in self-defense." He stared into her eyes. "If someone were coming at you with a knife, would you just let them kill you? Not put up any defense at all?"
She stared back, then shook her head. "No, I think I'd put up a fight." She gave a grim smile. "I grew up with two obnoxious brothers. If I wanted something, I had to fight for it. I don't think I can give up my life just because someone else doesn't want me to have it." She reached out and gripped his arm. "I'm a fighter. All this is just a bit strange... not to mention highly unusual. I am NOT one of those females who faints at the drop of a hat..." she gave a grimace, " even though I did just that earlier. Now that I know what to expect, and what's going on, I'm better prepared." She grinned at Michaela. "At least you can attest that I'm no shrinking violet!"
Michaela grinned back. "Kiddo, one thing I would never call you is a shrinking violet!" She walked over and held out her hand. "Welcome to the Immortal Team!" Jennifer laughed and shook Michaela's hand.
"Thanks!" She turned a brilliant smile on Methos, who appeared to be mesmerized. MacLeod smothered a smile and looked at Michaela who rolled her eyes. They both started laughing as Methos snapped back to reality.
"Yes, well, uh, why don't we make sure the doors and windows are all locked, then play a friendly game of Russian Canasta?" He walked quickly over to MacLeod's desk and pulled out two decks of cards.
Jennifer laughed, feeling better than she had in a long time. "You know, even though I feel much safer, and much better now, I still have a feeling that this week could be a long, difficult one!"
She laughed again as Michaela muttered, "You and me both, kid!" MacLeod patted Michaela's shoulder in sympathy, then got out paper and pencil and headed for the small card table Methos had quickly set up. He made a quick trip around the cabin, checking all the entryways, then settled down with the other three.
After a few rounds of Russian Canasta, Jennifer threw her hand down in disgust. "Methos, how many times do I have to tell you that 2's are wild? Good grief, man! You're the one that suggested this game!" She paused to add up his points. "And look at that! You gave yourself 500 points for a wild Canasta! You only get 300 points for those!" She looked at Michaela. "Tell me again why you wanted to partner with MacLeod instead of me?" She looked disgusted, but Michaela could see the laughter sparkling in Jennifer's eyes.
Methos leaned back in his chair and grimaced. "I didn't even know Russian Canasta was really a game!" He looked at MacLeod, who was grinning at him. "I'd heard the name someplace and thought it was a made-up game! You know, like... like ... Fizzbin!" He threw his hands in the air. "How was I to know it actually existed!"
Jennifer was laughing openly as she gathered the cards and reshuffled for the next deal. "Methos, I'm just joking, honest! I can't be mad at you, the man who saved my life!" Methos grabbed a handful of popcorn from the bowl beside him, tossing some of the fluffy kernels in her direction.
Duncan picked up his 13 cards. "So, Michaela. Tell us how and what you know about Farley," he asked as he arranged his hand. "Is there a history between you?"
A look of total loathing crossed her face. "Oh, yes, one could say there is a 'history' between us..." She stared down at the cards, seeing a card game from a different time.
Michaela and her husband Trey had ran the way station for 2 years and had only had minor problems with Indian attacks and outlaws. Usually just the stock run off or missing, or the truck garden picked over. When the stage came through, Michaela was proud to have a good meal ready and waiting. Her husband was happy with his life, and considered himself lucky to have found her and convinced her to marry. He knew about her Immortality, but he told her it was just a 'minor hindrance'. Their life was not an easy one, but they were content. Then Farley had shown up.
Three men, dusty and tired, had ridden in shortly after the last stage had left. Trey had been mending harnesses when they appeared. As they slowly approached the station, he called quietly to Michaela. When she appeared in the doorway, he told her to be ready for trouble. The horses had been run hard and were in bad shape. Trey let the men stable their horses in the barn and gave them some grain after haggling over the price.
As the men stepped up on the porch, Michaela stiffened, feeling the familiar sensation that heralded the approach of another Immortal. She stared through narrowed eyes at the men who were trying to wash some of the dust off at the wash basin. One of the men, a tall thin man with black hair and a rather large nose, sneered at the other two and brushed past them to enter the dining area. He stared at her, then gave her an acknowledging nod. She stared back unblinking until he had wandered over and sat down at the table.
"So is it possible to get some food around here?" he asked with only a thin veneer of politeness. He picked up a knife and started to clean his fingernails.
Michaela kept her face expressionless as she turned to the stove and dipped up a bowl of stew. She placed it and a chunk of fresh bread in front of him. "No one gets turned away hungry. But it's three bits a head to sit and eat." She winced inwardly at her terminology, and the stranger gave her an evil smile. But whatever he was going to say was interrupted by his two companions stomping through the door, her husband behind them.
"Michaela, these gents are wanting fed and a place to sleep. I told 'em we could feed 'em, but they'd have to camp out." He nonchalantly took his rifle from where it leaned against the wall, and sat down to "clean" it, keeping it carefully pointed in a neutral direction, but yet easily swung to cover the men at the table.
Michaela looked at the other two men. "Three bits a piece to eat is the charge. There's a good camp about 3 miles on up the road." She dished up two more bowls of stew and placed them on the table. Her husband looked sharply at her, knowing good and well that in most towns, it only cost two bits for a bowl of stew. His eyes narrowed when none of the men even protested.
The men ate their food quickly with very few table manners. The thin man stood up and walked slowly behind Michaela to reach around her for the stew ladle. She moved out of his way, but he moved with her. His men snickered behind them, the redhead spraying food through a gap in his teeth.
"I'm afraid I have some bad news, Michaela," he whispered in her ear. "We can't pay for supper." He slowly ladled more stew into his bowl. "You see, our bank job was ruined by a troublesome do-gooder. We took care of him, but not before he caused a very big hole in our plans." He gave her a pseudo-sorrowful look. There was a scuffling sound and Michaela turned to see Trey being held by the other two men.
"Trey!" Michaela lunged forward but the other Immortal held her back.
"Farley, let me shoot him now!" said the redhead, twisting Trey's arm savagely behind him. Trey's face twisted from the pain, but he made no sound.
"Tsk, tsk, gentlemen," Farley calmly replied. "We should at least offer to repay their hospitality, even if it is given grudgingly." He sauntered back to the table, dragging Michaela. She wanted desperately to get to her sword, but it was in the backroom. It might as well be in Europe, she thought despairingly. Farley shoved her into a chair, then motioned his flunkies to bring Trey to the table. As the man was forced into a chair, Farley pulled out a deck of cards.
"What say you we cut for the price of supper?" He shuffled the deck with slim, nimble fingers. "High I win and don't pay, low you win, and live." Michaela tried to make a dash for the back room, but was jerked back by Farley. "You can't move just yet, my dear. You are going to provide the after dinner entertainment."
"No!" Trey shouted and lunged upwards, but Red swung the butt of his gun to meet Trey's head with a sickening thwump. Michaela knew Trey was dead before he hit the floor.
Farley looked at the body on the floor, then at Michaela. "Oh well. I guess we skip the card games and go straight for the entertainment." He reached for her and dragged her to the back room. He gave the large bed a smile. "I do so like my comfort." He threw her onto the bed and held his gun on her while he searched the room. When he found her sword, she seemed to wilt.
"Really, my dear. Don't you know, as a female, you are only good for three things?" He held up a hand and counted on his fingers. "Cleaning, cooking, and …'entertainment'." She closed her eyes, trying to prepare herself for death, but opened them again when he tossed the sword into the dining room. "I just don't like to have any distractions while I'm being 'entertained', my dear." He removed his gun belt but held his gun while he started unbuttoning his shirt.
"I'm next!" the redhead called out as Farley cruelly pulled her head back by the hair to kiss her....
RETURN TO PRESENT
"They were all 'entertained' by me," she said bitterly. "I wasn't killed only because the supply stage came in. They managed to run Farley and his friends off, but the damage had been done. Trey was dead, and I should have been." Michaela shook herself and glanced around the table at her quiet companions. "Well. I sure know how to raise the fun factor."
Jennifer placed her hand over Michaela's and gripped it tightly. "I knew he was a scumbag! But you’re alive, and trying to bring him to justice. You can count on us to help you bag the bastard!" She looked at Duncan who had a look of grim determination, which was shared by Methos.
Michaela gave Jennifer's hand a squeeze back. "Sort of like the three musketeers? All for one and one for all?" Jennifer giggled, and the two men loosened up just a bit, then they all quietly went back to their game.
3 DAYS LATER
"I think the blizzard is almost done," Duncan announced from the window. He let the curtain drop back as he turned towards the room.
"Thank goodness!" Jennifer, sitting at the table playing solitaire, exclaimed, then held up her hand in dismay. "Not that I think spending 3 days with you guys is any torture or anything, but I'm ready for a break." She smiled apologetically at Methos and Michaela, who gave her a slow smile.
"Yeah, well, tempers have gotten a bit short around here, but you can't blame us." She flashed Methos a dirty look. "You can be so depressing at times, Adam, and annoying at others! Any more comments about meat in a can will be used against you!" Jennifer gave a tired giggle, and Michaela winked at MacLeod. Methos just ignored them and stood up, stretching.
"I think it is my turn to get firewood," he said with a glance at the fireplace. He walked across the floor to get his jacket when Jennifer intercepted him.
"What is it with you?" she demanded. "Think I can't count or remember? It's MY turn!' She shrugged into a jacket MacLeod had found for her, then gave Methos a quick kiss on the cheek. "Don't think I don't know what you are trying to do. I appreciate the gesture, but I am a big girl, and I told you already, I can take care of myself!" She headed for the back door, Methos right behind her.
"Yeah, just like you did at the safehouse." She turned to frown at him, then reluctantly agreed.
"You're right, of course," she said. Methos gave a courtly bow, then smiled at Michaela.
"Trust her with me?"
Michaela glanced from him to Jennifer, who was looking a little flushed and studiously pulling on her gloves. "I guess so," she said reluctantly. "Just be sure to yell loud and long if you see or hear ANYTHING out of the ordinary, and you know what I mean!" She ended with a glare at Methos, who nodded solemnly back.
They stepped out the back door and headed the short distance to the woodshed. Jennifer, being an independent sort, laughingly refused his help, so he leaned against the edge of the opening as she started picking up chopped wood.
Just watching her move made him tingle. He hadn't thought he could feel that ever again after Alexa had died. Then...he stiffened as something hit him sharply in the lower back. He spun around the wall out of the shed and slowly slid to the ground. He knew, from his vast years of experience, that he had been shot. Must have used a silencer, he thought, then stiffened as he felt the approach of another Immortal.
"If I had more time, I'd take your quickening, too, fool!" his attacker snarled. "Modern technology is just wonderful, isn't it? Such an easy target!" Methos stared helplessly up, unable to speak. Then...
"Farley!" he whispered hoarsely.
"Very good!" Farley said with an evil grin. "I figured she would have told you everything. But it's too late to stop me now! Your two other goody-two-shoes friends will never find me once I leave the mountain!" He blew across his gun barrel like some b-movie cowboy. "If I'd known the FBI bitch was Immortal, this would have been different." He shook his head, then wagged the knife at Methos. "See? This just goes to show: If you want the job done right, you have to do it yourself." Hearing Jennifer's returning footsteps, he quickly saluted Methos with the gun. "I'll have to look you up later, buddy! We'll have so much to talk about!" He stepped behind the shed and waited as Jennifer came around the corner.
Jennifer wondered why Methos was just sitting against the shed wall while she had her arms piled high with wood, but when she looked closer, she knew something was wrong. His eyes were unblinking, staring blankly at the still falling snow, and he wasn't breathing. She dropped the wood and screamed, but before she could reach Methos, something hard hit her in the side of the head. She dropped into Farley's waiting arms and was hoisted like a sack of grain up over his shoulder. Farley started running towards the woods as the cabin door behind him burst open.
Attracted by Jennifer's scream, both MacLeod and Michaela had run for the door. MacLeod was first, bursting through to see Methos' body against the woodshed. Michaela looked beyond him to see Farley struggling through the snow towards the trees with his human burden. "Farley!"
MacLeod looked up to see and started off the porch, but Michaela drew him back with a hand. "Take care of your friend." She pointed him back to Methos, then snarled, "Farley is mine!" With that, she bounded off the porch, running through the snow after the escaping Immortal.
Realizing he couldn't make his escape carrying his human baggage, Farley stopped and lowered the girl to the snow, then pulled a knife from the sheath at his waist. "This should take care of you, little bird. You can't sing any songs I wouldn't want to hear." He drove the knife into her abdomen, then backed away from the body as Michaela ran up, sword in hand. She quickly checked Jennifer over, then slowly approached Farley with a grim cast to her face.
A sword had appeared in Farley's hands as if by magic, but Michaela didn't even look at it. Instead, she slowly advanced, staring into his eyes. He sneered at her as they slowly circled each other. "Your quickening will be mine, woman!" He raised his sword.
Michaela returned his sneer. "Obviously you've been dealing with the wrong type of women if you think it is that easy to take my head!" She matched his every move, keeping her sword at the ready. "This is now an equal opportunity world!"
Farley raised a brow as he lightly touched his sword to Michaela's. "Oh, I'm a firm believer in the 'glass ceiling'. I like to be able to look down and see you under my feet!" Michaela curled her lips in disgust and gave a vicious thrust with her sword, which he easily blocked. They continued to circle each other.
Meanwhile, Methos staggered up through the snow to Jennifer's body with MacLeods' help. She groaned and held her stomach as Methos knelt and tried to get her up out of the snow. When Methos saw the blood seeping from between her fingers, he blanched.
"NO!" he cried out. He hugged her to him gently as MacLeod knelt down and carefully checked the wound. He glanced up and silently shook his head. Methos gently held her, rocking slowly.
Jennifer looked up at him. "Adam, it's ok." Her voice was a light caress and he looked down into her eyes. "We all have to die, you know." She grimaced, then continued. "You were starting to grow on me, you know."
Methos closed his eyes a moment, then smiled through his tears. "Yeah, I was starting to get attached to you, too." He gently smoothed her hair from her face.
She smiled back. "Life's a bitch sometimes, ain't it?" He kissed her forehead and watched as her smile faded, along with the light in her eyes. He looked helplessly at MacLeod, who silently gripped his shoulder in sympathy.
Meanwhile, the dueling pair gave no sign of noticing anything else but themselves. Michaela gave a bored sigh. "If you think I came here to dance, you'd better think again!" She gave a sudden jab, but failed to break through his guard.
"Shut up, you bitch!" Farley snarled, lunging at her chest with his sword point. Michaela, who gave him a saccharine smile, easily blocked him.
"That wasn't much for a big man such as you, Farley," she egged him on. Farley took a swing at her abdomen, making her jump back to avoid the blade. She brought her sword down on his arm, barely slicing through the coat to his skin. He paused as a little blood came up.
"Damn it! I liked this coat!" Again he swung for her abdomen, and she easily blocked his move and danced back.
"Poor Farley! Don't you have anything new in your repertoire?" She watched his face carefully, seeing his temper soar. She managed to meet his high stroke, then blocked a low swing, turning on the ball of her foot and swinging around to catch his blade yet again against hers. She slid her blade up Farleys', trying to get her point underneath his guard, but this time he easily turned her blade away.
Again they clashed, this time running up almost face to face. "What's the matter, Farley?" Michaela asked. "No smart comments coming to mind now?" Farley answered by spitting into her face and pushing her aside.
Michaela stumbled back into the deep snow, struggling to keep her balance while trying desperately to wipe her eyes clear. She barely managed to keep her sword up, blocking what would have been a killing stroke from Farley. As it was, his sword made it through to slice into her left shoulder. She looked down a moment, then back at Farley. "Now you've done it! This is MY favorite parka, and I am mad!" She stood up menacingly, causing Farley to pause.
He raised a brow as he backed off. "Is that all you women ever think about? Your clothing? Besides, the color is bad on you. I was just doing you a favor!" He lunged forward, swinging at her legs. She leaped into the air and tried for his neck, but he dropped beneath her blade. Again, they circled each other, their swords resounding in the cold air.
"I can do this for hours!" Michaela warned her opponent. "Surely you know that aerobics is a wonderful training device for this type of sport."
"Surely YOU know that women are only good for one thing, and shouldn't be heard unless spoken to!" Farley snarled back. "I prefer my centuries of experience in killing, both mortal and immortal, to a piss-ant activity such as aerobics!" Michaela gave a hefty swing, but he blocked it, pushing her sword down. Michaela jumped back and fell to her buttocks, and Farley gave an evil laugh.
"See? Women! They can't fight worth a damn!" He raised his sword to bring it down on her exposed neck.
Michaela paused a breath, then jerked a longknife from her mukluk and stabbed it neatly into his gut, bringing him to a stop. "I've been called many things in my long life, but "piss-ant" was never on the list!" She gave the knife a savage twist, making a horrendous wound and causing Farley's body to jerk. His sword fell from his upraised hands as he sank to his knees.
He looked down at the knife in his gut. "Damn you!" he said in curious surprise. "I am supposed to win. I always win. I would never lose to a woman!" He fell back in the snow, trying weakly to get up and failing. He stared up at the woman who now stood over him, looking at him in disdain.
"You stupid chauvinistic bastard!" She pulled her knife out and nonchalantly wiped the blood off on Farley's jacket. "You have raped and murdered your last woman. Robbed and murdered your last man. Plundered your last city, you son of a bitch!" She watched as he struggled again to rise, then fell back. "I've been around a long time, too, and I've learned many ways to kill. This one is not a nice way to go, but then," she shrugged, "you were never nice."
Farley lay back, glaring nastily at her, his breath coming in gasps as he held his hands to his abdomen, trying to keep himself together. "Go ahead and do it, you bitch!" he groaned. "At least then I won't have to hear your damned voice!"
"Damn you, Farley!" Michaela yelled. "You've gone and made a request that I have to follow through with! You just don't KNOW how much that pisses me off!!" She raised her sword above her head, then sliced down mightily. She stood, frozen in place, for a moment that seemed to stretch into infinity. She was vaguely aware of MacLeod and Methos moving away. Then she fell to her knees.
Everything was deathly silent in the woods. Neither creature nor leaf moved. Then the wind began to build. It became an earsplitting roar, and bolts of lightning appeared. Michaela raised her sword and screamed: A bolt of lightning struck the upraised sword, causing it to glow. Her body shook and jarred with the shock.
A dead fir tree behind her took another lightning strike and burst into flames before breaking off at its rotted base and falling directly behind her with a sizzling crash. The fire popped and roared along with the flashes of light and roaring wind. Then, almost as quickly as it had started, the wind died down. Finally, as Michaela fell weakly to her knees, the only sound heard was the burning tree.
MacLeod and Michaela stood at the back of the crowd, away from the gravesite, waiting for the crowd to disperse. Time seemed to stand still as each person filed past the grave. As he watched Jennifer's family and myriad friends, MacLeod silently marveled at how many people had been touched by her in her short life.
"It wasn't too hard to convince the Bureau that Farley's body was irretrievable due to the terrain he met his fate in," Michaela was saying quietly. "I had to fiddle with the geography a little, but after a couple hundred years of practice changing identities, this was a piece of cake." MacLeod gave a small grimace of understanding, then glanced at the gravesite. Finally, only one person was left standing. "What will he do?" Michaela asked quietly.
MacLeod shrugged fatalistically. "Carry on."
They slowly approached the older Immortal, the wind ruffling the piles of flowers and swirling snow around their feet. MacLeod kept his hands in his pockets as he stopped next to his friend. Michaela gently placed a hand on Methos' arm and squeezed. He looked up at her, his face devoid of emotion.
"That was a lovely eulogy you gave, Methos," she said. "You came to know Jennifer well in such a short time."
Methos gave a harsh bark. "Yeah, that's me. Only takes a few short days for me to know what to say on your headstone." His hands became fists, and he visibly forced himself to clasp them in front of him. Every line in his body, his face, was bitterly tense. "With hundreds of years of people dying, I should know what to say about practically everything!" He gave a lonely flowerpot a savage kick, sending it spinning across the grave, shedding flowers in its wake. "We only had 3 days! She had so much before her! She could have..." his voice died down. "We could have..." he stopped, staring blindly at the headstone, so new and polished and sharp, standing out amongst the older, weathered markers.
Michaela glanced at MacLeod in dismay for help, but he shook his head. She looked back at Methos sadly. "I'm sorry, but I'm not a philosopher. I don't know any words of wisdom to ease the pain."
Methos gave her a tired smile that didn't reach his eyes. "My dear, I've learned that sometimes there aren't any words, any experiences, that can lessen some types of pain. Sometimes you just have to feel it, to deal with it, any way that you can."
MacLeod finally pulled a gloved hand from his pocket and placed it on his friend's shoulder. "We got to know her, too, and her memory will live on in us. You are not alone in this, my friend."
"My friend." Methos whispered. He looked searchingly at his two friends, and for the first time in days, smiled, the light finally starting to reach his eyes. "I think there are two simple sentences that mean more than riches or love or power. 'You are my friend', and 'You are not alone'."
MacLeod didn't hesitate, but pulled him into a hug. "You are my friend," he said into Methos' ear. Methos was taken by surprise, but thumped his friend on the back. MacLeod pulled back, giving a wry grin.
When they stepped apart, Michaela pulled him around to her for a hug. "You are not alone," she said, tears sliding silently down her cheeks.
Methos looked from her tear-streaked face to MacLeods' shining wet eyes, then realized that he, too, was crying. He pulled them both back into a fierce hug, then let them go. The three of them slowly turned from the grave and started back to the road, Methos making one last remark; "That is nice to know."
MacLeod pursed his lips, then nodded his head. "Always."
Methos nodded back. "And forever."
Michaela wrapped her arm around Methos' waist as they walked to their waiting car.
Methos looked at his friend from the corner of his eye and opened his mouth. "MacLeod?"
Methos winked at Michaela. "Does that hug mean we're more than just friends?"
MacLeod came to a grinding halt, his great coat fluttering around his legs. "Not bloody likely!" he sputtered. He looked at his friends nonplussed, staring as they fell into each other's arms in laughter.
"You should see your face, Duncan!" Michaela lifted an arm to point weakly at him before bursting into more laughter. She and Methos continued to stagger to the car, leaving MacLeod to follow, muttering to himself.
"I'll remember this," he threatened as he slid behind the steering wheel. "Next time you need help, don't come crying to me!" When new gales of slightly hysterical laughter broke out as he slapped the car into gear and pulled onto the street, MacLeod knew that his friend would recover from his loss. As he checked the side view mirror, a small smile crossed his face.