With slow deliberation, Methos poured himself another beer. “And does Tribeau know how his ‘boss’ plans to accomplish this?” he asked quietly, placing the glass on the counter.
“If he does, he’s not admitting to it,” Duncan dourly told him. “Tribeau realises the only thing keeping his head on his shoulders, is the knowledge he keeps inside it.”
“That sounds like Tribeau, alright,” muttered Joe. “So what, exactly, has he told you?”
“Well, firstly, Wren was his teacher,” Duncan said. “He didn’t go into much detail, but I got the impression their relationship was…complicated.
Methos cocked an eyebrow. “Define ‘complicated’?”
“Frankly, I don’t think Tribeau likes him very much.”
“And yet, he worked for him,” Methos observed.
“Yes, I couldn’t figure that out either,” Duncan admitted, “At first, I thought Tribeau followed him out of fear; but after speaking with him for a while, I changed my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I think Tribeau is afraid of Wren, I just don’t think it was the reason for his ‘loyalty’.”
“Blackmail, perhaps?” Lee suggested.
Methos looked up; he had almost forgotten that Lee was in the room. “Perhaps,” he eventually said. “Although, I can’t imagine what Wren could blackmail him with.”
“Well, whatever it was, it wasn’t enough to prevent him from singing like a canary once Duncan caught up with him,” Joe said briskly.
“With all due respect, “Lee said. “It doesn’t seem to me that Tribeau has very been forthcoming so far, he’s merely told us enough to keep him alive, and he might be reluctant to share any more of his secrets.”
“You’re right,” Duncan said. “But Tribeau broke ties with Wren about two months ago and has been on the run ever since. Apparently, Wren doesn’t like his lackeys to retire from service.”
“So Tribeau picked the lesser evil,” Methos concluded, “The probability of being killed by one of us, versus the certitude of being killed by Wren.”
“Pretty much, yes,” Duncan said. “Not the making of a beautiful relationship, I know. But at least we know he’s not about to double cross us.”
“Do we?” Amy asked worriedly. “I mean, it could be all lies. He may be still working for Wren.”
“I doubt it,” Methos said with a smirk. “It doesn’t take a genius to see how Wren’s new agenda could become detrimental to an immortal’s health. After all – there can only be one.”
“Yeah, I can see how that might put a crimp in their relationship,” Joe said with a small laugh.
“Do we have any other information about this Wren,” Lee asked.
“Hmm, as you’ve probably guessed, Duncan called me before you all arrived, and filled me in,” Joe piped up. “I did a bit of checking…”
“Let me guess, you called a few of your fellow ‘historians’” Lee interrupted dryly.
“Yeah…something like that,” Joe drawled, throwing Methos a sideways glance which promised unpleasant things in the elder immortal’s future. “Anyway, we’re not exactly sure when Wren’s first death occurred, but we do have a record of a few of his older aliases; the oldest reference we found was from the second century B.C.E..
“Oh perfect, the Bronze Age, my favourite era,” Methos muttered darkly. “This isn’t going to be good, is it?”
“You’re right,” Joe said. “It isn’t; According to my sources, he was a Roman general, instrumental in the downfall and destruction of Corinth and Carthage – the chronicler in question went to great pains to describe Wren’s ‘conquests’. Let’s just say his zealousness, in quelling the local population, went way above the call of duty. His name was Octavius Septimus; ring any bells?”
Nothing springs to mind, no,” Methos admitted. “Have you anything more recent?”
“Well…he made a small fortune sailing the slave routes, during the eighteenth century, under the name of James Worthington,” Joe offered. “He used to pick up Africans on the Ivory Coast, and then ship them to Jamaica.”
“Slaves for sugar,” said Methos with a nod. “It was common practice during the day, until the British parliament closed the legal loop-hole.”
“Sounds like a real stand-up guy,” Duncan said sarcastically.
“Oh, it gets better,” Joe said grimly. “During the twentieth century he went world-wide; underworld stuff mostly; drugs and arms smuggling – anything that could make a quick buck.”
“But of course, one needs funds when plotting world domination,” Methos said sarcastically. “And think of all those handy connections he must have made over the years…shit.” He rubbed his eyes. “This isn’t enough, you know; it’s all very well to know where the money came from, but what we really need to know is where it’s going.”
“I can’t help you there, I’m afraid,” Joe said. “I’ve got facts and figures, but little else.”
“Which means we’re stuck with Tribeau’s sparkling personality for a little while longer,” surmised Methos with a grimace. “Damn, I was hoping we could manage without him. I really despise that man; just looking at him puts me in a foul mood…alright, I think it’s time we had a chat with Tribeau – there’s no point in putting it off.
“Just give me moment ‘til I get my coat,” said Joe, getting to his feet.
“Take your time, Joe,” Methos muttered, already lost in his own thoughts. Try as he might, he couldn’t figure out how Wren planned to trigger the gathering; the very idea was fantastical. He wished he could dismiss the idea out of hand, but the events of the year before had made him wary of making such assumptions. “I need more information; otherwise I’m just clambering around in the dark, ” he thought in exasperation. Looking around, he took in the faces that surrounded him. “Cheer up guys; it’s only the end of our species.”
Rolling his eyes, Duncan placed his glass tumbler on the counter and stood. “I’m not sure if I’m in the mood for your sense of humour, Adam,” he grumbled.
“Mea Culpa,” Adam mumbled distractedly. “Is it my imagination, or is Joe taking a hell of a long time getting his coat?”
“I’ll go get him,” Amy said, crossing the bar’s floor and slipping through the door.
“Yeah, you go and do that,” Methos muttered under his breath.
“Relax, Adam,” Amanda said quietly. “We’ll get to bottom of this.”
“Only if we live long enough,” Methos countered. “I don’t know about you, but in the last few weeks the amount of people after my head has increased exponentially – and something tells me it isn’t a coincidence…tell me, Amanda, what has brought you to town at such a fortuitous time?”
“Picking an argument with me isn’t going to help, Adam,” Amanda said. “You know very well why I’m here; I’m being hunted, just like you.”
“Yes, you are, aren’t you?” Methos said thoughtfully, a germ of an idea growing in his mind. “Tell me, Lee, how old are you?”
“Why do you want to know,” Lee asked warily.
I’ve just realised we may have been going around this the wrong way. We’ve been looking for a connection among the hunters when, perhaps, we should have been looking for a connection among the hunted. How old are you?”
“Let’s just say that I’ve seen my first millennium come and go,” Lee admitted reluctantly.
“And we’ve got a winner,” Methos said.
“What are you trying to say, Adam,” asked Amanda, curiously.
“Well, look at the four of us,” Methos explained. “Four immortals, three of us are being hunted, while the fourth is not; what do we three have in common, that Duncan doesn’t qualify for?”
“You’re kidding me,” Amanda said. “Are you saying you think we’re being targeted because of our age?”
“It makes sense, if you think about it,” Methos insisted. “If you were going to force the start of the gathering, who would you go after first; the very young immortals or the very old?”
The office door opened with a bang and Amy ran into the room; interrupting Methos’s train of thought. “It’s Dad,” she panted. “He’s gone.”
Amy watched in a daze as Methos and Duncan examined the back office for clues; nobody entertained the idea he’d left voluntarily.
“I don’t understand how he could have been taken without us knowing,” Amanda said, leaning against the doorway. “Surely we would have heard something.”
“Not if it was someone he knew - someone he trusted,” Methos replied grimly as he examined the back door’s lock. “The door hasn’t been forced, which means Joe let him in.”
“Or he had a key,” Amanda added thoughtfully.
“No…only Dad had a key to the back door,” Amy supplied softly. Taking a shaky breath, she sat down on the sofa. “And he wouldn’t have let anyone in here that wasn’t involved in…his research,” she said, remembering Lee’s presence just in time.
Methos looked at her sharply. “Give me a moment, while I check the back alley,” he eventually said, disappearing out the back door.
A reassuring hand fell on her shoulder, and Amy looked up into Amanda’s concerned face. “Everything is going to be okay,” she murmured, sitting down beside her. “If they were going to kill him, they would have done it here.”
“Miss Darieux is correct,” Lee said, looking around the room with curiosity. Amy suppressed a wince as she saw his eyes rest on a file on the table; the watcher logo was emblazoned on it’s cover. No recognition registered on his face, however.
The back door opened once again, and Methos hurried into the room; a grim look on his face. “I found a cloth dowsed with chloroform in a dumpster in the alley.”
“Well, that explains how he was taken without a fuss,” Duncan observed. “Now, all we have to do is figure out who’s taken him. I think our talk with Tribeau is long overdue.”
“Yes, it is,” Methos said brusquely. “Let’s go.” Once again, he slipped out the back way, leaving the others with no option but to follow him. Outside, Methos was already starting his engine when they caught up with him.
“Oh no, you don’t,” Amy muttered, running ahead. Pulling open the car’s backdoor, she jumped into the backseat before he pulled away. “Thanks for waiting,” she said sarcastically as Methos’ car lights flashed onto the open street.
“I knew you’d catch up,” he said, smiling at her through the rear-view mirror. “It’s a pity I can’t say the same for Lee.”
“That’s probably because he was under the mistaken impression that you’d wait for him - not hit the accelerator as soon as you saw him!”
Methos’ shrugged his shoulders. “I thought it might be a good idea to have a few words with Tribeau, before Lee came onto the scene,” he explained. “Tribeau knows who I am, remember? If Lee ever needs to know my true name, it will be on my own terms. Besides, I’m sure Amanda, and Duncan, will be only too happy to give him a lift”
Of all the things that really irritated Amy about Methos, this was one of her pet peeves; he always had a reasonable explanation for everything he did – including being obnoxious. “Oh…whatever,” she mumbled stubbornly; knowing that she sounded like a sulky teenager.
The Paris streets flew past as Methos put his foot to the pedal and Amy belatedly put on her seatbelt. She hoped they weren’t any gendarmes watching the traffic; the last thing they needed was to be pulled over. Although, in the mood Methos was in, he might just ignore them; that would look interesting in her next report: “At three-thirty a.m., my subject was involved in a car chase with the Parisian police. I covertly watched him as I held onto the edges of his backseat. ” The watcher’s council would have a field day. They may have turned a blind eye to her participation in the Russian fiasco the previous year, but that was because of the involvement of rogue watchers.
This time, they would throw the book at her. They never approved of her friendship with Methos in the first place; it was only because some of the upper echelons of the Watchers council were aware of whom Adam Pierson really was, that they tolerated her as his watcher. Methos had quite a reputation for disappearing into thin air when he didn’t want to be followed, and the council suspected that Methos hadn’t vanished this time because of his friendship with Amy, and her father.
“We’re here,” he said tersely, slowing the car to a halt.
She leaned forward and squinted through the front windscreen. The street was awash with police. “What’s going on?” she asked, puzzled.
“Stay in the car, I’ll find somebody to talk to.” Glumly, Amy watched as he got out of the car and walked over to the nearest gendarme. Why couldn’t things go to plan, for a change? Headlights flooded through the rear window and Amy looked over her shoulder, only to see Duncan’s car pull in behind. Jumping out of the car, she met them halfway.
“Where’s Adam,” Duncan asked, looking around.
“He’s over there,” She said, pointing to where Methos was talking to the gendarme. It didn’t look as if it was going well; Methos had already resorted to waving his arms about, a thing he only did when he got annoyed.
“I’ll go and see if I can help smooth things over,” offered Amanda, obviously coming to the same conclusion as Amy.
“I’ll go with you,” Duncan said grimly, squaring his shoulders.
“Play nice, Duncan,” Amanda said. “Remember, you catch more flies with honey.
Rolling his eyes, he followed her. A polite cough caught her attention, and Amy turned to greet Lee, who had just got out of Duncan’s car. “It seems that there has been a quickening,” he said, pointing at the damaged electricity lines and the shattered glass that covered the street.
“Seems like that, yes,” she replied absently; a thought just occurring to her. Her father had appointed a watcher to keep tabs on Tribeau’s home, which meant he was probably still around; perhaps she could get some answers after all. “Maybe you could help the others get some information?” she suggested to Lee, waving in Methos’ direction. She didn’t want him trailing behind her while she hunted down a watcher.
“Are you sure?” he asked, concern colouring his voice. “I can keep you company, if you prefer.”
Feeling slightly guilty, she smiled at him reassuringly. “Oh I’ll be fine,” she said. “You go on ahead.”
After a moment’s hesitation, he nodded and ambled up the street after Duncan. Taking a deep breath, Amy quickly crossed the street and looked around for a likely place to hide. Strolling as nonchalantly as she could, she examined the street and spotted a narrow alley; it seemed a likely spot for a watcher to pick. Keeping an eye on the policemen who patrolled the other side of the street, she slipped into the darkened alley. She had not gone far when she spotted a pair of feet poking out from behind a dumpster. Her heart in her mouth, she hastily pulled out her gun and advanced.
Slowly, the rest of the body came into view; he had been shot at close range, and the resulting mess wasn’t very pretty. Wincing, Amy eyes flitted towards the shadows as she slowly leaned down and glanced at his wrist; the mandatory watcher’s tattoo was on his wrist. “You probably didn’t even see it coming, did you?” she muttered, forcing down the bile that rose in her throat.
Taking a deep breath, she searched his coat. Most watchers used a digital video camera in the field nowadays; but she didn’t expect to find that, whoever had killed him had obviously tried to cover his tracks. She was looking for his back-up; most watchers carried a Dictaphone or notepad for their own, personal, observations. In his inside pocket, she hit pay dirt - a small personal Dictaphone.
Quickly, she stood up and re-holstered her gun. All things considered, she didn’t think it would be a good idea to stick around until the gendarmes stumbled across the body. Redoubling her steps, she made her way out of the alley – and promptly ran into Methos. “Um…hi,” she stuttered guiltily. “Where are the others?
“They’re still talking to the gendarmes - I thought I told you to wait in the car,” he drawled.
“I got curious.”
“Hmm…so did you find anything interesting; A certain watcher, perhaps?”
Sighing, she held up the Dictaphone. “He’s dead; this was all he had on him.”
“Let’s go, then,” he said. “Time is a wasting.”
“But…what about the others?” Amy protested as Methos guided her by the elbow towards his car.
“Oh, they’re busy helping the police with their enquiries,” he said with a smirk. “As Amanda introduced herself, and Duncan, as close, personal, friends of Tribeau, the police want them to identify the body at the coroner’s office.”
“I’m sure he won’t mind keeping them company for a while.”
“Where are we going?”
“Back to the bar, I want to check Joe’s database.”
Amy didn’t even bother to point out that he wasn’t supposed to be snooping around in the watcher’s files; he’d just ignore her anyway.
With a groan, Joe lifted his head as he came to, and squinted into the surrounding darkness. “Hello?” he croaked. “Anybody there?” The room was pitch black; not even a sliver of light entered the room. “Where the hell am I,” he muttered, struggling against his bindings. Whoever had tied him up, however, had known what they were doing. As he slumped into the chair, his memories came flooding back; how a local watcher has knocked at the door and he’d let him in, realising a moment too late that the watcher had a gun to his back. Before he knew it, a cloth had covered his face and he had blacked out.
A shiver went down his back; wherever he was, it was cold and damp; a cellar, he thought. For a fleeting moment, he wondered what had happened to the other watcher, probably dead, Joe ruefully concluded. Once again, he struggled against the ropes, trying to find a weakness in the knots; then he realised the ropes were the least of his problems. He may not be able to see his legs in the dark, but he’d worn his prosthetics for many years, and knew when their familiar weight were no longer present.
Cursing under his breath, he decided to try the only option left open to him – yelling his head off. “Let me out of here, you bastards!” Struggling wildly against the ropes, he felt his chair begin to rock. “I said, let me out of here, you jumped up son of a bitc…” A loud clanging noise fill the air and Joe smiled grimly in the darkness as he heard footsteps draw near. “About bloody time!” he roared as his head swivelled in the direction of the noise.
The room flooded with a bright light, making Joe blink as his eyes adjusted. He heard the sound of a bolt slide open, then a second one. Quickly, Joe looked around his ‘cell’, it was bare except for the chair he was sitting on; concrete walls, concrete floors – and no window. “Well…I won’t be pulling a Houdini act, anytime soon,” he murmured as the single, iron, door swung open.
The face that peered in surprised him; he had been expecting the guy who had put him under with the chloroform, not the petite woman in front of him. “Who the heck are you,” he burst out as she slowly entered the room.
“I’m the one asking the questions, not you!” she pronounced, crossing her arms as she looked at him with, what he could only describe as, distaste.
“Listen Lady, you can ask all the questions you like, but I ain’t telling you squat,” Joe replied harshly.
“Believe me, once we’ve finished with you, you’ll have told us everything you know,” she said smugly, leaning against the wall. To Joe’s ears she sounded British; but he couldn’t be certain. Not that the knowledge would do him any good at the moment, but it might come in handy later.
“My, my, we are full of ourselves,” he goaded. “And who are ‘we’, exactly?”
“I’ve told you already, I’m the one asking questions,” she said heatedly.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Joe snarled. “Sing me a new one. Who’s in charge around here?”
Her face darkened as she stood up straight, squaring her shoulders as she took a step forward and grabbed him by the chin. “That can be arranged,” she said threateningly.
Joe’s eyes wandered to her wrist. “You’re a watcher,” he said accusingly, as he noticed the tattoo. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, kid? Who are you working for?”
“You are lecturing me,” she said disbelievingly, stepping back. “It’s because of you that I ended up here; you and that self-righteous watcher’s council.”
“What the hell are you talking about, kid,” Joe asked, puzzled. “I’ve never met you before, in my life.”
“Oh, come on,” she snorted. “Surely your memory isn’t that bad? Remember last year? When you and your cronies passed that death sentence on me?”
“Oh, you were one of the watchers involved with Tribeau,” Joe surmised resignedly.
“Involved? ” the watcher said angrily. “I hadn’t even heard of the man’s name until I was called before the tribunal! How was I supposed to know my superior was a renegade? I did was what I was ordered; it was my job. ”
“And what, exactly, were your superior’s orders?” Joe asked cynically. “Somehow, I don’t think the council dragged you in front of a tribunal for stealing a few paper-clips.”
“It wasn’t like that,” she said heatedly. “I was in human resources, he just asked me to move around a few people, reassign them. I didn’t know who they were; they were just names in a file. I wasn’t a traitor.”
“Who are you trying to convince, kid, me or you?” retorted Joe. “But it doesn’t matter anymore, does it? This time, you had both eyes open.”
“What else could I do? Tribeau was the only one I could go to,” she said. “No one else could protect me from the Watcher’s Tribunal.”
“Whatever gets you through to the day, honey,” Joe said sarcastically.
“I’m doing whatever it takes to stay alive, Dawson,” she said sulkily. “And whatever you say isn’t going to change that.”
“The thought never even crossed my mind – you’re too far gone to help,” Joe muttered tiredly. “So, let’s get this over with, shall we? I believe we’re now at the point where you threaten to kill me.”
“They’ll spare your life if you give them what they want,” she said reluctantly.
“And what is that?”
“The Alexandrian files.”
“Joe’s head shot up. “Huh?” he said. “What the hell are the Alexandrian files’?”
“Don’t play games with me, Dawson,” the watcher growled, once again grabbing his chin. “We know you have access to them.”
“Hey! Lay off the beard, kid,” Joe protested, pulling his head away. “I don’t have the remotest idea of what you’re talking about. I’ve never even heard of the Alexandrian files.”
“I never said you had,” his captor said softly. “I just said you had access to them. Wren said that you, and your daughter, were very friendly with a certain ex-watcher. Perhaps his name will ring a bell – Adam Pierson?”
Joe’s heart sank. “What about him?”
“Pierson was a very naughty boy when he was with the watchers; apparently, he took some of his work home with him, and never brought it back. Tribeau and Wren were very annoyed when they couldn’t find what they were looking for at the motherhouse.”
“Wait a minute,” Joe said sharply. “Are you saying that Tribeau and Wren still have access to Watcher records?”
“What? Did you think that your little house cleaning, last year, got rid of all Tribeau’s cronies? Most of the people you caught didn’t even know whom they really worked for. The ones with any real power weren’t foolish enough to leave a paper trail.”
“No…of course they weren’t,” Joe said glumly, his mind reeling from the revelation.
“So, the first thing you’re going to tell me is who Adam Pierson really is,” she said, grabbing him by the hair.
A warning light went off in Joe’s head. Why would Wren and Tribeau want to know that? Tribeau already knew Methos’ real name, which meant Wren probably did too; what the hell was going on? “As I said before, kid, I ain’t telling you squat.”
“Well then,” she said with a smile. “I’ll just have to change your mind, aren’t I?” Abruptly, she let go off his hair and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her. A moment later, the light went off.
For the first time since he’d woken up, Joe began to feel afraid.
The car was quiet as they drove to the coroner’s office. Amanda seemed to be lost in her own thoughts, while Lee was still stinging from Methos’ disappearing act. Duncan glanced over his shoulder at the hunched figure on his back seat. He had a pretty good idea where Methos had gone with Amy - and why he hadn’t wanted Lee tagging along; Methos had wanted some time alone with Joe’s computer.
Sighing, Duncan pulled into the police station’s car park. He knew the local gendarmes were suspicious of their presence at the crime scene. He, and Amanda, had gotten into too many scrapes with the Parisian police over the years. It had occurred to him to give a false name, but even a cursory check through his wallet would have called him a liar. Luckily, Lee’s name didn’t send off any alarm bells, or they might have been arrested on the spot. As it was, they were merely ‘helping’ the police with their enquiries.
Turning the engine off, he got out of the car, and went around to the other side to open the door for Amanda. With a small smile, she stepped out of the car. “Relax, Duncan,” she said softly. “Once we’ve identified the body, they won’t be able to keep us any longer. They’ve got no evidence, remember? We’ll be out of here, and looking for Joe, in no time.”
“This is France, Amanda,” he murmured back, glancing sideways at the waiting gendarme by the entrance. “They don’t need evidence to keep us in custody; all they need is a suspicion.”
Amanda put a hand on his arm reassuringly. “It won’t come to that,” she said gently. “Come on, let’s get this over with.”
Silently, they followed their escort through a side entrance leading to the coroner’s office. The graveyard shift was still on duty, and the hallways were practically deserted. Eventually, the gendarme came to halt outside a large set of double-doors, and pointed brusquely to a wooden bench; apparently, they were supposed to wait.
Impatiently, Duncan sat down as the gendarme disappeared through the swinging doors. With a grimace, Lee took a seat too; Amanda remained standing. Ten minutes later, they were still waiting.
“I wonder what’s taking them so long,” Amanda murmured.
“Maybe we should see for ourselves,” Duncan said, getting to his feet. “We can’t afford to waste time here while Joe is still…”
The doors swung open, and the gendarme reappeared. “The body is now ready to be viewed,” he said, in accented, but perfect, English. “Please follow me, Monsieur MacLeod – Mademoiselle Darieux and Monsieur Lee may wait here.” Resignedly, Duncan followed him through the doors and down the long, antiseptic, hall. Eventually, the gendarme stopped and pushed open a door; Duncan went through.
The room was dimly lit; it seemed as if it was only used for viewings. A single bed was situated in the middle of the room, and a large mirror, possibly a one-way window, covered the far wall. Grimly, Duncan stepped forward and waited for the gendarme to reveal the body’s face; they had gone to some trouble to hide Tribeau’s decapitation.
Carefully, the gendarme peeled back the cloth from the corpse’s face and indicated Duncan should step nearer. The Highlander leaned over the bed and glanced down, doing a double-take as his eyes rested on the face’s features. “This is not Tribeau,” he said softly, looking up to catch the gendarme’s eye.
“Are you sure, Monsieur?” the Gendarme asked worriedly, glancing at the ‘mirror’.
“I’m positive,” Duncan said firmly. “I don’t know who this man is, officer; but he definitely isn’t Tribeau.
“Very well, Monsieur MacLeod,” the gendarme sighed, leading him to the door. “If you would be so kind as to rejoin your friends in the waiting area; I need to inform my superiors of this new development. I shall join you shortly.”
With an abrupt nod, Duncan stalked down the hall. As soon as he pushed open the double-doors, Amanda and Lee jumped to their feet.”
“Well? Can we go now? Amanda asked, raising an eyebrow.
“There has been a complication,” he said lowly. “The body wasn’t Tribeau’s”
Amanda frowned, cursing under her breath. “I don’t like the sound of that,” she said. “Do you think he double crossed us?
“That was my first thought,” Duncan admitted. “But he may have just been taken by surprise by one of Wren’s pet immortals.”
“And after he took the immortal’s head, he decided to get the hell out of dodge,” Lee speculated.
That’s my opinion, yes,” Duncan said.
“Well, either way, we’ll find out soon enough,” Amanda surmised. “If he was telling us the truth, we won’t need to look for him, he’ll find us; he’s relying on our protection to keep him alive.”
“And if he wasn’t?” Lee asked quietly.
The creak of a door broke the conversation, the gendarme had returned, and this time a police inspector accompanied him. “Good day, Mr MacLeod,” the inspector said briskly. “My name is Jean Le Blanc; it must be relief to know that our victim wasn’t your friend, after all.”
“It is a weight off my mind, yes,” Duncan said dryly.
“Well, we won’t keep you any longer,” the inspector said with a false smile. “You must be exhausted after your trying ordeal.”
“Yes, Inspector, we are” Amanda said smoothly. “Will you need to see us again; for a statement, perhaps?
“No, that won’t be necessary,” the inspector said, waving his hand dismissively.
“Well, then, good night Inspector,” Duncan said, grabbing Amanda’s by the hand and steering her towards the exit.
“Oh…one more thing, Mr MacLeod,” the inspector called after them. Suppressing a groan, Duncan halted in his tracks and looked over his shoulder. “If you should happen to see Mr Tribeau, tell him we are interested in talking to him; there is still the matter of the dead body in his apartment.”
“If I see him, I’ll let him know, inspector,” Duncan said with a nod, before quickening his pace towards the door. He didn’t pause until they reached the car. With a sigh of relief, Duncan relaxed into his seat before he turned on the engine and drove out onto the street.
“Duncan, I want you to drop me off near Tribeau’s apartment; the police’s forensic team should be finished by now,” Amanda murmured.
“I’m not sure if that is a good idea, Amanda,” Duncan said.
“We’re running out of options, Duncan,” she said tiredly. “Joe has been kidnapped, probably by Wren; and our only lead has pulled a vanishing act. If there is even the faintest possibility that Tribeau has left something behind in his apartment which might lead us to Wren’s whereabouts, I want to find it.”
Duncan frowned thoughtfully. “You’ve got a point – I’ll go with you.”
“No, I think it would be better if I did this alone; I’ve had a lot more practice at this sort of thing than you - and besides, someone has to tell Adam that Tribeau is alive.”
“I can do that by phone, Amanda,” Duncan reminded her. “Besides, what if another one of Wren’s immortals comes by for a visit?”
“I’m more than capable of defending myself, Duncan,” Amanda pointed out. “And I’d be a lot happier if you gave Adam the ‘good’ news face to face; you know how he can be when he’s annoyed. If we don’t keep an eye on him, he’ll tear Paris apart, house by house, in order to find Tribeau. He is, after all, our only concrete lead to Joe’s kidnappers and Adam is rather fond of him.”
“He’s not the only one,” Duncan said grimly.
“I know that, honey,” Amanda said. “But you’re a lot less…ruthless…when it comes to getting your own way. Why don’t you, and Lee, drive onto the bar, and I’ll join you shortly.”
Reluctantly, Duncan nodded in agreement as he changed direction and headed towards Tribeau’s apartment. They were still a few streets away when Amanda asked to be let out. “The apartment might be under surveillance,” she said. “And your car might raise a few eyebrows if it was spotted on the scene again.”
She jumped out as Duncan slowed down and, a moment later, she had disappeared into the shadows. “Miss Darieux seems to have many hidden talents,” Lee observed
“That’s one way of putting it,” Duncan said dryly as he pulled away from the kerb and headed towards Joe’s.
The reassuring presence of another immortal washed over him as they parked in the alley beside Joe’s bar, and Duncan breathed a sigh of relief; Amanda’s earlier words had worried him. Hurriedly, he jumped out of the car and made his way around the back. He rapped on the door and it slowly opened, Amy peeked out. “Oh it’s you,” she said with relief, opening the door wide. Duncan strode in and raised an eyebrow as he spotted Methos behind the door, sword in hand.
“You can never be too careful,” Methos said, shrugging as he stowed his sword in his coat.
“Tribeau isn’t dead,” Duncan said.
“You do?” Duncan asked, taken back. “How the hell do you know?” he added, looking about the room. “Is he here?”
“No, he isn’t,” said Methos with a grimace. “Joe’s…friend saw him leave the scene after the quickening,” he added, nodding at Lee, who had just slipped into the room.
“You talked to him?” Duncan asked.
“Not exactly,” Methos said. “He’s dead; I listened to his Dictaphone.”
“Oh,” Duncan said, slumping into a chair.
“Yeah,” Methos echoed. “Oh.”
Quietly, Amanda snuck into the dark apartment, keeping her penlight pointed at the ground as she skipped through the rubble. The quickening had been a destructive one; the broken windows were now covered with plastic, but the cold, outside air still whistled through the room. Although a gendarme had been posted outside the building, they had forgone posting a guard at the rear, so gaining entrance hadn’t been that difficult. The policeman out front did cramp her style, however; a torch light would be noticed from the outside, so she was forced to use the dim penlight.
Spotting the remains of a desk beside the front window; she shaded the small glow of the penlight with her hand as she crept towards it. A quick search through the desk didn’t reveal much, the forensic team had done a thorough job and it was practically bare. The only things left were a deed to the apartment, under a false name, and a notice from the phone company, informing Tribeau that the line was now connected. A slip of paper, stuck under the corner of the desk lamp, caught her eye, and she examined it carefully; it was an address for somewhere in the 17th Arrondissement. She pocketed it as she threw a professional eye around the room; nothing else struck her as interesting. Satisfied that the living room held nothing else of interest, she headed to the bedroom.
She stifled a low whistle as her eyes took in the devastation, she had assumed that Tribeau had taken his challenger’s head in the living room; apparently, she had been wrong. No wonder the police had been so eager to talk to her, the room looked as if it had been hit with a small bomb. Shaking her head in defeat, she gave the room a cursory look. She had hoped that the police’s forensic team had overlooked the bedroom in favour of the living room; but the room had been examined thoroughly, and she knew she had little chance of finding something they’d missed.
Deciding that she had stayed long enough, Amanda slipped out of the apartment and down the backstairs. She only noticed the soft tread of footsteps once she’d slipped out of the back lane and onto the main street. She slowed her step; sure enough, the footsteps slowed their pace also. “I’m getting really tired of this, ” she thought irritably as she quickly turned the next corner and ducked into a doorway, pulling out a gun as she did so.
The footsteps stopped, and Amanda smiled, knowing that he was trying to figure out where she had gone. By the time he found out, it would be too late. With slow, hesitating, steps, her stalker grew nearer. A hand holding a gun came into view, and Amanda held her breath as she waited for him to take another step.
She didn’t have to wait long; she moved quickly as his body passed the doorway, snatching his gun from his hand as she pressed her’s against his head. “Well, well, we meet at last,” she purred into his ear as she pocketed his weapon. “Raise your hands - slowly.” Glowering, the man raised his hands and Amanda smirked as she saw the tattoo gracing his right wrist. “A watcher, why am I not surprised? Put your wrists together.”
Reluctantly, the watcher obliged, and Amanda pulled out a pair of handcuffs from her pocket. Duncan may tease her about her tendency to carry them about, but even she was surprised how handy they were, sometimes. Once he was handcuffed, she backed him into the doorway and patted down his coat, finding a second gun in his pockets, along with a notebook and a mobile phone. “I’ll take these; you won’t need them for a while.” A cursory glance through the wallet revealed his name. “Pleased to meet you, Mr Masters,” she said, flashing him a smile a she rooted out her mobile phone. “Or should I call you John?”
The watcher snarled in reply, and Amanda waved the gun under his nose reprovingly. “Now, now, that is no way to address a lady. The watcher opened his mouth to reply, but stopped as he caught the stony look in her eyes. Sulkily, he slumped against the shop door.
Flipping open her mobile, Amanda pressed redial. A moment later, Duncan answered. “Amanda, is something wrong?” he asked, his soft voice sounding worried.
“I’ve acquired a watcher,” she told him. “And he isn’t the friendly type. Could you come and collect me. I’ve got him under control, but I don’t fancy escorting a handcuffed man through the streets of Paris, somebody is bound to ask questions.
“I’ll be right there,” Duncan said. “Where are you?”
Quickly, Amanda gave him the address and hung up. “Now we wait,” she told the watcher. “Don’t worry, John, the questions will come later.”
Methos stifled a yawn and got to his feet as Amy, once again, went over what she’d learned from the watcher’s tape. “Are you sure Tribeau didn’t kill your friend,” Lee asked softly, leaning forward in his chair.
“Positive,” Amy said. “His last few words described Tribeau leaving the building and getting into his car; then there is a noise and the recording stops. I can’t say, categorically, that whoever attacked him in the alley wasn’t in league with Tribeau, of course…”
Methos ignored the rest of the conversation; he’d already listened to the tape’s contents. Quietly, he walked across the room and stopped at the open door. Duncan, who had left the office a few moments ago to answer a call, was now in the bar and chatting quietly on the phone. Seeing Duncan’s worried frown, he tilted his head and strained to hear what he was saying, but the Highlander was speaking too softly. “What’s up?” he asked, when Duncan hung up.
“Amanda has caught a watcher following her, she wants me to pick them up,” Duncan said, getting to his feet.
“Hold on a minute, Mac,” Methos said quietly, grabbing Duncan’s arm as he brushed past. “We have to talk; why don’t you give Amy and Tsi Tsung your keys and let them collect Amanda and her watcher.
Duncan cocked his head and gave Methos a level look. “What’s going on, Adam?” Methos flicked his eyes in Lee’s direction and Duncan sighed. “This better be good,” he muttered, pulling his keys out as he headed into the back room.
Rubbing his eyes, Methos made his way to the bar and pulled himself a pint as he waited for Duncan to return. He was already sitting at a table when the Highlander strode into the room once more. “Okay, spit it out,” Duncan said brusquely as he pulled out a chair.
“Well…you know how I said I didn’t know Wren?”
“It seems I may have spoken too soon.”
“Oh really?” Duncan asked cynically, leaning forward in his chair.
“While Amy and I we were waiting for you to return, I pulled up the Wren’s file on Joe’s computer. I may have not have recognised his aliases, but I did recognised his face; I’ve met him before – and not under the most pleasant of circumstances.”
“Oh no,” groaned Duncan. “If you’re about to tell me you slaughtered his village, I don’t want to hear it.”
“Relax, Mac,” Methos said dryly. “I had already left the Horsemen when I met Wren.”
“Well, I suppose that’s something to be grateful for. So….where did you meet him?”
Duncan quirked an eyebrow. “Alexandria? This should be interesting, tell me about it,” Duncan said.
Methos smiled thinly. “I was planning to.”
Alexandra, 200 B.C.:
Methos had first noticed the other immortal’s presence the week before, but he had ignored it. Alexandria attracted many visitors, many from as far away as Rome and Persia; and, like it or not, immortals were also drawn to the bustling city and port.
Methos had enjoyed living in Alexandria for almost a decade, it was the perfect place for an immortal to hide; Alexandrians were so inured to strange sights and different cultures that his little eccentricities were not commented on. And then, of course, there was the library.
The library of Alexandria was a treasure trove which almost beggared belief; he had spent nearly ten years roaming its halls, but he was still in awe of it. If he had not seen it with his own eyes, he would not have thought it possible to have all that knowledge in the one place. On more occasions than he could count, he’d lost himself within its walls, voraciously reading all he could get his hands on. It had become a welcome respite from the memories that threatened to crowd his mind.
He had left Kronos on the shores of the Mediterranean, only a few days out of Athens. For over a millennium, the guise of the horsemen had served Methos well, but the world had changed once again. The Dark Age, which had fallen after the destruction of the Mycenae Empire, was well and truly over. Indeed, it had been over for a number of centuries; the brief time he had been in Athens, three hundred years before, had shown him that. But, he hadn’t been willing to accept it then; an immortal was slow to change his ways. And so, when Kronos had sent for him, he’d left Athens to join him.
Kronos, unfortunately, was still unwilling to let go of the old ways. What had begun as a survival tactic had become a way of life, Kronos would rather break than bend…Methos sighed, it was best not to think of Kronos; he knew he would have to face him one day…but not yet, he wanted to enjoy the fruits of an uncomplicated life for a little while longer.
At least, it had been an uncomplicated life until his new shadow had arrived in the city, Methos dryly thought as he quickened his pace. He had, at first, thought it was Kronos following him; but as the days went by, he had changed his mind. Kronos would have shown his face long before now, he didn’t have the patience for this kind of game.
The footsteps grew closer, and Methos ducked through an archway and down a small side street, all the while cursing under his breath at his own stupidity. He had grown complacent in the years since he had left the horsemen; he’d left the confines of the library long after the sun had set and, as a result, the streets were almost deserted. On top of that, he wasn’t sufficiently armed for a challenge; all he had upon him was a dagger.
The steps behind him broke into a run, and Methos shrugged away all attempts at nonchalance as he sprinted down the lane and onto the square that lay beyond it.
“Halt!” The voice called out from behind him, and Methos swivelled on his feet, dagger in hand. The other immortal had already drawn his short sword.
“I don’t think so,” Methos spat, retreating as the other immortal stepped forward.
“I come bearing a message,” the stranger said warily, his sword still held high.
“Is that so?” Methos said snidely, eying his opponent’s sword.
“I have news from Kronos,” the other immortal said eagerly. “He says that he has a new plan – he says that he misses you.
“I’ll bet,” muttered Methos under his breath as he studied his surroundings from the corner of his eye. Methos knew what Kronos’ version of a plan was, and he, for one, didn’t want any part of it. “The other immortal took another, cautious, step forward. Kronos had probably made sure that this young idiot was well versed in Methos’ little ‘tricks’. So be it, Methos thought grimly, he still have a few left, that even Kronos wasn’t aware of.
“I have passage to Carthage arranged,” the new immortal haltingly told him, now unsure of his welcome. “We can leave Alexandria tomorrow.”
Methos glared at the infant in exasperation; did he not know what had happened between him and Kronos? There was no way in Hades he was getting on that ship. “Sorry, I have other plans,” he said mockingly. “Don’t worry; I’m sure Kronos will manage to carry on without me.”
Fear flashed through the other immortals eyes.” But you have to come with me…Kronos said so.”
“Kronos shall have to learn to live with disappointment, then.”
“Maybe so,” the stranger said. “But I shan’t – he’ll kill me.”
“Not if you don’t go back to him.”
For a moment, the new immortal wavered, but then his face set into a grim mask. “No, I think it will be best if you come with me. You can either come willingly, or with a sword through your chest…”
Methos didn’t wait for him to finish his sentence; with a flick of his hand, he threw his dagger. A look of uncomprehending surprise flashed across the immortals face as he fell to his knees. “I’m going to get you for this,” he said hoarsely as he clutched at the dagger embedded in his chest.
“Not if Kronos gets you first, boy,” Methos said softly as he watched the life drain out of him.
Methos looked up from his beer and examined Duncan’s face. “I don’t know what happened after that,” he said quietly. “Maybe he went back to Kronos, maybe he went his own way. I left Alexandra that night; and I didn’t return there for nearly a century.
“Why didn’t you kill him,” Duncan asked, after a moment’s silence.
“He was just a kid,” Methos said with a shrug. “I didn’t consider him a threat, merely a lackey. To be quite honest, I’m surprised he’s lasted this long.”
“Two thousand years is a long time,” Duncan mused. “He could have picked up a lot of nasty tricks since then.
“Tell me about it,” Methos replied glumly.
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