Disclaimer: Highlander belongs to Panzer/Davis. I'm just playing in their sandbox!
Slumping on the couch beside her father, Amy quietly listened as Amanda shouted into her mobile phone. “I swear to god, Methos; if you don’t ring me back within the next half an hour, I’ll come after your head myself,” She railed. “Of all the stupid, dim witted, senile….damn!” Flicking the phone closed, she turned to Duncan. “The idiot has his phone turned off; I’m only getting his answering machine.”
“I heard,” Duncan dryly answered.
“And even his answering machine is rude,” she declared. “Do you know it actually cut me off half way through my sentence?”
“Don’t worry, Amanda; I think he’ll get the gist of the message!”
“Duncan, honey, don’t do that. Sarcasm doesn’t become you.”
Shrugging, Duncan wisely stayed silent as he brewed up another pot of coffee, Tsi Tsung, however, did not. “If he has truly ‘done a runner’ as Miss Dawson has suggested, why are you phoning him. Surely you don’t expect him to answer?” he asked.
“I expect Methos to be Methos,” Amanda said tartly, “Which means he could enjoying a first class meal on a plane fight to Bora Bora, or doing something extremely idiotic - like facing Wren by himself.”
“Methos…” Tsi Tsung murmured. “I’m not sure if I will ever get used to that.”
Alarm bells went off in Amy’s head as Amanda spoke. “You don’t think he would do that, do you?” she asked.
Amanda’s eyes softened slightly as she turned to look at Amy. “Probably not,” she admitted. “For one thing, he would have to know where Wren is…but I don’t believe Methos has pulled a disappearing act either – at least, not a permanent one.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” Joe asked wearily. “After all, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s done it.” Amy studied her father’s face as he fell back into the couch, frowning as she noticed the exhaustion etched around his eyes.
Amanda hesitated before answering. “Because he’s angry,” she reluctantly said. “And Methos isn’t known for being very bright when he’s angry…let’s face it, Joe; all things considered, disappearing would be a smart move to make right now.
“Gee, Amanda, nice to know you have such faith in us,” Joe said, a slight smirk hovering on his lips. “Should I pack my bags now?”
“Just trying to be honest, Joe,” Amanda sighed. “Things don’t seem to be in our favour at the moment. We need to make a move soon, before the decision is taken out of our hands.”
“Then we will,” Duncan said quietly.
“But what about Methos,” Amy protested, getting to her feet. “We can’t just let him…”
“Let him what?” Duncan interrupted dryly, “It’s not as if we have any choice in the matter, Amy. He’s gone, and we don’t have a clue as to where. Not that I would want to. The man is 5,000 years old, for crying out loud, it’s not as if he needs a babysitter! No, let Methos worry about Methos, and we’ll worry about what we can do about Wren. He’ll turn up again in his own good time….as usual.”
“What about him?” Tsi Tsung piped up, nodding at Tribeau, who was hunched on a chair.
“What about me?” he muttered. “It’s not as if I’ve anywhere else to be.”
“And it’s not as if you’ve told us anything which would encourage us to keep you around,” countered Duncan.
“Isn’t that the truth,” Joe muttered.
“And what do you want to know, exactly?” Tribeau asked snidely, leaning back in his chair.
“Well, Wren’s home address and telephone number would be a good start,” murmured Amanda.
“And some information on the Bitch who kidnapped me,” added Joe bitterly.
“So, Tribeau, have you anything useful to say?” Duncan asked, folding his arms as he glared at the immortal. “Because if you don’t…”
“You’ll what?” the other immortal snarled. “You’ll kill me? There’s only so many times you can use that threat before it becomes redundant, Highlander.”
“Oh, I won’t kill you, Tribeau,” Duncan said archly. “Quite frankly, you’re not worth the time and energy. Besides, it’s not as if I need to. All I have to do is show you the door and let Wren do the rest. Tell me; do you think Wren is watching the Barge?”
Silently, Amy looked on, watching Tribeau’s reaction. He did not look happy. “Wren owned a house in Montmartre,” he eventually mumbled, “But he’s probably moved on by now.”
“What’s the address,” Amanda asked briskly, pulling a notepad from her handbag.
“24 Rue de Lavignon,” Tribeau said softly.
“And what about her,” Joe interjected, “The one who kidnapped me?”
“What do you want to know?”
“That won’t take too long,” muttered Tribeau sarcastically, “I presume you’ve figured out that the tribunal execution was her first death?” Seeing Joe’s noncommittal shrug, he continued. “She woke up on a morgue slab, put two and two together, and made a beeline to my place in Italy– we’d never met before then.”
Amy mulled over Tribeau’s revelation, it did explain a lot… “So you were her teacher?” she prompted.
Tribeau laughed, “Hardly, I had more important things to do than coddle a new immortal.”
“So, who was?” Duncan asked.
“Nobody, to my knowledge,” Tribeau admitted. “Of course, I haven’t seen her in a couple of months, so that might’ve changed.”
“So, as far as you know, she’s has no training?” asked Duncan, surprise in his voice. Tribeau shook his head in response, and Duncan frowned disapprovingly, “Why the hell not? Even if you weren’t willing to teach her, you could have at least passed her onto someone who was.”
“Looking for a new student, MacLeod?” drawled Tribeau. “I must say I’m surprised - especially after the fiasco with the last one.”
Amy watched Duncan warily as the muscles in the Highlander’s jaw tensed. “I’m the one asking the questions, Tribeau,” he bit out.
“Have it your way,” Tribeau said with an insolent shrug.
“You didn’t seem to have a problem using her as your dogsbody,” Joe snarled. “Which reminds me, what are the Alexandrian files?”
For the first time since Amy had met Tribeau, the immortal actually seemed lost for words. “How did you…”
“Just tell us what you know, Tribeau,” Duncan interrupted.
Slumping into his chair, Tribeau sighed. “I’m not really sure what they are,” he admitted. “Just that Wren was keen to get his hands on them.”
“Not good enough, Tribeau,” Joe muttered angrily. “There’s more, I can feel it. Why did you believe Methos had them?”
“He doesn’t?” Tribeau asked, surprise showing on his face. “Are you sure? I mean who else would have taken them…” his voice trailed off as understanding dawned. “Williamson,” he breathed, “The bastard lied…”
“Who the hell is Williamson,” Amy burst out, getting to her feet impatiently.
“Oh, you know him, you just don’t know it yet,” Tribeau said with a shrug. “A bit of a weasel, but a smart one; he was the one who intercepted Turner last year when he was trying to catch up with Methos and warn him about what he’d found…the Alexandrian files.”
“But Williamson caught up with him first, killed him, and took his place,” Amanda said softly.
“It was too good an opportunity to pass up,” Tribeau admitted.
“But if you knew Turner had the files, why did you say Methos had them?” asked a puzzled Amy.
“Because that’s what Williamson told us,” Tribeau said tiredly. “He said Methos had the files, and Turner had cottoned on to the fact and chased after him. I should have known he was lying, our other informant had never been wrong before.”
“But what are they?” Joe asked impatiently. “Why are they so important?”
“Turner smiled uneasily. “Are you really sure you want to know?” he asked, his voice uncharacteristically soft.”
“Just stop evading the question and tell us what it is, Tribeau,” Duncan said flatly.
“I can only tell you what Wren told me, Highlander,” Tribeau said. “And I’m not sure I believe it myself.” He wriggled uncomfortably in his chair. “They’re supposed to contain a true account of the origins of the game.”
“They what?” spluttered Joe. “Oh c'mon, are you trying to tell me that, mouldering on some shelf in the watcher archives, there was the answer to the one of the oldest mysteries of immortality and nobody knew? That’s impossible; all documents and journals are routinely checked every five years. I think someone would have noticed it...”
“Who says they didn’t?” Tribeau countered.
“Because if they did, I’d know; we’d all know,” Joe said, “A revelation like that would change everything!”
“Yes, it would,” Amanda said softly.
A silence descended on the room and Amy exchanged a puzzled look with her father.
“So, how bad is it?” Lee asked, breaking the silence.
“I don’t know,” Tribeau admitted, “I really don’t know…”
Lost for words, Duncan leaned against the galley’s counter and tried to make sense of it all. They were so many questions, so many things they didn’t know; where to start? At the beginning, that’s where. “First things first, we need to check out Wren’s old address and see if we can a find a lead.”
“And Amy and I shall check out the Motherhouse,” Joe piped up. “If those files were stored there, there must be some record of them…in fact, I know just the place; Turner’s old files.
“Can’t you just look it up on the database?” Amanda asked, gesturing at the laptop.
“No,” Amy said, shaking her head, “The database isn’t that comprehensive. It keeps a basic profile of all Immortals and watchers but little else – certainly not a list of the more esoteric works Turner may have been working on. No, to find that out, we’ll have to follow the paper trail.” Joe nodded in agreement.
“Sounds good to me,” Lee announced as he got his feet. “Anything is better than sitting here wondering what’s going to happen next.”
“What about me,” Tribeau protested.
“Funny you should say that,” Amanda said grimly as she threw open a chest and rummaged inside. “I knew I saw some here somewhere…ah!” Triumphantly, she pulled a length of rope out of the chest. “This will do perfectly.” Duncan tried hard not to laugh as she marched purposely to Tribeau’s side.
“You’re not serious,” Tribeau said disbelievingly. “You can’t tie me up; I’ll be defenceless…what if Wren sends another of his pet immortals.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you have a proper burial,” Amanda said firmly as she pulled his arms behind his back and proceeded to tie the unresisting immortal to the chair.
Shaking his head in amusement, Duncan grabbed his coat from its hook and threw it on as Amanda tied the glowering immortal’s feet to the chair. Unbidden, his mind wandered to Methos’ whereabouts, his heart sinking as his mind turned over Amy’s words. Perhaps she was right; perhaps he had done a runner. But then again, maybe he hadn’t. It wouldn’t be the first time the old man had gone off, half-cocked, thinking he could solve the problem all by himself. Take that mess with the horsemen…
His mood took a turn for the worse as the memories rose to meet him. Their friendship had very nearly not survived that debacle and, even to this day, it was a sensitive subject between them. Intellectually, he could understand the times were different back then and the Methos he knew now was a very different person to the Methos Cassandra knew in those dark times….but still.
Lost in his thoughts, the sirens didn’t permeate his mind until they became too loud to ignore. Frowning, he hurried to a porthole and looked out. “Damn,” he murmured, before turning to the others “We’ve got company,” he said, “Quick, Joe, get into the bedroom; if they see you, we’ll never hear the end of it – Lee, help me move Tribeau in there too; Amanda, could you…”
Nodding, Amanda shrugged off her coat and ran into the bedroom, coming out a moment later with a bathrobe pulled over her blouse and skirt. “You’re down below, throwing on something a little less comfortable to wear,” she declared, throwing him a wink and a smile as she mussed her hair and climbed the steps.
“A woman of many talents,” murmured Lee appreciatively as he grabbed one side of the chair.
Grabbing the other side, Duncan’s eyes met Lee’s over Tribeau’s head.” You don’t know the half of it.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“Could you two stop gossiping for a moment and watch where you’re going,” Tribeau butted in as the chair lifted precariously into the air. “I don’t know about you, but I despise having my neck broken.”
“Had a lot of practice, have you?” Duncan enquired humorously.
“That goes without saying,” Lee added, “I’ve known him scarcely an hour and I already want to wring it!”
Quickly, they manoeuvred the chair through the room and into the bedroom, ignoring the trussed up immortal’s curses. Pulling off his coat, Duncan picked a jacket from his wardrobe and transferred his wallet. He suspected he would be facing more than a gentle enquiry this time, and he really didn’t want to explain why he was carrying a sword in the lining of his duster.
Throwing a reassuring look in Joe and Amy’s direction, Duncan slipped out the bedroom door and closed the door firmly, nodding in satisfaction as he heard the key being turned on the other side; probably Joe. Climbing on deck, he smiled as he noticed the two gendarmes held in thrall by Amanda’s endless string of chatter.
“Gentlemen,” he called out, watching in amusement as the two policemen reluctantly pried their eyes from Amanda’s performance. “I believe you wished to speak to me?”
“Mr MacLeod,” one of them said formally, stepping forward. “We need you to accompany us to the station.”
“What’s this about?” Duncan asked genially. “Has there been a breakthrough in the case?”
“You could say that,” the officer prevaricated, “If you would come with us?”
“Of course,” Duncan said smoothly as he stepped to Amanda’s side.
“Will this take long, officer?” Amanda asked breathlessly, her eyes widening innocently.
“Ah, I don’t think so, Mademoiselle,” the flustered gendarme muttered.
“Oh, good,” Amanda said coyly, flashing the gendarme a brilliant smile. “We have…plans, you see”
“Yes, I’m sure you do,” the gendarme replied, a wistful look on his face.
With a polite cough, Duncan interrupted his reverie. “After you,” he said pointedly, gesturing at the gangplank.
“Oh…yes,” the gendarme muttered embarrassedly as he turned towards the gangplank; forgetting, in his addled state, that he was supposed to march the suspect to the car, not the other way around. The other gendarme did not forget, however, and pulled his partner to a halt. “Suppressing a laugh, Duncan strolled easily down the gangway, the two gendarmes following closely behind.
Silently, the less flustered gendarme opened the car door and Duncan slid inside, throwing one last glance out the rear window at the solitary figure on the barge’s deck; hopefully, she would still be there when he got back.
The policemen were now ensconced in the front and, with a turn of a key, they were on their way. Closing his eyes, Duncan dozed as the car sped through the streets; he might as well catch a few winks…
Duncan’s eyes snapped open, his hands automatically reaching out to steady himself as the car swerved wildly. His eyes widened in alarm as he realised they were on a collision course with a car coming from the other direction. With a violent slam, the police car careened into the oncoming vehicle’s bonnet, slamming Duncan into the seat in front of him and flipping the car onto its side.
With a groan, he cradled his head as he tried to stave off unconsciousness and knocked on the glass partition; no answer. Peering through the glass, he noted the slumped bodies and grimaced; then he noticed the smoke rising from the crumpled bonnet. Cursing under his breath, he tried the door; no joy. He was trapped.
It was then he felt the presence of another immortal.
“Oh, this day is just getting better, and better.” Taking a deep breath he unlocked his seatbelt and put his boot to the door. The door creaked in protest but didn’t give. A shadow passed the rear window, and Duncan gave the door another kick. “We’ve crashed on a Boulevard in the middle of Paris, why isn’t someone trying to help us – because I’m sitting in the back of a police car,” he answered himself. “And nobody wants to help someone who might be a dangerous felon.”
With a final, desperate kick, the door finally burst open; letting in the smoke and heat. Coughing, he slid out, feet first, and peered through the haze. Where was he? Cautiously, he crept to the front door, and tried the handle, it didn’t budge. Glancing in the window, he noticed the depressed lock button. Taking off his jacket, he wrapped it around his fist and smashed through the window. Quickly, he released the lock and pulled the door open.
Snapping the gendarme’s belt open, he dragged him out of his seat and checked his pulse, it was steady. Reaching into the policeman’s coat he found his gun before pulling him a safe distance from the car. Without a sword, he needed any edge he could find. Something told him this immortal wasn’t friendly.
The heat was getting worse and Duncan’s eyes spotted flames licking the edges of the bonnet; one more to go. Hastily, he dove back into the front seat and jerked the seat belt open; hauling the gendarme out by his shoulders, he dumped his unconscious form by his partner.
“Well done, Mr MacLeod, perhaps they’ll give you a medal,” a voice said from behind. “Did you like my little ‘accident’?”
Spinning on his heels, Duncan eyed the immortal, “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure,” he muttered.
“Jack Newcastle, at your service,” the immortal replied, giving him a small, mocking bow. “Shall we get on with it?”
“Have you lost your mind, man?” Duncan asked incredulously, pointing at the crowd gathered at a discreet distance, “We’ve got witnesses.” Newcastle tilted his head to his left, and Duncan’s eyes followed; a narrow alley led off the boulevard. “I don’t have a sword,” Duncan said simply, “And I don’t want to fight you.”
“But you will,” the immortal said softly.
“Maybe; but not now, not today.”
““I didn’t go to all this bother just to walk away, MacLeod,” the immortal said, a dangerous look gleaming in his eyes as he advanced.
Grimly, Duncan raised the gun and pointed.
“What, are you going to shoot me, Macleod?” Newcastle snarled. “I don’t think so. Your honour wouldn’t allow it.”
“Drop the sword, Newcastle, and walk away,” Duncan retorted.
“And if I don’t?”
“If I have to pick between trying to explain why I shot you and trying to explain the effects of a quickening, I’ll choose the former, Newcastle.”
“This isn’t over, MacLeod,” the immortal said, backing away.
“I didn’t think it was,” Duncan muttered, watching the immortal slip down the alley.
Letting the gun drop to the ground, he pulled his phone out of his trowser pocket and flipped it open. Eyeing the milling crowd warily, he speed dialled Amanda’s mobile. “There has been a change of plans,” he said grimly as Amanda answered. “It seems I’m on the lamb…”
Gasping for breath, he clung to the edge of the pool by his fingertips, his forehead pressed against the cold damp stone as memory after memory crowded his mind. There were so many….too many…Gods, what had he done. He had tried many times to imagine this moment, but he had never imagined this; this mad rush of conflicting images and snatched conversations, faces he didn’t recognise but somehow knew.
Wincing as a fresh wave of memories washed over him, his knuckles whitened as he held on. The earlier memories were the hardest. His teacher’s voice, speaking harshly in a language long dead, the pain and agony of his first quickening…the death of his first wife. But the eeriest of all were the memories from before his first death. Mortality had always been such an elusive concept for Methos, but now…now he remembered everything. As suddenly as it had started, it was over.
“Oh shit, we’re buggered.”
Panicked, he scrambled out of the pool and threw on his clothes, ignoring their dampness as he ran out of the cave. If Wren knew what Methos thought he did then…
“But that’s impossible, the only one left who remembers is…me.”
Methos came to a standstill, his eyes widening as all the pieces fell into place. Kronos, the idiot had actually told Wren – no, that didn’t make sense, Kronos was many things, but he wasn’t stupid. It must have been something else…
Come, Myphistoles, you must meet my daughter.”
The presence was unbelievably powerful. Whoever she was, she was ancient - and definitely not her old friend’s daughter. He wondered what their true relationship was; he also wondered why she seemed so familiar…
“But you shan’t remember me, Myphistoles,” she had murmured as he stepped into the courtyard. “This meeting will fade from your thoughts; it’s too soon to know if you have truly changed your ways. You may have left the horsemen, but they are still not far from your thoughts.”
With a start, his mind snapped into the present. Oh Gods, Antiloli, his teacher; the woman he betrayed. To this day, he didn’t know why she had let him live. If the circumstances had been reversed, he would have killed her in a heartbeat. But then, he had never truly understood her. Perhaps he never will.
He shuddered as he remembered the ease with which she had stolen his memories…such power. He didn’t even know what hithim. One moment he had been in the grasp of his first quickening; the next, he had woken up with a bloodied axe still in his hand and a headless body just a few feet away. She must have been nearby, of course. There was no way she would have left Buras’ body unattended. He had been her husband after all.
He remembered his fear as he stumbled away as fast as he could. In vain, he had tried to remember what had happened, but his mind had been a blank. He couldn’t remember anything; his name, his immortality, all she’d taught him…all gone.
Two days later, Kronos found him. Methos winced at the memory. He remembered Kronos’ frustration and anger as he questioned him. Now he knew why - maybe that’s why Kronos had refused to tell him his true name, a petty revenge. It had been a slave, many years later, who had named him Methos. The poor bastard had been unlucky enough to witness his revival after a rather messy argument with Caspian. He had killed the slave, of course; but he had kept the name.
It was another couple of centuries before he realised his earliest memories weren’t the only one’s he’d lost. At first he’d panicked, but then he found an answer to his problem. He learned to write.
Antiloli had been thorough, not only had she erased his earlier years, she had also made sure his memory would fail the moment he stumbled across something which could possibly trigger those memories…like that fateful meeting in Alexandria.
Wren must have sensed her presence when he had been tailing him, and had doubled back when he had come to. He killed her, took her quickening…not enough to know the whole truth, but enough to suspect…enough to know Methos was the only person left who knew the key. He cringed, already dreading what was to come. He would never hear the end of this.
Richie’s face flitted through his thoughts. The kid had been closer to the truth than he had realised when he had speculated on the reasons for the game. Way too close.
There can only be one…
Wearily, Methos rubbed his eyes. Shit, what a mess. How on earth would he explain to Joe he had the Alexandrian files in his possession after all? Poor Turner, he might as well have signed his own death warrant when he’d sent him the files. Methos winced as he remembered reading them, then hiding them in one of his favourite stashes before hurrying to Duncan’s barge. This time, Antiloli’s little curse didn’t kick in immediately; maybe its power had faded as he’d aged; it would explain why the memory lapses had lessened over the years. He had made it all the way to Bulgaria before it caught up with him. Groaning, he stumbled down the path; he might as well get this over with.
Sighing, Amanda hung up on Duncan. They needed to leave the barge – fast. Biting her lip, she came to decision. Ignoring Joe’s expectant expression, she punched a number into her phone and smiled as a familiar voice answered.
“Gina, darling,” Amanda purred. “How are things?”
Gina’s sigh was audible. “What’s happened, Amanda?”
“It’s a long story, I’ll explain it all when we get there,” Amanda replied lightly.
“Oh yes, I’m bringing a few friends with me. I hope you don’t mind…it’s kind of important.”
“I see…does this, by any chance, have anything to do with that little incident in Russia.”
“It has everything to do with it,” Amanda drawled.
“Right, I’ll see you in a few hours,” Gina said, her voice grim.
“Thanks, Gina,” Amanda murmured gratefully as she signed off.
“What’s up?” Joe asked, his exhaustion evident in his voice.
Bleakly, Amanda filled him in.
“Let me get this straight,” Lees interjected disbelievingly. “An immortal forced a police car off the road in broad daylight, and then challenged Macleod in the middle of a busy Parisian thoroughfare?”
“Now, I’ve heard everything,” Joe muttered.
“Who’s Jack Newcastle?” Amy asked.
“Give me a moment, I’ll look him up,” Joe said, picking up his laptop.
“It can wait, Joe,” Amanda said softly, getting to her feet. “We need to leave. Once the local police get their act together, this will be their first port of call - and I really don’t want to waste our precious time helping the gendarmes with their enquiries.”
“That’s why you called Gina,” Amy realised.
Amanda nodded. “The police won’t know her address.”
“But what about Duncan and Methos?” Amy protested.
“I’ll phone Duncan on the way, and leave a message on Methos’s phone,” Amanda said with a shrug. “Now, everyone grab a few things. I don’t think we have much time.”
They were all worse for wear, Amanda observed as they raggedly threw a few things together, especially Joe. Not that he’d complain, the man was a veritable poster boy for stubbornness. Catching Amy’s eye, she gave her an encouraging nod before she untied Tribeau and prodded him towards the door.
They had just stepped out onto the quay when Amanda saw their first problem. With Methos gone, they were one car short. “Blast,” she grumbled, turning to Lee. “You’re going to have to go ahead without me,” she said, tossing him the keys. “Joe knows the way”
“What about you?” Joe asked worriedly.
“I’ll catch up,” Amanda promised.
“”I don’t think travelling by one’s self is a good idea at the moment,” Lee observed. “The city is crawling with immortals.
“I’ll manage,” Amanda said. “Besides, I want to meet up with Duncan before I follow you to Robert and Gina’s.”
Looking unconvinced, Lee shrugged as he opened the back door, letting Joe push Tribeau into the car. “Whatever you say, Amanda,” he murmured. “Just watch your head.”
Flashing him an easy smile, she popped the boot and threw her overnight case in. She still wasn’t sure about Tsi Tsung. Joe had given him a clean bill of health, but she still wondered about his motives. He seemed a little bit too eager to help for her liking. She resolved to have a chat with Methos when…if she saw him. “Oh, don’t worry about me,” she said lightly. “I don’t have any intention of becoming a target.”
“Tell Duncan I‘ll do a little more rooting around in the database, maybe I’ll come up with a few leads,” muttered Joe as he lowered himself into the back beside Tribeau.
“I will Joe,” Amanda said, her smile genuine this time.
“Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” asked Amy worriedly as she hovered by the passenger door.
“I’m sure, Amy, now scoot!” Shooing Amy into the car, she stepped back as Lee started the engine and drove away. Sighing, she broke into a brisk walk and pulled out her mobile. Punching in Duncan’s number, she waited anxiously for him to pick up.
“Duncan,” she sighed in relief, “Where are you?”
“Do you remember the little café around the corner from Methos’ old place?”
“Yes - do you think it’s safe?”
“Well, the police haven’t stormed through the door yet,” Duncan joked. “Though that might change…”
“Stay there, I’ll be there in fifteen minutes,” Amanda promised as she raised her hand to hail a taxi.
“I’ll be waiting…”
Reluctantly, Joe opened his eyes as the car came to halt. Exhaustion was getting the better of him, and sleep didn’t seem to be on the horizon. “Are we there?” he asked tiredly, peering out the window.
“So it would seem,” Lee muttered, his eyes widening suddenly. “I’ll let you ring the door bell, shall I? It’s usually a bad idea for an immortal to call on another uninvited; they seem to take it the wrong way.”
“I’ll go with you,” Amy said promptly.
Nodding abruptly, Joe swung the door open and let Amy help him to his feet. He wasn’t about to collapse yet, but he didn’t want to argue with his daughter, she looked worried enough. Letting her help him up the steps was another thing, however. “I’ll manage, Amy,” he said irritably as she tried to guide him by the elbow, “Thanks.” Ignoring the wounded look on her face, he tackled the steps and raised his hand to ring the bell.
“Chérie!” The door opened without warning, revealing a beaming Gina. “It is good to see you – come in!” looking over his shoulder, she frowned. “Where’s Amanda?”
“She’ll be here in a while,” Amy explained. “She wanted to meet up with Duncan first.”
“Then who did I sense…” Frowning, Gina glared suspiciously at the car.
“His name is Tsi Tsung Lee, he came from London with Methos,” Joe said hurriedly. “He’s helping us with our little problem.”
“I see,” drawled Gina. “And who is that in the back seat?”
“Oh, that’s Tribeau…”
“Tribeau, what the hell is he doing with you?” hissed Gina, her eyes darkening dangerously.
Joe sighed. He liked Amanda, but she had an awful habit of springing surprises on her friends. “He’s helping us with our enquiries,” he said shortly. “And before you say it; no, I don’t like it either. But he has information we need so…”
“No, don’t say it,” Gina muttered. “Bring them inside.”
Trotting down the steps, Amy tapped on the Lee’s window before opening the back door and leading Tribeau up the steps. Lee followed a few steps behind, carrying the luggage. Stepping back from the door, Gina glared as Tribeau stepped into the hall. “At least Amanda had enough sense to tie your hands,” she muttered.
Seeing the smirk on Tribeau’s face, Joe decided to intervene. “Where shall we put him?” he growled, throwing Tribeau a dirty look.
“The cellar,” said Gina promptly, giving Lee an abrupt nod as he crossed the threshold. “Follow me.”
“Where’s Robert?” asked Amy as they followed her through the main hall.
“He’s in the City,” Gina replied absently, coming to a halt at the top of a flight of stairs. “He’ll be back in a few hours. Joe, why don’t you and Amy wait here, I think Lee and I can manage. We’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Joe threw her a knowing look. Apparently his reassurances weren’t enough; Gina wanted a few private words with her immortal guest. Throwing Lee a sideways glance, he caught the wry smile on his face. He didn’t look happy, but he didn’t worried either. With a mental shrug, he decided to let them work it out for themselves. He was too tired to mediate. “Sure, do you mind if we wait in the drawing room?”
“But of course not, chérie,” Gina said. “I’ll make us something to eat once I’ve taken care of this. I gave the help the rest of the day off after Amanda phoned me…just in case.”
Making his way into the drawing room, Joe fell into an armchair and pulled his laptop onto his lap as Amy tracked down a phone line. Gina and Lee had still not returned by the time he had booted up. First things first, Jack Newcastle; quickly, he scanned the file. It didn’t look good. “Man, this guy is a real piece of work…” he muttered disgustedly, as he read the more recent reports. They stopped abruptly six weeks before; more proof they still had a traitor within the ranks.
Amy read the screen over his shoulder and shuddered. “We’ll have to watch our backs with this one,” she said, groaning.
“Tell me about it,” Joe replied.
“What’s wrong?” Joe looked up to see Gina in the doorway, a tray in her hands.
“Duncan was challenged this afternoon,” Joe explained. “The guy’s file does not make easy reading.”
“Yes, Lee filled me in downstairs,” Gina murmured as she laid the tray on the coffee table.
“Did he tell you everything?” Joe enquired.
“Yes, I did,” Lee said as he entered the room carrying another tray. “Is that okay?”
“Yeah,” Joe replied, “Gina already knows what happened last year – she was there.”
“So she told me,” Lee said, placing the tray beside Gina’s. “What did you find out about Newcastle?”
“A petty thief who worked his way up to murder and met his first death on the Gallows in London in the sixteen hundreds; it goes downhill from there,” Joe said. “He’s a hunter who doesn’t follow the rules. His favourite trick is to attack an immortal through their loved ones. You know the kind of thing; ‘your head or your wife’s life’.
“He sounds charming,” Gina drawled.
“Oh yeah, the life and soul of the party,” Joe said glumly. “Listen, I was thinking; maybe we should go to the motherhouse now.”
“Shouldn’t you wait until Duncan and Amanda get here?” Gina asked gently.
“It’s a watcher motherhouse, Gina, and Mac and Amanda have way too high a profile in Paris – as do you,” he added hastily, seeing her expression.
“What about me?” Lee enquired, “Would they recognise me?”
“Oui, c’est un bon idée,” Gina piped up excitably, “Lee shall go with you!”
“Um, Gina, I’m not so sure about this,” Joe said warily.
“Please, Joe, I’d feel so much better if there was another immortal with you. What if somebody tries to kidnap you again?”
Seeing the look on her face, Joe gave in. “Okay, okay, Lee can come with us,” he muttered tiredly. “But we need to leave soon…”
“Have something to eat first,” Gina suggested, gesturing at the sandwich laden trays.
Joe resisted the urge to roll his eyes and picked a sandwich off the tray as he stood. “I’ll eat it on the way,” he promised. “Now, let’s go.”
Methos slowed the car to a crawl as he pulled onto the quays. Why the hell were they three squad cars parked outside Duncan’s barge? Grimly, he kept on driving and turned onto a small lane. Parking his rental, he hopped out and retraced his route on foot; time to play the part of the innocent bystander and find out what’s happening. Of course, he could just turn his phone on and ring one of the others; but he really wanted to avoid that conversation until he could see their faces.
Casually, he ambled past the barge, his face a picture of curiosity as he came to a slow halt a few meters away. The barge was crawling with police…and one had stepped onto the gangway. “Move along,” the police man said pointedly, “Nothing to see here.”
Flashing the policeman a look of puzzled disbelief he took a step forward, hands deep in his pockets. “Seems an awful lot of policemen for nothing,” he observed, giving the policeman a toothy smile, “Was somebody attacked?”
“None of your business, Monsieur,” the policeman barked, stepping onto the quay, “Now, move along before I have you arrested for loitering!”
Methos backed up and plastered a suitably contrite expression on his face, “Sorry to have bothered you, just curious. “
“No harm done,” the policeman muttered, slightly mollified, “On your way…”
Methos went through the possibilities as he stepped away from the Barge: They’d discovered Tribeau was hiding out on the barge…hmm, unlikely. Perhaps they’d made a connection between Joe and Duncan. Or maybe it’s just a fishing expedition…
“Where is everyone, then? And why are the police going over the barge with a fine tooth comb,” said the persistent little voice in his head.
Cursing under his breath, Methos redoubled his step. Taking out his mobile as soon as he turned the corner, he turned it on and checked his messages, wincing as he heard Amanda’s angry voice. Distractedly, he rooted around in his pocket for his keys as he listened to the second message. Bloody hell, no wonder the police were sitting on top of the barge. Pulling his keys out, he turned off his car’s alarm and pocketed his mobile.
His key was in the lock when the presence of the other immortal washed over his senses.
“Hello Methos, it’s been a while.”
Methos turned slowly and groaned inwardly. The clothes were different, his appearance groomed, but it was definitely him. “Well hello again,” he drawled, “I don’t believe I caught your name last time we met…”
“The name I’m using at the moment will suffice,” the immortal said confidently. “You do know what it is, don’t you? I’m sure Tribeau has been a mine of information.”
“Not as much as we would have liked,” Methos muttered.
“But you know why I’m here?”
“Oh yes,” Methos murmured. “But I don’t think this is the place to discuss it, Wren.”
“What do you suggest; that I make an appointment with your secretary? I’m not as naïve as I was, Methos.” Wren said coldly.
Methos smiled reluctantly. “Pity,” he said, crossing his arms. “It would have made things simpler. So…shall we move straight to the chopping off of heads?”
“Now why would I do that when you’re worth so much more to me alive?”
Methos’ sense of self preservation kicked in, Wren seemed way too confident. What was he not seeing? “Sorry, no can do, I’m afraid,” he said sarcastically as he reached into his coat. Taking a step back, Wren mirrored his actions and revealed the hilt of his sword. Quickly, Methos scanned the lane for witnesses; none were about, but still… “How about we move this further down the lane,” he suggested quietly.
“But of course,” Wren answered easily, “After you…”
Methos rolled his eyes. “I don’t think so. Trust issues, you know…”
Warily, Methos strolled down the lane, making sure Wren stayed abreast. He couldn’t shake off the feeling he was missing something. Wren seemed too relaxed for someone who had just issued a challenge. Either he was even crazier than he’d thought – a feat extraordinary in itself – or Wren knew something he didn’t.
His paranoia told him it was the latter.
Backing away, he quickly slid his sword out of its scabbard and circled him; his sword poised to attack. “You couldn’t leave it alone, could you?” he muttered, anger creeping into his voice. “Damn it, man; you know what’s at stake.”
“Oh please,” Wren snorted. “Kronos told me everything… eventually. Tell me, how did you feel when you realised you were the only one left who knew the truth? Were you laughing at us as we stumbled through the game? Well, now you’re not the only one…and I’m going to collect.”
“Don’t you get it, Wren?” Methos hissed. “This was never about power…it’s about survival. Why else do you think Kronos never tried it? Its suicide – and not even Kronos was that crazy.”
“Lies, all lies. If it was that dangerous, she would have sealed it,” Wren scoffed. “She had the power; I could feel it in her quickening. She could have sealed it and stopped the game; but she didn’t. She wanted the power all to herself.”
Methos continued to circle him, waiting for his opening. He had already suspected Wren didn’t have all the facts; now, he knew. “Wren,” he said softly. “You do realise there is no prize, don’t you? There was a reason why she wanted the secret to die with her, it was never meant to be; it’s a freak of nature, just like us.”
“Oh yes, Methos,” Wren said mockingly. “I know, but it won’t matter once I find the source. If there is one thing Kronos taught me, it was how to cheat.”
A cold chill went down Methos’ spine as he saw the gleam in Wren’s eye. There was no doubt about it, he was truly insane. A deep certainty settled within Methos’ mind. Wren had to die.
He lunged, his sword clashing with Wren’s blade as the immortal parried. Wren was good; he’d had the last two thousand years to practice…practise a lot. Gritting his teeth, Methos whittled away at Wren’s defences as he looked for a weak spot. There was none, this fight would be won or lost on stamina, on who would tire first – and who most wanted to live.
The pace was blindingly fast as Methos tried every trick that came to mind. Unfortunately, Kronos had taught Wren well, and he was well versed in Methos’ style. Well, he had learnt a few tricks since then…
Too late Methos felt the surge of the other quickening; too late did Methos remember the smug look on Wren’s face. Kronos’ first lesson – always make sure the odds were in your favour.
The bullet entered through his spine, piercing his heart. “Good shot,” Methos thought numbly as his feet buckled. “I won’t be waking up from this in a hurry. If I…”
BACK : NEXT
FICTION : BUFFY/ANGEL
FICTION : CROSSOVER
FICTION : E-MAIL ME