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Who Wants to Live Forever?
This is a story about Highlander. I do not own these characters and they are property of Panzer/Davis and Rysher. I’m only borrowing them to tell a short story. This story is rated PG-15 as the characters are in a long term same sex relationship. If this offends you, please use the delete button. Sorry no sex this time.
I would like to thank my beta readers Carolin, Robert and Jazzy. Their input was very helpful in making this a better story. If you would like to archive this story on Seventh Dimension or other places, that is acceptable.
Mid May 2015
Mac entered the store, inhaling the smell of books as he walked down the aisles. While not the collector like Methos, he enjoyed the feel of a good book in his hand and it was rare that he was not reading a book or magazine. He entered the magazine section, but found he really didn't want to look at pop culture too closely. He didn’t care who the latest movie stars were dating or what outrageous outfit some diva wore to the MTV awards. Laughing at himself, he knew Methos would have some thoughts about his actions, especially after the ribbing he gave him after he lost The Wheel of History. He moved through the religion section, then on to the art and history area. Methos ranted about a new Greek history book written by Korrel, a man he swore had to be one of them as Korrel had insights that were not typically espoused. As he searched for the book, he overheard the children's story hour.
"Ms. Belinda, Tell us a story, please." The little boy in a Ninja Turtle shirt urged the young woman with the light brown hair.
"Yes," pleaded the little girl in a Dora the Explorer shirt and purple shorts.
"Please,” Urged several other children that had gathered in a small circle in front of the carpeted steps in the children's book area.
“You promised last time." One older child about seven chimed in from the yellow wooden chair at the back of the area.
Laughing at the children’s pleas, she remarked. "You guys have good memories. I guess I have to keep my promise and I have just the story.”
Sitting down, she tucked her legs under the red jumper that accented her well-proportioned figure. She sat about four inches above them, a perfect height to interact with the children without being too overwhelming. Their eyes were focused on her, oblivious to the other patrons in the store. She scrunched up her eyebrows, and placed her forefinger on her temple.
"When I was a little girl about your age," she began as she pointed to a blonde child in a blue dress. " I used to go to work with my daddy and play in his work closet. He was a custodian at the courthouse. He'd let me play while he worked because I didn't have a babysitter and my mom had died when I was little."
"You didn't have a mommy?" The children all said almost in unison.
Reassuring them, Belinda said, "I have a mommy now. My daddy met this wonderful lady and married her when I was five. I remember being in the wedding. I had a beautiful white dress with lace and ruffles. I carried a basket with pretty pink flowers that I dropped on the rug in the church." She smiled and nodded at the children who were quietly reassured that all was right in the world if Ms. Belinda had a mommy.
"One day I was coloring in my daddy's closet and a stranger found me in the closet. He told me I must hide. Now I knew that I wasn't supposed to talk to strangers but he said that a bad man was in the courthouse and that I must hide from him. He took me to the judge’s office and I hid in his closet. I was kind of scared so I asked him to tell me a story. This was his story.
“Well, once there was a place where the fairy people
lived. It was a beautiful city in those days, surrounded by white walls and
tall stone towers."
I asked the friendly man what were they like and he
said, "They were just like regular people ....except they all lived for a
long, long time and never grew old."
I thought about the answer and chimed, "Like Peter Pan. "
"Sort of. These people were very handsome, and wise, and extremely clever. But the trouble was, there were more and more people as the years went by, and soon the fairy people were chased from their home in the fairy city. They moved into the old forests and in the high mountains, and in caves in cliffs. But the other people always found these places, and the fairy people had to move on. "
"That's sad. Where do they live now?"
"Well, Belinda, now they're all around us. And
you know what their job is?” He asked me, softly, not wanting for us to
overheard. "To protect children...and sometimes to tell them
"Have you ever met one?" I asked him,
knowing that he would have a wise answer.
He smiled at me and replied. "Lots. You stay very quiet in here, now, okay?"
I told him, "Okay."
“Did you ever see the fairies?”
“Did the man come back and tell you more stories?”
“What did he look like?”
“Do you believe in Fairies? I don't think Fairies exist." The children shouted at her, their young voices mixing.
Belinda put her finger to her mouth motioning for them to be quiet so she could continue her tale. "The man was tall, dark and had long brown hair that he wore in a ponytail. No he never came back, but I always dreamt that he did. He was like a knight saving my daddy and me that day. Of course I believe in Fairies, now doesn't everyone."
With the last reply she picked up her book of Fairy Tales and began showing the pictures to the children. They immediately quieted their voices and were quickly enraptured with the tale of Rumplestilskin.
Duncan recognized her story. Flashing back to the terrible day in building A when he rescued Richie and Tessa from Blade, an evil murderer. Occasionally he had nightmares about that day. It was an idyllic time, the beginning of his relationship with Richie. Tessa and Richie were his small family, something he hadn't had in a long time. They were helping Richie adjust to his life as a normal teen, not a street urchin, nurturing him in hopes of giving him the tools to build a long life.
The memories washed over him, some sad, some happy. He blinked away the tears that threatened to leak from his eyes as he remembered that family. Tessa was dead twenty years and he had killed Richie when fighting Ahriman. As Methos would say, he had 1000 regrets in his life and these two would always be on the top of his list.
He never accepted that he wasn't to blame for either of their deaths and the guilt haunted him. Duncan wondered if Richie had known about his impending Immortality, would he have pushed Tessa away to save her from the bullet or would they both have died that day. Would Richie still be alive if his friends had believed him, thought that Ahriman was real and not some figment of his imagination? He knew he couldn’t change past events, but sometimes played the what if game with his conscience.
Belinda looked at the man standing in the Art History section. Seeing his moist eyes, she questioned him. "Pardon me sir, but I saw you watching the Children's story hour. Can I help you with something?" She asked as she straightened the books.
Shaking his head in an effort to bring himself back to the present, he smiled at the women, replying, "No, I don't need anything. I was just admiring your skill with the children. They really seem to enjoy your stories."
"Thank you. I love children. I hope to have some of my own one day."
Wincing at the unrealistic nature of her statement, MacLeod smiled and nodded his head. "Yes, children are wonderful. Their imaginations and curiosity always amaze me."
Watching MacLeod's wistful facial expression as he spoke, she shyly asked, "I don't think I caught your name?"
Putting out his hand, he replied, "MacLeod, Duncan MacLeod. And you are?"
"Belinda Carely. Nice to meet you, Duncan. You don’t hear that name often, is it a family name?"
Laughing at the comment, he responded. "Yes, it is a family name. Been in the family for over four hundred years.
The children started to make noise and Belinda excused herself, returning to the children’s area. Duncan watched the group for a short time, and then purchased his book.
As Belinda gathered the books left by the children, she saw Duncan reading in the lounge chair by the history area. She quickly finished placing the books on the shelf and made her way to him.
"Meeting someone?" She asked.
Duncan smiled his thousand-watt grin as he looked up from the book he was reading. "I was hoping to meet you again, actually. Are you free after work today?"
Belinda hesitated briefly before answering. "Actually I am free. Usually I have a standing meeting with my friend for dinner, but he has friends from college in this weekend and I'm on my own."
"Good. Lucky me. Would you like to go out for coffee?
"That would be nice. I get off at 5:00. You can pick me up here if you'd like."
Duncan berated himself for inviting her for coffee, knowing that he wasn't interested in dating her, but rather in her impending Immortality. She seemed so eager to talk to him, shy but somewhat forthright in her willingness to converse. Women these days were so different then in his youth, over 400 years ago. Women's roles had definitely changed since he was a young man.
He loved having philosophical discussions with Methos regarding the changes to their world. Methos was his friend and lover and he knew Methos would not be pleased with his invitation. He could just picture Methos chastising him about befriending another Pre-Immortal. Methos would drone on about MacLeod and his clan etc, etc. He tried to justify his actions by assuring himself that one day she would die and he could always use another ally in the "game".
As he waited for Belinda in front of the bookstore, he watched the people hurrying through their day. "So where is a good place to get coffee?" Duncan tried to put her at ease by letting her choose.
"There is a Starbucks at the end of the street. It's usually busy but we should be able to find a table." She replied as she pointed to the left of the shopping center.
The café was busy as Belinda stated, but the line had only three people in front of them. After ordering two chocolate lattes, they spied a small booth in the back. As they made their way back, they passed a young mother attempting to drink her coffee as her toddler continuously pushed his stroller back and forth. Two men in business suits were involved in a heated discussion as they referred to the papers spread out on their table. To the right of their booth, a young woman talked excitedly to her friend as bursts of laughter erupted from the pair.
“This should do. It is in the back, away from the flow of the crowd. Maybe we can have a little more quiet.” Duncan said as he motioned for Belinda to sit. Taking a sip of his latte, he asked. "How long have you worked at Borders?"
"Two years. I'm only working part time since I'm going to college as well. What do you do?" She smiled as she drank her latte.
"I'm a professor at the University. I teach history." He answered as he watched her facial expression turn from polite inquiry to awe.
Belinda watched the other customers in the store for a few moments. "You're a professor?
"Don't be so amazed." He teased. "Professor's have lives too."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude. It's just I can't imagine a professor being interested in talking to someone like me. I would think that you could have more fascinating and stimulating conversations with your colleagues." She blushed as she spoke softly to him.
"I like the conversation just fine. I'm not always thinking about University. I have friends outside of academia as well," he laughed.
Smiling at his comment, she said, "Okay. Fair enough."
He looked at her and saw a young woman, barely into adulthood, living her life, trying to accomplish her dreams. He hated knowing her dreams would be shattered when she became Immortal, all would disappear in a heartbeat.
It had been 20 years since he saved her; luckily she didn’t recognize him. He realized he would have to move or change his appearance soon or risk his Immortal secret. He hated that part of his Immortality, leaving the things he loved and his life, only to re-establish himself again in another city. He’d always been Duncan MacLeod of the Clan McLeod, proud of his heritage and origins.
Meeting Belinda had brought the harsh reality of Immortality to the forefront. Methos would undoubtedly have few objections to moving and starting over again. After 5000 years, he appeared inured to the constant necessity of moving, changing and never staying too long in one place.
“Duncan?” She tapped the space in front of his cup. “Am I boring you? You seem to be a million miles away.” Belinda asked since she hadn’t received a response from her last question.
“I’m sorry. Something you said sparked my memory. It was rude. Please accept my apology.” He smiled as he drank the last of his chocolate. Looking at his watch, he said, “I’m sorry but I have to go. I promised I would cook dinner tonight and it is getting late.” Duncan stood, pushing his chair in. “This was nice. We should do it again soon.”
“Yes. I enjoyed it. I work every afternoon except Thursdays and Sundays. Maybe next week?” She encouraged as she stood and pushed her chair to the table as well.
“Maybe.” Duncan smiled and left the Starbucks.
MacLeod entered the loft, hanging his coat on the rack as he unconsciously felt the Katana, the extension of his body. He never went anywhere without the trusted sword, but sometimes he allowed himself to place that part of his life in a small corner of his mind as he lived his life as uncomplicated as he could. Meeting Belinda brought his Immortality and all of its complications to the forefront.
He made pasta with marinara sauce, Caesar salad and French bread. Opening a bottle of wine seemed like a nice touch to the simple meal. He retrieved the wine glasses from the bar and finished setting the table.
Methos arrived shortly before dinner, dropping his backpack on their bed. Joining MacLeod in the kitchen, Methos watched as he put the last of the sauce on the pasta, kissing him on the neck. Mac returned the kiss, breaking it as the timer dinged on the oven. Seeing the open bottle of wine, Methos filled the glasses with the red liquid. Duncan brought the food to the table and they sat down to eat.
Duncan and Methos ate dinner while discussing Scottish history, inspired by the book Duncan purchased. After cleaning the dishes, they went to read in the living room. Methos sat on one end of the couch, Duncan the other end.
Methos surreptitiously looked at his lover, as he appeared to read the same page for at least fifteen minutes. “Duncan, you seem preoccupied.” Methos remarked.
Putting the book on the table, he gave his lover a knowing smile as he put his hands together resting his fingers under his chin. “A little. You’re too observant.”
“I’m a trained Watcher, Mac. Of course I’m observant.” He laughed. “So what has you so contemplative? What new moral dilemma are you facing today?”
MacLeod sighed not sure that he really wanted to share his thoughts with Methos. “I met someone today.”
A cold shudder ran through Methos as he mentally ran through the latest Watcher Report. He didn’t remember any new Immortals in town, but that didn’t mean anything. He of all people knew that circumstances could change in a moment’s notice. Trying to remain calm, he said, “And?”
Mac looked at his companion, quickly realizing the power of his words. “No, Methos. Not an Immortal.”
Methos let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding as he relaxed his shoulders. “Don’t keep me in suspense.”
“I was at the bookstore and met a young woman.” The words were neutral, trying not to convey his true concern.
“A woman. Should I be jealous?” Methos joked.
“I met her when she was a child, I saved her and her father from Blade, a local criminal, when Tessa went to pay some old parking tickets.” Mac continued to tell Methos the story.
Methos kissed him, waiting for him to continue. The story seemed to be unfolding in bits and pieces. He wished the Highlander would learn to retell an event without explaining every detail.
"Her father was the janitor of the building and I found her playing in his closet. I took her to the judge’s chamber to keep her safe while I took out the criminals. She's grown up now and almost recognized me."
Sensing there was more to the story, Methos stood up. “Want a beer?” Mac nodded, and Methos grabbed two beers. Popping the top off, he turned toward Mac as he mulled over the information. “So you met this child about twenty years ago, now she's grown up. I don’t see a problem. Enlighten me.” He smiled as he took another drink.
Mac took several draws from his beer before he set the bottle on the coffee table in front of the couch. “Methos…. I’m serious.” Nodding his head, he continued. “She almost recognized me. I think I've outlived my time here."
Swallowing the remainder of his beer, Methos walked back to the kitchen and grabbed another one. He'd been ready to hear that Mac had been challenged. While this was frightening, it was familiar territory. Mac wanting to leave was a new phenomenon. He realized that being with an Immortal lover did have its advantages and disadvantages. The lover knew what he was; therefore he didn't have to hide his true nature, but they could never stay in one "life" for too long, as people would get suspicious. He waited for him to continue.
"Methos I'm talking to you here. I just told you that I think we should move, don't you have any thoughts on the matter." Mac implored his partner.
"Okay." Methos replied, his voice neutral, without inflection.
"Okay. That's it. Not going to say anything else?" Duncan questioned, surprised at Methos' reaction.
"We've been together for over 15 years, but I've lived for over 5,000. After being Immortal for this long, I know the life we have to live in order to stay safe. I'm just surprised that you’re willing to leave so easily."
Mac scooted over to his lover, kissing him soundly on his lips. Methos’ lips opened, welcoming the warm breath and life of his lover. They kissed for several minutes then Mac stepped back to continue his conversation. "Thank you."
"There is nothing to thank me for. I'm only doing what any sane Immortal would do. We live our lives for a short time in one place and then we leave. We survive."
Duncan winced at the word Immortal. Methos saw the movement, despite MacLeod's attempt to hide it.
"So...." Methos urged. "What aren't you telling me?"
Opening his mouth to speak, he closed it again. Walking towards the window, Mac looked at the street below.
"There is a one problem with us leaving."
Methos waited for the explanation. Nothing was ever straight forward where the Highlander was concerned, but that was part of the appeal of having him in his life. If he wanted easy, he would have left long ago.
Duncan softly spoke, “I’m not sure if I should tell her about her Immortality.”
Methos sat back on the couch, all the air in his lungs blowing out with the impact. “You’re not sure if you should tell who about her Immortality?” He parroted his tone flat.
"Belinda." Duncan replied.
"Belinda?" Methos questioned.
Duncan stood up and walked to the elevator, looking into the grate as he gathered his thoughts. "Belinda is the little girl, albeit now grown women who I met today. She is the Pre-Immortal."
Methos walked to Duncan, placing his arms around his waist, laying his head on his shoulder as he gently squeezed his lover in a show of support. "She's Pre-Immortal?"
"I felt a Pre-Immortal buzz that day, but I always thought it was Richie. I didn't imagine there might be another Pre-Immortal too.” Duncan said as he turned around.
“So you met this child about twenty years ago, didn’t know she was Pre-Immortal and now you meet up with her again and feel her Pre-Immortal buzz? Does that cover this great moral dilemma?”
Duncan walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, and grabbed some bottled water as he leaned against the counter top.
"Surely you’ve known other Pre-Immortals in your long life. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the problem.”
Opening the cold beverage, he took several swallows before continuing. “All my life I was taught not to tell Pre-Immortals about their destiny for fear they would be fearless or stupid and die prematurely. Age is a definite advantage in our “game”. After watching Richie and Tessa die, I’m not so certain anymore.”
“I’ll bite, MacLeod. I’ll even play devil’s advocate, something I should be good at by now.” He smirked. “To tell her or not to tell her. Tell her and she’ll hate you or don’t tell her and she’ll hate you. Hmm I can see this would be a problem.” The sarcasm in his voice belied his stated concern.
"I'm serious. Don't be so nonchalant." Duncan seethed.
Methos placed his beer on the counter. "Death is a part of our world." He started, willing Duncan to shake his head in acknowledgment. "She will die and become Immortal whether you tell her or not."
"If I had told Richie then maybe Tessa would still be alive. I'll always wonder about that." Macleod's eyes glazed over as he spoke of his dead lover.
"Hindsight is 20/20 MacLeod. Tessa is dead. Telling Richie about his impending Immortality may have saved her but you don't know that. He may have stepped in front of the bullet, but human reaction is a funny thing. The will to survive at all costs supercedes even the best of intentions."
MacLeod listened to his lover, nodding at the words and thoughts. "Survival of the fittest. Is that what Immortality boils down to, old man?"
Smiling, Methos grabbed Duncan's hands as he walked him back to the couch. "Yes. I'm glad you have been listening to the on going lecture." Patting the cushion, he urged Duncan to sit down on the couch. "Is this really about telling a Pre-Immortal about her destiny or is this your Boy Scout chivalry shining through?"
Duncan started to answer, but stopped as Methos' words seeped into his mind. He laid his head back against the couch cushion, closing his eyes. "Both, I think. There are so few of us these days and new Immortals are in more danger than in the past. I protected her as a child and I still want to protect her. That's who I am."
"You can't protect her." Methos reminded him as he gently took Duncan's face in his hands, ghosting his lips with a gentle kiss. "Immortality is a result of a violent death. If you interfere....." Methos stopped his mini lecture, knowing that Duncan could finish his thoughts.
Duncan kissed Methos before standing up and walking to the kitchen. "You are right as usual. It’s just ....hard. I can't stand the thought of leaving her to her new Immortality when I could help." He grabbed the towel from the refrigerator, drying the damp dishes from dinner.
As he dried the dishes, Methos placed them in the cabinet. "What do you want to do?"
"Part of me wants to stay so that I can help her when she becomes Immortal, but that could be years away. As I said earlier, I think we need to leave." Duncan handed the last of the dishes to Methos.
"I think that you have done enough thinking for one day. Why don't I take your mind off the great dilemmas of the world by engaging your body in other pursuits?" Methos licked his lips as his eyes looked at MacLeod from head to toe.
Responding to the lecherous look, MacLeod turned off the lights in the kitchen, striping his shirt off as he walked to the bed.
Late May 2015
Duncan put the last of the groceries away as he heard the door to the loft open. Feeling the buzz of his lover, he called out, "I'm in here, Methos."
Joining him in the kitchen, Methos kissed him, then looked at the mail. Looking at his lover, he saw Mac was dressed in a pair of gray slacks and a lightweight black turtleneck. "Did I forget that we were going out?" He questioned as he eyed his lover a second time.
"No. We aren't going anywhere. Remember? I'm meeting Belinda for coffee. I told you about that." He answered as he picked up the discarded mail from the table.
Opening the refrigerator to get a beer, Methos asked, "Trying to lure her into the clan before you leave?"
Rolling his eyes at the comment, Duncan took the bait. "I'm not luring her. She's not a fish or something to catch. I just want to be her friend. Then maybe when she dies...."
Putting up his hand in a stop motion, Methos asked, "What did you have in mind?"
"Have in mind?" Duncan repeated.
Finishing his beer as he listened to Duncan, Methos retrieved another from the refrigerator. Trying to keep his tone light despite the tension coursing through his body, he casually asked, "How do you intend to keep tabs or her? Conveniently come visit with some lame excuse of having business in the area, or were you going to talk to your local Watcher to do the ‘staying in touch’?"
Duncan placed the bottle on the countertop, facing his lover as he gathered his thoughts. "I'm not sure, I haven’t thought that far. It is just something I have to do. I can't abandon a new Immortal. Part of being an Immortal is the responsibility of teaching new ones, training them to defend themselves and explaining all the rules. Who knows what would become of her if she didn’t have a teacher that cared what happens to her. There are so many ruthless Immortals who wouldn’t teach her the rules or kill her outright, never giving her an opportunity to enjoy her Immortality. She has to have a good teacher."
Methos' neck veins were throbbing so hard Duncan could see the blood pumping through them. "I see." Methos steely replied. "And you have to be this teacher. Aren't you the thoughtful one? Do you think only you can fill those shoes, Highlander? What happens if you're out of the country or unable to commit to teaching her when she dies? "
"I can always find her another teacher if I'm not available." MacLeod countered quickly. “Knowing what she is, I can’t just let fate take over.”
Methos ducked out of Duncan’s way as he moved to kiss him. "Not so fast. A kiss is not going to resolve this one. You can't rescue her nor can you be there for every potential new Immortal." Methos grabbed his beer and gulped the remainder of the liquid before slamming down the empty bottle. "You leave here and her or you stay. You can't do both."
Ignoring Methos anger, Duncan picked up Methos' empty beer bottles placing them in the recycle bin. Finishing the last of his drink, he quietly replied. “I just want to protect her.” His eyes pleaded for Methos to understand his need.
“You can’t protect her. Every Immortal has to fight for himself. How many times have you told me I can’t fight your battles?” Methos spoke sharply as he parroted MacLeod’s words at him.
Wincing at the familiar harangue, “Yes. I can’t fight her battles, but I can make sure that she is ready to fight them.”
“Always the Boy Scout.” Methos clucked his tongue as he shook his head.
Glancing at his watch, MacLeod said, "It's late. I have to go. I'll make it a quick meeting and when I get home...."
"When you get home we will talk some more about your need to rescue." Methos patted Duncan on the butt as he walked out of the kitchen. "You're chivalry will get both of us in trouble." He yelled as Duncan gathered his keys, opening the door.
Duncan drank from his cup, draining the last bit of the rich coffee. Looking around for the hundredth time that afternoon, he wondered what had happened to Belinda. He’d been gone an hour and a half and wanted to return home. Gathering his trash, he made his way through the packed coffee house to throw it away. Before he turned around, he felt the familiar hum of a Pre-Immortal. Placing his hand on his hidden sword, he turned around as Belinda made her way through the busy shop. Glancing around for an empty table, he spied one at the end of a row of windows. He tipped his head in the direction of the seats. They made their way to the table, sitting down simultaneously.
"I'm sorry I'm late, Duncan but my appointment at the doctor ran longer than I anticipated." Belinda apologized as she tried to relax.
Looking at Belinda, Duncan saw the remains of tears in her red eyes and the puffiness of her nose. Reaching out his hand to hold hers, he quietly asked. "Is everything okay?"
Belinda started to reply, but the tears prevented her response. Looking around for something to wipe the tears away, she eyed the napkin display by the soda dispenser. Duncan patted her hand. “I’ll be right back.” Walking to the area, he gathered a handful of napkins bringing them back to the table so Belinda could dry her eyes.
"Easy, Belinda. I'm here. I'll help. Tell me what I can do." He encouraged and soothed.
Belinda wiped the tears from her red eyes, blowing her nose to clear the stuffiness there as well. "Oh, Duncan." She gulped. "I'm too young to die." The tears flowed freely down her cheeks as she continued. "The doctor's say..." Racking from the sobs, her body shook as she lay her head down on the table.
Duncan held her hand, offering his silent support.
After five minutes, Belinda sat up, a half smile on her lips. "Let me go freshen up." Gathering her purse, she walked to the lady's room. When she emerged, her eyes were still red, but she had reapplied her lipstick and dried the tear tracks from her cheeks.
Sitting down, she took a deep breath before talking. "The doctor's say I have bone cancer, untreatable. They told me to go home, get my affairs in order and enjoy my life. I only have three to six months to live." Tears started trailing down her cheeks. "I'm only twenty six. I dreamed of having children, getting married, traveling. So many things. Now all I have to plan is my funeral!" She cried.
Duncan felt a chill run through his body as he listened. He wished he could tell her the truth, but knew that she wouldn't believe him. He swallowed his knowledge and softly asked, "What can I do to help?"
Belinda dried her tears again, gathered her purse and took a sip of water Duncan had brought to the table in her absence. "Can you take me home? I'm too worn out to think right now and I don't really want to drive." She asked quietly.
He reached for her hand, guiding her out of the coffee shop to his car. They drove in silence except for the directions she gave him to her home. Stepping to her side of the car, he opened her door, walking her to the front door. "Rest. I'll call you soon." Bending down, he gave her a soft kiss on the cheek, and then returned to his car.
It was dark by the time Macleod opened the door to the loft. Methos was reading a book as he sprawled on the couch, a beer on the coffee table in easy reach.
"That was the longest quick meeting. Get caught up in your goodbyes?" Methos questioned with short, sharp words.
MacLeod hung up his coat, patting his sword in its secret lining. Walking to the bar, he poured himself three fingers of scotch before sitting in the brown leather chair at the corner of the couch.
Methos watched his lover carefully as he put his sword away and poured his drink. He didn't smell ozone nor see the feral look in Duncan's eyes that accompanied a quickening. Sitting up, he laid the book on the coffee table, facing Duncan.
Neither man spoke. Methos finished his beer, gathered up the other empty bottle from the coffee table, returning them to the kitchen as he grabbed another bottle from the refrigerator. His stomach growled, his intuition told him cooking probably wasn't a good idea; he located the take out menus from two restaurants.
"Hungry, Mac?" He called from the kitchen area.
Methos did not receive a response. "Are you hungry? I thought I'd order us some Chinese."
No response came from MacLeod. "Okay, I'll order for you. I'm sure you won't enjoy watching me eat."
After placing the order, Methos returned to the couch, took a draw from his beer, picked up his book from the coffee table and continued reading. He knew from experience that Mac would tell him what had happened; therefore he wasn’t too concerned at his lover’s reticence.
Mac sat in silence, drinking his scotch intermittently.
The ring of the doorbell brought Methos back to the present. Taking money from his wallet, he paid the delivery man. Gathering plates and silverware, he called to Mac to join him. Mac didn’t move. Starting to worry, he walked to the living area, gently touching Mac's shoulder to warn of his presence.
"Let's eat. I'm starved." He stated.
Methos shook his shoulder a little harder. "Come on Highlander. I'm hungry. I ordered enough food for three people and I don't want to eat it all myself. I'd be so full that I'd surely lose a challenge because I couldn't move my overstuffed body."
"Lose a challenge!" Duncan exclaimed. "Is their another Immortal in town? Why didn't you tell me? Methos?"
"Oh. I get a response. He is alive." Methos joked. "No Mac, no Immortals, no challenges. I'm just trying to get you back from wherever your mind went. I couldn't get a response from you. The only challenge is my stomach. It seems to be rather empty and it is directing me to eat or it will be nutritionally challenged."
Heart rate slowing, breath returning to normal, MacLeod looked at Methos. "Sorry. I have a lot to think about. Smells good. Thanks for ordering."
Methos ate with enthusiasm while Mac picked at his food. After finishing his third plate of General Tao’s chicken, Methos pushed his plate away. Gesturing toward Duncan, he saw his actions mirrored and closed the boxes, placing them in the refrigerator.
"You've not said two words since you got home. What happened? I don’t smell any ozone, so I know you didn’t take a head. You seem rather preoccupied."
MacLeod stood, refilled his scotch as he grabbed the bottle, placing it on the coffee table in the living room. Methos joined him.
"Immortals die or they are beheaded. There is no dying." Methos responded, the irritability in his voice showing.
Shaking his head at the misinterpretation, he began again. "No. She has cancer. The doctor's give her three to six months to live."
"Good. Problem solved. You don't have to worry about her Immortality and protecting her. She won't die of old age and she has a better chance in the game."
“Methos, that is so callous. She is a human being.” Mac chided.
“Yes, she is, but she will soon be Immortal and that solves your moral dilemma. We can leave and you don’t have to worry about keeping an eye out for her."
“But..” Mac asked as he twirled his glass. “I didn't think Immortals got sick." Taking a sip of the liquid, he continued thinking out loud, “Amanda told me about Nick's Immortality and how he was poisoned. She killed him because he wouldn't become Immortal if he died a natural death."
Picking up his beer bottle, Methos peeled the label off the moist glass as he mulled the information MacLeod had supplied. "Yes, that's true. Immortality comes from a violent death. Dying of illness would probably not result in changing her."
Duncan finished his scotch, pouring himself another three fingers of the gold liquid. "She'll die a horrible death and not become Immortal. She's too young to die." He recited the facts in a deadpan voice.
Methos listened to MacLeod talk about his young friend and her illness as he remembered.
22 years earlier.
"I thought you liked me. A little." Methos remarked as he looked at Alexa. "It's not that..." Alexa started to reply. "It's my nose, isn't it? Yep, it's the nose." Methos grinned as he stopped her mid sentence.
"No, it's not your nose, you have a very nice nose." "It's because you think I'm English. It's my accent. Now, I don't have to be English, I can be...Russian."
"You're outrageous!" Alexa laughed at the man.
Undaunted Methos continued. “Okay, Russian doesn’t turn you on.”
"Don't make me laugh!" Alexa stifled another giggle. "Why not?"
Looking sad she replied, "Because it's not fair."
Methos touched her face. "It rarely is." He leaned towards her lips, intending to kiss her, but she jerked back at the last second.
"I'm sorry." Alexa apologized.
"What? You can tell me." Methos encouraged.
After a long time: "I'm dying." She says quietly. "You see, don't you? We can't go out tomorrow."
Smiling Methos responded. "Absolutely. We'd better make it tonight."
Seeing Methos’ vacant stare, MacLeod realized what he’d said. Going over to Methos, he bent in front of the old man, touching him gently to bring him back to the present. "I'm sorry. I forgot about Alexa. You tried so hard to save her with the Methusela stone...."
Sighing, Methos replied, "If wishes were horses... She's dead Mac and I can't bring her back no matter how much I wish I could. You can save Belinda. I couldn't save Alexa." Methos sat back on the couch, staring into the room.
"I can, but...."
"But what? She won't become Immortal if you don't kill her. I don't see a problem here."
MacLeod stood up, pacing the room as he gathered his thoughts. "Do I have the right to kill her and make her Immortal? Faith never forgave me for killing her and it took a long time before Nick talked to Amanda. I don't want Belinda resenting me for taking her life."
Methos walked to Duncan, placing his hands firmly on Mac's shoulders. "This is different. Faith could have lived a long time, but Belinda will die a horrible agonizing death if you don't kill her."
"True. But who made me God? Do I have the right to kill her, make her live forever? That can be a curse too."
"Listen to yourself, Duncan. First you don't want her to die, then you don't want her to live forever. Which one is it?" Methos exclaimed, the exasperation evident in his voice.
"Both, I think." Duncan smiled as he responded. "She should understand about Immortals."
"The idea of Immortality is too fantastical, abnormal. It has so many repercussions that even if she did believe it she would not truly understand its ramifications until she had to leave her life." Methos picked up his glass, needing to wet his throat. "Trust me. Killing her is the only way to explain."
Sighing, Methos responded in a soft quiet voice. Moving to stand before Duncan, Methos moved his hand up to Duncan's thigh, caressing the muscular anatomy through his jeans. "There really is no telling, only showing. You and I both know that Immortality is a concept that mortals can't wrap their heads around. No one would believe you. It would be like Elvis sightings."
Laughing at the familiar quote, Duncan conceded. "You're right.”
Mac listened to Methos, sipping his drink as the Old Man explained. "So that whole conversation the other day... Richie, telling him, wondering if I made a mistake... "
"No. That was different. He knew about Immortality. He knew you were Immortal, had seen the evidence. He saw you and Connor fight; Connor come back from the dead. He understood. There was no wondering on his part. True the impact of Immortality was something he couldn't fathom, but he understood as much as anyone could." Putting down his glass, Methos turned toward MacLeod, knees brushing.
Mac sighed as he leaned back against the cushions of the couch, closing his eyes as he allowed the liquor to relax his body. "I guess I don't have the luxury of letting Belinda get to know me and see the Immortal?"
Methos leaned in, placing a soft kiss on Mac's jaw. "No. She will die if we don’t intervene. Modern medicine has its perils as well. She will die from her disease, but unless she dies a violent death, she won't become Immortal. ." Cringing at the words, MacLeod opened his eyes, looking at Methos. "It sounds so clinical, so calculated. We must kill her to save her. I hate this."
Putting out his hand, Methos pulled MacLeod up from the couch, leading him to the bed. "Shh, my Highland warrior. Immortality has its rewards as well. She will live forever, travel, make many friends, and have many lovers." Methos unbuttoned McLeod’s shirt as he caressed the taut chest. Kissing a path down the front of his torso, he pulled the shirt off MacLeod's shoulders, discarding the shirt to the corner of the room.
Methos yawned, his body suddenly very tired. "I can't talk anymore tonight. Let's go to bed." He released Mac, turning toward the kitchen to shut off the light.
"Go ahead. I think I'll stay up for awhile." Duncan waved his hands toward the bedroom as he smiled at Methos.
"Don't stay up too long. You have a class to teach tomorrow." Methos reminded him as kissed him gently on the lips before heading toward the bedroom.
Duncan poured himself another three fingers of scotch, sitting down in the semi darkness to drink the mind numbing liquid. His mind replayed Belinda's conversation this afternoon. ""I'm only twenty six. I dreamed of having children, getting married, traveling. So many things. Now all I have to plan is my funeral!"
"She's too young to die." He said softly. "She must be killed. Methos is right."
He finished his drink, placing the empty glass in the sink, making his way to the bed and quietly joining his lover. Methos rolled over, draping his arm around MacLeod's middle, pulling himself tightly against his Scottish lover. "Nite, love." He whispered as he placed a kiss on Mac's shoulder, returning to sleep.
Early June 2015
Belinda picked up her medication from the pharmacy, something she had done many times in the past. Now the act had finality to it, she was dying and each time she did something might be her last. The realization that her mortal life could be measured in days or months hit her; she started crying as she walked across the street to her car.
The man in the green Lumina had dropped his cell phone as he turned the corner. Bending down to pick it up off the floorboards, he didn't see Belinda blindly walking across the street. Hitting her head on, she was dead at the scene. An ambulance was called and the police came to take his statement. Filming a segment on pollution for the sweeps, the local news crew was nearby and placed the story on the evening news.
Methos didn't usually watch the evening news, but turned the television on for background noise. He heard the bleeping of the set, stopping his dinner preparations to hear the late breaking story. As he listened to the newscaster talk about the pedestrian accident, he caught the victim's name. Belinda's death made the evening news. Silently he gave thanks as their problem was solved. Belinda was Immortal. Now Mac could leave without any worries.
When Duncan came home from teaching that evening, Methos had a glass of wine ready for him as he entered the loft. Hanging up his coat, he kissed Methos, taking the proffered glass from his lover.
"To what do I owe this greeting?' He laughed as he took a sip of the wine.
Steering him to the couch, Methos sat down as he urged Duncan to follow his example. Duncan eyed him with suspicion, seeing his tight mouth and stiff upper body. A chill ran through him as he asked, "Who died?"
Methos gently released Mac's finger from the glass, placing it on the table. "Belinda died." He answered softly.
"How? When? Are you sure?" Duncan blurted out, standing up to pace the room.
Methos didn't follow, allowing him to move about the room freely. "I was listening to the news while fixing dinner. Serendipitous, I guess. Normally I put on some music for company, but today I put on the television. The newscaster broke in with a late story. Apparently she was hit while crossing the street."
"We have to find her. Go to the morgue. She'll be so scared." Duncan quickly walked toward the door, donning his coat as he grabbed his keys.
Methos put his hand over Duncan's arm, pulling the coat off of his friend. "Easy. I've already called the Watchers. They’ve taken care of getting her out of the morgue. They have one of their men working there just for these types of events."
Donning his coat again, Duncan repeated. "She'll still be scared. She needs to be told before someone finds her. We've got to protect her."
"Yes. I suppose you're right. Why don't you go over there now? I know better than to suggest you wait until you finish dinner. Sometimes you’re such a Boy Scout."
Kissing Methos on the lips, he smiled. "Thank you."
"Don't thank me, Highlander. She is Immortal. My problem is solved. I don't have to fight with you about your need to protect her and come and check on her pending Immortality. You can leave with a clear conscious."
Turning toward Methos, Duncan stopped before he walked out the door. "I can't leave now. She has to have a teacher."
Shelving his anger, Methos calmly stated. "We will have this discussion later. Go. Talk to her." Methos put his hand on Duncan's back as he pushed him out the door, closing it softly behind him.
Mac knocked on the door hoping Belinda would let him in. Seeing him through the keyhole, she opened the door.
“Can I come in?” Duncan asked as he smiled at her.
“I suppose, but I’ve developed this horrible headache and I don’t know what kind of company I’ll be.” She replied as she beckoned him toward the living area.
Going into the kitchen, she yelled out to McLeod, “You want something to drink? I’ve got beer or wine.”
“I’ll take a beer.”
Belinda came out with the two beverages and sat on the other end of the couch from MacLeod. “Why are you here? I haven't heard from you since our coffee a week ago. I assumed watching a dying woman wasn’t high on your priorities.” She snapped, the bitterness evident in her voice.
Duncan winced at the sharpness of the reply, but allowed that she had a right to be angry, as he hadn’t called her since she told him she was dying.
He simply stated, “Things have changed.”
“Changed?” She repeated.
“You’ve changed.” He said softly, trying not to scare her. “You’re not dying anymore. You’ve already died and now you’re Immortal.”
She listened to his soft tones and she asked, “Explain?”
"What did you do this afternoon?" Mac asked, tone and voice neutral.
"I went to pick up my medication from the pharmacy." Looking around her living room, she stood up, searching for the bag. "Come to think of it, I don't remember where I put it."
Stopping her search, she gasped. "I was hit by a car. I remember now." Looking at her body, she didn't see any evidence of the event. "I woke up in the hallway of the hospital where a friendly man was helping me. He told me I'd be fine. Said it was just a little bump between the car and me. It hurt so bad. He helped me get a taxi and paid the man in advance. Told him to take me home. How'd he know where I lived?" Belinda put her hands in her head and started crying. "First I'm dying of cancer and now I'm having hallucinations. Oh Duncan. Maybe you should leave. I'm really not myself."
Reaching out, Duncan put his arms around Belinda, stroking her back as he reassured her. "You're not losing your mind. Yes, you were hit by a car and you died."
Pulling away from his embrace, Belinda repeated his words. "I died? What do you mean? Dead people don’t have conversations and they don’t walk around and breathe.” She replied as she put her hand up to her mouth as she felt her warm breath.
"There is no easy way to tell you, Belinda. You died and now you are Immortal."
Laughing at his sincerity, she said. "Immortal. That is an original one, Duncan. Immortals do not exist. They are part of fairy tales and only exist in little children's imaginations." Hearing her own words, she stopped talking and looked at Duncan.
"Oh my God. You're him.” She exclaimed, the realization hitting her with clarity. “You're the man who saved my dad and me. You told me about the fairy people."
Smiling at the memory, Duncan said. "Yes. It was I."
A mask of confusion on her face, she questioned, "But how? That was twenty years ago. You haven't aged a day. You can't be that man."
"I'm him.” He said calmly, trying to reassure her by recounting some key events of the day. “I remember telling you to hide in the judge's closet. You showed me where it was."
Nodding her head at the memory, she asked, "Are you Immortal too?"
Reaching out for her hand, he gently squeezed it as he continued his explanation. "Yes. I don't age."
Looking at the man in front of her, she tried to imagine that he was Immortal. "How old are you?" She blurted, and then blushed at the question.
"I was born in 1592 in the Highlands of Scotland on the shores of Loch Shiel." He recited the statement as if it were a fact for a history class rather than his life.
Glancing at Duncan, she tried to fathom being that old, living many life times. "How do you do it? I mean isn't it hard, lonely, boring."
"Never boring. The world has changed a lot since I was born. There have been wars, inventions, friends, and ... The list is so long I can't possibly remember. When I was born there were no cars, no airplanes, no computers. It was a very small place. You went to the next village, maybe if you were adventurous you went several days ride away, but that was all you knew. My clan had no idea what lie fifty miles away. We lived day -to -day, season to season. World events had no effect on us. Our world was to protect our village and women. Now I can't fathom living such a small existence." Duncan stopped, glancing at Belinda as she drank her juice. She nodded and he continued.
"Immortality can be lonely. When we die, we must give up our old life. We don't age past our first death. People get suspicious so we move before our friends and neighbors notice that we don't age. We have to reinvent our life. That can be lonely, yes. I've been lucky. I manage to find people to involve myself. Immortality is a great gift. I've lived a wonderful life and want to experience even more of it. I'm sure you'll love it too."
"But how did you know I was Immortal?"
Handing her the glass of wine, she had poured earlier, he motioned for her to drink some.
Pointing to his head, he began, "That headache you have. It's a sign that other Immortals are nearby. It's a kind of radar. When we feel the ‘buzz’ our body gets ready to defend itself.”
"Defend against what?"
He found his wine glass and drank some before answering. "Immortals fight each other to the death."
"But you said you’re Immortal.” Her confusion evidenced by the frown lines on her forehead. “Then you can die?”
The simple question made him wish there was an easy answer. "We live forever as long as we don't get killed."
Frowning at his answer, Belinda questioned him further. "You said you're Immortal. That implies that you don't die. How can you get killed?"
"We die if our heads are separated from our body.”
Belinda scooted back on the couch, then stood to pace the floor. "That's disgusting. You go around chopping people's heads off, like this is some medieval challenge."
"There are rules. The first rule is: There Can Be Only One. One Immortal in the end. The Immortal wins the prize."
Staring at him as if MacLeod had grown horns over night, she asked incredulously. "The prize? Is this some fantastic contest?"
"I'm not doing a good job of explaining. Let me start again."
"Okay.” Nodding her head as she raised her eyebrows in skepticism, she urged him, “Why don't you start again?"
"Immortals are a race of people that have been around for over 5,000 years. We cannot die unless our heads get separated from our bodies. There is a prize for the last Immortal on earth. Supposedly, he or she can have any wish he or she desires and will rule the world. Immortals fight each other in hopes of being the "One". There are more rules, but I think that is enough for now. You've had a long day and need your rest. Dying takes a lot out of you."
Yawning at his mention of being tired, Belinda put out her hand, signaling she wasn't ready to finish the conversation. "Why don't you just kill me?"
"I don't fight unless I have to. I want to teach you to defend yourself. But right now, I'll stay the night to watch over you."
"I'm not some child who needs protection. Go home."
"You're not safe until you can defend yourself. I'll stay the night and tomorrow we can leave. Go train until you can be on your own."
“Train?” Her voice raised an octave.
“You must learn to fight, carry a sword. I’ll teach you.” MacLeod reached out his hand, laying it on top of Belinda’s.
“This is too much to take in. One minute I’m dying and the next I can live forever as long as I kill others like me.” She crossed both arms, giving herself a hug.
Nodding his head at her comments, Duncan suggested, “Maybe sleep is a good idea. I’ll sleep on the couch and we’ll talk again in the morning.” He motioned towards the living room.
Sighing, she nodded and headed toward the linen closet gathering a blanket and sheets for her uninvited guest. Making sure the door was locked and coffee pot unplugged, she said goodnight and retreated to her room.
Duncan made up the make shift bed, lying down on the couch, his sword on the floor within easy reach.
Dawn arrived much sooner than either occupant of the apartment expected. Neither of them had slept well, MacLeod planning his newest student’s training and Belinda trying to digest yesterday's events. Belinda dressed in a pair of sweats, completed her morning rituals and made her way to the kitchen to brew some coffee. Smelling the familiar aroma, Duncan stretched on the sofa, joining her in the kitchen.
She poured each of them coffee and toasted some bread. She took out the butter and jelly from the refrigerator, placing them on the table. Sitting at the table she motioned for Duncan to join her.
"Morning." She said as she sipped her coffee. "I guess I wasn't dreaming. You’re really here." She jumped slightly at the ding of the toaster, placing the bread on a plate and bringing it to the table.
"Did you sleep well?" She asked as she buttered a piece of toast.
Motioning for Duncan to take some toast, he picked up a piece and spread jelly on it before answering. "Not really. I spent a lot of time planning rather than sleeping."
Looking at him, she frowned. "Planning?”
"I told you. We have to leave so I can train you. You need to pack a bag. You'll have to leave most of your belongings here. You should only take a few things from your current life. I find that possessions are easily replaced and it is easier that way."
Belinda swallowed her last bite of toast, following it with a sip of coffee. "About that. Immortals and all. You must really think I'm gullible. I was dying yesterday and I'm still dying. While it is nice to think otherwise, I think you better leave."
"Immortals exist. I'm Immortal." Duncan insisted.
"Really?" She laughed. "I'm sure you are." She assured him, squeezing his hand.
"I'll prove it to you. Promise you will let me show you, then you can decide if I'm telling the truth."
Duncan pulled open drawers until he found a sharp knife. Turning around to face Belinda, he made a deep gash on his forearm.
"Watch." He demanded as the light blue pulses of electricity healed the wound.
"That’s some trick. It looked like it hurt, but I'm tired of your games." She stated in a mild manner.
Speaking in a soft smooth voice, he looked at her. "It's not some trick, it's my Immortality. The lightening streaks are my quickening, healing my wounds. Now that you are Immortal, yours will heal you as well. "
Seeing her skeptical face, he realized he had to go further in his demonstration. "I'm going to plunge this knife into my chest. I'll die, but don't worry. My quickening will heal me. Don't panic."
As he lifted the knife to his chest, Belinda saw he was serious and lunged toward him reaching for the knife. Duncan saw her approach, but plunged the knife in his chest before she could stop him. He gasped as the knife entered into his body, collapsing to the floor as the life quickly left him.
Crying as she watched MacLeod take his last few breaths, Belinda feared that the world was going crazy. Sitting on the floor trying to understand why this gentle man committed suicide, she heard a gasp from MacLeod. He coughed a few times and then turned toward her.
"Do you believe?"
"I saw you die...right there on my kitchen floor. And... now... you are talking to me as if nothing happened." She cried hysterically. "This must be some kind of dream. People do not die and come back to life."
Duncan sat up, putting his arms around the shrieking woman. He rubbed small circles on her back as he whispered, "It's okay. You're okay,” in her ear.
She pulled away from him, pulling up his blood stained shirt to exam his chest. "There’s not even a mark on you. You weren't lying. You can't die." She said in awe.
"How can you live this way? Killing people to stay alive. It’s not right." She shouted.
"I kill because that is how I survive. I want to live. You said you wanted to live and now you can. You can live forever."
"Okay you’ve convinced me that this Immortality thing is real. Now what?" She asked.
"You must learn to use a sword and defend yourself. As long as you can fight, you can live forever."
"Fight? I don't want to fight. It's wrong. I can't go around killing others." Belinda stood up from the couch, pacing in the small room. "Living forever sounds great, but the fighting I'll pass on." She moved her hands in a horizontal motion in front of her body demonstrating her disinterest in the topic.
"Just learn enough to defend yourself. You can't walk away if you don't have an opportunity." He pleaded as he walked to Belinda, grabbing her hands, squeezing them in his.
“Is killing the only answer? There’s got to be another alternative." She let go of his hands, beginning to pace.
“You can go to Holy Ground. No one will fight you there.”
“What is that?” She turned to look at MacLeod, a ray of hope peeking through her eyes.
“Any place that is used for worship or has religious significance is safe for Immortals. A church, a synagogue, a mosque, a shrine, and even cemeteries are considered Holy Ground. The area doesn’t even have to be used in a Holy way now; it just has to have been holy at some time in the past.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” she accused.
“Because while Holy Ground is safe, any time you leave it you are vulnerable. If you leave the church grounds, even one foot, an Immortal can fight you. Do you want to spend all your life cloistered away? You told me you had plans for your life, things you wanted to do. You can’t do that if you live your whole life on Holy Ground.”
“I see.” She stopped her pacing as she looked at him. “I can't do this right now. You have to leave. It's too much." She walked to the door, beckoning him to leave.
As he walked through the doorway, he pleaded, "Think about it. You can live forever, Belinda."
Duncan drove home reliving the conversation, wondering if he could have done anything different. As he entered the loft building, Immortal presence washed over him. He instinctively put his hand in his coat, touching the hilt of his sword. As the lift opened, he saw Methos sitting on the couch reading and relaxed his hand. Lifting the gate with his other hand, locking it back in place, he entered the loft.
Methos looked up from his reading, smiling at his lover. "So? How did it go?"
Duncan walked to the kitchen grabbing two beers, giving Methos one as he sat on the couch.
"Not good, if you're drinking before noon." Methos smiled as Duncan took a long draw of the cold beverage.
Ignoring Methos’ comment, he shook his head as he spoke, “Not well. I don't think she wants to fight."
"Do you blame her? Our society doesn’t encourage fighting, much less sword fighting. When you were younger, everyone carried swords. Carrying a sword was as much a part of your clothing as your shirt. The idea of fighting probably frightens her as much as dying."
"Aye." MacLeod put down the beer, standing up to pace the floor. "I don't think I did a very good job of it. I mean... "
"Been a long time since you told anyone about their Immortality?" Methos quietly asked, allowing MacLeod his restlessness.
"I've told a few since Richie. Claudia, Michelle... maybe others. Telling Richie was the easiest. He knew what I was. About Immortals and fighting. He was hurting for Tessa, but he understood. Claudia and Michelle had known me for years so they believed."
"MacLeod you're a teacher. Teach Belinda about Immortals, about survival." He encouraged.
"Belinda doesn't know me and I don't really think she trusts me." Mac continued to pace the room, wringing his hands in frustration.
Walking to Mac, Methos gently put his hand on Mac’s shoulder, "She will. You are the world's oldest Boy Scout."
Duncan laughed at the on going joke. "You're probably right. If she won't trust me then I'll find someone else to teach her. She deserves a life with opportunities."
“Ah a voice of reason. I’m glad you’ve decided that you don’t have to be her teacher.” Methos kissed him gently on the lips as he smiled with relief as saw the Highlander finally was thinking clearly.
“Hold on there. I never said I wouldn’t teach her.” Duncan sat up straight on the couch. “I just said that it was a possibility. Don’t give up on me so fast.” Duncan said mischievously. “ I can be very convincing.” A lecherous look came over his face as he eyed his lover.
"Now that we've solved all the problems in the world I must say that all this talk of death makes me horny. How about helping me with my problem?" Methos smiled as he took Duncan's hand, laying it on his erection.
Kissing Methos back, Duncan laughed. "You dirty old man. I like the way you think."
The two men retired to the bedroom where they enjoyed each other's bodies for the remainder of the afternoon.
Mid June 2015
Duncan finished his coffee as he read the headlines of the newspaper. "What are your plans for the day?"
"I have to meet the curator at the museum this afternoon to discuss a new manuscript they want me to translate. Why?"
"I thought I'd go see Belinda. See how she's doing. Now that she’s had some time to adjust to the idea of Immortality, maybe she’ll be ready to train."
“And will you train her if she wants a teacher?” Methos asked, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice.
“Of course. I thought we’d been over this. I can’t just leave a new Immortal to fend for himself.” Mac responded.
“I see. So what happened to our plans for leaving and starting over?” Methos’ steely voice was sharp.
“We’ll leave. She’ll come with us.”
Methos took several breaths before responding. “How convenient. We’ll move and take her with us. Any other strays you intend to take that you haven’t told me about?” Methos seethed as he responded to Mac’s casual attitude.
“She’s not a dog. She’s a person, an Immortal, one of us. Don’t you remember what it was like to be a new Immortal?” Mac chided.
“No, actually I don’t and I seem to have survived- about 5,000 + years as well as I can remember, without becoming someone’s charge.” Methos quipped.
Realizing that anger wasn’t going to win over MacLeod, he calmly stated, “You don’t have to be her teacher, hook her up with Amanda or Grace. It’s hard enough establishing a new life somewhere without having a new Immortal to train at the same time.”
Duncan walked over to Methos, giving him a quick hug. “I know you don’t like this Methos, but it’s who I am. Please try to understand.”
Accepting he was not going to change his lover’s mind, he acquiesced, “Yes, it is who you are. Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. Never changes his name or how he acts. You know you will get us both killed someday with your clan ideals.” Methos sighed with acceptance. “Go. Save the world or at least save Belinda from the evil Immortals lurking in the shadows.” He kissed the Highlander and handed him his keys before putting the dirty dishes into the sink.
"Thank you. I love you. I'll see you tonight."
Belinda's headache began as soon as Duncan entered her building. When he buzzed her, she let him up to the apartment.
Opening the door, she smiled at him. "The headache is back. It's been gone since you left. At least I know that part was the truth."
"So, I'm to be trusted?" Duncan smiled. "May I come in?"
Opening the door wider, she waved her hand, welcoming him into her home. "Of course. Where are my manners?"
"Glad to see you are joking again. Its good to see your laugh." Duncan said as he moved toward her couch.
"May I get you something to drink? It's scorching out there." Belinda asked as she walked toward the kitchen, pulling a glass down from the cabinet. She filled it with juice and returned to the living room as Duncan had declined her offer.
Belinda finished her juice, standing up to return the empty glass to the kitchen. She rinsed out the glass, turning to lean on the counter. A cut through wall allowed her to see into the living room area. "I don't know if I can do this."
"Do what?" Duncan asked.
"The Immortality thing. I wasn't ready to die, but I don't think I can kill others so that I can live."
"But you will be killed if you don't defend yourself." Duncan pleaded as he stood up to walk toward the kitchen. Taking her hands in his, he continued. "A new Immortal is very vulnerable. There are those of our kind that seek out the weak and young ones just to gather their quickening."
"That electric pulse thing?"
She sat there for a while, taking in his explanations.
"I'm Immortal?" She asked.
"Yes. You are Immortal."
"I can only die if I'm beheaded."
Nodding his head yes, Mac waited for her to continue.
"In order for me to keep my head, I have to fight to the death with other Immortals."
Mac nodded again.
"I can go to Holy Ground, but that’s not living either.” She stated, the choice not to her liking as she frowned her brows and lips.
“I’m glad you see that is not really an option. I can teach you to fight so that you live a long and wonderful life.” Mac said ever hopeful.
Shaking her head in disagreement, she answered, “I can't do that." Standing up and walking to the door, she held her hand on the knob as he responded. "Immortality is not for me. I can't kill anyone. I just couldn't live with myself. Please don't come back." The clock chimed four bells. "I think you better go, Duncan. It was nice knowing you, but I don't think there is room for you in my life."
"What are you saying, Belinda?"
Opening the door, she repeated, "I don't want to be Immortal. I can't kill even if it means that I live." Motioning for him to leave. "Go. Don't come back, ever." She closed the door to her apartment and laughed as she cried at the irony of her life.
After driving home, Duncan cooked dinner for himself and Methos. Methos arrived a short time later, completing the preparations.
"Have a good afternoon? Mine was very interesting. It seems that the manuscript the museum wants me to translate was from the court of a Roman emperor. I think I knew him. It would be ironic if I were mentioned in there. The joys of Immortality." He chuckled as he set the table.
Duncan finished chopping the vegetables for the stir-fry. "My afternoon wasn’t as amusing. Belinda doesn't want to train. I couldn't convince her. "
"It's her choice, MacLeod." Methos replied softly, kissing Mac on the cheek as he retrieved the glasses from the cabinet.
Dumping the vegetables into the Wok, Duncan stirred them to keep them from burning. "But.. She’ll die."
"Mac we’re Immortal, not gods. We don’t control the universe. We can't force her to carry a sword."
Turning the flame down, Mac continued to stir the vegetables. "But she has so much to live for. She is so young."
Walking towards Duncan, Methos placed his arms around Mac's chest, squeezing lightly. "Not everyone wants to live forever." He whispered. "I want you to live, you're important to me, but Belinda may have other ideas. "
"I'll ask Joe to keep me informed. He's been good about letting me know what's happening in Claudia's life."
Nodding in agreement, Methos smiled. "The ever increasing clan MacLeod. Will you ever learn?"
"Learn what?" Mac questioned as he turned off the burner, removing the Wok from the fire.
"Learn that every Immortal is not your personal responsibility. You can't watch over all of them, Mac."
Motioning for Methos to place the plates next to the stove, Mac placed the vegetables on them. "I know I can't, but I feel responsible. It's how I was raised, to be a chief."
"I wouldn't have it any other way." Bringing the plates to the table, Methos continued. "Let's eat."
Late June 2019
MacLeod had a few weeks left of the term before they could finalize their move. They had been busy, packing, labeling, and sorting their respective belongings. Each time he labeled another box, he thought of his directive to Belinda about leaving possessions behind. Frequently he thought about her and wondered if he could have changed her mind, but respected her decision. At least Joe was keeping him informed of her life.
As Mac stepped out of the shower, he grabbed the green towel to dry him and heard the phone ring.
"Hey, Mac. I've got a new guitar player coming in later in the week that you and Methos will really enjoy. You should try to make it to the bar." Joe casually remarked.
Duncan heard the strain in his voice. "Yes, I'll let Methos know. Is that why you called, Joe?"
"You know me too well."
"You've been my Watcher for almost 40 years and my friend for 25. I would hope I know you by now." Duncan joked with his friend.
"I've got some bad news." Joe said softly.
A cold shiver ran through his body as he listened. "Yes..."
"Belinda's dead. I'm sorry Mac."
Duncan dropped the towel he was attempting to tie around his waist. He felt the sense of dread move over his body as the cold chill descended. "Dead... How? Who?"
"Yesterday. An Immortal named Kalvin, new in town. He ran across her going home from work. She saw the sword and told him she wouldn't fight him. He killed her without a fight." Joe relayed the information as if he were reading a newspaper article about trees.
Sitting down on the chair by the phone, Duncan asked, "Where is the body?'
"It's been taken care of by the Watchers. You know the routine." Joe reminded him.
"I'd like to set up a burial for her. Her father is dead and I don’t know about anyone else. She should be remembered."
"That's good. There won't be a body, but you can still have a site if you'd like. Sounds like she was important to you. "
Mac felt the touch of death descend upon him again; the heaviness in his shoulders, the tired achy feel of his limbs and the inability to think of anything but the burial of the deceased.
"She was dying of bone cancer. We thought about killing her ... knew she wouldn't become Immortal unless it was a violent death... but she died in a car accident.... I wanted to teach her. She didn't want to kill..... told me to go away... She was going to die. Too young, much too young... had so much to live for.. such a waste." The tears dripped down Mac's face as he finally put into words the futility of her death.
"I'm sorry. Let me know what you decide and I'll help in any way possible."
"Thanks Joe. I will."
Hanging up the phone, Duncan dressed as he thought of the arrangements for Belinda. Methos came home from the Museum while he was taking his dirty linens to the wash.
Seeing the tear tracks on Mac's face, Methos went to his lover and gave him a hug.
"Who?" Methos asked.
"Belinda. An Immortal challenged her and she didn't fight back. She just let him kill her. How could she? "
Methos rubbed Duncan's back as he held him. "It was her choice. She wasn't ready for Immortality. It was not meant to be."
Pulling back from the embrace, Duncan almost shouted, "But she had her whole life ahead of her. She could have lived forever. All she had to do was learn to defend herself."
Rubbing Mac's forearm, Methos spoke softly. "I know, but she didn't want that. We had to respect her wishes. I think there is a reason why violent deaths cause Immortality. They are sudden. The Immortal isn't given time to think about death beforehand. Belinda knew she was dying, had begun to accept the inevitable. Dying in the car accident gave her another chance, but she couldn’t accept Immortality.”
As he listened to his lover, Duncan's fury died down, replaced by acceptance. "You're right. If I'd known what I was before I died, I ... I don't know what I would have done. The superstitions in my clan were very strong at that time. I would have thought the Immortal who told me about my nature was a witch or worse. When I died, my father thought I was a demon and made me leave the Clan. I didn’t know about Immortality until Connor found me. Carrying a sword was normal, I didn’t have to adjust to killing."
Kissing Duncan gently on the lips, Methos continued. “Killing is not so common in today’s world. Try to understand Belinda’s point of view. She couldn’t kill to live.”
Duncan leaned forward kissing Methos on the lips. "Thank you. I told Joe I
wanted to plan a memorial for her as she has no family. Would you help me?"
"Of course." Methos kissed Duncan on the cheek. “She will be remembered.”
Several days later the two men stood by a head stone in the cemetery of a local
church. Mac held Methos’ hand as he lay a handful of dirt on the newly dug grave.
“Goodbye, Belinda. May your dreams be fulfilled in your next life.”
Methos gathered Duncan in his arms as the tears fell down his cheeks. “She’s
where she was meant to be. She’s happy.”
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