• Rating: Choose # of Xs, to taste.  
  • Classification: D/M slash. Plus 10% treats and surprises.  
  • Spoilers: Highlander: The Series. Duh.  
  • Keywords: Whales. Crows. Still more Xs.  
  • Warnings: Sax & violins. Nobody dies. At least, not for long. 
  • Disclaimers: I don't own any of these characters and wouldn't infringe on the relevant copyrights for the world. Bat bat.  
  • Dedication: For Olympia, who I hope will keep -- reminding me -- in her sweet way.  
  • Date started: er... 2000?  2001? 
Go to Part 1 2 3 4 5 6

The Deep

by C.M. Decarnin 

Part 4 (Work in Progress)

Part Four

Parking in San Francisco was even more of a bitch than he remembered -- it had gotten as bad as L.A.  After a couple of weeks they decided to return the rental car.  What with gas at five dollars a gallon and the cost of the car and the garage space to keep it in, and paying for parking everywhere, it wasn't any more expensive to just take cabs, it removed some of the hassle from their lives, and MacLeod felt safer.  He didn't like it when one of them had to be dropped off with Karidenna while the other went to park.  It was a tough town, popular with Immortals.  He could take care of himself, but he worried about Methos.  Immortal, a figurehead, the Moroccan clothes -- anti-Islamic feeling ran as high as the gas prices.

A few times MacLeod even caught buses, but there was an aura of violence on them, always at least one abusive or deranged or drunk person among the crowded passengers.  He ousted a pair of pickpockets dipping into a woman's shoulderbag -- one look from him and they were out the flapping back door at the next stop.  He wondered why the authorities put up with it.  No doubt because they never had to ride the buses.

The people who did have to looked worn and depressed.

Duncan had changed his name and was travelling under the ID of Connor Fitzcairn.

They rented the second floor of a house in the Haight to be near Karidenna's treatment center.  Like every other Victorian in the city, it had a small back yard with a tall board fence, but this one was also screened all around by thick cedars, making a lovely shaded garden with even a little birdbath fountain.  It was quiet for a city place, the clang of the N-Judah trolley a block away muted almost to a chime by the foliage.  Karidenna was enchanted.  Methos was pretty enchanted himself, to the point that MacLeod looked forward to a sweet night and then sweet sleep.

At two a.m. they shot up out of bed to an ungodly banging and clattering overridden by hair-raising snarling sounds like a mass dog-fight.  When they realized it was neither Immortals nor a pack of hyenas tearing apart the kitchen, Methos threw the window-sash up and leaned out.

"I can't see anything."  At his voice the snarling halted for a moment.

Duncan sat on the bed, a hand over his heart.  Caught between laughter and the urge to kill.  "It's raccoons."



"Cute, furry, ring-tailed?  Adorable masks?"

"Raccoons," Duncan affirmed.

"Kill them," Methos instructed.  The snarling resumed under the window, louder and more blood-chilling.  "What the hell are they doing?"

"Garbage cans.  Fighting.  They'd like the water fountain too."

"We're in the middle of a fucking metropolis!"

"Only a couple blocks southeast of Golden Gate Park."

"They're wild animals for godsake!"  He leaned out the window again, presenting only the seat of his striped boxers to Duncan's view.  "What if they attack?"

Despite his best efforts, laughter leaked out around Duncan's carefully neutral lips.  Methos pulled back in and looked at him reproachfully, from under a bad case of bed hair, and Duncan succumbed to hysterics, rocking forward and back in bed, finally clutching aching abs.  It wasn't really Methos, just the picture of himself he had, leaping awake ready for combat against furred banditti, the horrendous racket resolving into the squabbling of small mammals but still leaving him charged with a tsunami of adrenalin.

When he stopped a bit, Methos was giving him one of his secret, barely-there smiles, a clear-eyed gaze that made him look young as the new day.  He stepped nearer and crawled onto the bed.  "I love to see you laugh."

Duncan flung his arm around Methos and dragged him down more or less into his lap.  "Mr. Ecology," he taunted.

"Your hair was standing on end there for a minute, Mountain Man."  Methos's long arms settled around him.

Duncan leaned down to his ancient mate.  "I love you so much."

"You are the love of my life, Duncan MacLeod."

Duncan fingered Methos's soft, short beard.  "I can't wait till we can go somewhere we can get rid of this.  I feel like I can't see you."

"Not sure there is anywhere, MacLeod.  It's not like the old days.  Even the most famous man in history wouldn't have been recognized in the next city over, or sometimes two or three blocks from home, if he didn't want to be.  Since photography and television and the Internet you can run into a fan or an enemy in the jungles of Sumatra or on the north coast of Greenland.  I told Daguerre at the time this whole thing was a bad idea."

Duncan refrained from the obvious comment and moved his mouth down onto Methos's.  "At least," he murmurred after the first kiss, "time is on our side."  And began on the second.

Methos's arm lay quiet around his neck.

"Isn't it?"

The distracted gold-flecked eyes turned up to him.  "Time isn't on anyone's side, Mac.  It's the one common enemy all of us have."  The eyes seemed to look again into the far distant past.

Duncan stroked Methos's hair protectively.  "What are you thinking of?"

"Just wondering "when?"  For the ten-millionth time."  Methos had tried to seem wry rather than bleak, but Duncan knew it was his deepest fear that spoke, held at bay over the years by their love for one another and by Methos's hard work.  He cradled him close and nuzzled against his face.

"Not while I live," he said quietly.

Methos didn't answer and their bodies soon distracted them from all that wasn't heat and immediacy.  Methos cried out.  Duncan fucked hard into him, fucking him face-down into the mattress to remind him he had no choice but complete submission, that no one cared if he came or not, that only Duncan's pleasure in him mattered, and that he was a slave to that pleasure and that fire thrusting into him, each stroke agonizing ecstasy for his master, hurting entries that lunged against his compressed, swollen cock in the sheets, until Duncan roughly reached under him and claimed it, grasping him hard, possessively, as he pushed ever more powerfully, deeply into his body, coming, squeezing Methos's cock into orgasm forcibly, and riding, savage, on the humping, bucking eruption of pleasure under him, driving Methos at last into the final surrender, of satiated exhaustion.  Even then he lay tasting him, slow licks through the sweat on his back, tasting blood drawn by eyeteeth painfully in the fleshy parts of arm, and buttock, licking as it healed, not letting Methos move.

"I wish I could keep my mark on you," Duncan said as the latest outrage closed, and bruises disappeared.

"Kalas," Methos suggested drowsily.

"I'm not cutting your throat, Old Man.  I love your voice the way it is.  Besides, that was ugly."

"It wouldn't have to be.  A nice collar pattern..."

Duncan smiled.  "I don't think I carve that well."  Then he said thoughtfully, "Though a chain of brand-burns, now...  Link by link, perhaps.  Over time, or in one long, mean, irrevocable session..."

"I don't believe it.  You're hard again."

"I'm hard for you every minute, in my mind, Methos mio."

"How sweet," was the reply, with something less than total enthusiasm.

"Stand up," Duncan ordered, and got out of bed.  Methos groaningly obeyed.  "Grab your ankles, boy.  I've got something for you."  And when Methos had bent over fully, Duncan slid his cockhead in between the delectable buttocks and on through into his clinging heat, deep, on in deeper until he was all the way implanted and Methos was groaning with more than just tiredness.

"Duncan --  Mac --"

Gripping him, MacLeod began a slow withdrawal, and slow re-entry.

"God --!  Duncan --!"

MacLeod kept the pace slow, over and over, savoring the sensation.  Till his cock pled for more, and he began thumping into the softness harder, making Methos gasp, and harder, dimly causing pain in his own scrotum far under the surging pleasure that swept him, making him grip the rocking hips, brace his feet further apart quickly and push, fuck until sweetness lit his cock and brain and muscles, groaning lustpeak that rolled him in and out on slow, full thrusts of ecstasy, till he could no more, dropping his weight onto Methos, forcing him to the floor, down flat, his cock rubbing under them against the hardwood as Duncan rocked on him, drawing pained cries and then a sudden shuddering and more, longer, suffering come-sounds as he forced the final submission on him with his inescapable strength.  His cock still invaded and took Methos until the last vestige of ecstasy had shuddered through them both, and Methos lay flattened between Duncan's heavy body and the floor.  At last then, after moments of recovery, Duncan rolled off him, and pulled him backwards into his arms, wholly possessive, and nuzzled his cheek roughly.  "You're mine," he breathed harshly, and felt Methos shiver in his hold all down his length.  A thrill of ownership and dominance still on him despite two climaxes, and the one before they'd gone to sleep, he felt as if in taking Methos he possessed the universe, as if nothing could withstand him, and the wave of heat he felt through Methos at his commanding voice gave him back that truth.  Slowly and purposefully he turned him, so he could see the passion-slacked face, and began to mount him again, for the fourth time that night, knowing by the quality of Methos's breathing and swift rise of electricity between them that even still it would not be the last.  Methos arched, and cried out, and MacLeod's world once more was lost in him.

Karidenna, whose bedroom was at the front of the second-floor apartment, had miraculously slept through the entire raccoon attack.  They had enrolled him in a nursery school to be with other children.  He was intrigued though mistrustful, enchanted by their similar size to him, picked up English quicker from them than from Duncan, and suddenly developed a massive crush on a little girl in his class.  Delighted, Methos invited her over often, and when they somehow managed to elope from the house and returned bearing a draggly, starving, matted-furred ginger-striped kitten, Duncan had not the heart to evict it, and after surviving a first inept meal of milk and tuna, it lay purring in Karidenna's lap while Methos went muttering forth in quest of kibble and kitty-litter.

Returning later with every cat-toy known to man, he predicted darkly, "This cannot end well."

Duncan only smiled at him, and brought a twinkle into his glance despite himself.  They were a veritable household now, certified by pet ownership.  Duncan had said nothing further about the need to find a mortal home for Karidenna.  Methos's subtle plan was to keep quiet on the topic till Duncan was too attached to the boy to want to transplant him.  It was working.  Duncan had fallen hard for the kid since the Hogmanay fireworks, helpless before helplessness and distress.

By default, since Karidenna had no suggestions, the little girl named the kitten "Reverb".  Both her parents were in a rock band.

Reverb proved to have extraordinary talents.  He not only chased wooden spools down the staircase, but fetched them back again and dropped them at Karidenna's feet.  Methos refused to believe this till he saw it with his own eyes.  Not least of the kitten's skills, in Duncan's book, was his ability to keep children entertained.

One day Methos returned serious and silent from Karidenna's appointment.  They saw the speech therapists almost every day, and both Immortals had tried to develop the habit of talking almost incessantly to Karidenna, rewarding his few words in every way they could think of.  His nursery school friends spoke English to him totally unselfconsciously and Karidenna answered them in the same language instinctively.  More and more often the Immortals overheard him speak almost in full sentences, and had been intrigued by the things that seemed important enough to him to say.  After testing and retesting the therapists had agreed with the one in Sterling in finding no deficit such as ADD or a personality disorder.

Methos's glance at Duncan drew him into the kitchen while Karidenna and Reverb chased helter-skelter over the furniture all over the apartment.

Duncan suddenly knew it wasn't about feral speech problems.

"Someone passed by me today," Methos told him.  "I didn't see anything."

"Where was it?"

"Right outside the speech center."

Duncan felt chilled.  Methos went there nearly every weekday, often without him.

Not any more, he thought to himself.

But if an Immortal had seen Methos with Karidenna...

It was the scenario he had dreaded from the start.

Would Methos let himself be blackmailed, lose his head, to protect this child?

Unimaginable, and yet, Methos had placed himself firmly between the boy and the world, moved bureaucratic mountains for him, stubbornly stood up to MacLeod, and laid claim; a thing MacLeod had seen him do only with two other beings, himself and evanescent Alexa.  When he carried Karidenna in his arms there was a naturalness to it, inevitability, as if he really had held him since birth, and he saw to his needs tirelessly, almost as if effortlessly.  "Practice, MacLeod," he'd said, when Duncan marvelled at how proficient he looked.  "Centuries of it.  One kid is nothing, you should try it with eight or ten."  Karidenna was very self-sufficient for his age, and Duncan helped as much as he could, but a bond, unspoken, was manifest in the tireless effort and attention the Ancient offered.

He didn't know what Methos would do for this child who had spoken wordlessly through five thousand years to the very heart of despair and abuse.

He never intended to find out.

>From then on, he went to every appointment with them.  But no unknown Presence made itself felt.  No Immortals followed them home.

Instead, one night Methos walked up to the corner store for milk, and never came back.

MacLeod took Karidenna to Joe.

He didn't know what else to do, that time of night.  He'd carried Karidenna in his arms searching the area for clues, witnesses; no Quickening had blasted the darkness, no one had seen any violence.

Joe used the remote to unlock his front door and wheeled out of the bedroom a few minutes later.

"MacLeod?"  The image of the Scot with the child in his arms and dread in his eyes meant only one thing.

"Where is he?"

"I've got a call out, Mac.  Sit down."

"You heard something?"

"No, I put the call out from the look on your face on the door scanner.  But..."  He hesitated, looking at Karidenna.  "If they'd seen anything, Mac, they'd already have rung me.  That's standard orders on you both."

"How many Watchers do you have on us?"

"At night?  Just one.  You're always together.  Or if one of you goes out, the other is home with the kid, so we know where to find you."  He glanced again at Karidenna.  "Mac, how much of this can he follow?"

"I don't know," MacLeod said flatly.

"Sit down, MacLeod," Joe said again.

"I need to leave Karidenna with you."

"Okay," said Joe.  His cell phone rang.  "Abrams?"  His face turned grave as he listened.  "He's gone," he said.  And after a moment, "He's here."  Then, "Okay."  And hung up.

He looked up at MacLeod.  "Your Watcher was following Adam when someone jumped her from behind.  She just regained consciousness in someone's back drive and phoned in.  She has no idea what happened to him.  The attacker either wasn't Immortal or doesn't have a Watcher."

MacLeod's nostrils flared.  "There was an unwatched Immortal in Seacouver just before we left."  He set Karidenna down, and held the boy's arms.  "Karidenna, I need you to stay here with Joe.  I'll come back for you.  I need to go find Kateb."

Karidenna said nothing, but looked stricken enough that he must have understood not only the gist of it, but the terrible fact that his father was missing.  He looked as if his world was sliding out from under him.

MacLeod stood up.  He looked at the Watcher.  "Take care of him."

He turned and went out, and Joe Dawson was left looking at a small boy who was suddenly his full, and possibly permanent, responsibility.


Methos awoke.

He had been kept unconscious, he realized, by the simple expedient of a knife through the heart.

He hated when they did that.

The first thing he knew after breath and pain and awareness was that he was not alone.  Presence buzzed through him tangible as his healing wound.

A warehouse.

What else was new.

A psychotic.

Black leather jacket, dark hair, Caucasian, but "psychotic" was the impression that struck him first and the one that stayed.

Methos tried to move his arms.  Couldn't.

He was tied to a chair.


His heart beat harder, painfully.  Had they --?

The last thing he remembered was walking to the store for milk.  He'd never got there, there had been Presence and then -- nothing.

They must have shot him.  An Immortal couldn't have gotten close enough for anything else without being seen.  Was it only this one, or were there more?  MacLeod --

Karidenna --

He tamped down on the thoughts.  There was nothing he could do until he got out of this.

The psycho was watching him.  Bloody knife in hand.

Methos's long coat had been removed.  On a box beside the psychopath lay Methos's sword.

The psycho spoke.  His voice was soft, husky, distinctive.

"What is it with you guys and swords?"

Oh ho.

Methos's optimism awoke.

A newborn.

Didn't know the Rules.  Likely, very very likely, didn't know how to kill him.

He spoke, clearing his throat.  "First tell me how you guys always manage to find abandoned warehouse space.  I would have thought with property values in San Francisco --"

The knife was against his gullet.

He breathed carefully.

He wasn't sure if the psycho's eyes were really that green or if they were being actually lit from behind by madness.

The voice husked, "Tell me how you made me."


MacLeod leaned exhaustedly against the counter waiting for his sandwich to be made.  He hadn't eaten since the evening before, and it was almost evening now.  He had combed only half the streets of the city, driving slowly, systematically, alert for the least suggestion of Presence.  Eight times he had felt it, stopped the car and found only uninvolved Immortals, wary of him but not out for fighting, and, checked out by Joe, not involved in Methos's disappearance.  By this time they could have taken him halfway around the world, but all he could do was keep searching.

He took the coffee and sandwich out to the car he had rented and sat behind the wheel to eat.  The bacon club tasted good to his starved body, and he felt guilty enjoying anything while Methos might be dead or suffering.  When the sandwich was eaten, he put his head down on the steering wheel and tried to think.


Methos screamed.

Duct tape over his mouth kept sound from filling the warehouse in the way that had unnerved his captor before.  He couldn't get air, he couldn't get air to breathe, to scream while the knife yanked up through his vitals after it had lodged in his groin.  The smell now was enough to make you choke, but if he did he'd die, no air --

When he regained consciousness, healed, covered in undried blood and with blood all around his chair on the floor, it didn't smell any better but the pain was gone.  Till the psycho reached over and ripped the tape off his mouth.

"It doesn't matter how long you drag this out," the psycho said.  "I don't have a job to go back to.  I can be here as long as it takes."  He folded the used tape meticulously and dropped it into a cardboard box.  "I'm not leaving without what I want to know."

Death lay dark in his eyes.

A cold grip of death held Methos's limbs.  "There is nothing to tell you.  We aren't made, we're born."  The black-clad body moved lethally toward him.  "If there were anything else, why should you think I would know it, any more than you?"

"Because you're the oldest."  He breathed close to Methos, bloody knife at the ready.


MacLeod walked back to his car, illegally parked in an alley.  Another dead-end, another Immortal, an old woman, astonishingly, who managed to live, unChallenged, by dint of simply never being alone, in the crowd of a gigantic adoptive family.  They seemed used to the odd stranger turning up, taking in the situation, studying their Great Grandma, and leaving, looking more or less baffled.  MacLeod had spoken with her, certain within a few sentences that she was not the mastermind of a far-flung network of Immortal kidnappers.

Darkness shrouded the alley, but as his eyes adjusted he could make out the big Caddy.  Hard to park, but he might need the trunk space.

He bleeped the locks open.  And just then something flew by him.

A breath of darkness.

Pitch-black wings.

A crow landed on the hood of his car.

It walked around, looking up at him out of the corner of its eye.

It must like the warmth from the engine...

The roar of a motorcycle made the alley a cauldron of sound.

MacLeod spun.

No Presence.

Just the Harley, and straddling it a black-haired boy, Eurasian-looking, in a black... frock-coat?  Mac's hand was in his own coat, on his sword.

The boy cut the engine, and in the silence studied him, hands still on his bike's handgrips.  His eyes were cut straight across by long eyelids like a Buddha's, in a face of extraordinary beauty.  His hair was long, and black.

Behind MacLeod, the crow lofted, flew to the boy, and landed on his arm.

He didn't bat an eye.

MacLeod was just thinking it must be a pet, the Harley maybe parked in this alley every night, when the boy spoke.

"You need help."

It wasn't a question.

"I've seen you before," he continued softly.  The crow walked up his arm to his shoulder and half-spread its wings.  "In the old one's thoughts."

MacLeod stepped forward, his whole body suddenly in full fight mode.  "Where is he?"  The threat in his voice did not require words.

Unruffled, the boy looked toward the crow, and back.

"Let's find out."

The crow took flight, the Harley roared to life.  The boy wheeled it in a circle and took off out of the alley.

MacLeod leaped for his car.


Spitting dead blood out of his mouth almost made him vomit.  Coming back was taking longer.  So he judged by the fact that now when he gasped awake the Psycho In Black was sitting patiently on a metal counter, instead of standing right in front of him, and by the less than freshness of what his tongue had been lying in.  It didn't help that now the whole place reeked like an outhouse.  The floor around him was red-black with thickened blood that hadn't had a chance to dry.

He'd tried a couple of lies.  But he'd had no idea what the Psycho wanted to hear or would believe, and his stabs at some scientific fairy-tale of Immortal origin had not been well-received.  No more so, anyway, than had the truth.

The Psycho pushed down off the counter and came toward him.  Methos jerked back uselessly.  "Why?  Why do you think I know this?  I don't!  No one does!"

The black-gloved hand came up under his chin gently.

"The witch told me.  I persuaded her.  The one who sent me to her claimed she could make a man do things, with her voice.  So I shot her from a distance and duct-taped her mouth, and had her write it down.  It didn't take long.  I don't think she likes you very much."

Methos said, "Do the words "Billy Goat Gruff" mean anything to you?"

And for an instant, he saw a flicker of uncertainty in emerald eyes.

Then the gloved hand slapped across his face hard.

But he knew it was to try and cover up the crack he had made in the Psycho's assurance.  He wasn't quite as crazy as he wanted Methos to believe.  If he could think of rational arguments...  The problem was, nothing was too rational about their Immortality.

And -- dear Christ.  "She told you where I was?"

The Psycho smiled.

How could Cassandra know --


The Highlander kept away from her, so as not to abrade old wounds, but she might easily follow his trail to his homeland, learn his new identity, when she heard of Adam Pierson's death, just to stay aware of their whereabouts.  His whereabouts.  From Scotland the Psycho could have trailed them here, with a little work.

"If I knew where Immortals came from, why wouldn't I tell you?  Why keep it a secret?"  He thought he had tried that line of reasoning before, with the standard results.

"Why do they keep anything secret?" the Psycho purred.

Of course.  "They".  There had been many references to the mysterious cabal conspiring against the world, and against the Psycho in particular.  The existence of a "they" in the Psycho's worldview had not come as a huge surprise.  It blocked any attempt at logic with its adaptable kung-fu.

"Good question."  Methos's voice broke.  "Why do they?"  He was exhausted, he needed sleep, sleep, sleep.  A blow knocked him awake and almost unconscious again with its force.

"Where is it?" the man screamed in his face, and once again Methos had the fleeting thought that there was too much method in this madness.  He knew viscerally all the tricks of trained interrogators down the centuries, and while there was a point at which it became an art form, the basic tactics could be learned by anyone.  Loud noise to intimidate, with excellent views of dripping saliva and eyeteeth -- the better to eat you with, my dear.  Raise the atavistic fears.

The intimacy of that sexual purr in his voice. Submit to me and I will transmute all your pain to pleasure.  Confide in me and all your fears become security.

Fear and pain.  The basic building-blocks of civilization...

He couldn't keep from screaming as he saw the knife coming again.  Duncan.  Duncan.  Duncan, help me --


The crow had perched on a dead tree-limb on a hill so steep nothing was built on it here.  The Harley had stopped there, and Duncan pulled the Caddy up behind.  The kid was just sitting there when he ran to him, looking down over the street below.

MacLeod's mouth opened, and the squawk that sounded was pretty much what he had been about to say at the boy's desertion, but it came from the crow, hunching down on its branch.  Then suddenly flying.  He could hardly see it in the dark, but moonlight and citylight reflected enough off its glossy wings that he could follow.

It landed on a structure on the roof of a warehouse across the street below.

He could see there was a light inside.

The boy nodded down at the warehouse.

"Your friend's in there."  His voice was soft and matter-of-fact.

"How do I know that?"

"I wouldn't drive too close and give them a warning, if I were you."

A sudden light broke in the Highlander's mind.

"You're Draven."

He knew Methos was old, he fit the description, and Joe had said he lived in San Francisco.

He's mortal, said every sense MacLeod possessed.

The boy was looking at him, head tilted.  Then he reached slowly toward him.

MacLeod stepped back out of reach.

Draven's hand dropped slowly back to his side.

"You're another one.  Like him."  The boy's aura of darkness was offset by the gentleness of his voice, and the unagressive steadiness of his gaze, dark and speculative in his pale face.  An almost imperceptible curve to his lips.

It hadn't done much good, not letting himself be touched.  Intuitive, Methos would have called Draven.

"And I get the feeling you don't want me in this fight."

Very intuitive.

MacLeod looked from the warehouse to Draven. He's one of the good guys, Joe had said...

"That must be why we stopped to get you.  Usually I just crash these parties myself."  His hands came back up onto the motorcycle's grips.  "But if you're sure you can handle it..."

MacLeod made up his mind.  "Oh, I'll handle it," he promised in his deadliest voice.

He turned and strode back to the car, his approach already mapped out in his mind.


Methos screamed into duct tape, and screamed and screamed as the razor-sharp blade slit down his penis, struggled and thrashed uselessly.  Death was bad, but now the Psycho saved time with nonlethal agony.  No recovery period, no oblivion.  And he was beginning to look crazier, as if realizing he would never get his answer out of Methos.  If this could not do it, surely he must see that nothing would.  The horrible pain abated slowly, much too slowly.  Methos was weak, blood-loss without food or drink left one near delirium, for all one did not die.  How long had he been here?  Why didn't Duncan come?

The Psycho stood in front of him, eyes shut, arms hanging.  He hadn't slept, and torture was hard work.  Death knew that much, if nothing else.

Torture for a purpose, extra hard.

Healing took the pain but not the suffering.  Knowing it was coming back.

If not how Immortality began, perhaps to tell the Psycho how it ended...?

No.  For Duncan -- for Karidenna --

Good thing his mouth was taped...

Besides, the Psycho didn't want him dead, he wanted intel.

It came to him then, a revelation of great useless magnitude...

There really was a "they".

This guy was a professional.

Somewhere, somewhere, oh Christ, oh goddesses, were politicians here...

Before he could think further, with what little brain was left, his head came up instinctively, at the sudden mental signature of an Immortal Presence.  The Psycho raised his head as well, alert.

Out of the shadows in a far part of the warehouse stepped the well-known silhouette, the sword in hand.  And lacking preamble, the voice of a death-sentence.

"I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod."

The Psycho reached under his jacket, but the silhouette, even as Methos tried to yell a warning through his tape, lifted one arm and fired a pistol right through the Psycho's heart.

And gazing across the warm Immortal corpse at MacLeod running toward him, the Oldest felt his wide, astonished eyes prick hot with tears of pride.


"Next time, MacLeod, forget everything else and just start with the warehouse district."

"Oh god I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry."  MacLeod had dragged him out of the lake of sticky blood but could do nothing for the rags of Methos's tunic and trousers or the horror they represented.  For all his pretense of sardonic normalcy, his lover trembled and could barely stand.  MacLeod had handed him his own gun and the heavy .45 of his attacker, and Methos had looked stupidly at them.  "Just hold them till I finish this," MacLeod had said.

Now Methos looked down at the black-clad body.  "Shouldn't it by rights be --"

MacLeod just stated, "He's mine," and Methos shut his mouth.

Iced intent held the Highlander, even over the anguish and pity for his lover's travail.  He knew enough about the kidnapper's future to qualify as a Psychic Friend.  He would awaken, fight, and die, and that was all.  Methos would probably not believe how hard it was for MacLeod not to simply skip the first two steps and take the hated head in its death sleep.  He knew his mouth was pursed in what Methos had once called his real bitch-fight face, fury pitilessly chilled.

The body gasped awake with a half-yell, sitting up.

"If he gets near you, shoot him," Duncan said, and guided Methos carefully behind a stack of wooden pallets.  He slowly strode back to the box where Methos's sword still lay.

The kidnapper and torturer reeled, getting to his feet, gave MacLeod one stare, and made to run.  Methos fired a shot that hit in front of him, and he skidded still.  Turned.

MacLeod threw Methos's sword to him.

He caught the hilt, one-handed, and the tip clanged on the floor as the weight surprised him.  He made no move to lift it up, until MacLeod stepped toward him, katana high.  Even then he raised it clumsily, one-handed still.  The heavy sword wavered.  And MacLeod saw he had nothing, not even rudimentary fencing skill.  It would be like beheading any mortal.


A second later he saw the man's other arm was artificial, no help to him in this.

Too bad.

The man looked as puzzled and disgusted as he did desperate.  He heard him mutter, "Bezoomnij!"  Russian.  It meant something like "lunatic".

The thug didn't understand a Challenge.

MacLeod stepped right to avoid the edge of the huge bloodstain on the floor, knocked the heavy sword aside with his katana, engaged it and ripped it out of the man's hands with a force that tripped him to the ground.  The kidnapper rolled onto his good arm but the katana was already at the peak of its implacable upstroke and MacLeod's muscles shifting for the swing.

"FREEZE!" a voice bellowed.  "F.B.I.!"

End of "The Deep", Part Four

I dropped a hint or two before, but at this point I'll just come out and say it:  you might want to read "A Boy and His Rat", here on The Garret, if you haven't already.  It's not essential in order to understand Part Five of "The Deep", but Part Five will have spoilers for "Boy/Rat".  Last chance to read it unspoiled!  Wink wink.

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