by Ashlyn Donnchaid

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story takes place during the episode Chivalry.

Duncan MacLeod sat back and let himself relax, finally alone for the first time that day. He rested his snifter of brandy on the arm of the chair and leaned his head against the leather back and closed his eyes, his dark hair framing his face and spilling onto his shoulders. Unbidden, thoughts of the day's events entered his mind, and rather than stop them, he allowed them their freedom, hoping that by doing so, they would pass away as they had come.

Kristin. He had known that it was inevitable that they would cross paths again. Her business was too high profile and he was not exactly a recluse himself, but he had hoped, somehow, to avoid it. The Old Man was right. She probably would keep coming back until she killed him. Or he killed her. He shook his head and sipped at the brandy. Methos just didn't understand. He knew he couldn't kill Kristin. She was unbalanced and dangerous, but she had been ... well ... what had she been? Lover? Definitely. She could do things to a man that no one else he had ever met could even imagine. Teacher? Maybe. She had showed him the advantages of being a gentleman, but at the same time had tried to make him into something he wasn't. He knew he had never loved her. He had cared for her, and in a strange way, still did, but he had never loved her. How could he explain that to the Old Man?

Methos. An enigma on two legs. He'd known him how long? Less than a year? What was it about the man that made him so comfortable with him and at the same time question his every move? How did he know about his past with Kristin? They'd never discussed it. And why did he feel he needed to bring the news in person? 6000 miles to tell him when a phone call would have done just as well. And the swords. What was that game with the swords this afternoon? There was more to it than just the words and actions. Something in the undercurrents. What was it that Tessa had always said about swords and phallic symbols?

Tessa. The thought of her brought a tear to his eye, as it often did when he was alone. He let it roll down his cheek, unashamed. What had brought her to mind? Swords. That was it. She had insisted that there was more to the carrying of swords than self defense. She had always said it with a twinkle in her eye, but he suspected that she had felt there was a truth behind it somewhere. God, he still missed her so much. He wiped a hand across his face and sipped the brandy again.

Swords. And Methos. The two seemed inseparable in his mind. The simple request to admire the katana. Seemed harmless enough. He trusted Methos. Then the blade at his throat, the fear, the helplessness, the anger at being fooled. And the self righteous lecture from the Old Man. And something else. A look, a feeling he couldn't identify. He'd controlled his anger and dumped Methos on his bum, and that had felt good. So he'd played Methos' game, taking a sword from the wall and besting his elder. And even as the Old Man knelt before him with a sword at his neck, he did not concede. As he had stood holding the sword against the long neck, he had felt a rush of control, power, and something else. Excitement? Close, but not quite what it was. And the look on Methos' face. He still hadn't deciphered it, but it had struck a chord deep inside him. He had almost captured what it was when Richie walked in, breaking the almost hypnotic spell of the moment.

Richie. Boy and man. Hormones raging, Kristin casting her spell over him. Too old to be told what to do. Too young to understand what Kristin really was. The boy meant so much to him. A last link to Tessa and the time they had shared. He was growing up, testing his independence. He was sure he was making many mistakes with Richie. They seemed to be constantly at odds with each other lately. It made him miss Tessa all the more. She had always had a way of understanding Richie. Somehow, he'd manage to work it out with the boy. With the young man. Maybe that was part of the problem. He needed to start to see Richie as the man he was becoming. And why wouldn't Methos let him tell Richie his real name? What kept the Old Man from trusting anyone?

Methos again. What had been going on that afternoon? He concentrated on the two moments that confused him, one with his own sword at his throat by Methos' hand and one with the sword in his hands at Methos' throat. What was the look in the old eyes? What was the feeling that pulled at his gut? He played the scene over and over in his mind, looking for a clue, and finally found it. The hazel eyes that had locked with his own had held an offer and a question. The offer he recognized and knew that was what had caused the reaction in his gut and perhaps a little lower than that. The question was one he had held in his own mind since his first meeting with the oldest living immortal. He still didn't know the answer to that one. He wasn't sure he ever would, but maybe he'd give it a little more thought.

He finished his brandy and sat quietly a little longer, letting the last of the thoughts go on their way. When his mind had cleared, he rose from the chair and went to bed.

The End
February 1997