Duncan and the Immortal Valet Service
by Ashlyn Donnchaid

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I can't help it. All the questions about "What do they do with the swords, bodies, etc." drove me to it. The valets hand the swords at just the right moment, pick up all the coats and jackets that are thrown aside, and take care of the beheaded bodies. Many thanks to the person who dubbed the valets "Holders". It fits.

He stood on the sidewalk in front of the glass encased high rise, his hands deep in his pockets, dreading what was to come. Taking a deep breath, Duncan MacLeod gave in to the inevitable and entered the building. Approaching the security/reception desk, he again silently cursed his friends who had suddenly become too busy to accompany him on this errand.

"Can I help you, sir?" the security officer asked.

"IVS International, please," Duncan replied.

"Of course. Tenth floor. Here's your visitor pass." As she handed Duncan the badge, he wasn't surprised to see the Watcher tattoo on her wrist. He walked on to the bank of elevators, waited till one opened, went in and punched the button for the tenth floor.

"I don't want to do this. I really don't want to do this," he said quietly to himself. The elevator opened and Duncan walked out into the quietly ostentatious reception area for IVS International.

The watchdog at the reception desk was impeccably groomed, dressed in a conservative navy blue suit, and looked as though she ate clients for breakfast. Eventually she looked up at Duncan.

"Welcome to Immortal Valet Services International. Can I help you, sir?"

"I have an appointment with Mr. Smythe. I'm Duncan MacLeod." He almost added 'of the clan MacLeod' but stopped himself in time.

She consulted her appointment book. "Ah yes. He's just finishing up with another client. Please have a seat and Our Mr. Smythe will be with you in a few moments." She indicated a couch across the reception area, and he went and sat. A few minutes later a large oak door opened, and a man in a Savile Row suit of charcoal gray wool stepped out.

"Mr. MacLeod? Please come in." Duncan followed Our Mr. Smythe into his office. When Smythe was seated behind his massive desk, he indicated a chair for Duncan, who also sat. "What can I do for you today?"

"I told your secretary when I made the appointment, I need a new Holder."

Our Mr. Smythe pulled a manila file folder off the top of a stack and opened it. "Ah. Yes. I see." He looked up at Duncan. "You seem to have a problem keeping Holders."

Duncan knew all too well the problems he had with his Holders, he had had this same discussion with Our Mr. Smythe sitimes in the past five years.

"Look, Smythe, all I want is someone who will stick around and do the job." Duncan was in no mood for verbal sparring with this man.

"Very well, Mr. MacLeod. I would like to acquaint you with our current IVS plan offerings. We have the standard plan with one dedicated Holder. Duties only include Sword, Laundry and Decapitated Bodies, and the client must maintain only one residence." Smythe shook his head. "I don't think that will do for you. Our records show you have at least two main residences and several, shall we say, vacation homes. You will probably need a custom plan."

Duncan could see where this was headed. Any time anyone said 'custom', it meant more expensive.

"What did you have in mind, Mr. Smythe?" he asked.

Smythe steepled his fingers in front of him on the desk.

"Your needs are unique. To properly serve you, we will need to assign two Holders, one for Seacouver and one for Paris. Will you be wanting any of the Premium services, or will Sword, Laundry and Bodies be enough?"

Duncan rubbed a hand across his face. "Why two Holders? Can't one just travel?"

"Mr. MacLeod," Smythe said reproachfully, "our people have lives and families. They can't be running off halfway around the world on your whim."

"Fine. Then find something else for them to do when I'm not in town. I'm not carrying two of them on full payroll."

Our Mr. Smythe made some notes on a pad. "We do have some arrangements that can be made for a timeshare. Perhaps you have a friend who could use our services when you're away?"

"You deal with that, Smythe. Just get me the people I need."

"Very well, sir." Smythe consulted the file once more. "Would you be interested in our Premium services? We offer sword sharpening, custom funerals, long term investment management, Quickening insurance..."

Duncan cut him off with a wave of his hand. "Just the basics." Not for the first time, he wondered if it was worth all the trouble just so he didn't have to worry about explaining to a tailor why he needed to carry four feet of sword under his coat.

"As you wish, sir. I'll have the contracts drawn up and sent over for your signature. Do we have your correct address?" Duncan nodded. "Fine. Then as soon as we have the paperwork done, I'll send your new Holders to meet with you. Is there anything else we can do for you?"

"No. Just a reliable Holder. That's all I need." Duncan got up to leave, and shook Our Mr. Smythe's offered hand, and turned and left the office. As he passed the watchdog on the way out he said to her, "Toodles, sweetheart," and grinned at her outraged look. He gave her a jaunty wave of his hand as the elevator door closed, and then breathed a huge sigh of relief that the whole interview was over. Again. For now. Until his latest Holder got tired of long days and nights, and carrying swords into stairwells and railroad yards, and how fussy he was about his laundry, and complained about just how many bodies there were to deal with.

As he left the glass encased high rise, he mused to himself about the true price of immortality.

The End
November 1996