Creature of Destiny
by elynross

 

Highlander and characters belong to Panzer/Davis Productions & Rysher Entertainment. No infringement of copyright in intended.

This is the result of an inspirational snippet challenge; the opening quote was provided, the rest sprang from the mouths of the muses, who are sometimes pretty good blokes. Thanks, Tiffany, you do good work; I may ask for another.

For Killa and Rachael: for enriching my life immeasurably, and for liking this so much and making it better.

For rac and devo, who are also adding their own unique and wonderful impressions to my world, and who let me test this out on them and reflected it back at me in ways that made me like it even more.

And for Methosgrrl, on general principles and with great affection.  

 


 

And now, each night I count the stars,
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.
Nobody sings anymore. 

--Imamu Amiri Baraka
from "Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note" 

 


 

Methos left again tonight. Before he left, he told me he loved me.

He told me he couldn't stay and watch me die.

Where do I come from?

When I was young, mortal young, I would lie out at night, watch the stars, and dream of the future. The dream was always grand, always heroic... and good always triumphed over evil.

When did I stop believing that? Was it with Little Deer's death? With Tessa? Fitz? Or Darius? Sean?

Richie?

Now I don't even know what I'm fighting for, anymore. Didn't I used to have a purpose?

You don't even understand your place in any of this, do you?

When did I stop believing that I was a creature of Destiny and realize that I was merely Destiny's minion... a pawn of Fate? When did I learn that I was not the wielder, but the wielded? That I sought to appease not honor, but my own endless vanity? And how many people would be better off if I'd died for good when I died my first death...before I became a 400-year-old murderer?

I still can't believe that I killed him.

Richie's dead. Maybe if I keep saying it, it will sink in. Maybe if I just let myself slide into the river, I'll never wake up.

Creature of destiny. How many times did my father drill it into my head that mine was a proud fate, a noble destiny? Head of the Clan, protector of the innocent, responsible for all those mouths to feed. Did he speak equally strongly of the burdens of responsibility? Of the loneliness? Of the terrible burden of being the cynosure of every eye, every expectation? Funny,  I don't remember that part of the lesson.

My mother, as well, with her tales of our ancestors. Glorious battles, great warriors, legendary leaders. But they weren't mine, were they? Except by an accident of....Fate. There she is again, the fickle Bitch.

How many times did she seduce me into believing in her, sending suitors on her behalf to lure me in with tales of my uniqueness, my great destiny? When did I buy into the image of myself as something more than a man?

An evil one will come, to vanquish all before him. Only a Highland child, born on the Winter Solstice, who has seen both darkness and light, can stop him.

Was Cassandra the next? Filling the mind of a young and lusty boy on the brink of manhood with visions of gratitude and prophecies of greatness that would haunt my wet dreams and feed my needy ego for years. Using her magic to plant seeds that would take deadly root, though they wouldn't bloom for centuries. Cultivating them carefully with her body and her Voice so that I would be ripe for the plucking when she needed me. Although I didn't come through for her quite as well that last time, did I?

Even the Devil can claim sanctuary here.

And then I died, and those same loving parents who had cherished me, who had held me to their bosom and made me their own, cast me out. My whole clan believed me possessed of a demon, Evil incarnate. Life is only a blessing the first time around, it seems. In those first few maddened years before Connor found me, I believed myself damned -- and chosen. Chosen by God or chosen by Satan, what was the difference? Destiny serves only herself.

Aye, you're blessed. And you're cursed--now the responsibility is yours--you have your destiny.

And then that demented hermit found me, with his prophet's voice and fanatic's eyes, telling stories of demons and Champions and blood and glory, giving me a new destiny to replace the one my Immortality had stolen from me. How could I have forgotten him? Was it just my half-crazed loneliness and fear that refused to hear him? If I'd remembered, if I'd believed, would it have changed things?

But didn't I believe? Didn't I believe every damning word from his misbegotten lips? He knew me, knew the demon I was named, knew about Connor. Everything he told me was or came true. But for all his portents, all he gave me was another one of Destiny's lessons, sealing it into me with that first unchosen taste of Quickening fire to guarantee I'd want more. I had Destiny? More like she had me, hard and fast and up against a wall. And I loved every exquisite pain of it.

I kept thinking about all the times that you came through for me--

Here I am, the man who overcame the End of Time. Savior of the World. Holder of the Line. White Knight. Champion. Defender of  Justice and Doer of Good Deeds. Boy Scout. Martyr. All through the years the belief and the expectations built, every time someone turned to me for help. Maybe not in so many words; maybe only in words I created myself, needing to believe in my own destiny in order to make sense of things, in order to prove my father wrong--

You're a good man, Duncan. One of the best. You have a special calling. Over and over--

Kronos and me... mirror image bastards of the same sadistic mother. After all, who had a greater sense of purpose and destiny than that megalomaniac? Me to save the world, he to destroy it. I wonder, did Methos love him, too?

You're too important to lose.

Did any of them realize how hard it was to live up to what they thought they saw in me? How desperately I wanted to be just a guy? An ordinary man with an ordinary life.

I think Tessa did. She believed in me, but she knew I had an overinflated sense of my own importance... and made no bones about trying to puncture it when she thought it got out of hand. But she never knew it all. My time with her was... unreal. Outside of Time. Too good to last, and I knew it. I think I played another game with myself: if I just didn't tell her everything, nothing bad would happen. If she didn't know about the Game, it wouldn't intrude on my fantasy of ordinary life. And on top of that, I always knew she wasn't going to live. Why would I give up my Destiny for her? After all, you never quite forget your first lover.

See me as I am, not as I was. Not as you want me to be.

Thank God she didn't live to see what I've become. That she never saw the real me. The demon was always there, wasn't he? Just waiting for the opportunity to take a little walk in the park. Every time I let the bloodlust surface, every time I told myself someone deserved to die--was that really me?

And the bloody phantasms tonight... just the product of a demon-mocked mind, a mind that has comforted and cozened itself with its own sense of consequence? Have I finally slipped over that last edge into delusion? Must I create someone to blame in order to hide my mind's own diseased state? A mind that has fed my vanity because it cannot bear to think that those it cares for might be better off without it? A mind that desperately needs to believe they need me to save their world again, fight their fights. Take responsibility for them. As if without me, everyone I've ever known would be lost. As if their lives with me around are unrelieved bliss.

They all die. Because of me. Everything I've ever wanted has been taken from me because of this thrice-damned gift I never wanted. I wanted a life: a wife, a family, a few head of cattle, a clan to lead to glory. A simple life.

Fate again, smiling mockingly: "Here, I will extend the most precious gift of all, Life, infinitely. And I won't ask anything from you but... everything. How much will you take for your soul?"

Family, lovers, friends... over and over and over. If I care for them, they die, even sooner than they ought. And it really doesn't matter if it's my hand on the blade as it falls; it's either by me or because of me.

I should have known. Richie shouldn't have died.

Maybe father was right; maybe it's been a demon in me all along. After all, like calls to like.

Of them all, you were the best I'd seen.

Methos tried to give me back my sword. Did he think to call me back to myself with that trick again, call forth the Hero with that tainted metal? When it worked before I still believed myself Chosen. I thought surely he'd understand. After all, he spent 200 years out of the Game... or so I thought. Was that just another lie?

He said it wouldn't work for me. That unless I was going to bury myself in Holy Ground, I'd have to defend myself: that I draw challenges like shit draws flies. I found it an apt metaphor. When I told him I couldn't, that I'd no longer kiss Destiny's ass, that's when he left. And I felt nothing. Nothing at all.

The legends of the Unicorn said that Innocent blood could purify; did they also know that it could poison? My sword is unclean; I am unclean. And I still don't know if there is any other demon but the one that bears my name.

Remember who you are!

The stars are going out, one by one. You know, I can't hear their voices anymore: my parents, Debra, Little Deer, Sean, Darius, Fitz, Tessa....Richie. The world is such a silent place without their voices.

 And I count my life by the holes left in my soul.

 He said he loved me.

 Why would that surprise me?

 Death has always loved me.


The End