Title: After the Mothering
Author: akire
Email: akire@mailcity.com
Status: Complete/Unbetaed
Category: Crossover: Highlander/Voyager (AU), plus misc others
Spoilers: umm, got a basic grasp of the Highlander universe?  Fine.  Oh
yeah, we're a Clan Denial fanfic.  This Voyager is an AU one, but there
may still be spoilers for various bits and pieces across the seven
seasons.  Spoilers also for parts of Sarah Mac's "Seeds" series. 
 Disclaimers:  D/P and Paramount really DO own them.  If you don't
recognize it, its probably mine.  If it's silly or crazy, definitely is
mine.  But if anyone sends the lawyers after me, I'm sending out the
boys with swords ;)  Oh yeah, and imitation is the sincerest form of
flattery.  If you recognize a specific fanfic creation, it belongs to
its author (when this series is finished, I may tally them up) 
Rating: PG, prob.  Hey, I'm not offended by much, if it should be rated
higher, tell me! 
Content Warning: purists beware.  Language may offend some readers. m/m
relationship lovingly tended. 
Summary: Everyone's in a panic to find Methos and Reia on the planet,
whilst Voyager rushes an anxious Richie to the aid of his lover and
best friend. 
Dedication:  To DC 47

That's long enough. On with the show!

~~##~~

The message was brief, but still managed to throw Richie into a panic. 
The Mothering.  He knew of it, of course, had even (so he had deduced)
unknowingly participated at least once.  But that was when he, and
nearly all his kind, were oblivious to the mysterious forces and drives
which saw the creation of new Immortals.

"An Immortal mating instinct?" Janeway asked him, a scientists' wonder
in her voice, as Richie had explained it to her in her ready room.

Richie winced at the crass and unfeeling phrase.  "Captain, do you
remember when we explained The Game to you?  The Gathering?"

"Is it like that?"

Richie nodded once, slowly, acquiescing the point.  "It is the same as
in it is an undeniable call.  But once this is over, the child
delivered, there is a second impulse, just as undeniable as the first. 
It is the impulse to abandon the child somewhere.  Usually the
Mothering takes about 48 to 72 hours once begun, and after that time,
the woman has no memory of ever bearing a child.  Even if someone
outside the process reminds her of what has happened, they still have
only the most fragmented recollections.  The most common memory is that
of conflict before the impulse to abandon and forget wins  the
conflict is between caring for the child like a mother, and casting it
aside to die in the elements as a future rival for the Prize."  Richie
swallowed convulsively, remembering what Amanda and his own mother
Rebecca had talked about when they thought he could not hear.  He could
not begin to imagine what it must be like, to want to abandon your own
child.   

Shaking off memories, he focussed back to the discussion at hand.
"We're about eighteen hours away now.  M- Adam's message said she had
been showing early signs for at least twelve hours, maybe more.  That
means that we can get there during the final stage of conflict at the
latest.  But Adam will try to track her as she flees to birth and
abandon, so we can recover the child.  If we were on Earth, she would
abandon the child somewhere it would be found, but there is no local
population she could do that with.  Besides, the child will one day be
Immortal..."

Janeway waved him to stop.  "Wait!  You mean that the 48 hour window
covers conception, gestation and birth?"  The disbelief was clear in
her voice.

Richie nodded again, biting his lip as his worries bubbled again to the
surface.  "Yes.  That's why she's been eating anything sweet she can
lay her hands on.  Even with Immortal healing and energy reserves, she
still needs the carbohydrates to produce a child in a day."

Captain Janeway put her coffee cup down on the table, her eyes wide.
"Is she in any danger?  And what about Adam?"  Richie noted that this
was the first time he had heard the Captain call his lover by his
preferred public first name.  "The rest of the away mission?"

Richie shook his head.  "Mortals may as well be furniture as far as
she's concerned.  She'll just ignore them.  As long as Harry stays in
orbit, away from her senses, she'll focus on Adam as the only available
Immortal male."

Kathryn's eyes took on a note of compassion.  "But he's not available. 
He and you..."

Richie cut her off with a soft smile.  "...are both well aware of the
requirements of the Mothering.  This is one of those times when
Immortal mores and customs differ from yours.  Think of it as Immortal
Pon Farr, if that helps."  He fiddled his thumbs together slightly,
then rose.  "Now, if you'll excuse me, Captain.  There are preparations
to be made for the child.  Plus I think Reia, and Adam, will need some
comfort and space to deal with this."

The Captain was looking a little shell-shocked, but rallied strongly.
"Of course, yes.  I'll authorise extra resources to your account, and
have the duty roster reworked for the four of you."

Nodding his final thanks, Richie headed for his quarters.  He intended
to quietly go to pieces so he could take control once they got to the
planet.

  ~~##~~

Methos took his mounting frustrations out on a frond, which retaliated
by whipping back into his face.  The girl was running on pure instinct,
was rapidly approaching labour, and was in a completely untouched,
alien jungle.  How the hell did he loose her trail?

Harry was still in orbit, trying desperately to pick her life signs up
on the scanners, but so far was having no luck discerning her from the
surrounding life.  Methos' opinion of Federation scanning technology
was rapidly diminishing.

+Kim to Pierson-Ryan+

Growling at the frond, Methos' tapped his comm badge.  "Tell me you've
got her, Harry."

The boy's voice was nervous.  "I've got something  a severe and
unusual energy spike about eighteen hundred metres north of you.  I
can't find anything on record which matches it."

It was a strange lead, but the only one he had.  "Okay, I'm heading
that way now.  Keep an eye on it, and keep scanning."

"Yes, sir!"  A triple chirp signalled that the channel had closed.
Resetting the pack on his shoulders, he pushed off due north.  He had
been hacking through the undergrowth for over an hour when the Buzz
finally tickled the edge of his senses.  

"Finally!" he hissed as the angry welts on his hands and face faded.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed on towards the mental tone that
heralded the presence of one of his kind.  As the first thrum of the
Buzz faded, he realised his target was moving.  Swearing fiercely under
his breath, he adjusted his path to (hopefully) intercept.

It took ten minutes before he caught the first glimpse of someone
moving through the greenery.  Taking a calculated gamble, he cupped his
hands around his mouth.  "Reia!"

The shape stopped, then began moving towards him.  "Methos.  What a
pleasant surprised.  I seem to be a tad directionally embarrassed
here."  Her smile was sheepish but friendly.  The memories of the past
day had obviously already faded from her mind.  "Methos?  What's wrong,
you look like hell."  A fearful look flittered across her face.
"Richie?  Harry?"

"They're fine.  Listen, I promise I'll explain, but right now I need
you to get back to camp.  I'll have the shuttle beam you in."  Before
she could argue, Methos relayed his instructions to the orbiting
shuttle.  Harry, hearing the tone of voice, obeyed without question.  

Once the last shimmer of the transporter had faded, Methos tapped his
comm again.  "Pierson-Ryan to Neelix."

+Neelix here.  I'm so glad to see  you found her safe and well!+

"Neelix, remember what I told you to do?"

+Yes, Doctor, of course.  I'll follow your instructions to the letter,
don't you worry.+  In his mind's eye, Methos could see the rotund alien
patting his stomach and nodding his head in his sage and comforting
manner.  She would be in good hands.

"I'll be back soon. Pierson-Ryan out."

His next comm-call was back to the shuttle.  "Harry, tell me exactly
how to get to the site of that electrical signature you had before..."

 ~~##~~

Reia loved Neelix, but was currently sorely tempted to punch his overly
large nose.  He was fussing and hovering, offering her food and drink
and blankets and pillows but refusing to answer the simplest of
questions.

"NEE-LIX!" She snapped as he tried plumping her pillows for the fifth
time.  Yanking off the blanket he had tried to tuck across her knees,
she stalked like the huntress she was and backed Neelix up against the
wall.  "Tell.  Me.  What.  Is.  Going.  On.  NOW!"  

She thought she had broken him, but the moment was shattered by Cyclone
Richie tearing through the door of the portable shelter.  "Reia!  There
you are."

She span on him, a new focus for her wrath.  "What the fuck is going
on, Richie.  Methos is stalking through the jungle like he's after
someone's head, you're running around like you came to the Gathering
without your sword and he," she jabbed a thumb at Neelix as the alien
tried to sidle out the door.  "Won't tell me squat and just insists on
mothering...oh shit."  All the righteous anger drained out of her in an
instant, and she folded onto the cot bed.  "Tell me I didn't, Richie,
please."

But Richie didn't deny it.  He crouched by her, and took her hands in
his.  "Come back to Voyager, please Reia?"  He tugged her upright and
tapped his comm badge.  "Voyager.  Two to beam up."

Reia did not utter a word as Richie gently towed her through Voyager's
corridors.  She just followed numbly, her mind racing and looping on
what had just happened to her, what she could not remember.  It finally
registered that they had stopped walking.  Looking up, she realised
they had arrived at the sick bay.  They probably wanted to scan her.
Why, she did not know.  She was Immortal, there would be no sign of her
being post-natal now.

She followed Richie inside, but the protest died on her lips.  There,
on the main biobed, sat Methos.  Methos, with a new born infant cradled
in his arms.

For the second time in as many minutes, her legs refused to carry her
and she crumpled to the floor.

~~##~~