Title: Hiatus from the Game
Author: akire
Email: akire@mailcity.com
Status: C/U
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. 
 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.
Loving, long-term m/m relationship. 
Summary: Richie and the ROG wake up guests of the Caretaker.  Rescued
and retreating to the relative safety of Voyager, they find a friend
thought lost. 
Dedication:  To the GWAPEs gang  sorry for not writing for so long! 

That's long enough. On with the show! 

~~##~~

Methos knew, in some detached part of his mind, that it probably looked
like a scene straight out of a B-grade angsty romance.  But there was
no way in all seven levels of Hell that he was letting go of Richie's
hand as he groped along the dark, smoky corridor towards what he hoped
was the transporter room.  Behind him, Richie tugged on his hand
slightly as he doubled over in another fit of coughing.  The
atmospheric systems had long ago failed, and the air was barely
breathable.

A dozen metres down the corridor, a light flickered and died.  A stream
of Klingon curses sounded out over the creaking and groaning of the
dying ship.

"B'Ellana!" he cried out in hope and relief.  Behind him, Richie pushed
forward, hope giving him the burst of energy he needed to keep going.
The pair stumbled into the tiny engineers' station and doubled over to
cough the worst of the smog from their already healing lungs.

The Klingon engineer just grunted at the pair.  Whilst Torres was a
committed member of the Maquis and a part of Chakotay's permanent crew,
Methos and Richie were just passengers.  They were travelling under
Maquis protection to some of the renegade colonies, where Methos'
medical knowledge and Richie's resourcefulness as a mechanic were
sorely needed. B'Ellana only tolerated them for as long as they were of
use to her people.

"Richie, dig in the bins, see if you can find me a phase transponder,"
she ordered gruffly.  Richie obediently went scrounging for the part.
Their continued survival  mortal and Immortal alike  depended on how
long the crew could keep the ship flying.

Methos pressed himself flat against the far wall of the alcove as the
pair tried to reroute the system.  Of course, surviving this present
catastrophe was only the most pressing concern.  Methos knew they were
no longer in the Badlands.  Whatever happened when that wave hit the
tiny ship, it had left them a long way from Federation, Cardassian or
any other territory known to them.

He reminded himself that he still had the three most important things 
his head, his sword and Richie.  As long as that continued to be the
case, he could deal with whatever else came his way.  He shifted his
attention outwards again as Richie came and pressed up against him in
the cramped space.

"Richie?"

"Chakotay's ordered evacuation," the younger Immortal murmured, his
eyes flitting around the cramp space as if memorizing it.  "The
Federation ship is going to start..."

The rest of his words were lost as the transporter beam caught them.

   ~~##~~

Richie felt vaguely despondent at the destruction of the Liberty.  It
was a rickety, ill-made, ill-repaired heap, but it had character.
Unlike this sleek Federation vessel.  Voyager was so new, it still
smelt of cleaning fluids and air that had not been recycled a thousand
times already. Every deck looked the same, which was why, he kept
telling himself, it was no shame to be lost.

He and Methos had huddled side by side with the other refugees of the
Liberty, until Chakotay had come for them.  B'Ellana hovered on the
edge of the group, glowering, as Chakotay explained the deal he had
made.  Richie knew he was not the student of humanity that his lover
was, but even he could tell that Chakotay's hastily negotiated
settlement was going to cause difficulties sooner rather than later.

He was grateful when they were instructed to pick quarters off a list
of empty rooms and get some rest before being assigned duty shifts
alongside the Federation crew.

Methos nudged his arm gently, bringing Richie back to the present.  He
compared the number of the door with the number on the padd he had been
given before nodding tiredly.  The darkened room beyond had only the
most rudimentary furnishings, but it had a bed and a shower, which was
all Richie cared for.  Pausing only long enough to ensure the lock was
engaged, he slipped his sword out from under his jacket and headed
straight for the shower.  The pale, smoke-smeared face in the mirror
was the same he had been looking at for over 400 years.  Sighing, he
dunked his whole head under the running water.

Meanwhile, Methos was doing a small circuit of the room.  A tiny
sitting room, with an office area tucked in beside the bathroom.  A
door on the other side led to a functional bedroom.  The double bed was
bare, but Methos found grey Starfleet issue bedding in one cupboard.
By the time he had made up the bed, Richie had stumbled out of the
bathroom and was standing in the doorway, a blank expression on his
face.  The shock of what had just happened was catching up to the
Immortal.  Dumping his own sword at the foot of the bed, Methos
gathered his lover of centuries into a tight embrace.  They fell asleep
together without needing to say a word.

  ~~##~~

Methos woke first, aware of the deadweight on his right arm, the
intense pressure in his bladder and the gritty feel of his skin.
Gently easing himself out from under his still-snoring lover, Methos
padded silently across the room to the joke of a bathroom.

Indulging in his first water shower in several weeks, Methos watched
impassively as the grey smoke particles washed down the drain.
Sluicing water over his arms and shoulders, he couldn't help but notice
that it would be a tight fit for two in the cubicle.

Strong, warm arms encircled his waist.  *Not too tight, though*,
he thought with a smile as he returned a good morning kiss.  "How did
you sleep?"

Richie was still only half awake.  "Sheets itched," he muttered as he
buried his face in Methos' shoulder.

Methos made a note to replicate something softer as soon as possible.
"Come on, sleepyhead.  We've only got a little time before we have to
join the others and learn our fate."  Muttering twentieth century
curses, Richie was soon showered, shaved and dressed in the fresh pants
and shirt Methos handed him.  His boots were still serviceable, as was
his jacket.  Retrieving his sword from where he had dumped it last
night, he joined Methos by the door. 

"Ready, Old Timer?"

"Ready, Brat."  Smiling, glad that they had survived to repeat their
morning ritual, Methos thumbed open the door and the pair stepped out
for their first day on Voyager.

 ~~##~~

The morning was long and boring for the old pair.  Lectures, lectures
and more lectures on Starfleet protocol, ship operations and a
multitude of other minuate that all bureaucratic systems love to
generate.  Methos knew there was a reason he loathed the entire
Starfleet system.  By the end of the second lecture, Richie was
wholeheartedly agreeing with him.  By lunchtime, Richie was wondering
whether he should just get out and walk home.  Despite surviving four
hundred tumultuous years, he was still a delinquent street kid at
heart, and he still had a defiant, knee-jerk attitude towards anything
that reminded him of the cops  military officers, street protectors,
public defenders, Starfleet, they were all the same to him.

Lunch was a welcome break.  The strange local alien, Knee Licks or
something, had already opened up a restaurant.  Methos smiled.  70,000
light years from home, but there were still grand opportunists waiting
for a break.  After one bite of the unidentifiable slop, he wished it
wasn't so.

Across the table, Richie pushed the plate away from him with a grimace.
"Man, what I wouldn't give for a pizza with the lot right about now,"
he murmured quietly.

Methos smiled, but before he could reply, he was hit with the powerful
Buzz, the early warning signal of his kind.  Richie stiffened as well,
scanning the room between him and the bay windows.  Methos tracked over
his lover's shoulder, his eyes raking across the counter, the waiting
lunch queue and the doors...

Methos sat up straight, his eyes wide.

"Reia..."

Hearing the whispered name, Richie swiveled in his seat, no longer
giving a damn as to appearances.  He gasped as he saw Reia walking
towards them.  Her once long red hair had darkened slightly from lack
of sunlight, and had been cut into shoulder length waves.  She wore a
blue Starfleet uniform, the pips of a lieutenant clearly visible on her
collar.  But it was definitely his old friend Reia.  His old friend he
though lost to a Hunter's blade.

Methos leaned back into his characteristic sprawl.  "Well, well, look
what the cat dragged in.  Blue suits you."

Reia slid into the seat next to Richie and gave the other redhead a
quick but heartfelt hug.  "You always did have a good eye for colour,
Adam."  She stressed his alias with a knowing smirk.  "Imagine my
surprise when I saw an Adam and Richie Pierson-Ryan on the new
manifest."  She took Richie's hand in his own and brought his ring
finger to her lips for a chaste kiss.  "Glad to see you two haven't
lost these yet."  

Richie felt tears prick his eyes as he remembered a day, hundreds of
years ago, when she had performed the same kissed blessing on the
gleaming new band that encircled his fourth finger.  "Where...how?"

Methos interrupted Richie's stuttering.  "Let's take this somewhere
less public."  He had already noticed the looks a Starfleet officer
kissing a married Maquis' hand had earnt.  "We've got a lot to catch up
on."

~~##~~

Lieutenant Rachel Wills had single quarters which were about the same
size as Methos and Richie's double.  Hers were tastefully decorated in
mute blues and greens which gave the vague impression of being
underwater.  Methos swept the room once with a survivors eye before
sprawling on her small couch, one leg across Richie's lap.  "You spent
a few days with Macleod on his barge, bought a bike, headed into the
mountains and..." he gestured with a hand.  "Vanished.  And we find you
on the other side of the galaxy a couple of hundred years later.  Care
to fill in the blanks?"

Reia shrugged carefully as she studied her booted feet on the low table
between them.  "I just...rode.  Found a cave that was comfortable all
year around and just..." she shrugged again.  "Just let it all hang
loose for a few years."

Richie creased his brow.  "Hang loose?"

Methos' gaze was unwavering.  "Went insane," he said quietly.  Seeing
Richie's look, he shrugged.  "Happens to us all, from time to time.
Insanity is kind of like nature's pressure valve."

Unbidden, a memory of his first teacher coming at his with a sword,
eyes wild and unfocussed, flashed across his mind.  Involuntarily, he
shuddered.  "How long?"

Reia's gaze had not moved off her boots.  "Years.  Decades.  A long
time.  When I was feeling more myself again, I walked over the
mountains and down towards my homeland.  The bike was a rusted heap.
My sword wasn't much better.  The world had changed.  Everyone was
hungry and sick.  Made me wonder whether I was still insane, it was as
if I had descended into a world of walking corpses like the Plague a
hundred times over."

The men remembered the Food Riots, the Famine, the waves of disease
that preyed on a weakened and already decimated population.  Superbugs
and nuclear-mutated viruses.  What a time to return to reality.

"Sorry I missed your anniversaries, guys."  Reia finally looked at
them.  "I don't regret much, but I regret not being there for that.
Though I'm sure you found an appropriate way to celebrate."

Richie blushed under her lecherous smirk.  She still had the power to
make him blush as if he were really 19 again.  Hastily, he changed the
topic.  "But what are you doing here, now?  I never pictured you to put
on a uniform or take orders from anyone."

Reia smiled, a softer, more honest smile.  "Keeping a promise.  A man
made me the most beautiful sword once."  She shifted in her seat and
drew the weapon.  A long, tapered broadsword of the kind she had always
favoured.  However, this one had the rippled sheen normally seen only
on katana's and the like.  Swords which had not only been forged, but
folded.  It was a unique broadsword in either of their considerable
experience.  Reia continued with her story.  "Hiroshi was a beautiful
man, a truly gifted craftsman.  Had he been born even a hundred years
earlier, he would have been celebrated, his talent adored and
respected."  Her eyes caressed the blade, lost in bittersweet memory.
"But he was born in a time when the only talents worth having were the
ones that put food in your belly.  I took him in, shared whatever I
had, to give him the time he needed to make this for me.  But he would
accept no other payment.  He died soon after finishing this  it's the
only one of its kind."  The blade swished in a high quarter arc.
"Before he died, he asked if I would look out for his son  the boy
lived with his mother, away from his unstable influence."  Her lips
curled, making clear her opinion on the matter.  "I kept my word...and
kept on keeping it."  She shrugged and the sword vanished again.  "It
became habit.  I've been keeping an eye on that family now for nearly
two hundred years."

"And that's brought you here."

Reia nodded.  "The last son of the line.  Well, truthfully, the last
real son is a craftsman back on Earth.  But he doesn't know his only
child is a Foundling, and who I am to tell him?"

It took Methos only a moment to make the connection.  "Pre-Immortal?"

Reia nodded.  "The only way I could get on board to keep tabs on him
was as a science officer.  But you've been assigned to medical, haven't
you?"  Methos bobbed his head in agreement.  "Good.  That might
simplify matters."

Methos sat up.  "Oh no, you're not dragging me into it!  Look at what
happened to the last student I taught!"

Richie beat Reia by a fraction of a second.  "You wooed him, ravished
him and married him.  Should I be worried?"

Reia laughed at Richie's deadpanned act.  "Anyway, you won't be
responsible for his teachings.  I gave my word in that regard.  I may
just need your help...keeping an eye on him."

Reia and Richie both fixed him with a look.  The Oldest Man sighed.
Maybe, on a good day, he could resist Reia, but when Richie gave him
that puppydog look, he was lost to all reason.  "Fine, okay!" He
capitulated as he threw his hands into the air.  "Who is this kid,
anyway."

Reia rose to her feet before Methos could change his mind.  "Come on,
you can buy me dessert and I'll point him out to you."

~~##~~