Title: In the End
Emilie Renee Karr - www.xmagicalx.net

Rating: PG
Summary: Fifty years after Dana Scully left the FBI to join the 
Watchers, she rejoins Mulder in Paris to observe the Gathering, the 
final battle of the Immortals, of which there can be only one 

This is my first Highlander fanfic attempt.  (Since I'm relatively 
experienced with TXF I thought I'd start with what I knew.) It 
derives entirely from the TV series (hence there is no Connor 
MacLeod.  Too confusing to throw the movie(s) in too, I'm sorry) 
and since I'm a new fan, it possibly might conflict with the show, 
too-please tell me if you notice any big problems.  

Disclaimer: (deep breath) Mulder, Scully and the X-files belong to 
Chris Carter and 10-13 productions; Duncan MacLeod, Methos, and the 
whole idea of Immortals going through history chopping eachothers' 
heads off belong to Davis and Panzer and Rysher entertainment.  
This here story belongs to me, but unlike these other guys' stuff 
it's not making me any cash.  Hope you enjoy it all the same!

                          In the End

                       Emilie Renee Karr

She knew.  Long before even the immortals themselves were aware of 
the calling in their blood, she felt the undercurrents of the world, 
the strangeness in the air, and she knew where it all would lead.

Now it had come to this, almost all said and done, and from the 
shadows she watched the end.

A month before, Dana Scully had picked up her comphone and spoke 
the name of her long-ago partner.  Within a moment the computer had 
searched all databases, found its target, and connected her to Fox 
Mulder, currently of Seattle, Washington.

"Scully!" His mouth curved into a smile.  Even on the small screen she 
could see his eyes brighten, gazing at her image with rapt attention. 
"So, how's retirement treating you?"

"Same as ever." Twenty years passed and still he asked, still caring 
about the answer.  If ever she happened to be unhappy--"And you?"

"Can't complain." Some thirty years prior he had finally retired.  
For the decade and a half he had stayed in the Bureau after she 
left, he had worked diligently on the X-files, uncovering secrets 
as always, sometimes to acclaim, other times to silence.  But he 
insisted that none of his other partners could hold a candle to 
her, and sometimes she suspected his heart hadn't been in it.

Old regrets.  Given her life over she would have played it the same 
way.  And Mulder never once begrudged her quitting.  At her wedding 
he had been the best man, a concession her husband had made 
willingly.  Her former partner agreed whole-heartedly that Allen 
Kresge was a good man, almost deserving of her, though Mulder 
continued to call her Scully.  When Allen had died years ago Mulder 
had been there, comforting, loving, never trying to fill the hole 
in her heart but helping heal it.  

Just as he had never questioned her about her decision to leave the 
Bureau for a profession more dangerous still.  Scully suspected 
that was because her second occupation cleaved nicely with Mulder's 
own skewed views of the world; joining a secret organization 
devoted to the observation of immortal beings was right up his 
alley.  If he didn't become part of it, at least he was related 
through his partner.

And possibly he blamed himself for her induction.  If not for 
working alongside him in the X-files, she never would have learned 
of her latent psychic talents.  And it would be doubtful that her 
path ever would have crossed with Joe Dawson's, and certainly if 
her mind had not been opened by past experiences with the X-files 
she never would have believed what she had seen and heard and felt 
after that.

"So how's the hobby?" Mulder understood the necessity of keeping 
secrets.  And it was a hobby; after twenty-five years of devoted 
service to the Watchers, Scully had stepped down from her unique 
position.  But once a Watcher, ever more so--she kept close tabs on 
goings-on.  Especially in honor of her mentor's memory; Joe would 
have wanted someone to keep an eye on his chosen player in the 
Game. Besides, Duncan MacLeod was quite a diversion to watch.

"The hobby," she said, "is why I called.  Care to come to Paris 
with me?"

"After fifty-five years, at last she invites me to the City of 
Love." And he agreed to come.  She had expected nothing less.

They met at JFK Airport, exchanged a brief hug.  She teased him 
gently about his lack of hair; less of the silver strands on his 
skull every time she saw him.  The lines on his face had reached 
their maximum depth a while before; if it wasn't for the balding 
he'd appear as unchanging as an Immortal.

He never seemed to notice her appearance, but she could see herself 
in the mirror with her glasses, feel her limbs whine crossly with 
every motion.  The hair filling her brush had been snow-white too 
long for her still to notice.  

She caught a young couple smiling at them patronizingly, admiring 
the dutiful love of an ancient pair.  No use glaring, and she 
wasn't embarrassed to be mistaken for Mulder's wife, but she had a 
brief desire to confront them, ask them to picture their own selves 
in sixty years.  They probably wouldn't even be as fit, if they 
were still alive.  Remind them that Time brings down nearly all 
humans, in the end.

Nearly, but not all.  A quiet warning imposed itself on her inner 
mind, and she identified a younger woman seated in front her and 
Mulder.  Seemingly in her thirties, but she could be three hundred 
just as easily.  

Scully nudged Mulder. "There," she whispered, pointing her out. 

Mulder eyed the woman askance before gazing back at his partner.  
Too confident in her abilities to ask if she was sure, but all the 
same wary.  Even he could be unnerved by her on occasion.  At such 
times his eyes would always dart to the back of her neck, as if 
trying to see under the skin to the implant that suppressed her 
cancer even as it unlocked her psychic potential.

Scully ignored him, caught up in her search. "There, too," 
indicating a man with the appearance of being in his early forties, 
"and him as well." The other man was barely a teenager if one went 
by looks alone.

Mulder surveyed them. "Three Immortals in one place, all heading 
for Paris?"

Scully nodded.  "Isn't it sort of unusual?" Mulder pressed. "I 
mean, unless this plane's been declared holy ground..."

"I hope," Scully whispered back, "that they each have enough honor 
and confidence to avoid confrontation before we land.  Flying's 
supposedly safe but I wouldn't trust this plane to withstand a 

"Do you know any of them? Do they have enough honor?"

"He does," and she leaned her head toward the teenage boy. "Joshua 
Barns, going on 900, and very conscious of protocol.  Not sure 
about the others."

"But why are they all here?"

Scully's expression altered briefly.  Her calmness was overcome by 
an intensity mixed with other, more disturbed feelings.  "To die."

And as happened sometimes, with as much clarity as she could feel 
Immortals, he understood her thoughts. "All but one.  So it's to be 

Scully pulled herself into focus, nodded. "For months I've been 
feeling it--but now I'm convinced."

"So," and though his tone was joking his look was deadly serious, 
"what are the chances of the city surviving it?"

"10,000 Quickenings over such a short period?" Not to mention the 
final Quickening, the end of the Game, when the Gathering was at 
last complete and the prize claimed--"There will be some problems."

"Is that why we're going?" Mulder asked softly. "Or are you 

She shook her head. "Not for this.  I don't know why, but..." 
Usually she felt what Immortals felt, despite her mortal status.  
Sometimes she could touch even deeper--Immortal or not, she knew 
first-hand the agonizing ecstasy of a Quickening. But though she 
sensed the compulsion driving all Immortals now, she was not drawn 

It wasn't concern for her fellow man or the city they had built 
that sent her to Paris.  It wasn't even curiosity, though any 
Watcher would be fascinated to watch the Gathering.  Surely most of 
them had figured it out already; even without her abilities to 
guide them, if they watched the recent travels of Immortals the 
pattern would have been obvious.

"I don't believe we're alive for this," she murmured to Mulder.  
And he smiled at her, not seeing the sorrow behind the words.  

She hadn't wanted to see this.  If ever she had been grateful to be 
mortal it was that she had thought she would die before the end of 
the Game.  That the relationships she had formed, against the 
Watcher code, would be safe until death, never broken until she 
laid herself down for the final time.

Here and now, she stood wishing she could close her eyes, but the 
Watcher had to live up to her title.  In the streetlight the swords 
gleamed, metallic clashes resounding across the empty street.  And 
she had against her expectations outlived all but two of her 
Immortal companions.

When they had arrived, Mulder and Scully took adjacent hotel rooms, 
as always; and as always Mulder soon enough was in hers, talking 
with her.  Their conversation ranged across inanities as they  re-
acquainted themselves with the easy familiarity they shared.  

It took less than an hour before she lifted her head, announced, 
"One's outside," a moment before there was a knock on the door.

Mulder rose, groaning, and opened it, nodding to the man that 
entered. "Hello, long time no see."

Scully couldn't help contrasting the sleek figure of this new man 
against her one-time partner.  Tall, not hunched with age, hair 
still gleaming black, swarthy skin unlined and dark eyes still 
clear.  In fifty years Duncan MacLeod had not altered, except for 
the length of his hair and the style of his clothes.  He shook 
hands with Mulder, kissed her lightly on the cheek.  Though he 
hadn't seen Mulder in a decade he made no sign that he noticed any 
changes in him.  A gentleman to the last, who wouldn't hurt his 
friends by reminding them of the fundamental differences between 
him and them.

"It's good seeing you," MacLeod said, words shaped by the traces of 
Scottish accent he made no attempt to purge.  

"I wish the circumstances were better," Scully allowed.

"You know--of course you'd know," the Immortal replied. "I 
never..." He shook his head.  "I knew it would come to this, of 
course," he continued reflectively, "but it's so soon..."  Of 
course for a man pushing 500, soon was an extremely relative term, 
but the two mortals sympathized.

Lightning cracked nearby, and all three started.  The Highlander 
was the quickest to regain composure. "That's not a storm," he 
informed them.

Mulder nodded.  Scully closed her eyes, feeling the repercussions 
of the Quickening wash over her mind.  "It was close."

"Right outside the window.  I saw the challenge when I entered," 
MacLeod's voice was distant, thoughtful. "One less battle," he went 
on; then, "One less of us."

"How's it going?" On the taxi ride to the hotel they had already 
seen evidence, shattered street lamps, scorched walls.  Vandalism, 
their cabby had shrugged it off, it's on the rise.  Never guessing 
how much it would rise in the days to come.

The Immortal shrugged, the weight of his expression belying the 
casual gesture. "I've been here under a week and have taken six 
heads."  He ignored, or perhaps didn't see, the look of shock on 
the others' faces.  "They all challenged me.  For no reasons, or 
inconsequentials.  I had known one of them for over a century.  She 
didn't listen to me, and when I disarmed her she attacked without 
her sword..."  

"It's the Gathering, in your blood," Scully told him quietly. 
"Driving you all to do this, whether you want to or not."

"It's a choice," MacLeod said. "Attack and kill or refuse battle 
and be killed.  All those Immortals who believed in peace are 
already dead.  The ones of us left are those willing to fight--but 
that's the majority."

"What will you choose in the end?" Scully asked quietly.

For a time the Immortal was silent.  "I fight," he admitted. "It's 
how I've always lived.  If you could help me, I can find the worst, 
those killing with no reason, those driven mad or already mad.  If 
I can take them down--"

"I'll help the search," Scully agreed. 

MacLeod met her eyes directly, at last nodded. "You should be safe, 
safer than usual among these, because now the only thing any 
Immortals are hunting is our own kind--killing mortals has palled."

"I'll contact the other Watchers."

"I'll return this evening," the Highlander told them, and departed.  

When Scully felt his presence wane she collapsed onto the bed, 
released a long breath. "I'm surprised you couldn't feel that."

"I could see his tension," Mulder said, "but you're the non-
Immortal Immortal detector."

"I always feel something, but not like that," Scully admitted. "If 
that's what they're experiencing now, small wonder this is breaking 

Mulder carefully seated himself on the easy chair next to her. "He 
wants to stop it, doesn't he."

"That sounded like his goal, yes," she agreed.  

"But if he starts attacking..."

She bowed her head. "I know.  But there's a chance he won't fall 
down that trap.  Duncan's powerful, Mulder.  When push comes to 
shove he's one of the very strongest, not only in fighting skill, 

"In morality," he mused.

"Honor, yes," Scully said, "and will, and that's all strengthened 
by his power--he may not be as old as Methos but he's taken the 
heads of some of the strongest Immortals."

Mulder frowned slightly and Scully put a hand on his arm. 
"Different rules for them.  Different than the ones I was raised 
by, and I still don't know if they're wrong or right, but it's how 
they live.  In the end, there can be only one--and Duncan MacLeod 
is one of the few who could hold that right yet stay uncorrupted."

"It's the paradox that worries me," Mulder muttered. 

"What do you mean?"

"If he is so incorruptible, he's in danger of falling prey to his 
own good intentions.  In the end, could he kill a friend?  Not a 
casual acquaintance, but a true friend? What if it comes down to 
that, Scully?" 

Kill or be killed, she thought.  How to win, when the blow that 
would save him would in essence be a corruption? How could she, or 
anyone, trust he who had struck down one close to him for power?  
Yet if the friend attacked...

She had tried not to think of it, hoping in some dark way that the 
Highlander's final opponent would be evil beyond question, a target 
to be decapitated without second thought.  She avoided pondering 
alternatives, just as she avoided picturing the deaths around her, 
avoided thinking that MacLeod wouldn't be one of the final 
contestants, avoided recalling Dark Quickenings.

But thoughts do not rule the way of the world, and just because 
something is unthinkable doesn't mean it cannot happen.  This final 
fight, like nothing she had imagined, whether because it was beyond 
belief or merely beyond what she wanted to believe--she watched it 
spellbound and sorrowful, mourning its outcome no matter which way 
it went.

After MacLeod had left, she and Mulder had traversed the city, 
stepping carefully everywhere they went.  Around them, surrounding 
them, unknown to Mulder but buzzing as beacons to her sense, were 
the Immortals.  

Very few were peaceful; all were restless.  Some growled at 
passerbys non-discriminatorily, others watched from the shadows, a 
few walked the streets with an illusion of relaxation.  This image 
vanished the moment they found themselves too close to another 

Twice during their walk they saw the sheen of a sword under 
overcoats and capes, the combatants stealthily slipping away into 
hidden corners.  Once they actually saw the flash of lightning, 
normal people running confused from it appearing out of the 
cloudless sky.  And Scully felt Quickenings around her with a 
constancy steady enough that she began to block them out almost 
without thinking.

More than once she spotted Immortals familiar to her.  They didn't 
know her, of course, and even if they had she doubted they would 
have recognized her.  Not in their current states.

It didn't impact her, the violence of it all didn't fully register, 
until she sensed Immortals close but could see none.  Searching 
around, she and Mulder found the warriors, battling in an 
unoccupied warehouse.  

"Amanda!" gasped Scully, recognizing the woman; but no sooner had 
she spoken when the man swung his sword in a graceful, unstoppable 

"No!" she cried out, as the body dropped to the floor in permanent 
death.  The man looked up at them, murder gleaming in his eyes, but 
then the Quickening began.

Scully shuddered as the power flooded over her, overwhelmed by the 
feeling of it, the almost-familiarity and the loss accompanying it.  
It was as if she could hear the Immortal woman's voice, screaming 
in anger and anguish at her lost life.  

Mulder, unaffected, ignoring the lightning burning through his 
partner, grabbed her arm and shoved her into running before the 
killer attacked them for being witnesses to his crime.  They could 
move neither very far nor very fast, and Scully felt an Immortal 
presence very close and knew there was no escape.

"In here," said a voice in her ear, and then she was lifted up 
bodily despite her protests, Mulder shepherded  into the alcove 
after her.  Once placed onto the ground she looked up and almost 
smiled, despite the circumstances.

"Mulder," she quieted him with the simple use of his name, "It's 
okay.  We should be safe."  She looked into the angular face, 
meeting the wild cool eyes for the longest time she could bear.  
"This is a Watcher; his name is Adam Pierson."

"The third," the man said lightly, "but that subterfuge is 
unnecessary now as it is.  Adam Pierson III won't exist for much 

"And what of Methos?" Scully asked.

"I don't know how much more time he has, either," he replied 
without any sign of discomfort, then looked over at the other 
mortal. "Now, who's your friend?"

Scully closed and opened her eyes, took a deep breath before 
speaking.  "May I introduce Fox Mulder.  Mulder, this is Methos."

"Charmed," Methos assured him.

"I'm sure," Mulder responded, eyes widening as he recalled the 

"You're not a Watcher, are you?" the Immortal inquired. "I thought 
I knew most of them."

"No," Mulder began, "I'm here with Scully..."

"To watch the end."

"You don't seem too concerned," Mulder remarked cautiously.

"After 5,000 years," Methos explained, "very little bothers me, and 
what does I don't let show."

"What he means," Scully said, "is that he sometimes likes to 
display his emotions, and other times not, and sometimes he'll 
simply express the complete opposite.  Whatever he chooses at the 

"Whatever is safest at the time," she was corrected.

And of course it had been safer not to care.  Wise, very wise, the 
eldest of all Immortals.  Methos' youthful looks, younger even than 
the average Immortal, and his cavalier-seeming attitude masked the 
sharp certainty of his ancient mind.  The plots that occasionally 
wove inside his skull were deeper than any mortal could hope to 
comprehend, more twisted than most Immortals could track.

"I've been out of the Watcher circuit," Methos went on, "how is 
Duncan MacLeod faring?"

"You're part of the Game, now," Scully remarked. "I shouldn't tell 

"If he hasn't yet been brought down by his ridiculous idea of 
chivalry, he's doing fine," Methos stated. "And I think that you'd 
show some reaction if he'd lost his head."

"Don't be so complacent," she snapped. "At least one of you will 
lose no matter what!"

"Well, I don't plan to," Methos assured her smoothly.  In his face 
one could almost see the aspect of a cobra or a crocodile; some 
cold-blooded creature, awaiting its chance to strike.

Scully shuddered, immensely disliking the change the Gathering had 
wrought on one she called a friend.  "If you survive, that's all 
that matters?" she asked. "You'll be all alone, if you think any of 
us will stay by your side, condone murder--Amanda's dead, Methos."

The Immortal frowned, and an emotion like pain flitted across his 
tight features. "Are you positive?"

"We watched her be killed," Mulder affirmed grimly.

"I felt her Quickening," Scully added, grieved yet relieved that 
the sudden news seemed to have momentarily brought Methos back to 

That passed. "She's not the last one," he hissed. "Feel that?"

Indeed, Scully could, though Mulder was blind to it as always.  
Methos turned, and his sword was in his hand, a meter of polished 
steel.  "Get along," he told them, as if dismissing children, "this 
is my Game."

"Wait--" Scully began, but Mulder pulled her away and they 
continued down the streets, ignoring the sounds of swords clashing 
behind them.

End Part 1

Title: In the End  2/5
Author: Emilie Renee Karr

She waited until they were back in the hotel room before letting 
the tears flow.  Mulder sat next to her, stroking her white hair, 
silent and supporting.  She didn't even know for whom she was 
weeping--for Amanda, for all the Immortals killed, for those who 
were dying even as they survived.  For friends lost in more than 
battles.  "I wish you had met him before," she tried to tell 
Mulder, "Before this he was one of the kindest I knew..." She had 
been told of Methos's past, but that was so long ago, and until 
this time she had never been able to really believe in the specter 
of Death that had been described to her.

The Highlander came late that night, after she had already climbed 
into the hotel bed and was attempting sleep.  He apologized shortly 
for his disturbance and then demanded what he wished from her.

His tone was stressed, his visage tense in the soft light of the 
bedside lamp.  "I fought two at once less than an hour ago," he 
explained upon seeing her look.  "Taking a double Quickening..." 

She lowered her gaze, murmuring,  "Death in the air."

"One I know?" he asked,  hearing the catch in her voice.

No way to soften the truth. "Amanda."

"Who?" he rasped.  No other words, and that one was cold as ice, 
frozen as a frigid glacier and just as inexorable.

"I didn't recognize him--"

"Identify him."  For a moment she thought he would dart away, but 
he stayed, still, a tiger waiting in ambush.  "Is there any I 
should target now?"

Scully gave him descriptions of those she supposed to be the worse, 
adding, "I don't know how many are still around, but if they're 
taken it would be a benefit to the world."

"Then I'll take them." For others such determination would be 
egotistical fantasy; for MacLeod it was a vow as unbreakable as the 
numerous others he had made in his life.

"Duncan," she stopped him with the quiet name, meeting his eyes. 
"Be careful.  And I mean more than just while fighting."

"I'll keep my head."  Some glint of humor lurked in his feral 
smile. "In all respects." And he was gone.

She wasn't to see him again for days.  Together she and Mulder 
walked the boulevards, sat at the cafes, inspected the shops of 
Paris.  Giving all the appearance of a couple of senior citizens 
enjoying a rare sight-seeing trip, but all that truly mattered to 
Scully was what she felt occurring around her, and all that 
mattered to Mulder was her response to it.  He spent no nights 
after that in his own room; without his presence close sleep was 
impossible.  As he had been years before he was a stability in her 
life, a certainty when all else she believed in and loved crumbled 
around her.

The peak came soon enough.  What television broadcasts made it 
through the static warned citizens to stay indoors.  Meteorologists 
world-wide were summoned to study the phenomenon plaguing the city, 
the stormless lightning assaulting Paris indoors and out.  More 
terrifying still were the murders, the bodies that began to be 
found as Immortals lost what cares they had of disposing of their 
kind.  So many discovered, yet so few identified; detectives 
tackled case after case without finding a single clue.  

An exodus occurred, compensation for the influx of Immortals the 
short time before, as massive amounts of mortal humans, fearing the 
unknown, fearing death, fled their homes.  Jobs quit, relationships 
torn asunder, and midst it all Mulder and Scully carried on with 
their innocent activities, knowing the danger was not for them.

Two days later that was over.  The lightning ceased; the corpses 
decreased in number.  Scully no longer felt the continuous 
Quickenings, though those she did pick up were more powerful than 
before, reaching further, lasting longer, revealing more.

She dreaded that final one, at the climax of the Gathering, when 
the One took the last's head and power.  Her terror of feeling that 
was almost as great as her dread of who that One would be.  

And now she dreaded that it was nearly ended, that soon there would 
be a final One.  That Quickening approached with the undeniable 
constancy of time, every second, every slash of their swords 
bringing the finale one moment closer.

"They're all dead." Just as she had wondered if he was, before 
Duncan MacLeod appeared in her room.  If his body was whole and 
uninjured, his clothes told a more truthful version of the battles 
he had fought.  What tatters he wore; and his eyes, dark as black 
holes, able to absorb the brightest Quickening into their depths 
and still have room for infinite more.  Room enough perhaps for the 
last one, if he indeed was the one to take it.  

Mulder gave the Highlander one long searching look and exchanged a 
glance with Scully, uncertainty in his gaze.  Perhaps MacLeod 
didn't see that, but he heard the palpable silence. "The ones you 
named," he said impatiently. "I've killed them or they were someone 
else's Quickening."

"Do you want another list?"

"I want the name of Amanda's slayer," he growled. "I want to make 
him pay, as I've exacted my price from Cassandra's killer, and 
Willy's, and Keyra's, and some of the others."

Scully spoke carefully. "You realize there is more at stake here 
than revenge."

"I realize," the words dangerously calm, "that nearly every 
Immortal I've ever called a friend, or a companion, or a lover, is 
dead.  And that it's my destiny, my purpose, to kill the others of 
my kind as it is.  If I must kill, I will kill who I want.  It will 
be a choice, not just an instinct.  And there must be reason."

"Don't forget that, Duncan," she said quietly. "For the sake of all 
of us who aren't in this war, don't forget that." 

She waited.  Finally he stooped, kissed her forehead.  "I won't."

Then she told him. "I couldn't identify who took Amanda's 
Quickening.  The odds are that's already been revenged by another.  
Maybe intentionally, more likely not."

Anger clouded his face only briefly, forced out by resolve.  "You 
have to help me now," he explained. "Many of those left are in 
hiding.  If you could locate the ones laying ambush, we might be 
able to diffuse the situation."

"After what I've seen I have doubts a peaceful resolution'll be so 
simple," Mulder offered complacently.

MacLeod rounded on him,  his pain and fury finding a target. 
"Should I go around taking the head of every Immortal I sense? 
Maybe it would be simpler if I just lopped off the heads of 
everyone I bumped into, just to be sure?" With one swift motion his 
katana was at Mulder's throat, normally shining blade spotted with 
old blood, pressing into the loose, wrinkled skin.

"Don't let it get to you, Duncan," Scully murmured gently. "If you 
let him disturb you so much you won't have a chance in a true 

Another flash of silver and the sword had vanished.  "I'm sorry," 
Mulder whispered, feeling his neck for scratches. "That came out 

The Immortal apologized brusquely, but Scully could see the hint of 
shock in his stance and understood how shaken he actually was by 
his loss of control. "No harm was done," she reminded him. "If 
you're careful, you'll stay on top of this.  You're Duncan MacLeod 
of the Clan MacLeod--"

"I'll do my best to remember that," he assured her, and somehow she 
mustered a smile to reward him.

"I'll look tomorrow." With her skills, tracking the remainders 
would not be difficult--those last ones, she found it hard to wrap 
her mind around the concept that the ones in this city were the 
last in the world.  But all had been called here, and all had come, 
and soon they would all be gone.

"Meanwhile," she suggested, "sleep here."

He blinked at her. "Come on," Scully said impatiently, "where will 
you be safer? I'll warn you of any coming long before they arrive."

"So would my mind," he reminded her, and she knew it must be more 
sensitive than ever, because of the circumstances, and because of 
his immense increase in power.  So many Quickenings in such a 
limited span of time...but nevertheless he took her offer, and soon 
enough was deep asleep on Mulder's bed.

"Amazing how objective you Watchers are," Mulder remarked. "Not 

"It's all in support of my piece in the Game," Scully argued 

"I'm not protesting," he answered. "All my chips are on him, after 

"Mulder," she began, and then couldn't keep up the lightness, "I 
don't want a funeral, I have to mourn for so many, I don't want to 
have to mourn another.  I've lost--" she didn't want to count, she 
didn't even want to remember the faces floating up before her eyes.  
Old losses and new, family members, lovers, murder victims and 
those fallen to age.  And now so many many more faces, so many more 
names that she had always thought would exist outside of her 
memory, or at least until she herself was a memory.  Having to 
preserve those that she had thought would preserve her.  

If only it was Duncan MacLeod, then inside him would be kept all of 
them, their selves Quickened in his heart and mind for eternity.  
It was all she had left to hope for, that some stranger or some 
monster wouldn't be the holder of such importance.  In the 
Highlander, that which was good might be saved, the best of 
everyone living if only slightly.

She never could explain this to Mulder, and yet he understood it, 
or maybe he didn't but accepted it all the same.  At least he held 
her gently and said nothing else, though they didn't sleep.  She 
stayed awake, guarding her piece, and he stayed awake to hold her.

Searching the next day they found so many fewer than had existed 
only a week before that tears wet her face as they walked.  Though 
some might have deserved their fate, the majority had not, and she 
grieved for those she didn't know as well as for those she did.

They found other Watchers as well.  Some shared her sorrow; others 
merely mourned the ending of the Game, the loss of purpose and the 
death of their organization.  Many willingly told her where 
Immortals hid, and who did so dishonorably, to take others in 

One spoke freely of a minor occurrence and missed how it brightened 
Scully's countenance, if only a bit. "This is a gathering of 
Watchers as well," he remarked, "I've never seen so many of us in 
such close proximity.  Even Adam Pierson's grandson quit his life 
as a recluse, or so I heard.  Yesterday he was supposedly seen at 
the site of some major Quickening, not that I'd know him in person.  
Wonder if he's actually managed to track Methos in the confusion."

"If Methos is still alive," Scully said, "he's probably more wary 
than ever."

"Probably," agreed the Watcher amiably, "but still, to see the 
oldest, right before the end--and what a Quickening he would be!"

They couldn't feel Quickenings, not the way she could, but just 
watching one's energy flow was the high point of many a Watcher's 
career.  Scully was sure that many of those present were here, not 
to observe the end, but simply to be spectators at what would 
assuredly be the most intense, powerful Quickening of all history.

And yet she was the only one who would see it.  The streets the two 
fought in were deserted; none of the other Watchers had her 
abilities to guide them to the occasion.  When the final Quickening 
came, so very soon now, the only two to experience it would be her 
and the winner, whichever he was.

"You're not worried about him, are you," Mulder had commented to 

"What do you mean?" Surely he couldn't read her so wrongly after so 
many years?

"You're worried for his sanity, maybe.  For his soul.  For his 
ultimate victory," Mulder elucidated. "But right now, when we're 
getting to the final rounds, and MacLeod's off to battle the moment 
you find him a target--you're positive every time that he'll come 

Scully thought back to through the past few days.  To every time 
Duncan left, and she bade him good-bye.  Even with an "au revoir" 
the last time.  See you again.  Whether or not she meant to, she 
was making an assumption there. "I suppose," she explained slowly, 
"that I can't really imagine that he could be killed.  Not so 

"Look outside," Mulder murmured. "None of their fights are 'simple' 

"Dammit, Mulder, I know that."  Scully hugged her arms around 
herself, bit her lip. "He's too important," she whispered. "Too 
important to die only because he parries too slowly, or swings too 

"Too important to you?"

"To everyone!" she cried.  At Mulder's silent look she relented. 
"And yes, to me."

"And to everyone." He stood above her, put a hand on her chin to 
guide her gaze into his eyes.  Surrounded by creases, filmed with 
age, but always the eyes of her partner, her best friend, the one 
she had trusted her life to and far more, who had never betrayed 
that trust. "I'm not trying to hurt you," he said softly. "I don't 
want to see you hurt."

Acting out of need more than impulse she put her arms around him, 
felt him start in surprise and then return the embrace.  Muffled by 
his shirt she spoke. "I'm glad I'm not Immortal.  I don't want an 
eternity of this."

For a time he didn't answer.  His hand stroked her hair, a 
comforting a gesture as she could imagine, like memories of being 
in her mother's lap.  Not as safe, but she had long ago learned 
that safety was an illusion.  

When he spoke, she heard the words through his chest rather than by 
air. "I'm glad that neither of us are."

Some faint sound reached her ears from outside.  Paying closer 
attention she heard something internal as well. "There's an 
Immortal nearby." 

They took the elevator down and stepped outside into the sunlight.  
Focusing, she located the source of the buzz by the hotel's 
dumpsters in the back alley.  Between two they found the body of 
Duncan MacLeod, covered in blood, no pulse.

"We better bring him in before someone sees him," Scully said 

"And calls the hospital?"

"Well, yes," she agreed, "but I was more worried about another 

"There's the stoic Watcher, non-interfering as always." He helped 
her drag MacLeod inside the hotel and onto the elevator. "Thank God 
everything's electronicized, this would be a tough one to explain 
to the operator," Mulder remarked. "I do wonder what the cleaners 
will think about the blood-stains, though."

They had no sooner got the body through the door and shut it behind 
them when he inhaled with a sharp gasp and opened his eyes.  
Wincing, the Highlander jumped to his feet, surveying the area 
before relaxing into a less combative pose.  "Thank you," he told 
them.  "I didn't even know I made it back here.  I was sure I 

"You made it as far as the door," Mulder informed him. "We helped 
with the rest."

"What happened?" Scully asked.

MacLeod glanced down at the blood still wetting him, though the 
wounds were closed.  "I nearly lost," he explained grimly, "I 
hadn't wanted to win."

"Who did lose?"  Difficult, balancing her concern against her need 
to know.

"Steven Keane." The Immortal closed his eyes, opened them again, 
aware that to survive now was to be forever alert.  "I never wanted 
to fight him again, and he didn't want to fight me, and yet the 
moment we found ourselves too close it was as if all those past 
cries for revenge started again, louder than ever." Shaking his 
head, he withdrew his sword, stared at the dull surface. "It's 
getting blunt," he commented, as if to himself. "I should be taking 
better care."  Perceiving the regards of the two mortals he lifted 
his head, raised a shoulder and let it drop. "What would you want 
to hear?  We fought.  I cut him, he did the same to me.  I 
stumbled, yet when the opportunity came to take my head, he froze.  
He raised his sword and waited too long to let it fall.  And I took 
him then.

"The Quickening--it was bad.  You can understand that." He was 
looking at Scully.  "So much to absorb, and they're dangerous now.  
They alert others.  I found somewhere to hide, but when it was over 
someone came for me.  Everything was still unclear, but my 
instincts were still there, and I held up my own, and then he 
slashed me deep--" MacLeod glanced down, where his shirt was rent 
in two. "I don't know exactly what I did, I somehow pressed 
forward, stabbed into his heart.  He fell, was right beneath my 
sword, and I ran.  Didn't try to take his head.  Just ran here, 
dying--and then I woke up in this room."

His tale trailed to its conclusion.  "I froze, too," he said at 
last.  "Not fighting Keane, but after, against whoever that 
Immortal was."

"Don't be angry with yourself," Scully began, "it's 

"I'm not angry." The Highlander almost smiled. "What happened, both 
times, it proves something.  We're not entirely mindlessly driven.  
We don't *have* to kill when the chance comes.  We can fight each 
other, but we also can fight the instinct to do so."

"It's going to become harder all the time, though," Scully warned. 
"You've experienced this yourself.  You can't truly help it.  Maybe 
for a brief instant, a quick reprise when you can stay your hand, 
but then your sword is in it and you have to act."

"No, we choose to act," argued MacLeod.  "And if I could get others 
to believe me..."

"Do a favor for me," Scully requested, "before you go ask them.  
Spend the night here.  Rest and recuperate, get up your strength.  
That way if they do attack--"

"I'll sleep here," the Immortal decided, promptly laid himself out 
on her bed, and fell asleep.  Not deeply, though, and not restful.  
>>From the way he threw the covers around his nightmares must have 
been more vicious even then his current life.

Mulder, observing this, mentioned, "Dying takes something out of 
them, doesn't it."

"No." Scully shook her head. "Not more than a temporary tiredness.  
This is due to living."

"Casual,"  Mulder commented.

"What do you mean?"

"The way," he indicated MacLeod, "that you talk about his death.  
Not his 'real' one, but--he was dead, Scully, I saw those wounds.  
And now he's sleeping but not even hurt.  I know I knew all this 
already, I'd even seen it before myself, but..." He laughed dryly.  
"Guess things have changed.  All the longevity treatments, all 
these ways we've found to extend our life span, still time catches 
up.  And it's finally caught me.  I feel it with every move I make.  
For the first time since I found out about them, I'm looking at Mac 
there and I'm jealous.  

"Because life is so casual--no," he saw Scully's expression. "No, 
life's not casual to them, but death is, usually.  Scully, when 
you...when I die, it's going to be permanent."

"I know." She wouldn't look at him. "Don't think I've forgotten 

"Do something for me," he asked. "It's selfish.  I'll ask anyway.  
I don't want you to be immortal, but I want you to live." He didn't 
demand that she face him but he took her hand, squeezed it tightly. 
"Until I die, I want you to promise you'll live."

"Mulder."  She whispered so softly it might almost have stayed 
unspoken. "I've outlived almost everyone I've ever cared about.  
Even them," she glanced at the Highlander, "even they're nearly all 
dead, and I'm still alive.  I want Duncan MacLeod to live, but that 
means that I desire the murders of other friends.  Most of whom 
have already been so sacrificed.  Why should I live, when everyone 
else is gone?"

"I'm here for now," Mulder reminded her. "And don't give up on your 
Immortal.  For all you know he has something worth paying attention 
to.  You haven't lost everyone yet."

"I might still lose them all," Scully said inaudibly. And she cast 
a look at one of the few remaining Immortals, wondering for how 
much longer she would be able to watch him.

Not for too much more, now.  Either way this battle went, her 
assignment, informal or not, would end when it did.  The Game had 
nearly been played out, and already the Watchers were disbanding, 
returning to their other occupations, their other hobbies and 
organizations and lives.  Unsure of the impact the winner would 
have on their lives, not caring once who they Watched was gone.

So she was the only Watcher left nearby, as her Immortal fought one 
who had passed through the centuries without a Watcher, no one 
observing his movement in history.  A private battle, not the 
spectator sport many Watchers had made of the Game.  Were it not 
for her allegiance to their greater purpose, to observation and 
correct records and the truth, she wouldn't watch at all.

End Part 2

Title: In the End  3/5
Author: Emilie Renee Karr

When MacLeod awoke, she talked with him briefly.  The 
restlessness which had disturbed his sleep affected him awake as 
well.  While she spoke he scanned the room, never focusing on 
anything for more than an instant; when he talked he paced, the 
energy animating his body as well as his voice.

"If we all split up, go off and are careful to stay out of each 
other's way," he postulated. "Maybe there's a chance..."

"You could do that," Scully pointed out. "Leave, hide, avoid this."

"Not if I want to do anything about it.  I have to find the others-

"To teach them?" she asked. "Or to fight them?"

"To convince them," argued the Immortal.  

She spoke patiently, gently. "You have to find them, though.  
That's what your blood is telling you to do." He didn't answer. 
"Duncan, I may not be forced to do this, but I can feel it all the 
same.  I know what you all are experiencing.  And every day it 
grows worse, gets stronger.

"You can feel every Immortal within a mile of here.  I know you 
can, because I can.  Even though before they'd need to be within a 
few dozen meters.  And you're so itching to hunt those ones out 
that you can't even sit down.  All of you are like that now.

"I'm not even trying to understand it anymore.  The source of this 
compulsion, why this should be part of who you are.  But you can't 
deny that this is.  I don't know if I believe in fate or destiny, 
but I do believe in natures, in instincts, and I'm wondering now if 
even the most powerful will can resist them in the end."

"I'll find out."  And he was gone.

Mulder shook his head. "I understand his point, I follow your own 
reasoning, and I can't even guess which is right.  Except that I 
don't know anybody anymore."


"Your perspectives." He sighed. "Duncan MacLeod, one of the great 
warriors.  Trying to achieve a peace he should know is impossible.  
Advocating everyone to beat their swords into plowshares when he's 
killed--how many times before?--without a qualm."

"That's what you've never seen," Scully stated tiredly. "He doesn't 
enjoy killing, at least not ever in the time I've known him.  He 
doesn't consider it the absolute last resort the way we do, but 
it's not his first option and he avoids it when possible.

"And in the last few decades he's been more resistant to taking 
heads.  He sensed this coming, and though he always knew it had to 
happen, he doesn't want it."

"That's obvious enough," Mulder agreed.

"Like me, Mulder.  These Immortals, some of them were his enemies 
but so many were friends.  He's lost everyone he knows.  That's the 
price of immortality, watching those you love die while you 
survive.  And now that's more real than ever--"

"And he's avoiding it.  What about you, Scully?" he asked. "How are 
you understanding this?"

"I don't--" she began.

"But you're accepting it.  Do you remember when we first met Joe 
Dawson, Duncan MacLeod?"

Despite herself she smiled. "I'm getting old but I haven't gone 


"You thought this was a hoax.  It took forever to convince you even 
when you saw Mac come to life before your eyes.  Remember how you 
argued about how impossible it was?"

"By my standards then, it was."

"I know, they've changed.  But your arguments.  Not against 
Immortals alone, but how they functioned.  Reproducing the species, 
that was one of your major contentions.  How could a species exist 
that was sterile in its very nature?"

"Still haven't figured that one out," she admitted.

"Well, it's a good point," he assented.  "Whatever I said about it 
then.  But now I think a better question is, what is the point of a 
breed, species, whatever they are, that's purpose is to fight 
itself down to one individual?  Carrying Darwin to the extreme, 
wouldn't you say?"

"I never said I understood it," Scully answered quietly. "All I 
understand is that this is the way things are with them.  I only 
can hope that there is some reason, some plan for it all."  One 
wrinkled hand lifted to her neck, touched the gold cross that she 
still wore, despite her break with the church so long ago, despite 
all she had seen to shake her faith.  "And I can be selfish and 
hope that if there can be only one, it will be someone I know, 
someone I care about, someone I love." 

"You're not being selfish," Mulder told her. "You're just being 

Her comphone rang. "Dana Scully here."

The voice on the other end gave a Watcher identification phrase and 
went on: "I heard you wanted reports on hiding Immortals.  Guess 
it's sort of late to give one now, but I thought I should tell you 
that I had been keeping quiet about my own..."

"Yes," Scully encouraged the other.

"Melinda's dead now, so it doesn't matter.  Your MacLeod killed 
her." There was no bitterness in the man's tone, only a bland 
acceptance. "As soon as he got close she just raced out and 
attacked.  Funny, he only defended at first.  Kept shouting 
something at her--I was keeping my distance, couldn't make out what 
he was saying.  She lowered her sword, I thought for a second they 
were going to just split, and then he brought up his sword and she 
charged, and well, it was over pretty fast.  He's quite an 
incredible fighter, isn't he."

Scully seconded this tonelessly.

"This is actually the second time I got to observe him in action," 
the Watcher rattled on. "Couple of days ago I saw him battling some 
Immortal I didn't know.  Funny thing there, he didn't kill that 
one.  Well, he killed him, but didn't take the head.  Didn't try 
that with Melinda, certainly."

The Watcher must have witnessed that fast fight after Duncan had 
taken Keane's Quickening. "You say you didn't recognize the 
Immortal he was fighting?"

"No, and there wasn't a Watcher around for him," the Watcher said. 
"I'd say that would make him a new one but he sure fought like he 
knew his business.  Right until he let MacLeod kill him.  Can't say 
where he is right now, but he survived that, I saw him earlier 
today.  Just barely avoided coming too close to Melinda." Slight 
pause before continuing.  "Well, I guess that's it for me.  No more 
watching." For the first time he sounded sorrowful.  

"Could you be a Watcher for a little longer?" she requested. "As a 
favor for me?"

"As a favor? Name it," he agreed eagerly.

"If you see that Immortal again, Watch him.  Report what you see." 
If he went after Duncan MacLeod again she wanted to know who he was.

"No problem.  Good luck, Dana Scully, with your own.  You got quite 
a candidate there--he might take the prize yet."  He disconnected.

"Duncan's plan isn't succeeding," Scully told Mulder. "He just 
killed an Immortal he couldn't convince."

"Then we do what we can." At her questioning look he went on, "We 
support him, we help him how we can, and we pray.  It's not as if 
we have that many other options."

"'We'?" she asked.

"We're partners," Mulder reminded her.  And she nodded, not having 
ever forgotten.

He said nothing when MacLeod didn't return that night, and made no 
protest when they drove around the city next day, she vainly 
seeking some sign of Immortal presence.  The two she felt were both 
strangers, stalking each other through the city, seeking and 
fleeing without realizing that they were hunted as well as hunting.  
She didn't attempt to reveal the truth to them, allowing that game 
to play out as it would.

For a week she quietly despaired.  Then one midafternoon she sensed 
a presence and soon enough their path intersected with Duncan 

He had been tense before; now there was no word to describe his 
state.  Strung taut to near the breaking point, his every move 
singing with frenzied control.  His voice was rough and forced, and 
in his face one could see his age, not the age at which he had 
first met death, but his true years, the four and a half centuries 
pushing through the mask of immortality.  

To her relief, however, he recognized them the moment he laid eyes 
on them.  And despite the stressed afflicting him he spoke 
reasonably, his words contradicting the insanity in his appearance. 
"Around," he replied to her demand of his whereabouts.  "Finding 
the others.  Taking Quickenings when necessary."

"What of your plan?" Mulder inquired cautiously.

The Highlander's expression didn't alter. "I've tried.  None will 
leave.  But," and a measure of triumph entered his hoarse voice, 
"not all will kill, either.  Even though we're being commanded to 
fight by our nature.  We can put down our swords, if we try hard 
enough.  There are ways to fight our own selves.  There needn't be 
only one--" and his satisfaction, joy even, was unmistakable--"if 
we back away, more than one will live through this."

Scully looked around. "There's another one living right in this 
area," she mentioned.

"A friend," MacLeod assured her. "I explained this to him.  He 
follows me to see others, maybe help convince them.  He's keeping 
his distance now because when we get too close--the closer we get 
the harder it is to resist.  Is he the only one you sense?"

"You're the only ones I've felt in two days," Scully told him.

Impossible to read the emotions that crossed the Immortal's face. 
"There will be more than one," he murmured, "but not many more.  I 
have to find them.  I'll seek you out soon, when I've found all the 
rest."  Without a good-bye he slipped down the alley, vanishing 
into the shadows.

"Like a vampire, hiding from sun," Mulder commented. 

"Better to be unseen even if he can't help but be felt," Scully 
replied.  "Follow me."

"Where are we going?" The pace was fast enough to wind him; her 
too, but she had more important matters on her mind.  Sparing no 
thoughts to cursing her age she concentrated on the feeling, the 
buzz in her mind, growing louder as she found the source.

He too was moving through shadows, hidden, though not so well as 
the one he followed.  She stared directly at him until he had no 
choice but to stand, reveal himself fully. "May I help you, ma'am?"

He was young, early twenties, curly light hair framing a wide, 
honest face, handsome with its eternal vigor.  He appeared  
reliable in ways she knew would prey on Duncan MacLeod's 
weaknesses, inspiring trust where none might actually be deserved.  

"Why should one Immortal follow another?" she demanded outright.

With her words his entire persona changed, darkening into something 
far more threatening. "Why should humans bother in affairs not 
their own?"

"Out of curiosity's sake," Mulder broke in abruptly. "Because we 
watch this Game you play even if we can't participate, and we like 
to have our chronicles as accurate as possible when we're 
delineating the motivations of you all."

A look of bafflement crossed the Immortal's face, followed by 
supercilious amusement. "I'd heard rumors of Watchers," he 
muttered, "but not that you were so direct.  Watch me closely, 
mortals, I intend to be the One."

"But not in fair combat?" asked Scully.

"There are no rules now," the Immortal informed her.  "I would have 
no chance against MacLeod in 'fair combat', but when he is next 
caught in a Quickening I can take his head, and with his power to 
back me the rest will soon follow!"  

Without warning he leapt forward and grabbed her, pressing her into 
the brick wall of the alley.  "Don't think I don't know your game," 
he growled. "Stay out of this one, and I'll have no quarrel with 
you.  Pick a side and I'll have no choice."  So saying, he flung 
her aside.  She felt a sharp blow of pain explode across her back 
and then the world faded to black.

Several minutes later she awoke to Mulder patting her cheeks, 
rubbing her hand and calling her name softly.  Opening her eyes she 
found herself on a stretcher, two uniformed paramedics standing 
nearby.  They hadn't loaded her into the ambulance yet but it was 
obvious they intended to. "I'm okay," she whispered raggedly. "I 
don't need a hospital..."

Mulder frowned, looked at them, back at her, then to them again.  
He spoke at last, "Is she all right?"

"She seems to be," one of the paramedics told him soothingly, "but 
we need to take her to the hospital to be sure."

"I'm sure." She managed to sit up with a bit of struggling. "I'm a 
doctor," she informed them, "I can diagnose myself.  God knows I've 
done it enough.  No concussion," she waved her fingers before her 
eyes, watching them, "no broken bones, no internal damage that I 
can feel--"

"Madame, we want to be sure," one of the paramedics began.

"Scully," Mulder said quietly, "you should go, you were 
unconscious. He could have really hurt you; you're not as young as 
you used to be," looking faintly embarrassed to have to say so.

"We've got more important things to worry about than my health," 
she hissed back to him. 

He looked exceedingly doubtful of that but turned to the 
paramedics. "I think my--wife" and he barely stumbled over the 
word, "is going to be okay.  I'll take her to the hospital just to 
be careful--I'm sure you have more pressing emergencies..."

With some protest he convinced them of his mastery of the 
situation.  Once they were in the car the ambulance departed, and 
Mulder started to drive back to the hotel.

"Where are you going?" Scully demanded, twisting in the seat.

"You may not need to be in the emergency room but it would be best 
if you took it easy," he informed her.

"Mulder," she said, "we have to find Duncan first.  If you think 
I'll rest before looking for him, you're dead wrong."

He sighed. "Where do you want me to go?"

"Back where we saw him last." She hoped that her heightened sense 
would be able to locate him.  Before he took another Quickening, 
and that mad Immortal boy took his head...

Nothing, not a whisper from the locale where they had rendezvoused.  
Mulder drove in a widening spiral around the central point, but the 
age-old search pattern failed them.  She caught not a whiff of any 
Immortal presence.

"Why did you call 911?" she fretted. "Maybe we would've gotten here 
faster if you hadn't--"

"I didn't," he answered her accusation complacently.

Momentarily distracted, she turned to him. "What do you mean?"

"I would have," Mulder explained. "But at first I wasn't sure how 
badly you were hurt, and your vitals seemed steady, and I knew what 
you'd want to do if you were in fact fine--and then the ambulance 
turned up.  Before I ever got out my comphone."

"Someone else called them."

"Unless the hospitals are making charity rounds looking for good 
deeds.  With France's national budget what it is I tend to doubt 
that.  Maybe it just was a concerned citizen."

"Who didn't want to get directly involved?" Possible, Scully 
admitted.  Maybe she was paranoid for thinking it didn't sound 

Maybe she had reason to be paranoid. "Who watches the Watchers?" 
her partner mused.  

They couldn t find MacLeod.  When they at last returned to the 
hotel, past midnight, Scully lay in her bed, eyes open and sick at 
heart.  Sleep never came.

When her phone rang the next morning she nearly refused to pick it 
up.  The automatic answer light galvanized her to act; if she must 
hear the report of Duncan's death she wanted it from a living soul, 
not a recorded message.  "Scully here."

It took her a second to place the voice on the other end. "I saw 
that Immortal I was Watching for you.  As a favor."

"Oh.  Yes?"

"Saw your Immortal, too," he went on.

She cut him off. "You saw Duncan MacLeod? Was he fighting--"

"Not when I saw him," the man said, sounding slightly peeved at the 
interruption. "Mind you it was only a short glance; you didn't ask 
me to watch *him*."

"About the other Immortal, then."

"Yeah.  Over the comphone net I heard report of a fight between two 
unknowns, so I high-tailed it to the locale.  Missed all but the 
actual beheading," obviously to the dissatisfaction of the Watcher, 
"but the Quickening was something.  Man, after this the next Fourth 
of July is going to be a big disappointment."

"Who took who?" she pressed.

"Our unknown took the Quickening.  The other Immortal was 
identified posthumously as Paul Gikken.  Some old-timer whose 
Watcher passed on a few years ago and the higher-ups never bothered 
to re-assign one--figured he wasn't much of a player, spent a lot 
of time hiding in hard-to reach locales, apparently.  Not a great 
fighter but crafty.  No one wanted to track him down."

"You said you saw MacLeod," Scully asked, thinking the man's story 

"Aren't you interested in the unknown?" the Watcher shot back, 
irritated. "There were quite a few of us watching this, from a 
distance at least, and none of us knew him.  Not that he gave us 
much of a chance to identify him; after the Quickening he took off 
so fast, you'd think he knew we were watching.  But nobody 
recognized him during the battle.  And from the way they were 
talking, his style should've been familiar to someone.  That guy's 

She tried to stay calm, patient. "Are you still Watching him?"

"I lost him after the Quickening," the man admitted.  "And he's 
keeping a low profile.  I have doubts I'll be able to find him 

"All right," she allowed. "It's not necessary.  Could you help me 
just a little more and tell me where you saw MacLeod?"

"After the fight," he replied instantly. "Came to investigate the 
Quickening, I guess.  Soon as he saw the body he took off again, 
maybe to try to hunt down the killer.  He didn't look happy."

"Thank you," Scully said sincerely, and hung up.

"Did they find him?" Mulder had entered the room during her 

"He was seen, at least," she imparted.  Taking out her comphone she 
punched in a query, breathed a long sigh of relief when the 
response appeared on the little screen.  "Paul Gikken's head was 
just taken.  Remember him?"

He squinted at the grainy identification pic.  "Ah.  Yesterday's 
pal.  So Mac's safe for now.  Did he wise up?"

"No." Scully frowned. "Someone else challenged Gikken.  And that's 
strange.  Because if they were that close to Gikken..."

"They would've been able to feel MacLeod, too.  Wouldn't he have 
been able to sense that one, though?"

She shook her head. "Not when he knew Gikken was behind him.  The 
sense is directional but it doesn't relate numbers.  The only 
notice he would've gotten of two would be the Quickening."

Mulder was swift as ever to understand. "So chances are MacLeod's 
on the warpath for the head of whoever killed Gikken.  And whoever 
that was, they knew Mac was there." He paused before drawing his 
next conclusion. Finally he said, "Our Highlander has more support 
than just you and me."

"I know." That frightened her.  Not only because Duncan didn't 
know.  But because way back when she had first started to work with 
Mulder, she had learned the lesson well that unknown quantities 
were not to be trusted, could not be trusted without proof.  
Whoever this Immortal was, he had his own agenda.  And she doubted 
that it coincided with the one at which she wanted Duncan MacLeod 
to succeed.

End Part 3

Title: In the End  4/5
Author: Emilie Renee Karr

Despite their daily, intense searching they found no more 
Immortals.  Scully paid close attention to the Watcher comphone 
network, but reports were few and far between.  When they came, 
they were invariably obituaries, one more Watcher packing up and 
leaving as they lost their stake in the game.  Most remaining 
Watchers, if they were lucky enough to still have an Immortal, 
could not find their subject until after death.  Those few that 
were still watching in the literal sense of the word were 
suspicious of their brethren, afraid that others would be tempted 
to break the rules if they revealed where their player was located.  

It had happened earlier in the Gathering, Watchers breaking their 
oaths to assist their Immortal's play in the Game.  With guilty 
conscience Scully listened to others discuss it, knowing she was a 
prime offender.  Believing she had been right to do so did not make 
the offended Watchers' anger easier to listen to.

She searched and waited as the reports trickled down, coming every 
other day, then even less.  A week passed with barely a comment 
from the Watchers and not one report of any Immortals.

At last someone asked the inevitable question, "Could it be over?"

"No," the others argued.  "The last Quickening, it was powerful, 
but nothing like the prize being claimed."  Besides, no one wanted 
the One to be an Immortal that none of them could identify.  The 
three Watchers who had witnessed that fight had been through the 
Watcher database, even checking those recorded dead, and hadn't 
found a match for the fighter they had seen.

Unconfirmed though it was, Scully assumed that he had been the same 
one sighted before.  The brief description the Watchers offered 
gave her a pause, but she had no proof, and without proof she made 
no statements.

Another day passed, and Mulder joined those questioning the 
continued existence of the Gathering.  The only proof she could 
offer was that no one had taken Duncan MacLeod's Quickening.  And 
so there must be at least two Immortals left.

"Maybe he's succeeded in bringing peace, and there won't be a 
Gathering after all," he replied.

The following day, however, she felt an Immortal's presence.  It 
took them an hour for her to pinpoint its placement, well over 
three kilometers from where she first heard the buzz.  Tracking it 
became simpler when her comphone trilled, and a tired Watcher's 
voice reported, "All right, it's over, he found her."

"Where are you?" Scully demanded.

The Watcher told her and Mulder headed there.  "If you come fast 
enough you might see the Quickening," the woman said. "There's no 
chance in hell Niobe will make it through this with her he--" The 
transmission hissed and cut off.  Scully felt a surge of power race 
through her like an electric current.

Three blocks away and in daylight they could see the indigo flashes 
erupting from the condemned apartment building.  Cars came to a 
halt in the middle of the street; pedestrians either hurried away, 
recalling the disasters of a few weeks past; or gazed on 
fascinated, wondering what movie the special effects were for.  
Mulder and Scully barely slipped by before the police arrived to 
investigate and cordon off the area.

Inside they were greeted by darkness.  The Watcher approached them 
quietly and declared herself out of the Game.  Unwilling to discuss 
the fight, she simply assured them that she did not know who the 
winning Immortal was, only that he fought like the devil.  She also 
was positive that she had not seen the end, despite the incredible 
Quickening.  And she was sure that she did not want to see the end.  
Not after this.  "I'm going home," she told them. "I'm going to 
live out my life, and I don't care how this ends.  Sometimes I wish 
I never had been a Watcher." She left them there.

The woman's words and the aftermath of the Quickening echoed in 
Scully's mind.  Mulder helped her take a seat on a wide windowsill 
and waited patiently for her head to clear, his voice soothing 
though it took concentration to understand what he was saying.  
Nothing of note, only that she would be okay, repeating the phrases 
to reassure himself as well as her.

The moment she regained control she bolted up, stared around. 
"There's one close," she whispered, shocked that she could have 
missed the warning shrieking in her internal ear.

Mulder stared around, saw what her mind perceived. "That's not a 
problem."  The cheer in his voice made her look up.

Duncan MacLeod approached them, blinking to adjust his eyes as he 
entered the darkness from the sunny outdoors.  "The Quickening 
brought you here," he stated grimly.

"Yes," she told him.  "It was Niobe's--did you know her?"

"I knew her," the Immortal said. "We'd only met briefly, once years 
ago, and again a couple of weeks ago--when I convinced her to put 
down her sword.  We actually managed to shake hands.  She wouldn't 
fight me."  Even inside he looked pale, pain graying the normally 
dark features.  "I thought I'd found all of us, I thought I had 
actually managed to halt this, but someone moves ahead of me, 
taking the heads of everyone I've talked to."

"Sometimes to your benefit." She told him what they knew of Gikken.  
Sorrow, then anger crossed the Highlander's expression, but neither 
emotion took hold in his spirit.  "Twice recently I made peace with 
someone, only to have them attack the next moment." And that was 
all he would address the matter.

"What are you going to do?" Scully asked, when MacLeod stayed 

"I don't know." Leaning against a wall as if he required the 
support, he looked drained, almost lost. "If I could hunt this 
killer--but I've tried.  I don't dare get close to the Immortals 
remaining, so as to not force them to battle, but they fight 
anyway.  And die."

"If you left the city--" Mulder began.

"I can't," rasped the Immortal.  "Even thinking about it is 
painful.  I can't approach the others, but straying too far from 
them is agony."

She had never heard of such a limit. "Could that be how the killer 
is tracking them?"

"Perhaps." MacLeod lifted his hands in a gesture of ignorance. "I 
can't feel anything now, but he might be more sensitive.  Maybe 
that's why he's killing as well--he has no choice.  I would stop 
him all the same, if I could."

Despite his forced inaction he refused to accompany them back to 
the hotel or elsewhere.  They finally left him alone in the empty 
apartment building, mourning the end of his kind.  Scully wondered 
if ever the true end would come, knowing in her soul that it was 
inevitable.  Fate may be an illusion, but the forces driving the 
few remaining Immortals were far more implacable and quite real.

Two days ago she had understood that mentally, but it wasn't until 
this moment, while she watched the battle proceed, that her heart 
grasped the true inescapable nature of the Immortals' being.  Laws 
laid down when the first came into existence, now coming to 
fruition, and nothing could change what had been so fixed.  

The day following Niobe's Quickening, the Watchers still on the 
comphone net filed another report of a death.  Scully listened with 
quiet grief, Mulder with gentle sympathy, both realizing that it 
would soon be over.  The next report came late that night, and the 
one following in mid-afternoon.

When Scully prepared for bed that night, the sky outside the window 
showed gathering storm clouds.  

"Thunderstorms are expected for tomorrow," Mulder mentioned, seeing 
her gaze.

"But the lightning comes tonight." Her body hummed with the tension 
in the air, a purposeful expectancy.

He put his arms around her, helped quell the tremors making her 
shiver.  "Assume nothing," he whispered in her ear.  "We've waited 
a while.  We might have a longer wait yet."  She started to shake 
her head but he held her closer, preventing the motion. "Sleep for 
now," he said. "You're so tired it's little wonder you're so 
tense."  Thus saying, he guided her to the bed and lay down with 
her. "Close your eyes and rest," he admonished softly. "I'm too old 
to try anything." And she could feel him smile.

She hadn't had a full night's sleep for the entire time she had 
been in Paris.  She knew she wouldn't get one now.  But she sank 
gratefully into the softness of the bed, the warmth of her 
partner's body, and closed her eyes with the smallest sigh.

The comphone's trill jerked them open again hours later.  The 
electronic summons, and an Immortal presence, very close.  As she 
reached for the phone, she saw in the dim light the dark figure of 
Duncan MacLeod enter the window from the fire escape.

Mulder in bed sat up as she answered the call.  MacLeod alerted him 
to his proximity by speaking. "The final one's been killed."

Scully listened to an identical report, disconnected. "How did 
you " and then she felt it.  Nothing like the sense that indicated 
an Immortal nearby.  This was no warning but a summons, as if a 
string tied to her were being pulled by the other, yanking her 
inexorably to him.

"It's almost over," the Highlander said. "There are only two of us 
left.  And soon there will be only one."

There was no need to ask how he knew.  Just as there was no need to 
ask if he would fight.  There were no more choices. "When?" she 

"Tonight." The determination, absent through this time, had 
returned to his voice. "You are my Watcher.  Will you come and 
witness the end?"

Silently she nodded, began to dress.  Mulder watched her through 
the darkness.  "Should I come?"

"No."  She couldn't express how grateful she was that he had asked. 
"No, please.  I need to see this, but alone." Keep her two worlds 
separate, so one would still be safe to live in.

He made no protest.  But before she left he took her hand, drew her 
close. "Remember," he asked, "I'm still here.  You aren't alone.  
Not everything is over tonight."

"Don't leave you alone," she murmured.

"It's all I ask," and he managed a lightness in his voice that she 
envied.  And needed to hear.

She kissed him gently, then went to follow Duncan MacLeod to his 

Scully drove.  In the Highlander's present state she would never 
have trusted him behind the wheel.  The presence calling her seemed 
to have a physical hold on him, and fighting its pull strained his 
concentration to the limit.  Every turn they took that guided their 
course the slightest bit away made him jerk, grit his teeth as if 
to keep a scream from escaping.

>>From MacLeod as well she felt the sensation.  Whoever the other 
Immortal was, he too must be drawn, making his way toward them as 
fast as they went to him, or so she assumed.

The route lead them away from the business and residential parts, 
still active despite the midnight hour, and into the industrial 
sector.  The deserted streets were dark, most of the streetlights 
burnt out--some, she imagined, not yet replaced from the 
overwhelming Quickenings that had rocked Paris.  Only three weeks 
ago, she recalled with shock; it felt like another lifetime.

After a short while she felt the buzz, the normal sense of another 
Immortal, and realized that they were close.  Beside her MacLeod 
lowered his head, rubbing his hands along the carved hilt of his 
katana.  He had cleaned it, she observed from the corner of her 
eye.  No longer dull with blood, the blade shimmered like water in 
the rare blinks of light they passed through.

She stopped the car what she estimated to be a fair distance away.  
"Duncan," she said as they emerged and began to walk.

"Yes?" He was a sleek dark shadow on the black street, treading 
restrainedly as he forced himself to keep with her slower pace.

"Good luck." There was nothing else to say.

She stopped at the edge of the block and he turned the corner 
alone.  Cautiously she peered around it, watching his progress.

At the opposite end stood a figure in shadows.  Not moving as she 
had expected, but standing at ease, waiting for the other to come 
to him.  When MacLeod reached the street's midpoint he stepped 
forward, into the pool of light cast by the single functioning 

>>From this distance she couldn't make out his exact features, but 
the thin cloaked frame, the easy confidence of the steps was too 
familiar.  Duncan froze, his sword falling to his side.

In the quiet night his voice was preternaturally loud. "Methos?"

End Part 4

Title: In the End  5/5
Author: Emilie Renee Karr

The oldest Immortal advanced another step, the steel of his raised 
sword glittering in the dull light.  Instinct-driven, MacLeod 
lifted his own weapon, but his dark head turned from side to side 
in negation of the reality before him. "No, you can't be the last 
one, you can't."
"But I am, Highlander," hissed the other Immortal, the voice a 
parody of his usual easy tenor. "And there can be only one."  
Suddenly he charged forward, smashing his blade down to meet 

The noise of the impact echoed around the empty street.  Methos 
swung again, and MacLeod parried, defending himself but not 
attacking as blow after blow rang down.  The oldest one fought like 
a demon, his energy indefatigable and his motions almost too swift 
to follow with the eye.  She had never seen Methos fight before, 
and she knew that she never would again, but she now understood the 
impression he had made on the Watchers who witnessed his recent 
battles.  The Highlander held his own but barely, and as they 
circled she could see his mouth move as he tried to speak.  Methos' 
expression was a grinning mask, his lips drawn away from his teeth 
with the thrill of combat.

With a sudden violent push MacLeod sent his assailant reeling back, 
dancing out of the range of his slashing blade.  "Methos!" the 
Immortal shouted.

That caught the other's attention long enough to keep him from 
striking.  MacLeod took full advantage of the break to speak.  "We 
don't have to do this," he cried. "We can stop this fight before 
the end!"

"There are rules that can be broken, MacLeod," replied the other. 
"And there are also those set in rock and older than this world."

"But we can break this one," he argued. "We have known each other--
we have been friends for fifty years!"

Methos laughed in cruel amusement. "And that matters to me, when 
I've lived for a hundred times longer?" His sword clashed against 
MacLeod's, wheeled around immediately for a second blow.

The Highlander parried a second time, a third time. "We don't have 
to fight," he tried to say.

"Then I'll take your head freely," charged the other. "You wouldn't 
be the first to give me that!"

But MacLeod still blocked his swings, murmured, "You killed them 

"All those you talked with?" Methos dropped back, circled his 
opponent. "Yes.  I have their Quickenings.  But I will tell you 
this," and he thrust his sword forward, pulling away again as it 
was dashed aside, "every one of them attacked me, when I came too 

"And still you came." MacLeod too retreated, eyes never leaving the 
other's sword.  "To fight them and to kill them."

"All of them," the other Immortal gloated. "Those you knew and 
those you just met.  Your follower, even; he would have killed you 
gladly but you would have had him live all the same.  I ended that 
quickly enough."  MacLeod's katana jerked up, as if to parry a blow 
that didn't come.  Not from a sword, at least. "I knew you wanted 
him alive; did you think I missed the resemblance?  He looked even 
more like Richie with his head apart from his body--"

"Be quiet!" Duncan shouted, and for the first time raised his 
weapon for attack.

"Why are you angry?" Methos hissed. "You forget me, MacLeod--I am 
Death!" His sword arced around like the curve of a scythe, 
whistling through the air, meeting MacLeod's with bone-shattering 

"That was two millennia ago!" MacLeod entreated desperately.

"And in these two weeks," the oldest Immortal replied, "Death has 
been reborn.  I have reclaimed who I always was; I have taken the 
Quickenings you were too weak to take for yourself--do you think 
you're strong enough to defeat me now?"  Another stab, this one 
darting forward needle-like, and the Highlander twisted away from 
it without an inch to spare.  "Kronos was the end of time," Methos 
sang, a duet with his blade, "but I am the end of life!"

He thrust up in time to catch MacLeod's own strike and throw it 
off.  "So now you fight?" the Immortal called with triumph.  The 
Highlander said nothing in return but slashed again, surging 
forward to meet his foe directly.

They seemed evenly matched as they battled in the street, but 
Scully, well aware of  Duncan's abilities, could see that he was 
pulling his blows, not taking full advantage of openings he must be 
able to see.  And Methos was not displaying the diabolic ferocity 
with which he had first attacked.  There was an almost 
choreographed feel to their confrontation, as if they both were 
acting according to a plan they followed without conscious thought.

And then she held her breath, as Methos off-balanced himself with a 
too-violent blow, and MacLeod's sword swung around, only to stop, 
resting against the other's neck.

The Highlander stared into Methos' unfathomable eyes, and the 
oldest Immortal returned the look, intensity matching intensity.  
Then MacLeod shoved the other away, knocking him to his knees.

He scrambled up swiftly, the thin scarlet line at his neck soon 
healing to invisibility. "Fool," he rasped. "Twice you would have 
taken it now, and you haven't!"

"I won't." MacLeod spoke with quiet resolve.  "You're my friend, 
Methos."  His expression twisted with unreadable emotion. "Whatever 
you once were; whatever you do now.  I know you.  There can be two-
-there must be, because I will not kill you."

"There's another option," Methos pointed out.  The devil's grin had 
returned to his face, and his sword lifted, preparing for yet 
another strike.  "There will be only one!"

The Highlander raised his katana slowly, almost as if he would 
allow the other to succeed.  "I'll defend myself," he said, "but I 
will not kill another friend."

"Death has no friends," Methos replied. "And I am not yours, 
MacLeod."  With his eyes narrowed and his head thrown back in a 
mockery of heroism, he so little resembled the Immortal she knew as 
to be unrecognizable. "I have murdered thousands in my living; my 
first memory is of another's death. I have raped more women than 
just your dead witch Cassandra; I have brought down more of my 
brothers, and better ones,  than Silus.  I killed every one of your 
followers, since you were too weak.  A favor to you, Highlander."

He paused, and in his inaction Scully understood what she had 
missed before.  "And," he said, after that brief moment, "It was I 
who took Amanda's Quickening."

"No!" she shouted. "He lies!" But Duncan MacLeod could not hear her 
over the clash of his sword against Methos's.  Again and again he 
brought the blade down, and under its onslaught the other Immortal 
fell back, pressed into the darkness of the street, defending 
himself as well as he could against the unending barrage.  Dimly 
through the tumult rang another sound, unclear and yet it almost 
might have been laughter, and she tried to listen...
Then she saw Methos' sword spin out of his hands and land with a 
metallic clatter meters away.  Knocked to his knees he gazed up at 
MacLeod towering over him, his sword raised over his head.   In 
that position the Highlander froze; he would have seemed a statue 
were his sides not heaving with great gasps, the only sound in the 

"Do it." She was too distance to hear Methos' voice, but she could 
see his mouth form the words, see the tremor in MacLeod's sword as 
he prepared for the final blow.

"No!" she cried again, and he stopped.  "He lied," she gasped 
aloud, "he wasn't Amanda's killer, I saw that much.  He lies..."

The Immortal turned his head minutely, and she saw the dark glitter 
of his eyes.  Then he faced his opponent, his voice quiet. "Why?"

"Do it!" Methos commanded, louder.

MacLeod was silent.  "You have to," snarled the eldest. "You have 
no choice, this is who you are--this is what we are! If you will 
not accept the final prize, then I will!"

The katana began to be lowered as the Highlander took a step back.

And Methos screamed, a sound from the darkest circles of Hell, as 
he leapt up at the other Immortal, his weapon still resting apart 
from him.

Guided by four centuries of instincts, Duncan MacLeod swung his 
sword to defend from the attacker. The blade, not encountering the 
expected resistance of another weapon, continued its momentum, 
slicing through tissue and bone with practiced ease.

Methos' body crumpled, his head falling separate from it.  The 
street accepted both impacts silently.

The last living Immortal stared at the death, the sword dropping 
unnoticed from his hand.  He had time to shake his head once, and 
then the Quickening was upon him.

It began, as they always did, with a mist of white that flowed from 
the killed.  But instead of being absorbed directly into the 
Highlander, it curled around him, wrapped itself around the 
Immortal and lifted him effortlessly into the air.  For an eternal 
second he hovered there transfixed, and she watched, fascinated, 
having read of such events but never witnessing one before.

Then the streetlight's bulb exploded in a shower of sparks, and she 
was blinded by a bolt of lightning that stretched from the top of 
the sky to the ground below the Immortal's feet.  Within its 
brilliant depths she saw his shadow, arched in agony, and when her 
ears stopped ringing from the thunder filling them she could hear 
his scream...

The lightning broke into a thousand myriad cracks, burning their 
way across the street, flickering over her.  But she could not see 
them, trapped by a far stronger vision, as the power of Methos and 
every Quickening he had ever taken flooded over her.

Greatest was the energy that had been Methos himself, as in one 
brief instant of time she experienced every moment of his five 
thousand year life.  Death on horseback, terror in the desert.  A 
love dying, and then another, and another, a ceaseless lineage that 
stretched throughout time yet never deterred future feelings.  
Fighting forever, abstaining for centuries only to be compelled 
once more to wield a blade.  All the past, and recent memories as 
well, joining the Watchers, meeting MacLeod, introducing himself to 
Dana Scully--

That was her, some distant portion of self tried to say, you are 
her--but the memories flooded that part away, and relived the last 
moments: provoking the other, forcing the final blow, and now he 
was the One, as was supposed to be...

 The other energies broke through then, clamoring to exist despite 
their deaths.  The strength of those recently killed, flashes of 
thoughts snatched from their Quickenings thrusting themselves upon 
her open consciousness.  Niobe's fear of the vicious attacker; Paul 
Gikken's anger at his plan thwarted.  A Quickening taken in cold-
blooded fury, and through that came another memory, of the 
Quickening of Amanda--reliving the death of her and then the death 
of her slayer through the avenger's own death.  

Every Quickening that had been taken by the one now Quickened; and 
the Quickenings those killed had taken, in chains reaching past 
even the life span of the eldest one.  All dead, yet all living, 
their purest essence preserved in one, not their souls but a link 
to their souls finding a place in one spirit.

He was dead, yet he opened his eyes and saw a crazily tilted world, 
lying on its side and filled with rubble, bricks and broken glass, 
strung with tiny dancing sparks of blue.  Closing them again 
brought black space and pain, with no more thoughts to fill the 

After a long time someone pushed the darkness aside.  She 
contemplated him before speaking. "But I am you!"

"No." He smiled, shook his head amusedly.  A true smile, relaxed 
and happy, nothing like the death's head grin he had last donned.  
"I am Methos; you are Dana Scully.  Or rather, you're you, and I'm 

She remembered now. "Duncan!" Seeking and finding nothing, she 
turned to her companion. "Duncan, where is he?"

"Not here." Methos shrugged. "Not for a fair amount of time yet, I 
hope.  You should see him again soon.  I might.  Nothing's really 
fixed." He stepped aside, and behind him she saw more people.  All 
familiar, Immortals gone yet here. "Amanda?" she asked, tried to 
move forward.

He caught her, restrained her. "No," and he sounded sorry, "Not 
now.  He won't let you."

"Who?" Beyond the Immortals, distant, she made out her parents in 
the crowd, in the front, her father standing by her mother, and 
Allen was behind them.

"I won't let you," Methos said again.  

Her brothers, too, and Melissa, and Joe Dawson, and Walter Skinner, 
and more. "Open your eyes," Methos told her.

There was someone other than Duncan MacLeod missing, and she 
couldn't find him anywhere midst them all.  "Open your eyes," 
Methos repeated patiently.

Because she didn't see him with her eyes closed, she obeyed.  Her 
vision was blurred, a fragmented jumble of impressions more than 
images.  A figure crouched close to her head, his hand cradling it 
gently and his voice telling her, "Open your eyes."


"Here," but the voice was wrong.  Deeper, accented differently, and 
the fuzzy face was darker.

"You're..." The words croaked in her throat, refusing to emerge.  
She forced them past the liquid choking her, "You're not him..."

"I don't know who I am now," he murmured quietly.  "It doesn't 
matter.  I'd like to talk with you about it, but not right away.  
There are some things I have to see to first."

She could see him clearer now, assure herself that he was indeed 
Duncan MacLeod, but  he was so distant, miles from her though he 
held her. "Don't know...if I'll still be here..." Even so far away, 
her body ached in many ways that she knew were too harmful to 
survive, too injured to sustain itself.

"You will be," he assured her. "I give you my guarantee." And for a 
brief instant his tone was lighter, echoing the relaxed shades of 
an older being's voice.

"Duncan..." Not sure who she was talking with anymore.  

"Shh." He kissed her on the forehead, settled her gently on the 
ground and stood. "I'll see you again."

>>From where his lips touched she felt a spreading warmth, engulfing 
her in a haze.  She heard his footsteps retreating and then a 
growing wail of sirens before the world blended into a silent 

It eventually brightened and sharpened into clarity again.  The 
hospital room was entirely white, as was the sunlight streaming 
through the window.  The only patch of darkness was Mulder's form, 
his eyes upon her, wearing a rumpled suit and an expression of good 
cheer. "They told me you were waking up.  It's about time," he 
informed her when she blinked.

"That long?" she whispered, noting the IV line running into her arm 
and the cushioned feel of light drugs obscuring pain.

"Three days."  Those three had added new lines to those already 
mapped onto his features.  Or perhaps the last month had and she 
had been too pre-occupied to notice.   He leaned forward, ignoring 
or ignorant of her scrutiny. "How did it turn out, in the end?" and 
his voice was serious, his expression equally so.

"What do you know?"

"Not a lot," he frowned. "I guessed there was a Quickening; the 
lightning bolt that struck within twenty meters of you blew out 
literally half of Paris's power.  Most windows in a half-kilometer 
radius were shattered and two of the buildings on that street were 
leveled.  You barely missed being under one.  The moment I heard 
the thunder I called the hospital but it took some convincing to 
drive them into the place.  Have I mentioned the fires?"

"Was anyone killed?" She hadn't had time to consider the damage 

"You were the worst casualty," he said. "They've searched but found 
no other bodies.  Not even a decapitated one."

She sighed. "It was probably incinerated by the lightning."  She 
thought she recalled a halo of flame around the corpse at one point 
but couldn't be sure.  

"Who?" Mulder demanded, with a touch of impatience but more worry.

"Methos."  He had won, as he had told them he would.  Without 
defining what a win meant for him.  She wasn't sure she was up to 
going into the details of that battle.

Mulder didn't want them. "So Duncan MacLeod is the One." He 
hesitated. "Do you have any idea what that means?" he asked 

She shook her head, not wanting to tell him yet what guesses she 
had formed.  

At last he broke the quiet by saying, "They were almost positive 
you wouldn't make it, that first day.  I was...I thought you might 
have broken your promise to me.  About being alone..."

"I never actually promised," she reminded him.

"I know." One side of his mouth quirked up in a half-smile.  "I 
tried not to think of that."  He turned away, gazed out the window 
at the skyline of the city. "So," in a deliberate effort to change 
the subject. "Where do you suppose Mac is now?"

For a long moment she studied his profile, wondering how much he 
understood, how quickly had he actually arrived.  Soon enough to 
see him touch her, to see him walk away, knowing that the mortal he 
left behind would live, though death should have been certain?  Or 
perhaps he knew some other way, not because of what he saw, but 
because he understood what he couldn't see.  Perhaps listening to 
what she had still to tell, and understanding what went unspoken.  

"He told me he'll return," she heard herself say. "He wants to talk 
to me, after he does what he needs to do.  I think that he'll want 
to talk to you, too."

He faced her again. "Hope he keeps in mind that we don't have all 
the time that he does."

"He will." She smiled. Immortal though he was, the holder of the 
prize and the final One of the Gathering, but she remembered his 
touch and knew he still understood mortality.  All the endless 
minutes and vanishing years, and the beauty underlying it all, of 
keeping forever what time would have lost.  Of not losing 
everything because there was always something worth having.  She 
reached out, placed her hand in Mulder's dry wrinkled one. "He will."

The End

If you liked it--heck, if you hated it, if you read it at all, please feel 
completely, totally, utterly, entirely free to tell me so!
e-mail ekarr@bowdoin.edu
thanx! :)