Natasha Duncan-Drake

Disclaimer: The only characters which belong to me in the following
work, are Alexae and Jessica. The concepts of Immortality and all the
Highlander characters belong to Rhysher and their associates. The
concepts of Kindred and all those characters belong to Spelling
Entertainment. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is
being made from this piece. Feel free to distribute this whereever you
like, just don't sell it.

Greetings, this is a Highlander/Kindred the Embraced xover story that
I've been working on for a couple of weeks now. Be aware that it's base
on Kindred the TV show and has little to do with Masquerade the role
playing game which I only know a small amount about :-). I *love*
vampires, I *love* Immortals, and so combining the two felt like a good
idea. Hope you like the results.

Comments to Tasha@dtwins.co.uk
Ta ta, 

Opposites: A Highlander, Kindred: The Embraced Xover 
Adult Version by Natasha Duncan-Drake 
Part 1

There was something about the two men who walked into the Haven that
just made Kindred look at them. Two Toreadors, one Gangrel and three
Brujah all found that they were watching the two walk towards the bar
with more than just a passing glance.

"Mac, will you stop following me around," the younger, blond one of the
two protested as his companion sat down at the bar beside him. "You
know I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself, so what the hell's
got into you this time."

"You're hunting a man who used to be my friend, Richie," Mac said
calmly, "I know him better than you, and I want to know what changed

Now to most of the people in the club, their conversation was
inaudible, but of course to the various groups of vampires, listening
in was no challenge. The word hunting caught most attentions.

"He's mine, MacLeod," the shorter man said evenly, but firmly, "I was
the one he tried to kill. It wasn't some game, Mac, this was like an
attempt to permanently terminate me. Now my information says he comes
here, and this is where I'm going to stay until I find the bastard."

The Highlander looked at his young friend for a long moment and finally
nodded. He had no right to interfere. There had been a challenge and
Damon had run off when he failed to win. MacLeod had been trying to
talk his protege out of going after the older Immortal for three days
now, following him here had been a last resort.

"Okay," he said with a resigned expression, "but at least let me buy
you a drink. It's just hard for me to believe what he has become, he
used to be such a good man."

"Sorry, Mac, but he's not anymore," his companion replied.

That was the point in the conversation when most of the listeners lost
interest, it seemed that anything worth hearing had already been said.
A discussion about what to drink was not going to hold anyone's
attention for long. When Frank walked into the bar, everything seemed
to be perfectly normal.

Okay, so Kindred made him nervous, but he was damned if he was going to
stay away from them and play the intimidated cop. His partner was one
of them for a start, and Sonny was an okay guy, in fact he seemed
perfectly normal most of the time. They were people, the young officer
kept telling himself, they just had a weird set of rules. He wanted to
know as much about them as possible: forewarned was forearmed, and he
realised this. Being angry at them most of the time did help him hide
the fact that he was anxious about being anywhere near them. It was the
Brujah that made him really edgy, but that had a lot to do with him
being a cop and them being the mob.

The officer noted an empty stool by the bar next to a young looking man
in a brown leather jacket, and made a bee-line for it. For all he knew
the guy he chose to sit next to was a vampire, but what the hell. He
didn't notice the slight hiccup in the conversation as he sat down as
the younger of the two covered easily.

"So you know this place," the blond man was saying to his companion as
Frank ordered a drink, "how come?"

"I was friends with the owner once," the dark man with the ponytail
replied and gained Frank's interest.

Now the police officer thought that Lillie had owned the club for a
very long time, the odds on these two being Kindred was going up.
Neither of them looked old enough to quite fit how the taller of the
two had said `once'. The younger one of the pair had obviously picked
up on the use of the word as well.

"Oh," he said with a half smile, "old, old friend or just old friend?"

That might have sounded like a peculiar question, but the three people
who were still listening took it in their stride. The two Toreadors in
the corner looked at each other questioningly. Was it possible that
these two were vampires that had managed to fake humanity? They had
heart beats and they smelt human, but could it be some sort of trick?
Was it possible that they were Tremere cloaked in some form of
illusion? This was definitely something for which it was worth alerting
Lillie. One of them slipped out of their seat quickly.

"Just a passing acquaintance," Duncan told Richie with a smile, "and it
was quite a while ago. This place is a lot different from the one I


Lillie had been expecting Julian to turn up any time, so she was not
pleased when there was a knock on the door and it was not the Prince.
It was, however, with her habitual curiosity that she listened to her
subordinate intently. The description the young female Toreador gave
her could have been many people in the area, but the name rang a bell.

"I knew a MacLeod once," she said, half to herself, half to her
companion, "but that was sixty years ago, and he was mortal."

She looked at her subordinate contemplatively for a few moments. The
meeting with Julian could be important, but could this turn out to be
more interesting. She was of course fighting the eternal Kindred curse:
boredom. Playing with a man who claimed to know her might be fun, and
she could always break off when Luna decided to show up.

"I'll be down in a few minutes," she told her companion, "keep an eye
on them `til then."

"Of course," the woman replied with a smile as she saw the glint in her
Primogen's eyes. "Oh, and the Prince's cop is downstairs as well, came
in a few minutes after the other two."

Lillie's red covered lips drew into a smile to match her companion's,
maybe there was more fun to be had this evening than she had first


When the head of the Toreador clan walked across the floor of her club,
she was at her most devastating. Her ability to snare men was
unequalled, and several of the mortals around found their partners
disapproving of the attention they gave the stunning woman. Her Kindred
minions smiled approvingly as she passed, and those of other clans did
their best to ignore her without being rude. It was only as Lillie
walked through the see of parting bodies towards the bar and actually
laid eyes on the back of her quarry that she almost faltered.

The black hair and the square set of the shoulders struck a chord in
her that she could not quite dismiss. The brief affair she had had with
a dark eyed Scot so many years ago had made an impression on the wild
Toreador, and something stirred within her. It was when she heard him
speak to his companion in a deep voice with the slightest hint of an
accent that her heart actually beat in her chest. Her reaction actually
caused her clan to stop in mid sentence as the situation became
suddenly interesting.

It was half way through a comment to Richie that Duncan felt a slight
tingling between his shoulder blades. It was the most concrete feeling
of being watched that he'd ever experienced and he turned slowly. Two
pairs of eyes opened wide in complete shock.

"Duncan MacLeod?" Lillie's voice was half questioning, half totally

"Lillie?" the Highlander sent back his own unresolved enquiry.

Now Duncan's hormones slipped quite easily back into the total control
they had held the last time he had seen Lillie Langtry, and as for the
vampire, her Toreador blood came out full force. The two stared at each
other in motionless disbelief for just a second and then they both
moved. Mac moved forward and Lillie threw herself at the man she'd
never thought to see again. The two caught each other in a fierce
irrational embrace in the middle of a very public club. They clung to
each other as if their Immortal lives depended on it, but eventually
the spell had to break.

Both brains clicked in at the same moment and they drew apart.

"But you're not," the two of them started at exactly the same time.

Neither of them chose to finish the sentence.

Richie and Frank were sat next to each other, both slightly shocked by
the incident. The pair had never seen the half of the two other people
they knew, react in quite the same way to anyone else.

"I'd say they know each other," the Immortal of the pair of men said
with half a smile on his face.

"Yeah," Frank agreed in only the way a total stranger could.

Lillie became aware of her clan responsibilities once more and smiled

"Lets go upstairs," she said with a smile and firmly refused to look at
any of the faces watching at her, "we can talk."

A not quite decided glance was sent in Richie's direction by the
Highlander as the club took the hint and conversation started again.
Now the division in those eyes the younger Immortal understood

"Go, Mac," he said with a knowing grin, "I can drink alone."

He'd seen the Highlander under Amanda's feminine spell before, but even
she didn't quite have the same effect as Lillie. A woman's wiles were
no competition for those of a vampire and Mac was one hundred percent
caught. Of course, the Toreador was as much at the mercy of her urges
as the man in her clutches, and she had no idea that his Immortal
physiology was affecting her.

"Don't get into trouble," was all the normally level headed Highlander
managed before the pair fled the public arena.

Richie found that hysterically funny, considering who was being led
across the floor in a total daze. The young Immortal turned back to his
drink as his friend disappeared still chuckling. He noted the fact that
the man sitting next to him was trying not to appear interested in the
whole thing, and was immediately intrigued.

Ordinarily, the blond man would have set to scoping out the local night
life, but today he had other things on his mind. He was waiting for an
Immortal, and a young lady on his arm when his quarry walked in would
not be the easiest thing with which to cope. Talking to the guy that
seemed to be interesting would be far more suitable.

"Don't you hate it when that happens," Richie said chattily as Frank
tried to pretend he was purveying the local talent.

The smile was friendly, the tone amiable, but the look in the
Immortal's eyes warned the cop that all was not quite as it seemed.
What he appeared to be looking at was a teenager drinking illegally in
a night club, who had just lost his older companion. Frank already knew
that this man was older than he looked when the bartender had checked
his ID, something to which he had seemed resigned. There was also
something about the way he held himself, an air that would have told
rivals that this man knew how to take care of himself. The brown haired
man was almost certain he was about to enter a conversation with a

"Par for the course around here," Frank returned with a smile of his

Well if he wanted to know about them, he was going to have to talk to
more than Lillie and Julian.

"You from out of town?" he enquired conversationally.

"Yep," the younger looking of the two replied, "just in the area
looking for a business associate. San Francisco is a nice city, and
it's warmer down here than up north."

"Nights are shorter though," Frank decided to see what sort of reaction
he could get.

To his surprise the man sitting next to him just grinned and cast an
eye around the room.

"Well you can't have everything," he said lightly.

Somehow, Richie realised that he had said just the right thing to keep
this conversation rolling, but for the life of him he couldn't figure
out what. There was an undertone to the discourse that he was trying to
figure out. It was not sexual, of that much he was sure, but this guy
wanted something from him and he didn't know what that was.

"Richie," he introduced suddenly and stuck out his hand.

"Frank," the other returned almost automatically.

"Well since I seem to have lost the only person I know in this town,"
the Immortal said amiably, "can I buy you a drink, Frank? Then you can
tell where all the local hot spots are."

If it hadn't of been the Haven and a den of vampires, it would have
just been two guys getting talking over a beer. As it was, it turned
into quite an interesting evening. Frank couldn't say anything open
unless he was totally sure of whom he had engaged in conversation, and
Richie had no idea what the subtle hints were all about.


Lillie planted a kiss on Duncan's smiling lips almost before the door
of the office closed. She hadn't felt a need like the one cursing
through her body at that moment for quite some time, and she almost let
it consume her. The fact that her desire was more than mirrored in the
eyes of her companion did not help matters to be rational.

"Oh, Duncan," she said as his hands ran up the back of her dress, "it's
been so long. You should be an old man, but you're still so ... alive."

It was partly a question, but the Highlander was too busy nibbling at
Lillie's neck to be interested. All logic had been thrown out the
window the moment he'd lain eyes on the beautiful Toreador, and he
wasn't even aware enough of this to notice. The Primogen of her clan,
however, had not reached that position without a little self control
and she pushed her companion away just for a moment.

"What are you?" she asked breathlessly.

He smiled at that, and ran her fingers down the side of her face.

"I could ask the same thing," he returned as if it were the most
sensible question in the universe, "but you're not going to tell me,
are you. Does it matter, Lillie?" he send back an enquiry of his own.
"I'm here, you're here, let's just forget the details."

It was the elemental Duncan MacLeod talking, and at his core, he really
didn't care how it was that his lover of so long ago was still alive.
She wasn't Immortal so she wasn't a threat, and yet she had not
whithered and died as he had seen so many others do. For the brief
moment in time, he let himself be happy and ignore all other factors.

There was only so much self control that Lillie could exert, and
staring into the Highlander's deep brown eyes she found out where her
limit was. With a smile of total abandon she pulled him close.

"You're right," she said seductively, "just don't tell my friends."

Several of his shirt buttons were not up to the test of the Toreador's
rather fast fingers. Just about then, Lillie couldn't have cared if the
Prince himself was about to walk in, she had thoughts only for getting
into Duncan's trousers.

The trail of clothes stretched from close to the door, half way across
the room, at which point the pair had given up trying to get any
further and had opted for the sheepskin rug on the floor. Mac had noted
on his last encounter with her, that Ms Langtry was a strong woman, but
he hadn't realised quite how strong until she flipped him onto the rug
and straddled him.

"You do things to me, I can't explain," she said with a feral smile. "I
like that."

"Always happy to oblige," was the quick response, but he soon lost the
ability to speak as Lillie bent forward and started nibbling his torso.

Her nails made little red streaks down his sides, and he couldn't help
but respond. This was going to be an experience he wasn't going to
forget for a *very* long time.

"Remember last time?" she enquired with a mischievous glint in her eye,
and pulled away slightly.

"How could I forget?" was the honest reply, and a large smile filled
the Highlander's features.

Amanda had her interesting quirks, and so did Lillie. The couple had
explored many of them last time Duncan had been with her, but there was
one that stuck in his mind particularly. Staring into her face he knew
that they had the same idea in mind, and it was play time.

End of Part 1

Part 2

The conversation with Frank had petered out slowly, and finally neither
of them had been able to find anything else to say without giving away
that they were digging for information. It had been just over an hour
since the cop had wandered away and found himself a quiet corner of the
Haven to just sit and watch. Richie had chatted to a couple more people
over that time, but he had not left the bar and he had not tried for
anything deeper than a casual comment or two about the music, or some
such subject. As soon as a young looking brown haired man sat down next
to him and smiled, the Immortal knew he had gained some attention he
didn't want.

Alexae had spotted Richie the moment he'd walked in the club, a few
minutes previously, and he'd liked what he saw. If he'd been younger
and local, one of his clan members would probably have tried to stop
him as he approached the young stranger, but Alexae was not your
average Kindred. This Toreador was Lillie's personal guest from Europe,
an Artiste, respected by his entire clan for his talent, and known for
his varied tastes. He was easily the oldest vampire in the club, well
over two centuries, and nobody tried to tell him what to do. Yes he
happened to have zeroed in on the friend of Lillie's current companion,
but there wasn't a Kindred in the place who was going to try and tell
him he wasn't allowed. Alexae displayed one of the greatest talents in
the Toreador clan, he also displayed most of their weaknesses. Calling
this vampire arty was doing a complete injustice to his temperament,
and touchy didn't even cover it.

Whether he wanted to paint the Adonis or ravish him wasn't quite
decided in Alexae's mind, but a mixture of the two showed in his face.
The moment he sat down, Richie began to think it was a good time to

"Good evening," the Toreador purred with what had to be considered a
very handsome smile.

He was hoping that this young man would not be averse to his company,
but the half embarrassed, I'm outta here look appeared in the
Immortal's eyes almost immediately. It was unfortunate, but not too
much of a problem.

"Ah, hi," Richie said with a fake smile, "I have to be going."

"Oh, you don't want to be doing that," Alexae said smoothly as the
blond man went to move, "it's still early."

The dark green eyes snared the young Immortal's gaze and he was
trapped. The muscles that had tensed to help him stand relaxed and
suddenly his body had decided it didn't want to leave. What the vampire
next to him could not have guessed, however, was there happened to be a
little part of Richie that was still insisting he should be going. Most
of the Immortal was caught, just as any Mortal would have been, but
deep inside there was a voice yelling that something really strange was
going on here, and it would not quit.

"Can I buy you a drink?" Alexae offered amiably.

"Thanks," Richie returned and smiled, "I'll have the same again."

Other Kindred in the club just looked at each other, a few smiled and
others shook their heads. It was quite obvious that a seduction was
going on.

After a couple of suggestions that the blond Immortal should be quite
happy about the company he was keeping, the conversation was becoming
quite animated. The Toreador was in no hurry, and he wanted to get to
know the young man before they retired to somewhere more suitable. On
the outside, Richie appeared much the same: relaxed, friendly and
chatty, but on the inside a slight pressure was building. The little
voice of derision was getting louder. An Immortal psyche was not
something that should ever be played with, it took a certain control to
maintain sanity when a person habitually absorbed other people, and
hypnotism could alter that. All Immortal's had a certain degree of
natural mental stability, some more so than others, and messing with it
was a very bad idea.

Richie's brain thought it was not good as well, and slowly it was
sorting out the mess. It was just beginning to occur to Alexae that he
was having to exert quite a bit more influence than usual when, as far
as he was concerned, the most extraordinary thing happened. One moment
he was talking quietly to the young man who's name he had discovered
was Richie, and the next the Immortal's head shot up. The reason he was
losing control was uncertain, but Alexae saw it instantly and decided
he didn't want it to happen. He put every ounce of influence he could
muster into the gaze he sent at his companion and managed to snare the
young man once more. 

"It's nothing," he managed to get out, before he actually felt a mental
shove back.

The Toreador could have sworn that he actually saw a spark of light
dance across Richie's eyes, and then the young man tore his face away.
As far as the Immortal was concerned, the presence of another of his
kind had impinged itself on his consciousness and wiped everything else
into insignificance. Given time to think he probably would have
realised that something strange had been going on, but as it was all he
cared about was the man standing just inside the doorway.

Damon spotted Richie at the same moment, and surprisingly he just stood
there. He was quite a large man, and he'd been in his twenties when
he'd died for the first time. He had short, almost shaved hair and a
semi-casual sense of fashion. The folds of his long black overcoat hung
with familiar heaviness, and as the two looked at each other he smiled.

Now Kindred could spot animosity a mile away, and it wasn't just Alexae
who had noted the atmosphere between the two men. How it had allowed a
human to escape the snare of an experienced Toreador, was intriguing.
As it was, Richie stood up as if he wasn't even aware he'd been talking
to anyone.

The two Immortals took a moment to size each other up, and then, with a
flick of his head Damon indicated they should take their discussion
outside. A slight nod back and the meeting was arranged. The older
looking of the two did a one eighty and left the way he had come, and
Richie turned to the barman.

"If my friend ask where I've gone," he said quickly, "tell him I'll
meet him at the hotel. Thanks."

Then he to was gone. For a few moments Alexae just sat there a little
stunned, then with a half-amused smile he headed for the door. Never
let it be said that this Kindred wasn't up for a challenge. 

It was only a few seconds later that Frank couldn't contain his
curiosity either. However, outside, everyone of interest seemed to have
just vanished into thin air. The cop stood there listening to traffic
noise for a long moment, and gazing down the street, but there appeared
to be no sign of anyone.

"Dammit," he said loudly and glared at a couple of Gangrel perched on a

They favoured him with amused smiles, as if they knew exactly what he
was up to, before they sped away. It was like watching a rerun of empty
world, not a soul remained in sight. He was left with two choices, go
back into the club, or just head home, it was after all his night off.

Five minutes later, Frank was still standing there trying to decide
what to do, there was just something about this situation that nagged
at his instincts. He was almost convinced that it was a Kindred thing
going on, but it wouldn't let him just leave it alone. He was beginning
to talk himself out of the need to investigate when he heard a faint
clanging of metal. With the city noises it was almost masked, but his
police trained eyes and ears he narrowed it down to an alley across the
street. He didn't need urging on twice, and with an `I don't believe
I'm doing this' shake of his head he trotted across the road.


Now Frank had seen some things in his time, but he was not expecting
what he found when he rounded the corner in the blind alley. Richie and
Damon were doing a very skilful job of trying to carve each other into
little pieces, and the nineties police officer's brain rebelled at the
idea. Two men were hacking at each other with four foot long swords,
well hacking probably wasn't the right word, but it was just about all
Frank could come up with. It was only the thought that this might be
Kindred business that kept the cop in the shadows.

The Gangrel that had taken up a viewing position just behind a dumpster
grinned as the energetic battle rallied the beast within him, and Frank
also spotted Alexae. The thought of two pissed off Kindred going for
him because he interrupted a private dispute kept him in place for a
few more blows. Part of the police officer admired the skill the two
combatants showed, and he noted the way that both players had taken at
least one chunk out of their opponent. Yet there was still something
that seemed very wrong about two people fighting with swords in the
current day and age. The fact that the cuts on both warriors seemed to
have pissed them off more than hurt them, was unsettling.

Frank managed to control himself for a full five minutes, before
finally his police instincts took over. He reached into his jacket and
pulled out his gun just as Richie seemed to gain the upper hand. He
took a deep breath and stepped out of the shadows, levelling his weapon
on the two men.

"Stop, police," he said loudly and managed to cause both men to look

The younger looking of the two made a face, and if expressions could
have killed, Frank would have been dead. Damon on the other hand looked
slightly relieved, and he smiled wickedly.

"Damn," Richie would have sworn more colourfully, but he was too wound
up, "loose yourself, Frank," he continued hopefully, "you really don't
want to get involved in this."

Neither of them were going to get any choice in the next events,
however, as the Immortal's opponent took the opportunity to bend the

"Sorry, Ryan," he said coldly, and drew attention back to himself, "but
I've had enough of this. Maybe next time."

Before anyone could move, metal glinted in the air and a stunned look
crossed Richie's face. He gazed down for a moment and just about had
time to investigate the ornate dagger sticking out of his chest. If
Damon was anything, he was accurate, and the blade had found the other
Immortal's heart.

"You bastard," was all the blond one of the pair could say, and then he
collapsed ungracefully.

Frank was so shocked by the move that Damon was already on his way past
before reality kicked in. The truth of the matter became starkly
obvious as the cop was sent reeling backwards by a hefty shove. He
managed to level his gun just as the Immortal disappeared. By the time
he glanced back at what was now a dead looking individual, Alexae was
gone, along with the unnamed Gangrel, and another, worried looking
Kindred jumped off the roof at the end of the alley and ran towards the
Haven. A feeling that he would not be in control of the situation much
longer settled squarely in the police officer's mind.


In the time it had taken the whole affair to take place, the one person
who could have sorted it out had managed to leave the Haven and head
back to his hotel. For this reason it was Lillie who decided to clear
up and avoid a police enquiry into a sword fight just outside her club.
Resigned to letting Kindred handle what he thought was their business,
Frank actually lent his help. Julian turned up just after they had
placed Richie's body in Lillie's office, which was why two Kindred and
one human were stood staring at a corpse about ten minutes after he had

Since Frank believed he was looking at a Kindred paralysed by a stake,
he was confused as to why the other two were just standing there. Why
they didn't remove the dagger which was keeping the young looking
individual imobile was beyond him.

"Would someone mind telling me what exactly was going on in that
alley," the police officer finally asked. "Is there some weird ritual
that Kindred have for finishing each other off?"

For the first time, Julian actually took some notice of his companion.
He raised one eyebrow and frowned thoughtfully.

"He's not Kindred, Frank," he concluded after a moment's thought, "and
I'm afraid he's very dead. We're as much in the dark about this as you.
It's just we'd rather not have such a peculiar crime on our doorstep.
This I think may be more in your line of work."

He ignored the fact that the young cop's mouth was hanging open and
continued on his own investigation of the body. They'd put Richie on
Lillie's desk and beside him lay his sword, the Prince picked up the
weapon almost reverently.

"A truly beautiful antique," he commented respectfully, "and very well

He looked at the dagger next and much to Frank's growing horror just
pulled it out of the body.

"So is this," the Ventrue said quietly, "but of an entirely different

"But if he's not ..." the police officer said slowly, "how come. What
was he doing in the Haven, and how is it his friend knows Lillie?"

It was the Primogen of the Toreadors' turn to look awkward.

"His friend?" Luna enquired evenly.

The Prince could almost see the thoughts run through his one time
lover's mind, and he waited patiently.

"Duncan MacLeod," the other Kindred finally gave up the name, "I've
known him ... a while."

It would be very difficult explaining exactly how a non-vampire came to
be the same after sixty years. She was, however, saved the trouble of
doing any explaining just at that moment, because Richie's body chose
that moment to regain life. One second he was lying flat on his back
and the next he almost rolled onto the floor as he reacted to the last
memory in his brain. He wobbled precariously as he sat up way too fast
and the pain of his still healing injury impinged itself on his
consciousness a millisecond or so later. He groaned loudly and lay back
down again without trying to think too hard.

Stunned didn't quite cover the reaction of the other three in the room.
Richie opened his eyes to see what were to him three, upside- down,
startled faces.

"Oh great," he said quietly, "the cop, Duncan's friend, and a complete
stranger. Mac's gonna kill me."

It was the Ventrue who recovered his composure first.

"That would seem a somewhat difficult thing to accomplish," he said

Richie chose not to comment on that, his mouth had a habit of getting
him into trouble. The fact that one of the three people looking at him
was holding his sword, and the dagger that had killed him, was
unsettling. The pain in his chest was subsiding so he decided to slowly
sit up and take stock of the situation. The right way up he had a much
better view of the three observers. It wasn't difficult to see who was
in charge, authority just oozed out of Julian, and that begged a few
questions. Richie had been on the street a long time before he met
Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod, and now he came to think about it,
Frank looked like a cop, the man with him did not, and Lillie was most
certainly not an officer of the law.

"I don't suppose we could just forget you saw any of this, could we?"
well it was worth a try, wasn't it.

"No, I don't suppose," Luna returned evenly.

Someone coming back from the dead was not only intriguing, it could
have consequences for the Masquerade, and that meant Julian was very

"Why don't you explain how it is that you are still alive," the Prince
said with an smile that sent shivers up the young Immortal's back.

"And while you're at it," Frank put in, "why the hell you were trying
to kill someone with a sword."

It was an accusation and Richie found his mouth reacting before his
brain could stop it.

"I was trying to kill him because he has been trying to kill me,... for
quite a while," the Immortal said vehemently and gave a good indication
as to his character.

End of Part 2
Part 3

Frank seemed somehow glad about the way the Richie had reacted. It made
him feel that he hadn't misjudged the young looking man quite so much
as he could have. There were no such feelings in Julian Luna, and he
wanted answers. The expression on Richie's face said he was not in the
mood to talk.

"I asked you nicely," the Ventrue said calmly, "now I'm insisting."

The Kindred pushed his face directly into the younger man's line of
vision and Richie's eyes opened in shock as Luna's irises turned a
violent yellow. Julian was not pulling any punches, and the force of
his will came down on the Immortal like a tone of bricks. His mind
really didn't like that much, but at first it was helpless.

"What is your full name?" there was no holding back with the enquiry,
and Richie's will caved like a house of cards.

"Richard Ryan," he said dully.

"How old are you?"

"Twenty two."

"Why were you fighting?"

There was a slight hesitation before the young man replied.

"There can be only one," Richie eventually responded, as the familiar
line came into his mind.

"One what?" Julian was quick to jump on the information.

"Immortal," the blond man responded with even more of a pause.

It wasn't taking long for Richie's mind to find a way to fight the
influence that was being exerted. Unfortunately, it was not the most
coherent defence and it was taking time getting going.

"How many of you are their?" if what this man believed were true, then
the Kindred might find that they had a problem.

"Don't know," was the honest reply.

It was becoming more difficult to answer, and the words came slowly.

"Is Duncan MacLeod one of your kind?" Julian asked, oblivious to the
fact that his control was slipping.

"Yes," the response was dragged out of the young Immortal, and now his
inquisitor noticed something wasn't quite right.

"If there can be only one," Luna tried a slightly different approach,
"why are you travelling with one of your own?"

There was a long moment when it looked like Richie wasn't going to
reply, but he lost the battle.

"He's ... my friend," it was almost a look of pain that creased the
Immortal's features.

"You're loosing him," Lillie commented as she watched.

The Prince just glared at her as if to say `I know' and continued.

"How do you kill each other," there was nothing for it, he had to try
the direct line of questioning, before it was too late.

The battle being waged was slowly tipping in the Immortal's favour, and
that was just the wrong question to ask. Some information was simply
off limits, and that was the point when Richie's mind totally rebelled.
He felt his mouth about to betray him and he dipped into the will power
that made him what he was. What he found was as much of a surprise to
him as it was to the vampire trying to influence him. He reached into
himself and found Mako's unwavering following of the law, and he used
it as a mental club.

Julian stepped back a little startled as he actually saw blue
lightening lance across his subject's eyes. The essence of Richard Ryan
fought back and the vampire felt what could only be described as an
unadept, mental battering ram. The trance like state was broken
instantaneously and the Immortal found himself staring into the eyes of
a Kindred unmasked.

"Jesus," he managed breathlessly and, despite the command to stay still
he sent, his body, moved backwards sharply. "What the hell?"

Frank knew the feeling and couldn't help but sympathise. He, however,
wasn't an Immortal who seemed almost totally invulnerable, so the
emotion lasted only a few seconds as he remembered that Richie was.

"Interesting," was all Julian said and let his eyes fade back to their
normal dark shade.

The two vampires looked at each other as if they were not quite certain
what to do, and then the Ventrue made a small signal with one hand that
the Toreador understood instantly. A feeling of dread threatened to
take Richie as he saw the smile that Lillie gave him: it was just so

"You're tired," she said gently, "sleep."

Now this was a totally different form of attack and the Immortal had no
defence. This command gave no threat to what he was and he felt his
eyelids become heavy before he could do anything. The Primogen of the
Toreador clan waved her hand in front of his face and he literally
relaxed into her arms.

"We have to know more," Luna said firmly, "but we're not going to find
out anything by forcing it out of him. Have him taken back to the
alley, and make sure he forgets all this."

With a thoughtful glance, Julian turned to the still slightly bemused
police officer.

"Frank," he said lightly, "how do you feel about keeping an eye on this
young man for us?"

"Are you going to kill him?" the cop asked suspiciously.

Kindred did seem to have a tendency to terminate anything they
perceived as a threat.

"The truth is, I'm not sure," the Prince had learnt that he had to be
honest with Frank, nothing else worked. "At this point I don't think
so. I have to speak to Daedalus."

The only mortal in the room reluctantly agreed, what else could he do?


The first thing that occurred to Richie when he opened his eyes, was
that there was no pain. This was odd since he definitely remembered a
dagger protruding out of his chest in the recent past. The second thing
that entered his head was that Frank was staring down at him with said
dagger in his hand.

"You're alive," the cop did a very good job of seeming surprised.

Everything but the fact that he had been discovered fled from the young
Immortal's head.

"Ah, I can explain," were the words that came flooding out of the blond
man's mouth.

Now Frank was not here to be difficult about this, in fact he was sure
the best way to keep an eye on this man was at a distance.

"Man, I don't want to know," the cop shot back with just the right
amount of fear cum repulsion. "What I don't need is having to explain
you to anyone, just get out of my sight."

Richie couldn't believe his luck, and he scrabbled to his feet quickly.
He didn't quite know what to say, so he picked up his weapon and did as
he was told. The street was empty as he virtually fled round the
corner. In the alley, Frank counted to twenty and then very carefully
followed him.


Alexae was mourning the passing of the young man and had tried,
unsuccessfully, to find something to distract him in the Haven. As it
was he couldn't get the pale face out of his mind, and decided it was
time to go back to the apartment in which he was staying. He concluded
thoughtfully, that in his current sate of mind he might even be able to
produce a work of poignant pain. He was an Artiste, eventually
everything came down to his next creation.

What he definitely did not expect when he wandered out of the club was
the sight that met his eyes. Complete incomprehension washed through
him, followed quickly by a wave of red hot desire as he watched *his*
Adonis leave the alley opposite and jog down the street. When Richie
had turned into a possession was unclear, but Alexae did not argue with
his own psyche. All that mattered was that his life was incomplete
without the youth heading quickly in the wrong direction, and he
*needed* him. This Toreador was not going to go through the same
experience of earlier that evening, again, and because of that he saw
only one way forward. 

With half a smile he set off after his living work of art, the logical
course of action clear in his mind. He was not going to loose *his*
Adonis again, and so he was going to take him home.


One moment Richie was moving rapidly down the empty sidewalk, intent on
getting back to the hotel, the next his way was blocked by a dark
figure. He was in such a hurry that he didn't realise who it was until
he tried to go round, and the man moved to block him.

"Oh, no, not you again," the Immortal said.

Tonight the world seemed to be conspiring against him. As if dying in
front of a cop wasn't bad enough, he had an admirer, who although he
was very good looking, was of entirely the wrong gender for Richie's

"Look, I'm not interested, so would you mind just getting out of my
way?" he was a little too annoyed, and way too aware of the bloodstain
on the front of his shirt to be particularly polite.

"I can't do that," Alexae purred back, as if it was the most normal
thing in the world.

This time the Kindred was in no mood to play mind games, they had
proved too unpredictable. Instead he went for the direct approach and
threw a very hard, very fast punch at Richie's jaw. The Immortal didn't
stand a chance, even invulnerability had it's limits and he folded into
blissful blackness.


It was just not possible, there was no way anyone could just vanish
into thin air like that. Frank was having trouble believing that he had
managed to loose Richie quite so fast, but the empty street spoke for

"Damn Immortal's as slippery as Kindred," he whispered to himself, and
tried to think of a way to break this to Luna. "Later," he concluded
finally, "I'll tell him later."

There could be a trail, something to indicate where the blond man had
gone, so Frank started to look around.


He was annoyed, very annoyed and Richie began to spit curses the moment
he opened his eyes. He awoke to find himself tied to a chair in what
appeared to be an art studio. This state of affairs did not please him,
and what pleased him even less was that someone had relieved him of
most of his clothes. On a quick inspection the only garments he
retained were his boxers and his jeans. He remembered the last time he
had been the victim of a mad artist and realised with a sinking feeling
that there would be no MacLeod to rescue him this time.

"Oh, you are so beautiful," a voice said from just beside him, "truly
one of mother nature's finest."

"Wait `til I get out of these ropes," Richie growled back, throwing all
of his anger into the words, "then we'll see who's beautiful."

It really didn't surprise him when Alexae laughed.

"I can't explain how you're alive," the Toreador said with a wide
smile, "maybe it has something to do with Luna, but I'm not one to
question such good fortune. Neither did I expect you to understand all
of this."

He closed his eyes and listened to his prisoner's heart beat for a few
delicious seconds. He could almost feel the blood coursing through
*his* Adonis' veins, and he could barely contain his longing.

"You're so perfect," he continued and ran his tongue over his lips, "so

Richie never thought he'd regret his Immortality in quite the way he
was doing so now. There was something very alluring about the man
standing in front of him, but there was also something that made the
younger man draw back as the other took a step forward.

"Tonight I'm going to change you," the Artiste said and much to the
Immortal's growing horror, ran a finger down his cheek, "I'm going to
give you forever."

"I already have forever," Richie couldn't help it, it was the only
thing his desperate mind could throw up as a defence.

That drew another laugh from his companion.

"Ah, the young," the Kindred said calmly, "always so thoughtless to the
rigours of time."

The young blond man stiffened as the prowling vampire wandered to the
side of him and round behind where he could no longer be seen. The hand
rested on the side of his neck, the fingers gentle, but oh so cold.

"You will understand soon," Alexae purred into his victim's ear, "and
then we shall have eternity."

Long delicate nails stroked the side of Richie's neck for a tantalising
moment, and then suddenly there was the pain as one of the fingers dug
in. The Immortal would have cried out, but the sound stopped in his
throat as a mouth replaced the hand and the agony became ecstasy. It
was like nothing he had ever felt before, as he literally experienced
the life being sucked out of him. 

Part of his mind screamed, but the rest of him revelled in the
sensation. His consciousness soared away as his body submerged in the
overwhelming stimulation of nerves and muscles. His thoughts likened it
to a Quickening, but this was all being taken from him, not given to
him, and he surrendered to it like he never thought he could. A
connection was being made, but it was not of his doing, and all he
could do was let it happen. As his mind gave in to Kindred dominance
all the events of the night came flooding back. He now knew everything
that had gone on, but he had no will to care.

The mouth at his neck was more tender than a lover's embrace, and yet
more savage than a sword's bite, all at the same time. The moan that
escaped his lips was involuntary, but totally revealing as he gave
himself to the pleasure of dying.

When something wet and metallic was forced to his lips, he was barely
aware, only instinct led him on. Instinct and a gentle voice that
coaxed him to drink, like a mother to a babe.

Alexae cut the ropes that bound his captive with one hand and prevented
the young man falling out of the chair with another. His childe had
collapsed into exhausted sleep, and the Toreador was pleased with his
work. Gently he lifted Richie into his arms and carried him over to
chaise by the far wall.

"So beautiful," he whispered as he put him down carefully, "like an
angel. You're a fallen angel now, my Adonis," he continued quietly,
"but you will be so for always."

With a smile he stood back and then picked up a paintbrush. With the
joy of one who was doing what he loved most, he began to paint, and
record forever the last moments of his childe's mortal life.

End of Part 3
Part 4

Duncan wasn't quite sure what to do. When Richie hadn't returned to the
hotel he'd been worried, when he'd scoured the city for him all day and
found no sign, he had become anxious. When an Immortal didn't come back
it usually meant that they weren't going to, but for some reason, the
Highlander just couldn't bring himself to believe that his friend and
pupil was dead. Why he found himself outside the Haven he couldn't
quite explain, but this was the last place he'd seen Richie.

The rock music flowed over him in one big wave as he walked into the
club, but he barely heard it. All he was interested in was the woman
sitting by the bar. He walked quickly between the various tables,
heedless as to who was there, and came to a stop beside the owner of
the establishment.

"Why, Duncan," she said with a genuine smile, "this is a surprise."

She'd had to explain all she knew to Julian the previous evening, but
she couldn't stop the effect the Immortal had on her. She, unlike her
Prince, chose not to be paranoid about the existence of another long
lived race. In her opinion, if they'd remained hidden from each other
this long then they were unlikely to be a danger to each other. Lillie
noted that her old friend was somewhat agitated as soon as she saw him.

"Have you seen the young man I was with yesterday, since then?" the
Highlander enquired rapidly.

"No," the vampire replied evenly, "why, have you lost him?"

"He's disappeared," the Immortal admitted slowly. "He said he'd meet me
at the hotel, but he never came back. Now with Richie, normally I'd say
he found someone else he'd rather be with, but circumstances last night
were,... different."

It was nicely hedged, if Lillie hadn't of known something very
interesting had happened the previous evening, she never would have
guessed. She was not totally immune to what other people were feeling,
and the way Duncan looked so worried, tugged at her heart strings. With
a sweet smile she patted him on the arm.

"You stay here, darling," she said calmly, "I'll ask around."

"Thanks," Mac replied honestly.

He wasn't sure exactly where in the local hierarchy his friend was, but
he was pretty sure it was quite high. He hoped any news she came up
with, was not bad. The Highlander ordered a drink and sat down, there
was not a lot else to do, until he found out what Lillie knew.

He didn't spend his time idly drowning his sorrows, however, he took
the opportunity to just watch. The number of people his sometimes lover
spoke to who immediately hurried away to do her bidding, was
surprisingly large. It was, however, when the man he had left sitting
next to Richie the evening before, came in and walked straight up to
the owner of the Haven that MacLeod became very interested.


"Ah, just the man I need to talk to," Lillie said as Frank sauntered
over. "Where's our pet Immortal at the moment, Duncan's worried about

"I wish I knew," was the police officer's reply, "but I lost him almost
as soon as he woke up last night. I have just had the pleasure of
explaining this to Julian. The guy just disappeared into thin air. He
was more difficult to track than one of you guys."

"Do you make a habit of following us around, Frank?" the Toreador asked
with a smile, unable to resist the jibe.

She then dragged her mind back on track, and noted the information
which had been passed on.

"Did he give any indication of where he was going?" she enquired

The reply she received was a slow shake of the head. There had been
nothing, not a scrap of a clue to follow. Frank should have known, he
had spent all night looking for one.

"Look, I have to get to work," the cop said evenly, "I just called in
to see if you'd heard anything. Since you're asking me questions, I
assume we're as in the dark as each other. Luna has people out looking
now, but no-one seems to know anything. If you find out any
information, would you mind giving me a call?"

"For you, Frank," Lillie responded with a smile, "anything."


Duncan took the news that nobody had any information calmly, and then
went out to continue his search. There were things going on in San
Francisco which he did not understand, and he was beginning to sense a
bigger picture. He began to look, not only for Richie, but for anything
sinister that might also be going on.


It had been three, very fulfilling days as far as Alexae was concerned.
When his creation had awoken, he had been surprisingly submissive,
almost childlike in his reactions to this new world into which he was
born. There had been no anger, no accusations, only an almost innocent
acceptance of life as it was. The Toreador had decided that his
childe's mind had retreated from the reality of the situation, and was
coping with the change to being Kindred. Since there were times when he
looked into Richie's eyes and saw a very adult, very powerful gaze
being returned, Alexae just assumed he'd break out of it sometime. 

As it was, the Artiste had spent his time drawing and painting his new
centre of attention, and leading the fledgling through his first few
days. Neither of them had strayed far from the apartment, and the only
time Alexae had gone out was to hunt and bring back a beautiful young
thing, who had left the next morning just a little paler than usual.

There were sketches and paintings of Richie all over the living space,
and much to his sire's delight, the new Kindred had even picked up a
pencil himself the previous night and shown considerable talent. If
Alexae had been paying as much attention to how his Adonis looked on
the inside, as he did on the outside he might have noticed that
something was not quite right. Richie had been changing the entire time
since he had been embraced, and although the other Toreador took it as
normal adjustment, it most definitely, was not.

As it was Alexae was about to find out the hard way. He turned and
smiled as his protege walked up behind his towards the end of their
fourth night together.

"You're not supposed to move when I'm painting," the older vampire said
as if scolding a child, "go and sit back down."

It was then that he noticed the look on his childe's face. The
expression had lost the innocent touch and as he smiled, Alexae knew
that he should never have let his guard down. Richie's grin was almost
demonic and his eyes changed to a rich golden yellow as his sire
watched. He was holding one of the Toreador's large paintbrushes by the
bristle end, and he waved it menacingly. As Alexae watched he realised
that this was no ordinary Kindred, and if he hadn't known he had
embraced him only days before, he would have said he was facing one of
the really old ones.

"The game's over," the Immortal Kindred said coldly, "now it's my


The sun was coming up and Richie had absolutely no idea how he came to
be wandering up to an all night cafe. The only item of clothing he was
wearing that he recognised as his own was the brown leather jacket with
his sword nestled in it's usual place. The rest was nothing he
remembered ever owning, including the black silk shirt and the new
black jeans. The last thing he vaguely recalled was Frank standing over
him and telling him to get out of his sight, the rest was hazy at best.
That was why, when he saw the cop sitting in one of the booths he
figured that there was a good reason he was here.

There were vague recollections of men with glowing eyes, and hypnotic
words being whispered in his ear, but they couldn't be called real
memories. He didn't remember going to the Haven and finding Cash
outback, or dominating the Gangrel's mind as if it were second nature.
He had no thoughts of demanding to know about Frank, or of leaving the
Kindred in a daze that had kept him standing there for minutes.
Richie's mind was as empty of the event as Cash's was, and he was
confused as he walked up to the only face he remembered clearly.

"Frank?" he said tentatively, since the cop hadn't heard his silent

The man whirled in his seat and his eyes opened wide with shock. The
last person he had expected to meet here was this Immortal.

"Richie," he said with a surprised note to his voice, "we'd all but
given you up for dead."

There was not much sign of a reaction to the comment in the young
looking man, he just sat down.

"What's going on in this city, Frank," the blond Immortal asked
pointedly. "Something's happened to me that I don't understand, and I
want answers."

It was at that point that the cop noticed how pale his companion was
looking, and without thinking he reached out and touched the other's
hand. He knew that cold feeling all too well.

"Jesus, you're Kindred," he said almost too loudly.

Thoughts of betrayal were very strong in Frank's mind, and the first
thing that occurred to him was that this was one of Luna's jokes.
Immortals fighting each other, no more than something to keep the pet
cop occupied.

"What are Kindred?" Richie shot back and brought a halt to the other
man's thoughts. "What's happened to me? Why can't I remember?"

As he became agitated his eyes changed colour, and it suddenly occurred
to Frank that something unusual was going on. The Immortal looked like
no Kindred Frank had ever met, in fact more than anything he looked
lost. Now the sun was coming up rapidly, and the cop knew enough to
know that Richie did not look like a vampire who had recently fed.
Since Kindred in that condition had a habit of spontaneously
combusting, he decided that he had to get this one out of the public

"I'll explain as much as I can," Frank said quickly, thinking on his
feet, "but not here. Let's get you somewhere a little more private and
a lot darker, before you get a suntan you won't forget."

The younger man's state of mind was such that he did not have much will
to argue, and Frank managed to get him in the car quite rapidly. When
they reached his apartment he closed all the curtains and locked the
door, whilst leaving Richie sitting on the couch. The blond man seemed
suspicious, but he didn't appear to be able to decide what to do.

"Are you going to tell me now?" he said as his companion finally
stopped moving.

There was nothing else for it, Frank was going to have to explain. He
sat down on a chair slowly and tried to remember everything he knew
about Kindred.

"I think you've been recently embraced," the cop said carefully,
"you've been turned into a vampire. Not like you see on TV," he hurried
on quickly as he saw the look that crossed Richie's face, "but still
blood drinking, night dwellers. I'm not really an expert, I'm more in
this by accident. Embracing is when they drain all your blood and
replace it with Kindred blood, then you become one of them."

The other's gaze seemed suddenly distant at the words. The feeling of
his life slipping away in slow blissful second caught Richie off guard,
and as he remembered his eyes shifted once again.

"Do you remember who did this to you?" Frank saw the memory on his
companion's features and he needed to know.

He had the feeling that something was very wrong here, and he knew
Julian was not going to approve. The longer he stayed in this man's
presence the more eerie he was beginning to feel. There was something
almost tangibly strange about the creature who was Immortal and
Kindred, the cop could feel it.

"No," Richie replied, snapping back to reality, "but they must have
given me these clothes, only the jacket is mine."

He looked so lost and helpless that Frank could almost overlook the
fact that the Immortal was staring at him with orange eyes.


The police officer did his best to explain all he knew and he tried to
convince the new Kindred to seek help from Julian Luna. Richie,
however, resisted loudly even after he had been given the low down on
the structure of vampire society. Since Frank still had reservations
about the way the Kindred ran their affairs, he didn't push it just
yet. Instead he offered to make coffee, and to his surprise his
companion excepted gratefully.

When the cop wandered back in from the kitchen he was in for a shock,
however. The curtains were open, early morning sunlight flooded the
living room, and standing there as if he were a flower was Richie,
soaking up the rays. He turned to Frank and smiled an ironic smile.

"I think starting off Immortal has it's advantages," he said dryly.

It was slightly later that the cop decided his guest had to be Toreador
clan when the young man started doodling on the phone pad, and seemed
to become completely lost in the design.


When night finally came round to the city once more, it found Richie
asleep on Frank's couch and the officer himself sprawled on the bed.
The new Kindred had persuaded the cop to wait until sundown before they
did anything, and with all the peculiarities the Immortal was
exhibiting, the officer had decided to play along. Richie woke first,
the moment the sun dipped below the horizon, and when Frank's alarm
went off he found his guest staring out the window.

"I'm going to the Haven," the Toreador said with a certainty that had
not been there earlier in the day. "Are you coming?"

The eyes that looked at him were ice blue, but they held a danger that
could only come from a Kindred gaze. Frank didn't feel like arguing
with that visage and he nodded firmly. 

"Give me five minutes," he said calmly, even as a small shot of
adrenaline soaked his system.

The cop was almost surprised to see his house guest still standing
there when he dived back out of the bathroom. There didn't seem to be a
lot that was helpless about this man, and Frank had the feeling that he
was invited along more as a courtesy, than an ally. The night seemed to
have nurtured a very different Richard Ryan than the day.

End of Part 4
Part 5

The two men walked up to the outside of the Haven with the Immortal in
the lead, little or nothing could have stopped Richie as he walked in.
Kindred recognised Kindred immediately and there were several glances
in the fledgling's direction. Those who had been in the club the other
evening recognised the newly embraced individual, only those who hadn't
been there, actually took stock of what they were looking at. Advance
knowledge was sometimes a block to seeing the truth, and most of those
who had not seen Richie before made a mental note to keep out of his

The two men had not spoken much in the car and Frank wasn't exactly
sure why they were here. He was tagging along more out of curiosity
than anything else, mixed in with a slight suspicion that the Prince of
the city may just have something here he couldn't deal with. That in
itself made Frank smile.

"I'm looking for Luna," Richie said to the barman as soon as he had
covered the distance between himself and the counter, "is he here?"

Lillie had put one of her own in charge of the drinks and he made the
mistake of not actually *looking* at the Kindred to whom he was
talking. He glanced at the Immortal, recognised him from his last time
in the Haven and made the wrong assumption.

"What's a fledgling like you want with the Prince," the Toreador
responded with a slightly disdainful look.

It was early, there weren't many humans in yet, so there was no-one to
hear. That was not the right thing to say to Richie, however, he was in
no mood to play games. He reached one hand over the counter, took hold
of the other Kindred's waistcoat and pulled him off his feet. The
glowing scowl he showed the vampire who should have been many times his
superior, made the barman reconsider his position.

"I didn't come here to answer questions," Richie said slowly and
pointedly, "I came for answers. Now, is Julian Luna here?"

"No," the other replied, just a little afraid of something he did not
try and understand.

The few mortals in the club who saw anything ignored it, they'd seen
stranger stuff in the Haven, the Brujah who'd been in the club the
other night, however, did not. They had a couple of friends with them
and all they saw was a chance to teach an uppity new Kindred a lesson.
When Richie and Frank turned to leave they found themselves confronted
by six Brujah just itching for a fight. The fact that the Immortal
smiled widely as he saw the challenge did not do anything to defuse
this situation.

"Playing with the pet cop?" one of the other Kindred asked snidely.

"Get out of my way," Richie said evenly without even responding to the
jibe, "we're leaving."

"Not until you apologise to our friend," the Brujah leader shot back
had grinned at the barman.

Now it wasn't exactly right to say they were friends of anyone in the
club, these Brujah stuck with their own clan, but it seemed a good
excuse to the thugs. The half amused look that never faltered on
Richie's face really should have warned them.

"I'll ask once more," the Immortal said calmly, "get out of my way or
I'll make you."

Now every Kindred in the club wanted to see this. Six Brujah against
one Toreador had to be worth watching. The thugs laughed as if they
were all connected up to the same voice box, and Richie had just about
had enough.

"Okay, times up," the new Kindred said loudly and deliberately stepped
right up to his first adversary.

It couldn't even be called a fight really. The Brujah didn't even get a
look in, as Richie took hold of his jacket and almost casually threw
him across the room. Now Kindred were strong, but the effortless way
the throw was executed showed the deep routed skill that MacLeod had
drilled into his pupil. It didn't take the other assailants any more to
realise that something was not quite right here. Kindred didn't get to
be that fast until they were a lot older than a few days. Like a pack
of animals the clan members decide to attack on mass.

The first to reach his target was met with a swift blow to the head and
went reeling backwards. The second received a knee in the stomach and
was bodily thrown into one of his accomplices. A little improvisation
was required for the third Brujah, and a foot shot out with deadly
accuracy hitting him squarely on the chin. The fourth thought he'd
blocked the arm coming at him, but quickly discovered that the elbow
was far more painful. The fifth had disentangled himself from his
companion who had collided with him, and he suddenly found himself
looking at a barely bothered Kindred whose whole attention was focused
on him.

Now the Brujah may have been somewhat violent, but they were not
stupid, and this one knew when he had no chance. He held up his hands
as he surveyed his fallen comrades and actually got out of the way.

"Coming Frank?" Richie asked calmly as he slowly walked past the other

Well there was no way the police officer was staying in the Haven. He
didn't quite believe what he had seen, but he was not about to question
it now. He could live without a pack of angry Brujah on his tail. The
two men walked out the way they had come, and Frank didn't need to be
told where they were going.

Phones started ringing all over the city.


The mansion was impressive, but Richie wasn't there to admire the
architecture. Several of Julian's security people tried to stop him
outside the house, and Frank just trailed on behind past the
unconscious bodies. He wasn't quite sure what he was following, but he
knew Richie was no ordinary Kindred, and he also knew that he was not
in a particularly good mood. The pair walked into the hallway

It was Cash who strolled out of one of the interior rooms, looked
somewhat surprised and decided to take on his role as chief of

"The Prince is not available this evening," the Gangrel said with an
amount of restraint that actually made him proud of himself. "How did
you get in here?"

"Funny, that's what everyone's been trying to tell me," the Immortal
shot back. "Thing is, I don't believe you anymore than I believed

Now the Primogen of the Gangrel clan was on his guard.

"I'm going to have to ask you to leave," he told the pair evenly.

If Richie had been his own clan or possibly Brujah, Cash could have
accepted the behaviour, but he recognised Toreador when he saw them.
What he obviously hadn't realised was that this was the man everyone
had been looking for over the last few days. He was in charge of
personal security, Julian had found someone else to do the foot work.
Frank would have been happy to explain, but he knew he wasn't going to
have time. Short was not quite the word for his companion's fuse this
evening. The police officer was beginning to wonder when Richie picked
up a Russian accent, however.

All that Cash knew was something hit him. There was virtually no
warning and no way for him to get out of the way. The far wall was very
hard, and after colliding with it, the floor seemed a very comfortable
place to go to sleep for a while.

"You know, just talking to them might get you somewhere," Frank
commented as they proceeded further into the house.

"I'm not interested in lackeys," was the cold but calm reply. "If you
want action, you go to the centre of power."

There was definitely a slightly patronising tone to the voice, but the
police officer chose not to comment. He figured he'd be better staying
on this guy's good side: humans had a tendency to break a little more
easily than Kindred. The two pushed opened the doors to the conference
room and walked in as if they owned the place. They didn't find Luna,
but they did meet Daedalus.

"Good evening, gentlemen," the Nosferatu said calmly, "you have a great
number of people looking for you, Mr Ryan."

"It's nice to be wanted," Richie responded evenly. "Where's Luna?"

The other Kindred smiled, he knew something was strange with this
Toreador and he found him intriguing. Julian would most definitely want
him kept here, and finding out who embraced him would be interesting.
His current state of health explained a lot about the last few days.

"Our Prince is in his study," the Nosferatu replied as if he was not
bothered by Richie's presence in the slightest. "I'll tell him you're
here if you wouldn't mind waiting."

"Don't bother, I'll go myself," patience was obviously not one of the
Immortal's current virtues.

He moved off in the direction that instinct lead him, and found his way
blocked by a very large, menacing vampire.

"I'm afraid I must insist that you wait here," Daedalus said as
pleasantly as possible, "I'm sure Mr Luna will not keep you waiting

Now Frank knew a little of the Nosferatu reputation and this was the
Primogen of the clan, he didn't think going against him was a good
idea. Taking on a pack of Brujah was one thing, but this was *the*
Daedalus, taking him on was pure stupidity.

"Ah, Richie," the cop said, hoping that he could talk some sense into
his companion, "let's just sit down, huh. The chairs look comfortable."

"I'm not in the mood to sit down," the Immortal said coldly.

His eyes changed colour dangerously, but all Daedalus did was smile.
The Nosferatu let his own Kindred face reveal itself and two vampires
stared into each other's gaze. Richie scowled at the creature who
blocked his way, scowled and asserted his will. The Immortal stared
down the Primogen of the Nosferatu clan and came out sane.

"What are you?" Daedalus asked for once in his life, surprised by what
he saw.

It took a lot to shock a Nosferatu, but Richie managed it. The Kindred
also decided in that moment that this strange fledgling could be a
threat. Daedalus let all the traits of his clan appear, and fangs and
claws became readily apparent.

"Wanna play?" Richie enquired, totally unafraid of the display of

The games were over, this was for real and the Nosferatu did not waist
anytime. A clawed hand grabbed Richie by the throat, intent of exposing
the jugular and giving a clear strike to drain the troublesome
individual. A bloodless, weak Kindred was much easier to deal with than
one who seemed to possess far more power than should have been
possible. The only thing was, the grip didn't hold.

Daedalus found his arm being slowly pulled away from it's target, and a
hand going for his neck. The Nosferatu was very lucky that Kindred
instincts were ruling Richie at that moment, it never occurred to the
Immortal to go for his sword. The blond man literally snarled at his
opponent as unnatural strength battle with unnatural strength. For the
first time the Nosferatu doubted his own ability to force this anomaly
into submission, and he put all his power into one throw.

Richie went sidewards a good five feet and collided with a chair, but
he was still upright, and seemed to be actually enjoying himself. He
used Toreador speed to very good effect, and Daedalus found himself at
close quarters again almost instantly. Material ripped as both Kindred
went for handholds on their opponent, and the roar of an angry
Nosferatu filled the room. The Immortal gained the upper hand this time
and Daedalus went flying through the air just like Cash before him. The
picture he landed against followed him to the floor, but the Nosferatu
did not stay down. What climbed to his feet bore little resemblance to
the calm, efficient creature most saw. This was Daedalus at his most
dangerous, and he was quite willing to frenzy. He threw the wrecked
canvas aside and growled his anger.

"Stop this," the command was loud and held the roar of authority, just
as the two were ready to go for each other again.

The sound actually shocked the pair out of the rage that was quickly
taking over both of them, and two sets of golden eyes turned to look at
Julian Luna.

"Well, well," Richie said coldly, "the man himself."

The Prince scanned the room slowly and took in the destruction that had
occurred. He also took a long moment to observe the creature standing
in the centre of the carpet. He knew instantly that the combination of
Kindred and Immortal had created something neither race could claim to
know. A being who was neither totally vampire or totally human, and one
that it appeared, was very powerful indeed.

"We've been looking for you," Julian said and calmed himself
completely. "You didn't have to assault every one between here and the
gate, you are quite welcome in my house."

He decided to try the civil approach, he could have every member of
staff jump on his guest later if that failed.

"They didn't seem to think so," Richie returned calmly.

It was at that moment Cash decided to stagger through the door. He came
to a rapid halt as he saw what had been going on.

"Your friend, Duncan MacLeod, has been worried about you," it was a
relatively safe tack to take. "I can give him a call if you like."

The name brought an astounding change over the young man before him. He
had not allowed his eyes to fade to their normal blue, but at the
mention of MacLeod he blinked and they lost their supernatural

"Mac," he said slowly, seeming almost confused.

Now this was the person Frank remembered letting sleep on his couch.
The accent was gone and so was most of the aggression. All the Kindred
heard what happened next and found it most intriguing. Richie's heart
started beating, even when he had fought, it hadn't done that, and
sparks lanced across his eyes. It was as if all strength just leaked
out of him, and he collapsed to his knees his head in his hand.

Nobody moved as Julian's watchful gaze kept them in place. Daedalus'
mask of logical reason was back in place and he looked on with cold
curiosity. Cash just clamped down on most of his instinct.

It was confused, almost frightened eyes that looked around the room, as
the real Richard Ryan tried to work out what was going on. The only
person he recognised properly was the man he had come in with.

"Frank," he said quietly, "how did I get here?"

Now Julian took charge.

"Do you remember anything that's been happening," he asked almost
kindly and walked towards the kneeling individual.

He could be cold and ruthless, but the Prince could also be
compassionate and kind. He helped the young man to his feet, much to
Cash's growing concern, and sat him in a chair.

"Bits," the Immortal responded slowly, "I was at Frank's flat, then I
remember something at the club, but I don't know what I'm doing here."

An insane Kindred was not the best person to have around, but then,
Julian had already decided that this was no ordinary vampire. In this
state he seemed almost like the fledgling he was, but there was an
underlying power that radiated out of him.

"That's not important now," Luna told him with half a smile, "you're
newly embraced, and that takes some getting used to."

End of Part 5
Part 6

The situation was *way* too complicated to explore just now, but there
were just a few pieces of information Julian wanted.

"Do you know where you've been for the last couple of days?" he asked
calmly as Lillie entered the room silently behind Richie.

The Immortal shook his head, everything was fuzzy.

"Paints," he said slowly, "all I remember is, there were paints."

"How about who embraced you?" Julian suspected that he was not going to
get an answer, but he tried anyway.

His subject just looked blank.

"It has to have been Alexae," the voice was Lillie's and she walked
round to get a better look at the man who had so recently wrecked part
of her club. "I should have realised earlier. He hasn't been around
since this one disappeared, I just assumed he was creating something,
until I was informed what had walked into the Haven this evening.
Alexae took an interest at the club the other night, I didn't think
he'd go this far."

Again a name caused a reaction in Richie and the image of lying on a
couch half naked while a man painted him flashed through his mind. Then
the memory turned red and became unclear again.

"Didn't want to loose me," was what Richie found himself say, even
though he had no idea where the thought came from.

"Where is he now?" Julian did not let up on the questions, there was no
telling how long the young man would remain rational.

There was real concentration on the Immortal's face as he tried to
remember at least a scrap of information, but the mists in his muddled
mind would not clear. There were barriers in his mind that he did not
understand and could not get past.

"I don't know," he said finally, "there are just these big blanks."

The Prince looked up at Cash and the Gangrel disappeared, he knew where
Alexae should be and he was going to check. If the Toreador had gone to
so much trouble to create a childe it was unlikely he would have just
let him go.

It seemed that there was little information to be had out of Richie and
in this state he seemed very pliable. Julian exerted only a little of
his own power and the Immortal calmed visibly. His heart was beating in
a slow rhythm, and he looked more human than vampire.

"Why don't you wait in the other room," the Prince suggested calmly,
"we have some business to deal with, and it looks like you could do
with some rest. There's a large couch in there and Daedalus will show
you the way. If there's anything you need, just ask."

The Immortal didn't even try to protest, he just excepted the
hospitality without even considering the ulterior motives behind it.


As the Nosferatu walked back into the conference room he found his
compatriots sitting in their respective seats, and Frank pacing around

"He found a pencil and paper on the table," Daedalus observed calmly,
"and appears totally absorbed in drawing pictures of you."

He looked directly at Lillie, but she said nothing.

"He did that at my place," the cop commented and tried to bring his
feet under control. "He's been with me all day, and take it from me, he
has no problem with daylight."

"Why didn't you bring him straight here, Frank?" Julian asked and
managed to make it sound almost like it wasn't an accusation.

The man looked unhappy by the tone of the question, he didn't like his
actions being questioned.

"I would have done, but he didn't want to come," the cop shot back,
"and if you expected me to argue with him, you have to be mad. The guy
has hearing like a wolf, and was sleeping next to the phone, what did
you expect me to do?"

It was a sensible argument and Julian decided that maybe Frank had had
no choice. At least everything seemed to be going their way for now.

"Okay," Luna said calmly, "but what I want to know is what has Alexae
created with his meddling? There is power in our new associate that
cannot come from any source I know."

There were ways that Kindred could increase their individual abilities
other than just surviving, but not to the extent that they could take
on a Nosferatu after just days. It was Daedalus to whom all eyes

"I cannot explain the source of his prowess," the white skinned man
said evenly, "but I will say that I believe it is fading. In the few
moment for which I was in contact with him, I believe I actually felt
his abilities diminish. It was only marginal but it was definitely

He looked at the other two Kindred thoughtfully.

"I had thought the stories I had heard of other eternal beings to be
legend until proof of their existence was shown to me," he continued
calmly. "Since they actually exist it is logical to assume that the
tales are not all fiction either. If so it would seem that to combine
an Immortal and a Kindred would be to try and pair direct opposites.
*They* are fundamentally alive, *we* are fundamentally dead, I would
hazard a guess that by his very nature, Mr Ryan cannot be one of us. I
would therefore go as far as saying, I believe he is becoming human
again. I cannot say how long it will take, but I would suggest we keep
him here until the truth of the matter is revealed."

Daedalus never spoke unless he meant it, so Julian just accepted what
he said. He nodded and glanced around calmly.

"That leaves the mystery of how it is he feels like a Toreador of more
than a few centuries," the Prince said slowly. "Even if this problem
finds it's own solution, I would still like to know how it came about.
This is something we do not want to happen again."

The others nodded in agreement, even Frank could see the sense in that.
Unfortunately for him, his beeper chose just the wrong moment to go

"Damn," he said loudly and then looked at Julian. "Can I use your
phone, please?"

The Ventrue half smiled, but nodded as well. It seemed like such a
normal event amidst what had been complete chaos. There was a lot of
talking to be done, and Julian expected trouble from Cameron's
direction, thanks to what Richie had done to the Brujah. As the cop
disappeared through the door, he called the meeting to order once more.


There were no signs of life at Alexae's apartment as Cash and two of
his most trusted clan mates walked up the stairs to the penthouse. It
was only as they came through the last floor door, into what was almost
a lobby that anything untoward became apparent. Lillie's money paid for
private security and no nosy neighbours, but even so it was usually
wise to shut the front door. The three Gangrel headed for the inner
sanctum swiftly and silently.

They were met by an utter mess: there was furniture every where, and
spots of paint over just about everything, almost as if someone had
thought to create a work of art. There was a strange order in the chaos
and even as they looked, the three Kindred found their eyes dragged to
the centre of the room where they immediately saw the major exhibit.

On a table in front of a very large canvas, Alexae was lying, sprawled
over the surface with a paintbrush sticking out of his heart. If it
hadn't been quite so serious a matter it might actually have been
funny. An Artiste, paralysed by his own tools. Richie had not stopped
there, however, and if any of the recently arrived Kindred had been
Toreador they would have admired the workmanship. Alexae had had most
of his blood drained via a slit in the side of his neck, but his childe
had not used it to bolster his own power. Instead, in his rage and
madness, the young Toreador had used it to create, and on the canvas
was a tonal study of Lillie. 

The blood painting was perfect, down to the finest detail, but that
really wasn't what was on Cash' mind as he hurried to the side of the
prone vampire. He didn't even hesitate as he gripped and pulled out the
wooden shaft, releasing Alexae from paralysis. He expected a show of
anger, even though the Toreador would be weak from lack of blood, what
he did not think would happen was what did.

"My god, he's magnificent," were the first words out of the older
Kindred's mouth.

The helpless creature had been lying there all day, and his first
sentence was in praise of the Kindred who had done this to him.

"It was incredible," the Toreador insisted with all the strength he had
left, "he was so powerful. And this," he turned to the canvas and
actually smiled, "has so much style."

At that the Gangrel Primogen decided he would never understand his
Toreador cousins, and chose to ignore the reaction. He had a feeling
Alexae was lucky to be alive, but he wasn't going to comment.

"The Prince would like to see you," he said evenly, "we have a car

The older vampire didn't seem to really hear him, he appeared entranced
by the painting, but he had no strength to resist when he was politely
herded towards the door.

"Stay here and make sure no-one disturbs anything," Cash told one of
his companions, "I think Mr Luna will want to see this."

Then he took his charge out of the apartment, and left his associate
with the somewhat disturbing painting.


There had been no measure of time as far as Richie was concerned as he
sat by the window and drew on the pad that he had found. He had no
understanding of his need to create, and before Alexae, would have
claimed no ability either. The pencil seemed to have a mind of it's
own, and he was actually quite content as he produced a miniature
portrait of the Primogen of his clan. It was only as he finished it
that he found his outlook had changed once again.

He smiled to himself, once more in the grip of Kindred passions and
gazed around with vampire senses. No heart beat sounded in his chest,
and the night filled his mind.

It was not the angry want of power which drove him now, but it seemed
to be a fusion of childlike wonder and a taste for freedom. He really
had little idea what he was doing, but without hesitating he put the
picture aside, stood up and flexed his powers of shape-changing for the
first time. Nobody notice the eagle which soared out the window as if
it had been born to the sky.


They found him gone only a few minutes later, and Julian was not very

"He may become human again soon," he said with a cool anger, "but for
now he is my problem. Get Duncan MacLeod over here, we need to know
what we are up against."

He turned and stalked into his study, leaving the others to do his


The roof top was like hundreds of others all over the city, but the
bird swooped down as it saw a shape which caught it's interest. Almost
as soon as he touched down, the Kindred morphed back into his own
shape, and stood staring at the back of the person who had attracted
his attention. She was pale against the night sky, dressed in a long
white dress with only a battered leather jacket against the chill of
the air. Her hair fell in long blond tresses around her shoulders and
for a long moment Richie just stood there looking at her.

She was staring down at the road below the apartment building as if
fascinated by the distance, and her sorrow was almost tangible to the
vampire behind her. He was as silent as the moon, and she had no idea
he was there, not until he spoke.

"Are you going to jump?" he asked in a voice that could have charmed
the birds from the trees.

Her back tensed slightly, but she did not look round at him.

"What's it to you if I am?" she asked in a cold, deriding tone.

"Oh nothing," Richie replied calmly, "I was just wondering. Do you live
here, or did you just pick this building because it's high?"

She laughed at that, she hadn't expected him to be quite so remote
about the whole thing. The question really did make him sound as if he
was just curious.

"I live here," she replied, eyes still intent on the drop below her,
"not that anyone cares. I'm going to fall past all those closed
windows, let them see me jump to my death. Then they'll know my name,
then they'll realise I exist. The mouse from number 46, finally done
something with her life to warrant notice."

She felt his closeness before she actually looked up to find him
standing on the edge right next to her. He was watching her with wide
open blue eyes, but much to her surprise he was not reaching for her.
There was a slightly sad expression on his face, but his gaze told her
that he was not going to stop her if she chose to step into thin air.

"Maybe I can give you something that is better than that," he said
quite calmly and smiled.

It was the smile that made her tremble inside, and the eyes which made
her reach out her hand.


The phone call had not really surprised MacLeod, he had been waiting
for them to get round to him. In the days he had spent nosing around he
had come to the conclusion that Richie was not dead, and that the
peculiar community around Lillie that was not quite the underworld, had
something to do with his disappearance. Julian Luna was a man with a
past which did not quite add up, and the Highlander recognised the
signs. The fact that he was now invited to the man's mansion was not
much of a shock.

He had been admitted by a young looking man with a slightly wild look
about him, and he was shown into a room with a large table and several
cold faced people. Lillie and Julian he recognised, most of the others
he had seen around, but had no names for the faces. Only a stunning
individual with long brown hair and classically good looking features
gave him someone to look at he had not seen before.

End of Part 6
Part 7

"Good evening, Mr MacLeod," Luna greeted calmly, "please, have a seat."

There were chairs positioned at the end of the table which obviously
did not usually belong there, and from the seating the Highlander
quickly realised that he and the new face were the only two who did not
`belong' in this room. There were five of the others and it did not
take much to work out that they were used to their places.

"Thank you," the Immortal replied as he sat down, "you phone call said
this has something to do with my companion."

There was no point in wasting time.

"That it does," the Prince replied, happy with the Highlander's wish
for speed, "but first I think there are a few things you should know."

If he was going to be able to help, first he had to understand, and
although it could be considered dangerous, the ruling body had agreed
that the Immortal should be told the truth. MacLeod's people had their
own Masquerade, and screaming to mortals about vampires would not be a
probable course of action.

"You know that Lillie is not quite what she seems," Julian began
evenly, "anymore than you are. What you do not know is what she is, and
therefore what we are."

A slight nod gave the indication that Mac was following this perfectly.

"We are known as Kindred, Mr MacLeod," the Prince informed him slowly,
"or more coarsely, vampires. We live among humans, just as you do,
hiding what we are, and continuing with our lives. We need blood to
survive, but we do not kill to get it, that would endanger the
Masquerade. We create more of our own kind by embracing carefully
chosen mortals, which is what brings me to the problem at hand."

MacLeod's gaze did not falter as he looked directly into the Ventrue's
eyes. The Prince was given the distinct impression he was  looking at a
man just as powerful as he.

"We became aware of a battle that took place in an alley close to the
Haven, and we found what we assumed was a dead body. Because of the
unusual circumstances of the death we chose not to inform the police,"
Luna continued, "and shortly after discovered that the young man we had
found did not stay dead. We questioned him, made him forget he had ever
seen us and let him go. It was then that he disappeared."

The glare that he was sending in Alexae's direction made it very clear
who was to blame. It didn't take much to read between the lines, and
Duncan reached a conclusion before he had to be told.

"Are you trying to say that *he* embraced, Richie?" the Immortal didn't
sound particularly happy about that at all.

"It's all right, Duncan," Lillie put in rapidly, "we're almost sure
he's returning to normal. We are completely incompatible with your
physiology, and you friend seems to be fighting off the change."

That made Mac feel a little better, but he was still not best pleased.

"Why did you ask me to come here then?" he enquired pointedly. "You
must have a very good reason."

"We do," Julian returned with his usual calm visage, "we want to find
out exactly what happened to Richard when he was embraced, and make
sure it never happens again. You see, your companion did not become
what could be considered a  ... normal Kindred." He paused to try and
decide how to phrase what he was about to admit. "In the last twenty
four hours he has, ... disabled his sire, taken on six males of another
clan, at the same time, broken into my home, past my security, *and*
held his own against the strongest of us all."

By the time, the Prince had finished there was a low chuckle coming
from the Highlander's mouth.

"Richie's kicking ass," he said, finding the whole thing quite amusing,
"and you don't know what to do about it. I'm sure there's a motto in
there somewhere."

There was a slightly unhappy look on Luna's face as he saw the
Immortal's reaction, but he did not choose to voice his feelings.
Instead he sat forward and waited for the sombre mood to have it's
effect on MacLeod.

"That is not the centre of the problem," he commented slowly as the
Highlander became serious again. "What I wish to know, is how a twenty
two year old man can transform into the equivalent of a Kindred many
centuries his senior. What is it about your kind that gives you that
sort of power?"

That stopped Duncan in mid thought, as he could not help but come to
one conclusion. To give them the answer he would have to reveal part of
his own secret, but they had already seen the idea in his face. He was
a strong willed man, but he had taken in the underlying atmosphere and
realised that he could probably not stand up to six vampires.

"We are not just what we were when we died for the first time," The
Highlander finally said slowly, "and it isn't just age which makes us
powerful. If you saw a fight and questioned Richie, you must have found
out that we battle our own kind, and attempt to kill each other. What
you don't seem to realise is what happens when one of us wins."

He paused to make sure he had everyone's attention: he didn't what to
have to repeat himself.

"The victor gains the essence of his dead opponent," Duncan wasn't
quite sure how these people would react, but at one level he didn't
really care. "Richie's taken the heads of several old Immortals, and
therefore their Quickenings. The only thing I can think of to explain
what you've been telling me is that the combined power of those who've
challenged him, translated directly into whatever you perceive as
ability in your race."

"Fascinating," Daedalus could not contain his wonder: very little could
be said to captivate the Nosferatu, but this newly discovered species
had him hooked.

It was at that point that he skipped ahead of most in the room and
realised there was more to it than that.

"Could these ... Quickenings, explain the rapid personality changes
that Mr Ryan appeared to go through?" he enquired politely.

Those words caused Duncan to go cold all over, although the only
obvious sign was the way his heart beat speed up. His mind flicked
unbidden to his own battered soul when the dark Quickening had taken
him. Without letting himself dwell in the memory he prayed that his
protege was not in as much turmoil as he himself had been.

"Yes, they could," the Highlander said with no sign of emotion. "It's
not unknown for an Immortal to suffer from multiple personalities,
although there was no sign of any such thing in Richie *before* you got
your hands on him."

It was a direct accusation that he could not help, but he pushed it
aside quickly. All he could hope now, was that with these people's
assistance he would be able to bring his young friend back.

"We'd better find him, soon," was all he said.


The apartment was small and full of nondescript furniture as Jessica
let herself and Richie in. That was all that had passed between them
since the roof, a swap of names, there had been nothing else to say.
She had decided to die, and she didn't really care who this man was,
she just knew that if she had jumped she would have missed something

He threw his coat on the couch as the white panel door clicked shut and
blocked out the outside world. It fell open as it landed and the hilt
of the sword it contained became obvious. With a fascinated little
stare she just looked at it for a while, not quite sure what to do now.
If she gazed back at him she probably wouldn't even think about it, but
just for a moment she wanted to feel the long dead emotions that it
stirred in her. There was just a little fear at the sight of such a
weapon, and to experience something she had decided she had lost, was

"A sword?" she said quietly, still not turning.

"Yes," said that sweet voice in her ear, "does it matter?"

"No," she replied after a moment, and finally let herself face him.

There was something almost magical about him, and he captivated her on
more than one level. He was handsome, he showed the signs of a man who
could handle himself, and yet there was a strange gentleness in the
gaze that caught hers. He reached out and cupped the side of her face
in one tender hand, the half smile playing at his lips again.

"A goddess who has seen heaven, but can no-longer find her way there,"
he said quietly, and his tone almost made her want to cry.

So many emotions that she had buried so long, in such a short time, she
was almost giddy. He stepped towards her and drew her to him in one
swift move. There was such a sweet taste in her mouth as his lips
covered hers, and the kiss was long and passionate as strong arms held
her. She clung to him as if he was the only thing that could keep her
head above the waves, and yet she already knew that what he offered was
not something she had ever been given before.

Jessica was a mouse, but she had had her share of lovers, and this man
did not represent the same things they had. It was funny, there was the
small pit of fear in the recesses of her mind, but it did not well up
and consume her as so much of her life seemed to have done. Maybe it
was something to do with the presence that she felt from her companion,
maybe it was because she had given up on her life. Quite frankly, it
didn't matter anymore.

His skin was cold against hers, and his touch was excitingly chilly as
his hands pushed the jacket off her slim shoulders. She was a beautiful
woman, but the nagging doubt from a childhood of being teased, had
always stopped her from allowing herself to fall for the kind of man
who could show her more than a quite, harmless relationship. She wasn't
going to let that stop her this time, and she gave herself to this man
she had only just met.

The fingers may have been cold, but they caused such warmth as they ran
over her body, and she thought the heat would consume her as he kissed
her neck and ran his tongue over the edge of her ear. Her hands reached
blindly for the buttons of his shirt as his gently teased down the zip
at the back of her dress. She pulled back slightly as he ran one limb
through the gap where the fastening came away, and stroked one finger
under the rim of her panties.

The desire showed in his eyes and his slightly parted mouth, but he did
not move as his companion just stared at him. With the intimate touch
came the realisation of what she was doing, and just for a moment the
reality of the situation impinged on her conscious brain. There was
surprise on her features as he did not try to force her any further,
and left her to her own decision.

"Tell me to leave and I'll go," he said quietly as she almost lost all
contact with him.

Her passion had beeen re-ignited, and he knew that she wouldn't walk up
to the roof and throw herself off tonight, maybe tomorrow, but not
tonight. Such a lovely creature, almost innocent in her
misunderstanding of human nature. He was filled with a desire for her
he could not explain, and yet to touch her if she did not truly want
it, would have been worse than sacrilege.

"No," she said finally, "I want this."

Even as she spoke she took another small step backwards, but it was not
a withdrawal, more of an encouragement. She let the light cotton dress
fall to the floor around her ankles and revealed a pale, naked torso to
the dimly lit apartment. Her body showed all the signs of arousal, but
she just reached out and took his hand. With a slight smile on her face
she led him towards the bedroom.

The top button of his jeans gave into her ministrations quickly, and he
helped the process of disrobing by puling his silk shirt over his head,
throwing it to one side. She had long, elegant fingers and he watched
as they unbuttoned the rest of his fly with dextrous precision. Her
smile widened as she realised that he wasn't wearing any underwear.

"Free spirit?" she asked mischievously and ran her hand down the inside
of the denim.

The breath hissed between his teeth and he reached out to her
immediately. Naked skin rubbed against naked skin as he pulled her
close once more and she melted into his arms.

"You need me more than I need you tonight," he whispered in her ear as
he ran his nails down her back, "let me give you what I can."

She didn't need telling twice, and there was no resistance as he swept
one arm under her legs and carried her to the bed. Her choice of
clothes had not been exactly in line with the climate and she had
walked to the roof barefoot, he took a moment to kick his footwear
aside after laying her on the soft covers. With a lopsided grin he then
pushed his jeans down and stepped out of them as she watched.

The sound of her heart beat was loud to his supernatural hearing, and
he could smell her arousal. The beast in him rose, but he pushed it
down viciously as he centred on very human pleasures. He climbed onto
the bed beside Jessica and lay down beside her, pressing himself up
against her and kissed her shoulder lightly. His arm brushed over her
breasts and she relaxed back onto the bed with a small moan of
pleasure. The kisses that he layered all over her body were feather
light and tantalisingly short as they set her skin on fire.

Her body moved of it's own accord under his tender care and everywhere
that his mouth wasn't, his hands seemed to be. Eventually she couldn't
stand it any more and she started pushing her briefs down with the one
hand that wasn't entwined in his hair. That drew a small laugh from her
partner, but he took the hint. Her hips rose helpfully as he took hold
of the elastic material and gently pulled it downwards.

With closed eyes she arched her back as his hand ran up her inner
thigh. His fingers slipped into the soft moisture with no resistance
and her legs parted further as she groaned and demanded more of him.
His touch was so different from the clumsy ministrations of the only
sort of men she had ever let herself become close to, and it consumed
her totally. He sunk two fingers into her slowly, running his mouth
over one breast as he did so. She thought she'd loose it when his thumb
began to gently stroke between the slick folds of skin at her centre,
but he controlled her like a fine instrument.

She pushed against him as he tried to start a gentle rhythm with his
fingers, but he would not let her have her way. He almost withdrew the
intrusion and she dug her nails into his arm in protest. That just
succeeded in drawing the small laugh out of him again.

"We have plenty of time," he said gently, and then proceeded to show
her exactly how he wanted things to go.

The first shuddering orgasm took her as he finally plunged his fingers
in to their full length, after he had shown her the edge several times.
She cried out in a way she had never thought she could and finally
understood what she had been denying herself for so long.

By the time she had come back to herself he had pushed her legs apart
further and manoeuvred himself above her. His hips brushed the inside
of her thigh and she opened her eyes to look up into clear blue irises.
She had no intention of denying him anything and hooked one knee around
him eagerly. The second intrusion was not as shudderingly new as the
first, but her filled her and touched places she didn't know she had. 

They moved together in what became a desperate dance, each straining to
give the other all they had. Their bodies slid apart and then came
crashing back together as again and again, they reached for the release
of sexual climax. When it came it was like a wave of pure ecstasy and
took them both into uncontrollable spasm. Jessica's legs locked about
her lover and she clung to him as if he were her life.

He relaxed on top of her slightly, half his weight on an elbow, the
other on her, and buried his face in her shoulder. She was so soft and
warm and he felt a different hunger stir in the pit of his stomach. 

End of Part 7
Part 8

As Jessica relaxed he pushed himself off her and onto the bed, turning
his face away, trying to force away the signs of this new arousal. He
allowed her to push him over onto his back, but kept his eyes tightly
closed as she ran a hand along his breast bone. When he finally looked
up at her his eyes were still blue, but she mistook the hungry look to
mean the same as she was feeling.

"My turn," she whispered, running her tongue over her lips, and she
showed him that his need was as great as hers.

Their love making was passionate and long, both finding that it had
been too long since they had taken pleasure in another's body like
that. They found a myriad of ways to give each other and themselves
pleasure and it was well into the night when they finally found their
sexual desires almost fed. They relaxed into a now familiar position,
he on top, caught in the tight grip of her thighs, she underneath,
revelling in the control she had over his movements.

He had pushed himself up on his arms and his eyes were closed. She
could feel that there was a difference in him and she suddenly
remembered where he had found her. He would be gone tomorrow, that she
knew, and the whole futility of her sham of a life hit her. When he
opened his long lashed lids, she almost knew what she would see.

The golden gaze should have filled her with terror, instead it gave her
a hope she had not felt in a long time.

"Do you want life or death?" he asked in a husky voice as he fought the
hunger which threatened to take away his sanity.

The only way to save her was to run, but for that she had to release
him. He knew her answer before she spoke as her legs gripped even

"Kill me," she said calmly and turned her head to one side.

There was no second chance, he could control the desire no-longer, and
all he could do was as he was bid. His teeth sank into the flesh of her
neck even as their bodies remained locked in mortal joining. She let
out a little sob at the initial pain, but it soon turned into a moan of
pleasure. As he drained her she came again and her body was totally
taken by the sensation.

She lay beneath him, pale and barely breathing and without faltering he
pulled away from her. He was sated and blood dripped from his chin as
he dug his thumb nail into his wrist. His skin was warm now, but hers
was getting colder by the second. Putting the cut to her mouth was easy
and even in her unconscious state she suckled like a babe. He was
exhausted by the time he ran his tongue over the wound, closing it, and
he quickly collapsed on the bed. Both sank into untroubled sleep soon


They'd told him that they were scouring the city for Richie, but Frank
was pretty sure they wouldn't find him. He'd spoken to the peculiar
half breed long enough to know that if he did not want to be found, no-
one would stand a chance. It was the beginning of a beautiful morning
and the cop watched as the sun began to rise over the water. Why he had
come to the place that always reminded him of Alexandra, he couldn't
say, but today he had wanted to be here. It was only as the bridge
turned crimson in the light of the new day that he realised he wasn't

"Morning, Frank," Richie said with half a smile as the police officer
whirled to face him, "I figured you be here."

That begged the question how, but the cop decided he really didn't want
to know.

"Yeah, well I thought you'd be avoiding everybody," Frank commented,
recovering his composure with long practised skill.

"I am," the younger individual replied, "but I thought I'd check in
just to make sure no-one gets jumpy."

In the rich dawn, Richie still looked pale, but as Frank too a moment
to examine his face the Immortal did seem somewhat more lucid. There
were large grey patches under his eyes, and his hair was unbrushed, but
all in all he looked to be in much better shape than the day before.

"Your friend, MacLeod," the police officer decided to explain exactly
what was going on, "Julian told him just about everything last night.
They're working together to find you."

Much to Frank's surprise, his words caused his companion to laugh.

"What's so funny?" he enquired, just a little annoyed at the lack of
seriousness with which Richie seemed to view everything.

"Oh, just thinking what they'd get if they tried to embrace Mac," was
the truthful reply. "You see, Frank, I'm almost sure I know what's
happened to me, I can feel it. I'm beginning to remember what I've been
doing these past couple of days. The embrace set free all the
Quickenings of the Immortals I've killed, and I've been merging and
swapping personalities ever since. I'm loosing the ability to do all
those weird Kindred things, but I'm regaining my sanity. Not a bad
trade, don't you think?"

He grinned as the continuation of the thought entered his mind.

"I'm small fry as far as Immortals go," he continued slowly, "Kristov
and friends are but a handful of heads. I became a Toreador equivalent
to all of them stacked on top of each other, and if they ever tried
something like that with Mac it would be like Armageddon. He'd truly
make a Kindred from hell. A couple of hundred people all in the one
body with the ability to kick ass, *big* time."

Even Frank had to grin at that: he could just picture the look on
Julian's face.

"Not a pretty thought," he commented dryly.

A small chuckle escaped Richie's mouth, but soon afterwards he became
serious again.

"If you see him," the younger man said slowly, "tell Mac I'm okay and
I'll see him soon. I think I've worked out what will bring me back, all
the way. I'm going to finish what I came here to do, then we can go

The reply was a solemn nod from his companion, and the cop made no move
to follow him as he turned and walked away. There was no need to
explain anything else, Frank would find out everything eventually.


The room was in total darkness as she woke, and even before she opened
her eyes, Jessica knew she was alone. He was gone, and there was a
small ache in her heart was she knew he would never be coming back. On
the table next to the bed there was a hand written note with her name
on the front. Turning on the light as she picked it up, she began to

Dear Jess, I'm sorry, but one night is all I can give you. The creature
I am as I write this will no-longer exist by the time it gets dark
again. I was never supposed to be Kindred, it is opposed to what I
really, and the power is fading already. I don't know what I would have
done if your pain hadn't called out to me last night. I think giving
you what I can never have helped me on the return to my real life. You
must learn what it is that you are now. Go to the Haven night- club as
soon as it gets dark and ask for Alexae. His is my sire, and I think
that he will love you more than he could ever love me. Know that you
are Toreador, and be proud of it. Sleep through the day, love, and go
to Alexae before the hunger becomes too great. He will teach you, and
he will understand.

Goodbye, Richie

She let one blood tear fall on the paper, and then she put it aside.
Curling up in the covers, away from the single crack of light between
the curtains she thought of the night before. Her life up `til now had
been empty, and without knowing how she realised that there was a
family waiting out there for her. It was a family of blood, and she
went back to sleep with an image of a man in her thoughts.


It was day, he should have been sleeping, but Alexae could not put
aside the thoughts of what he had done. Ever since Richie had attacked
him and left, the bond of sire to childe had been somehow broken. He
had no sense of the Kindred he had made, as if the raw power cancelled
out all hold he had over his own creation. It saddened him, and with
the other ideas which plagued him he could not sleep.

He was lying on the bed in one of Julian's spare rooms, but he could
only close his eyes for a minute. It was as he focused on the ceiling
for the hundredth time that he felt his soul touched. It was like the
bond being made all over again, and for a moment he thought that his
childe may have come back to him. As the initial feeling wore off,
however, he knew that the spirit which touched his was not Richie's.
His mind filled with the idea of a young woman, and suddenly he

Tears ran down his cheeks as he realised that what everyone had been
saying was true: he would never regain his creation, his Adonis was
beyond his reach forever. Yet it was not only sorrow that caused the
red streaks on his face, because he also realised that his gift had not
been rejected completely. Alexae knew that the new Kindred in his
thoughts was a gift from Richie, the power had been passed on and this
woman would come to him.


The message Richie had given to Frank had been passed on, and the
police officer had been politely asked to turn up at the Haven when
evening came around again. All his instincts told the cop that the
night-club would be a very bad place for him to be at the moment ...
after the previous night, but Luna hadn't seen it that way. Since Frank
hadn't seen hide nor hair of the younger Immortal since their earlier
meeting, and he really wanted to know what was going on, despite his
reservations, he showed up.

He was walking along the sidewalk towards the entrance of the club when
a car pulled up beside him. It's presence had barely registered on the
preoccupied man's mind when he felt himself grabbed from behind and
bundled into the vehicle. Somebody threw a coat over his head and a
grip like iron pinned him to the floor. He didn't need much more to
realise that he'd been snatched by Kindred. The only questions
remaining were: by whom, and for what purpose. After a few moments he
gave up struggling: the hands that held him would not give, and he was
just hurting himself.


From across the other side of the study, Lillie watched Duncan as he
paced back and forwards. They were waiting for Julian to appear, and
then they would be going to the Haven to liaise with other members of
the clans. The Highlander hadn't spoken to her much since the previous
evening, and he seemed very edgy as he wore a groove in the carpet.

"I'm sorry this happened," the Primogen of the Toreador clan said
suddenly, much to her companion's surprise. "Alexae is my guest, this
is my fault."

The look she received from Duncan said he wasn't quite sure whether to
let her condemn herself or not. Eventually his generous nature won
through and he could maintain the silence no longer.

"You couldn't control his actions anymore than I could have controlled
Richie's," the Immortal finally said. "I know I'm standing here blaming
you, but that's just me, I'm blaming everyone including myself. The
moment I realised that you were still the same I should have turned
around and walked out, taking Richie with me. I'm always reminding
Richie that his libido will get him into trouble, and what did I do,
but go and follow my hormones like a kid."

Lillie had to smile at that, she could have been a little more careful
herself. There was an animal attraction between the two, and both sides
of the relationship had followed it quite happily. There was a fair
amount of affection there, on both parts as well, but as they looked at
each other across the room, they knew that they would not be sharing a
bed again. An Immortal would make an interesting life partner for a
Kindred, but these two would not be exploring the possibilities.

"You have managed to get under my skin, Duncan MacLeod," the Toreador
said with a sweet grin, "and that is very hard to do. I think perhaps I
will be glad when you choose to leave."

Duncan smiled back, quite frankly he would be happy to leave San

"As soon as we find Richie I would be most happy to accommodate your
wishes," he replied honestly.


The young man in question was, at that moment, walking down an empty
street towards an old apartment block. It had taken him all day, but
with a little street wisdom, a touch of Kindred dominance, and a lot of
leg work he had tracked down his prey. He didn't think Damon would run,
and he was proved right as he strolled up to the entrance and felt the
approach of the man in question.

"I thought you'd left the city," the other Immortal said as he emerged
from the doorway, "and then what do I see out of my window, but you
approaching. Isn't it a little dangerous wandering around after you
died in front of an officer of the law?"

"Oh, he was an understanding cop," Richie replied calmly, "with some
strange friends. The information about my demise is quite safe from the

The other just smiled as the quip.

"Well it's your life," he returned evenly, "and it's *our* battle. I
know this quiet little spot just down the road. Shall we?"

He motioned in a vague direction and began walking, Richie followed.

"So what have you been doing with yourself for the last few days?"
Damon enquired conversationally. "I noticed your friend poking his nose
in all over the place, so I assumed you'd high tailed it out of here,
without leaving a forwarding address."

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," the younger of the two replied
and said no more.

His opponent's choice of battle ground was an old abandoned lot, with a
high, wooden fence around it. The two Immortal's had no trouble forcing
their way through the slats where many a school child had been before
them. The ground was quite uneven, but Richie wasn't really bothered,
he'd trained on worse.

"I can't promise I won't cheat," the older of the two said as he
discarded his coat and pulled out his sword. "My survival instinct is
very strong these days, and honour seems such a handicap."

"Oh don't worry," was the even reply, "I'm not quite the same person
you left dead in the alley. I'll cope."

They saluted each other in a vaguely gentleman-like way, and then they
started manoeuvring for position. The lot was relatively well lit by a
couple of street lamps, but it was much easier for Richie than it was
for Damon. Senses still heightened by Kindred blood found it easy to
pick out every hole that could cause a fall, and every stone that could
trip a person. Even as the first blow was struck, it was obvious who
was the superior by quite a long way.

What was left of the Toreador speed and agility gave Richie more than
just an edge, and as the clash of steel ran out, the look on Damon's
face said he realised that something had changed. Strike, followed
parry, followed lunge, and the older Immortal couldn't land a cut on
his opponent. Every time he thought he saw an opening it turned out to
be a feint. As he went for it, Richie would dance out of the way and
bring down a carefully aimed blow somewhere else. It was like fighting
a ghost: one minute he was there and the next he was gone, attacking
from another position.

End of Part 8
Part 9

Damon was not a bad fighter, but he was not as good as his opponent. In
fact he seemed to be at a complete disadvantage, and there was no luck
to be had on the vacant lot. His white shirt was slit in several places
and blood oozed from some relatively deep cuts. There seemed to be
continual healing going on, and occasionally a bright spark of energy
would become visible, sealing an abrasion in an ever present cycle.

There were no flippant comments from Richie as he fought. No snide
words for his adversary, as he continued to carve up Damon's defence
with an almost effortless ease. This was a battle that had been fought
before, and one he should have won, he had no intention of letting it
go again. Move flowed into move as his mind worked and his instincts
led him to small victory after small victory. It was only a matter of
time before the other Immortal would tire and loose what concentration
he had left.

Richie had just landed a particularly vicious cut on Damon's leg when
the opening appeared for final conquest. By lunging forward and going
for his opponent's thigh, the younger Immortal had appeared to leave an
weakness to his right side. By now his adversary was desperate, and
although he had been fooled before, he had no choice but to try for at
least a damaging blow. As Damon moved in for a slice to his side,
Richie spun and locked his own sword under that of his opponent. With a
quick flick of his wrist and a little turn of the blade, the other
Immortal's weapon went spiralling into the air.

Defeat was written in Damon's stance, he knew he was going to die, and
yet the emotion didn't quite reach his eyes. There was one last trick
up this Immortal's sleeve. He'd used it before, and it never failed.
Seeing Richie out of the window had given him time to prepare, and
there was more than just the dagger in his boot, on his person. A small
device nestled on the inside of his left wrist, and contained within
was a blade coated in poison.

There was the smallest click as he flicked his hand back and a spring
released, but much to his surprise, Richie heard it. There was no way
human senses could have picked up the small projectile, but with the
Kindred edge, the younger Immortal saw it fly through the air. His free
hand lanced out, and with the dexterity of a swallow picking flies from
the air, he plucked it from it flight path and threw it away.

"You've cheated me of your head twice, Damon," Richie said, even as he
moved in for the killing blow, "but not this time."

The other Immortal's face was glazed with shock, and the last thing he
saw was the golden eyed gaze of man who was about to kill him. The body
slumped to one side as the sharp blade of Richie's sword separated it
from the head. The first mists of the Quickening appeared immediately
and twisted slowly into the air. The victor just stared at them with
vampire eyes as the wound round him, not quite touching him, as if they
were exploring first. There was a tentative touch that sent a shiver up
his spine, almost as if the Quickening was making sure of what he was.
Then it hit him all at once. One second there was deathly hush and the
next the lightening took away all thought.

The pain was different at first, it lanced right to the very heart of
him and found the changes the embrace had made. It destroyed them like
a red hot poker removing infection in a wound, and fought to reclaim
this body. Then, satisfied that this was a vessel suitable for it's
gifts, it entered him with full force. Bit's of stone exploded around
him, and one of the street lamps fused as stray energy lanced into
them. Damon was not a young Immortal, and he had taken many heads in
his time ... the Quickening lasted a good few minutes.

As the final tendrils left him, Richie fell to his knees, totally
exhausted, and feeling somewhat strange. He looked around him slowly,
and realised that he was scarred. It was not anything that would show
on the outside, but his Immortality had found something it could not
totally wipe away. Although not a keen as before, his surrounding did
not appear to be in quite as much darkness as they should have been,
indicating that his eyesight had retained some of it's sensitivity.
With little effort he found that his hearing was in a similar state, as
well as his sense of smell. It appeared that there were still hints of
Kindred about him, although as he stood up he was feeling a great deal
saner than he had been for the last few days.

The world had returned to the perspective he expected of it, and there
were absolutely no signs of any other personalities in his head. For
all intents and purposes he was back to normal, and he gazed around, a
small smile appearing on his face. The extra sensitive senses might
fade with time, or they might not, for now he decided they were
probably useful.

He could say that he was almost happy as he dragged the body under some
rubbish, removed all items that could be used to identify it
immediately, including all weapons, and set off to find Duncan.


Not many people were speaking to Alexae, and he chose to stay away from
the trio of Lillie, Julian and MacLeod who sat in a booth. He hadn't
mentioned the piece of knowledge he had come by the previous evening,
but it was difficult not to notice that he appeared to be waiting for
something. Those who knew about Richie, assumed it had something to do
with that, others just didn't care.

Cash was sat at one of the side tables, watching everything with his
habitual vigilance, but tonight he did have something to distract him
from time to time. They'd broken it off, they'd yelled at each other,
they'd decided that clan loyalties had driven them apart, but whenever
anyone decided it was finally over they'd turn around and find Sasha
and Cash together. The Brujah in question was sitting opposite the
Gangrel, sipping on a cocktail and smiling at her lover. Both sets of
clan members watched the pair with disgust, but tonight the couple
weren't arguing and so they didn't much care.

It was Sasha who spotted the entrance of the willowy looking girl

"Now, what do we have here?" she said lightly, and indicated to show
her companion the source of her question.

There were lots of eyes on the newcomer, and she seemed kind of
nervous. Jessica had chosen the white dress, a velvet jacket and silky
pumps as her outfit this evening, and with her hair flowing about her
shoulders, she looked every bit the siren. It didn't take more than a
second glance to figure out she was Toreador clan. She looked around
rapidly, in her haste not seeing Alexae at first, but as her eyes ran
back again she was suddenly overcome by relief.

The Artiste had seen her instantly, and he was already on the move.
There were questions in most Kindred's minds as the pair came together,
and the stranger literally beamed at the older vampire. This newcomer
was young, only just made and not fully through the change, but there
was an air about her that warned all to stay away. This was heartily
backed up when, as he slipped his hand under her elbow to guide her
across the room, Alexae glared at his compatriots in warning.

"Let's go somewhere a little more private," he said warmly, and Jessica
just nodded.

The older Toreador looked across the room to Lillie and indicated
upstairs with is eyes. The Primogen was a little surprised, but nodded
and smiled anyway. The two disappeared towards the stairs quickly.


The pavement was hard, that much Frank found out when he was dumped out
of the car directly onto it. The first thing he saw was a pair of feet,
and he slowly worked his way up. The face that met his gaze did not
bode well for his future. One of the Brujah that Richie had so
cheerfully beaten the crap out of the previous night was leering down
at him, and as he slowly climbed to his feet he became aware of the
others as well.

"Not so brave without your friend, little man?" the leader of the pack
sneered loudly.

A cold feeling started in the pit of the police officer's stomach.

"Hey, look," he said slowly, "last night had nothing to do with me, I
was just with the guy. I have no quarrel with you."

"Wrong," another of the group said from behind, "you laughed at us."

That wasn't true, but then talking a Brujah out of something they had
decided were the facts could be like chiselling granite with a bobby
pin. There was only one route left open to the cop.

"Um, look I was supposed to meet Julian Luna at the Haven, he's not
going to be pleased if I don't show," the implicit warning was there,
but it fell on deaf ears.

"Oh, don't worry Franky," the leader started, "we're not going to kill
you. We thought we just have a little fun and rough you up a bit. Now
Mr Luna might be a little annoyed at us for a while, but he's not going
to go against Cameron over some bruises."

The police officer had a sinking feeling that the brute might actually
be telling the truth. All safe ground just crumbled away from him.

"Can't we just talk about this?" he tried, a little desperately.

His reply was a fist in the face. Now that hurt like hell, but not as
much as the one which followed and did something nasty to his kidneys.
Now Frank could handle himself pretty well, and he even managed to land
a couple of punches, but he was not Kindred and he really didn't stand
a chance. Every time he turned to try and bloke a blow, one of the
other Brujah would attack from behind, or beside him.

He really had no idea what he was doing by the time he flailed out
desperately and managed to sink his nails into flesh. His legs weren't
under his control, he'd taken so many hits that he didn't know which
way was up, and the Brujah were passing him around like a toy, but
somehow he fell in just the right way to actually do some damage. There
was an angry yell from whoever he had managed to hurt and then strong
hands grabbed him and literally threw him through the air. His head
found the car, and there was a nasty snapping sound: Frank knew no

The six Brujah were suddenly very still as they looked at the crumpled

"You broke him," was all one of them said to the ring leader, who had
blood running down the side of his face.


What brought Richie to the docks he would never know, but on his way to
the Haven he had been unable to resist the urge to see the water. The
sight that met his eyes made him very angry, and he moved forward
before his better judgement could get in the way. He barely realised he
had a sword in each hand.

"Which one of you killed him," he yelled at the top of his lungs.

To say that the sight of him scared the hell out of the Kindred
gathered around the body was putting it lightly. He still felt like
Toreador even though he had given up most of the powers, and blades
like those he was carrying could be nasty for vampires. These Brujah
knew death when they saw it coming towards them and they ran.

The question had brought the look of guilt to one face and it was this
Kindred who Richie pursued. The Immortal dumped one sword by the side
of Frank's lifeless body and then charged after his prey. The dagger he
had lifted from Damon was very useful in bringing down the vampire
before he could change shape or escape. The knife in the leg wouldn't
hurt him too much, but it did cause him to fall.

With an incoherent cry, Richie ran at his victim, sword at the ready
and swung it for the killing blow. It was the look of pure terror on
the fallen Kindred's face that drew the slice up short. Millimetres
from the Brujah's neck the blade stopped, and the Immortal glared at
his prey.

"This time you live," he said slowly, quite surprised by the sentiment
himself. "Frank's dead now, but he won't be for long. This time you
escape with your life. We are something you do not understand, we are
something you should fear. Remember that well."

The vampire was too scared to do anything but nod. He hadn't been so
afraid since he was mortal and the younger looking man's words hit

"Run home, dog," Richie said with a dangerously quiet tone, "and next
time you see Frank, remember to be afraid."

He turned on his heel and just walked back to the car, in a few seconds
the Brujah was gone.

The keys were in the ignition and the doors were open so it didn't take
Richie long to load the police officer and the sword onto the back
seat. There was a chance the clan members would come back for their
vehicle, and without the help of surprise, the Immortal could live
without facing them. He drove away quickly, and rapidly decided to head
for his hotel.

The journey was half over when Frank opened his eyes again for the
first time.

"Welcome back," Richie greeted and kept his eyes on the road, "I
wouldn't move for a while if I were you, those Brujah really did a
number on you."

"You're telling me," was the slow reply, "my head feels like someone's
hitting it with a base ball bat."

"Lie still and it'll pass," was the next instruction, "dying's hard on
the body."

There was silence from the back seat for a while, and then Frank's
brain caught up with what Richie had said.

"Dying, what do you mean dying?" the tone was a little anxious.

He didn't feel much like he thought a vampire should feel, they
couldn't have embraced him, could they?

"The beating ended with you breaking your neck," his companion supplied
helpfully. "At least that's what I suppose killed you, since your head
was at a very funny angle. You're Immortal, Frank, like me and Mac, you
just didn't know about it before. Now you've died for the first time,
you'll heal fast, never get sick, and lots of junk like that."

He glanced round and grinned before turning back to the road.

"A shock, yeah I know," he said cheerfully, "at least I had a little
longer to get used to the idea of Immortals. Let me guess, you're the
type of guy who must have weeks of vacation time backed up at work,

This was a new turn to the conversation, but Frank was too bemused to
answer anything but the truth.

"Ah, yeah," he responded blankly, "the Captain's always trying to get
me to take some time off."

"Great," Richie said and turned into the street which contained his
hotel, "then I suggest you take it now. You have a lot to learn and not
a lot of choice about it. You're lucky, only Kindred saw you die and
they're not likely to blab, so you won't have to move on. Mac taught me
how to be Immortal, and you're going to have to learn as well. There's
this nice dojo up north, where we can both give you the crash course if
you like."

He pulled over and looked at the startled police officer.

"There's a lot you don't know, but to stay alive you'll need help," the
blond man continued sincerely. "Mac and I can give you that help until
we can sort something out down here. Take the sword you're lying next
to and go hole up in my hotel room for now. I've got to go find
MacLeod, and then we'll explain everything. Room 228."

Frank wasn't really thinking very clearly, he decided that following
the instructions might be a good idea.

End of Part 9
Part 10

Several conversations just stopped as Richie walked into the Haven, and
he grinned at the shocked expression on Duncan's face. The slightly
opened mouth visage dissolved into one of relief as he recognised his
young friend's habitual disposition.

"I think he's back to normal," the older Immortal commented as his
comrade began to walk across the room.

There was a quizzical look on Lillie's face as she watched the younger
man approach.

"Not quite," was her quiet response, and she looked to Julian for

"Mr Ryan still feels somewhat like one of us," the Prince offered
slowly, "but his heart is beating, and he appears human on the

Cash was hastily looking in his employer's direction, even as Sasha
surveyed the new talent, and Julian just smiled. The Gangrel tried not
to look too uptight as he suddenly found the younger Immortal was
headed in his direction. He was most surprised when Richie actually

"Look, sorry about yesterday," the blond man apologised calmly. "Love
the jacket, man."

Then he walked on not waiting for a reply.

"So, what happened yesterday," Sasha enquired curiously, "and who's the
guy with the mixed up messages?"

Having been hanging out across town for the last couple of days, the
Brujah hadn't been part of all the excitement. All she knew was that
there had been some fuss over a human that she was neither interested
in, nor part of.

"I'll tell you later," was all the Gangrel replied.

The young Immortal slid into the booth on the opposite side to his
mentor, and just smiled at the others.

"I thought we'd go home now," he said lightly.

Nobody was quite sure what to say to that.

"Are you okay, Richie?" Mac finally asked slowly.

"Fine," the younger replied calmly, "a good Quickening will do wonders
for a guy."

For Duncan that explained it all, but Richie went on anyway to make
sure all was clear.

"Damon's dead, I'm as close to normal as I think I'm going to get," the
blond Immortal said evenly, "Frank discovered death as well, by the
way, but he'll get used to the idea. I've really had enough of this
town, and I'd like to go home, where nothing more exciting happens than
the odd Immortal trying to kill me."

It took a while for everyone to catch up.

"What happened to Frank?" it was Julian who asked, and he was not

"Some Kindred decided to use him as a punch bag," was the quick reply,
"and he broke his neck. Since he's Immortal it didn't bother him for
long, and I have him stashed somewhere where no-one can find him until
he feels like being found."

Righteous anger flared in the Prince's eyes, and Richie had his next
question figured before he asked it.

"Who were they?" he demanded hotly.

Now Richie had no intention of giving the brutes up to the slaughter,
he thought they'd probably learned their lessons.

"It doesn't matter," was the calm reply. "Take it from me, they will
not be trying it again."

The two men locked gazes for a moment as Julian thought about pushing
the issue. He didn't like to be told what to do, even in situations
like this, but he quickly found the stubborn streak in the younger
Immortal. The Ventrue looked angry for a moment, but slowly the
expression changed into a smile.

"Have it your way," he finally said and much to Lillie's surprise, gave

It was the Toreador Primogen who spoke next.

"Well gentlemen," she said with a smile, "I hope you don't mind, but
I'd like to steal Richard for just a little while. I'd like to have a
few words in private."

Now it was the blond man's turn to look surprised, but he did not
object as the dark haired siren led him to a quiet corner. She looked
at him thoughtfully for a moment and then kissed him on the cheek.

"Thank you for what you did for Alexae," she said warmly, "your gift
arrived here a while ago. After what he did to you, your actions
surprise me."

Now Richie understood why she had wanted to talk to him, and he smiled.

"I got rid of all my anger when I staked him," the young Immortal
returned honestly, "and my more rational side came into play. I saw
Jessica as she was about to throw herself off a roof, and I suddenly
knew that they would be good for each other. He needs someone, that's
why he tried to take me. She has never seen how life can be good, and
he can give that to her. I just followed my heart, which, for once,
doesn't seem to have landed me in trouble."

Lillie ran her hand down one side of his face and just smiled at him
for a while.

"You're very kind," she said slowly, "I wouldn't have expected that in
someone who has to kill like you do. Don't ever let go of your soul,
Richard, it makes you a wonderful person."

Then she kissed him again and walked back to Julian, leaving the
Immortal to contemplate what she had said.


It had taken them another day to get out of the city, what with
explaining everything to Frank and getting him to organise his
vacation, along with the formal farewells. Julian had wanted more
information, but he couldn't really push it. Even though these
Immortal's appeared friendly, he was sure they could be very dangerous,
besides which, he would have time enough to talk to Frank later. After
all the hassle in San Francisco, the days of rigorous training that
Duncan decided to put Frank through, using Richie as an example, seemed
almost restful. 

The blonde Immortal had not been able to shake the desire to paint,
another lingering Toreador trait, so his apartment now had an easel and
canvases strewn around. He found himself doodling at the oddest
moments, the most bizarre of which had to be when Duncan had caught him
making patterns on the counter with the salt. He was trying to keep the
urge under control, but occasionally it got the better of him.

"So why don't you just shoot them and then take their heads?" the cop
asked as he and the younger of the other two Immortal's took a break in
a sparing session.

He was looking at Duncan for the answer, but the Highlander just huffed
and walked into the office. When Frank turned to Richie for help he
found the young man laughing.

"Those kind of questions are best left unthought," the blond man said
lightly, "especially with Mac around. He has this big honour streak in
him, and ideas like your tend to tick him off."

The ever practical side of the newer Immortal still couldn't see the
problem, but good sense won over.

"Okay," Frank admitted, "it was only a thought. So what was this move
you're supposed to show me?"

"Well, it's like this ..." Richie began and they walked toward the
centre of the floor.

Then they both looked up at the door, Frank wincing slightly as the
presence of a new Immortal made itself very plain to his brain. It was
an odd sensation to get used to, but he was managing. Richie was
holding the wooden sword he had, defensively, until Adam Pierson
strolled through the door with a broad smile on his face.

"Hi guys," he said, a little too brightly, "it's only me. So who's the
new recruit?"

MacLeod walked out of the office with a broad smile on his face.

"Phone, Adam," the Highlander said jovially, "I know it's a modern
invention, but it's useful. Prevent heart attacks, and

"One day I will call," Methos said lightly, "then you'll get worried."

He wandered further into the dojo, happy that no-one was going to try
and give him a height adjustment, and came to a stop just beside
Richie. It took a few seconds, but suddenly the two were staring at
each other, wide eyes.

"Gangrel," Richie said rapidly.

"Toreador," was what the other Immortal replied.

"You were embraced," they both said in unison.

Methos found this very funny, Frank and Duncan just looked at each

"You must have made one strange Kindred," he said with a laugh, "I'd
only taken one head when they tried the number on me, and I had a split
personality for weeks."

The younger of the two was looking rather shocked.

"When, how long ago?" he almost demanded.

It was a surprise and a relief to find out he was not the only one who
had made been in contact with the wrong vampire.

"A while," Methos returned with a smile. "I'll tell you exactly after
we've had a long talk about ages."

Some Immortals were touchy about how long they'd been wandering around,
Richie accepted this and moved onto his next question.

"So do the after effects wear off?" he inquired directly.

"You mean the hearing and things," the ancient returned lightly, as if
this was the most normal conversation in the world. "No. They might
fade a little over the next hundred years or so, but you're stuck with
them. I have also been reliably informed that, from time to time, in
the throws of passion, my eyes change colour."

Richie looked a little dubious.

"Ever had any complaints?" he finally asked.

"No so far," was the cheerful reply.

The End