Opposites

© Tasha Duncan-Drake

Disclaimer: The only characters which belong to me in the following work,Alexae and Jessica. The concepts of Immortality and all the Highlanderbelong to Rhysher and their associates. The concepts of Kindredall those characters belong to Spelling Entertainment. No copyrightis intended and no money is being made from this piece.free to distribute this where ever you like, just don't sell it.,is a Highlander/Kindred the Embraced xover story that I've been workingfor a couple of weeks now. Be aware that it's base on Kindred the TV showhas little to do with Masquerade the role playing game which I only knowsmall amount about :-). I *love* vampires, I *love* Immortals, and sothe two felt like a good idea. you like the results.to nd3@ukc.ac.ukta,: A Highlander, Kindred: The Embraced XoverVersionNatasha Duncan-Drake

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There was something about the two men who walked into the Haven that made Kindred look at them. Two Toreadors, one Gangrel and three all found that they were watching the two walk towards the bar more than just a passing glance."Mac, will you stop following me around," the younger, blond one of 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 's got into you this time.""You're hunting a man who used to be my friend, Richie," Mac said , "I know him better than you, and I want to know what changed ."to most of the people in the club, their conversation was , but of course to the various groups of vampires, listening was no challenge. The word hunting caught most attentions."He's mine, MacLeod," the shorter man said evenly, but firmly, "I was one he tried to kill. It wasn't some game, Mac, this was like an to permanently terminate me. Now my information says he comes , and this is where I'm going to stay until I find the bastard."Highlander looked at his young friend for a long moment and nodded. He had no right to interfere. There had been a and Damon had run off when he failed to win. MacLeod had trying to talk his protege out of going after the older Immortal three days now, following him here had been a last resort."Okay," he said with a resigned expression, "but at least let me buy a drink. It's just hard for me to believe what he has become, he to be such a good man.""Sorry, Mac, but he's not anymore," his companion replied.was the point in the conversation when most of the listeners interest, it seemed that anything worth hearing had already been . A discussion about what to drink was not going to hold anyone's for long. When Frank walked into the bar, everything seemed be perfectly normal., so Kindred made him nervous, but he was damned if he was going stay away from them and play the intimidated cop. His partner was of them for a start, and Sonny was an okay guy, in fact he seemed normal most of the time. They were people, the young kept telling himself, they just had a weird set of rules. He to know as much about them as possible: forewarned was , and he realised this. Being angry at them most of the time help him hide the fact that he was anxious about being anywhere them. It was the Brujah that made him really edgy, but that had lot to do with him being a cop and them being the mob.officer noted an empty stool by the bar next to a young looking in a brown leather jacket, and made a bee-line for it. For all he the guy he chose to sit next to was a vampire, but what the . He didn't notice the slight hiccup in the conversation as he down as the younger of the two covered easily."So you know this place," the blond man was saying to his companion Frank ordered a drink, "how come?""I was friends with the owner once," the dark man with the ponytail and gained Frank's interest.the police officer thought that Lillie had owned the club for a long time, the odds on these two being Kindred was going up. of them looked old enough to quite fit how the taller of the had said `once'. The younger one of the pair had obviously picked on the use of the word as well."Oh," he said with a half smile, "old, old friend or just old ?"might have sounded like a peculiar question, but the three who were still listening took it in their stride. The two in the corner looked at each other questioningly. Was it that these two were vampires that had managed to fake ? They had heart beats and they smelt human, but could it be sort of trick? Was it possible that they were Tremere cloaked in form of illusion? This was definitely something for which it was alerting Lillie. One of them slipped out of their seat quickly."Just a passing acquaintance," Duncan told Richie with a smile, "and was quite a while ago. This place is a lot different from the one knew."=====================================================================had been expecting Julian to turn up any time, so she was not when there was a knock on the door and it was not the Prince. was, however, with her habitual curiosity that she listened to her intently. The description the young female Toreador gave could have been many people in the area, but the name rang a ."I knew a MacLeod once," she said, half to herself, half to her , "but that was sixty years ago, and he was mortal."looked at her subordinate contemplatively for a few moments. The with Julian could be important, but could this turn out to be interesting. She was of course fighting the eternal Kindred : boredom. Playing with a man who claimed to know her might be , 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 them `til then.""Of course," the woman replied with a smile as she saw the glint in Primogen's eyes. "Oh, and the Prince's cop is downstairs as well, in a few minutes after the other two."'s red covered lips drew into a smile to match her companion's, there was more fun to be had this evening than she had first .=====================================================================the head of the Toreador clan walked across the floor of her , she was at her most devastating. Her ability to snare men was , and several of the mortals around found their partners of the attention they gave the stunning woman. Her minions smiled approvingly as she passed, and those of other did their best to ignore her without being rude. It was only as walked through the see of parting bodies towards the bar and laid eyes on the back of her quarry that she almost .black hair and the square set of the shoulders struck a chord in that she could not quite dismiss. The brief affair she had had a dark eyed Scot so many years ago had made an impression on the Toreador, and something stirred within her. It was when she him speak to his companion in a deep voice with the slightest of an accent that her heart actually beat in her chest. Her actually caused her clan to stop in mid sentence as the became suddenly interesting.was half way through a comment to Richie that Duncan felt a slight between his shoulder blades. It was the most concrete of being watched that he'd ever experienced and he turned . 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.Duncan's hormones slipped quite easily back into the total they had held the last time he had seen Lillie Langtry, and for the vampire, her Toreador blood came out full force. The two at each other in motionless disbelief for just a second and they both moved. Mac moved forward and Lillie threw herself at man she'd never thought to see again. The two caught each other a fierce irrational embrace in the middle of a very public club. clung to each other as if their Immortal lives depended on it, eventually the spell had to break.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.of them chose to finish the sentence.and Frank were sat next to each other, both slightly shocked the incident. The pair had never seen the half of the two other 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 half a smile on his face."Yeah," Frank agreed in only the way a total stranger could.became aware of her clan responsibilities once more and smiled ."Lets go upstairs," she said with a smile and firmly refused to look any of the faces watching at her, "we can talk."not quite decided glance was sent in Richie's direction by the as the club took the hint and conversation started again. the division in those eyes the younger Immortal understood ."Go, Mac," he said with a knowing grin, "I can drink alone."'d seen the Highlander under Amanda's feminine spell before, but she didn't quite have the same effect as Lillie. A woman's wiles no competition for those of a vampire and Mac was one hundred caught. Of course, the Toreador was as much at the mercy of urges as the man in her clutches, and she had no idea that his physiology was affecting her."Don't get into trouble," was all the normally level headed managed before the pair fled the public arena.found that hysterically funny, considering who was being led the floor in a total daze. The young Immortal turned back to drink as his friend disappeared still chuckling. He noted the that the man sitting next to him was trying not to appear in the whole thing, and was immediately intrigued., the blond man would have set to scoping out the local life, but today he had other things on his mind. He was waiting an Immortal, and a young lady on his arm when his quarry walked would not be the easiest thing with which to cope. Talking to the that seemed to be interesting would be far more suitable."Don't you hate it when that happens," Richie said chattily as Frank to pretend he was purveying the local talent.smile was friendly, the tone amiable, but the look in the 's eyes warned the cop that all was not quite as it seemed. he appeared to be looking at was a teenager drinking illegally a night club, who had just lost his older companion. Frank already that this man was older than he looked when the bartender had his ID, something to which he had seemed resigned. There was something about the way he held himself, an air that would have rivals that this man knew how to take care of himself. The brown man was almost certain he was about to enter a conversation a Kindred."Par for the course around here," Frank returned with a smile of his .if he wanted to know about them, he was going to have to talk to than Lillie and Julian."You from out of town?" he enquired conversationally."Yep," the younger looking of the two replied, "just in the area for a business associate. San Francisco is a nice city, and 's warmer down here than up north.""Nights are shorter though," Frank decided to see what sort of he could get.his surprise the man sitting next to him just grinned and cast an around the room."Well you can't have everything," he said lightly., Richie realised that he had said just the right thing to this conversation rolling, but for the life of him he couldn't out what. There was an undertone to the discourse that he was to figure out. It was not sexual, of that much he was sure, this guy wanted something from him and he didn't know what that ."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," Immortal said amiably, "can I buy you a drink, Frank? Then you tell where all the local hot spots are."it hadn't of been the Haven and a den of vampires, it would have been two guys getting talking over a beer. As it was, it turned quite an interesting evening. Frank couldn't say anything open he was totally sure of whom he had engaged in conversation, Richie had no idea what the subtle hints were all about.=====================================================================planted a kiss on Duncan's smiling lips almost before the door the office closed. She hadn't felt a need like the one cursing her body at that moment for quite some time, and she almost it consume her. The fact that her desire was more than mirrored 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 ... ."was partly a question, but the Highlander was too busy nibbling at 's neck to be interested. All logic had been thrown out the the moment he'd lain eyes on the beautiful Toreador, and he 't even aware enough of this to notice. The Primogen of her clan, , had not reached that position without a little self control she pushed her companion away just for a moment."What are you?" she asked breathlessly.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 question in the universe, "but you're not going to tell me, 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."was the elemental Duncan MacLeod talking, and at his core, he didn't care how it was that his lover of so long ago was still . She wasn't Immortal so she wasn't a threat, and yet she had whithered and died as he had seen so many others do. For the moment in time, he let himself be happy and ignore all other .was only so much self control that Lillie could exert, and into the Highlander's deep brown eyes she found out where her was. With a smile of total abandon she pulled him close."You're right," she said seductively, "just don't tell my friends."of his shirt buttons were not up to the test of the 's rather fast fingers. Just about then, Lillie couldn't have if the Prince himself was about to walk in, she had thoughts for getting into Duncan's trousers.trail of clothes stretched from close to the door, half way the room, at which point the pair had given up trying to get further and had opted for the sheepskin rug on the floor. Mac had on his last encounter with her, that Ms Langtry was a strong , but he hadn't realised quite how strong until she flipped him 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 ability to speak as Lillie bent forward and started nibbling his .nails made little red streaks down his sides, and he couldn't but respond. This was going to be an experience he wasn't going forget for a *very* long time."Remember last time?" she enquired with a mischievous glint in her , and pulled away slightly."How could I forget?" was the honest reply, and a large smile filled Highlander's features.had her interesting quirks, and so did Lillie. The couple had many of them last time Duncan had been with her, but there one that stuck in his mind particularly. Staring into her face he that they had the same idea in mind, and it was play time.of Part 1************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************2conversation with Frank had petered out slowly, and finally of them had been able to find anything else to say without away that they were digging for information. It had been just an hour since the cop had wandered away and found himself a corner of the Haven to just sit and watch. Richie had chatted a couple more people over that time, but he had not left the bar he had not tried for anything deeper than a casual comment or two the music, or some such subject. As soon as a young looking haired man sat down next to him and smiled, the Immortal knew had gained some attention he didn't want.had spotted Richie the moment he'd walked in the club, a few previously, and he'd liked what he saw. If he'd been younger local, one of his clan members would probably have tried to stop as he approached the young stranger, but Alexae was not your Kindred. This Toreador was Lillie's personal guest from , an Artiste, respected by his entire clan for his talent, and for his varied tastes. He was easily the oldest vampire in the , well over two centuries, and nobody tried to tell him what to . Yes he happened to have zeroed in on the friend of Lillie's companion, but there wasn't a Kindred in the place who was to try and tell him he wasn't allowed. Alexae displayed one of greatest talents in the Toreador clan, he also displayed most of weaknesses. Calling this vampire arty was doing a complete to his temperament, and touchy didn't even cover it.he wanted to paint the Adonis or ravish him wasn't quite in Alexae's mind, but a mixture of the two showed in his . The moment he sat down, Richie began to think it was a good to move. "Good evening," the Toreador purred with what had to be considered a handsome smile.was hoping that this young man would not be averse to his company, the half embarrassed, I'm outta here look appeared in the 's eyes almost immediately. It was unfortunate, but not too 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 man went to move, "it's still early."dark green eyes snared the young Immortal's gaze and he was . The muscles that had tensed to help him stand relaxed and his body had decided it didn't want to leave. What the next to him could not have guessed, however, was there to be a little part of Richie that was still insisting he be going. Most of the Immortal was caught, just as any Mortal have been, but deep inside there was a voice yelling that 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."Kindred in the club just looked at each other, a few smiled and shook their heads. It was quite obvious that a seduction was on.a couple of suggestions that the blond Immortal should be quite about the company he was keeping, the conversation was becoming animated. The Toreador was in no hurry, and he wanted to get to the young man before they retired to somewhere more suitable. On outside, Richie appeared much the same: relaxed, friendly and , but on the inside a slight pressure was building. The little of derision was getting louder. An Immortal psyche was not that should ever be played with, it took a certain control maintain sanity when a person habitually absorbed other people, hypnotism could alter that. All Immortal's had a certain degree natural mental stability, some more so than others, and messing it was a very bad idea.'s brain thought it was not good as well, and slowly it was out the mess. It was just beginning to occur to Alexae that was having to exert quite a bit more influence than usual when, as as he was concerned, the most extraordinary thing happened. One he was talking quietly to the young man who's name he had was Richie, and the next the Immortal's head shot up. The he was losing control was uncertain, but Alexae saw it and decided he didn't want it to happen. He put every ounce influence he could muster into the gaze he sent at his companion managed to snare the young man once more. "It's nothing," he managed to get out, before he actually felt a shove back.Toreador could have sworn that he actually saw a spark of light across Richie's eyes, and then the young man tore his face . As far as the Immortal was concerned, the presence of another his kind had impinged itself on his consciousness and wiped else into insignificance. Given time to think he probably have realised that something strange had been going on, but as was all he cared about was the man standing just inside the .spotted Richie at the same moment, and surprisingly he just there. He was quite a large man, and he'd been in his twenties he'd died for the first time. He had short, almost shaved hair a semi-casual sense of fashion. The folds of his long black hung with familiar heaviness, and as the two looked at each he smiled.Kindred could spot animosity a mile away, and it wasn't just who had noted the atmosphere between the two men. How it had a human to escape the snare of an experienced Toreador, was . As it was, Richie stood up as if he wasn't even aware 'd been talking to anyone.two Immortals took a moment to size each other up, and then, with flick of his head Damon indicated they should take their discussion . A slight nod back and the meeting was arranged. The older of the two did a one eighty and left the way he had come, and turned to the barman."If my friend ask where I've gone," he said quickly, "tell him I'll him at the hotel. Thanks."he to was gone. For a few moments Alexae just sat there a little , then with a half-amused smile he headed for the door. Never it be said that this Kindred wasn't up for a challenge. was only a few seconds later that Frank couldn't contain his either. However, outside, everyone of interest seemed to just vanished into thin air. The cop stood there listening to noise for a long moment, and gazing down the street, but appeared to be no sign of anyone."Dammit," he said loudly and glared at a couple of Gangrel perched on motorbike.favoured him with amused smiles, as if they knew exactly what he up to, before they sped away. It was like watching a rerun of world, not a soul remained in sight. He was left with two , go back into the club, or just head home, it was after all night off.minutes later, Frank was still standing there trying to decide to do, there was just something about this situation that nagged his instincts. He was almost convinced that it was a Kindred thing on, but it wouldn't let him just leave it alone. He was to talk himself out of the need to investigate when he a faint clanging of metal. With the city noises it was almost , but his police trained eyes and ears he narrowed it down to alley across the street. He didn't need urging on twice, and with `I don't believe I'm doing this' shake of his head he trotted the road.=====================================================================Frank had seen some things in his time, but he was not expecting he found when he rounded the corner in the blind alley. Richie Damon were doing a very skilful job of trying to carve each other little pieces, and the nineties police officer's brain rebelled the idea. Two men were hacking at each other with four foot long , well hacking probably wasn't the right word, but it was just all Frank could come up with. It was only the thought that this be Kindred business that kept the cop in the shadows.Gangrel that had taken up a viewing position just behind a grinned as the energetic battle rallied the beast within , and Frank also spotted Alexae. The thought of two pissed off going for him because he interrupted a private dispute kept in place for a few more blows. Part of the police officer admired skill the two combatants showed, and he noted the way that both had taken at least one chunk out of their opponent. Yet there still something that seemed very wrong about two people fighting swords in the current day and age. The fact that the cuts on warriors seemed to have pissed them off more than hurt them, was .managed to control himself for a full five minutes, before his police instincts took over. He reached into his jacket pulled out his gun just as Richie seemed to gain the upper hand. took a deep breath and stepped out of the shadows, levelling his on the two men."Stop, police," he said loudly and managed to cause both men to look .younger looking of the two made a face, and if expressions could killed, Frank would have been dead. Damon on the other hand slightly relieved, and he smiled wickedly."Damn," Richie would have sworn more colourfully, but he was too up, "loose yourself, Frank," he continued hopefully, "you don't want to get involved in this."of them were going to get any choice in the next events, , 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."anyone could move, metal glinted in the air and a stunned look Richie's face. He gazed down for a moment and just about had to investigate the ornate dagger sticking out of his chest. If was anything, he was accurate, and the blade had found the Immortal's heart."You bastard," was all the blond one of the pair could say, and then collapsed ungracefully.was so shocked by the move that Damon was already on his way before reality kicked in. The truth of the matter became starkly as the cop was sent reeling backwards by a hefty shove. He to level his gun just as the Immortal disappeared. By the he glanced back at what was now a dead looking individual, was gone, along with the unnamed Gangrel, and another, worried Kindred jumped off the roof at the end of the alley and ran the Haven. A feeling that he would not be in control of the much longer settled squarely in the police officer's mind.=====================================================================the time it had taken the whole affair to take place, the one who could have sorted it out had managed to leave the Haven head back to his hotel. For this reason it was Lillie who decided clear up and avoid a police enquiry into a sword fight just her club. Resigned to letting Kindred handle what he thought their business, Frank actually lent his help. Julian turned up after they had placed Richie's body in Lillie's office, which why two Kindred and one human were stood staring at a corpse ten minutes after he had died.Frank believed he was looking at a Kindred paralysed by a , he was confused as to why the other two were just standing . Why they didn't remove the dagger which was keeping the young individual imobile was beyond him."Would someone mind telling me what exactly was going on in that ," the police officer finally asked. "Is there some weird ritual Kindred have for finishing each other off?"the first time, Julian actually took some notice of his . 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 you. It's just we'd rather not have such a peculiar crime on our . This I think may be more in your line of work."ignored the fact that the young cop's mouth was hanging open and on his own investigation of the body. They'd put Richie on 's desk and beside him lay his sword, the Prince picked up the almost reverently."A truly beautiful antique," he commented respectfully, "and very maintained."looked at the dagger next and much to Frank's growing horror just 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 he doing in the Haven, and how is it his friend knows Lillie?"was the Primogen of the Toreadors' turn to look awkward."His friend?" Luna enquired evenly.Prince could almost see the thoughts run through his one time 's mind, and he waited patiently."Duncan MacLeod," the other Kindred finally gave up the name, "I've him ... a while."would be very difficult explaining exactly how a non-vampire came be the same after sixty years. She was, however, saved the trouble doing any explaining just at that moment, because Richie's body that moment to regain life. One second he was lying flat on his and the next he almost rolled onto the floor as he reacted to last memory in his brain. He wobbled precariously as he sat up too fast and the pain of his still healing injury impinged itself his consciousness a millisecond or so later. He groaned loudly and back down again without trying to think too hard.didn't quite cover the reaction of the other three in the . Richie opened his eyes to see what were to him three, upside-, startled faces."Oh great," he said quietly, "the cop, Duncan's friend, and a stranger. Mac's gonna kill me."was the Ventrue who recovered his composure first."That would seem a somewhat difficult thing to accomplish," he said .chose not to comment on that, his mouth had a habit of getting into trouble. The fact that one of the three people looking at was holding his sword, and the dagger that had killed him, was . The pain in his chest was subsiding so he decided to sit up and take stock of the situation. The right way up he a much better view of the three observers. It wasn't difficult to who was in charge, authority just oozed out of Julian, and that a few questions. Richie had been on the street a long time he met Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod, and now he came to about it, Frank looked like a cop, the man with him did not, 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?" it was worth a try, wasn't it."No, I don't suppose," Luna returned evenly.coming back from the dead was not only intriguing, it could consequences for the Masquerade, and that meant Julian was very ."Why don't you explain how it is that you are still alive," the said with an smile that sent shivers up the young Immortal's ."And while you're at it," Frank put in, "why the hell you were trying kill someone with a sword."was an accusation and Richie found his mouth reacting before his could stop it."I was trying to kill him because he has been trying to kill me,... quite a while," the Immortal said vehemently and gave a good as to his character.of Part 2******************************************************************************************************************************************3seemed somehow glad about the way the Richie had reacted. It him feel that he hadn't misjudged the young looking man quite so as he could have. There were no such feelings in Julian Luna, he wanted answers. The expression on Richie's face said he was in the mood to talk."I asked you nicely," the Ventrue said calmly, "now I'm insisting."Kindred pushed his face directly into the younger man's line of and Richie's eyes opened in shock as Luna's irises turned a yellow. Julian was not pulling any punches, and the force of will came down on the Immortal like a tone of bricks. His mind didn't like that much, but at first it was helpless."What is your full name?" there was no holding back with the enquiry, Richie's will caved like a house of cards."Richard Ryan," he said dully."How old are you?""Twenty two.""Why were you fighting?"was a slight hesitation before the young man replied."There can be only one," Richie eventually responded, as the familiar 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.wasn't taking long for Richie's mind to find a way to fight the that was being exerted. Unfortunately, it was not the most defence and it was taking time getting going."How many of you are their?" if what this man believed were true, the Kindred might find that they had a problem."Don't know," was the honest reply.was becoming more difficult to answer, and the words came slowly."Is Duncan MacLeod one of your kind?" Julian asked, oblivious to the that his control was slipping."Yes," the response was dragged out of the young Immortal, and now 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?"was a long moment when it looked like Richie wasn't going to , but he lost the battle."He's ... my friend," it was almost a look of pain that creased the 's features."You're loosing him," Lillie commented as she watched.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 direct line of questioning, before it was too late.battle being waged was slowly tipping in the Immortal's favour, that was just the wrong question to ask. Some information was off limits, and that was the point when Richie's mind totally . He felt his mouth about to betray him and he dipped into will power that made him what he was. What he found was as much a surprise to him as it was to the vampire trying to influence . He reached into himself and found Mako's unwavering following of law, and he used it as a mental club.stepped back a little startled as he actually saw blue lance across his subject's eyes. The essence of Richard fought back and the vampire felt what could only be described as unadept, mental battering ram. The trance like state was broken and the Immortal found himself staring into the eyes a Kindred unmasked."Jesus," he managed breathlessly and, despite the command to stay he sent, his body, moved backwards sharply. "What the hell?"knew the feeling and couldn't help but sympathise. He, however, 't an Immortal who seemed almost totally invulnerable, so the lasted only a few seconds as he remembered that Richie was."Interesting," was all Julian said and let his eyes fade back to normal dark shade.two vampires looked at each other as if they were not quite what to do, and then the Ventrue made a small signal with one that the Toreador understood instantly. A feeling of dread to take Richie as he saw the smile that Lillie gave him: was just so disarming."You're tired," she said gently, "sleep."this was a totally different form of attack and the Immortal had defence. This command gave no threat to what he was and he felt eyelids become heavy before he could do anything. The Primogen of Toreador clan waved her hand in front of his face and he relaxed into her arms."We have to know more," Luna said firmly, "but we're not going to out anything by forcing it out of him. Have him taken back to alley, and make sure he forgets all this."a thoughtful glance, Julian turned to the still slightly bemused officer."Frank," he said lightly, "how do you feel about keeping an eye on young man for us?""Are you going to kill him?" the cop asked suspiciously.did seem to have a tendency to terminate anything they as a threat."The truth is, I'm not sure," the Prince had learnt that he had to be with Frank, nothing else worked. "At this point I don't think . I have to speak to Daedalus."only mortal in the room reluctantly agreed, what else could he ?=====================================================================first thing that occurred to Richie when he opened his eyes, was there was no pain. This was odd since he definitely remembered a protruding out of his chest in the recent past. The second that entered his head was that Frank was staring down at him said dagger in his hand."You're alive," the cop did a very good job of seeming surprised.but the fact that he had been discovered fled from the Immortal's head."Ah, I can explain," were the words that came flooding out of the man's mouth.Frank was not here to be difficult about this, in fact he was 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 of fear cum repulsion. "What I don't need is having to explain to anyone, just get out of my sight."couldn't believe his luck, and he scrabbled to his feet . He didn't quite know what to say, so he picked up his weapon did as he was told. The street was empty as he virtually fled the corner. In the alley, Frank counted to twenty and then very followed him.=====================================================================was mourning the passing of the young man and had tried, , to find something to distract him in the Haven. As it he couldn't get the pale face out of his mind, and decided it was to go back to the apartment in which he was staying. He thoughtfully, that in his current sate of mind he might be able to produce a work of poignant pain. He was an Artiste, everything came down to his next creation.he definitely did not expect when he wandered out of the club the sight that met his eyes. Complete incomprehension washed him, followed quickly by a wave of red hot desire as he *his* Adonis leave the alley opposite and jog down the . When Richie had turned into a possession was unclear, but did not argue with his own psyche. All that mattered was that life was incomplete without the youth heading quickly in the direction, and he *needed* him. This Toreador was not going to through the same experience of earlier that evening, again, and of that he saw only one way forward. half a smile he set off after his living work of art, the 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.=====================================================================moment Richie was moving rapidly down the empty sidewalk, intent getting back to the hotel, the next his way was blocked by a dark . He was in such a hurry that he didn't realise who it was he tried to go round, and the man moved to block him."Oh, no, not you again," the Immortal said.the world seemed to be conspiring against him. As if dying in of a cop wasn't bad enough, he had an admirer, who although he 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 ?" he was a little too annoyed, and way too aware of the 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 in the world.time the Kindred was in no mood to play mind games, they had too unpredictable. Instead he went for the direct approach and a very hard, very fast punch at Richie's jaw. The Immortal 't stand a chance, even invulnerability had it's limits and he into blissful blackness.=====================================================================was just not possible, there was no way anyone could just vanish thin air like that. Frank was having trouble believing that he managed to loose Richie quite so fast, but the empty street spoke itself."Damn Immortal's as slippery as Kindred," he whispered to himself, tried to think of a way to break this to Luna. "Later," he finally, "I'll tell him later."could be a trail, something to indicate where the blond man had , so Frank started to look around.=====================================================================was annoyed, very annoyed and Richie began to spit curses the he opened his eyes. He awoke to find himself tied to a chair what appeared to be an art studio. This state of affairs did not him, and what pleased him even less was that someone had him of most of his clothes. On a quick inspection the only he retained were his boxers and his jeans. He remembered the time he had been the victim of a mad artist and realised with a feeling that there would be no MacLeod to rescue him this ."Oh, you are so beautiful," a voice said from just beside him, "truly of mother nature's finest.""Wait `til I get out of these ropes," Richie growled back, throwing of his anger into the words, "then we'll see who's beautiful."really didn't surprise him when Alexae laughed."I can't explain how you're alive," the Toreador said with a wide , "maybe it has something to do with Luna, but I'm not one to such good fortune. Neither did I expect you to understand of this."closed his eyes and listened to his prisoner's heart beat for a delicious seconds. He could almost feel the blood coursing *his* Adonis' veins, and he could barely contain his longing."You're so perfect," he continued and ran his tongue over his lips, "so unmarked."never thought he'd regret his Immortality in quite the way he doing so now. There was something very alluring about the man in front of him, but there was also something that made the man draw back as the other took a step forward."Tonight I'm going to change you," the Artiste said and much to the 's growing horror, ran a finger down his cheek, "I'm going to you forever.""I already have forever," Richie couldn't help it, it was the only his desperate mind could throw up as a defence.drew another laugh from his companion."Ah, the young," the Kindred said calmly, "always so thoughtless to rigours of time."young blond man stiffened as the prowling vampire wandered to the of him and round behind where he could no longer be seen. The rested on the side of his neck, the fingers gentle, but oh so ."You will understand soon," Alexae purred into his victim's ear, "and we shall have eternity."delicate nails stroked the side of Richie's neck for a moment, and then suddenly there was the pain as one of fingers dug in. The Immortal would have cried out, but the sound in his throat as a mouth replaced the hand and the agony ecstasy. It was like nothing he had ever felt before, as he experienced the life being sucked out of him. of his mind screamed, but the rest of him revelled in the . His consciousness soared away as his body submerged in the stimulation of nerves and muscles. His thoughts likened to a Quickening, but this was all being taken from him, not given him, and he surrendered to it like he never thought he could. A was being made, but it was not of his doing, and all he do was let it happen. As his mind gave in to Kindred dominance the events of the night came flooding back. He now knew that had gone on, but he had no will to care.mouth at his neck was more tender than a lover's embrace, and yet savage than a sword's bite, all at the same time. The moan that his lips was involuntary, but totally revealing as he gave to the pleasure of dying.something wet and metallic was forced to his lips, he was barely , only instinct led him on. Instinct and a gentle voice that him to drink, like a mother to a babe.cut the ropes that bound his captive with one hand and the young man falling out of the chair with another. His had collapsed into exhausted sleep, and the Toreador was with his work. Gently he lifted Richie into his arms and him over to chaise by the far wall."So beautiful," he whispered as he put him down carefully, "like an . You're a fallen angel now, my Adonis," he continued quietly, "but you will be so for always."a smile he stood back and then picked up a paintbrush. With the of one who was doing what he loved most, he began to paint, and forever the last moments of his childe's mortal life.of Part 3************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************4wasn't quite sure what to do. When Richie hadn't returned to hotel he'd been worried, when he'd scoured the city for him all and found no sign, he had become anxious. When an Immortal didn't back it usually meant that they weren't going to, but for some , the Highlander just couldn't bring himself to believe that friend and pupil was dead. Why he found himself outside the Haven couldn't quite explain, but this was the last place he'd seen .rock music flowed over him in one big wave as he walked into the , but he barely heard it. All he was interested in was the woman by the bar. He walked quickly between the various tables, as to who was there, and came to a stop beside the owner of establishment."Why, Duncan," she said with a genuine smile, "this is a surprise."'d had to explain all she knew to Julian the previous evening, but couldn't stop the effect the Immortal had on her. She, unlike her , chose not to be paranoid about the existence of another long race. In her opinion, if they'd remained hidden from each other long then they were unlikely to be a danger to each other. noted that her old friend was somewhat agitated as soon as she him."Have you seen the young man I was with yesterday, since then?" the enquired rapidly."No," the vampire replied evenly, "why, have you lost him?""He's disappeared," the Immortal admitted slowly. "He said he'd meet at the hotel, but he never came back. Now with Richie, normally 'd say he found someone else he'd rather be with, but circumstances night were,... different."was nicely hedged, if Lillie hadn't of known something very had happened the previous evening, she never would have . She was not totally immune to what other people were , and the way Duncan looked so worried, tugged at her heart . 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.wasn't sure exactly where in the local hierarchy his friend was, he was pretty sure it was quite high. He hoped any news she came with, was not bad. The Highlander ordered a drink and sat down, was not a lot else to do, until he found out what Lillie knew.didn't spend his time idly drowning his sorrows, however, he took opportunity to just watch. The number of people his sometimes spoke to who immediately hurried away to do her bidding, was large. It was, however, when the man he had left sitting to Richie the evening before, came in and walked straight up to owner of the Haven that MacLeod became very interested.====================================================================="Ah, just the man I need to talk to," Lillie said as Frank sauntered . "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 as soon as he woke up last night. I have just had the pleasure explaining this to Julian. The guy just disappeared into thin air. was more difficult to track than one of you guys.""Do you make a habit of following us around, Frank?" the Toreador with a smile, unable to resist the jibe.then dragged her mind back on track, and noted the information had been passed on."Did he give any indication of where he was going?" she enquired .reply she received was a slow shake of the head. There had been , not a scrap of a clue to follow. Frank should have known, he spent all night looking for one."Look, I have to get to work," the cop said evenly, "I just called in see if you'd heard anything. Since you're asking me questions, I we're as in the dark as each other. Luna has people out now, but no-one seems to know anything. If you find out any , would you mind giving me a call?""For you, Frank," Lillie responded with a smile, "anything."=====================================================================took the news that nobody had any information calmly, and then out to continue his search. There were things going on in San which he did not understand, and he was beginning to sense bigger picture. He began to look, not only for Richie, but for sinister that might also be going on.=====================================================================had been three, very fulfilling days as far as Alexae was . When his creation had awoken, he had been surprisingly , almost childlike in his reactions to this new world into he was born. There had been no anger, no accusations, only an innocent acceptance of life as it was. The Toreador had that his childe's mind had retreated from the reality of the , and was coping with the change to being Kindred. Since were times when he looked into Richie's eyes and saw a very , very powerful gaze being returned, Alexae just assumed he'd out of it sometime. it was, the Artiste had spent his time drawing and painting his centre of attention, and leading the fledgling through his first days. Neither of them had strayed far from the apartment, and the time Alexae had gone out was to hunt and bring back a beautiful thing, who had left the next morning just a little paler than .were sketches and paintings of Richie all over the living , and much to his sire's delight, the new Kindred had even up a pencil himself the previous night and shown considerable . If Alexae had been paying as much attention to how his Adonis on the inside, as he did on the outside he might have noticed something was not quite right. Richie had been changing the time since he had been embraced, and although the other took it as normal adjustment, it most definitely, was not.it was Alexae was about to find out the hard way. He turned and as his protege walked up behind his towards the end of their night together."You're not supposed to move when I'm painting," the older vampire as if scolding a child, "go and sit back down."was then that he noticed the look on his childe's face. The had lost the innocent touch and as he smiled, Alexae knew he should never have let his guard down. Richie's grin was demonic and his eyes changed to a rich golden yellow as his watched. He was holding one of the Toreador's large paintbrushes the bristle end, and he waved it menacingly. As Alexae watched he that this was no ordinary Kindred, and if he hadn't known he embraced him only days before, he would have said he was facing of the really old ones."The game's over," the Immortal Kindred said coldly, "now it's my ."=====================================================================sun was coming up and Richie had absolutely no idea how he came be wandering up to an all night cafe. The only item of clothing he wearing that he recognised as his own was the brown leather with his sword nestled in it's usual place. The rest was he remembered ever owning, including the black silk shirt and new black jeans. The last thing he vaguely recalled was Frank over him and telling him to get out of his sight, the rest hazy at best. That was why, when he saw the cop sitting in one of booths he figured that there was a good reason he was here.were vague recollections of men with glowing eyes, and hypnotic being whispered in his ear, but they couldn't be called real . He didn't remember going to the Haven and finding Cash , or dominating the Gangrel's mind as if it were second . He had no thoughts of demanding to know about Frank, or of the Kindred in a daze that had kept him standing there for . Richie's mind was as empty of the event as Cash's was, and was confused as he walked up to the only face he remembered ."Frank?" he said tentatively, since the cop hadn't heard his silent .man whirled in his seat and his eyes opened wide with shock. The person he had expected to meet here was this Immortal."Richie," he said with a surprised note to his voice, "we'd all but you up for dead."was not much sign of a reaction to the comment in the young man, he just sat down."What's going on in this city, Frank," the blond Immortal asked . "Something's happened to me that I don't understand, and I answers."was at that point that the cop noticed how pale his companion was , and without thinking he reached out and touched the other's . He knew that cold feeling all too well."Jesus, you're Kindred," he said almost too loudly.of betrayal were very strong in Frank's mind, and the first that occurred to him was that this was one of Luna's jokes. fighting each other, no more than something to keep the pet occupied."What are Kindred?" Richie shot back and brought a halt to the other 's thoughts. "What's happened to me? Why can't I remember?"he became agitated his eyes changed colour, and it suddenly to Frank that something unusual was going on. The Immortal like no Kindred Frank had ever met, in fact more than anything looked lost. Now the sun was coming up rapidly, and the cop knew to know that Richie did not look like a vampire who had fed. Since Kindred in that condition had a habit of combusting, he decided that he had to get this one out the public eye."I'll explain as much as I can," Frank said quickly, thinking on his , "but not here. Let's get you somewhere a little more private a lot darker, before you get a suntan you won't forget."younger man's state of mind was such that he did not have much to argue, and Frank managed to get him in the car quite rapidly. they reached his apartment he closed all the curtains and locked door, whilst leaving Richie sitting on the couch. The blond man suspicious, but he didn't appear to be able to decide what to ."Are you going to tell me now?" he said as his companion finally moving.was nothing else for it, Frank was going to have to explain. He down on a chair slowly and tried to remember everything he knew 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 on quickly as he saw the look that crossed Richie's face, "but still blood drinking, night dwellers. I'm not really an expert, 'm more in this by accident. Embracing is when they drain all your and replace it with Kindred blood, then you become one of ."other's gaze seemed suddenly distant at the words. The feeling of life slipping away in slow blissful second caught Richie off , and as he remembered his eyes shifted once again."Do you remember who did this to you?" Frank saw the memory on his 's features and he needed to know.had the feeling that something was very wrong here, and he knew was not going to approve. The longer he stayed in this man's the more eerie he was beginning to feel. There was something tangibly strange about the creature who was Immortal and , the cop could feel it."No," Richie replied, snapping back to reality, "but they must have me these clothes, only the jacket is mine."looked so lost and helpless that Frank could almost overlook the that the Immortal was staring at him with orange eyes.=====================================================================police officer did his best to explain all he knew and he tried convince the new Kindred to seek help from Julian Luna. Richie, , resisted loudly even after he had been given the low down on structure of vampire society. Since Frank still had reservations the way the Kindred ran their affairs, he didn't push it just . Instead he offered to make coffee, and to his surprise his excepted gratefully.the cop wandered back in from the kitchen he was in for a shock, . The curtains were open, early morning sunlight flooded the room, and standing there as if he were a flower was Richie, up the rays. He turned to Frank and smiled an ironic smile."I think starting off Immortal has it's advantages," he said dryly.was slightly later that the cop decided his guest had to be clan when the young man started doodling on the phone pad, seemed to become completely lost in the design.=====================================================================night finally came round to the city once more, it found Richie on Frank's couch and the officer himself sprawled on the bed. new Kindred had persuaded the cop to wait until sundown before did anything, and with all the peculiarities the Immortal was , the officer had decided to play along. Richie woke first, moment the sun dipped below the horizon, and when Frank's alarm off he found his guest staring out the window."I'm going to the Haven," the Toreador said with a certainty that had been there earlier in the day. "Are you coming?"eyes that looked at him were ice blue, but they held a danger could only come from a Kindred gaze. Frank didn't feel like with that visage and he nodded firmly. "Give me five minutes," he said calmly, even as a small shot of soaked his system.cop was almost surprised to see his house guest still standing when he dived back out of the bathroom. There didn't seem to be lot that was helpless about this man, and Frank had the feeling he was invited along more as a courtesy, than an ally. The night to have nurtured a very different Richard Ryan than the day.of Part 4************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************5two men walked up to the outside of the Haven with the Immortal the lead, little or nothing could have stopped Richie as he walked . Kindred recognised Kindred immediately and there were several in the fledgling's direction. Those who had been in the club other evening recognised the newly embraced individual, only who hadn't been there, actually took stock of what they were at. Advance knowledge was sometimes a block to seeing the , and most of those who had not seen Richie before made a mental to keep out of his way.two men had not spoken much in the car and Frank wasn't exactly why they were here. He was tagging along more out of curiosity anything else, mixed in with a slight suspicion that the Prince the city may just have something here he couldn't deal with. That itself made Frank smile."I'm looking for Luna," Richie said to the barman as soon as he had the distance between himself and the counter, "is he here?"had put one of her own in charge of the drinks and he made the of not actually *looking* at the Kindred to whom he was . He glanced at the Immortal, recognised him from his last in the Haven and made the wrong assumption."What's a fledgling like you want with the Prince," the Toreador with a slightly disdainful look.was early, there weren't many humans in yet, so there was no-one hear. That was not the right thing to say to Richie, however, he in no mood to play games. He reached one hand over the counter, hold of the other Kindred's waistcoat and pulled him off his . The glowing scowl he showed the vampire who should have been times his superior, made the barman reconsider his position."I didn't come here to answer questions," Richie said slowly and , "I came for answers. Now, is Julian Luna here?""No," the other replied, just a little afraid of something he did not and understand.few mortals in the club who saw anything ignored it, they'd seen stuff in the Haven, the Brujah who'd been in the club the night, however, did not. They had a couple of friends with them all they saw was a chance to teach an uppity new Kindred a . When Richie and Frank turned to leave they found themselves by six Brujah just itching for a fight. The fact that the smiled widely as he saw the challenge did not do anything to 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 jibe, "we're leaving.""Not until you apologise to our friend," the Brujah leader shot back grinned at the barman.it wasn't exactly right to say they were friends of anyone in the , these Brujah stuck with their own clan, but it seemed a good to the thugs. The half amused look that never faltered on 's face really should have warned them."I'll ask once more," the Immortal said calmly, "get out of my way or 'll make you."every Kindred in the club wanted to see this. Six Brujah against Toreador had to be worth watching. The thugs laughed as if they all connected up to the same voice box, and Richie had just had enough."Okay, times up," the new Kindred said loudly and deliberately right up to his first adversary.couldn't even be called a fight really. The Brujah didn't even get look in, as Richie took hold of his jacket and almost casually him across the room. Now Kindred were strong, but the way the throw was executed showed the deep routed skill MacLeod had drilled into his pupil. It didn't take the other any more to realise that something was not quite right . Kindred didn't get to be that fast until they were a lot older a few days. Like a pack of animals the clan members decide to on mass.first to reach his target was met with a swift blow to the head went reeling backwards. The second received a knee in the stomach was bodily thrown into one of his accomplices. A little was required for the third Brujah, and a foot shot out deadly accuracy hitting him squarely on the chin. The fourth he'd blocked the arm coming at him, but quickly discovered the elbow was far more painful. The fifth had disentangled from his companion who had collided with him, and he suddenly himself looking at a barely bothered Kindred whose whole was focused on him.the Brujah may have been somewhat violent, but they were not , and this one knew when he had no chance. He held up his hands he surveyed his fallen comrades and actually got out of the way."Coming Frank?" Richie asked calmly as he slowly walked past the Kindred.there was no way the police officer was staying in the Haven. He 't quite believe what he had seen, but he was not about to it now. He could live without a pack of angry Brujah on his . The two men walked out the way they had come, and Frank didn't to be told where they were going.started ringing all over the city.=====================================================================mansion was impressive, but Richie wasn't there to admire the . Several of Julian's security people tried to stop him the house, and Frank just trailed on behind past the bodies. He wasn't quite sure what he was following, but knew Richie was no ordinary Kindred, and he also knew that he was in a particularly good mood. The pair walked into the hallway .was Cash who strolled out of one of the interior rooms, looked surprised and decided to take on his role as chief of ."The Prince is not available this evening," the Gangrel said with an of restraint that actually made him proud of himself. "How did get in here?""Funny, that's what everyone's been trying to tell me," the Immortal back. "Thing is, I don't believe you anymore than I believed ."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.Richie had been his own clan or possibly Brujah, Cash could have the behaviour, but he recognised Toreador when he saw them. he obviously hadn't realised was that this was the man everyone been looking for over the last few days. He was in charge of security, Julian had found someone else to do the foot work. would have been happy to explain, but he knew he wasn't going have time. Short was not quite the word for his companion's fuse evening. The police officer was beginning to wonder when Richie up a Russian accent, however.that Cash knew was something hit him. There was virtually no and no way for him to get out of the way. The far wall was hard, and after colliding with it, the floor seemed a very place to go to sleep for a while."You know, just talking to them might get you somewhere," Frank as they proceeded further into the house."I'm not interested in lackeys," was the cold but calm reply. "If you action, you go to the centre of power."was definitely a slightly patronising tone to the voice, but police officer chose not to comment. He figured he'd be better on this guy's good side: humans had a tendency to break a more easily than Kindred. The two pushed opened the doors to conference room and walked in as if they owned the place. They 't find Luna, but they did meet Daedalus."Good evening, gentlemen," the Nosferatu said calmly, "you have a number of people looking for you, Mr Ryan.""It's nice to be wanted," Richie responded evenly. "Where's Luna?"other Kindred smiled, he knew something was strange with this and he found him intriguing. Julian would most definitely him kept here, and finding out who embraced him would be . His current state of health explained a lot about the few days."Our Prince is in his study," the Nosferatu replied as if he was not by Richie's presence in the slightest. "I'll tell him you're if you wouldn't mind waiting.""Don't bother, I'll go myself," patience was obviously not one of the 's current virtues.moved off in the direction that instinct lead him, and found his blocked by a very large, menacing vampire."I'm afraid I must insist that you wait here," Daedalus said as as possible, "I'm sure Mr Luna will not keep you waiting ."Frank knew a little of the Nosferatu reputation and this was the of the clan, he didn't think going against him was a good . Taking on a pack of Brujah was one thing, but this was *the* , taking him on was pure stupidity."Ah, Richie," the cop said, hoping that he could talk some sense into companion, "let's just sit down, huh. The chairs look .""I'm not in the mood to sit down," the Immortal said coldly.eyes changed colour dangerously, but all Daedalus did was smile. Nosferatu let his own Kindred face reveal itself and two vampires into each other's gaze. Richie scowled at the creature who his way, scowled and asserted his will. The Immortal stared the Primogen of the Nosferatu clan and came out sane."What are you?" Daedalus asked for once in his life, surprised by he saw.took a lot to shock a Nosferatu, but Richie managed it. The also decided in that moment that this strange fledgling could a threat. Daedalus let all the traits of his clan appear, and and claws became readily apparent."Wanna play?" Richie enquired, totally unafraid of the display of .games were over, this was for real and the Nosferatu did not anytime. A clawed hand grabbed Richie by the throat, intent of the jugular and giving a clear strike to drain the individual. A bloodless, weak Kindred was much easier to with than one who seemed to possess far more power than should been possible. The only thing was, the grip didn't hold.found his arm being slowly pulled away from it's target, and hand going for his neck. The Nosferatu was very lucky that Kindred were ruling Richie at that moment, it never occurred to the to go for his sword. The blond man literally snarled at his as unnatural strength battle with unnatural strength. For first time the Nosferatu doubted his own ability to force this into submission, and he put all his power into one throw.went sidewards a good five feet and collided with a chair, but was still upright, and seemed to be actually enjoying himself. He Toreador speed to very good effect, and Daedalus found himself close quarters again almost instantly. Material ripped as both went for handholds on their opponent, and the roar of an Nosferatu filled the room. The Immortal gained the upper hand time and Daedalus went flying through the air just like Cash him. The picture he landed against followed him to the floor, the Nosferatu did not stay down. What climbed to his feet bore resemblance to the calm, efficient creature most saw. This was at his most dangerous, and he was quite willing to frenzy. threw the wrecked canvas aside and growled his anger."Stop this," the command was loud and held the roar of authority, as the two were ready to go for each other again.sound actually shocked the pair out of the rage that was quickly over both of them, and two sets of golden eyes turned to look Julian Luna."Well, well," Richie said coldly, "the man himself."Prince scanned the room slowly and took in the destruction that occurred. He also took a long moment to observe the creature in the centre of the carpet. He knew instantly that the of Kindred and Immortal had created something neither could claim to know. A being who was neither totally vampire or human, and one that it appeared, was very powerful indeed."We've been looking for you," Julian said and calmed himself . "You didn't have to assault every one between here and gate, you are quite welcome in my house."decided to try the civil approach, he could have every member of jump on his guest later if that failed."They didn't seem to think so," Richie returned calmly.was at that moment Cash decided to stagger through the door. He to a rapid halt as he saw what had been going on."Your friend, Duncan MacLeod, has been worried about you," it was a safe tack to take. "I can give him a call if you like."name brought an astounding change over the young man before him. had not allowed his eyes to fade to their normal blue, but at the of MacLeod he blinked and they lost their supernatural ."Mac," he said slowly, seeming almost confused.this was the person Frank remembered letting sleep on his couch. accent was gone and so was most of the aggression. All the heard what happened next and found it most intriguing. 's heart started beating, even when he had fought, it hadn't that, and sparks lanced across his eyes. It was as if all just leaked out of him, and he collapsed to his knees his in his hand.moved as Julian's watchful gaze kept them in place. Daedalus' of logical reason was back in place and he looked on with cold . Cash just clamped down on most of his instinct.was confused, almost frightened eyes that looked around the room, the real Richard Ryan tried to work out what was going on. The person he recognised properly was the man he had come in with."Frank," he said quietly, "how did I get here?"Julian took charge."Do you remember anything that's been happening," he asked almost and walked towards the kneeling individual.could be cold and ruthless, but the Prince could also be and kind. He helped the young man to his feet, much to 's growing concern, and sat him in a chair."Bits," the Immortal responded slowly, "I was at Frank's flat, then I something at the club, but I don't know what I'm doing ."insane Kindred was not the best person to have around, but then, had already decided that this was no ordinary vampire. In this he seemed almost like the fledgling he was, but there was an power that radiated out of him."That's not important now," Luna told him with half a smile, "you're embraced, and that takes some getting used to."of Part 5************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************6situation was *way* too complicated to explore just now, but were just a few pieces of information Julian wanted."Do you know where you've been for the last couple of days?" he asked as Lillie entered the room silently behind Richie.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 get an answer, but he tried anyway.subject just looked blank."It has to have been Alexae," the voice was Lillie's and she walked to get a better look at the man who had so recently wrecked of her club. "I should have realised earlier. He hasn't been since this one disappeared, I just assumed he was creating , until I was informed what had walked into the Haven this . Alexae took an interest at the club the other night, I 't think he'd go this far."a name caused a reaction in Richie and the image of lying on a half naked while a man painted him flashed through his mind. the memory turned red and became unclear again."Didn't want to loose me," was what Richie found himself say, even he had no idea where the thought came from."Where is he now?" Julian did not let up on the questions, there was telling how long the young man would remain rational.was real concentration on the Immortal's face as he tried to at least a scrap of information, but the mists in his mind would not clear. There were barriers in his mind that he not understand and could not get past."I don't know," he said finally, "there are just these big blanks."Prince looked up at Cash and the Gangrel disappeared, he knew Alexae should be and he was going to check. If the Toreador had to so much trouble to create a childe it was unlikely he would just let him go.seemed that there was little information to be had out of Richie in this state he seemed very pliable. Julian exerted only a of his own power and the Immortal calmed visibly. His heart 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 some rest. There's a large couch in there and Daedalus will show the way. If there's anything you need, just ask."Immortal didn't even try to protest, he just excepted the without even considering the ulterior motives behind it.=====================================================================the Nosferatu walked back into the conference room he found his sitting in their respective seats, and Frank pacing nervously."He found a pencil and paper on the table," Daedalus observed calmly, "and appears totally absorbed in drawing pictures of you."looked directly at Lillie, but she said nothing."He did that at my place," the cop commented and tried to bring his under control. "He's been with me all day, and take it from me, has no problem with daylight.""Why didn't you bring him straight here, Frank?" Julian asked and to make it sound almost like it wasn't an accusation.man looked unhappy by the tone of the question, he didn't like 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 has hearing like a wolf, and was sleeping next to the phone, what you expect me to do?"was a sensible argument and Julian decided that maybe Frank had no choice. At least everything seemed to be going their way for ."Okay," Luna said calmly, "but what I want to know is what has Alexae with his meddling? There is power in our new associate that come from any source I know."were ways that Kindred could increase their individual other than just surviving, but not to the extent that they take on a Nosferatu after just days. It was Daedalus to whom eyes turned."I cannot explain the source of his prowess," the white skinned man evenly, "but I will say that I believe it is fading. In the few for which I was in contact with him, I believe I actually felt abilities diminish. It was only marginal but it was definitely ."looked at the other two Kindred thoughtfully."I had thought the stories I had heard of other eternal beings to be until proof of their existence was shown to me," he continued . "Since they actually exist it is logical to assume that the are not all fiction either. If so it would seem that to combine Immortal and a Kindred would be to try and pair direct opposites. *They* are fundamentally alive, *we* are fundamentally dead, I would a guess that by his very nature, Mr Ryan cannot be one of us. would therefore go as far as saying, I believe he is becoming human . I cannot say how long it will take, but I would suggest we him here until the truth of the matter is revealed."never spoke unless he meant it, so Julian just accepted what said. He nodded and glanced around calmly."That leaves the mystery of how it is he feels like a Toreador of than a few centuries," the Prince said slowly. "Even if this finds it's own solution, I would still like to know how it about. This is something we do not want to happen again."others nodded in agreement, even Frank could see the sense in . Unfortunately for him, his beeper chose just the wrong moment go off."Damn," he said loudly and then looked at Julian. "Can I use your , please?"Ventrue half smiled, but nodded as well. It seemed like such a event amidst what had been complete chaos. There was a lot of to be done, and Julian expected trouble from Cameron's , thanks to what Richie had done to the Brujah. As the cop through the door, he called the meeting to order once .=====================================================================were no signs of life at Alexae's apartment as Cash and two of most trusted clan mates walked up the stairs to the penthouse. It only as they came through the last floor door, into what was a lobby that anything untoward became apparent. Lillie's money for private security and no nosy neighbours, but even so it was wise to shut the front door. The three Gangrel headed for the sanctum swiftly and silently.were met by an utter mess: there was furniture every where, and of paint over just about everything, almost as if someone had to create a work of art. There was a strange order in the and even as they looked, the three Kindred found their eyes to the centre of the room where they immediately saw the exhibit.a table in front of a very large canvas, Alexae was lying, over the surface with a paintbrush sticking out of his . If it hadn't been quite so serious a matter it might actually been funny. An Artiste, paralysed by his own tools. Richie had stopped there, however, and if any of the recently arrived had been Toreador they would have admired the workmanship. had had most of his blood drained via a slit in the side of neck, but his childe had not used it to bolster his own power. , in his rage and madness, the young Toreador had used it to , and on the canvas was a tonal study of Lillie. blood painting was perfect, down to the finest detail, but that wasn't what was on Cash' mind as he hurried to the side of the vampire. He didn't even hesitate as he gripped and pulled out wooden shaft, releasing Alexae from paralysis. He expected a show anger, even though the Toreador would be weak from lack of blood, he did not think would happen was what did."My god, he's magnificent," were the first words out of the older 's mouth.helpless creature had been lying there all day, and his first was in praise of the Kindred who had done this to him."It was incredible," the Toreador insisted with all the strength he left, "he was so powerful. And this," he turned to the canvas and smiled, "has so much style."that the Gangrel Primogen decided he would never understand his cousins, and chose to ignore the reaction. He had a feeling 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 ."older vampire didn't seem to really hear him, he appeared by the painting, but he had no strength to resist when he politely herded towards the door."Stay here and make sure no-one disturbs anything," Cash told one of companions, "I think Mr Luna will want to see this."he took his charge out of the apartment, and left his associate the somewhat disturbing painting.=====================================================================had been no measure of time as far as Richie was concerned as sat by the window and drew on the pad that he had found. He had no of his need to create, and before Alexae, would have no ability either. The pencil seemed to have a mind of it's , and he was actually quite content as he produced a miniature of the Primogen of his clan. It was only as he finished it he found his outlook had changed once again.smiled to himself, once more in the grip of Kindred passions and around with vampire senses. No heart beat sounded in his chest, the night filled his mind.was not the angry want of power which drove him now, but it seemed be a fusion of childlike wonder and a taste for freedom. He really little idea what he was doing, but without hesitating he put the aside, stood up and flexed his powers of shape-changing for first time. Nobody notice the eagle which soared out the window if it had been born to the sky.=====================================================================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 he is my problem. Get Duncan MacLeod over here, we need to know we are up against."turned and stalked into his study, leaving the others to do his .=====================================================================roof top was like hundreds of others all over the city, but the swooped down as it saw a shape which caught it's interest. as soon as he touched down, the Kindred morphed back into his shape, and stood staring at the back of the person who had his attention. She was pale against the night sky, dressed a long white dress with only a battered leather jacket against the of the air. Her hair fell in long blond tresses around her and for a long moment Richie just stood there looking at .was staring down at the road below the apartment building as if by the distance, and her sorrow was almost tangible to the behind her. He was as silent as the moon, and she had no idea was there, not until he spoke."Are you going to jump?" he asked in a voice that could have charmed birds from the trees.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 here, or did you just pick this building because it's high?"laughed at that, she hadn't expected him to be quite so remote the whole thing. The question really did make him sound as if 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 , let them see me jump to my death. Then they'll know my name, they'll realise I exist. The mouse from number 46, finally done with her life to warrant notice."felt his closeness before she actually looked up to find him on the edge right next to her. He was watching her with wide blue eyes, but much to her surprise he was not reaching for her. was a slightly sad expression on his face, but his gaze told that he was not going to stop her if she chose to step into thin ."Maybe I can give you something that is better than that," he said calmly and smiled.was the smile that made her tremble inside, and the eyes which her reach out her hand.=====================================================================phone call had not really surprised MacLeod, he had been waiting them to get round to him. In the days he had spent nosing around had come to the conclusion that Richie was not dead, and that the community around Lillie that was not quite the underworld, something to do with his disappearance. Julian Luna was a man a past which did not quite add up, and the Highlander recognised signs. The fact that he was now invited to the man's mansion was much of a shock.had been admitted by a young looking man with a slightly wild look him, and he was shown into a room with a large table and cold faced people. Lillie and Julian he recognised, most of others he had seen around, but had no names for the faces. Only a individual with long brown hair and classically good looking gave him someone to look at he had not seen before.of Part 6************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************7"Good evening, Mr MacLeod," Luna greeted calmly, "please, have a ."were chairs positioned at the end of the table which obviously not usually belong there, and from the seating the Highlander realised that he and the new face were the only two who did `belong' in this room. There were five of the others and it did take much to work out that they were used to their places."Thank you," the Immortal replied as he sat down, "you phone call this has something to do with my companion."was no point in wasting time."That it does," the Prince replied, happy with the Highlander's wish speed, "but first I think there are a few things you should ."he was going to be able to help, first he had to understand, and it could be considered dangerous, the ruling body had agreed the Immortal should be told the truth. MacLeod's people had own Masquerade, and screaming to mortals about vampires would be a probable course of action."You know that Lillie is not quite what she seems," Julian began , "anymore than you are. What you do not know is what she is, therefore what we are."slight nod gave the indication that Mac was following this ."We are known as Kindred, Mr MacLeod," the Prince informed him , "or more coarsely, vampires. We live among humans, just as do, hiding what we are, and continuing with our lives. We need to survive, but we do not kill to get it, that would endanger Masquerade. We create more of our own kind by embracing carefully mortals, which is what brings me to the problem at hand."'s gaze did not falter as he looked directly into the 's eyes. The Prince was given the distinct impression he was at a man just as powerful as he."We became aware of a battle that took place in an alley close to the , and we found what we assumed was a dead body. Because of the circumstances of the death we chose not to inform the ," Luna continued, "and shortly after discovered that the young we had found did not stay dead. We questioned him, made him he had ever seen us and let him go. It was then that he ."glare that he was sending in Alexae's direction made it very who was to blame. It didn't take much to read between the , and Duncan reached a conclusion before he had to be told."Are you trying to say that *he* embraced, Richie?" the Immortal 't sound particularly happy about that at all."It's all right, Duncan," Lillie put in rapidly, "we're almost sure 's returning to normal. We are completely incompatible with your , and you friend seems to be fighting off the change."made Mac feel a little better, but he was still not best ."Why did you ask me to come here then?" he enquired pointedly. "You have a very good reason.""We do," Julian returned with his usual calm visage, "we want to find exactly what happened to Richard when he was embraced, and make it never happens again. You see, your companion did not become could be considered a ... normal Kindred." He paused to try and how to phrase what he was about to admit. "In the last twenty hours he has, ... disabled his sire, taken on six males of clan, at the same time, broken into my home, past my , *and* held his own against the strongest of us all."the time, the Prince had finished there was a low chuckle coming the Highlander's mouth."Richie's kicking ass," he said, finding the whole thing quite , "and you don't know what to do about it. I'm sure there's a in there somewhere."was a slightly unhappy look on Luna's face as he saw the 's reaction, but he did not choose to voice his feelings. he sat forward and waited for the sombre mood to have it's on MacLeod."That is not the centre of the problem," he commented slowly as the became serious again. "What I wish to know, is how a two year old man can transform into the equivalent of a many centuries his senior. What is it about your kind that you that sort of power?"stopped Duncan in mid thought, as he could not help but come to conclusion. To give them the answer he would have to reveal part his own secret, but they had already seen the idea in his face. He a strong willed man, but he had taken in the underlying and realised that he could probably not stand up to six ."We are not just what we were when we died for the first time," The finally said slowly, "and it isn't just age which makes us . If you saw a fight and questioned Richie, you must have out that we battle our own kind, and attempt to kill each . What you don't seem to realise is what happens when one of us ."paused to make sure he had everyone's attention: he didn't what to to repeat himself."The victor gains the essence of his dead opponent," Duncan wasn't sure how these people would react, but at one level he didn't care. "Richie's taken the heads of several old Immortals, and their Quickenings. The only thing I can think of to explain you've been telling me is that the combined power of those 've challenged him, translated directly into whatever you perceive ability in your race.""Fascinating," Daedalus could not contain his wonder: very little be said to captivate the Nosferatu, but this newly discovered had him hooked.was at that point that he skipped ahead of most in the room and there was more to it than that."Could these ... Quickenings, explain the rapid personality changes Mr Ryan appeared to go through?" he enquired politely.words caused Duncan to go cold all over, although the only sign was the way his heart beat speed up. His mind flicked to his own battered soul when the dark Quickening had taken . Without letting himself dwell in the memory he prayed that his was not in as much turmoil as he himself had been."Yes, they could," the Highlander said with no sign of emotion. "It's unknown for an Immortal to suffer from multiple personalities, there was no sign of any such thing in Richie *before* you your hands on him."was a direct accusation that he could not help, but he pushed it quickly. All he could hope now, was that with these people's he would be able to bring his young friend back."We'd better find him, soon," was all he said.=====================================================================apartment was small and full of nondescript furniture as Jessica herself and Richie in. That was all that had passed between them the roof, a swap of names, there had been nothing else to say. had decided to die, and she didn't really care who this man was, just knew that if she had jumped she would have missed something . threw his coat on the couch as the white panel door clicked shut blocked out the outside world. It fell open as it landed and the of the sword it contained became obvious. With a fascinated stare she just looked at it for a while, not quite sure what do now. If she gazed back at him she probably wouldn't even think it, but just for a moment she wanted to feel the long dead that it stirred in her. There was just a little fear at the of such a weapon, and to experience something she had decided had lost, was good."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.was something almost magical about him, and he captivated her more than one level. He was handsome, he showed the signs of a man could handle himself, and yet there was a strange gentleness in gaze that caught hers. He reached out and cupped the side of her 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 ," he said quietly, and his tone almost made her want to cry.many emotions that she had buried so long, in such a short time, was almost giddy. He stepped towards her and drew her to him in swift move. There was such a sweet taste in her mouth as his lips hers, and the kiss was long and passionate as strong arms her. She clung to him as if he was the only thing that could her head above the waves, and yet she already knew that what he was not something she had ever been given before.was a mouse, but she had had her share of lovers, and this did not represent the same things they had. It was funny, there the small pit of fear in the recesses of her mind, but it did not up and consume her as so much of her life seemed to have done. it was something to do with the presence that she felt from her , maybe it was because she had given up on her life. Quite , it didn't matter anymore.skin was cold against hers, and his touch was excitingly chilly his hands pushed the jacket off her slim shoulders. She was a woman, but the nagging doubt from a childhood of being , had always stopped her from allowing herself to fall for the of man who could show her more than a quite, harmless . She wasn't going to let that stop her this time, and gave herself to this man she had only just met.fingers may have been cold, but they caused such warmth as they over her body, and she thought the heat would consume her as he her neck and ran his tongue over the edge of her ear. Her reached blindly for the buttons of his shirt as his gently down the zip at the back of her dress. She pulled back as he ran one limb through the gap where the fastening came , and stroked one finger under the rim of her panties.desire showed in his eyes and his slightly parted mouth, but he not move as his companion just stared at him. With the intimate came the realisation of what she was doing, and just for a the reality of the situation impinged on her conscious brain. was surprise on her features as he did not try to force her any , and left her to her own decision."Tell me to leave and I'll go," he said quietly as she almost lost contact with him.passion had beeen re-ignited, and he knew that she wouldn't walk to the roof and throw herself off tonight, maybe tomorrow, but not . Such a lovely creature, almost innocent in her of human nature. He was filled with a desire for her could not explain, and yet to touch her if she did not truly want , would have been worse than sacrilege."No," she said finally, "I want this."as she spoke she took another small step backwards, but it was a withdrawal, more of an encouragement. She let the light cotton fall to the floor around her ankles and revealed a pale, naked to the dimly lit apartment. Her body showed all the signs of , but she just reached out and took his hand. With a slight on her face she led him towards the bedroom.top button of his jeans gave into her ministrations quickly, and helped the process of disrobing by puling his silk shirt over his , throwing it to one side. She had long, elegant fingers and he as they unbuttoned the rest of his fly with dextrous . Her smile widened as she realised that he wasn't wearing underwear."Free spirit?" she asked mischievously and ran her hand down the of the denim.breath hissed between his teeth and he reached out to her . Naked skin rubbed against naked skin as he pulled her once more and she melted into his arms."You need me more than I need you tonight," he whispered in her ear he ran his nails down her back, "let me give you what I can."didn't need telling twice, and there was no resistance as he one arm under her legs and carried her to the bed. Her choice clothes had not been exactly in line with the climate and she had to the roof barefoot, he took a moment to kick his footwear after laying her on the soft covers. With a lopsided grin he pushed his jeans down and stepped out of them as she watched.sound of her heart beat was loud to his supernatural hearing, and could smell her arousal. The beast in him rose, but he pushed it viciously as he centred on very human pleasures. He climbed onto bed beside Jessica and lay down beside her, pressing himself up her and kissed her shoulder lightly. His arm brushed over her and she relaxed back onto the bed with a small moan of . The kisses that he layered all over her body were feather and tantalisingly short as they set her skin on fire.body moved of it's own accord under his tender care and that his mouth wasn't, his hands seemed to be. Eventually couldn't stand it any more and she started pushing her briefs with the one hand that wasn't entwined in his hair. That drew a laugh from her partner, but he took the hint. Her hips rose as he took hold of the elastic material and gently pulled downwards.closed eyes she arched her back as his hand ran up her inner . His fingers slipped into the soft moisture with no resistance her legs parted further as she groaned and demanded more of him. touch was so different from the clumsy ministrations of the only of men she had ever let herself become close to, and it consumed totally. He sunk two fingers into her slowly, running his mouth one breast as he did so. She thought she'd loose it when his began to gently stroke between the slick folds of skin at her , but he controlled her like a fine instrument.pushed against him as he tried to start a gentle rhythm with his , but he would not let her have her way. He almost withdrew intrusion and she dug her nails into his arm in protest. That succeeded in drawing the small laugh out of him again."We have plenty of time," he said gently, and then proceeded to show exactly how he wanted things to go.first shuddering orgasm took her as he finally plunged his in to their full length, after he had shown her the edge times. She cried out in a way she had never thought she could finally understood what she had been denying herself for so long.the time she had come back to herself he had pushed her legs apart and manoeuvred himself above her. His hips brushed the inside her thigh and she opened her eyes to look up into clear blue . She had no intention of denying him anything and hooked one around him eagerly. The second intrusion was not as shudderingly as the first, but her filled her and touched places she didn't she had. moved together in what became a desperate dance, each straining give the other all they had. Their bodies slid apart and then came back together as again and again, they reached for the of sexual climax. When it came it was like a wave of pure and took them both into uncontrollable spasm. Jessica's legs about her lover and she clung to him as if he were her life.relaxed on top of her slightly, half his weight on an elbow, the on her, and buried his face in her shoulder. She was so soft warm and he felt a different hunger stir in the pit of his . of Part 7************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************8Jessica relaxed he pushed himself off her and onto the bed, his face away, trying to force away the signs of this new . He allowed her to push him over onto his back, but kept his tightly closed as she ran a hand along his breast bone. When he looked up at her his eyes were still blue, but she mistook hungry look to mean the same as she was feeling."My turn," she whispered, running her tongue over her lips, and she him that his need was as great as hers.love making was passionate and long, both finding that it had too long since they had taken pleasure in another's body like . They found a myriad of ways to give each other and themselves and it was well into the night when they finally found their desires almost fed. They relaxed into a now familiar position, on top, caught in the tight grip of her thighs, she underneath, in the control she had over his movements.had pushed himself up on his arms and his eyes were closed. She feel that there was a difference in him and she suddenly where he had found her. He would be gone tomorrow, that knew, and the whole futility of her sham of a life hit her. When opened his long lashed lids, she almost knew what she would see.golden gaze should have filled her with terror, instead it gave 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 hunger which threatened to take away his sanity.only way to save her was to run, but for that she had to release . He knew her answer before she spoke as her legs gripped even ."Kill me," she said calmly and turned her head to one side.was no second chance, he could control the desire no-longer, all he could do was as he was bid. His teeth sank into the flesh her neck even as their bodies remained locked in mortal joining. let out a little sob at the initial pain, but it soon turned into moan of pleasure. As he drained her she came again and her body was taken by the sensation.lay beneath him, pale and barely breathing and without faltering pulled away from her. He was sated and blood dripped from his chin he dug his thumb nail into his wrist. His skin was warm now, but was getting colder by the second. Putting the cut to her mouth easy and even in her unconscious state she suckled like a babe. was exhausted by the time he ran his tongue over the wound, it, and he quickly collapsed on the bed. Both sank into sleep soon afterwards.====================================================================='d told him that they were scouring the city for Richie, but was pretty sure they wouldn't find him. He'd spoken to the half breed long enough to know that if he did not want to be , no-one would stand a chance. It was the beginning of a morning and the cop watched as the sun began to rise over water. Why he had come to the place that always reminded him of , he couldn't say, but today he had wanted to be here. It only as the bridge turned crimson in the light of the new day he realised he wasn't alone."Morning, Frank," Richie said with half a smile as the police officer to face him, "I figured you be here."begged the question how, but the cop decided he really didn't to know."Yeah, well I thought you'd be avoiding everybody," Frank commented, his composure with long practised skill."I am," the younger individual replied, "but I thought I'd check in to make sure no-one gets jumpy."the rich dawn, Richie still looked pale, but as Frank too a moment examine his face the Immortal did seem somewhat more lucid. There large grey patches under his eyes, and his hair was unbrushed, all in all he looked to be in much better shape than the day ."Your friend, MacLeod," the police officer decided to explain exactly was going on, "Julian told him just about everything last night. 're working together to find you."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 with which Richie seemed to view everything."Oh, just thinking what they'd get if they tried to embrace Mac," was truthful reply. "You see, Frank, I'm almost sure I know what's to me, I can feel it. I'm beginning to remember what I've doing these past couple of days. The embrace set free all the of the Immortals I've killed, and I've been merging and personalities ever since. I'm loosing the ability to do all weird Kindred things, but I'm regaining my sanity. Not a bad , don't you think?"grinned as the continuation of the thought entered his mind."I'm small fry as far as Immortals go," he continued slowly, "Kristov friends are but a handful of heads. I became a Toreador to all of them stacked on top of each other, and if they tried something like that with Mac it would be like Armageddon. 'd truly make a Kindred from hell. A couple of hundred people all the one body with the ability to kick ass, *big* time."Frank had to grin at that: he could just picture the look on 's face."Not a pretty thought," he commented dryly.small chuckle escaped Richie's mouth, but soon afterwards he became again."If you see him," the younger man said slowly, "tell Mac I'm okay and 'll see him soon. I think I've worked out what will bring me back, the way. I'm going to finish what I came here to do, then we can home."reply was a solemn nod from his companion, and the cop made no to follow him as he turned and walked away. There was no need to anything else, Frank would find out everything eventually.=====================================================================room was in total darkness as she woke, and even before she her eyes, Jessica knew she was alone. He was gone, and there a small ache in her heart was she knew he would never be coming . On the table next to the bed there was a hand written note with name on the front. Turning on the light as she picked it up, she to read.Jess,'m sorry, but one night is all I can give you. The creature I am as write this will no-longer exist by the time it gets dark again. I never supposed to be Kindred, it is opposed to what I really, and power is fading already. don't know what I would have done if your pain hadn't called out to last night. I think giving you what I can never have helped me on return to my real life.must learn what it is that you are now. Go to the Haven night-as soon as it gets dark and ask for Alexae. His is my sire, and think that he will love you more than he could ever love me. Know you are Toreador, and be proud of it.through the day, love, and go to Alexae before the hunger too great. He will teach you, and he will understand.,let one blood tear fall on the paper, and then she put it aside. up in the covers, away from the single crack of light between curtains she thought of the night before. Her life up `til now been empty, and without knowing how she realised that there was a waiting out there for her. It was a family of blood, and she back to sleep with an image of a man in her thoughts.=====================================================================was day, he should have been sleeping, but Alexae could not put the thoughts of what he had done. Ever since Richie had him and left, the bond of sire to childe had been somehow . He had no sense of the Kindred he had made, as if the raw cancelled out all hold he had over his own creation. It him, and with the other ideas which plagued him he could not .was lying on the bed in one of Julian's spare rooms, but he could close his eyes for a minute. It was as he focused on the ceiling the hundredth time that he felt his soul touched. It was like the being made all over again, and for a moment he thought that his may have come back to him. As the initial feeling wore off, , he knew that the spirit which touched his was not Richie's. mind filled with the idea of a young woman, and suddenly he .ran down his cheeks as he realised that what everyone had been was true: he would never regain his creation, his Adonis was his reach forever. Yet it was not only sorrow that caused the streaks on his face, because he also realised that his gift had been rejected completely. Alexae knew that the new Kindred in his was a gift from Richie, the power had been passed on and woman would come to him.=====================================================================message Richie had given to Frank had been passed on, and the officer had been politely asked to turn up at the Haven when came around again. All his instincts told the cop that the club would be a very bad place for him to be at the moment ... the previous night, but Luna hadn't seen it that way. Since hadn't seen hide nor hair of the younger Immortal since their meeting, and he really wanted to know what was going on, his reservations, he showed up.was walking along the sidewalk towards the entrance of the club a car pulled up beside him. It's presence had barely registered the preoccupied man's mind when he felt himself grabbed from and bundled into the vehicle. Somebody threw a coat over his and a grip like iron pinned him to the floor. He didn't need more to realise that he'd been snatched by Kindred. The only remaining were: by whom, and for what purpose. After a few he gave up struggling: the hands that held him would not , and he was just hurting himself.=====================================================================across the other side of the study, Lillie watched Duncan as he back and forwards. They were waiting for Julian to appear, and they would be going to the Haven to liaise with other members of clans. The Highlander hadn't spoken to her much since the evening, and he seemed very edgy as he wore a groove in the ."I'm sorry this happened," the Primogen of the Toreador clan said , much to her companion's surprise. "Alexae is my guest, this my fault."look she received from Duncan said he wasn't quite sure whether let her condemn herself or not. Eventually his generous nature won and he could maintain the silence no longer."You couldn't control his actions anymore than I could have Richie's," the Immortal finally said. "I know I'm standing blaming you, but that's just me, I'm blaming everyone including . The moment I realised that you were still the same I should turned around and walked out, taking Richie with me. I'm always Richie that his libido will get him into trouble, and what I do, but go and follow my hormones like a kid."had to smile at that, she could have been a little more herself. There was an animal attraction between the two, and sides of the relationship had followed it quite happily. There a fair amount of affection there, on both parts as well, but as looked at each other across the room, they knew that they would be sharing a bed again. An Immortal would make an interesting partner for a Kindred, but these two would not be exploring the ."You have managed to get under my skin, Duncan MacLeod," the Toreador with a sweet grin, "and that is very hard to do. I think perhaps will be glad when you choose to leave."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 ," he replied honestly.=====================================================================young man in question was, at that moment, walking down an empty towards an old apartment block. It had taken him all day, but a little street wisdom, a touch of Kindred dominance, and a lot leg work he had tracked down his prey. He didn't think Damon would , and he was proved right as he strolled up to the entrance and the approach of the man in question."I thought you'd left the city," the other Immortal said as he from the doorway, "and then what do I see out of my window, you approaching. Isn't it a little dangerous wandering around you died in front of an officer of the law?""Oh, he was an understanding cop," Richie replied calmly, "with some friends. The information about my demise is quite safe from authorities."other just smiled as the quip."Well it's your life," he returned evenly, "and it's *our* battle. I this quiet little spot just down the road. Shall we?"motioned in a vague direction and began walking, Richie followed."So what have you been doing with yourself for the last few days?" enquired conversationally. "I noticed your friend poking his in all over the place, so I assumed you'd high tailed it out of , without leaving a forwarding address.""You wouldn't believe me if I told you," the younger of the two and said no more.opponent's choice of battle ground was an old abandoned lot, with high, wooden fence around it. The two Immortal's had no trouble their way through the slats where many a school child had before them. The ground was quite uneven, but Richie wasn't bothered, he'd trained on worse."I can't promise I won't cheat," the older of the two said as he his coat and pulled out his sword. "My survival instinct is strong these days, and honour seems such a handicap.""Oh don't worry," was the even reply, "I'm not quite the same person left dead in the alley. I'll cope."saluted each other in a vaguely gentleman-like way, and then started manoeuvring for position. The lot was relatively well by a couple of street lamps, but it was much easier for Richie it was for Damon. Senses still heightened by Kindred blood found easy to pick out every hole that could cause a fall, and every that could trip a person. Even as the first blow was struck, it obvious who was the superior by quite a long way.was left of the Toreador speed and agility gave Richie more than an edge, and as the clash of steel ran out, the look on Damon's said he realised that something had changed. Strike, followed , followed lunge, and the older Immortal couldn't land a cut on opponent. Every time he thought he saw an opening it turned out be a feint. As he went for it, Richie would dance out of the way bring down a carefully aimed blow somewhere else. It was like a ghost: one minute he was there and the next he was gone, from another position.of Part 8************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************9was not a bad fighter, but he was not as good as his opponent. fact he seemed to be at a complete disadvantage, and there was no to be had on the vacant lot. His white shirt was slit in several and blood oozed from some relatively deep cuts. There seemed be continual healing going on, and occasionally a bright spark of would become visible, sealing an abrasion in an ever present .were no flippant comments from Richie as he fought. No snide for his adversary, as he continued to carve up Damon's defence an almost effortless ease. This was a battle that had been before, and one he should have won, he had no intention of it go again. Move flowed into move as his mind worked and his led him to small victory after small victory. It was only a of time before the other Immortal would tire and loose what he had left.had just landed a particularly vicious cut on Damon's leg when opening appeared for final conquest. By lunging forward and going his opponent's thigh, the younger Immortal had appeared to leave weakness to his right side. By now his adversary was desperate, although he had been fooled before, he had no choice but to try at least a damaging blow. As Damon moved in for a slice to his , Richie spun and locked his own sword under that of his . With a quick flick of his wrist and a little turn of the , the other Immortal's weapon went spiralling into the air.was written in Damon's stance, he knew he was going to die, yet the emotion didn't quite reach his eyes. There was one last up this Immortal's sleeve. He'd used it before, and it never . Seeing Richie out of the window had given him time to , and there was more than just the dagger in his boot, on his . A small device nestled on the inside of his left wrist, and within was a blade coated in poison.was the smallest click as he flicked his hand back and a spring , but much to his surprise, Richie heard it. There was no way senses could have picked up the small projectile, but with the edge, the younger Immortal saw it fly through the air. His hand lanced out, and with the dexterity of a swallow picking from the air, he plucked it from it flight path and threw it ."You've cheated me of your head twice, Damon," Richie said, even as moved in for the killing blow, "but not this time."other Immortal's face was glazed with shock, and the last thing saw was the golden eyed gaze of man who was about to kill him. The slumped to one side as the sharp blade of Richie's sword it from the head. The first mists of the Quickening immediately and twisted slowly into the air. The victor just at them with vampire eyes as the wound round him, not quite him, as if they were exploring first. There was a tentative that sent a shiver up his spine, almost as if the Quickening making sure of what he was. Then it hit him all at once. One there was deathly hush and the next the lightening took away thought.pain was different at first, it lanced right to the very heart of and found the changes the embrace had made. It destroyed them a red hot poker removing infection in a wound, and fought to this body. Then, satisfied that this was a vessel suitable it's gifts, it entered him with full force. Bit's of stone around him, and one of the street lamps fused as stray lanced into them. Damon was not a young Immortal, and he had many heads in his time ... the Quickening lasted a good few .the final tendrils left him, Richie fell to his knees, totally , and feeling somewhat strange. He looked around him slowly, realised that he was scarred. It was not anything that would show the outside, but his Immortality had found something it could not wipe away. Although not a keen as before, his surrounding did appear to be in quite as much darkness as they should have been, that his eyesight had retained some of it's sensitivity. little effort he found that his hearing was in a similar state, well as his sense of smell. It appeared that there were still of Kindred about him, although as he stood up he was feeling a deal saner than he had been for the last few days.world had returned to the perspective he expected of it, and were absolutely no signs of any other personalities in his . For all intents and purposes he was back to normal, and he around, a small smile appearing on his face. The extra senses might fade with time, or they might not, for now he they were probably useful.could say that he was almost happy as he dragged the body under rubbish, removed all items that could be used to identify it , including all weapons, and set off to find Duncan.=====================================================================many people were speaking to Alexae, and he chose to stay away the trio of Lillie, Julian and MacLeod who sat in a booth. He 't mentioned the piece of knowledge he had come by the previous , but it was difficult not to notice that he appeared to be for something. Those who knew about Richie, assumed it had to do with that, others just didn't care.was sat at one of the side tables, watching everything with his vigilance, but tonight he did have something to distract him time to time. They'd broken it off, they'd yelled at each other, 'd decided that clan loyalties had driven them apart, but anyone decided it was finally over they'd turn around and Sasha and Cash together. The Brujah in question was sitting the Gangrel, sipping on a cocktail and smiling at her lover. sets of clan members watched the pair with disgust, but tonight couple weren't arguing and so they didn't much care.was Sasha who spotted the entrance of the willowy looking girl ."Now, what do we have here?" she said lightly, and indicated to show companion the source of her question.were lots of eyes on the newcomer, and she seemed kind of . Jessica had chosen the white dress, a velvet jacket and pumps as her outfit this evening, and with her hair flowing her shoulders, she looked every bit the siren. It didn't take than a second glance to figure out she was Toreador clan. She around rapidly, in her haste not seeing Alexae at first, but her eyes ran back again she was suddenly overcome by relief.Artiste had seen her instantly, and he was already on the move. were questions in most Kindred's minds as the pair came , and the stranger literally beamed at the older vampire. newcomer was young, only just made and not fully through the , but there was an air about her that warned all to stay away. was heartily backed up when, as he slipped his hand under her to guide her across the room, Alexae glared at his compatriots warning."Let's go somewhere a little more private," he said warmly, and just nodded.older Toreador looked across the room to Lillie and indicated with is eyes. The Primogen was a little surprised, but and smiled anyway. The two disappeared towards the stairs .=====================================================================pavement was hard, that much Frank found out when he was dumped of the car directly onto it. The first thing he saw was a pair of , and he slowly worked his way up. The face that met his gaze did bode well for his future. One of the Brujah that Richie had so beaten the crap out of the previous night was leering down him, and as he slowly climbed to his feet he became aware of the as well."Not so brave without your friend, little man?" the leader of the sneered loudly.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 just with the guy. I have no quarrel with you.""Wrong," another of the group said from behind, "you laughed at us."wasn't true, but then talking a Brujah out of something they had were the facts could be like chiselling granite with a bobby . 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 to be pleased if I don't show," the implicit warning was there, it fell on deaf ears."Oh, don't worry Franky," the leader started, "we're not going to you. We thought we just have a little fun and rough you up a . Now Mr Luna might be a little annoyed at us for a while, but 's not going to go against Cameron over some bruises."police officer had a sinking feeling that the brute might be telling the truth. All safe ground just crumbled away him."Can't we just talk about this?" he tried, a little desperately.reply was a fist in the face. Now that hurt like hell, but not as as the one which followed and did something nasty to his . Now Frank could handle himself pretty well, and he even to land a couple of punches, but he was not Kindred and he didn't stand a chance. Every time he turned to try and bloke a , one of the other Brujah would attack from behind, or beside .really had no idea what he was doing by the time he flailed out and managed to sink his nails into flesh. His legs 't under his control, he'd taken so many hits that he didn't which way was up, and the Brujah were passing him around like a , but somehow he fell in just the right way to actually do some . There was an angry yell from whoever he had managed to hurt then strong hands grabbed him and literally threw him through the . His head found the car, and there was a nasty snapping sound: knew no more.six Brujah were suddenly very still as they looked at the body."You broke him," was all one of them said to the ring leader, who had running down the side of his face.=====================================================================brought Richie to the docks he would never know, but on his way the Haven he had been unable to resist the urge to see the water. sight that met his eyes made him very angry, and he moved forward his better judgement could get in the way. He barely realised had a sword in each hand."Which one of you killed him," he yelled at the top of his lungs.say that the sight of him scared the hell out of the Kindred around the body was putting it lightly. He still felt like even though he had given up most of the powers, and blades those he was carrying could be nasty for vampires. These Brujah death when they saw it coming towards them and they ran.question had brought the look of guilt to one face and it was Kindred who Richie pursued. The Immortal dumped one sword by the of Frank's lifeless body and then charged after his prey. The he had lifted from Damon was very useful in bringing down the before he could change shape or escape. The knife in the leg 't hurt him too much, but it did cause him to fall.an incoherent cry, Richie ran at his victim, sword at the ready swung it for the killing blow. It was the look of pure terror on fallen Kindred's face that drew the slice up short. Millimetres the Brujah's neck the blade stopped, and the Immortal glared at prey."This time you live," he said slowly, quite surprised by the himself. "Frank's dead now, but he won't be for long. This you escape with your life. We are something you do not , we are something you should fear. Remember that well."vampire was too scared to do anything but nod. He hadn't been so since he was mortal and the younger looking man's words hit ."Run home, dog," Richie said with a dangerously quiet tone, "and next you see Frank, remember to be afraid."turned on his heel and just walked back to the car, in a few the Brujah was gone.keys were in the ignition and the doors were open so it didn't Richie long to load the police officer and the sword onto the seat. There was a chance the clan members would come back for vehicle, and without the help of surprise, the Immortal could without facing them. He drove away quickly, and rapidly decided head for his hotel.journey was half over when Frank opened his eyes again for the time."Welcome back," Richie greeted and kept his eyes on the road, "I 't move for a while if I were you, those Brujah really did a on you.""You're telling me," was the slow reply, "my head feels like 's hitting it with a base ball bat.""Lie still and it'll pass," was the next instruction, "dying's hard the body."was silence from the back seat for a while, and then Frank's caught up with what Richie had said."Dying, what do you mean dying?" the tone was a little anxious.didn't feel much like he thought a vampire should feel, they 't have embraced him, could they?"The beating ended with you breaking your neck," his companion helpfully. "At least that's what I suppose killed you, since head was at a very funny angle. You're Immortal, Frank, like me Mac, you just didn't know about it before. Now you've died for first time, you'll heal fast, never get sick, and lots of junk that."glanced round and grinned before turning back to the road."A shock, yeah I know," he said cheerfully, "at least I had a little to get used to the idea of Immortals. Let me guess, you're the of guy who must have weeks of vacation time backed up at work, ?"was a new turn to the conversation, but Frank was too bemused to anything but the truth."Ah, yeah," he responded blankly, "the Captain's always trying to get to take some time off.""Great," Richie said and turned into the street which contained his , "then I suggest you take it now. You have a lot to learn and a lot of choice about it. You're lucky, only Kindred saw you die they're not likely to blab, so you won't have to move on. Mac me how to be Immortal, and you're going to have to learn as . There's this nice dojo up north, where we can both give you the course if you like."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," blond man continued sincerely. "Mac and I can give you that help we can sort something out down here. Take the sword you're next to and go hole up in my hotel room for now. I've got to go MacLeod, and then we'll explain everything. Room 228."wasn't really thinking very clearly, he decided that following instructions might be a good idea.of Part 9************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************10conversations just stopped as Richie walked into the Haven, he grinned at the shocked expression on Duncan's face. The opened mouth visage dissolved into one of relief as he his young friend's habitual disposition."I think he's back to normal," the older Immortal commented as his began to walk across the room.was a quizzical look on Lillie's face as she watched the 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 , "but his heart is beating, and he appears human on the ."was hastily looking in his employer's direction, even as Sasha the new talent, and Julian just smiled. The Gangrel tried to look too uptight as he suddenly found the younger Immortal was in his direction. He was most surprised when Richie actually ."Look, sorry about yesterday," the blond man apologised calmly. "Love jacket, man."he walked on not waiting for a reply."So, what happened yesterday," Sasha enquired curiously, "and who's guy with the mixed up messages?"been hanging out across town for the last couple of days, the hadn't been part of all the excitement. All she knew was that had been some fuss over a human that she was neither interested , nor part of."I'll tell you later," was all the Gangrel replied.young Immortal slid into the booth on the opposite side to his , and just smiled at the others."I thought we'd go home now," he said lightly.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 for a guy."Duncan that explained it all, but Richie went on anyway to make all was clear."Damon's dead, I'm as close to normal as I think I'm going to get," blond Immortal said evenly, "Frank discovered death as well, by way, but he'll get used to the idea. I've really had enough of town, and I'd like to go home, where nothing more exciting than the odd Immortal trying to kill me."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 , "and he broke his neck. Since he's Immortal it didn't bother for long, and I have him stashed somewhere where no-one can find until he feels like being found."anger flared in the Prince's eyes, and Richie had his next figured before he asked it."Who were they?" he demanded hotly.Richie had no intention of giving the brutes up to the slaughter, thought they'd probably learned their lessons."It doesn't matter," was the calm reply. "Take it from me, they will be trying it again."two men locked gazes for a moment as Julian thought about pushing issue. He didn't like to be told what to do, even in situations this, but he quickly found the stubborn streak in the younger . The Ventrue looked angry for a moment, but slowly the changed into a smile."Have it your way," he finally said and much to Lillie's surprise, in.was the Toreador Primogen who spoke next."Well gentlemen," she said with a smile, "I hope you don't mind, but 'd like to steal Richard for just a little while. I'd like to have a words in private."it was the blond man's turn to look surprised, but he did not as the dark haired siren led him to a quiet corner. She looked 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 here a while ago. After what he did to you, your actions me."Richie understood why she had wanted to talk to him, and he ."I got rid of all my anger when I staked him," the young Immortal honestly, "and my more rational side came into play. I saw as she was about to throw herself off a roof, and I suddenly that they would be good for each other. He needs someone, that's he tried to take me. She has never seen how life can be good, and can give that to her. I just followed my heart, which, for once, 't seem to have landed me in trouble."ran her hand down one side of his face and just smiled at him a while."You're very kind," she said slowly, "I wouldn't have expected that someone who has to kill like you do. Don't ever let go of your , Richard, it makes you a wonderful person."she kissed him again and walked back to Julian, leaving the to contemplate what she had said.=====================================================================had taken them another day to get out of the city, what with everything to Frank and getting him to organise his , along with the formal farewells. Julian had wanted more , but he couldn't really push it. Even though these 's appeared friendly, he was sure they could be very , besides which, he would have time enough to talk to Frank . After all the hassle in San Francisco, the days of rigorous that Duncan decided to put Frank through, using Richie as an , seemed almost restful. blonde Immortal had not been able to shake the desire to paint, lingering Toreador trait, so his apartment now had an easel canvases strewn around. He found himself doodling at the oddest , the most bizarre of which had to be when Duncan had caught making patterns on the counter with the salt. He was trying to the urge under control, but occasionally it got the better of ."So why don't you just shoot them and then take their heads?" the cop as he and the younger of the other two Immortal's took a break a sparing session.was looking at Duncan for the answer, but the Highlander just and walked into the office. When Frank turned to Richie for he found the young man laughing."Those kind of questions are best left unthought," the blond man said , "especially with Mac around. He has this big honour streak him, and ideas like your tend to tick him off."ever practical side of the newer Immortal still couldn't see the , but good sense won over."Okay," Frank admitted, "it was only a thought. So what was this move 're supposed to show me?""Well, it's like this ..." Richie began and they walked toward the of the floor.they both looked up at the door, Frank wincing slightly as the of a new Immortal made itself very plain to his brain. It an odd sensation to get used to, but he was managing. Richie was the wooden sword he had, defensively, until Adam Pierson 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 new recruit?"walked out of the office with a broad smile on his face."Phone, Adam," the Highlander said jovially, "I know it's a modern , but it's useful. Prevent heart attacks, and .""One day I will call," Methos said lightly, "then you'll get ."wandered further into the dojo, happy that no-one was going to try give him a height adjustment, and came to a stop just beside . It took a few seconds, but suddenly the two were staring at other, wide eyes."Gangrel," Richie said rapidly."Toreador," was what the other Immortal replied."You were embraced," they both said in unison.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 taken one head when they tried the number on me, and I had a personality for weeks."younger of the two was looking rather shocked."When, how long ago?" he almost demanded.was a surprise and a relief to find out he was not the only one had made been in contact with the wrong vampire."A while," Methos returned with a smile. "I'll tell you exactly after 've had a long talk about ages."Immortals were touchy about how long they'd been wandering , 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 this was the most normal conversation in the world. "No. They fade a little over the next hundred years or so, but you're with them. I have also been reliably informed that, from time time, in the throws of passion, my eyes change colour."looked a little dubious."Ever had any complaints?" he finally asked."No so far," was the cheerful reply.End ******************************************************************************************************************************************