The Christmas After

Posted By: SBO <oertlingt@aol.com>
Date:
Thursday, 21 December 2000, at 10:17 a.m.

"Only once in my 409 years have I ever felt this way before," Duncan MacLeod spoke to the empty barge as he remembered another dark time when he had done the unfathomable and had slain a kinsman. For some strange reason he'd felt drawn back to the City of Lights rather than to the austerity of a monastery after his time in the Highlands.

Still the city bedecked in the finery of the holiday season brought no joy, only a deeper sense of pain and loss. He'd hoped that his floating home where he'd known some happiness would help heal his wounded heart and mind. Instead he was filled with even greater sadness.

"Remember, Paris is our city," Tessa had said to him, now she was gone. Darius had been murdered in his church only a few blocks away, Fitz as well. Richie had died by his own hand here. It seemed to him that everyone he knew and loved who had been tied to Paris was dead, and now the loss of Connor filled his soul.

There was only one place where he might find some peace on earth that others so easily talk about and find this time of year. It would be hard to get there, airline flights would be hard to come by on Christmas Eve. Finally he was able to book a trip back to Seacouver, but it would come at the price of making stops in at least two airports along the way. He resigned himself to the fact that this would have to do.

The first stop was in Newark. Feeling the need to have a good stretch after the exhausting trip across the Atlantic, Duncan decided to deplane for a few minutes. He'd barely made off the jetway to the gate when he felt the unmistakable essence of another immortal.

"Merry Christmas to me," he said under his breath, thankful that the terminal was absolutely crawling with travelers. The buzz came from behind and he turned cautiously. "Methos?"

"MacLeod? I thought you were still in Scotland."

"How did you even know I was there?" The anguish surfaced immediately on the Highlander's face.

"I'm sorry, Mac, I just assumed that would be where..." Methos' voice trailed away. "Where are you headed now?"

"Back to Seacouver, I tried Paris, but I couldn't deal with the losses there either--too many memories. I have some business back there, maybe that will help keep my mind busy at least."

"Good idea, you on this flight? With no where else to go, I thought I'd spend the holiday somewhere remote this year, an island? Perhaps Bora-Bora? No immortals, no watchers--now *that's* my idea of celebrating!"

Just like Methos, MacLeod mused, pick up and head off. "Enjoy yourself, I have to get back on the plane. Methos..."

"MacLeod." There was no easy way to say goodbye, so no one ever seemed to.

Smiling, Methos walked away for a moment and then turned to watch the Highlander head down the jetway. He took up a seat and waited for the next flight to Seacouver.

Another few hours in the air and MacLeod found himself repeating the whole exercise in the Houston Airport. Out the jetway and into the terminal, alive with people scurrying along to make it to their gates. Behind a tower of matching luggage and gaily wrapped presents, he felt the immortal call again. "Oh another one. Not here, not now!"

Even before the figure stepped from behind the mountain, he caught a whiff of a familiar perfume. "Amanda?" his voice uncharacteristically filled with emotion.

"Duncan?" she responded as happily as she could. She knew this first time seeing him would be hard but she hadn't been nearly as prepared as she should. It nearly tore her heart out seeing the grief in her lover's face Amanda dashed to him, leaving the packages precariously perched. "Oh, Duncan! I'm so sorry, Methos told me what happened. Is there anything at all..."

"No," he cut her off firmly, "nothing." She managed to at least hug him and was glad to feel the tension leave his body as his head dropped onto her shoulder. She could still offer him some love and comfort. "Where are you headed?"

Pulling himself together once more, Duncan answered, "Back to Seacouver. Business. You? Where ever it is, it looks like you're moving there permanently. Paris? Turkey? Found another Sultan to steal jewels from?"

Amanda forced herself to laugh at MacLeod's pitiful attempt at humor. "No, Duncan, just a major shopping trip at the Galleria and then I am jetting off to be alone somewhere remote for the holidays--you know, maybe get away from the Game for a bit, let my hair down, so to speak. No Immortals and no Watchers."

"Funny, that's what Methos said when I ran into him at the Newark Airport. You two keeping something from me--running off together are you?"

"Of course not, nothing like that at all!" I'm going to find a death Methos *hasn't* suffered yet for this--she thought to herself--he could have spoiled the whole plan by being seen, but of course she hadn't done much better.

The announcement for Duncan's flight came over the loud speaker. "Guess that means I have to go. I love you, Amanda, I always have."

"I know, I ‘make your heart glad' Me, too!" Their lips touched briefly before she turned away.

Duncan started toward the plane. Amanda took a seat near the luggage and waited for the next flight to Seacouver.

The last flight and the trip to the island had been quiet and uneventful. But Duncan had no more pulled his canoe onto the shore when an Immortal Buzz so powerful shook him. "Damn!" he raged. "No one knows this place, no one fights here, it's Holy Ground!!"

MacLeod approached the cabin with utmost care. Flinging the door open, he screamed, "Show yourself!" When he received no immediate response, he peered inside and saw the grandest of Christmas trees all alight and beautifully decorated with gaily wrapped presents under it that he thought he recognized.

From behind the door, came a voice he knew he recognized: Amanda. "Merry Christmas, Duncan! After everything that's happened I couldn't live with myself knowing you'd be alone now." She threw her arms around him.

"Nor I, MacLeod," Methos appeared from the shadows. "No one with our histories'-- facing what we face should spend this time of year alone. We see too much death, and so rarely take the time to celebrate life, the life of a baby born 2000 years ago, or the lives of friends we hold dear. So here we are."

Amanda continued, "Duncan we took you at your word when you said ‘never again'--never would you leave us--at least that's what I hoped you meant."

At that moment, MacLeod realized that was what he'd meant, but so much had happened since then. But Connor wouldn't want him to waste his life in mourning--he'd prepared him for so much more than that. Perhaps the best way to honor his memory was to go on with his life as his closest friends suggested and perhaps now was as good a time as any to begin.

He smiled faintly, realizing that he'd been set up and asked, "How did you all know about this place or how I'd be here--why did I run into the both of you at the airports?" Suddenly, a knock on the door shattered the deafening silence. Amanda and Methos held their collective breaths.

MacLeod stepped swiftly to the door, opened it to reveal the bundled form of Joe Dawson. "Joe, I was beginning to wonder when you'd get here. Please come in!"

Dawson looked at the other Immortals questioningly. They shrugged. "Methos and Amanda were about to tell me how they found their way here. But, you know, it doesn't matter because I'm glad that you are all here. You're right, I can't shut myself off from those I love, Connor never taught me that. So we will celebrate him and celebrate Christmas, all of us together, and after I will somehow find a way to go on."

--------

Hope you all enjoy and Happy Holidays to you and all you hold dear!

Holiday hugs--SBO

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