Gilgamesh Redeemed, by AC

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Disclaimer: Richie, Methos, Joe, Duncan, and a few assorted bit characters belong to those DPP guys. The others belong to me. Bits of dialogue are taken from “The Wrath of Kali,” “Chivalry,” “Shadows,” “Something Wicked,” “The End of Innocence,” and “Through a Glass, Darkly.” This is the third in the very long series of stories begun with “The 1001st Regret” and “Silence and Tears.” If you did not read the first two (probably because of their adult rating) never fear - you don’t have to in order to read this one. Everything you need to know is explained within the story. I intentionally kept this one palatable to the gen reader, but there are a number of insinuations and references planted for the readers of the aforementioned slash stories. The time frame is several months after “Modern Prometheus” and the unmentionable episode (hawk spit) has not happened -- yet <G>. Thanks to my beta readers Phoenix, Laura, Silvia, and JoAnne.
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“We all have things in our past which we wished we hadn’t done... I know I do.” --- Methos, “Through a Glass, Darkly”

Prologue:

“Lay upon the sinner his sin,
Lay upon the transgressor his transgression,
Punish him a little when he breaks loose,
Do not drive him too hard or he perishes.”
-- The Epic of Gilgamesh

Methos sat on the Great Wall in the lotus position with his eyes closed. As he focused his breathing he began to enjoy the serenity this simple act afforded him. He was totally oblivious to the fact that he had become the center of attention, tourists staring in disbelief at this strange man. Finally a security guard interrupted Methos’ mediation with broken English.

“You.. get up. You move, no sit here!”

Methos opened one eye and looked at the guard in annoyance, sighing.

<Damned Communists have finally ruined everything.... I certainly didn’t have this problem during the Ming Dynasty!>

Methos silently got up, brushed the dirt off the back of his jeans, and walked slowly to the stairs as the sun was beginning to set in the west. He looked at his watch and decided to go to the Temple even though his friend wasn’t set to arrive for another three hours.

As Methos walked down a narrow alley towards the Temple he felt the silent call of another Immortal. He smiled and turned.

“Figures you’d be early. Can’t you be late for ONCE?”

But is wasn’t his friend’s face that he saw but that of a stranger... a stranger with more than conversation on his mind.

The grim-faced stranger drew his sword.

“I am Meleager, son of Oeneus.”

Methos replied “Pleased to meet you. And I’m just passing through.”

Meleager sneered “On your way to the Temple? Were you planning on spending some time on Holy Ground? Sorry to ruin your plans, but I’ve got a better idea.... why don’t I take your head.”

Methos weighed his options - fight or flight. The Temple was too distant to run for, so fighting seemed inevitable. He drew his sword.

“Actually I’ve grown rather attached to my head. I’d like to keep it a while longer, if it’s all the same to you.”

Meleager was several inches taller and 50 lbs heavier than Methos and power was his advantage. Luckily, Methos was quick and devious. Meleager drew first blood, slicing Methos across the right shoulder. Methos winced and continued his defense, waiting for his opportunity. Meleager finally lunged at Methos, who took the serrated hunting knife out of his pocket with his free hand and tore a huge gash in his opponent’s neck, severing his jugular vein. Meleager looked at Methos in shock and then sank to his knees.

Methos taunted “Looks like I’ll be going to the Temple after all. Sorry to disappoint you,” then cut off the loser’s head.

Methos steeled himself for the Quickening -- but he had no idea just how old Meleager was nor how deeply affecting this Quickening was to be...

Meleager’s memories flooded Methos’ mind, going backwards in time through the centuries, through the millennia.... suddenly Methos saw a vision which tore his soul apart....

“NOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

Methos fell to ground unconscious.......

Part 1:

“Thine equal is the star of heaven.
He is a strong companion, one who helps a friend in need;
He is the strongest in the steppe; strength he has;
And his strength is as strong as that of the host of heaven.”
-- The Epic of Gilgamesh

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Duncan MacLeod stood motionless at the center of the dojo mentally preparing himself for his
workout. Suddenly his concentration was interrupted by the silent call of another Immortal.

<So much for being alone. But Richie isn’t supposed to work today.>

The door opened and in strode an unfamiliar Immortal. He walked with a regal bearing, reminding MacLeod of kings and
princes he had known in centuries past. The stranger had first died in his late 30’s and by his looks was probably of
Mediterranean origin -- short, curly, dark hair, a distinctive hawk-shaped nose, and olive skin. But his most distinctive feature
was his eyes -- they were dark, almost black in fact, and they pierced right into MacLeod’s soul.

MacLeod grasped his sword but held it with the point lowered to the floor.

“I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. Are you looking for me?”

The old Immortal seemed strangely amused. “No, actually I am interested in finding a young student of yours -- Richie Ryan.”

MacLeod felt a knot growing in his stomach.

“What do you want with Richie?” he said in a concerned tone.

The stranger laughed softly. “If I wanted his head, I would already have it by now, Young Pup. I am not here to take a head -- I am here to save one.”

MacLeod gave him a puzzled look. “Is Richie in trouble? What’s going on?”

The stranger shook his head. “It is not your concern, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I require Richie’s help in an
important matter -- not yours.”

MacLeod wasn’t sure if he should take this as an insult. At any rate, he decided he did not trust this Immortal. He grasped the
handle of his katana tighter. “What makes you think I’d tell you where he is, even if I knew?” MacLeod said in a protective tone. “It can’t be *that* important if you won’t tell me what you want. I tell you what.....If you leave your name and number I’ll see if Richie wants to contact you, assuming I talk to him myself.” MacLeod offered.

The stranger shook his head.  “I will find him.... and you may later regret the delay tactics, Young Duncan.... I am NOT your enemy, and I wish Richie no harm. But I will not let anyone stand in my way... not even you.”

MacLeod raised his sword a few inches off the ground, and the stranger silently turned and left with a sad look on his face....

As Joe Dawson restocked the bottles on the top shelf of the bar, he heard the door open behind him. “Sorry -- we’re not open until 6.” Joe turned around and saw an unfamiliar man in his late 30’s walking up to the bar.

“I am not here for a drink, Watcher. I am here for some information.” Joe turned noticeably pale, and the stranger laughed. “Oh do not be so shocked, Watcher. I have often wondered why you people put your silly tattoos in such an obvious location. Do
you want to get caught?” The stranger broadly smiled at the now alarmed Dawson. “I have known about your kind for millennia. You know, my favorite trick is to send my Watcher a complementary drink with note saying ‘peek a boo.’ Gets them every time.”

Joe somehow found his voice. “What can I do for you, Mr......”

The stranger became serious. “I am looking for a particular young Immortal -- Richie Ryan.”

Joe shook his head. “Can’t help you.”

The stranger became grim. ”Let us not play games. I know that you are Duncan MacLeod‘s Watcher. And I know that MacLeod is Richie Ryan’s teacher. So please, just tell me where to find him. I am not after his head -- believe me, I do not need it. But I do need to talk to him about a mutual friend, and it is important.”

Joe shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry, I can’t help you. If you know so much about us, then you know we can’t interfere in the personal matters of the Immortals.”

The stranger grew angry. “Oh yes, Joe Dawson, you NEVER interfere,” he sarcastically spat.

Joe looked down at the floor.

The stranger swore in a language which had been dead for nearly 3000 years. “I will find him, Joe Dawson, with or without your help. I just pray it is not too late.”

Joe shot the stranger a concerned look, but the Immortal merely turned around and swiftly walked out of the bar.

The Watcher stood there, stunned for a moment, then picked up the phone and began making calls....

Part 2:

     “What is this sleep that holds you now? You are lost in the dark and cannot hear me.”
     -- The Epic of Gilgamesh

Several hours later Joe and MacLeod sat at a table in the bar comparing notes on their experiences with the strange Immortal.
But before they got into any great detail, MacLeod felt an Immortal’s buzz.

Richie Ryan walked into the bar, his helmet tucked under his arm, and waved to his friends. “Hey, Mac.. Joe. What’s up?”

Both men looked at Richie with relieved faces. MacLeod spoke first. “Richie! Where have you been? We’ve been looking for you for hours!”

Richie looked puzzled as he sat down. “Gee, Mac, I was just out for a ride in the mountains. What’s wrong?”

Joe jumped in. “An Immortal showed up looking for you....an old Immortal.”

Richie look became grim. “Oh. Is he going to challenge me?”

MacLeod shook his head. “Supposedly not -- he says he just needs to talk to you... says he needs your help.”

Richie forced a smile. “That’s reassuring... I assume his tongue isn’t as sharp as his sword.”

Then Richie's look changed to confusion. “An old Immortal needs MY help? What the hell could I help him with? Who is this guy? And just how old is OLD anyway?”

Joe pulled out a Watcher file. “His name’s Enkidu... he goes by Brother Enrique now. He’s part of a Franciscan order based just outside of Paris. As for his exact age, our records aren’t that complete. He first appears in the Chronicles about 2500 years ago.”

MacLeod furrowed his brow. “Enkidu -- that name sounds familiar. I’ve read that name before.... in a mythology book I believe....”

Joe nervously laughed. “Yeah, I had the same feeling. So I did some checking. Turns out Enkidu was the best friend of Gilgamesh in ancient Babylonian legends.”

“Gilgamesh?” Richie asked. “We read about him in high school English class. He was like Noah... he survived a big flood... he
was a great hero or something. That was one book I actually read! Kinda reminded me of Conan the Barbarian or something!”

Richie’s thoughts were interrupted by a very strong buzz. He and MacLeod looked over at the door as Enkidu walked in.

“Ah, so the nestling has come home at last. You have been a bit of a bother to find, child. I hope you are worth it.”

Richie bristled at the word “child.” “Do I know you?”

Enkidu smiled. “No, child, we have never met. I am Enkidu, or Enrique to my mortal friends in France.”

Richie blurted out “Did you really know Gilgamesh?”

Enkidu looked puzzled, then laughed, as he pulled another chair up to the table. “Child, I am old, but I am not THAT old. The legend of Gilgamesh goes back nearly 6000 years. No, I am merely the namesake of Gilgamesh’s unfortunate companion. And I would not hold the name of Gilgamesh in such high esteem either. After all, he betrayed his best friend in order to save his own neck. And after witnessing his friend’s painful death, he sought the secret of Immortality in order to avoid death himself. Some hero.”

Richie was intrigued by the mention of Immortality in an ancient legend. “Was Gilgamesh an Immortal?”

Enkidu smiled. “No, just a little man afraid of death. But immortals do appear in many ancient legends. Osiris, in Egypt....... Dionysus, in Ancient Greece..... Tammuz, the youth beloved by the goddess Ishtar in Babylonian myth.” Enkidu stopped and laughed. “You know, child, you remind me of a statue of Tammuz we had in my old Temple.”

Richie blushed slightly. “How come the girls in high school never said stuff like that about me?”

Enkidu ignored his comment with an annoyed look. “You probably know him by his Greek name, Adonis. Every year the women would wail to commemorate his death, and then rejoice at his resurrection. As a penance, the women would all become prostitutes for a day. It really paid to be a priest in those times.”

Richie looked at him and grinned. “Man, was that a great time to be alive or what!”

Enkidu continued his thought. “Not all religions demand celibacy from their priests, you know. Besides, there are ways around it. Where there is a will, there is a way. And I have a lot of will.” The ancient Immortal reminisced for a moment. “You know, once I gave up sex for 50 years, just to see what it was like. It did not give me any mystical insight... all it did was put me in an excruciatingly foul mood for 5 decades. I would not recommend it.”

Joe chuckled. “Oh, you don’t have to worry about Richie - he goes 5 days without a date and he gets intolerable to be around!”

MacLeod was becoming increasingly irritated at this seemingly pompous Immortal. “You can’t seriously mean that those ancient myths are true.”

Enkidu looked at MacLeod in amusement. “I guess that means I wasted my time telling Methos about that old underground grotto and spring with its legendary magical powers. But then, if I had not, you and I would not be here having this conversation right now, would we?”

MacLeod’s eyes widened and then saddened as he remembered how Methos had saved him from the Dark Quickening with
the help of the Holy Spring.

“You know Methos?” Richie asked.

Enkidu’s eyes became suddenly sad. “Yes... he and I have known each other for 2800 years. We met in the Babylonian city of Kish during the reign of Bau-akhi-addina, at the end of the 4th Dynasty. He is the reason I am here. I need your help, child.... He needs your help.....”

Part 3:

“It’s a human trait -- remembering things the way we wished they’d been. We rewrite history so that we can live with it.” -
Methos, “Through a Glass, Darkly”

Richie stared at Enkidu in total confusion and alarm. “What happened to Methos? And how come I’m the one who can help him?”

Enkidu sighed. “I was supposed to meet him at a Buddhist Temple near the Great Wall of China two weeks ago. But he never made it. I found him, unconscious, in an alley near the Temple, next to the decapitated body of an Immortal named Meleager -- an old Immortal, rumored to have been one of the Argonauts. I carried Methos to the Temple, and when he awoke several hours later, he had partial amnesia from which he still has not recovered.”

“Amnesia?” Joe asked. “How much time is he missing?”

Enkidu looked at Joe with his ebony eyes. “The last 2300 years.”

Richie’s jaw dropped open and MacLeod’s face became very grim as Enkidu continued. “When he opened his eyes he began talking in the ancient Greek dialect we used in Athens when I was a priest in the Temple of
Demeter, around 300 BC.  I found he indeed thought we were back in Ancient Greece.”

“Why Ancient Greece? Why that time period?” Joe asked.

Richie knew the answer before Enkidu could speak. “That’s when Arion died,” he softly said.

“Who?” Joe asked.

Enkidu continued. “Arion -- Methos’ student at the time. He died after suffering the same kind of personality-changing Quickening young Richie suffered a few months ago.”

Joe and MacLeod looked at Richie in bewilderment. “Richie, what is he talking about? What really happened in Paris after I left?” the Scot asked in concern.

Richie looked down at the table with a tense look on his face.

Enkidu smirked slyly. “Oops -- I guess someone was withholding information from his friends. To tell the story briefly, you do know that Richie was struck by a high voltage wire while receiving a Quickening a few months ago.”

Joe and MacLeod nodded.

“Well, the result was that Richie was temporarily taken over by the personality of the man he had just killed. Methos recognized
what had happened, the same type of event which eventually caused the death of his student, Arion. Methos came to me for
advice and I suggested that if he ‘killed’ Richie, the shock might reverse the personality change. I see that it was successful.”

Richie looked up at MacLeod. “Methos stabbed me. When I came back, it was like coming out of a bad dream. I owe him my life.”

MacLeod scowled at his young friend. “And when were you going to tell us about this?”

Richie shrugged his shoulders and lamely answered, “I guess it slipped my mind?”

Joe shook his head and looked at Enkidu. “That explains why Methos didn’t want me to assign a temporary Watcher to Richie when his regular Watcher went on leave. Methos asked to keep an eye on Richie himself. That old sneak!”

MacLeod was still confused. “How did Arion die?”

Enkidu continued the story. “After suffering a similar Quickening, Arion became hostile, belligerent.... a headhunter. At the time I did not know how to reverse the effect and Methos was powerless to help his young friend. Arion picked one too many fights. He was killed by an Immortal named Meleager -- the same Immortal Methos killed in China two weeks ago.”

MacLeod was beginning to understand the gravity of the situation. “And during the Quickening, Methos realized that he had just taken the head of his student’s killer.”

“Precisely,” Enkidu nodded.

Richie looked at Enkidu in confusion. “But why did that trigger the amnesia? Immortals take Quickenings all the time. Mac killed Kalas after he had taken Fitz’ Quickening. Nothing bad happened to Mac.”

Enkidu tried to explain. “Can you imagine the shock when he saw Arion’s death in Meleager’s memories? When he touched a part of his old student? Can you imagine what it would feel like to unexpectedly have the Quickening of someone you loved like a son? Someone you cared for more than your own life?”

MacLeod swallowed hard and looked over at Richie. “No -- he doesn’t. And I pray he never does. I hope I never do.....” MacLeod said quietly.

Richie looked at the pain in MacLeod’s eyes and glanced away. He knew what MacLeod was talking about.... and he didn’t
want to think about that night in the dojo....

MacLeod thought back to Sean Burns and the Dark Quickening. That had been bad enough -- almost unbearable. But what if
he had succeeded in killing Richie? MacLeod shuddered at that thought.

Joe looked over at MacLeod and could almost read his thoughts as well. He looked at Richie and sighed.

MacLeod continued to press Enkidu for information. “I saw a similar thing when my friend Warren Cochran killed his student, Andrew, in a fit of anger. But Methos didn’t kill Arion. Why this severe reaction? Methos is tougher than Warren ever was.”

Enkidu looked at Richie. “I think it is an unfortunate combination of events. Richie’s experience had dredged up painful feelings which Methos had buried for millennia. He never knew who killed Arion, although I did -- I found out through a Watcher I cajoled.”

Joe corrected him “You mean threatened.”

“It is in the eye of the beholder. I never told Methos -- I did not want him to go after Meleager because quite honestly I did not
know if he could win. So he was completely surprised when he took the Quickening.” Enkidu stopped and took a deep breath.
“And I think Methos finally remembered what really happened the night Arion died.”

“What do you mean what *really* happened?” Richie asked.

Enkidu paused for a moment. “Suffice it to say that although Methos did not actually do the deed, he might as well have. He betrayed Arion and buried the memory.... until now.”

Richie stared at Enkidu in disbelief.

“Don’t look so shocked, child. It is a fact of life -- everyone betrays and everyone is betrayed... if you live long enough. The
difference is what you do afterwards. Forgiving others is easy -- forgiving yourself is an acquired taste.”

“Sounds like you’re speaking from experience.” Richie quipped.

Enkidu slyly smiled. “I see you have a wisdom beyond your years, child.”

Joe still had a nagging question. “So why is Richie the only one who can help Methos?”

Enkidu looked at the young Immortal. “When Methos came to see me after Richie’s transformation, he told me that Richie reminded him of Arion. And after meeting Richie, I can understand why. Oh, they do not look anything alike, but they are of a kindred spirit. Methos and Richie shared an experience similar to Methos and Arion -- except Methos was successful this time. They have a bond that none of us can duplicate. In addition, MacLeod and myself each have a tainted history with Methos..... you were not exactly supportive of him when Kronos reappeared, were you MacLeod?”

MacLeod didn’t answer.

“What about you, Enkidu?” Richie asked. “You’ve been his friend for nearly 3000 years.”

Enkidu looked at the floor. “As I said, child, betrayal is a universal vice. I may not admire Gilgamesh, but I can identify with him more than I can my own namesake. No, child, of us all, I believe you are the only one who, as you might say, has not ‘screwed him over royally.’ “

Richie closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then his deep blues met Enkidu’s black pools. “No-- I’ve never betrayed Methos. And I owe him so much..... If you think I can help him, I’m in. I’ll do whatever I can -- whatever it takes.”

Enkidu smiled to himself. <Yes, child, you are the one.> “Good. We leave in the morning for France. Methos is safe with my Franciscan brothers at the moment. I want to heal his memory before his sanity starts to slip away as well.”

Part 4:

“I know, I know, I know! I know what you’re thinking. That only a monster could do such a thing. That Cochran -- me -- is
such a monster. Well, if I’m a monster, then slay me. What thing on earth can be more evil that me? More deserving of death?”
-- Warren Cochran, “Through a Glass, Darkly”

Enkidu and Richie settled into their seats on the 747. Enkidu still hated flying -- he always had horrible dreams about Icarus the
night before every flight. Richie’s face was just as grim, but for another reason.... he was terribly worried about Methos.

“Enkidu -- what was Methos like when you left him? Does he still think he’s in Ancient Greece?”

Enkidu chuckled. “Hardly, child. Remember, we were in China when it happened. When he awoke and heard those around us speaking in a foreign tongue and dressed in saffron robes he realized very quickly that he was not in Athens. Convincing him that he had lost 2300 years was a bigger challenge. Oh, it was relatively easy to point out the technological advances all around us and prove we were in a future time... but he did not want to grasp the magnitude of the lost time block. THAT was the real fight. Fortunately, I am even more stubborn than he is. Even so, the flight from China to Paris was an experience..... in his mind human flight was clearly impossible. And luckily for you, his language abilities have recovered despite his amnesia, so you can speak to him in English.”

Richie smiled slightly. “Great. I don't think you could teach me enough Greek in time. I had enough trouble with French.”

As the plane passed over the Dakotas, Richie began to fall asleep. Enkidu looked over at the young Immortal and smiled.<<Conserve your strength, child, it is not going to be easy..... for any of us.>>

His mind drifted back to China and the events of two weeks passed....

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“Methos, why would I lie to you? It has been 2300 years since we lived in Athens. Arion is dead, and you are the oldest living
Immortal.”

Methos sat on the floor of the Temple, holding his head in his hands as if he were trying to prevent Enkidu’s words from
entering his brain. “You lie, Enkidu... I don’t know why, but there is no way I’ve lost 23 centuries. I know I’m confused, but I couldn’t have lost THAT much time!”

In desperation, Enkidu grabbed Methos’ hand and dragged him outside. “LOOK - look at the stars! They cannot lie!”

Methos stood in the courtyard of the Temple, looking up at the stars in the evening twilight. He found west by the last rays of the already set sun. He turned north and looked for the familiar Twin Pole Stars -- and found to his horror that they were in the wrong place. “Enkidu..... what’s happened.... the Pole Stars.... they’ve MOVED!”

The younger Immortal smiled. “Remember back, my old friend, remember back to your youth. Were the Twin Stars always the pole stars?”

“No,” Methos replied. “In the millennia before we met Tir-an-na bore that honor.”

“Ah, yes,” Enkidu encouraged. “Today that star is called Thuban, and it serves no special purpose. And when we were in
Babylonia together, and later in Greece...”

“The Twin Pole Stars, the Guardians of the Pole, showed us the way.” Methos replied.

Enkidu pushed Methos’ thoughts to the next step. “And now, 2300 years later, the star we knew in Greece as Phoenice is the North Star -- Polaris to the moderns.”

Methos was beginning to face the harsh reality.

Enkidu softly spoke. “Remember, my friend, all old Immortals learn that the stars wander over the millennia... what they now call the cycle of precession. If you wait 23,000 more years, your Twin Stars will once again mark the Pole. Now do you believe me?”

Methos whispered “By the gods -- I’ve lost two millennia.... help me, Enkidu. Help me please....”

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As Enkidu and Richie continued on their journey to France to help Methos escape from the past, Duncan MacLeod was
confronting his own temporal demons......

MacLeod sat alone in his loft nursing a glass of red wine, thinking back ..

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As the hooded figure kept coming after him in the dojo, MacLeod swung his sword in defense. As he attacked the figure in
return he suddenly heard Richie’s voice..

“Mac! Mac!!!!”

He blinked and saw Richie on his knees, sword raised in a defensive stance.

“Richie!”

“What the hell is with you, man... you know you damn near took my head!”

MacLeod noticed the wound on Richie’s stomach.

“You’re hurt!”

“I’ll live. What the hell is with you man.... what’s happening to you?”

“I don’t know!” MacLeod shouted in desperation.....

MacLeod was shaking inside for a half an hour afterwards; luckily Richie was too busy cleaning himself up to notice. And
luckily Richie was forgiving of his friend... MacLeod wasn’t so forgiving of himself......

Some time afterwards, MacLeod voiced his concerns to Richie....

“I came after you once. If it happens again you do whatever it takes to survive.”

Richie was horrified.

“C’mon, Mac... it’s not gonna happen again.”

“You do whatever you need.”

Richie shouted in disbelief “No! I can’t kill you!”

“Better try, cause you’re not gonna get a second chance.”

**********************************************************************************

MacLeod downed the wine and poured another glass.

His mind drifted to his second attempt on Richie’s life, after the Dark Quickening..

*****************************************************************************
Richie watched his friend walk into the dojo. For some reason he didn’t notice the change in the Highlander..... the coldness in his eyes.......

“I know how much you liked the guy. I’m sorry”

<Silly boy.... you have no idea how I feel>

“You’re sorry.” MacLeod said in a cold voice.

<You WILL be!>

Richie’s voice was full of concern for his friend and mentor.

“Yeah, well you did what you had to do, but I know how much you hated it.”

MacLeod evilly smiled.

“Hated it? You’re wrong....”

Swoosh! The katana sliced Richie across the chest.

“I loved it.”

<God did I ever! And I’m gonna love killing you, brat!>

*********************************************************************************

MacLeod cradled the wine glass in his hands and closed his eyes..... he could still see Richie’s innocent face, the look of
concern.......... and he could remember his own wicked thoughts, the exhilaration he’d felt after the Quickening...... the
surprising contempt he felt for Richie..... so naive...... so trusting.....

MacLeod’s hands started shaking and he spilled some wine on his sweater. He quickly put the glass down and put his hands to
his head as more memories began to haunt him.....

**********************************************************************************

Richie began backing up across the dojo as MacLeod moved in for the attack.

“What are you doing, Mac?”

MacLeod sneered back at him.

“You’re a smart little boy - why don’t you figure it out.”

<Not smart enough, obviously.......... this is going to be too easy... might as well toy with him a bit.... make it interesting>

The two friends began fighting in earnest, Richie fighting for his life, MacLeod fighting for the sheer thrill of it, as if Richie were a
plaything.

After a few moments, MacLeod sliced Richie across the thigh.

Richie tried to reason with his possessed friend.

“Whatever happened, Mac, we can work it out.”

“Sorry... wrong number.”

<You STILL don’t understand, do you.>

As the fighting continued, MacLeod tired of the game and moved in for the kill. After slicing Richie in the arm, he caught the
young man in the stomach.

As Richie fell to his knees in agony, MacLeod grabbed Richie’s head and kissed it........ like Judas, betraying his best
friend.........

MacLeod knocked the sword out of Richie’s hand and put his blade against Richie’s throat.....

Richie was in shock... in despair he pleaded.

“Just tell me why.... the teacher kills the pupil -- is that what this is all about? Is it because there can be only one? Is that it?”

MacLeod gleefully sneered at the terrified young Immortal.

“That’s a good a reason as any.”

<I just want to kill you........ just for the thrill of it....>

The last thing MacLeod remembered was the sound of gunshots and falling to the floor....

*********************************************************************************

A large tear ran down MacLeod’s face as he reached for the glass of wine. He grabbed it with both trembling hands. Of all the
evil things he had done while under the influence of the Dark Quickening, betraying Richie had been the worst.

<Thank God for Joe Dawson. I never thought I’d be glad of his meddling......... without him, Richie would........>

A second tear ran down MacLeod’s face. He wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his sweater and stood up. He slowly walked
over to the window and stared out at the city lights.

Twice he’d come too close to killing the only real “son” he’d ever had..... Richie was a part of him -- his friend, his student, his
confidant.........

<If Tessa knew what I’d done......... what I *almost* did... twice>

MacLeod choked up at this thought. The year that he and Tessa and Richie had spent together was among his most cherished
memories..... it was the happiest year of his life..... it was also the saddest year of his life......

Being forced back into the Game..... losing Darius..... losing Tessa.......

It was almost too much to bear, even now..... if he hadn’t had Richie, he would have become a bitter recluse, like after Little
Dear was murdered..... Richie had given him a purpose, a reason to live..... something to hold on to.....

Seeing Richie experience his new-found Immortality was like reliving his own innocent years..... it made him feel young again.
Yes, Richie habitually screwed up... but hadn’t he as well?

<I dunno how Connor put up with me.>

MacLeod managed a weak smile. Then the guilt returned.

<And I almost threw it all away... twice. Never again! I’d take my own head before I’d go after Richie again...... No
excuses..... We all have the judgment of what is right and what is wrong......>

MacLeod had managed to avoid taking responsibility for what he’s done for months after Methos had helped reverse the Dark
Quickening.... it was easy, being in France..... but eventually he returned to Seacouver... and eventually Richie returned...

**********************************************************************************
Dawson had told MacLeod that Richie had turned to headhunting after his betrayal....... MacLeod wasn’t surprised, but he was saddened... he went to the rundown rooming house where Richie was staying, hoping to talk some sense into his friend.... if he was still his friend...

Richie came into the alley behind the house holding his sword. MacLeod almost didn’t recognize his former student.... the
naiveté and innocence were gone forever. Here was a bitter and angry young man.... and it was MacLeod’s fault....

”You looking for me? Okay, here I am,” Richie said in a grim tone.

MacLeod lamely spoke.

”I came here to tell you I’m still your friend.”

<Please, Richie......>

”I’ve heard that one before.”

MacLeod tried to reassure Richie.

”Put that away, I’m not going to fight you.”

”Yeah right” Richie sarcastically said, and pointed his sword higher at MacLeod.

“I tried looking for you. I tried calling you from Paris. But I couldn’t find you anywhere.”

<Maybe I didn’t try hard enough.>

”I wasn’t around. I had some things to take care of.”

”Yeah, I heard.”

For a moment, MacLeod glimpsed the old Richie, could see it in his eyes... but Richie’s words were harsh..... accusing....

“You know, I used to stay up at night wondering, thinking, that there must be some special thing I’m supposed to do with my
life because I’m immortal. And I had this illusion that because you were my teacher, that you would show me what it was. And
you did. I got it now. There can be ...only one. Thanks, Teach.”

MacLeod became exasperated ”This is your answer!”

”That’s the way it is, isn’t it? Get them before they get you. I’ve been practicing. *Next time you pull a sword on me, it won’t
be so easy.* ”

**********************************************************************************

Those last words chilled MacLeod to the bone when he first heard them. Now they gave him strange comfort. For he knew that
Richie was serious........ if, heaven forbid, MacLeod ever “lost it” again, Richie wouldn’t be an easy target.... if there WAS a
next time........ MacLeod would get what he deserved....

MacLeod sighed and walked over to the couch again.

But his guilt wasn’t totally assuaged........

Because even though he and Richie had rebuilt their relationship, they’d never really talked about that terrible night in the dojo....
they’d accepted it as an unspoken bit of ancient history... an aberration...... something which never should have happened, and
would never be discussed again.

So MacLeod had never had to face the worst secret of all......

That at the time he’d actually wanted to kill Richie......... that he felt exhilarated, that he’s actually enjoyed it...... that the smell of
Richie’s sweat and the sight of the fear in his eyes had nearly driven into a frenzy, like a shark going in for the kill.......

MacLeod never had to admit that at that moment in the dojo he loved The Game...

Part 5:

“Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me: There lie they, and here lie we Under the spreading chestnut
tree.” - George Orwell, “1984”

Richie and Enkidu walked into the gate of the grounds passed the roses the elder man so lovingly tended. They swiftly carried
their bags to the dormitory behind the church.... as they approached the front door, Richie felt the buzz, the sign that Methos
was nearby. He smiled sadly and followed Enkidu into the stone building.

Several of the brothers came up to Enkidu and welcomed him back.

“Brother Enrique, we rejoice at your safe return. Your friend has been asking for you everyday... I fear he is withdrawing further
into his shell.” Brother Jean lamented.

Enkidu sighed and put his hand on Jean’s shoulder.

“Thank you, Brother, for watching over my friend. Hopefully this young man and I can restore his memory. You need not bother yourself with this anymore.”

“Oh it was no bother, Brother. I pray you succeed,” Jean said sadly as he turned and walked with the other Brothers down the
corridor.

Enkidu shook his head. “They think Methos has lost the last 23 months and some of his marbles, not 2300 years.”

“When can I see Methos?” Richie asked.

“Soon, child,” Enkidu answered. “But first we must talk... I need to tell you the rest of it.... what happened to Arion that terrible
night......”

Richie paced around Enkidu’s small room, hardly believing what he’d just been told.

“I told you child, betrayal is an equal opportunity sin. None of us are exempt, especially not the oldest among us.” Enkidu
reassured him.

“I can’t believe it.... Methos wouldn’t do this... not to someone he cared so much about.....” Richie said in astonishment and
sadness.

“Believe it, child. Methos is no saint.... none of us are.... Now you see why the truth caused such a shock to his system... and
why you have to be very careful when you lead him back.... why we could lose him forever to insanity and guilt... I do not envy
you, child... you have an impossible task in front of you... But it must be done.... he must face what he has done and forgive
himself. That is your task -- to force him to remember on his own and then forgive himself..... that is if you can forgive him.”

Richie stopped and looked over at Enkidu.

“I can forgive him, even though I can’t understand why he did it... and I don’t know if Arion would have forgiven him....”

Enkidu replied in a firm voice. “But that is precisely what you must convince him of, child...... you must play that role... convincingly... If you can forgive him, then in effect Arion has forgiven him, and maybe, just maybe, he can forgive himself.”

Richie’s face became grim. “I’ll do my best.... I don’t want to lose him any more than you do, Enkidu...... we’ve been through
too much, both of us.”

Enkidu smiled. <<I know, child....more than you think I know.>>

------

After a short nap and a shower, Richie walked alone in the rose garden while Enkidu checked on Methos’ condition. He
stopped and smelled a flower, enjoying the sweet scent.

<<Take time to stop and smell the roses..... funny, I always thought that was a stupid saying.... I guess it isn’t so stupid after all.>>

Richie looked at the beginning of the sunset in the west and concentrated on the simple beauty of it all. He watched in silence as
the reddish ball sank below the distant hills and the sky turned from cornflower blue to majestic purple. He looked overhead
and noticed the first stars coming out. The night sky never looked like this from Seacouver, with its glaring lights and towering
buildings. But here in the quiet countryside, the sky took on a life of its own, a mystical quality, like communing with nature -- or
with your own soul.

<<Man, this is so beautiful..... so peaceful..... how come I’ve never noticed it before?>>

Richie sighed. He knew the answer. His life had always been about survival, plain and simple. Survival in the foster care system,
survival as a delinquent, survival as an Immortal. When you’re worried about such a basic need, it’s difficult to see the larger
picture.

<<What good is living forever if you don’t enjoy it?>>

Richie thought about the past year of his life...... about that night in the dojo after the Dark Quickening.....

He saw Mac coming after him with a sword.... he heard the taunts.... he felt the pain, not only of the katana, but the pain of
Mac’s words, slicing him even deeper..... wounds that would not heal as readily as those physically afflicted on him....

Richie closed his eyes and shuddered.

He remembered the long months on the road... the fights he picked for no good reason.... the heads he took.....

He remembered the look on Jennifer Hill’s face when she confronted him....

Richie looked up at the stars again..... their cool, detached gaze shining down on him without judgment ......

Richie remembered the false Methos..... how he’d been duped... how he wanted out of the Game so badly that he would have
laid down his sword.... and he almost died because of it. Luckily Mac had brought him his sword... and saved his life -- again.

The irony of it all.... how many times had Mac saved his life? And yet, how many times had he almost taken it as well.......
twice? Is there balance? Does the good outweigh the betrayal?

<<Mac never meant to hurt me..... but he’s always so sure he’s right... always has to prove he’s right..... damn the
consequences. He thought he could handle it when he saw those visions, when Garrick was messing with his head........ he just
had to do it HIS way... and he almost took my head..... he just had to be right.>>

Richie sat on a stone wall and wrapped his arms around himself.

<<And Coltec... he KNEW Coltec had gone bad... yet he thought that HE, Duncan MacLeod, was stronger... that HE could
handle it.... that it was HIS job to make it right...... to save his friend from... from what? From himself? Damn him! he had to be
right... he had to be the big man and do it all by himself..... Joe warned him...... but Mac never listens to anyone but himself.....
damn him!>>

Richie felt the anger welling up inside him and bile rise in his throat.

<<Damn him! He almost killed me! His own student! ...... because he had to play hero..... because he had to do it his way......
Oh, Joe, thanks man! I can never repay you for saving my ass...... >>

Richie thought back to his headhunting days.

<<And look what I became because of you, Mac! I became a badass SOB..... taking heads..... never thinking about what I was doing.... damn you! I could have been killed.. .and for WHAT? To prove myself? What do I have to prove? And to who? Why can’t I just be me? Why do I have to live up to your expectations? How come it’s never good enough? Why can’t you live up to MY expectations for once?>>

Richie sucked in a breath sharply at that last thought..... He had reached an epiphany....

This was the crux of the issue.... Mac had let him down.... more than once. Finally Richie had realized that Duncan MacLeod of
the Clan MacLeod was human.... part good, part evil...... part lover, part warrior..... part friend..... part enemy.... part rival.....
all man, all human, all fallible, with the same weaknesses and potential for pettiness as any other human being.

And MacLeod had one fatal flaw - hubris.

This Chieftain’s son was a victim of his own damned pride..... no matter how well intentioned his heart, he always had to lead...
had to take on the mantle of responsibility... had to fight the battles.... even if they weren’t his own.

Richie smiled to himself. He understood. His friend wasn’t perfect. Not even close.

<<You know, sometimes you knowing everything gets to be a real pain in the ass.>>

But a human pain in the ass. And MacLeod didn’t really know everything.

And no matter what, MacLeod was his best friend, his teacher.

So Richie forgave him....... truly forgave him.... forgave him for not being perfect... forgave him for being a disappointment....
forgave him for being out of control.... but he would never forget -- for those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Richie looked up at the stars.

<<Don’t worry, Tess.... I’m keeping an eye on him... it’s a dirty job, but I guess somebody’s got to do it!>>

Suddenly a bright meteor streaked by.

Richie smiled broadly and walked back to the main building.

Part 6:

“Maybe he was better off not knowing. I mean it’s a terrible thing to have to live with.” -- Duncan MacLeod, “Through a Glass,
Darkly”

Enkidu was standing by the door waiting for Richie when he entered the dormitory. “Exorcised your demons, child?”

Richie nodded solemnly. “I’m ready, Enkidu.... where’s Methos?”

The old Immortal smiled. “I do believe you are, child. Follow me.”

Richie felt Methos’ buzz as they walked down a hall in the top floor of the dormitory. He felt his heart rise up into his throat....
but he swallowed hard and tried to stop himself from showing his concern.

Enkidu silently pointed to a closed door at the end of the corridor. He turned and left Richie standing there alone.

Richie heard Methos’ voice from within.

“Enkidu?”

He sounded weak, tired, defeated. Richie fought to keep in control of his feelings... he had to remain calm... he had to be the
strong one... it was his turn to save a friend.

Richie opened the door and saw Methos sitting on the bed, holding his knees in his hands, looking small and gaunt and helpless.

Methos’ eyes widened when he saw Richie and he shrunk back towards the wall.

“Don’t be afraid.... I’m a friend, Methos.... it’s Richie.... Richie Ryan.”

Methos stared at him without a shred of recognition in his eyes. “Do I know you?” he hesitantly said.

Richie slowly walked over and sat on a chair next to the bed. “Oh yes, Old Timer... I’m one of the few people who knows who you really are these days. You’re generally considered a myth, you know.”

Methos relaxed just slightly. “So we’re friends? For how long?”

Richie smiled. “Well, we’ve known each other for almost two years, but for most of that time I didn’t know who you really were. We met through my teacher, Mac.... Duncan MacLeod. You two are good friends.”

Methos furrowed his brow. “I....I don’t remember him.... I don’t remember you....”

Richie swallowed hard. “What DO you remember, Methos?”

Methos looked at him, in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“What’s the last thing you remember.. about your past.... before Enkidu found you in the alley.”

The ancient Immortal stared out the window and didn’t say anything.

Richie decided to press him. “You remember being in Greece, with Arion, your student.”

Methos suddenly turned and got excited. “What do you know about Arion?..... you didn’t know us back then, did you? ..... Enkidu says he’s dead..... I don’t believe him! He doesn’t have any proof of that!”

Richie calmly continued. “You told me about Arion yourself.... a few months ago.... I know about that freak Quickening because the same thing happened to me... and you saved me... you set everything right.... and I’m going to do the same for you.”

Methos gave Richie a pained look. “You too! And I fixed it? HOW? Why couldn’t I fix Arion?”

Richie moved his face closer to Methos and spoke in a soft voice. “Enkidu told you to ‘kill’ me... the shock set everything right in my head. He didn’t know about this when it happened to Arion.... you tried to help him, Methos... it’s not your fault, you know....”

Methos hugged his knees closer and a tear formed in his left eye. “It’s my fault... I should have done something... I should have protected him! I should have tried anything, everything...... he was my student... my friend.... do you have any idea what he meant to me?”

Richie sighed. “Yes, Methos. I do. I know exactly how much he meant to you. I understand more than you know. And I know you tried your best to help him..... but he didn’t want your help, did he?”

Methos looked up at the ceiling and fought back the tears. “He laughed at me... said I was weak... said that he hated me.... that he was ashamed of me.... it wasn’t him saying those things.... it was that OTHER Immortal, the one he’d killed, the barbarian..... but the words were coming from his mouth..... and it was his eyes that accused me.....” His voice was beginning to break.

Richie leaned over and gently put a hand on Methos’ shoulder. “I know... I know how much that hurt... to have someone you love hurt you so badly... disappoint you so much... betray you... believe me, I know....but it wasn’t your fault... he’s the one who changed - not you! You wanted to help him... you tried your best. But sometimes no matter how hard we try, we can’t save those we care about... not if they don’t want to be saved..... you couldn’t live his life for him... you couldn’t protect him from everything... no matter how desperately you wanted to. I know you did everything you could to try to help him.... even though it wasn’t enough you did the best you could -- that’s all any of us can do.”

The ancient man started to rock back and forth slowly on the bed.

Richie debated whether to continue, but he decided it was all or nothing... go for broke... “What happened later Methos? After Arion left you?”

Methos looked at Richie with so much pain that the youth could barely stand it. “I heard that he’d turned to headhunting... and worse. He was picking fights with mortals and Immortals, indiscriminately killing just for sport..... for fun...... He raped a young woman on her wedding night while her husband helplessly watched and then killed him in front of his bride. He was a monster.... but I couldn’t stop him.... there was nothing I could do...”

Enkidu had left out that little detail. Richie began to understand the dilemma Methos had faced.... it wasn’t simply black and
white, as Enkidu had led him to believe... it was one of those awful shades of gray, where you have to decide whether the
balance was with the white or the black or precariously in the center... when you sometimes have to make a judgment.. and then
live with that outcome for the rest of your life.

Richie pushed Methos onward. “What finally happened, Methos? How did it end?”

Methos began moaning quietly. “I don't know.... I don't remember...... I don’t want to know...... please, don’t make me remember.....”

Richie became choked up himself... he hated seeing Methos in such pain..... and the worst was yet to come... He gently grabbed Methos by both shoulders and looked into his eyes. “Yes you do know, Methos..... you have to remember..... it’s the only way to make the pain go away.....”

“NO!” Methos screamed as he pushed Richie away from him and suddenly stood up. He began to frantically pace around the
room, his hands clenching his head as if to keep it from exploding. “I DON’T remember........ I don’t know.... I don’t....” Methos was sobbing uncontrollably by this point. Richie had to fight back his own tears... he had to remain strong.... this was
it....

Richie walked over to his friend and gently stopped his pacing. “Tell me, Methos...... think...... you MUST remember..... it’s all right, you’re safe here..... I won’t judge you -- you’re my friend.... we can work it out, whatever happened, we’ll work it out.... together.”

Methos looked at Richie and began speaking in a broken voice. “I..... I went to see him.... one night.... he was staying at .... at a local tavern....... I didn’t know what to do.... I had to stop him..... had to stop him.....”

**********************************************************************************
Methos walked into the tavern with a grim face, his heart in his throat. He’s been told about the young couple Arion had brutally attacked the previous night... and he knew he had to stop his former student.. at any cost......

He went up to the bar keeper.

“I’m looking for a friend.... young, dark curly hair, bright green eyes.”

The bar keeper didn’t even look up as he spoke.

“You mean that swine who attacked Iphaeteus and Hygenia? He’s your FRIEND? I think you’d better get a new friend,
because if he’s not out of this town by tomorrow morning, he’s going to be dead.”

Methos swallowed hard. “Where is he? I need to talk to him.”

The bar keeper laughed and glanced up. “Talk? I don’t think he wants to *talk* to anyone..... but if you’re that crazy to try, he’s in the room at the top of the stairs. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. And *friend*, if I hear screaming, I’m NOT coming to help.”

Methos nodded and turned towards the stairs. As he reached the first step he felt the buzz. He swallowed the lump on his throat
and drew his sword as he slowly walked up the stairs.

Methos cautiously opened the door to Arion’s room... it was a disaster.... empty wine jugs everywhere, coins tossed about,
ripped clothing  <<From the women he’s toyed with, no doubt>>

Arion was standing in the corner with his sword pointed at Methos’ heart. “Ah, the pig has returned to grovel some more. Don’t you tire of it? Haven’t you gotten the message..... I DON’T need you.... I DON’T want you..... I HATE you.... You’re pathetic.. you DISGUST me.... I’d rather wallow with animals than be in your company.”

The hate in Arion’s eyes hurt even more than his words.

Methos tried one last time to reach his friend. “Please, Arion.. I know you’re in there somewhere... FIGHT IT! Fight it with all your being..... I know you. I know this isn’t really you talking... I know you could never hurt me like this...... please, let me help you..... please!”

Arion threw his head back and laughed. “You’re sad, Methos.... a sad excuse for a man..... I hope your Quickening isn’t as disappointing.” Then Arion lunged at Methos with his sword.

The two began fighting in a frenzy of emotion; Arion driven by forces he did not understand, his mind controlled by a stranger.
Methos was torn between his love for his former student and his knowledge that he must stop this monster at all cost.... and that
he himself must survive at all cost.

Methos had trained Arion himself, so the fight should have been straightforward. But the barbarian was controlling Arion now,
utilizing techniques unfamiliar to Methos. Arion sliced Methos across the hip and smiled.

“Ooooooh, looks like I’ve stuck the pig. Maybe I’ll aim a bit higher next time.”

Methos looked at Arion in anger and attacked in earnest. He aimed for Arion’s sword but missed........

Arions’s sword fell to the floor with his right hand still attached to it.

Methos put his hand to his mouth in horror. “By the gods... what have I done?”

Arion sneered back and held the stump with his other hand. His recuperative powers were stanching the bleeding already......

He bent over to pick up the sword with his remaining hand......

And without thinking Methos sliced off that hand as well.

Tears began to roll down Methos’ face as he looked at his former student standing there in shock, looking at his hand-less
wrists in terror.

Something changed in Arion’s eyes, like a veil being lifted.....

He held out his bloody stumps towards Methos and pleaded in a small, fragile voice, “Methos..... what have you done to me...... why? Why did you do this? Help me... please help me.....”

Methos began sobbing uncontrollably and ran out of the room, down the stairs, into the night air. He doubled over and vomited... his entire body convulsing and heaving in anguish... suddenly, he felt a buzz. He panicked and began running down the road towards his home....

When he had gotten a half a mile away he saw the flash from the Quickening... and he knew.... Arion was gone. He stopped
and screamed his student’s name... then passed out... when he awoke in the morning he didn’t remember anything of that night’s
events. He found out about Arion’s death from his neighbor and had claimed the body for burial...... he always cursed the
Immortal who had toyed with Arion.. who had cut off his hands and left him defenseless, then taken his head.... he had no idea
he’d really been cursing himself all that time.

**********************************************************************************

Methos was on his knees sobbing...

“Arion! I killed you!..... I did this to you.... Why Why Why?........... Why did I leave you?..... It was you... really you....... Why
didn’t I protect you.... why.....” He looked up briefly, with recognition in his eyes. “Richie?.....Is it really you? ..... Oh what have you done..... why did you make me remember....”

Richie could take no more. He stooped down and put his arms round his friend. Methos latched onto Richie in desperation and
continued his wailing as his entire body convulsed. He was too distraught to say anything further...he just wanted to die... to end
the pain... the end the guilt. He gently tried to comfort his friend... he held Methos’ head with one hand while his other arm was wrapped around Methos’ back, trying to stop him from shaking so hard. Richie pulled away from Methos and took his head in both hands so he could speak directly into his now red and swollen eyes... because Richie understood the truth of the matter.

“Methos.... it wasn’t your fault.... you tried to help him.... you did everything you could...”

Methos sobbed. “But it wasn’t enough......”

Richie sighed. “There is no dishonor in failing...only in not trying....We’re Immortals, not gods, Methos.... we can’t do everything.... we can’t change everything.... we’re human too.”

Methos’ sobs slowed slightly, as he tried to take in Richie’s words. “But......... what I did to him......... I betrayed him........ I killed him......”

Richie shook his head. “No, Methos...you didn’t kill him..... Meleager killed him..... you could have killed him when he challenged you... but you didn’t... you couldn’t... it’s not your fault...”

Methos pulled away and stood up. “But don’t you see, Richie.... it was Arion... it was really him.... after I...I .... I brought him back..... and then I left him there, defenseless.... and I ran when I felt another Immortal.... I should have stayed and protected him.... don’t you see..... I saved him and killed him in the same stroke...”

Richie shook his head. “No, Methos.... what happened, happened.... you had no idea that the shock would bring him back... it was an accident.... and what could you have done? Baby-sit him 24 hours a day for the rest of your life?..... It had to end... someone had to end it for him.... but it wasn’t you... you didn’t do it... it wasn’t your hand that killed him... and before he died, you gave him back his old self.... just like you did for me....he died as himself, not as a monster... you fulfilled your obligation to him.... you saved his soul... but it was too late to save his life... if you hadn’t saved me, I would have wanted you to end the suffering... I wouldn’t have wanted to live like that.... a prisoner in my own body.”

Methos stared at Richie in confusion, as the youth continued.

“Do you think Arion would have been able to live with himself after what he’d done? All the innocent people he’d killed? After
hurting you? Imagine the pain he’d have gone through.” Richie took a deep breath. This was all hitting a bit too close to home.
“There’s been enough pain, Methos. Let it go. Just let it go.... for your sake.... for his.... let him rest in peace.... I forgive you....
he forgives you.... it’s time you forgive yourself.... let that be your final tribute to him.... to remember him without pain.... to
remember the laughter and not dwell on the tears.... there’s been too much pain.. for all of us.... I don’t know about you, but I’d
like to have more laughter...for all of us.... but we need to forgive... each other, and ourselves.”

Methos nodded slightly and wiped his eyes on his sweater.

Richie gave Methos one last hug and then walked out of the room, leaving Methos to bury his demons once and for all.

Enkidu was standing by large window looking at the rising moon. Richie silently walked over and stood next to him, his
weariness showing in his demeanor.

“Is it over?” Enkidu said with a glance.

Richie nodded.

Enkidu sighed. “Is he all right?”

Richie smiled slightly.

“He will be.... he’s a tough Old Man... he’ll survive... he always does.”

Enkidu looked back at the moon. “Thank you, Richie. Thank you for returning my friend to me. I will make arrangements for a flight back to Seacouver for you tomorrow morning.”

“Am I taking Methos with me?”

Enkidu look became sad. “No, I still have to make my peace with him.... I have my own demons to face.”

Richie nodded and turned to go to his room.

Enkidu called back to him one last time. “Richie.... do not let anyone call you ‘child’ ever again.”

Richie smiled, and continued walking.

Part 7:

“How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense, And love th’offender, yet detest th’offense.” -- Alexander Pope “Eloisa to
Abelard”

After Richie left for the airport the following morning, Enkidu went into his old friend’s room.

Methos looked tired, but relieved. “Enkidu! It’s about time... I was wondering when you were going to drop by to check up on me. Richie stopped by to say good-bye before he left for the airport. He said you needed to talk to me about something important.”

Enkidu swallowed hard. “Yes, my old friend... you are not the only one who has had the face the dragon lately.”

Methos looked at him with slightly closed eyes. “What have you done, Enkidu..... I know guilt when I see it.... this is big, isn’t it?”

Enkidu nodded. “Sit, Methos.... I want to talk about Kalili.... about her death....”

Methos was startled by the name of a wife he’d buried nearly 2800 years ago...

**********************************************************************************
“Me-Enlil! we have to get to the Temple... the ceremony will be starting shortly!”

Methos smiled at his impatient wife. “Ah, my Damu, I love it when you’re angry... your cheeks get flushed and your eyes sparkle so.” He grabbed her into a tight embrace and began kissing her neck. “Maybe we should skip the ceremony and have a few rites of our own right here.”

Kalili pushed him away in exasperation. “You know the gods would be angered if I did not fulfill my sacred duty..... come, we must get to the Temple..... we’ll have plenty of time for our own pleasures come tomorrow.... but today I must be a sacrifice for Tammuz’s safe return...”

Methos sighed. <<If only she knew how pointless this whole ritual was....>> “You win, my Damu.... but remember.... your body may belong to Tammuz, but your heart belongs to me.”

Kalili laughed. “Oh, Me-Enlil..... you’re not jealous are you?”

Methos didn’t answer....

All the town’s women were standing on the steps of Tammuz’s Temple, awaiting their sacred duty. Enkidu, the priest emerged
from the antechamber to begin the ceremony. He winked at his friend Methos, the only other Immortal in the city. They’d been
friends for 10 years...the best of friends...

Enkidu raised his arms towards heaven. “Hear the words of Ishtar as she laments the passing of her beloved Tammuz:

‘Oh my child... My Damu... My enchanter and priest... I lament thee..... I lament for a herb that grows not in the bed, I lament
for the corn that grows not in the ear. I lament for the waters where the fishes grow not, I lament for the garden where honey
and grapes grow not. I lament for the passing of all life. Oh my Damu.... the Earth echoes my sorrow.... and the Earth shall not
bear forth a single thing until thou is returned to me.’"

The women began moaning and wailing in unison as the shrill flutes played and the drums rolled.

Enkidu stopped the noise after a few minutes with a wave of his hand. “Who will be a sacrifice for Tammuz? Who will give of herself that Ishtar might have her strength renewed.... that life begin again -- that the fruitfulness of the Earth be restored? Who will be a sacrifice?”

All the women fell onto their knees and cried out “I will, oh Priest...... accept my humble sacrifice that Tammuz may live again....
that the powers of Love again triumph over Death.”

Enkidu took the urn which contained the names of the women etched on clay beads. “Seven of you will be chosen... seven of you will sacrifice... seven of you will satisfy the gods.... and by appeasing Ishtar assure the fertility of the Earth for the next year.” Enkidu pulled out six names -- these women were to be given to the top administrators of the town..... funny how the
administrators were only religious at this time of year. The seventh name was for him.....

Enkidu reached in and pulled out the seventh name. He looked over at his friend.

“Kalili.”

Methos glanced at his wife, who gave him a peck on the cheek and then walked up the Temple stairs, ready to fulfill her sacred
duty without question...

----

She returned home the following morning and silently made her husband breakfast. He knew not to ask any questions..... it was
only a ritual.... nothing more.

He walked up behind her and kissed the back of her neck while hugging her close to him.

She smiled and reached back to stroke his cheek. “Ah, my Damu, you missed me.”

“Let me show you how much,” Methos smirked as he pulled her into a tighter embrace.....

Several weeks later, Enkidu was preparing some incense for the nightly rites when he was interrupted by his friend’s wife. “Kalili! How nice to see you. What can I do for you? Me-Enlil is well, I presume? I just saw him yesterday on his way to the tavern.”

Kalili slowly walked up to him. “I wanted to talk about the ceremony of Tammuz... about the sacrifice...”

Enkidu was beginning to feel uncomfortable... there was something in her eyes... something that shouldn’t be there. “What do you want to know, my sister?”

Kalili untied the gold cord which held her robe closed. As she continued walking towards him she slipped the robe off her
shoulders and it fell to the floor, exposing her breathtakingly beautiful body.

Enkidu couldn’t take his eyes off of her.

She whispered, “I wanted to know if it was just a sacrifice to you.... if you felt as I did...that it was much, much more.”

As Enkidu stood there motionless, Kalili planted a passionate kiss on his lips...

An hour later, Kalili was dressing herself, while Enkidu lay there, staring into space.... he couldn’t believe what he had just
done.... with his friend’s wife!

Kalili bent over to kiss him, but Enkidu flinched away from her touch.

“This was WRONG, Kalili.... it never should have happened... it will never happen again! We should both try to forget it! For
all of our sakes.”

Kalili smiled at him. “We’ll see about that...”

Enkidu was consumed with guilt afterwards. He avoided Methos as much as possible... and he definitely avoided Kalili. But she
did not want to leave him alone.

The next week she came to the Temple again...

Enkidu looked up from his duties and saw his friend’s wife entering the room. This time he would be strong... he would not
betray his friend again. “Kalili, what do you want?”

She smiled and went to undo her robe. “Isn’t obvious.. I want you.”

Enkidu grabbed her hands and stopped her. “No, Kalili -- this is wrong. This is not a ritual, this is wrong... you are my friend’s wife... you should not be acting like a common whore.”

Kalili slapped his across the face. “I give myself to you and you call me a whore?” she screamed. “Is it not my holy duty? You are the priest, Ishtar is my goddess! I’m doing my sacred duty! I must give myself that her lover may live! I must!”

Enkidu realized that Kalili was very disturbed. He grabbed her by the shoulders. “Kalili! You can still pay homage to your goddess... but with your husband. That is your sacred duty... to honor him and your marriage vows. The goddess and her consort appreciated your sacrifice.... but once is enough.... go back to your husband.... give your love to him, like Ishtar gives to Tammuz.”

Kalili started shaking and ran off crying.

Enkidu sat down on the stone floor and wondered if he’d done the right thing.

-----

Several hours later, Enkidu heard a loud ruckus outside the Temple. He went out to investigate, and saw a small crowd of
people staring at Kalili and Methos.

She was standing on the Temple steps with a large sacrificial knife in her hands, the blade pointed at her abdomen... and
Methos was trying to get her to give the knife to him.

“Kalili... Give me the knife... please! You don’t want to do this!”

She looked at him with wild eyes. “No.... the gods have forsaken me.... they have refused my sacrifice.... I do not deserve to live.... I must not live....” She plunged the knife into herself and fell to the ground.

Enkidu ran out to help his friend, but there was nothing that could be done...

**********************************************************************************

Methos listened to Enkidu’s confession with a featureless face.

Enkidu was wiping a tear from his eye with the back of a hand. “I am so sorry, my friend. I am so sorry I betrayed your trust.... I should have been stronger... I should not have given in to her..... I caused her suicide... I betrayed you and then I robbed you of the woman you loved. I have lived with that for over 2 millennia. Can you forgive me? Can you?”

Methos smirked and laughed slightly. “I think the joke’s on you, friend.”

Enkidu looked over at Methos with a puzzled look.

Methos returned his stare. “Do you think you were the only man she slept with? She was sick, Enkidu... disturbed... I loved her so I accepted it... or I tried to. The truth is I was getting tired of it all. I was ready to move on and start a new life when she died. I’ve known about your little tryst for, oh what is it, about 1300 years now... I read about it in a Watcher Chronicle I’d gotten my hands on in the Middle Ages. But she did not kill herself over you, my friend. Seems after she was turned down by you, she went to her young lover, Samsu.... and he broke it off with her as well. He’d become betrothed to the daughter of a rich family and didn’t want to jeopardize that by consorting with the likes of Kalili. That’s what made her snap.... not you.”

Enkidu looked at Methos in disbelief. “So you have let me suffer in silence with this guilt for 1300 years?”

Methos smirked. “At first I figured you’d either forgotten about it or were wallowing in sufficient angst so it wouldn’t serve any purpose for me to bring it up. To be truthful, I quickly forgot about the whole thing. Sorry about that.”

Enkidu laughed -- a full, hearty laugh, free from guilt for the first time in centuries, and it felt damn good. He looked at his
friend and recited in an ancient tongue:

“ina Ka-nam-tag-ga-du-a i’ilti ippatir;
ina Ka-ka-tar-ra istala pija;
ina Ka-a-se-er-du-u-da uptattara tanihi;
ina Ka-a-sikil-la me telilte assalih;
ina Ka-silim-ma itti Marduk annamir.”

<<“At the Gate of Absolving sins my sin was absolved;
At the Gate of Inquisition they interrogated me;
At the Gate of Dissolving Sighs my sighs were dissolved;
At the Gate of Holy Water I was sprinkled with water of purification;
At the Gate of Reconciliation I met Marduk.”>>

Methos smiled and gave his friend a bear hug.

Part 8:

“To forgive oneself? -- No, that doesn’t work; we have to be forgiven. But we can only believe this is possible if we ourselves
can forgive.” -- Dag Hammarskjold

MacLeod sat at the desk in the dojo office when he felt the buzz. He stood up and moved over to the door as Richie walked in.
He smiled although his heart was still heavy. “Richie! It’s good to see you! How’s Methos?”

Richie walked over and gave MacLeod a big hug, much to the Scot’s surprise. “It’s good to see you too, Mac. Methos is fine. He’s got a lot to deal with.... but don't we all? He’ll be ok -- you know him...
he’s a survivor.”

MacLeod laughed softly. “Yeah, a real survivor.” The Scot's mood became more somber. “Rich, we need to talk.”

Richie saw the pained look in the Scot’s eyes. “Sure Mac, whatever you want to talk about, it’s ok with me. Is everything all right?”

MacLeod swallowed hard. “I don’t know, Rich, you tell me.”

Richie shot him a puzzled look.

MacLeod motioned to the elevator and the two men went upstairs to the loft....

Richie sat on the couch while MacLeod sat in favorite chair, looking down at his folded hands. The younger man waited patiently for his friend to collect his thoughts.

“Richie..... about the Dark Quickening.... about what I did to you....”

Richie took a deep breath. “You mean the SECOND time you tried to take my head?”

MacLeod winced and nodded, his eyes still in his lap. “We’ve never really talked about that. About how much you blame me.”

Richie softly spoke. “Yeah, I know.... I guess I wanted you to be the first one to bring it up. When you didn’t, I figured you just wanted to forget about it... that you were too ashamed to bring it up. That it was better to forget about it.”

MacLeod stood up and got strangely angry. “NO, Richie! I don’t want you to forget about it! I want you to remember it! To remember what you told me when I found you at the rooming house after you got back into town. Do you remember what you said?”

Richie nodded. “I said that the next time you pulled a sword on me it wouldn’t be so easy... that I was ready for you.”

Mac strongly nodded. “Yes..... I want you to remember that..... if I ever go off half cocked again and get out of control I want you to promise me that you’ll think of your own safety first... that you’ll worry about your own head, not mine!”

Richie looked at MacLeod with slightly moist eyes. “I got it, Mac. I’m no martyr ya know. But you’re my best friend.... I’ll always be there for you... and I’ll always help you, no matter what you do..... no matter what happens.... but I’m not about to blindly put my head on the chopping block for you. I’m not that selfless you know!”

MacLeod smiled at his young friend. “You know why you drive me so crazy, Rich. You remind me of myself. I see you going off getting into trouble, not listening to a word I say... and I see myself, back in the village in Glennfinnan, getting into trouble with Robert, disobeying our fathers every chance we got. Now I understand how I must have driven my father mad with worry, not to mention my poor mother.....”

Richie smiled. “You know, Mac.... you STILL don’t listen! To Joe, or to Methos, or to me. I think it’s just who you are.... Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacStubborn.”

MacLeod chuckled softly.

Richie continued. “Mac..... I know you feel guilty about what happened after Coltec’s death..... and you’re right, I blamed you.... for a long time.... for betraying me, for making Joe get involved...... for turning my world upside-down... for taking away the only security I’ve ever known.”

MacLeod felt a lump rise up in his throat.

“But I realized something while I was in France, Mac. I realized that you’re not perfect. That when I met you I put you on a
pedestal..... that I made you out to be something you weren’t.... that I didn’t want you to have any faults.... and when you
turned out to be less than perfect, it hurt twice as much.... you didn’t just betray me, you betrayed what I *thought* you were....
But it’s ok now..... I’ve grown up..... I don’t need you as an idol - I need you as a friend.”

MacLeod felt a tear forming in one eye - he quickly wiped it away. “Thanks, Rich. You don’t know what that means to me to hear you say that. You mean too much to me to lose.... you’re a part of me.... I need your friendship and your respect... and your forgiveness.”

Richie went to speak but MacLeod cut him off.

“Rich -- before you answer, there’s more.....” MacLeod sat down again and forced himself to look Richie in the eye. “While you were gone, I thought about what happened in the dojo... when I tried to kill you.... and I’ve had to face some pretty
ugly things about myself... I just hope you can accept them and forgive me.”

Richie steeled himself for what was about to come.

MacLeod closed his eyes and poured his heart out. “When I was attacking you, it felt like...... like I was alive for the first time in a very long time..... it felt like Culloden all over again, like the battles in the Highlands.... before I met Darius.... The thrill of killing came back.... I felt the rush when I saw the fear in your eyes, just like the fear I saw in the eyes of the English I killed those many, many years ago. And for that one brief moment I wanted to be that Duncan MacLeod again, the warrior, the Chieftain’s son....." The Highlander quickly wiped his eyes and looked at Richie again. “It’s not easy admitting that part of you is still a barbarian.”

Richie nodded. MacLeod noticed that somehow he seemed older than his tender years.... like he’d aged since they’d last seen
each other. “We all have our dark side, Mac... it’s in our blood... we can’t change who we are, even though we try like hell. You are Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod... Scottish warrior... 400 years can’t change that. It’s who you are. Did a Ferrari and a tuxedo really make me Richard Redstone, millionaire? No -- it was all an act... I’ll always be plain old Richie Ryan, street punk. That’s who I am...... it doesn’t make me bad.....it just is..... and I have to deal with it. Just like you have to deal with who you are.... but, like Maria’s mother used to tell me, together we’re more than the sum of our parts. If we stick together we can do more than either one of us can do alone. We just need to accept who we are... and who each other is.”

MacLeod breathed a sigh of relief.

Richie said one last thing. “I forgive you, Mac...... but don’t let it happen again, cause it’ll really, really piss me off if I have to whack you!”

Both men laughed and MacLeod gave Richie a strong hug.

Epilogue:

“Make every day a day of rejoicing.” --The Epic of Gilgamesh

Several afternoons later, Richie and MacLeod were sharing a pitcher of beer at Joe’s. The Watcher was on the stage practicing
a new piece, and he wanted his friends’ honest opinion.

Richie watched Joe’s fingers glide over the neck of the guitar and marveled at his friend’s talent. He also noticed how relaxed
Joe had been lately since hearing that Methos was ok. He glanced over at MacLeod, who was intently focusing on the music. Richie smiled. Yes, this was his old friend Mac, the friend he hadn’t truly had in over a year....

MacLeod returned his look. “What are smiling at?” he asked.

“Aw, nothing.” Richie replied. “It’s just good to see things back to normal.. ya know, same old, same old.”

They both felt the buzz.

“Watch who you’re calling old, kid!” Methos said with a grin.

Richie and MacLeod both returned the smile.

“Methos!” Joe exclaimed.

“Hello, Joe,” Methos responded. “It’s really, really good to see you. It’s good to see all of you.”

Richie grabbed another glass from the bar and plunked in front of Methos as the older Immortal pulled up a chair.

“Thanks, Richie.... but I’d prefer a full glass if you don’t mind,” he smirked.

MacLeod shook his head “Some things never change.”

Richie added “And I hope they never will.”

THE END
 

Notes:

Enkidu’s Babylonian poem is from Tablet 4 of the Ludlul bel nemeqi, “Poem of the Righteous Sufferer.” Marduk was the chief
god in the Babylonian pantheon. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Kalili was a sacred prostitute who seduced Enkidu. She is sometimes
described as Ishtar herself. And in Greek mythology, Meleager was one of the Argonauts.

The following sources were used in writing this story:

Richard H. Allen (1963) Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning (Dover: NY)

James G. Frazier (1935) Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Vol. I (MacMillan: NY)

Leonard W. King (1915) A History of Babylonia & Assyria, Vol. II (Frederick Stokes: NY)

Rivkah S. Kluger (1991) The Archetypal Significance of Gilgamesh (Daimon:Einsiedeln)

Erica Reiner (1985) Your Thwarts in Pieces, Your Mooring Rope Cut: Poetry from Babylonia and Assyria (Univ. of Michigan)

N.K. Sanders (ed.) (1960) The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Books: Baltimore)

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