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14 July 2008 @ 06:28 pm
Freefall in Building 'A'  
Title: Freefall in Building 'A'
Author: idontlikegravy
Genre: AU
Rating: PG
Warnings/Spoilers: None
Challenge: What If...? challenge for hl_flashfic
Summary: This is a fic I’ve been meaning to write since I first started writing fanfic, something I’ve mentioned before but never explored properly.  I was watching Freefall, and I thought: 
What if Duncan had been five minutes later to challenge Felice Martins?

Disclaimer: Highlander is the property of Panzer/Davis. Parts of the dialogue are from the respective episodes of Highlander, but no copyright infringement is intended, no profit made. It's all just for fun and love of the show.

A/N: Unbeta'd. Will probably become more, but standalone for now.
 
 
Freefall in Building ‘A’
 
Duncan scrambled across the dark sand, hoping he was in time. But as he drew near enough to feel Felice Martins’ presence, he heard a cry of pain that was all too familiar.
 
“Richie!” he cried, dashing forward, sword drawn. Felice turned to face him, brandishing the sword he had given her, the katana still wet with Richie’s blood. Duncan spared a glance for his young friend’s body lying on the sand, and then turned his full attention to Felice.
 
“Why did you kill him?” Duncan demanded, blade pointed at Felice as he removed his coat.
 
“To take him away from you!” Felice sneered.
 
“Is that how you fight? Is that how you’ve survived for so long?” Duncan asked.
 
“What gave it away?”
 
“The map; you just couldn’t keep your mouth shut,” Duncan taunted.
 
“I take pride in my work!” Felice cried and lunged at Duncan.
 
The two Immortals duelled, and despite her cunning and deception, Felice was no match for MacLeod. Their fight led them into the water, and the quick tempered Felice grew obviously angry as Duncan continued to taunt her and hold the upper hand. She lost her balance, and Duncan ran his blade through her chest.
 
“That was a noble blade, it would have served you well. I told you to make it part of yourself, but you cannot do that if you do not know who you are,” Duncan said, disappointment and anger filling his voice. He raised his sword, but hesitated.
 
“Do it,” she snarled. Duncan took her head, and her Quickening. As he felt her life, her memories, enter him, Mac almost felt pity for the wretched creature. Until he saw what she had done to Devereaux and his family.
 
She was a real piece of work, he thought as the Quickening subsided. She makes Kristen look positively sane.
 
He fell to his knees, exhausted from the Quickening, and he probably would have stayed there for some time, except that he felt the presence of another Immortal.
 
“Richie!” he said, and clambered to his feet. He staggered the few feet to where Richie lay, and knelt beside him as his young friend sat up with a gasp.
 
Confused, Richie looked around him, seeing first Duncan, then the body of Felice. As he remembered what happened, he looked down at his chest where Felice had stabbed him.
 
“Mac, the pain, it’s gone, and the wound is fading,” he exclaimed, looking to his friend for explanation. Duncan nodded and smiled.
 
“Give it another minute, it’ll be gone all together,” he said. Richie’s mouth formed into a perfect ‘o’ as he looked again and realised what had happened to him.
 
“Then I’m like you, I’m Immortal?” he asked, although it was really rhetorical. Duncan nodded again, got to his feet, and then helped the new Immortal up. “You knew, all along, didn’t you?” he asked.
 
“Yeah. That night you broke in, Conor and I both knew. I promised to watch over you.”
 
“So, it’s like that feeling you get, when another Immortal is around, right? That’s how you knew?” Richie asked as they reached the T-Bird. Duncan opened her up and they both got in before he answered,
 
“Something like that,” he said with a wry smile. “Whatever it is that we can feel when another Immortal is around, there’s a faint version of it in someone who might become one of us,” he explained. Richie chuckled.
 
“Man, ‘one of us’. This’ll take some getting used to.”
 
“Don’t worry Rich,” Duncan said with a smile and started the car. “You’ve got plenty of time.”
 
*-*
 
The next morning, Richie felt his first proper Buzz, as he stood in the kitchen fixing breakfast. He dropped the knife he was holding and put his hand to his head at the unfamiliar and uncomfortable sensation.
 
“You’ll get used to it,” Duncan said from the doorway. Duncan looked up at him and as he did so, the feeling abated. Richie smiled weakly and shook his head.
 
“It’s so weird, last night feels like a dream, you know? I was all prepared to think it was a dream, until you walked in,” Richie said. Duncan chuckled.
 
“Think yourself lucky, at least you know what’s happened to you. Conor didn’t find me for fifty years,” Duncan said. “Is Tess around?”
 
“Haven’t seen her, maybe she’s in the studio?” Richie suggested. Mac made to find her but Richie laid a hand on his arm. “Mac, is it okay if we don’t tell Tessa, just yet?”
 
“I don’t know Rich…” Duncan began to protest.
 
“Not for long, just until I get my head round things, please? My life will be weird enough from now on; I just want something to stay normal. Besides, she worries enough about you, imagine what thoughts will run round her head about me getting challenged. Oh boy, getting challenged…” Richie said and sat down in a chair. Duncan laid a comforting arm on his shoulder.
 
“Don’t worry about that today, Rich. I’ll begin training you soon enough. And I won’t tell Tess until you’re ready. Now, hurry up, Tessa has to get to the courthouse,” Duncan said.
 
“Oh man, yeah! I forgot that was today. I’ll just grab something to eat and I’ll be there,” Richie replied. Duncan shook his head and chuckled before grabbing Tessa’s tickets from the counter and heading for the studio. “Hey, we still gotta eat don’t we?!” Richie called after him.
 
*-*
 
Only Tessa could go to sort out her parking tickets and end up embroiled in a hostage situation, Richie thought to himself as Duncan came round beside him.
 
“You’re okay right?” Richie said, slapping Mac on the arm. Once he was sure Duncan was alert, he leaned closer and added quietly, “So, we’re going to do something, right?”
 
“Like what, Richie?”
 
“There’s two of us, and I know you’ll come up with a plan, you always do,” Richie said. Mac had to stifle a laugh, despite the dire situation.
 
“But there are only two of ‘us’, Rich. What about Tessa and the others? If we start something, and they’re still in the line of fire…” he said. Any further talk was stopped by the barrel of a gun pointed in his face.
 
“Stop whispering. If you’ve got something to say, say it loud enough for everyone to hear,” sneered the man before walking away again.
 
“I’m just saying, whatever the play, I’ll back it,” Richie said when the goon was out of earshot again.
 
“Then protect Tess and follow my lead, no matter what,” Duncan instructed. Richie nodded.
 
*-*
 
The room they had taken Duncan to was close enough that Richie could feel him come back. He wanted to reassure Tess, but he didn’t know how without revealing his secret. And this was not the time for that discussion.
 
It wasn’t long though, until he overheard Slade and one of his men talking about one of their number being missing. Not much after that, another one came running into the room, yelling about there being no body. He smiled at the corner of his mouth and caught Tessa’s eye. He could tell from the look on her face that she was thinking the same thing.
 
As Slade ran from the room, Tessa leapt to her feet and ran to the phone. They heard gunfire, and Richie wanted to go help Mac, but the janitor needed calming first. He knew he should do as Duncan had instructed, protect Tessa and the other hostages, but he felt so useless just sat there, calming people down.
 
It’s different now, I’m Immortal, he thought. He almost put that to the test as Slade came back into the room and challenged Tessa, but she diffused the situation and pulled Richie back into his seat.
 
He saw that the guy guarding them was really nervous, that Mac had obviously spooked him with his disappearing act, and a wicked thought came into his mind. He leaned back and spoke to Stanley.
 
“I know what’s going on here,” he said.
 
“Sure you do,” Stanley replied.
 
“I’m serious. It’s that whacko serial killer on trial in 3B. He must have escaped.”
 
“I didn’t hear about him,” Stanley said.
 
“Eats human flesh, I’ll bet he took the body,” Richie answered.
 
“What kinda trash are you talking kid?” the nervous gunman said.
 
“Trash? Let me ask you a question; was anyone out there killed with a sword?” Richie asked. The gunman looked nervous. “Yeah, this murderer, he kills people with swords,” Richie continued, warming to his topic. “Cuts them up and then…” Richie mimed eating and made slurping and biting noises. “Mmm, mmm, good.”
 
He was pleased to see that the goon was clearly disturbed by the possibility. But before Richie could take it any further, Slade tapped his man on the shoulder and sent him out to fetch the last remaining member of the team.
 
Richie could see that Stanley wasn't doing so well, so he leaned around to talk and try to distract his old buddy.
 
*-*
 
Richie realised his moment had come when he heard the approach of the chopper. He leaned over to Tessa.
 
“Get down, and get everyone else down,” he instructed. Tessa began to question him, but he was already moving. Slade was too distracted by the approach of the chopper, so Richie grabbed him and tried to wrestle the gun from him. As he did so, it went off, hitting him in the shoulder. He yelled in pain, and was thrown to the floor by Slade, who pointed his gun at Richie, then pulled out a cellphone and dialled a number.
 
“Kaminsky, I’m getting out of here, I’ve got a hostage. If you try anything, we die together,” Slade panted down the phone as he used the gun to usher Richie back with the other hostages. He hung up the phone and indicated to Tessa to get up.
 
Richie started forward to stop him, but Slade pressed the barrel of his gun into Richie’s shoulder. Grunting in pain again, Richie had no choice but to let him take Tessa and hope that Mac could stop Slade. He was about to follow, but Stanley seemed to be having a heart attack so he stayed to take care of his friend, trusting the Highlander to protect Tess.
 
As Stanley’s breathing became easier, Duncan, Tessa and the janitor’s little girl entered the courtroom.
 
“Son of a gun, Richie! Would you look at that!” Stanley exclaimed, pointing at Mac. Richie chuckled and patted his buddy’s shoulder.
 
“You’re getting senile Stanley,” Richie replied with a smile.
 
As Duncan borrowed a uniform from the janitor, a concerned Tessa came to examine Richie’s wound. He bit his lip as she gingerly raised his sleeve and gasped in astonishment.
 
“Richie?” she asked, looking for explanation. Richie smiled reassuringly and lowered his sleeve.
 
“I’ll explain when we get home Tess, okay? I’m just glad the blood won’t show on this black tee,” Richie said sheepishly. Tessa looked at him sternly, but held off on any interrogation until they were in private.
 
*-*
 
Richie walked Stanley from the courthouse, careful to keep the ruined sleeve of his T-shirt covered by his denim vest and away from the eyes of the police and the gaggle of reporters outside. Unfortunately, he was unable to avoid being spotted by Randi McFarland, who followed him to the T-Bird where Mac and Tessa were waiting.
 
“Look who’s coming,” he warned as he jumped into the back of the ‘bird. “C’mon, Mac, let’s get home.”
 
“Yes, I have some questions need answering myself,” Tessa said pointedly.
 
“No, I’ll see you guys later,” Mac replied.
 
Tessa shrugged, then pulled the car out toward the street.
 
“For example, how do you have no wound despite being shot not half an hour ago?” Tessa asked Richie.
 
“Tess, I can explain…” Richie began.
 
“Richie, I’m not stupid, you’re Immortal aren’t you? But I know you weren’t before, so how long? What happened to you? And why didn’t you tell me?” she demanded.
 
Oh brother, thought Richie and covered his face with his hands.
 
 
 
Ith: Japan - Peach Blossomsithildyn on July 14th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
I love 'what ifs' [g] That was a good one.
But, I don't want to be a pie,: pleased hamsteridontlikegravy on July 14th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much.

If you love them, perhaps you might have time to write one for flashfic this month? *she says hopefully with her mod hat on* ;)
Ithithildyn on July 14th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
I'm so overwhelmed with fic I'm currently working on, I just am too brain fried to think of anything new and actually write it too. Sorry :(
But, I don't want to be a pie,: dinobaitidontlikegravy on July 14th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
hakuna matata.

It was worth a shot *shrug*

*passes out virtual choc-ices to help with brain fry*

Mmm..fried brains...
Kristen: Duncanjuniperphoenix on July 14th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
“Hey, we still gotta eat don’t we?!”

Ah, Richie. :D
But, I don't want to be a pie,: richie smileidontlikegravy on July 14th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
Heh, well I figured he'd still say it, even under different circumstances. That boy and his stomach :D
The other Weird Alaeron_lanart on July 14th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
Tessa, I love you, and I have done since your little speech about talking about beheadings in the pilot.

I think you've done a beautiful job of what if, here. You caught all their voices well, particularly Tessa's at the end; that little scene just rang so true.
But, I don't want to be a pie,: richie smileidontlikegravy on July 14th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you :)

I always find Tessa a little tricky to write, so I'm glad she rang true. For once I could hear her as I wrote this one. Perhaps it helped that I was watching the episodes in question. :)
bugeyedmonsterbugeyedmonster on February 7th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
Like this AU. And now Richie looks even younger. Bet that's really gonna' frustrate him in a few years. lol!