I haven't slept in days. None of us have.
It started as a mild headache one morning.
The next day MacLeod was setting my teeth on edge. We snapped at one another incessantly. I packed my duffel and left. When I reached the end of the quay I could still sense his Presence. That's when I knew. I pulled out my cell phone and began making arrangements. I went for a long walk and ended up back at the barge. There was nowhere else to go.
On the third day we began ostentatiously leaving our coats and swords in the closet. We didn't discuss it. MacLeod probably saw it as a sign of the trust between us. I understood it as a sign that we didn't trust ourselves. Certainly both of us were capable of killing without a weapon in hand. But to go and get a sword out of the closet would be an act beyond impulse.
Joe called that evening with an invitation to hear the new band playing at Le Blues Bar and a complaint about the size of his daily Watcher update. He laughed about it, made a comment about the full moon. At first I really thought he was having me on. How could the Watchers not know? Then again, I only recognized it so quickly because MacLeod and I have been living in each other's pockets these last few weeks. The Watchers would be taken unawares unless one of us warned them. The thought was tempting, but Joe deserved better. So I told him.
The fire ants of MacLeod's Presence swarmed over me as I listened to Joe Dawson's silence. He asked if I was sure. Was I sure? MacLeod hoped this was temporary, some freak occurrence of misaligned stars or the Earth's magnetic field that would soon pass. It will pass, certainly. One way or the other. I told Dawson I was sure.
Today I can sense every Immortal in Paris, a constant whine of feedback from concert-size speakers. There are fewer now than there were this morning. The slaughter has already begun. Joe calls every few hours, updating MacLeod on his friends' battles. Wanting to hear Mac's voice, and mine. With each reported death, MacLeod's face grows more lined. Amanda slipped away from her Watcher last night in Prague, and he is desperate for news of her.
The barge is a self-imposed cage, filled with of the scent of burnt bacon from breakfast, two sweating men, and the pulsing energy of one Quickening too many. MacLeod is pacing now. I'm almost surprised that he has let me stay this long. But of course he has. Duncan won't run from his own home. He won't ask me to leave whatever protection he can offer. And he won't take my head. Not while he can help it.
This is probably the safest place on the continent for me right now. Once subtle differences in the power and flavor of Immortal Presence have been amplified to messages in screaming neon. Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod has been a very busy boy these last few years. Being this close to him is like standing at the open door of a blast furnace. And while I can't feel my own Quickening, I've taken perhaps more than my fair share of heads over the millennia. I don't think any Immortal will come knocking on this door while there is other fresh meat in range.
Besides, there is no one I would rather spend these hours with.
The phone rings shrill. MacLeod jumps to answer it. I can hear Gina's hysterical voice from across the room. She and Robert had come to swords over a broken vase. He comforts her, eyes on me the entire time.
I wish that someone else had taken Robert's head, for her sake. Silas taught me the bitter triumph that comes of killing a man you sparred with until his style is as familiar as your own breath. MacLeod and I haven't spent as much time together, but we know each other.
He is beautiful as a tiger when he spars, flowing muscles and deadly steel. When I push him hard enough, the feral grin hidden under the Boy Scout's regrets comes out to greet me. His body would strive against mine, eyes intent, short hair damped down with sweat. He would recognize all my usual tricks. I'd need to pull out something special, just for him. Would he close his eyes before the final stroke, or glare up at me, undefeated to the last?
MacLeod hangs up the phone and backs towards the closet at the far end of the barge, part wary, part wild. He can smell it on me. Oh, no.
I pull Adam Pierson around me like a cloak, writing a lecture on Greek transitive verbs in my head. It works much better than baseball. MacLeod pauses, his body relaxing from battle-ready to merely vigilant. He circles round me to his laptop and sits down, half-turned to keep me in view.
I am now the proud owner of a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific. My agent is purchasing the last of my supplies, and the charter flight is scheduled for 10am tomorrow morning. I hope it's far enough. I hope it's soon enough. I've had plenty of practice in controlling my own murderous impulses. But what about his?
Thanks to my beta readers mackiedockie and Steven.
This grew from a drabble written for the highlander100 "teeth" challenge.