Cemeteries had never been among his favorite places to be. After centuries of burying friends, lovers, and enemies, Connor was tired of death, sick of mourning, and worn out by the whole blasted effort. Sitting on a crypt, he contemplated his existence and watched the daylight fade.
Once, he'd thought he was winning, that he was that much closer to ensuring that the Game was won by someone decent. Hell, once, he'd even thought he'd won, and hadn't that been a huge crock? Some days, he thought he ought to have a sign made up that said, "I won, and all I got was this funky Quickening." Some days, he wondered if he'd just had his chance to be king, and had blown the cosmic test of his worthiness. Some days, he believed that to be true, and had to fight to find the reason to keep on living.
The Game would never end. New immortals would be found, new battles would be fought, and the cycle of killing would never stop. Everything good was broken or bent or lost or would soon be. Dreaming hadn't stopped anyone from dying; fighting hadn't stopped the war between immortals; and loving hadn't prevented his heart from getting broken repeatedly. The nightmares never ceased, and the horror never faded away. He'd been a fool to believe otherwise. Hadn't he heard about what happened to Methos — the one that had been preaching peace to anyone who'd listen? Those who'd believed that one had died, and it hadn't been long before he'd died as well.
Connor chuckled, but without humor. Duncan had learned well, Connor thought, the brief flicker of pride swelling, but not remaining. There was a time when pride alone had been enough to keep Connor going. Now pride imprisoned Connor to an unfamiliar cemetery, running from a mistake he'd made centuries ago.
He should've recognized the signs of a pre-immortal. God knew he'd certainly been old enough to realize that going back for the woman who'd raised him as her own had been risky. He'd been so sure then, so confident that he'd known exactly what to do. Now, he wasn't so sure. The simple life, the one he'd taken for granted even as he'd told himself again and again not to, was gone. The only person left in the world who mattered was his kinsman, his student, his friend... and Connor hadn't exactly been certain that Duncan would go for the idea that was swirling around in Connor's mind.
In a deeper part of himself, Connor acknowledged that he was afraid. He wasn't sure what his purpose in life was anymore. He'd thought it was to prevent a great evil from winning the Prize. He'd thought it was to love a woman with all of his heart. He'd thought it was to raise a child. He'd thought it was to impart all he knew about the world to his student, to share in the joy that was family... but it was all going to hell faster than he'd planned, faster than he'd anticipated, and he couldn't stop it. It frightened him, and he knew his fear was something his enemy would relish to see. Therefore, Connor hid, and hoped his faked death would give him time to regroup.
He took a deep breath, aware that he'd already written himself off in Duncan's eyes, and hoping that Duncan wouldn't dig for answers. He wasn't sure, though, and damned himself for the doubt that came and went without warning. Some part of Connor's brain sniped nastily that his time in The Sanctuary had eroded his confidence, and that he would've been better off staying the hell out of that place. He'd thought he had all the answers, that he'd found a place of peace, somewhere to hide.
Somewhere where no one remembered Connor MacLeod, the first Highlander, the one who killed the Kurgan. Somewhere where time had no meaning. Somewhere where the pain of losing everyone Connor had ever loved didn't hurt so much, and the ghosts of his life dared not haunt his every move. He'd thought he'd found it once, and the Watchers had been so careful to promise him everything. They'd known exactly what they were putting away like some lab specimen to be preserved and studied later. He'd heard their whispers when they thought he hadn't been listening, the excited buzz in their voices when they'd spoken to him.
Now, he knew what a lie it had all been, and he couldn't say which was the bitterer truth: knowing that he'd tried and failed to prevent the death of those nearest to him, or knowing that even when he hadn't tried, he'd still failed. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath. He wasn't dead yet, he reminded himself, and there was still some hope left in the world.
He smiled, more genuinely now, as he thought about Duncan. It amazed him sometimes that his kinsman had managed to survive so much in so brief of a time, and yet... Connor understood the pain that Duncan showed only to a select few. It was that kind of pain that had brought Connor here to this place, only for Connor there was no peace here, no way to rectify what had happened, no way to apologize, and no healing. There were only the dead, the forgotten, the ghosts, and the memories that were carved in stone.
Soon, Connor knew, it would be over, one way or another. Until then, he bided his time and waited on Holy Ground for the death he'd hoped he could avoid.