Back Again


Standard Disclaimer. The Highlander and Immortal concept aren't mine and neither are there char. This story as graphic sexual scene including m/m. If you don't like that sort of thing, you need to go now. OH, and I love feedback. Keeps us writers going and all so contact me please. The story and original characters are mine so don't infringe on my rights eithers. THANKS!

Back Again

BY Paladin


Approx. 4 months After Intro. Sasha, the first story. This takes place after Not to Be. Archangel did not result in the death of Richie, at least not in my Story.

The phone rang nonstop for ten minutes before Methos finally picked it up. There was only one person he knew who would be too stubborn to get the picture. "It's 4 am MacLeod."

"How did you...?"

"Only you." Was all he had to say.

"Sorry... Joe's gone. I went to his bar..."

"At this hour? MacLeod why would Joe...?"

The voice deepened which meant this was serious. "The lights were on when I drove by. The door was open, and I found note."

Methos groaned. Damn. Life was never simple with MacLeod and his friends around. "I'm on my way."

"There's one more thing... A trinket was left on the counter. A silver dragon."

Shit. If Sasha was involved that meant the phones could be bugged. "Pick me up."

"M--"

"Not now MacLeod." He strained his voice. "Pick me up. We'll figure it out from there."

***

Sasha frowned when the tone sounded in her ear-piece. She swiveled in her black leather chair to face her desk and tapped her long dark fingers on the fine oak. Her finger nails were painted a deep shade of royal purple. That Adam was sharp and that could be trouble. He practically left her no clues of which to predict their next movements. They could be going to MacLeod's or somewhere else. They knew it was her, but that was part of her plan. She just wished she had some idea of what they were thinking. No matter. Grabbing her small grey cellar phone, she dialed her employee. "Mark. Follow MacLeod and tell me if they are up to something." She knew her voice was deep and unmistakable to her men. It rang with venom and honey at the same time, a true seductress's voice if the need be. A low moan sounded from the center of the room. She stood gracefully and moved like a panther over to her awakening prisoner. His eyes slowly opened, and the older man looked her up and down quickly. In another place or another time, he might have found her attractive in her jet-black business suit with her long shiny and curly black hair draped over her shoulders, but now she knew he eyed her warily. He had the practiced eyes of someone who had watched others carefully. But for whom he worked for, she did not know. "I am sorry that I hit you so hard Mr. Dawson. You can never be too careful, and sometimes I forget everyone is not immortal."

Joe stood up slowly with his cane, checking the back of his head with the other hand and wincing. His eyes scanned the scarcely lit office room and settled on the figure before him. Sasha. "What do you want?"

Sasha circled him slowly, considering all the possible ways she could answer that question and then deciding upon one. "What do you know about Death?"

Joe frowned. This was not how he liked starting any conversation. "I never took you for a psychopath Sasha."

She almost laughed at that. Yes, she could see how this little situation might look to him. "I assure you I am not. I am asking you about the figure Death not death. I've no desire to harm you."

Joe groaned inwardly, damn Methos and his enemies. He wondered briefly is MacLeod knew about Sasha's new interest. "I am not sure what you mean."

Sasha watched the lights go on in Joe's eyes. He was good at hiding his emotions but not that good. "I think that you do. In fact I am almost willing to bet my life on it. It is only a matter of time before I find out Joe. You can help me and have some say in the matter, or I can just figure it out on my own and see from there."

Joe screamed inside. Now what? What the hell was he suppose to do, trick her? Not likely. She obviously had this all worked out all ready. Maybe he could figure out what she wanted first... "What do you want with him?"

"Who?" Sash asked uneasily.

"Who do you think." Joe was losing patience. "Death of course."

Sasha could barely contain her laughter, this was new and defiantly unexpected. Perhaps Joe was crazy and that was why he believed in immortals. Maybe that was the reason MacLeod hung around, to protect. "Why do you no Him personally?"

Hell. Joe cursed. How did she find that out? "Isn't that why I am here?"

Sasha frowned slightly and then moved to sit on her desk She crossed her long legs slowly and simply peered at Joe. He looked serious, in fact very serious. A sinking feeling slowly crept over her. What if the man really was ill? Medication. They took medication for that right? Shit. The thought never crossed her mind. She knew his legs were gone, but she never even considered other things might be wrong. Damn, this complicated things way too much. She had no intention of killing Joe, especially not by accident.

She grabbed her phone. "Lynn bring the car around front."

Joe watched the change in the woman's eyes. The way she looked at him, well, it was strange to say the least.

Sasha stood quickly, "All right let's go."

"So soon. I feel like we just got here." Joe grinned as he saw the frustration in her eyes.

She led them down elevator and out the front door. He barely had a chance to look at the large house before he was shoved into back-seat of a strange dark blue car. He'd never seen one quite like it before. It was almost as long as a limousine, but the body was sleek and a bit narrow. The engine howled with real power. Sasha hit the gas as if she were in a real hurry. Joe began to wonder if he should be more worried.

***

Duncan paced around the bar as Richie sat at a bench listening to Methos' brief conversations on the phone. Methos shook his head and put down the phone, "No one saw him leave, and Sasha's watcher lost her two days ago."

Duncan cursed lowly. How could he have been so wrong about Sasha? Yes, he hadn't known her, but still he could usually judge people better than this. Suddenly he found himself thinking of Methos. He had judged him poorly on a number of occasions. Their relationship had been on a roller-coaster ever since Kronos had come into their lives. Now the lunatic was gone. Yet the Old Man's past would show up again with Byron, and God knows who else would walk into the picture. He frowned, why was he thinking of Methos when it was Joe who was in danger?

"Guys..." Richie's light voice brought Duncan's attention back to the present situation. "I don't understand why you're both so worried. Why would Sasha leave her mark if she was going to hurt him? I mean come on. She knows that we all know that this..." He picked up the silver dragon trinket wondering briefly if the rock was real. "Is hers."

"This is MacLeod we are talking about. She is probably baiting him like everyone else does." Methos remarked lowly. His usually cynicism was in his voice but it had come naturally. He wouldn't have summoned that look from MacLeod for anything.

*buzz*

All three of them drew there swords as Joe walked in with Sasha inches behind him. The dark beauty had a nice black gun in her right hand. "Easy boys."

"Let Joe go. Its me you want." MacLeod demanded heavily.

Sasha eyed him smoothly, her dark brown eyes gazing at the three of them. She lingered on Richie for a moment and a smile formed on her dark lips. She recalled the first time they had met. How he had raised his hands to her and asked her to wait. She waved the gun briefly. "Is this what has you worried MacLeod. Don't worry this isn't for Joe. Its for anyone of you boys who decides to get fresh with me." She motioned Joe to sit with her gun, her black gloves crinkling slightly as she noticed MacLeod move forward. "Easy boy. He needs his medication."

"Medication?" All for of them looked at her puzzled.

She nodded quickly, "Yeah you know the stuff that keeps him in the world of the living."

"Where and when?" Duncan asked angrily.

"He doesn't take pills," Richie assured.

"She's looking for Death." Joe declared loudly.

"What?" Methos asked abruptly.

"Will everyone please shut up!??" Sasha nearly screamed. These people could be so infuriating. "Now I am the one with the gun here, and I assure you it is loaded. I will shoot you all, with the exception of Joe, if you do not sit down and listen." Silence. "Good. Now Joe here tells me he knows Death..." Her voice trailed off as she noticed Adam give Joe a dark look.

"Come on Sasha let's stop playing around here. Let's step outside?" Duncan stated again.

"Wait a minute. You mean you don't know him?" Joe pointed at Adam looking extremely puzzled.

Sasha aimed her gun steadily and fired hitting Duncan in the right thigh. He cursed loudly and fell. She aimed next for Adam and fired hitting him in the shoulder; he cursed in a language totally foreign to her. Sasha then looked to Richie.

Richie held up his hands, "Easy Sasha. Shit."

Sasha smiled slightly. "OK. I've more than enough to finish each of you off. Now listen up. Duncan I don't want to fight you."

"You should have thought of that before you kidnapped Joe." He fumed.

Sasha nodded, "Right and he would have been returned without incident tomorrow, but I needed to get back quickly for his medication."

"Medication?" Adam asked cautiously.

Sasha nodded. They hadn't shut up but at least they were speaking one at a time. "He told me he knows Death personally. Clearly he must get some kind of help."
"Death?" Richie grinned. "This is getting cooler by the minute."

Sasha frowned. "OK. Listen. I needed to talk to Joe without... without this happening. This mess of questions, all of it."

"About Death?" Duncan asked lowly.

"Yes..." Sasha lowered her weapon a bit. It was taking a big risk, she knew it. She had trusted MacLeod with her life before though. "Its about Robert..." She saw sympathy enter the eyes of all the men in the room but Adam's; she couldn't read him at all.

"Sasha it had to be done. He was going to kill everyone..." Duncan felt guilt hit him ten full. Robert had clearly been on the edge. Challenging everyone he came across and then threatening his ex-lover, Sasha.

"I know. I am not after revenge MacLeod." She sighed and sat in a chair next to Joe. "Someone messed with his mind. He told me he was Death shortly before he died. I did some investigating and all the signs led to Joe and whatever group he works for. I know its not their fault. I just need to know what happened to Robert so I can find peace. And I think Joe and his buddies can help."

Richie approached her slowly and put a hand on her shoulder. She looked into his eyes and knew that he felt her sorrow and that their was trust there she had not earned. This was hard. letting these strangers know how she felt. It was strange to sit next to a man whom she had clubbed but hours ago and watch sympathy dance in his eyes. "Why don't you and I go for walk. We'll let these guys sit around and talk..."

Sasha pondered for a moment on that. "All right. Pizza all right with you?"

Richie grinned and eyed MacLeod. "It will be all right. I can take care of myself remember?" He took Sasha's cool gloved hand and left quickly, practically dragging her out of the building before something ugly happened.

***

Methos waited several good solid minutes before speaking to Joe in a very level, too level voice. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"Methos. You had to be there. We weren't even playing on the same field." Joe felt a more than a little pissed off that the old immortal demanded Joe explain himself.

"This isn't a game..."

"No one here thinks it is?" Duncan stood shaking out his leg. "Do you have any idea what she is talking about?"

Methos frowned, "You mean about me. No. I've never met Robert in my life before he tried to take my head. I certainly did not go around preaching how to be Death either." Methos felt his throat tighten. It hurt to have to reassure the Highlander once again. "MacLeod I swear..." He stopped for a moment as he recalled what Kronos had said suddenly. That he had tried to take up the old ways. By God Kronos had stated right in front of him that he had tried to recreate the 4 Horsemen, and he had missed it. No, not miss it but dismissed it. Who really cared right? Damn. Of course. Robert had to be one of the unlucky ones who had fallen into Kronos' trap. How else could he have sent Kronos after Sasha unless he knew him. Anyone who met Kronos would have died unless they had joined him. Maybe Robert had known what he was doing when he "sent" Kronos after him. If sent is even the word for it. Kronos was probably trying to eliminate Robert's friends as he had tried to do with him and MacLeod He almost succeeded. Methos shivered slightly. What if he hadn't faced Robert earlier. What if he had accidentally awaken this Death figure as MacLeod had? What if Sasha had not been able to convince Robert to seek other rewards? Damn, how could he have missed the connection? It was so obvious, and he was willing to bet that Sasha must have known Robert's identity problem before his death. But how long before...

"Methos..." Duncan repeated quietly. The Old Man was in thinking mode again and sometimes it was hard to get him out of it. It amazed him how the 5000 year old's mind would sometimes work, so quick and smooth at times and then, like now, slow and precise.

Methos blinked a couple of times. "I know what she is talking about..."

He proceeded to tell them his suspicions.

***

Richie watched Sasha walk smoothly over to the jukebox and select some rock music. He felt himself getting excited. She liked modern day food, music, and clothes, and she was hot. Really hot. But the biggest plus of all was that she was looking at him and not Mac. It wasn't like he was in competition with the guy or anything. MacLeod was just, well, tall, dark and handsome... everyone's dream date. Richie knew he wasn't that bad looking himself but there's competing and then there's competing. He hadn't had too much luck with immortal women, but hey they say three times lucky.

Sasha stared at the Juke Box for a long time. They had been at the place for a couple of hours now and on their second pizza. It felt good to get out and feel, well, feel young again. Richie made her smile. He made her happy, and his youth was a blessing. Part of her wanted to cling onto this light he seemed to carry around with him. The other part screamed at her to stop it now, yet even now was too late. She should have put an end to the evening the minute they had starting gazing at each other in awe. Shit. This was hard. It was time to cut him loose before he went down with her. She returned to the table silently.

"Something wrong?" Richie noticed the tenseness in her shoulders. Another time and place, he would be more than happy to provide relief.

"Richie. Your a really nice kid." She let the last word hang in the air and nearly winced when she saw it strike home. "But this isn't going to work."

Richie felt ice crawl up his spine. Kid? Where had that come from? And why was there something odd about the tone of voice she used? "Why not?"

"I don't care for you all that much." It was blunt and a lie.

Richie narrowed his eyes, "I don't believe you."

Shit. Sasha frowned. Lying was never easy when you didn't want to do it. Fine she would try a different approach. "I am heavily into organized crime. Nothing as bad as that bombing a few years ago. My corporation isn't even that big anymore..." Her voice trailed off as she found herself trying to explain, to ease the blow even. That ruined the very purpose of her admittance.

Richie shrugged, "So..."

"So MacLeod wouldn't approve."

Richie nearly choked on his soda. What the hell was she trying to pull here? "MacLeod doesn't rule my life Sasha..."

Sasha sighed, "All right. Fine. You want the truth. Well here it is. Immortals can die in more than just one way as easily as they can live. When Robert died, I died. I've no reason to live anymore. Some immortals can go on for years just playing the survival game or others try the killing game. I am tired of playing. When I get the information I need tomorrow, I will go to fight a man I can not win against, and I will die. So you can see this was all very sweet but pointless. I am sorry." She grabbed her purse and left quickly, squealing her tires as she drove away. He was young, and he would get over it.

Richie sat at the table stunned. After a few minutes, he picked up the business card she had left. She obviously wanted him to give it to MacLeod. To hell he would.

***

Methos slouched wearily in the couch. He had conceded into telling Sasha what he had learned with "help" from MacLeod and Joe. He drank his beer almost angrily occasionally looking up and noticing the two men were still watching him. MacLeod's loft suddenly felt very small. 5000 years should have taught him how to ignore the disapproving looks of close friends. Close? Who was he kidding? They weren't even that close anymore. He smiled bitterly. He had wanted so much more from Duncan than trust and now he didn't even have that. Were they even friends he wondered? He felt himself becoming very depressed all of sudden and would have left right then and there if they hadn't felt the presence. He reached for his sword under his coat as MacLeod approached the elevator. Normally, the Highlander wouldn't be worried since only friends had keys to the elevator, but Sasha might be as apt at picking locks as Amanda was.

Richie walked through the door looking very glum. "Hey guys... Figure anything out?."

Joe was kind enough to fill the kid in saving Methos the trouble. Duncan watched with growing concern when he noticed that the more Joe told Richie, the more upset he looked. When the Watcher finally finished, Richie shook his head angrily. "You can't tell her." He looked right at Methos.

Methos knew instantly that it wasn't for his benefit that the secret should be kept in Richie's mind, but he might as well try. "I tried giving them the my head my secret speech, why don't you give it ago Ryan?"

"She'll kill herself."

"What?" Duncan wasn't sure he heard that right.

"She said that once she finds out about Robert she is going to challenge this guy she can't win and die."

He went on a bit longer about what she had said but Duncan and Methos weren't listening. Immortal suicide wasn't exactly all that uncommon. Methos found himself gazing into Duncan's soft brown eyes. They looked at each mutely as Joe and Richie hashed it out. Methos looked away quickly realizing he was starting to feel somewhat uncomfortable with the Duncan's attentions. There was something more to that gaze, something beyond the "do you remember part."

"How long has she had a watcher Joe?" Duncan asked suddenly.

Joe nodded, "Ever since the last time we saw her. Walter. Hold on. Let me make call." He rushed over tot he phone.

"This is so unfair Mac. We were hitting it off great. She was telling me about her adventures. About her favorite colors being all shades of purple, how she likes the chocolate deserts and cheese cake and then wham! She threw this at me."

Duncan frowned. There wouldn't be much they could do if she took on such a challenge. They couldn't interfere.

Joe hung up the phone slowly, "Walter doesn't have anything about any other immortals being around. According to Sasha's recent chronicles she doesn't like to fight fair if at all... he doesn't think she'll go through with it. Too uncharacteristic."

"Oh she'll do it all right. I saw it in her eyes Joe. We went around the block a couple of times before she even admitted the truth to me."

Duncan sighed. Eventually Sasha would start looking for her truths though other means. People could get hurt and maybe someone might loose there head. If she was desperate and Richie made it sound like she was, it would cause more harm than good to keep the information from her. But how was he to tell him that. "Richie..."

"I don't want to hear it MacLeod..."

"We have to tell her. Maybe not all of it but enough to keep her satisfied..." Methos hid his growing excitement as realization hit him. There really was no reason for her to find out he was Methos. Duncan and Joe had made it seem that way. Just because he knew about the Horsemen didn't mean he was one. Sasha didn't even need to know he was old at all.

Richie gave them all a dark look. "Fine. But I am not giving up." He then stalked off.
****

Sasha lay on her silken black bed holding her fourth glass of red wine. She sipped it slowly allowing the tears to flow freely... Too many memories surfaced in such little time...

**The filthy rags clung to her body as she was forced onto her knees for inspection. The busy street held many potential buyers but very little promise. Some looked at her like she was an animal, not worth the air she breathed. Others eyed her with lust filled eyes that sent invisible shivers up her back.

"Why hello my dark beauty. Have you a name?"

Sasha gazed up at the dark-haired man who addressed her in a tone that displayed no disgust nor lust. His grey eyes smiled down at her. "Sasha."

"Well Sasha. You've just been purchased." He held a hand out to her and she accepted. "You are special my dear, and I am going to show you why. My name is Robert Torville."**

Sasha drained yet another glass and ignored the phone. She felt numb and dead. Yes, that was the word, dead. Living forever, what for? He was gone and there was no one else.

**"Swords? Beheadings? There can be only one? You must surely be mad master." She couldn't believe the stories this man could spin.

Robert laughed at her lightly. "It would seem that way to anyone who hasn't seen or felt the Quickening firsthand. " He stood before her and whirled his scimitar about in a flurry of motion. His swordsman-ship was remarkable. He then brought it to her neck quickly. "Remember you loose your head, and you die. Look into my eyes." Sasha obeyed not out of fear but awe. She fell into the depths of time in those few short minutes. Love claimed her heart mercilessly. "I am your teacher and when the lights leave these eyes, I am no more. Once you claim your first head, you will be set free. From that point on, live as you have never lived before. You will see hundreds die while you remain the same. Civilization will rise and fall with the passing tides. When the light dies from your eyes, you are all ready dead. Do you understand? Live and love and live, but life in death is not an option."

Sasha nodded slowly still entranced by the power of this man. With one smooth move, he impaled her heart, and she died but without fear. She awoke with a start and welcomed the warm lips of her master. It was true. All the nonsense had to be true as sure as she died and drew yet another breath. His tongue invaded her mouth, and she welcomed the touch for the first time. Yes, she was still his slave, but that would not last. Robert would bring her into this new life. This life of danger and freedom. She gripped his short dark hair as if it were the sun itself and would not let go. Passion radiated from there bodies. She felt loved and wanted. His large hands explored her smooth back and the dark skin of her thighs. They made love on the captain's bed, letting the ship provide the only music needed, the promising sighs of a restless sea. Robert's deep eyes searched her soul and found a surging flame. He grasped it and drew it forth, freeing her from her early years of torment. Sasha drew him closer with her strong hands, tearing away his dark satin shirt. Her moist, dark lips placed light kisses from his neck down to his taught abdomen. He gently opened her white rag of a dress and kissed her eyes closed. "Live for moments like these my love." His masculine hands stroked her long black hair and drew her into another passionate kiss. "This is life, never forget." His gentle words sent shivers down her spine for they held such promise, such hope. His fingers glided over her breast lightly and traveled down to the center of her womanhood. They danced deliciously there, sending her waves after waves of pleasure. He felt his thick erection posed to claim her. "Are you ready my love? Will you take me and hold on, never to let go."

"Never," she promised her new lover, her new love.**

Sasha blinked wearily as the phone caught her attention again. She did not move for several moments as she recalled the last few moments of Robert's life. He was the bravest man she had ever met. He did not fear the law, or death or life. Robert feared one thing; he feared he would loose himself. Would time take from him the passion of his soul? Could time ever dim the ringing of his words as it took the light from his beautiful eyes? She had lied when she promised never to let go. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She had lied, and he died. He had died long before he was struck down by Duncan MacLeod. He had died alone. She moaned lowly as she answered the phone? "Yes?" Somehow her voice remained strong.

"Sasha." It was MacLeod's voice. "We have something for you. Please come to Joe's"

She hung up without replying. First the truth would come, and then she would welcome death.

***
Methos, MacLeod and Joe turned towards the door as the familiar lady approached. She wore dark sunglasses to hide her bloodshot eyes but walked with the grace of a cat. Her gaze traveled over the three of them quickly, and then she knew. Richie had told them, told them everything, yet here she was. Perhaps they were kind enough to grant a dying woman her last request.

Adam, surprisingly spoke first. "The scarred man that chased you all those years, his name was Kronos. He was a part of a group of four immortals who murdered and raped and pillaged a long time ago. The group eventually disbanded, but Kronos never let it go. He tried to form the group again and again using immortals he came across to fulfill his dream. He wanted the Horsemen to ride again. One of the original horsemen went by the title of Death." Adam's voice was level and conversational like, but Sasha had an odd feeling there was something more. Why shield yourself unless it was somehow personal.

Sasha took a moment to digest the information. Her head was slightly groggy from the alcohol, but it was passing quickly. "Robert was brainwashed into believing in this killer role, into believing he was this person who went by Death?" It all made sense, and really she didn't have to ask.

Joe nodded, "We think so."

She smiled slightly. "Thank you." And then she moved to the door, but Duncan quickly blocked her.

"Sasha, Its not worth it." His deep brown eyes begged her to change her mind. He had seen their coupling with Robert's Quickening. He knew that Sasha had betrayed their love and suspected she blamed herself for his death.

She merely eyed him carefully. "Can you take my head Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod? I am a killer. I killed innocence for money. It may not have been planned but it happened, it happens. My worst crime of all is letting the love of my life die. He died because I was not there to hold onto him. He needed someone to make sure he knew who he was in the end. I left him waiting in a hotel room. I left him because someone approached me and waved glittery jewels in front of my face. He revealed his worst fear to me and asked me to protect him. I did not, and he became a victim of a madman and a broken heart."

Duncan's eyes slowly dulled. He now understood that there was no changing her mind. Perhaps somewhere out there, there would be someone who could speak to her and change her mind. He was not the one.

"My power is very limited. I don't take heads because I never liked the Game. The man I am offering myself to has some measure of power, and he is honorable. Best of all, he will not let the circumstances of my death affect him in anyway. Move aside Highlander. I am not your friend, and you can not save me." She shoved him aside with little effort from either party.

****

Duncan and Methos returned to the loft in silence. This was a dark night for both of them. For as long as he could remember, Duncan had wanted the truth. Honesty seemed like such a small thing to offer. He had seen two forms of the truth tonight, and he didn't feel there was a victory in it at all. Methos had kept his wall up the whole time he explained their beliefs to Sasha, but Duncan knew it had torn him apart inside. The ancient immortal's past was a constant source of grief for him, and then there was Sasha. She had exposed her soul to him for what would be the last time for anyone to hear it. She had loved Robert very deeply it seemed, and he had missed it. No, he hadn't missed it. The Robert he had seen had displayed no love, just a sense of possession. The Robert he had known and the one she had loved clearly were two different people. He gathered the blankets for Methos and handed his friend a beer before he retreated to the shower to relax. So many good people died for all the wrong reasons. How many more friends would he loose at just an arm length away? The warm water eased his body but not his heart. There was a wall in the way of his relationship with Methos. And the worst thing was, he put it there himself.

The Highlander missed Methos' longing look completely.

****

Sasha approached her front door and instantly saw the note:

Jose Marvin. Elk Street. Tomorrow night.
Richie

Sasha felt her heart sink, and then her anger boiled. She returned to her car and floored it back to MacLeod's. Damn him!

****
Methos sat on MacLeod's couch once again and tried to drink himself into oblivion. Well, he did what had been asked of him once again, and once again he felt no relief. Why was he here? he wonder. Duncan was a friend worth sticking around for but that didn't mean he had to torture himself on a nightly basis by staying the night. The couch was not exactly comfortable, and he was paying for his own apartment. It was time for some distance. MacLeod may not understand that, but he did. Methos gathered his coat and sword and took the elevator down.

He didn't make it very far down the block when he *sensed* and then saw her. Sasha stood across the street. Her dark skin and clothes may have concealed her totally, but the moon's

glow shown brightly off her drawn long sword. Methos drew his broad sword as an uneasy feeling came over him. "Sasha?" He spoke with his usual level tone.

She advanced towards him quickly, forcing him to parry her sudden attack. They circled each other several times before she came at him again. Her eyes expressed no emotion save determination. Methos felt her despair each time she came at him. His eyes widened slightly as he realized she was giving this battle her all, and he hadn't even broken a sweat. Her swings were a bit wide, and when they did contact skin, it resulted in little more than a scratch. In a couple of moves he shoved his sword in her stomach. Her eyes widened in pain but not shock. He watched her fall to her knees. "Do it you murdering bastard!" she hissed angrily.

Methos felt the wait of the years hit him ten full in the face. "What."

"You heard me." She gasped as she felt consciousness begin to leave her body. Hatred, she needed him to hate her. Hate me, then kill me, that was the plan. Adam had to kill her it was the only way. "You were one of them weren't you. You who are so quiet and then comes forward bearing news."

He dropped his sword.

NO! Sasha forced herself to stand, groaning in the process. He had yielded, but why?

*buzz*

"Sasha!" Duncan yelled as he ran towards them.

"MacLeod!" Her voice fond new strength. MacLeod was here, he would surely kill her if they fought. "Do you know what it is like to have a loved one die right in front of your eyes!" She forced venom into her voice though she felt no hatred. "You best fight and kill me Highlander, or I will kill him! I challenge you Highlander, here and now!"

Duncan's voice lowered. She saw panic in his eyes but something else as well. "Go ahead."

Methos flinched as if struck.

"Go ahead and loose yourself. That is what this is isn't it? You can't live without Robert so why live at all? Now what's your tune?. Kill or be killed? You kill him, and you are no better than the man that cost you Robert, the real Robert."

Sasha sneered, "What makes you think I care! Do you think even half of us value even a portion of the beliefs you do? There can be only one and in the end that's all that really matters!."
She flicked her wrist and her small blade leapt forward. She readied it to take the man's head in front of her. Her dark eyes glanced at MacLeod who was only feet away from her. Could he take her head before she took Adam's. Better yet, would he? "Damn you MacLeod!" She flung her blade to the ground and kneeled to weep. Then she died, the loss of blood too much.

Sasha opened her eyes and found herself in a man's bed. The smell of heather clung to the sheets heavily. She stood slowly and turned to see two men watching her wearily. He hadn't taken her head. She cursed lowly in an old forgotten tongue. A language Methos would never have a chance to ever learn since it was native to her tribe, and they never developed literature.

Duncan handed her a glass of water quietly. She accepted it gratefully though a part of her wanted to fling it at him.

"Why?" MacLeod asked quietly.

Sasha grimaced as her parched throat accepted the liquid urgently. "Richie."

They both waited patiently for her to go on though she noticed a slight change in stance for the Highlander.

"He found out who I am going to fight and challenged him. If I loose tonight, and I will, Richie will die tomorrow," she stated bitterly.

"You attacked me hoping that I or Duncan would kill you, so Richie would not fight."
This Adam caught on quickly.

"You are friends right? I figured if one of you killed me. The challenge would be off and Richie would have no one to go for in revenge."

Methos nodded slowly, but somehow he looked defeated.

"Adam." His hazel-eyes gazed at her wearily. "What I said back there on the road. I didn't mean it."

"You were right." That level tone again.

"It was a shot in the dark. What's done is done. I do not blame you for what has happened. You are obviously no murderer, or you would not have yielded to me." Sasha tried to offer reassurance but knew it was not working.

"Maybe..." Methos put up his walls again.

Duncan noticed the change and decided to take over from here. "There is only one thing left to do."

Sasha sighed. "I don't like running."

Duncan shook his head. "You fight me."

Methos and Sasha gave him shocked expressions. MacLeod looked very serious but something told Methos it wasn't what either one of them was thinking.

Duncan continued, "You've got the whole day to practice. I suggest we get going." He grabbed his coat and motioned towards the dresser. "The pants will be loose but you should be able to tie them well enough."

Sasha's eyes widened. Did he really think that a few hours of practice could make a difference? She smiled slightly and complied to the idea. It may not work but it really was the only option left.

Duncan glanced at Methos as Sasha grabbed the pants and went down to the dojo.

"I'm not going anywhere MacLeod."

Duncan smiled with uncertainty. "There's more beer in the fridge."

****
The fighting downstairs went on for hours. Methos drank his beer almost smiling when he heard Sasha exclaim in pain. There was no time for chivalry this time, and MacLeod knew it. Methos took a shower and then decided it was time for a nap. He awoke near dusk and opened his eyes slowly to see MacLeod gazing down at him intently.

"I would never put you in danger, not like that. I was not giving her your head. Your soul is not hers or mine to judge. She was seeking peace else I would have never asked you to tell her... I would have fought her."

Methos felt a tightening in his chest. "MacLeod you can not fight my..."

"No Methos. Just listen. I've been a fool. I took what I wanted and dismissed the rest. You asked me to accept what you were, and I couldn't. I couldn't accept because to do so meant that I had to accept everything else, my feelings for you and your feelings for me. I never asked what you wanted because I always knew. You were there, and I took advantage of it because you are immortal. I assumed there would always be time so I ignored the rest. I took what I was ready to accept and denied the rest. I created this image of you, something not human at all. Mortal or immortal we are all human in the end."

Methos fought back tears. He couldn't be hearing this. These words touched the very depth of his being. They were too perfect to be real, too painful to be false, too heartfelt to be dismissed.

MacLeod continued while turning his back to Methos. "Richie and Sasha might die tonight. Both. One. It doesn't matter. I am powerless to stop it. I've done all I can but it may not be enough. Their love might end before it even had a chance to bloom. I don't want... I don't want that to happen to us."

Methos caught his breath. This was more than acceptance. It was...

MacLeod turned to him, his deep chocolate eyes welling with tears. "I want you to live Methos. I want you to live with me, to be a part of me. I've let my pride and my codes nearly destroy the best thing that has ever entered my life."

Methos stood and approached him slowly as if mesmerized. He reached up to brush the tears away. "Its not your fault..."

MacLeod grasped his wrist tightly and pulled it to his lips. His tongue flickered lightly over the pale skin, sending shivers throughout Methos' body. "Yes. Darius', Tessa's, Sean's deaths were not my fault. I realize that now, but this, this is my fault. I could have brought us closer together several times but instead I created a canyon that I thought was impossible to breech till now." MacLeod bent down and claimed Methos' lips as his own. He claimed this man, his friend, as his own because Methos had offered that from the beginning. This is what the Old Man had had in mind all along. He loved Duncan and had strived to keep him alive where Duncan nearly saw it as manipulation. It was manipulation, but it was done out of love. And despite what had happened, throughout all the darkness, that was all that really matter. Love.

"Oh Duncan." Methos gasped heatedly as the younger man pulled him close against his taught bronze body.

Duncan explored the ancient immortals mouth tasting the sweetness only time had to offer. Methos' yielded to him in a way no other had. He had loved before but this kind of return love was new to him. It was surrender in one way but triumph in another. You could not survive 5000 years by surrendering this way to another. Duncan groaned as he realized what this was to the both of them. He led Methos over to the bed and pushed him down lightly as his hands explored under the man's shirt. Methos arched into his touch instantly, groaning lightly. Duncan looked at this man in awe and love. This man, this immortal, whom he was about to take as his lover was as far from Death as he was. How could he have doubted that? Cassandra had been obsessed with her revenge, and he let her take him into her madness with him. He slipped the sweater over Methos' head and descended on one of the delicious pink nipples. Methos groaned loudly, thrusting against MacLeod. MacLeod didn't ask if this is what Methos wanted. To do so would suggest that he in fact did not get it. His tongue flickered over the hard flesh till Methos grabbed his long black hair in urgency. He then moved to the other.

"When...?" Methos somehow found the voice and state of mind to speak.

MacLeod withdrew to rid them both of their remaining clothes. He gazed down at Methos and realized for the first time just how beautiful he was. He lay on the bed next to him and playfully nipped at the soft spot just behind the ear. "This isn't game... I knew it before and know it now. None of it. You never have to swear anything to me. I'll believe you..."

Methos groaned.

MacLeod maneuver so that he could fell Methos' hot body beneath him. He then began a trail of light kisses from his earlobe, down his jaw line and chest and paused just above the straining flesh.

"Duncan. Please..."

"Shhh love. I know." He took the hard silken flesh in his warm mouth. He tongued it slowly, pausing when Methos whole body shuddered uncontrollably. He then licked the shaft up and down with the greatest care. Methos surged forward a came. Methos' hand gripped the white sheets as his body shook violently. MacLeod had always affected him in a way few had ever. MacLeod kissed the shrinking organ lightly and smiled. He then moved to cover Methos' the lean body with his own larger mass. Methos breathed in deeply as Duncan's large hands caressed his ribcage roughly. The Highlander's hot mouth sucked at the his throat feverishly.

"Inside Duncan. Please."

Duncan reached under the bed a retrieved the lubricant he used with Amanda. He warmed the almond oil quickly his hands and slowly inserted one slick finger. Methos groaned loudly. Duncan then proceeded to massage the opening with two and then three fingers. He smiled at his lover's urgent responses. He had denied them this for far too long and now he was determined to make it perfect. He wanted Methos to know this was far more than desire. He gripped the older man's hips and brought him closer. Methos waited with baited breath and then slowly opened his eyes when nothing came. Duncan gazed at him with nothing but love. "I want to see your eyes when I enter you," the Scot informed quietly. Methos felt himself blush but nodded. The Highlander moved his slick hands to his back and pulled Methos against his large chest. Duncan entered him slowly as he watched the emotions dance in the hazel-green eyes. Pain, desire, love, all three emotions glittered beautifully in the Old Man's eyes. Methos thrust forward for more but Duncan stilled him. "Patience."

"The hell with patience!" Methos sneered. "Duncan. God. Please." He was not beyond begging at this point.

Duncan thrust into his lover's hot body deeply. Methos grabbed onto Duncan's shoulders tightly, his fingers biting at the tense muscles. Duncan continued to bury himself into the tight passage and then pulled and plunged again. Methos began to shudder uncontrollably as his new lover reached his very depths. It all happened so quickly. He bit into Duncan's shoulder and came violently as Duncan filled him with his seed. They clung to each others warmth in mutual silence. Then the phone rang.

"Ignore it." Methos pleaded quietly.

Duncan groaned, reluctant to leave this position. "No. It might be Richie." He stroked Methos' short hair briefly in assurance. They separated, and MacLeod answered the phone. He spoke in a hush voice as if a voice any louder would break what was just formed. He hung up the phone and looked at Methos. "Richie wants to see the fight. I think he plans to challenge Jose tonight..."

Methos jumped up and began dressing with renewed strength.

Duncan peered quizzically at him. "What are you...?"

Methos froze for a moment and suddenly his confidence waned a little. "I am going with you... I love you Duncan, and I would never let you face this alone." He turned towards the Highlander only after he was fully dressed. The chocolate brown eyes smiled at him intently.

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

****

Sasha gripped her long sword tightly. Sweat glistened down her dark skin as she tried to breath quietly. Fear gripped her heart as she walked down the street. He was here. She couldn't sense him, but she knew. By god she was not ready for this, but she had no choice. If she died, Richie would surely die. This was for real. There would be no second place, only the winner and the loser. *buzz*

He stepped away from the tree up ahead and into view. He wore a dark black trench coat and had his battle-ax readied. He was huge. You are too small to rely on pure strength, use your agility to wear him down. How in the hell did she ever find assurance in those puny words. His dark grey eyes peered at her as his dark blonde hair waved blissfully with the night's wind. "Sasha?"

She nodded numbly. That he would meet an immortal he had not met labeled him as stupid or really good. He grinned at her and then they began. They circled around the street, neither one willing to make the first move. The fight was all ready overwhelming. Her nerve began to slip slightly just watching all that weight move gracefully. Then he was there. His steel going straight for her head, she ducked and gasped as the sharp blade sliced through the lamp post behind her. He circled around quickly and took two more solid swings at her. The first missed completely while the other grazed her right shoulder. The pain was minor compared to the tortures she had experienced but she winced at the mere force behind it. She thrust her own blade forward meeting air and brought it back up just in time to block another powerful blow. She held on despite the pain that shot through her arms. They moved around for several moments taking swings at each other and then backing away. Sasha realized that this man was just warming up. Blinking away tears of frustration she pressed forward with a swing to the head followed by a kick to his abdomen. It worked. He could not avoid the foot and grunted angrily. *buzz* His eyes flickered behind her. Damn. She had told them to stay. That she did not want anyone to watch her failure.

She lunged forward with the agility of a panther. Her blade whizzed past his head and grazed his shoulder. He retaliated with a nasty blow to her left arm. Pain exploded in her mind but

she did not falter. Her left arm was now useless. He backed away and let him continue his assault of anger. The ax swung to her left and then right and then towards her midsection. They all missed but her body began to wear out. She had not trained long enough for this. Her shoulders sagged slightly in mute defeat.

"Sasha!" Richie's cry reached her.

I'm sorry Richie, she mouthed silently. Why had he come here to watch her die?

The ax came again and this time it was meant to be the death blow. It was slow, and Sasha found herself ducking it easily. He pressed forward again and again and again. She merely hung back, seemingly retreating. All of a sudden, MacLeod's teaching began to make sense. She took a moment and focused. Step back, duck, step back. This wasn't war and it didn't matter if she lost ground. Her slight smile returned to her lips and it caused him to falter slightly. He must have seen his victory coming quickly, but this smile made him hesitate. It was enough, she crouched down and sprang forward, first striking with her foot and then thrusting her blade through his ribcage. He gargled slightly but did not fall. His ax came down and struck her sword away. Sasha caught the gasps of dismay behind her, but she was not disheartened just yet. He moved in for the final killing blow, his ax whirling towards her neck with surprising speed. The steel flashed before her eyes in slow motion and for a moment she thought that was it. Then her right arm flew out before and towards his neck. From his point-of-view, it must have looked like a slap for he laughed, but once he saw the ice in her eyes, his smile faded. Her wrist made the slightest move and the blade was in her palm. For a brief moment, he realized it was the end. The look of utter disbelief as she severed his head would haunt her for nights to come. The ax's momentum did not cease even as the owner had. Sasha wondered if she would die despite her win and felt sorrow fill her heart. Good-bye Richie, she thought bitterly. The blade cute across the front of her chest deeply, missing her neck by mere millimeters. She fell forward and lost consciousness.


Sasha was thrust awake by the force of the Quickening. She managed to stand for the healing had excelled in this state. The Quickening struck Sasha again with an intensity that sent her to her knees. Year of hatred of pain and pure evil tore at her soul. She groaned loudly, wanting nothing more than to deny this power her body as host. Tears stung her eyes as her hand unconsciously let her blade slip through. The street posts exploded and with one last burst of light. Then is was quiet. Completely quiet except for her low sobbing. She new the others were there, but she didn't want to see them. Had an injustice been done. Sasha had had no quarrel with this man. What she sought was death, but instead she dealt it. A hand touched her shoulder lightly and her deep eyes raised to look in the hope filled eyes of Richie. She hated what he had done, hated the danger he put himself in, but loved him all the same. This young man before her made her feel again. After Robert's death, she had thought it not possible. Richie offered her a hand and she accepted. With his support, they walked back over to where Duncan, Adam, and Joe waited quietly. She hesitated for a moment.

Richie turned to her. "What..."

She cut him off with a deep kiss. Her mouth explored his and hand caressed the face she knew she would never forget. He held her protectively; she let him. There was no need to maintain her shield of ice right now. She was alive and at this very moment, she knew she was grateful for that. They part slightly, there hands still clutching each other. Her eyes searched MacLeod's for a moment.

"You're a good teacher MacLeod. We are both very lucky. I can't promise that my life of crime will end, or that I will play by the rules, but I swear I will try. Not for you, not for Richie but for me... for all us. The Game can not end if we do not let it."

MacLeod smiled slightly. Sasha was not the enemy and he realized now that she had never been. Then a notion slowly entered his head. "Sasha?"

She turned to him patiently waiting what he would ask now.

"Who told you to look to Joe for answers."

Sasha grinned. That was an easy answer. "Her name is Cassandra."

TO BE CONTINUED...

-Please let me Know what you think-  Paladin

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