/I turned 22 today. Not that anyone even noticed. Even my aunt forgot and she's usually the only one who really remembers things like that. I know it's nothing special, it's just a day like any other, but it would have been nice if someone had mentioned something.
But no it isn't important to them. I'm not important to them. Why can't they remember me for once? It's easy enough when there is work to do isn't it? But my birthday they just forgot.
I stepped on my bike, a bit angry because of my aunt's forgetfulness. She even asked me why I was angry, she should have known.
Then . No not again. I don't really remember what happened, I don't think I'd want to. That car ... my brakes ... it hurts ... my head hurts ... my legs, everything ...Oh my God, my books! I've had two accidents before; how am I going to explain this to the insurance ... my head. Anytime now I should be seeing people hanging over me. It can't be all that bad, it never is.
Why doesn't the dark go away. Oh God I can't breathe. What's happening?/
Methos stopped near the site of the crash. He'd been waiting to take a turn when he'd sensed a weak buzz. He'd tried to ignore it, hoping the other immortal would ignore him to when he'd seen the body lying on the road. What there was of the Buzz slowly faded away.
Two cops were standing next to the body, a third was hauling the bike out of the way.
He didn't have a problem understanding them. He always made sure to know the language of any location he tended to spend some time in.
/"She's dead. Do we have an ID."
"Here. Let's see. Her name's Lore Krajsman. She was only 22 . from today."
"Poor girl. Any address?"
"On the back."
"Bag her up and get that bike off the road. Someone warn the family."/
The uniformed cops or rijkswachters, 'zwaantjes' as the public called them, got up from the body and looked at each other with pity in their eyes. The bike had already been pulled of the road. On the side of the road an elderly woman was leaning against her car in shock, looking at what she'd done.
Now where was that immortal? he thought before looking at the corpse on the road. 'It can't be. I'm on a holiday.' The ancient immortal nearly hit himself on the head. "Not now." he muttered, low enough so no one heard him. Just his luck; a new immortal and man was she a mess.
The girl gasped for air. She tried to get up but was stopped when a hand held her back. Methos tried to keep her from getting up too quick.
"Slowly. Don't worry. Everything will be alright."
"Wat? Waar ben ik? Where am I?" The girl looked up and had her first look at the metal benches around her. The smell of death surrounded her, invading her. She trembled in the cold. It was only then that she noticed it. She was naked, except for some weird feeling at her toe. She quickly pulled the white sheet further over her.
"What happened? Where am I?" Fear shone through in her voice.
"You're in the morgue." The girl's eyes rose open at his words. "What am I doing in the morgue? Is this your idea of a joke?"
Her voice sounded defiant in her anger though more with terror than true anger.
The girl fell in shock, her trembling increased even more.
"Calm down. There are things you need to know."
"But if I'm dead then ."
"You were dead, you're not anymore."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You came back."
"You're immortal. Now be silent. We've got to get you out of here."
The girl didn't answer, she didn't say a word. She just gazed around. Then he took some clothes out of a bag and threw them at her.
"These should do for now. Put them on."
The girl seemed embarrassed to get dressed with him watching, so the man turned away.
"These things won't fit. They're to small."
"Just try them."
The girl pulled the T-shirt over her head , then she took the underwear, the sweater and the pair of jeans. She seemed surprised as they all fitted.
"You lost a great deal of your weight when you died. It's normal. Now come on."
The girl listened but his words didn't seem to get through to her. She just stood there, a dazed look in her eyes. He called out and left, looking back to make sure she followed him. When they came to a corner he put a finger on his mouth, motioning her to be silent. She looked up, seeing a group of people in the entrance hall. There were four of them. A darkhaired woman was crying on a young man's shoulder.
"It's my mom. I've got to tell her I'm all right. She'll be worried."
"No! Now come on." She didn't follow, he had to pull her along. If she started to scream he had to make sure he put a hand on her mouth before anyone heard it.
Damn child, he thought did she have to die now during my vacation. If it weren't because of that damn boy scout I wouldn't even have considdered taking her. And now I've suddenly got a new student. I should have known better than to hang out with MacLeod. Now his damn morality is starting to rub of on me. Gotta get rid of that before it kills me. He pulled the girl to his station wagon. How could he have let himself be pulled in by that ... Scot. Before meeting the Highlander he wouldn't have thought twice about leaving a newbie to her own means. But now he all of a sudden started feeling pangs of guilt at the very idea. To think that before meeting that bloody overly moral knight in shiny amor he hadn't felt guilt since the 11th century. He took another look at the girl. She just sat there, visibly devastated. Damn her.
"Calm down kid. You've been handed a gift. Now all you've got to do is get used to it."
"Who are you?" She looked at him, her eyes wide open.
"You can call me Matthew Moore. And you are?"
"Lore ," she hesitated a second "Lore Krajsman."
"Nice. Lore uh. Good. We do have to get you out of the country and see that you get a new ID." She was still frozen in place. "What name do you prefer?"
The girl didn't answer
"I can't leave. Who knows what'll happen to Ciske if I do that?"
"You're dead kid. Your mom can take care of your dog."
"Ciske isn't a dog, she's a rat." Her voice rose a bit as she said the words.
"A rat?" Methos grumbled a few words under his breath, glad the girl didn't understand Akkadian.
"I don't want Stefaan to hurt her."
"I doubt they'll let him." Though they should. A rat? What kind of people would keep a rat for pets. Yuck.
"But my things. I can't just leave."
"You can always get new stuff. Now calm down." He tried to sound as cold and professional as possible. She fell silent almost instantly. A small tear started forming in her eye. She wiped it away trying to keep him from seeing it.
The rest of the ride was passed in silence. Methos played some Queen-music but neither of them said a word. Lore just put her head down on the side of the seat, slightly exhausted by her recent death.
They rode over long grey highways, surrounded by mixtures of grass, trees and brick walls. The weather seemed to suit his mood, dark and rainy.
Just before they arrived she turned to him again.
"You said you could explain."
"Yeah I can, but not now." Not while I'm driving I won't He drove the car in a small by-way. Eventually they ended up at a path leading to a mansion.
The girl seemed to hesitate a bit before entering. He couldn't really blame her; she was right to be careful. It wasn't as if they really knew each other.
The big oak door slammed shut behind them.
Inside she kept standing,twitching slightly on her legs, observing the room with her eyes. Finally, she sat down on a couch.
She was the first to break the silence.
"At least my head-ache isn't so bad anymore."
"That head-ache is the Buzz."
"The Buzz. Be glad for it, it warns you when other immortals are near."
He sprawled down on the comfortable leather chair in front of her. Placing his long legs on the marble table in front of him. She barely dared touch the couch she was sitting on.
"Other immortals? Like you."
"Yes. Like me and" he added "like you."
She was silent for a few moments after that. Seemingly trying to weigh the idea of it in her mind. "What does that mean, immortal?"
"Basically that like me, you're now a member of a race that can not die."
It was good the girl was already sitting, she almost fell and was gasping for air.
"Unless someone cuts your head off." Methos continued, a smirk on his face.
"But you said I died." He stopped her before she could continue.
"Temporary. We heal pretty damn fast, but . when we're hurt to bad we seem to die, until we come back to life. You can think of it as some kind of healing trance. What you just went through is what we generally call first death."
She looked down at her hands, turning her eyes away from him. Was that fear in them?
"That must be terrible. Never dying, no matter how old you get."
"We don't age." That caught her atttention.
"What's the catch? This seems so perfect, there has to be one."
"There is. The Game."
"The Game? What Game?"
"All immortals are part of it. We all have to fight until there's only one of us left. That one will win the Prize."
Once again interrupting her.
"No-one and I do mean no-one is really sure what the Prize is."
"Then why would you fight for it?"
"Me?" He sprawled back a bit more. "I just want to survive."
He took out his sword from the coat and put it on the table in front of him.
"Others ... because of what it might be."
"And that would be?"
"The power to rule the world."
"Great, just great."She sat down, leaning her head on her hands, slightly pouting. "Well you can tell whomever invented this Game, I don't want to play."
Methos chuckled slightly.
"You haven't got a choice. You were in from the moment you died." then he got more serious.
"All of us are." The sadness that rang through in his voice angered him somewhat. He hadn't intended to let out that much of himself.
"The only ways to avoid it, are either dying or spending the rest of your life on Holy Ground."
"Holy ground?" the words were spoken softly, almost hopeful.
"It's one of the rules, no immortal may fight on Holy Ground. No matter what religion it belongs to. It's like a sacred rule, no-one and I do mean no-one breaks it."
The girl seemed to be considering his words, still not sure if what he was saying was true or not. Keeping an eye on the sword he'd placed between them.
"And the other rules."
"All fights must be one on one. No interference, especially after a challenge is given. You're not supposed to use anything but bladed weaponry. Swords, axes." He smiled as if they were conspiring something "I tend to break that one every once and a while. You should too. And off course last but not least. There can be only one."
"Great. I'm as good as dead. What could I possibly know about swords, not to mention weapons in general."
"Don't worry, I'll teach you."
"Yeah right." the girl's glance said. He looked at her and could see what she meant. She was sorely lacking in muscles and he could see from the way she moved that she was not used to exercise. The big problem with the youth today ... too little exercise. Not that he couldn't enjoy a bit of lazyness himself.
"But if we're supposed to kill each other why would you help me? Why didn't you just kill me before?" The eternal question. Why hadn't he? Because his damn conscience wouldn't let him, that's why.
"It wouldn't be fair. Killing newbies like you is just not done. It's not like a rule, understand that, but us old guys are supposed to be protecting new kids like you. At least until you can fend for yourself."
"How old are you?"
"I've seen a few centuries."
"Wow."Methos smiled at the girl's open admiration.If she thought a few centuries was much, how would she think of a couple of milennia?
"Can I wash up? Oh my God, I haven't even got clean clothes."
"Don't worry, you can use some of mine."
"Mens clothes?" She looked at him as if he were crazy.
"Hey, excuse me for not being a crossdresser." He overexaggerated his reaction, putting a slight pout on his face. She blushed a bright red.
"I'm sorry, it's just . I won't have any clean underwear."
"I've got some clean boxershorts." He sparkled a feigned hurt look.
"Right." Humor once again appeared in her voice.
"We'll go shopping later."
"I haven't got any money."
"Don't worry, you can use mine till you've got a job of your own. You can pay me back later."
Lore went up to the bathroom. She wasn't in for more than a few moments when the stranger knocked on the door. He was carrying a small load of clothes in his hands. He wanted to bring them in the bathroom, but she shooed him out, so he left the pile by the door.
Inside Lore was looking at herself in the mirror. She hardly even recognised her own face. When she'd stood on the scale it indicated she'd lost at least 40 kilos. It was hard to believe. She wasn't pretty. At least she thought she wasn't, but she was thin. For the first time since she was 10, she could actually say she was thin. Even if Matthew had let her go back, none of her stuff would have fit any more.
/He's cute though. But no, I can't think that way. To him I'm no more than a kid. /
She brushed her teeth. After they had gotten broken up in the accident, they'd healed themselves completely after she died.
/No more rotten teeth ever, that's sure a nice touch. /
As she brushed through her muddy brown hair she noticed she really needed a haircut. Now that her face was thinner, the hair seemed longer. Not long enough to tie it up though. /Let's hope the hair can still be cut without growing back immediately. /
She picked up the boxers.
/Great I'm going to be wearing the underwear of the most attractive stranger I've ever met and we're supposed to be all cool about that?/ She quickly ignored her thoughts and put them on. Giggling she looked at the design.
/Mickey Mouse shorts. He's just so weird/.
He hadn't been able to give her a bra, but somehow she didn't seem to need it so much. It had been a long time since she hadn't felt her breasts hang without wearing one. When she'd pulled the sweater over her head she waited a few seconds to enjoy the loose sensation.
Then she took the jeans and even had to use a belt to keep it on.
/Maybe I can start wearing dresses again. / She felt freer than she'd felt in years. As she came out she saw him waiting for her. His age might have taught him a lot, but patience clearly wasn't among it. She immediately turned to him, taking her turn in interrupting him before he could say something.
"About that shopping."
"We'll go to Antwerps in a few hours." There it was again. That smirk that if she weren't scared to death of what he'd do, could make her want to hit him.
"Don't thank me yet. We'll leave the country afterwards."
The simple phrase hit her like a shock.
"Is that really necessary?"
"It's for the best. I've gotten us tickets for the train to Paris and a couple of fake ID's for the border." He paused for a few seconds. Giving her a moment to think things through.
"It's best if you only buy some of the essentials. Shopping is best done in Paris."
"Why? It'll only be more expensive."
"How would you know?" His voice was arrogant, looking down on her.
"We went to Paris once on a school-trip, from what I noticed in the boutiques, things there cost a lot more than they do here and they usually look just alike." Why would she want to waste more money than she absolutely had to?
Especially on clothes. On books, now that was a whole other thing.
"Great, wait till you meet Amanda. When you do, mind telling her this and make sure I'm there to see her reaction."
"Why?" And who's Amanda?
He didn't respond.
She wasn't sure if there was anything more she could say.
"Oh when we're there, would you mind stopping at a certain bookstore near to the station."
She nearly killed herself for actually saying it. He already thinks you're a kid, so of course you have to make it worse by acting like one. Luckily for her he let it go.
"Sure. It'll give you something to do in the train. That way I can sleep a bit."
She released a breath of relief.
"So you want to make sure I'll ignore your snoring." she teased.
"I don't snore." His face seemed so serious as he said the words as clearly as he could.
"With a nose like that?"
"Again with the nose. I'll have you know, I've never had a wife that complained about my nose."
"You're married?" She looked around. He wasn't wearing a wedding ring or anything.
"Not at the moment, no. But I've been married a few times. My last wife died only a few years ago." At these words an immense sadness seemed to fill his eyes. She felt she could almost drown in those hazel pits of his.
"I'm sorry." She couldn't help the feeling of embarrassement. Bringing up something that was clearly painful to him.
"You didn't know." He turned away.
She looked up at the table.
"I made dinner while I was waiting." He said before placing the last few pots on the table.
"You can cook." She feigned surprise. The smell was delicious.
Two hours later, after Lore had done the dishes they went shopping. The girl looked like a kid in a candystore, trying on every dress she could find, glad that she'd taken the time to shave her legs before they left. Her long black brows trembled in enjoyment as she found one she looked good in.
She looked at the size. Only this morning even the idea of choosing something this small would have been unthinkable. The dress was still decent, but it was fitting. Close fitting. She turned around, allowing the dress to twirl around her legs. Matthew seemed to be getting tired of it.
"Just choose one already, will you."
"OK." The annoyance in his tone shook her up out of her mood. But how could he be expected to understand what this had meant to her. For years she'd been forced to overlook dresses like this one when she went shopping. No matter how much she liked them, her weight wouldn't have allowed her to wear the kind of thing. This was the one time that she left the pants hanging and went straight to the fashion counter. The first time she didn't have to pick between the large sizes. It was the reason she barely never went shopping. It was just plainly to disappointing.
Methos sat sprawled on the edge of the stairs, seeming completely comfortable on the hard stone. His arms were crossed and he was frowning as the girl didn't seem to be able to make up her mind.
Finally she just chose a couple of the dresses, a couple of jeans, some sweaters and shirts. Methos paid and pulled her along to a shoe-store.'How long would it take there.' He was starting to regret his choice of spending his vacation in his mansion in Belgium.
First I can hardly find any food because of that Dioxin-thing and then people start nagging about the cola. Good I don't drink the stuff anyway. But before you know it, they'll pull out the beer, saying there's something wrong with that as well. It'll be good to leave before that happens. He was startled out of his wondering when she was finished after fitting only two different sets of shoes. He quickly bought an extra pair of sneakers just to be sure.
"What now?"he asked.
"The bookstore. I know a great comic-store, not far from here."
"Comics. You actually like those things." He said it with an edge.
"I used to. It's weird. But this whole immortality-thing, it's a bit like if my dreams are coming true with a twist." He chuckled. That was the way it was for most immortals.
As soon as they entered the store, Lore went through the racks. She was looking at the people working there and seemed a bit surprised, almost disapointed that nobody even seemed to recognise her. But then again, she'd lost almost half her weight in one day.
He'd seen the state she'd been in after the accident. The immortality had been forced to use up a big portion of her bodyweight just to gain enough energy to heal her. If she'd been smaller it might have taken her days before she recovered. After she'd taken her selection of comics she took out some Star Wars novels as well.
He looked at her. Giving her an odd gaze.
"What? I like those movies, and the books even more. That second movie was just great."
"Just bloody marvellous. You do realise that most of those moves with the lightsabers are close to impossible." She just shrugged.
"Well excuse me, but I don't watch a movie for the sword fight." Turning back to the books "Not yet at least." he could hear her mutter to herself.
"I'm more interested in the conversation."
"Oh no. Not the big 'Luke I'm your father'-scene." He cringed inwardly a the thought.
"Yep. That one. Say Matt. You don't mind me calling you Matt do you?"
"Off course not."
"Good. Matt, how did we become immortal in the first place? Are we some kind of mutants, like in those books about the X-men."
"Could be. Nobody knows. All I'm sure of is that we're all foundlings."
"Hold it. I'm not a foundling. I'm not even adopted."
"Yes you were."
"No I'm not. I would have known if I'd been adopted, wouldn't I."
"I'm sorry kid. But I've never known an immortal who knew his real parents."
"Anything else I should know about?"She didn't look at him. Keeping her eyes on the books in her hands as if she was trying to avoid him.
"We can't have kids."
"You've got to be kidding me. If we can't have kids and we're all foundlings, then were do we come from."
"My teacher Jo'lon used to say that we come from the winds. I'm akin to believe her."
"My mom and dad aren't my real parents.They lied to me, all these years they lied to me. Why? I just can't understand any of this. What kind of freak am I?"
"You're not a freak. You're just immortal. Now calm down. We're in public remember."
As the girl tried to get a hold on herself, Methos payed for the purchases. As he looked back, nodding to the girl to follow him to the car he could see a man staring at him. Then the Watcher noticed Methos looking right at him. He ducked behind a porch, but it was to late. He told Lore to stay back, out of the way. There was no reason she had to find out about the Watchers.
"Not that fast." Methos held the man in his grip.
"Let's see. A favour for a favour."
"Wh . What?" Methos gazed at him fiercely. The Watcher trembled. "What do you want?" he uttered.
"I need you to give a message to Dawson in Paris. Tell him I'm coming over with a new student. That way he can stock in advance."
Methos turned around, waited for a few seconds.
"Her name is Lore Krajsman. She's from Herentals here in Belgium. Have a nice day."
Then the immortal turned and left, taking his new student with him to the train station.