The Pledge Drive From…

The Second Holy Ground Highlander Forum Midweek Challenge

Archivist’s Note: The stories and vignettes offered here from various Rysher Forumlanders have not been edited or changed other than having a spell-check performed and being reformatted for this website.

It's WEDNESDAY...and that means it's time for The Midweek Challenge!

Posted by Leah CWPack on Wednesday, 12 April 2000, at 9:15 a.m.

For those of you who care to participate, here is your exercise this time around:

Duncan MacLeod, a staunch supporter of the arts, decides to volunteer himself for the latest PBS Seacouver station pledge drive. Not only does he volunteer to man the telephones and take pledges, but he 'generously' volunteers several of his friends (and perhaps enemies) for the same 3 hour, on-air duty.

Write a short scene of the event, or some aspect of the event that ensues. Beyond Duncan, anyone can participate in the scene. Anyone.

Good luck!

Answer to Leah's Midweek Challenge

Posted by Viking Lass CWPack on Wednesday, 12 April 2000, at 2:35 p.m.

*******During hour two of the PBS Seacouver pledge drive*******

"Duncan, can you do the next live camera shot in about ten minutes?" Becky, the red haired, station manager asked.

"Dunna, see why not?" His dark eyes sparkling.

"Oh and can you use your Scottish accent?" She asked sweetly.

"Dunna, see why not?" He said again this time with a small laugh.

"Great!" Becky replied enthusiastically.

Duncan then turned to the telephone section of the studio and observed the three other Immortals he had dragged here. Methos had been reluctant to come saying he enjoyed the works of the cable stations to the public television station. Sitting next to him was Cassandra who had hotly refused to come but Duncan had promised her dinner afterwards and she had then warmed to the idea. The Immortal next to Cassandra had been brought here by Magic. Duncan felt that Kronos would do well at a pledge drive. So he had Cassandra work her Magic and bring Kronos up from Hell for the three hour event. It did Duncan's heart a world of good to see the three ancient Immortals involved in a worthy cause. Secretly he felt that all three of them needed to do a good deed for society. And heck answering phones for a public television pledge drive seemed like an easy way for them to 'give back' to the public.

Duncan decided to listen in on each of their conversations to make sure they were following the rules of the station. He approached Cassandra first.

"You'd like to make a fifty dollar pledge, that will get you the t-shirt and the coffee mug," Cassandra said in her normal voice.

"But you really want to make the hundred and fifty dollar pledge," she said using her Magical Voice.

"Yes you do."

"And you'll receive the canvas tote bag and the umbrella. Let me just get your method of payment and we're all set," Cassandra replied in her normal voice.

Duncan was shocked that Cassandra was using her Magic on unsuspecting supporters of the arts. After her caller had hung up he bent down to Cassandra and whispered angrily, into her ear, "*How* many people have you been doing that with?"

She smiled up at him and said innocently, "Just all of them."

Duncan smacked his hand to his head in exasperation. He shook his head in disbelief and moved on to Kronos.

"You don't want to make a seventy five dollar pledge you want to make the hundred and twenty five dollar pledge." He practically shouted into the phone.

"Why - you ask me?"

"Because if you don't I'll come to your house and kill you if you don't." He said sweetly into the mouthpiece.

"Wonderful, a hundred and twenty five dollar pledge it is. And you'll get the wind chime and key chain with that pledge. Have a pleasant day, ma'am."

Kronos smiled angelically up at Duncan and asked, "Is there a problem, MacLeod?"

Duncan had to keep his frustration in check because Kronos was already dead and he couldn't kill him again.

He sighed deeply and said between clenched teeth, "Yes! There is. Have you been intimidating all the callers?"

Kronos looked sheepish, "Well…maybe…yes."

Duncan looked at him gravely.

Kronos was quick to defend himself, "Highlander, I follow a strict cut throat policy. If the caller doesn't pledge what I want them to, I threaten to cut their throats." He ended his explanation with a smile.

Duncan again smacked his hand to his forehead in exasperation. Woe was him. Dejectedly he moved past Kronos and Cassandra to Methos.

"Really sir, that's wonderful," Methos said politely into the mouth piece.

"Sir, are you going to pledge some money?" He asked his caller.

"Wow, he can do tricks for a meaty-bone," Methos hardly masked his sarcasm.

When Methos felt MacLeod tap him on the shoulder he turned around. MacLeod shrugged his shoulders as in a "what gives?" sort of motion. Methos placed his hand over the receiver and said with a touch of aggravation, "Mac, I have been on the phone with this man for over a half an hour. He's told me about his dog, who he thinks should be the stage double for Wishbone. Never mind that his dog is a poodle and Wishbone is a Jack Russell terrier. And the rules say I can't hang up on this man, I have to try to get a pledge."

Methos bent his head back down to talk to the caller.

"Really sir, I think you have a fine dog, but I don't have any clout with the Wishbone show."

"Sir, can you make a pledge…please?" Methos groaned into the phone.

Duncan clapped Methos on the back in support and empathy. Then he heard Becky hailing him.

"Duncan, you'll do the next live camera appeal to the home audiences."

"Sure," and he got prepped to go but not without giving a worried glance to the three ancient Immortals.

*****At the end of the pledge drive ******* Excitedly Becky made her way to Duncan, who was standing by the water cooler.

"Duncan, I have to thank you for having your friends come. Two of your friends did great, Cassandra and Melvin Koren had some of the highest pledge drives. But your friend Adam only had three calls on his line for the whole three hours, I don't know what that's all about." She said wonderingly. "So please thank them for coming and I hope they can help out in the next pledge drive."

Yes Duncan would have to thank his friends indeed, Magic and threats of violence indeed, if only Becky knew the truth. He bent down to get a cup of water and he felt the Buzz. He looked up to see the three ancient Immortals looking at him with a collective 'not so happy' expression.

Duncan played innocent. "Hey, wasn't that fun guys? Becky wants you to help with the next…" Duncan didn't finish the sentence because three Immortals said in unison, "Never again!" And the three Immortals turned to walk away.

Duncan looked hurt. "But guys…"

Methos, Kronos and Cassandra stopped and turned to look at Duncan and said each word distinctly, "You - owe - us - Highlander."

Duncan opened his mouth to protest but with the looks he got he decided he better not say a word. As he watched the three Immortals link arms and leave the studio he wondered, were the arts really worth the debt he had incurred???!

Answering Leah's Midweek Challenge:

Posted by HonorH the Arctic Wolfe on Wednesday, 12 April 2000, at 3:03 p.m.

Duncan MacLeod stretched, wincing a little at his stiff neck. Talking on phones for two hours straight could do that to a person, he supposed. Maybe he could talk Amanda into a neck rub later on. For now, he had to use the bathroom.

Coming back from the men’s room, Mac looked over the friends he’d volunteered to share the telethon duty with him. Richie, Joe, Amanda, and Methos all sat at phones collecting pledges. Doing some good for society, Mac thought proudly. Yes, this had been a good idea. As he made his way back to his seat, he eavesdropped on them one at a time. Joe was first.

“Yes, ma’am, if you make a one hundred dollar pledge, you receive a station mug, a station satin jacket, a copy of ‘Cats,’ and two gift certificates to dinner at Giardello’s.” Joe paused, grimacing at Mac. Then something the person on the other end said caught the Watcher’s attention. “Well, yes, ma’am, I am single . . . fifty, six foot, run two bars, love the blues . . . really?” Pause. “Well, I suppose I can do that.” Joe scribbled down a figure on his page. Mac’s eyes lit up at the amount. “Okay, then, Friday night at eight. See you then.” Joe hung up and grinned smugly.

“Joe, that’s great!” Mac congratulated. “A five hundred dollar pledge! That’s the biggest that’s come in all night. And look at all those others. How’d you do it?”

Joe’s grin got even more smug. “Seems there are a lot of lonely middle-aged women watching PBS, bub. I’ve got dates for every night this week and next.”

Mac blanched as the truth sank in. “Joe, you’re—you’re pimping yourself out for PBS?!”

Joe wafted his hands. “Hey, it’s a good cause. You said so yourself.” His phone rang again, and as he answered it, Mac moved on to Richie.

The young Immortal eyed Mac with something between strong dislike and utter hatred as he answered another call. “What would you like to pledge?” Richie asked, a bit sourly. “Yes, for twenty-five dollars, you get a station mug. Wimpy prize for a wimpy pledge.” Richie turned bright red suddenly. “Yeah? Well, you know where you can put your twenty-five . . .” He eyed the receiver in disgust, then set it down and glared up at Mac. “You realize I hate you, don’t you?”

Mac looked at his protégé disapprovingly. “Rich, you’re gonna have to be nicer than that if you want to get pledges.”

“Oh, I was nice,” exploded Richie. “After the fiftieth wimpy pledge from someone asking if I’d be interested in her nice, single daughter, though, I about had it. You want to snooker someone into this duty next time around, you can forget me. Besides, if PBS wants to have me as a viewer, they need to start doing documentaries on motorcycle racing.” The phone rang again, and Richie looked at it as if it was a cobra. Mac sighed and moved on to Methos.

“You want more documentaries like that?” asked Methos unbelievingly into his phone. “Come on! The historical inaccuracies were laughable. I mean, slap some heavy eye makeup and gold jewelry on a bunch of actors and call them Phoenicians. Whoopee. You want something really interesting, try the Etruscans. I’m telling you, I could give them a hint or two. I ought to, but they couldn’t afford me. Which brings us to the matter of a pledge.” Methos paused briefly, listening. “Good. That might help somewhat. Your ‘free’ gifts should be arriving sometime in the next two weeks, unless the mailing department here is as inefficient as everything else. Your help is much appreciated.” Methos hung up the phone and glared at Mac. “Explain to me again why I agreed to do this?”

Mac shrugged. “Well, it might have been because I talked Cassandra out of posting your name, location, and picture at www.wantagoodquickening.com.”

Methos muttered and turned back to his phone. Mac moved on to Amanda, who was just wrapping up another phone call. She grinned delightedly at Mac, then shoved her newest pledge at him. Mac’s jaw dropped.

“Twelve hundred dollars?!” he exploded. “Amanda . . . how?”

The thief stretched luxuriously. “Easy as pie, darling. Some sweet, sweet guy named John called up and asked me to say ‘dirt’. Next thing I know, he’s all but begging me to accept his pledge.”

Mac’s jaw worked, but no sound came out. Amanda looked prim.

“He sounded so nice I’m having breakfast with him tomorrow morning. Hope you don’t mind.” With that, Amanda turned and answered another call.

Mac shook his head. Well, it was all for a good cause, he reminded himself.

Heeding the call of Leah's mid-week challenge....

Posted by midnyte rumour on Wednesday, 12 April 2000, at 9:21 p.m.

This is my first posted challenge attempt, so bear with me!

Mac wiped the thin film of sweat off his brow and did a series of vertebrae-crunching neck rolls and torso twists.

This is the absolute last time I volunteer for this exhaustion, PBS or not, the weary Scot grumbled to himself.

He gave himself a mental shake and a stern reminder of the reason he was in the cramped, sweltering TV station. A quick glance around confirmed that the rest of his involuntary volunteers were feeling the effects of the mid-July heat and limited ventilation as well.

Pausing to snag a few bottles of Evian from the slushy cooler, MacLeod sauntered over to a wilted but determined Watcher who was manning the first phone station.

“Terrific. Yes, ma’am, that’s right. Thanks for your support,” Joe chirped into the mouthpiece while closing his eyes and rubbing his temples with his free hand. He gently cradled the receiver back in its standby position and opened one eye to glare balefully at the dark head that was busily fanning its self with a spreadsheet of the donation guidelines.

“Oh, I suppose this is your idea of a delightful Saturday morning, hmmm, MacLeod?” Joe grouched at his friend.

“Joseph,” the big man grinned, “You’ve only just begun. However, if you’re tuckered out and need a break, I can certainly understand that from a gentleman of your age.” The Highland warrior batted his long, dark eyelashes innocently at the slatey gray eyes peering suspiciously back at him.

The blues man snatched the half glasses off his nose and straightened noticeably in his seat.

“Watch it, Highlander, I might be persuaded to shoot you myself. Besides, a promise is a promise. And while it’s not as fun, it certainly is a lot less tiring than playing two sets back to back at one of those gatherings you made me go to last time.”

Duncan beamed delightedly at the prickly figure before him and presented him with a bottle of chilled water from his collection.

“Thanks, Joe. I knew I could count on you.”

He clapped a strong hand on the Watcher’s shoulder and squeezed it quickly before moving off to the next station.

“Ma’am I’m not sure of how to respond to that question. May I have your name and address? I’m sorry, you said you were part of who? The Clan what? What level would you like to donate at, ma'am? Ma’am?” Richie Ryan stood up at his station and rolled his eyes exaggeratedly at his mentor. “Sheesh, Mac, I don’t know what all this is about, but all of these ladies keep calling me and asking me personal stuff—and it must be some kind of relatives or family because they’re all from the Nile region or something like that.”

MacLeod tossed a bottle to the younger man and leaned over the station to glance at the pledges Richie had collected. “Hey, Rich, you’ve done well this hour. I’m very impressed. Sounds like those Nile ladies love you.”

“Yeah, well they’re making me a little nervous with their questions. Still, I am in the top rankings for collecting pledges this hour, and I’ve gotten the numbers of a couple fine sounding young ladies, if you know what I mean,” Richie leered jestingly at MacLeod who snorted in amusement.

“Rich, you certainly are successful. Just so you know, PBS is why we’re here,” Duncan couldn’t seem to resist donning a slightly fatherly tone.

“Relax, Mac. I’ve got it under control. Beside, PBS is way cool—I’ve been telling you that for years. It’s about time you took some of my advice,” the sandy-haired one grinned as he sat back down to answer his next call. “Heck, I may take on the next shift too!”

MacLeod shook his head in wry amusement and gave the young Immortal a thumbs up as he moved back to his own station.

Pausing at the empty area next to his own, he pulled a pocket watch out from a snug front pocket to check the time.

Two hours late, naturally, he griped internally. Where in bloody hell is that man?

Truly irked for the first time since discovering the TV booth had no air conditioning to combat the freakishly hot Seacouver weather, the Highlander flopped down in his own chair.

“We’re back on the air in 2 minutes, people!” the harried stage manager called, “And we’ve got great news. Mr. Pierson has informed us that Duncan MacLeod will be hosting the last hour of this shift!”

MacLeod bolted upright in his chair, “What? I’m doing what?” he gasped.

“That’s right, Boy Scout,” a smooth voice from behind inserted itself in his left ear. “You’re going to win me a night’s worth of beer on the house at Joe’s.”

“M-Adam, where have you been?” the Scot sputtered as he whirled around as far as his chair would allow.

The lanky figure clad in well-worn jeans and a surprisingly pressed polo shirt stretched languidly before answering, “Negotiations took forever, MacLeod.”

“What negotiations, and what does she mean, ‘hosting’ this hour?”

“The pledge drive, of course. You’re live on the air convincing all of those PBS watchers it is their moral obligation to contribute for the welfare of this station. I merely had to set it up for you---that is what you wanted isn’t it? To raise as much money as possible for the fundraiser?” The corner of Methos’ mouth twitched upward at the rapid succession of emotions that played over the Highlander’s countenance.

“Yes, but…” Duncan sighed in resignation. “What do you expect me to do up there for an hour?”

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll think of something to do with that charming face of yours,” came the smug reply. “Now off with you so I can rack up that pledge money!”

“On the air live, in ten, nine, eight..,”

Duncan plowed his fingers through his dark locks made wild and wavy with the heavy humidity. Then he smiled sweetly at the sprawled figure before him and scooted off to claim his microphone.

“Good morning folks, and welcome back. My name is Duncan MacLeod, and I have an absolute treat for you this morning. PBS is all about bringing you the best programming possible on a variety of topics. This morning we are lucky to have with us Adam Pierson, professor of ancient languages and dedicated member of the city’s Shakespearian Company. He will be gracing us with a rare solo rendition of Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ in which he will play not only our hero, but our heroine as well---Adam, come on up!”

Leah's midweek challenge...

Posted by Irish, still recovering from yesterday on Wednesday, 12 April 2000, at 9:58 p.m.

Please be kind Monday at 11:45pm my husband and I were sitting in the local tavern with our daughter and her boyfriend waiting for 12:01 to buy her her first official drink. Mind you I'm a night owl but I can't keep up with the kids in drinking anymore, not when we went out to dinner last night with them to celebrate too. Oh, I guess it's not boyfriend friend any more but future son-in-law.

Seacouver PBS pledge drive as they near their last hour.

Duncan was getting a quick cup of coffee before going back to the phones. He'd been kind of worried during the last break. Amanda, Joe, Methos and Richie were not pleased with him. they weren't happy about manning the phones for the PBS pledge drive. They had been huddled together and wouldn't talk to him. He'd been afraid they were going to walk out.

He'd seen Amanda talking to the station manager just before they all went back to work. After that they all seemed very happy, and had stopped giving him nasty looks.

As he started back to his seat he began to get a little worried. They were up to something, they were just to happy after all that grumbling. Where was Amanda? Looking around he spotted her with the station manager on camera.

"Mr. MacLeod would you please come down here and sit on the stool in front of our volunteers please?"

Duncan agreed, what else could he do the cameras were now on him.

"Ms. Montrose, I'll turn this segment over to you."

"Why, thank you Mr. Stevens. As we explained this is a very special presentation. Something we don't usually do, but due to the number of phone calls we've received, we decided to hold an auction during this last hour."

"Mr. MacLeod has graciously agreed to be auctioned off for an evening of dinning and dancing, a picnic and horseback riding, or what ever the two of you agree on. Although I must tell you from personal experience Mr. MacLeod is a superb chief and a wonderful dancer. The minimum bid will begin at $500."

"A woman bids $1000 if he'll wash her windows and cook dinner" Joe calls out.

"$1500 if he'll wash and wax her truck shirtless," Richie chokes back laughter.

"$2500 if he'll help a woman bath her two mastiffs." Methos called out grinning at Mac.

Duncan trying to smile naturally in front of the cameras wondering why he thought this had been a good idea.

(I think it's time I went to bed. Sorry for any misspellings.)

 (sung to "Midnight Special") "It's the Mid-Week Challenge".. okay, here goes...

Posted by Titania on Wednesday, 12 April 2000, at 9:59 p.m.

After a double of good Scotch whiskey, Duncan vowed he would never volunteer to participate in a pledge drive again. That's if the PBS station would let him. Holding the restraining order, he mused that hell would freeze over first. It had all started out so simply. "I'll give back to the community" he had thought. "It will give the gang something to do instead of play poker and drink my beer." Instead it had given him a huge headache and a restraining order. As the glow from the liquor took effect the memories of the last three hours flowed through his mind.

"Amanda, don't even think of stealing Big Bird's feathers. No, I don't care how much they're worth on the black-market."

"Ritchie, you cannot promise your friends dates with Amanda in exchange for pledges."

"Methos, would you stop telling the station manager what's wrong with Nova's Stonehenge documentary. He's not responsible for heaven's sake!"

"Cassandra, please stop hexing Methos. You make the station's broadcast go out every time you do that!"

"Kronos, don't even think of trying to restart the four horsemen with the Tellytubbies!"

"Silas, you cannot take Elmo home with you."

"Caspian, Zooboomafo is a puppet! You can't eat him, you dolt!"

As Duncan fell into an alcohol stupor his last coherent thought was "I should have let Kalas take my head when I had the chance."

FIN

Okay, here it is...my midweek challenge entry....

Posted by Harmony on Thursday, 13 April 2000, at 2:35 p.m.

....It's certainly different this time around.

*******************

You what?!?

The incredulous tone in Dawson's voice was palpable.

"Is this for real, MacLeod?"

"Absolutely, Joe." Mac answered.

"I don't believe you. Even in your dark quickening state, you weren't this crazy."

"What can I say? There isn't anything I wouldn't do for the arts," Duncan quipped.

"I know, but this is carrying philanthropy a bit too far. Way too far," Joe remarked. "What if things get out of hand? Then what?"

"I have it all under control." Mac returned.

"Let me get this straight, you've contacted Arhiman and arranged to have Horton, Kronos, Xavier and Kalas returned, just to man the PBS pledge drive phones? I mean, you literally made a deal with the devil?"

"Uh…not exactly, Joe. It's a bit more complicated than that."

"Yeah…I bet it is." Joe retorted, shaking his head. "Well, my friend, I sure hope you know what you're doing. This could get pretty ugly."

"Have a little faith, Joseph." Duncan replied.

Duncan looked on as the elderly Watcher ambled away, his cane making small clicking sounds on the station's linoleum floor. He turned his attention back to the studio where long tables had been set up, each with six chairs and corresponding telephones. Duncan walked up to Randi McFarland, who was in charge of overseeing the pledge drive this year.

"Hello, MacLeod," Randi cheerfully greeted him. "I'm kinda surprised to see you here."

"Why? I've always supported the arts." he replied.

"I know, but this just doesn't seem to be the place for you, you know? You're kind of out of your element here."

"Whatever that means," he answered. "Anyway, could you set one of those tables apart from the others. I have some people coming to help and I think it might work better to have them set apart from the rest of the volunteers."

Randi's eyebrows went up slightly.

"Really? Why is that?" she asked.

"Well, these guys aren't exactly your run-of-the-mill folks. Don't get me wrong, they'll be more than happy to help out for such a good cause. But they're…say…a bit rough around the edges."

"Okay, MacLeod, fess up. Who are these guys?" she queried. "The last thing we need here is any trouble."

Duncan gave her a sickly sweet smile.

"I'm not the one here who causes trouble. Okay, okay, I'll personally oversee their behavior. Trust me, there won't be any trouble." he replied.

"Okay MacLeod. You've been pretty supportive of PBS over the years, I guess I'll have to take you at your word."

Randi gave Duncan a sideways glance. He could be so infuriatingly mysterious, but there was something about him. And it was more than just his good looks. She sighed as she turned her attention back to the crew.

An hour later the studio was teaming with volunteers of all ages, shapes and sizes. Duncan pulled out his pocket watch and checked the time. Ten till nine. They should be arriving any minute now. He walked over and checked the table the four would be using. Everything seemed in order.

Although he refused to show it, he was slightly nervous. What if Joe was right? What if things turned ugly? He dispelled the thought from his head. Nothing would go wrong. After all, he would be the only one of them truly alive. He was in total command, here. Besides, he had an ace in the hole.

He heard a slight rustling sound behind him and turned to come face to face with Horton and Xavier. Why wasn't he surprised to see these two together again? Seemed their unholy alliance had extended into the hereafter.

"Well," he remarked, "if it isn't the Bobsey twins."

"What are you mumbling about, MacLeod?" Horton remarked.

"You're still as righteous as ever, I see, MacLeod," said Xavier.

"Not righteous….noble," the gravel voice of Kalas was unmistakable as Duncan saw him emerge from the shadows.

"Where's Kronos?" Duncan inquired, ignoring the sarcastic remarks.

"He'll be along shortly. We thought it best if he donned some twentieth century clothing. He hates blending in, but we insisted." Xavier said.

"Yeah" quipped Horton, "that face paint had to go. And I don't think the man has bathed since….well….the end of time."

This comment brought a chuckle from Xavier.

"Touché." Kalas responded. "Seriously, MacLeod, we were all intrigued with your little proposal and wanted to put our best foot forward."

"How very thoughtful of you." Duncan couldn't resist a little sarcasm of his own.

Just as he was getting them situated at their table, he heard footsteps and turned to see Kronos walking toward them. He met Kronos' steely gaze as the horseman approached him.

"MacLeod, why did you do this? To prove your superiority over us? You really shouldn't have bothered. All of us have all been at the wrong end of your blade….we know who is superior." Kronos lamented.

"This isn't about that." Duncan remarked.

"Really? And where is our two-timing, treacherous friend? Kronos asked.

"If you mean Methos, he's…away. Just as well, I don't imagine the two of you have anything left to say to each other. Do you?"

Kronos ignored the question and pushed his way past Duncan to sit down in the only empty chair left at the table. Duncan stood in front of the table.

"Okay guys, here's how this works. When the phones ring, you answer in your sweetest voice and write down the amount of money the good people are pledging. There are various items that go with various amounts, it's all written down there for you. After you get the information, thank them and move on to the next call. Everybody got it?""

"This is what you called us back here for?" Kalas asked.

"Yeah, you got a problem with that? It's all for a good cause and you know what? If anyone deserves to make some kind of restitution for their crimes, it's the four of you. So shut up and do something decent for a change."

"Sheesh, don't be so peevish, MacLeod. It doesn't become you," remarked Horton.

The phones started ringing and soon all four were busy writing. Duncan saw Dawson come into the room and motioned him over. Joe glanced at the four former foes and caught Horton's eye. The look between them was poisonous, but they didn't say a word.

"So, I did some checking when I left here earlier and I found out what all this is about. You sure are a ballsy son-of-a-bitch, MacLeod, I have to give you that. Even for you, this is unbelievable," Joe said.

"What do you mean, Joe?"

Dawson gave him a long stare.

"And I thought you made a deal with the devil," Joe laughed. "I should have known you better than that. I ran into someone outside; someone who's here to see you. He's over there, behind the curtain. Go ahead, I'll keep an eye on these characters, "Joe said, motioning to the huge black curtain at the back of the studio.

Duncan walked over and had no sooner disappeared behind the heavy velvet when he saw him. His back was turned to Mac, but it was undeniably him. For just an instant, tears welled in Duncan's eyes. He had waited for this moment for so long, and now that it was here, he wasn't at all sure he could handle the enormity of emotion. Then, before he had the chance to think about it any more, the figure turned and Duncan was staring into Richie's boyish face.

"Hey, Mac," Richie said. "Boy, it's good to finally see you again."

Richie came over and grabbed Duncan in a manly hug. Duncan's arms felt like lead as they automatically came up to grab Richie in a tight squeeze. Richie tried to break away, but Duncan held him fast.

"Mac, Mac, it's okay."

Duncan released him and stood back looking at him.

"There's so much I want to say, Richie. So much I have to explain."

"No you don't. I already know. It's okay Duncan," Richie said.

Duncan had so rarely heard Richie used his real name, it took him aback for an instant. Richie continued.

"Listen, it took me awhile to piece everything together, and I had a lot of help from some people in very high places, know what I mean?" Richie smiled as he glanced upward.

"In fact, I'm not sure how you managed to contact my boss, but he told me you arranged this whole scenario down here and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see you one more time."

Duncan listened to Richie without uttering a word. He just let the boy continue.

"Anyway, Mac, I know there's lots to do. I appreciate you letting me supervise the lads over there. Means a lot to me that you think I can handle them. I won't let you down, I promise. I've learned a few things since I've been gone."

"Richie, I have so much to say to you," Duncan repeated.

"You don't have to Mac," Richie returned. "I don't blame you for what happened. I know you were caught in something beyond your control. We all were. Promise me, no more guilt feelings. I'm happy now, probably happier than I ever was here. Not that I'm not grateful to you and Tessa. My time with you both is special to me. But I'm at a different, better place now. Please be happy for me."

Duncan felt a lump in his throat.

"I am happy for you Richie. I just wanted the chance to see you again, talk to you again, touch you again," he said as he reached out and felt Richie's sleeve.

Richie held both arms out in a mock gesture.

"Well, here I am. Touch away." he laughed.

Then he rubbed his hands together and grabbed Duncan around the shoulder as he turned him toward the studio lights.

"Now, let me at these guys." Richie joked as he and the Highlander walked toward the volunteers.

Midweek Challenge Lyttony

Posted by Big John on Thursday, 13 April 2000, at 5:13 p.m.

Duncan MacLeod's large hands felt especially warm as the heat from the paper cups of coffee eased right through the thin cardboard of the box in which he carried them.

Richie, busy with a caller, scrunched his face together and asked with his eyes, "Is a Pepsi too much to ask for?" Duncan smiled and shrugged as he placed Richie's coffee before him.

"Big John!" Amanda squealed as Duncan delivered her coffee. "Sweetie, it's so good to hear from you again. You want to give another $1,200? Honey, you're just the sweetest thing I've ever met. And not stubborn like some men I know," she said, arching her eyebrows and smiling at MacLeod.

Duncan continued on, handing cups of coffee to Methos and Joe. Joe accepted his with a tired smile, but from Joe Dawson even the most tired smile was full of warmth.

Finally Duncan delivered the last cup of coffee, just in time to hear this snippet of conversation:

"You're only pledging a quarter?" Inspector LeBrun asked. "You son-of-a-bitch!"

:)

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