science experiment gone wrong
Highlander Universe: Loves Past and Present
Highlander Universe: Loves Past and Present.
A couple of months ago he made up his mind and decided to leave his then current life behind, go on a soul searching journey of sorts. Because of a family member that he never knew existed before a month or so ago his life was now heading somewhere dark. Unfortunately somewhere familiar as well. After the Korean War he found himself heading down a similar dark path. Back then a meeting with a young priest that he would one day call one of his closest friends helped pull him back toward the light. Now he had convinced himself he needed to drag himself from this dark path, away from everybody he had ever cared about. As always she had other plans. Finding him as he planted his Uncle’s claymore into the cemetery ground of his father’s old village, they reconciled. And he wasn’t alone on this journey any more.
Owen McAllister, born on this Earth three hundred and fifty years ago, stood looking out a hotel window. Wearing nothing but an old pair of sweat pants he studied his faint reflection in it, still seeing a hint of a shadow in it. And that shadow scared him on some level. A shadow that was sent after him by that family member only because of who his father was. A shadow that seemed determined to linger. Sometimes after absorbing a powerful Quickening traces of the person would stay with him for awhile. This one, this “Big Evil”, seemed determined to stick around for as long as he could. And it was one of the reasons why he wanted to take this journey alone. Because that shadow scared him. But as always she could change those plans on him without a moment’s notice, or him realizing it.
Hearing rustling of the sheets behind him he glanced back as a raven haired beauty reached out, searching for him on his side of the bed. As she got up he caught a quick glimpse of her naked form before she put on a robe and he returned his attention to the window, this time looking through it instead of at it. Wrapping her arms around his waist she rested her head on his shoulder as she stood behind him. She looked out the window with him. He concentrated on the feeling of her warmth against him as she spoke, “Beautiful night.”
“Yes it is,” he agreed. Out here in a small town Ireland, where he was born so many years ago, the sky was clear enough tonight so they had a wonderful view of the stars twinkling in the darkness.
“It’s boring,” she said in his ear. Owen lip curled in the slightest smirk. He knew that would come out of Natalya sooner or later.
“I told you I had no problem canceling my reservations here and book into a fancier hotel.”
“It would be boring there too,” she said squeezing him a little tighter. “Your whole home town is boring, no offence. But since we’re trying to make another go at it we should learn to compromise. So if places this makes you happy I’ll learn to suffer through it.”
“Don’t make it sound like a chore or anything.” Owen turned around so he could wrap his arms around her. “What are you doing up?”
“I realize what tomorrow is,” she explained resting her head against him. “I want to get every moment out of you that I can get before you disappear for the day. Owen I love you but I hate the fact there are two days out of the year that I have to share you.”
“I know,” he said softly, “I’m amazed you’ve put up with this for this long.”
“Well I try to tell myself that out of the three hundred and sixty-five days out of the year you’re all mine for the other three hundred and sixty-three,” she smiled at him. “And I know why you do it but it’s still damn annoying on those two days.”
Letting go so he could sit on the window sill Owen took her hands, “And I made a promise to myself to remember both of them for as long as I am able. I think we both know I’ve been with more than my fair share of women over the centuries.”
“And yet I don’t call you a slut,” Natalya said looking away from him.
He waited until she faced him again, “But I can truefully say I’ve only been in love, true love, three times in my life. And each one in very different ways. I loved Deborah because she saw past my family’s outcast status and found the real me and brought me to life. Himiko was a kindred spirit, two damaged soul who brought each other a happiness they didn’t know they could feel.”
Natalya studied his face for a few silent moments, “And how about this third one?”
“Her,” he let go of her hands and pulled her closer to him by the waist, “well she was a royal pain in the ass at first. Tried to kill me in my sleep even. But once she got out on her own and started seeing the world through her own eyes she changed into the most wonderful person. Somebody who captured my heart and a person I cannot see myself without.”
“You’re getting better with that that answer,” she grinned.
“I try,” he smiled back. “At least we didn’t wait so long to renew our friendship slash relationship after our last break up.”
“This is true,” she agreed. “Fortunately we were relatively close otherwise I might have given in to my cold feet and not show.”
“I know I had butterflies doing the rumba in my stomach.”
In a middle of a crowded restaurant Owen sat there nervously waiting for her to arrive. And praying to God that this wasn’t a huge mistake. A mutual friend of theirs set this up, contacting her on a mobile phone, that was smaller than her was expecting personally. Watching all the happy couples around him he also prayed there were enough people around that neither of them would make a scene. Then he felt a familiar sensation that started in the back of his head and slammed into his stomach making his previous case of nerves even worse. Looking up he didn’t see the person he expected to see. “Not now,” he grunted.
Standing behind him was a tall man, whose dark hair was tied up in a tight ponytail. Opening his mouth a Scottish brogue spoke to him, “I am Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod.”
“Owen McAllister,” he quickly returned as he stood up. “And I’m not looking for a fight at this exact moment.” He gestured toward the table hoping what everybody else said about the man was true.
“I see,” he said losing the brogue. “I wasn’t either to be honest with you. It wouldn’t be the first time somebody tried to interrupt me during dinner. I thought I try and head it off before it went too far this time.” It was a bit hard to fault him there, he had to leave a few dinners behind as well over the years.
“Duncan we’re sitting over there,” a voice with more than a hint of a French accent came behind him. He moved to reveal a stunning blond woman in a brilliant black and blue dress looking at the both of them. “Oh hello, is this an old friend of yours?” They way she said old and how she smiled made Owen arch an eyebrow slightly.
“A mistake on my part Tess,” MacLeod told her. “I thought he was somebody else.”
“I have that kind of face,” Owen quickly added. “It happens to me all the time.”
“I’ll be over there in a moment Tess. Sorry to have bothered bother you,” MacLeod said as the woman left, “enjoy your dinner.”
“You too,” Owen said. Then he took a better look at this Tess and added, “Not bad man.”
“Watch it,” Macleod warned him then smiled as he left. One crisis diverted.
It wasn’t long before he felt the buzz again. “Oh let this one be her.” And was more than happy that it was when he turned around. “Natalya,” he greeted her.
“Was that Duncan MacLeod?”, she said instead of greeting him. “What a fox.”
“Down girl,” Owen told, slightly annoyed.
“Hello to you too Owen,” she said kissing his cheek.
Owen looked at the designer red dress she was wearing and tried not to think about how much that jewelry she was wearing cost. And he was suddenly feeling underdressed in the plain grey suit he was wearing. “I see you decided to dress down for the occasion,” Owen said hoping she get that it was joke.
“I thought of dressing in something a little fancier but realized it was just you so I thought, why bother?”, she joked back. Owen held out the chair for her as she sat down and he took his right across from her. “How have you been Owen?”
“I’ve been alright I guess,” he answered. “You?”
“I’ve been fine, traveling here and there. You know how I am.” Owen nodded in silent agreement. “It is really good to see that you’re still alive Owen,” she said after a bit. “I was afraid that our last words to each other were the ones we said during that argument.”
“I’m glad nobody got to you either,” he agreed. At that moment he really wanted to ask if she revealed she was alive to her father yet. It was one of the big reasons for that argument that split them up a few years ago. That and other things about their lives that was apparently incompatible. But this was supposed to be a happy occasion. “So how have things been in Paris or New York or wherever the current fashion hot spot is?”
“Same as it always is,” she said. “New hot ‘it’ people come on the scene in a blaze of glory. Most burn out soon after. It’s a bit sad when you think about.”
“I’ve been trying to keep up with the fashion world. I know you thought about trying your hand at that sort of thing,” Owen said. “I’ve been trying to see if you actually went for it.”
Natalya smiled, “Unfortunately my father never taught me how to tolerate that type of person like he could when I was younger. Besides there are too many idiots in that would that I’d want to strangle. It would have been counterproductive to my career.”
“I pity any idiot that would have got in your way,” Owen said as they shared a small laugh.
“Oh trust me I have been tested by those idiots more than once lately. Would you believe this one so called ‘up and comer’ wouldn’t even let me try on a new dress he designed? All because I didn’t have the right type of earrings on. Can you believe it?” Readjusting herself in her chair she muttered, “I was never that stuck up. And don’t you say a word,” she added with a finger pointed in his face.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” Owen quickly said. “But I’m glad I brought these now,” he said without thinking. And naturally that got a strange look from her. “Never mind, I didn’t say anything.”
“Glad you brought what?”, she said starting to look suspicious. Might as well get it out in the open, he couldn’t get out of it now.
Owen reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small velvet box, he opened to reveal a set of dangling earrings with three diamonds embedded in them. Natalya was speechless as she took the box from him and stared at them. He explained, “I bought those about a month before we had that big fight. I saw them in a store window and knew your birthday was coming up soon. I don’t know why I kept them, I don’t even know why I brought them,” he went on as she continued to remain silent, just staring at the contents of the velvet box. “You probably think I’m trying to buy you back or something.” He went to leave but her hand caught his before he could.
“They’re beautiful,” she said. Then she closed it and started to hand it back.
“Keep them,” Owen stopped her, “they were for your birthday anyway. And I have absolutely nothing that goes with them.” She laughed.
“Thank you for the very late birthday present,” she told him. A particular song started playing. Both of them look up amazed at the timing. “This used to be our song,” she said thinking back. “If I didn’t know any better I would think some sort of higher power was trying to get us back together.”
“I think that would be stretching things just a bit.”
A familiar smile gracing her lips Natalya asked, “Should we dance? For old time’s sakes.”
Looking around the room Owen said, “Nobody else is. I don’t think they even have a dance floor.”
There was more than a familiar twinkle in her eye as she said, “Never stopped us before.” Owen stood up and held out his hand that she took it and they started moving to the beat. Everybody in the restaurant stared at them but they didn’t care. Although Owen thought he caught that woman that was with MacLeod smiling at them. After a moment Natalya said, “I’m sorry for the things I said to you Owen.”
“I’m sorry for the things I said too,” he told her. “I have missed being around you more than I think you realize.”
“I’ve missed you too. I want you in my life Owen. We’ve been through too much to end things over that stupid fight.”
“I want you in my life too.”
“We can always be friend,” she said. “I think it’s the only way we can work.”
“I can handle just friends,” Owen agreed. They danced on till well after the song was over.
“I still have those earrings too,” Natalya said with a smile.
“Really?”, Owen asked, feeling truly amazed. “I’ve seen you go through jewelry faster than most people go through shoes.”
“I always keep things that are extra special,” she informed him getting out of his grasp with a tap to his nose. Heading over to the bed she stopped before facing him again. “Tell me some more about them.”
Owen wasn’t exactly who she was talking about, “Who?”
“Deborah and Himiko,” she answered. “I mean you told me things about them here and there. But I still don’t know a lot of things about them. I don’t even know the details on how Himiko died. You told me how Deborah died but not her. All you have ever said was an immortal woman killed her”
For a brief moment Owen was thrown back to that time in his memory. The scent of the burning village ravaged his nose as he and Naoto desperately fought the mortal men around them by the cliffs overlooking the sea. Slightly above them an immortal woman, another outsider mocking the rest of them by wearing samurai style armor, watched with some satisfaction at the chaos below. Beside her, bound and on her knees was Himiko. Tears flowed down her cheek mirroring the scar on the left side of her face, calling out for him. Every time he was close to breaking free and running to save her another one got in his way. A blade pierced his side and he went to a knee. A swing from his long sword detached the leg from his attacker’s body and he looked up at his wife. The immortal woman just smiled as she said something to him. Then she slowly raised the sword over her head...
In the back of his mind the shadow in his reflection seemed to laugh at his desire for revenge. Owen quickly got out of that memory. “That one still a sore spot,” he told her getting off the window and walking to the dresser. Natalya smiled a sad smile, knowing he’d tell her when he was ready but wishing she let her help him.
Natalya sat on the edge of the bed, “All right then, tell me something happy. Something about them I wouldn’t expect. I mean I always picture Deborah to be this prim and proper woman.”
His darkness seemed to disappear slightly as he thought about her. “Not exactly two words I would use to describe Deborah,” he smiled slightly. “Oh she could be a proper lady when she had to be. She was usually more fun when she wasn’t.”
“I didn’t ask to hear about your sexcapades,” Natalya informed him.
“And I wasn’t thinking about them.”
Owen had started courting Deborah roughly a year before they were married, officially. Unofficially he was doing so behind her parents and the town’s back for a few months. Her father was a hard sell just because of his family outcast status. But somehow he, and Deborah more than likely, wore him down and agreed to let it happen. So far they tried to be careful about what they did in public, Owen in particular. He knew a couple of people disapproved of this potential union and was more than wiling to spread lies about them and he didn’t want to add any wood to the fire. Often he would meet up with her at the pub she worked in close to when she was supposed to go home. One particular evening he walked into the pub to see everyone having a good time. “I’ll have a pint,” Owen said as he went the bar and put a coin on the counter.
“Yer money no good here McAllister,” the barkeep said. “My Beatrice on the other hand says no money is no good so I guess I have to serve ya.” It was a good nature joke. He was the one who pushed Owen and Deborah together in the first place so he took no offence to it. Besides he was one of the men who befriended his father when he first arrived years ago, so Owen had known him his entire life.
“Letting a woman run your business,” he said in mock disbelief, “what kind of a man are you?”
“A smart one,” Deborah said coming toward him. “It’s more than I can say about his current customer.”
“Are you going to let her talk to me like that? I am paying for this after all.”
“I’ve learned never to mess with her in that mood, or any mood for that matter,” the barkeep said with a smirk. “And if you were smart lad you’ll learn that as well and fast.”
“And what do you say about that Mister McAllister?”, Deborah putting her hands on her hips.
“I say come here woman,” she squealed as he pulled her in his lap and held her tight.
She protested, “We’re in public.”
“Most of them are too drunk to be remembering anything later.”
“Except for me,” the barkeep pointed out.
“And how many pints do I have to buy to make you forget?”, Owen asked.
“So many you’ll forget what to do with her,” he laughed. Deborah slapped a rag on Owen’s head as he laughed as well and tried to get out of his lap but he held on tight.
“And where do you think you’re going?”
“I still have tables to serve,” she told him. “These drinks won’t go to them on their own now will they?”
“Do a couple of more,” the barkeep said. “I think I will be able to let you go early after that. But don’t get used to it. You caught me on a good day. If it was a bad one I’d keep you over until everybody left.”
“When are you ever in a bad mood?”, Owen asked.
“I don’t know,” he said, “I don’t think I ever been in one.” He laughed again as Owen let Deborah go with a smack on the rump. “Yer a lucky man Owen,” he said after she left. “Not every day you find a woman willing to put up with the likes of you.”
“If Beatrice can put up with you,” Owen shot back. He pointed a finger at him but they started laughing again. Owen watched Deborah do her duties with a smile on his face. He was right, Owen was lucky to have a woman like Deborah in his life.
He was almost finished with his pint when the door opened up and a couple of rough looking men came in. The barkeep put a hand on Owen’s forearm to stop him from doing anything stupid. Not that he would give them the satisfaction. The moron in charge was one of the men who were extremely vocal in his displeasure that Owen’s family was still living in the area. Using the outcast label every chance he got. He was also from one of the wealthier families in town and usually got away with such. He took one look at Owen and held up his nose. “I thought this pub serviced a better class of people.”
“Easy lad,” the barkeep whispered and slid him another pint. “My place is welcome to all, money is money as my Beatrice always say.”
“Then both of you are an idiots.” The barkeep motioned for one of the other women in the pub to take their table that was a few feet behind Owen. Deborah looked grateful. The man said something that made Deborah flush with anger but she walked past them.
He heard similar whisper like that for most of his life and had learned to ignore them long ago. But something about how Deborah reacted and that second pint hit Owen in just the right way. He stood up and faced the group who pretended to ignore him. “What did you just say?”
“I did not say a thing, and especially not to you outcast,” he said.
“Oh I see,” Owen said. “You can’t say anything to a man’s face, but only behind their back like a wee little girl.” The crowd in the pub got quiet as the man stood. “Well I’m waiting?”
“And outcasts such as yourself are not worth my time or effort,” he said.
“Then you are a wee little girl then?” He looked at his more brutish companions who stood up and faced Owen. “You are a little girl, sending somebody else to do your fighting for you.”
“Now boys,” the barkeep quickly got between them, “I don’t want any trouble. You do any fighting you do it outside. Is that understood?” The two went past him and straight toward Owen. He ducked a wild swing from one and planted a fist into his sizable gut. “Oh hell,” the barkeep quickly got out of the way. The other one grabbed him from behind. Owen threw his head breaking the brute’s nose on contact. He let go but Owen staggered forward holding the back of his head, damn that hurt. The first one clocked him with a fist that sent him against the bar. Owen kicked back and nailed that gut again. The other tried to get on top of him but Owen saw it time and moved. Grabbing his head he slammed his face into the bar. The first one grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and pulled back. Owen tried to fight but the other one shook off the cobwebs and grabbed him from behind, pinning his arms behind his back. The first one started returning the favor as planted his fist into Owen stomach. “Oh hell,” the barkeep said as he grabbed a metal cup and slammed it against the head of the one holding Owen. The first one looked at the old man then went down as Owen kicked him between the legs. The barkeep kept slamming the cup against the other one’s head until Owen could get free.
The ring leader started to pull a blade out of his boot. Deborah saw this and slammed a tray on top of his head. Then across his face as he turned toward her. “He’s right about you being a wee little girl,” she said with a smirk. Owen and the barkeep kept pounding on the second one as first grabbed a chair. “Owen!”, he looked back in time to move. He splintered the chair against his companion’s head and he went down in a heap. Owen dropped him with a punch that took him out as well. The ring leader slowly stood up and Deborah tapped him the shoulder. She smiled sweetly and nailed him with the tray one more time for good measure. She stepped on him as she went to check on Owen.
Going back behind the bar the barkeep came back out holding three metal cups full of whiskey, “Oh this is going to hurt if Beatrice ever finds out.” Standing a little straighter he looked at all three fallen men and sternly said, “Now don’t you three get so drunk that you spill most of it on yourselves and fall down to the ground.” He poured the contents on all three men then smirked a bit, “Well I warned them not to do that.” Looking over at the two of them he said, “Now get out of here before they come too.”
“Sorry about the mess,” Owen said as Deborah wiped some blood off his lip.
“Nobody likes these three anyway,” he shrugged it off, “I’d say it’s worth it to see them knocked down a peg or two.”
Owen tried to laugh but the pain in his gut stopped it. Deborah helped him over one of the bigger ones as they exited the pub. Owen looked back then at here. “That wasn’t very lady like.”
“Who needed to be a lady in that situation?”, she asked.
After he finished his tale Natalya could only say, “Wow.” Joining him by the dresser she still looked in disbelief, “That sounds nothing like the Deborah you told me about before.”
“She had her moments,” Owen smiled still thinking about her. “Especially working at that pub. And the old man was right, I learned never to mess with her in that mood.” He rubbed his chin from the memory. “Okay, now it’s your turn.”
“You don’t want to hear anything I have to say about my love life,” Natalya told him.
“Hey it’s only fair,” he insisted. “You’re poking around in my past I should be able to do the same.”
“And I’ve been very open about my past and who I’ve been with,” she reminded him.
Owen continued to push the matter, “There has to be something you’ve been keeping secret from me all this time.”
“Well there was this one thing,” Natalya conceded. Owen sat against the dresser looking interested. “You have to understand, I did it as a favor to a friend at the time, otherwise I would have never even dated this guy to begin with.”
The club was jumping as everyone danced to the music of the time. All except for Natalya who sat at the table wanting to be anywhere but there at that moment. But the skinny man in glasses she was with didn’t know how to dance, nor did he want her to do anything without him. She made a vow that this would be the last time she would ever date a brother of a friend, again. “Mary,” he said in that nasally voice of his, “are you enjoying yourself?”
“Yes,” she lied through her teeth, showing him a fake smile that made her face hurt.
He looked happy with her answer. “Tell me what you love most about me.”
She was going to be physically ill but she kept the smile “Well Hubert… you’re… witty… fun,” she had to strain to get that one out, “to be around and…” She trailed off as she felt the buzz. Looking around she spotted the source at the front of the club. Standing there scanning the crowd with the practiced ease most immortal had when they lived as long as they have was one Owen McAllister. Her plastered smile was replaced with a genuine one as soon as she saw him. Turning to Hubert she said, “And you are an absolute bore and I never want to see you again.” She gathered her things and left the table before he could respond. Practically running over to Owen she started making out with him on the floor, catching him totally by surprise.
“You did not,” Owen said remembering that part of that particular night as clear as day.
“I did,” Natalya admitted. “Oh don’t look that way. You were my savior that evening and I was showing my gratitude.”
Then something else occurred to him, “Is that why that guy tried to punch my head off that night?”
“Oh please,” Natalya said, “Hubert was a ninety-eight pound weakling who got tired making a fist. I have no idea what you did to piss off that other guy.” Owen just looked at her. “Well Hubert did come from old money. It’s possible he might have paid that guy off to beat you up.”
“And you were keeping that from me for how long?”
“You saved me from a bore that’s all that matters,” she gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“I got into a fight on count of you and didn’t even know it,” he shot back.
“Don’t bitch, it’s not an attractive look for you,” Natalya told him. “All right you’re turn again. Tell me something about Himiko.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Tell me about that time her and Naoto met Susan,” she said after thinking about it. “That sounded like it’d be interesting.”
“You should ask Susan about it,” Owen said trying to get out of it.
“I did,” she informed him, “she said you would tell it better.”
Owen silently debated telling her this one. Finally he decided to just come out with it. “It was a couple of years after me and Himiko were married. She apparently heard rumors about it and wanted to see for herself. She also caught me in a bit of an awkward time when I was trying to explain something to Himiko.”
The sun was bright in the sky as the two of them lay in the open field. They had just made love and now Owen was enjoying her warmth as she lay against him. He gently stroked her hair as they watched what few clouds there were in the sky. He used the fingers of his other hand he lightly traced the scar on her cheek before he kissed her. “We should probably head back before Naoto thinks we’re doing something ungodly.”
A bright twinkle in her eyes she said, “I thought we already did.” He slapped her lightly on the rear before letting her up. Getting dressed they headed back for the village. Owen went a few feet before he noticed Himiko was walking behind him.
Uttering a very tired sigh he said, “Himiko we’ve talked about this.”
“It is tradition,” she explained.
“And it’s a stupid tradition,” he said tired of having this conversation with her. “You are my wife I want you at my side.” Taking her by the hand he gently pulled her forward. “When we see the village you can walk back there, but until then I want you right here.” They walked for a few with Himiko remaining strangely silent. “I didn’t mean to raise my voice to you,” Owen said figuring that was the problem. “I just hate thinking that you still feel that you have to walk behind me after all this time.”
“That is not what I was thinking of,” she said.
Okay if it wasn’t how he acted then what was it? “What’s the problem then?” She continued to remain quiet. “You don’t have to hide anything from me Himiko.”
Still she was reluctant, “Brother once told me that Immortals live several lives if they are fortunate. That they must move on from village to village, if not travel over the seas. Are you going to do that as well?”
He saw no point in lying to her, “One day I’ll move one.” He put an arm around her shoulder and held her close to reassure her, “But that day is not coming for a long, long time.”
She looked at him with a look he had never seen on her before, “When you do, am I going with you?”
Owen stopped in his tracks not sure what just happened. “Himiko when I meant I would be leaving when you…” When you die. His throat sized up at the thought of saying those words out loud. That was something every Immortal had to face with every mortal they come across and became close to. It was a way of their life. But some deaths always hit you harder than others.
Trying to find the way to say it he felt the buzz. After years with living with Naoto Himiko had learned to recognize the look in his eyes as Owen scanned the area. “Is it Brother?” she asked.
“We would have seen him by now and he wouldn’t be hiding like this,” Owen said as his hand went to the long sword at his side, still trying to find the source. Sensing something behind them he stepped in front of Himiko to protect her in case this one was looking to take a head. From the brush emerged a woman with blond, almost golden hair wearing European style clothing who kept a grip on her sword as well. Owen started smiling, “Susan.”
“Not the greeting I was expecting from you Owen,” she said with a smirk.
“It’s the usual greeting I give to people sneaking up from behind.” He walked over and gave her a hug. “What are you doing in this part of the world?”
“Looking for you,” she answered. “I heard rumors you were married,” she looked past him to Himiko. “It seems that those rumors were true.”
“Yes,” he beamed a bit, “Susan this is Himiko.” He noticed she was still were she was, “Himiko,” he reached out and pulled her closer, “I want you to meet Susan. She’s an old friend of mine.”
“Hello,” she said with a slight bow.
“It’s nice to meet you Himiko,” Susan said bowing in return. “You’re a very beautiful young woman.” Himiko turned her head to try and hide her scar like she always did when somebody told her something like that.
“Himiko,” Owen spoke up rubbing her shoulder, “head on home and tell Naoto that we’re going to have company tonight.”
“Yes,” she said sounding a little excited. “Brother loves it when we have guests.”
“He does too,” Owen smirked as she went off. “He’s very sociable for a monk. Well for a monk based on the ones I’ve met so far.”
“You still haven’t learned not to judge based on appearances have you?”, Susan smirked and headed off to the village while catching up. That evening they ate over a roaring fire as Naoto, Himiko and Susan slowly got to knew each other. Although Susan seemed to pay particular attention to Owen and Himiko, how they acted together.
While Owen didn’t notice her behavior Naoto did and he wondered what that meant. “Himiko,” he said, “why don’t go get some more tea for our guest.”
“Yes Brother,” she said and went back into the hut Naoto let Owen lived in when he first arrived. Now it was rebuilt into his and Himiko’s home and he could see the pride on the younger immortals face every time he seen him.
“She’s a lovely girl,” Susan said with a bit a caution. Both Owen and Naoto beamed with pride a little. “I’m surprised you married again, you always seemed so sad when I hear you talk about Deborah.”
“Himiko brought some light in my life I didn’t know I needed,” he answered truefully. “And I like to think I brought some light into hers.”
“You have Little Immortal,” Naoto said poking at the fire. “I have never seen her so happy.”
“Do you truly love her Owen?”, Susan asked.
“I do,” he answered, “with all my heart.”
Susan’s face suddenly became unreadable, a look Owen wasn’t accustomed to, “Then do the right thing Owen, leave her and this life behind.”
“Susan?”, Owen was stunned.
“If you truly love her Owen then you’ll leave her and not look back,” she continued. “Don’t tie her down to a life were she can’t have children or a person to grow old with. Set her free.”
Owen sat there silent for a long time. Naoto watched the two of them ready to step in case they drew their swords. Finally his face started showing some of the anger that had been building up, “Did you tell that to Jean?” Susan flinched a bit.
“Owen it’s not the same thing?”, she started to say.
“It is the same thing,” he snapped. “How dare you just show up out of the blue and demand that I leave Himiko!” There was a crash that caught all of their attention. Himiko stood there, the tray she dropped right in front of her. The light from the fire showed the tears welling up in her eyes. “Himiko,” Owen started to reach for her but she ran off. “Himiko!”, Owen started to run after her but Susan caught his wrist.
“Let her go Owen,” she insisted. “It will better for everybody in the long run.”
Owen tore his wrist from her grasp. He looked at her like he would an enemy, “Be gone by the time I get back.” As he ran after his wife Susan sat back down looking defeated but still determined.
“This Jean is gone now,” Naoto said trying to put the clues together, “isn’t he?”
She nodded, “For about a year now. He fell victim to a group of mad people during a riot. He wasn’t even involved. I spent twenty years with him and he was gone in an instant”
Naoto nodded in understanding, “It devastated you.” Again she nodded. “Now you are transferring that feeling onto Owen and Himiko.”
“I want to spare him the pain I went through,” she explained. “You should know what I’m talking about. How many people have you lost? How many times has it hurt more than you can bear? It’ll hurt now for a while but it will be better for the both of them in the long run.”
“Owen has felt that pain before,” Naoto countered. “When he first awakened.”
“Then why should he have go through it again?”, Susan demanded. “Why should any of us?”
“There are those of us who say that a good immortal should be the one who wins the prize,” Naoto began. “Because most feel an evil individual would abuse that power to enslave mankind. But what is the difference between a good and evil immortal? Some would say it is how the evil ones detach themselves from their humanity is what makes them this way.”
“Unless they were evil bastards to begin with,” Susan cut in. And she had seen more than her fair share of evil men and women, even before she had become immortal.
“True, but it is not our compassion and ability to love what sets us apart from them?” Naoto looked at her, “Why ask a person to drop one of the things that separates good men from evil? One of the things that reminds us that we are still human in the end. Pain is part of human life, how we deal with it defines who we are.”
Owen finally caught up to Himiko in a clearing near their home. She was still crying. He tried to reach out and comfort her, “Himiko…”
“She wants you to leave me!” she yelled at him. “She wants to take you away! Is this how you leave? By letting other people take you?” She started to cry harder and fell to her knees. Owen immediately picked her up and held her.
“She’s not taking me away from you,” he tried to assure her. She continued to cry into his chest. “I am going to leave one day. What I was trying to tell you earlier was I wasn’t going to leave… ,” it was still hard to say, even now, “I wasn’t going to leave until you die.” She looked up at him not understanding. “I plan on staying with you for as long as possible. And if for some reason I’m forced to leave this island before then I’m not leaving you behind.”
“I would go with you?”, she asked.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he smiled at her and held her tighter. Sensing another immortal nearby he was suddenly aware he left his sword behind at the village. Looking around he saw Susan come toward them. Himiko held him tighter. He noticed his sword in her hand.
“You left this behind,” she tossed it to him. He grabbed it but didn’t say anything. “How close are we to holy ground?”
“Try and find out,” he said seeing a hidden challenge.
“Do you think you could take me in a fight?”
“Killing me is the only way you are going to get me to leave,” Owen told her. Himiko stopped breathing as she stepped toward them. Owen thought the worst as well as he started pulling the blade from it’s scabbard.
“There won’t be a need,” Susan said. “Naoto was able to convince me that I made a mistake in my original intent in coming here. Himiko I’m sorry that I caused you this sort of pain. Owen,” she put a hand on her shoulder, “take good care of her, and I wish the two of you years of happiness. And hopefully you’ll be able to forgive me for this lapse in my judgment one day.” She walked past them and into the night. Owen held on to his wife and kissed her on the top of her head before guiding her back home.
“Obviously I did forgive her,” Owen said as he came back to the here and now. “It took a few years before I finally understood why she did so. Although admittedly Naoto helped me out there. She did mean well she just tried to forget what it was like to be in that position.”
“Wow,” Natalya said again sounding even more stunned. “All these years and I’m still finding out new things about Susan,” she shook her head.
“I don’t know why you’re so shocked. I’m still learning new things about you every so often,” Owen said with a grin. “Like for the life of me I never thought you would sleep with one of your students.”
Natalya was not amused and shot back, “And you slept with a nun.”
“She wasn’t a nun then,” Owen reminded her.
“And it was a really cold night,” she teased. Before he could respond she continued taking, “I guess it’s my turn again.” Thinking it over she got an excited look on her face. “I know it’s totally not related to what we were talking about but did I ever tell you that I found my Mother’s old village?’
“No you didn’t.”
“It’s a very lovely town, we should visit.” A light seemed to go off in her head. “That’s what we should do. How’s your Russian?”
“Passable,” he said in that tongue.
“Good I don’t want you embarrassing me in my Mother old village. You showed me what influences surrounded you growing up. I’m going to do the same for you and show you mine. Let’s see,” she started to plan this out in her head. Owen knew her long enough to know not to try and stop her once she got going on something, “we spent about a week in Scotland, and we’re spending a week here. We’ll spend a week in my Mother’s village. Then we’ll spend a month in Paris…”
“Wait,” Owen interrupted her, “why are we spending a month in Paris?”
“I grew up in Paris,” she said like it was obvious.
“Well I grew up here and you only have us spending a week.”
“Alright we’ll spend two week s here you big baby. The things I put up with you.”
“With me?”, he asked. “How about the things I have to put up with you?”
“That’s not important,” she said. “Were going to see were we each came from. That’s the important thing. And tell Deborah happy birthday for me when you spend time in that church. If you don’t think she’ll mind.”
“Will do, and I don’t think she will.” She looked excited as she got off the dresser. Owen reached out and popped her on the butt before she got out of range.
She turned back around looking very annoyed and pointed a finger in his face, “Now about the ass slapping.” Owen kissed the tip of her finger. “Don’t think being cute is going to get you out of this one.”
“Maybe this will help,” he slid past her finger and headed for his bag. From it he retrieved a smaller bag. “While you trying to find something to do in this ‘boring’ little town I happen to come across this little store that had something in the window I thought you might enjoy.” He took out a box from the bag and opened it. Inside was a gold necklace with three diamonds that dangled from the end. “It reminded me of those earrings I gave you when we got back together the first time. I figured it be fitting if I got you something to wear with them.”
“It’s beautiful,” she looked at the necklace then at him. “All right we’ll spend three weeks in this boring little town you call home. But we’re still going to talk about the ass slapping later.”
“If you say so.” Natalya put the box containing the necklace away and took off her robe and tossed it at him before slipping under the covers. Motioning for him to come back to bed Owen took another brief glimpse at his reflection in the window. For the moment it looked like the shadow had gone away. But something in his head said it was still there, hiding in the back of his mind. Something to worry about later. As he slid under the covers Natalya pressed up against him. In their world there can be only one. But right now none of that mattered.
I greatly enjoyed the original run of Highlander Universe, so a chance to see some of the background expanded upon here was a treat. Owen and Natalya make a brilliant pairing with the way their personalities alternatively clash and bounce off one another. I think I prefer Deborah to Himiko, but her passive attitude could believably just be the result of tradition, so I won't dwell on that. It's interesting that absorbing the Quickening of evil Immortals might have future consequences. I hope you'll do more of these.
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