By Anne Olsen
Rating/warnings this chapter: This Fic has been rated in accordance with the approved TTFF Rating System. OK (Oz/Kiwi spelling/grammar etc) - PG - Angst, drama.
Author's notes: This fic is part of the 'Tears in Heaven' series. More info and stories in this timeline can be found at http://www.angelfire.com/ab7/shadesandechoes It can be read on its own but there are references to previous stories in the arc.
This fic will also be archived at the new Expressions site.
Summary: The new breakout witnesses a grizzly murder, and insists that his new history teacher is responsible. Are things really that simple?
Disclaimer: The Tomorrow People belong to Roger Damon Price, Thames/Tetra and ITV television. Highlander is the property of Panzer/Davis, Rysher/ Gaumount Televison. Stargate SG1 are owned by Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Products.
Alex MacDonald belongs to me and shouldn't be used without permission.
Thanks to: Big hugs to Megan for her support and beta reading. Also to Sakura for her wonderful eye for typos, beta reading and helpful comments. And Wendy for her suggestions and comments.
Feedback to: anneo @ paradise.net.nz
/Nothing is as easy as it looks
Everything takes longer than you expect
And if anything can go wrong
At the worst possible moment
The man was still there in the far corner of Le Blues Bar, Joe Dawson noticed, after glancing up from the glass he was drying. As if in response the dark haired man looked askance at Joe, and then, as though he knew he was being watched, diverted his stare back to the drink he'd been nursing all evening.
Tapping his fingers against the bar, unconsciously matching the rhythm of the evening's bass guitarist, Joe thought again about the information he'd received about General William Damon. Somehow it didn’t seem to match the man who’d sat in the bar observing him for most of the night. One thing about being a Watcher was that it made it easier to recognise when you were being watched yourself.
It made sense, he supposed, that if Damon had been given a copy of the same CD-ROM Joe had, he'd be running the same investigation but in reverse. If the information he'd received about the existence of a race of teleporters was correct, then Damon already knew what was still news to Joe. To many it might seem like something out of a science fiction novel but Joe had spent enough time observing Immortals to believe that anything, even teleporters, could exist.
Sorting through the scenario in his mind, he leaned back on his cane and shook his head. From what he’d heard about Masters, the man responsible for sending the information to Trent, he could understand why he’d have interests in common with the head of the Hunters. Masters had seemed as fanatical as Horton himself had been about the idea of a race that wasn’t ‘human.’
Damon didn't strike Joe as being in the same league. True, he’d headed the teleporter project for several years before leaving suddenly, but nothing in his life pointed a clear finger at what the personal reasons he'd cited for doing so might be. He was married with two kids; the research on his home life hadn't unearthed anything out of the ordinary. There was nothing out of the ordinary about Damon, period, but all that confirmed was that he'd had plenty of practice hiding behind the charade of Joe Average.
Pouring a drink for another customer, Joe couldn’t help but remember how he'd made the error of taking Methos at face value. Joe had spent over a decade believing the guy was no one more extraordinary than Adam Pierson, mild-mannered historian and Watcher. /Bet you had a good laugh over that one, old man./ Joe shook his head again. What took the cake was that the wily old Immortal had managed to make sure he was in charge of the search for himself. It was no wonder he never seemed to get anywhere though the situation would have appealed to his sense of humour, Joe was certain.
Damon glanced at his watch, comparing it with the time on the large clock over the bar. /How long are you going to sit there and observe? How long am I going to sit here and play spectator?/ Joe thought. /One of us is going to have to make a move or it’s going to be one hell of a long night./
Alex MacDonald plodded home, taking a shortcut through the sports field of the local college. Mum was going to wonder why he’d cut his music lesson short and was home so early. He grimaced at the memory of going to pieces on that scale for the third time.
Mrs Frazer’s concerned voice still rang through his mind. "Alex, are you okay? You usually play better than this."
Blushing, he remembered how he'd muttered his apologies and rabbited on about headaches and late nights. Other people managed to stay up late without feeling as though they hadn’t slept for a week, why couldn’t he? Alex swung his school bag over his shoulder, shifting it to distribute the weight more evenly, before heading across the field. There should be a law against making kids lug around heavy textbooks, he decided. And another one against teachers torturing students with copious amounts of homework. At least his music teacher had been sympathetic. Letting him leave early had probably been in both their interests. If he were in her shoes he wouldn't have wanted to hear the piano being played that badly for another ten minutes either.
Why couldn’t it come as easily to him as it had for Jamie? He loved music as much as his brother did but just didn’t seem to have that same flair for it. Everything came easier to his older brother, yet another verification of the long standing suspicion that Jamie seemed to be one of those people fate smiled upon. Alex stumbled and kicked the empty beer can he’d tripped over in a sudden burst of anger. He stared up at the early evening sky, certain that someone, somewhere up there, didn’t like him.
Several stray drops of rain landed on his glasses, blurring his vision. /Oh great./ Now he was going to get drowned just to add insult to injury. He pulled out his handkerchief to wipe his lenses, dropping his bag on the ground. It hit a boggy patch slightly off the path he was on, a smell permeating the air after the canvas connected with it, and he wrinkled his nose in disgust. Gross. Why couldn’t people train their dogs to do their business somewhere else? They'd managed to train Ewan, why couldn't others do the same?
Alex bent down to rescue his bag, wiping the bottom of it with his handkerchief. Mum was going to go ape shit when she saw the state of it. He muttered a few choice words under his breath, pausing after a sound echoed around the large deserted playing field, loud in comparison to the sudden quietness of his surroundings.
/What was that?/ Weird. It sounded like steel against steel.
Stopping to listen again, he soon realised that the noise seemed to be coming from the direction of the creek that ran through the boundary of the school grounds. Alex shrugged. After the day he'd had, what did he have to lose? He might as well live dangerously and check it out.
He replaced his glasses, starting towards the pine trees lining the banks of the creek, reassuring himself with the knowledge that he’d be able to hide behind those trees if necessary. He wandered along the narrow trail, his body on autopilot as he mused about the origin of the noise.
/What the hell?/ Glancing down he noticed he'd walked straight into a small patch of gorse around the boundary of the netball courts. /Aren't the caretakers supposed to get rid of this stuff?/ he groused. Bending to remove the prickles caught on his trousers, he felt the sharp end of one scratch his hand. /Ouch! How worse can this day possibly get?/ So much for trying not to draw attention to himself. At this rate he might as well hang a sign telling everyone in the valley where he was.
Ignoring the thin trail of blood running down his fingers, Alex crept past the courts towards the creek, taking care to stay within the shelter of the trees as the rainfall intensified. He drew nearer to the source of the sound, the voices accompanying it growing in a crescendo of anger.
A shiver of excitement ran through him as he tried to imagine what could be going down. He winced after his headache, which he’d almost forgotten about returned with a vengeance and started to build in intensity.
Bill Damon glanced at his watch, before returning his attention to the slowly decreasing drink he’d been nursing for at least a couple of hours. What exactly was he going to say to this Dawson guy now that he’d found him?
Reading over Frank’s research, it was obvious that this was the same Joe Dawson who'd been mentioned on the CD taken from Masters’ computer before he’d died. The fact that his brother-in-law, no make that deceased brother-in-law, had been James Horton had been the decider. What Bill couldn’t work out was why a guy working with someone like Masters would be running a blues bar in Paris.
Watching Dawson behind the bar, he seemed harmless enough. He was older than Bill, his hair and beard streaked with grey, the lines on his face suggesting he'd seen more of his fair share of the not so good side of life, yet not enough to dim the twinkle in his eye. He'd also been through the Vietnam War not entirely unscathed, the loss of his legs corroborated by the cane he'd used to move about the place chatting to one of the musicians. Yes, he looked dangerous, very dangerous. Bill snorted. Why couldn’t the bad guys have a sign on them just to make his job easier? He mentally kicked himself, realising how much that sounded like something Marmaduke would say. That saying was true. 'Insanity is hereditary. You catch it from your kids.'
Bill lowered his head to study his drink again after he noticed the man in question glance over his way. /I wonder if he knows I’m watching him,/ he thought. Maybe he was out of practice with surveillance? These days he seemed to spend most of his time chasing after his kids, and cleaning up the messes the Tomorrow People seemed to get themselves into with alarming regularity.
/Hey there’s a thought. I could just go up to Dawson and lay my cards on the table./ ‘Hi, I’m Bill Damon and my son is a Tomorrow Person. I’d just like to ask you some questions about your involvement with a certain psychotic named Masters.’ He smiled. Oh yeah, imagine Marmaduke’s reaction to that one. ‘Way to go, Dad.’
The door of the bar opened, interrupting Bill’s reverie and a tall well-built man entered, surveying the room. After he located Dawson he stopped, and walked quickly towards the bar. He didn’t look very impressed. In fact his expression told Bill that something or someone had annoyed him a great deal.
Time to get a refill on that drink. Bill stood up, noticing the twinge in his back. He was getting too old for this sort of stuff, he decided, figuring that Marmaduke and his friends had a great deal to do with his current lack of wellbeing. His stress levels had sky rocketed over the last few years, taking with it a great deal of his health. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a decent night’s sleep. No on second thoughts he could. 1992. The year Megabyte had become a Tomorrow Person. That had also been the year Bill’s own peace of mind had disappeared out the window, never to return.
Seating himself on one of the wooden stools at the bar, Bill made sure he was far enough away from Dawson and the new arrival as to not arouse suspicion, but close enough to hear the conversation. He leaned back against the welcome support of the low-backed hard stool, trying to give the impression he was examining his drink with great interest while he wondered how long it would be before he would have to switch to coffee.
The dark haired man, whom he surmised was in his early thirties, maybe older, spoke with a faint Scots brogue, and as Bill’s earlier observations proved correct, was as annoyed as hell. "You’d think at his age he’d be a bit more responsible by now wouldn’t you?"
Dawson laughed, a deep chuckle which suggested they'd had this conversation, or one similar, in the past. "Pierson? Responsible? Let’s face it, Mac, he’s probably done this just because he knew he’d get a reaction from you."
/Pierson?/ Bill mentally shook his head. Now there was a name he hadn’t expected to hear again. No, it must be a coincidence.
Mac shook his head, pushing back his shoulder length hair with one hand. He then glanced over at Bill, to catch his eye with a friendly smile, before returning to his conversation with the bartender.
/He knows I'm listening,/ thought Bill. /Am I losing it that much that I can't even eavesdrop without being noticed?/ There was something in the Scot's eyes that reminded Bill of someone else, but it was eluding him for the moment. He took another sip of his drink, averted his gaze from the two men, and settled back to listen to Mac tell Dawson the rest of his story.
"I knew it was a mistake giving the old man the key to the barge. I finally get back to Paris and what do I find? Tidy little pyramids made of beer bottles all over /my/ barge. I nearly broke my neck on the way in." He lowered his voice before continuing, and Bill found he was having to strain to hear the rest of the conversation.
"Pyramids made of beer bottles?" Dawson grinned, changing the volume of his voice to match his friend's. "I take it they were empty?"
Mac rolled his eyes. "This is Pierson we’re talking about. Of course they were bloody empty. And it's not just a couple of bottles, Joe. It looks as though he’s sat on the barge for at least a couple of weeks doing nothing but drink to get the volume of empty bottles I’m talking about here." He took a sip from the bottle in front on him. "I don’t suppose you’ve seen him lately?"
"The last time I saw him was on our trip to Colorado," Dawson answered, shaking his head. "He disappeared shortly afterwards muttering something about prophecies and his peace being gone forever. I haven’t seen him since, although it's starting to look as though wherever he went it was via Paris and the barge."
Colorado? Prophecies? What exactly was Dawson involved in? Pierson must be the same Pierson he, Adam and Megabyte had met in Colorado Springs. Adam Pierson a.k.a. Methos. Did Dawson know about Immortals as well as Tomorrow People? /What the hell was going on here?/
"That’s what I thought you’d probably say. Knowing the old man, we’ll be lucky if we see him again for months, maybe even years." Mac brightened. "Every cloud has its silver lining. If you see him, tell him I want a word. No, on second thoughts, don’t. If he shows up, let me know and I’ll just…surprise him."
Dawson nodded. "Just make sure I get a ring side seat, because I don’t want to miss out on the fun. Oh and Mac? Don’t kill him till I’ve had the chance to get his bartab paid first. That thing is the size of the national debt."
Mac laughed. "Dreams are free, Joe." He glanced at his watch, and draining the rest of his drink, placed the empty bottle on the counter. "I promised to meet Richie at the barge. If you hear anything in the meantime, let me know. Not that I’m really expecting you to, but hey, one can dream."
"Still the eternal optimist, I see," Dawson busied himself tidying up after his friend headed into the Parisian night air.
The bar was almost deserted, Bill noticed. If he waited another ten minutes or so, only he and Dawson would be left in the place. After hearing Pierson’s name he'd come to the decision that it was time to stop putting off what had to be done. He had to talk to Dawson and find out what his connection was to Masters.
One thing did puzzle him. Dawson and his friend sounded as though they were on good terms with the five thousand year old immortal. They had also referred to him as the old man, confirming Bill's suspicions that they knew full well who or what he was. Bill owed Pierson, owed him for Megabyte and Adam’s lives. If Dawson and Masters had plans against Pierson as well as the kids, they needed to be stopped.
Creeping closer to the loud voices, Alex became aware of a growing dampness spreading into his shoes and up through his trousers. /Oh great. My shoes are leaking and I'm getting covered in mud and grass. Mum's going to be so pleased, not./ He stopped and wiped his glasses on his sweatshirt again, trying to ignore the falling rain growing heavier with each passing minute.
"I warned you I don't like to fight." Alex peered through his hiding place behind a tall pine tree, narrowly avoiding a hanging branch threatening to poke him in one eye, as one of the voices suddenly became louder.
/I know that voice./ He edged even closer and saw two men fighting with swords. Swords? Alex, certain he must be seeing things, checked his glasses to make sure they weren't fogged up from the rain.
The tall slim dark haired man who had spoken before disarmed his opponent with one quick flick of his wrist. He placed the sharp point of his weapon against the other man's throat, and smiled slowly. The man seemed almost amused by the situation. Talk about sick.
Alex took a short sharp breath and the man's head came up like an animal sensing its prey. He turned his head in Alex's direction and their eyes met. Mr O'Neill? What was the new history teacher doing out here holding a sword to someone's throat?
A similar look of recognition crossed Mr O'Neill's face and Alex groaned, thinking back to earlier that morning. Not for the first time he regretted bringing attention to himself in class and the embarrassment caused by that stupid theory he'd read by a Dr Jackson about the pyramids being built by aliens. O'Neill had ridiculed his suggestion in front of the class and made him feel like an idiot. It was definitely the last time he was ever going to speak up in public again.
Forget that last thought. If he didn't get out of here, it probably would be that last time he did anything ever again.
The blond heavily built man on the ground started to struggle, bringing his arm up to try and overpower the history teacher. O'Neill shrugged. "If you insist," he said, a note of sarcasm in his voice. To Alex's horror he raised his sword, bringing it down again to cleanly slice off his victim's head.
Oh shit. Oh shit. "Oh shit." O'Neill turned his head towards Alex again and he realised he'd said his last thought out loud.
The man knew who he was.
He had a sword in his hand.
He'd just killed someone.
Alex tried to move but found himself frozen as fear took over. /I've got to get out of here. If I don't, he'll kill me, next. Move it, Alex, move it. You've got to get out of here./ He closed his eyes to shut out the horrific scene in front of him.
Huh? For a moment he felt a weird tingling sensation through his body like a mild electric shock, followed by a strange sense of something he could only describe as dislocation. O'Neill hadn't had any other weapon on him but his sword, had he? /You've been watching way too much science fiction again,/ he thought. Although the situation was weird, it wasn't this weird. Was it?
Come to think of it, the background noises seemed different too, as though his sense of reality had changed subtly. The sound of the surrounding nature and the hum of the cicadas had been replaced by something different, something which seemed to permeate senses other than just the ones he was used to. /Oh for goodness sake,/ he told himself crossly. /Get real./ That last thought hadn't even made sense. Maybe this was his imagination's way of dealing with the danger he was in?
"Please tell me you aren't mucking about with the ship, Megabyte?"
What? Alex opened his eyes after hearing a male voice with a distinctly Australian accent. Two young men were staring at him. One, darkhaired and very slim, and definitely a good few years older than Alex, gave him a friendly smile.
The redhead, whom he was sure he knew from /somewhere/, rose to his feet and grinned, a twinkle in his blue eyes as though he was sharing a private joke with his companion. "Told you I knew what I was doing, Adam."
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