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Northern Ireland
Early Summer, 702 A.D.

The weather was decent, and the Immortal known simply as Methos was taking every advantage of it. As he reached the top of one hill, he could see a small village in the next valley. He decided it would be as good a place as any to settle for a few years. Over the past four thousand years, he had picked up any number of skills he could use in exchange for food and lodging.

Before he could start descending, though, a soft cry off to his left caught his attention. Knowing he was probably going to regret it, he went over to see what it was.

Methos was unsurprised to feel the faint buzz of a preimmortal coming from the infant he discovered under a clump of bushes. Sighing, he picked up the child. He knew how superstitious these villagers could be, and despite his past and what his few friends thought, he did care about what happened to children--especially preimmortals. He hadn't raised any children in a couple centuries, and found himself wanting to be a father again.

As he held the girl, Methos touched a finger to her tiny palm. She immediately grasped it. Methos was impressed with her strong grip, but at the same time, somewhat saddened with the knowledge she would eventually be forced to hold a sword with the same strength. He started again for the village, already deciding on a name for this girl.

A young man stopped him before he could enter.

"Who are you and what is your business?"

"I am just a traveler in need of lodging."

"Your child?"

Methos nodded, "Her mother died in childbirth. I am taking her to her mother's family farther north."

"What is your name?"

"Patrick Scully. My daughter's name is Dana"

 

Methos stayed in the village for about a month. The main reason was because one of the women had lost her son recently, and was willing to wet nurse Methos's daughter. He did odd jobs for the villagers to conserve the few pieces of gold he had with him. They were wary of him at first, but when he taught them some techniques for fighting raiders, they became more open.

When it came time to leave, Methos fashioned a wool-lined sling to carry Dana in. He knew of a monastery where both of them would be safe from other Immortals, but it was still a two days' journey. The villagers gave him enough food and milk for himself and Dana.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

712 A.D.

"Papa! Papa!"

Methos looked up from gathering herbs as his daughter came barreling towards him.

"What is it, Little One?" He asked.

"N-northmen at the mo-monastery." She sobbed.

Methos's expression hardened, "Dana, remember what I told you? I want you to go into the woods and hide. I will come for you when it is over. I'll give you our special signal so you know it's safe."

The little girl nodded, tears streaking down her face. She turned and ran deep into the forest.

Methos dropped his basket and sprinted back to the monastery. He was thankful his paranoia about other Immortals never let him leave Holy Ground unarmed.

As he neared, he could hear the familiar sounds of battle. Methos slowed. He wanted to see what the situation was before deciding what his strategy would be. He saw there were about two dozen invaders. The monks seemed to be holding them off reasonably well, using some of the defenses Methos had helped set up over the past ten years. He drew a small dagger and cut off a strip of his robe, fashioning it into a sling. He gathered several stones before starting to hurl them at the Viking raiders. Each one flew with deadly accuracy, hitting his targets and usually killing them.

The remaining Northmen quickly realized someone in the woods was picking off their numbers. As an eighth and ninth were kill by the flying rocks and a few more burned by the hot oil, they apparently decided it wasn't worth their effort to loot the monastery. Methos watched their retreat, following at a distance to make sure it wasn't a trap; that they wouldn't try to return. Once he was satisfied they had gone, he returned to the monastery. He learned no one inside the walls had been killed, so he went back to the woods.

He whistled, signaling to Dana things were safe again. A moment later, he heard the answering whistle and Dana appeared a few moments later.

"Are the brothers ok?"

"No one inside the monastery was killed." Methos told her.

A tentative smile appeared, "Good. I wish they would just leave us alone."

Methos smiled sadly at his daughter as they walked back.

 

That night after Dana had fallen asleep, Methos went to talk to the brothers.

"Thank you for your aid." Brother Michael said, "If not for the work you put in building defenses, we may have lost everyone."

"Brothers, I cannot stay much longer. You know who I am and what I've done. Thank you for not telling Dana. When she learns, it will be from me, and I think that time is now. I have also told you that eventually she will be like me, Immortal. I need to take her someplace where other people who don't know will not see the training I give her."

Brother Nathan frowned, "You would start teaching her the sword before she knows what she is?"

Methos nodded, "As a female, she will already be at a disadvantage in the Game. I have taught her a few survival skills, but she will need much more if she is to survive. By teaching her some fighting skills now, it will take her less time to become good enough when she really needs it."

"Will she trust you after she learns you have hid her future Immortality from her?"

"I'll make sure she understands that no one is told before their First Deaths. If Dana knows about Immortals before she dies, she won't have to waste time wondering why she is still alive. Of course, she is intelligent enough, she may figure out what she will become on her own."

"Where will you take her?"

"Into the wilds. It will be perhaps the best place for a girl to learn to use a sword."

"We will help you prepare for your journey."

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Two days later

Methos was pleased to see that Dana finished eating at about the same time he did. He knew, however, it was time for her to know what he was.

"Dana, there are some things about me I've never told you."

"Like what?"

He sighed as he looked at her solemn blue eyes, "First you have to promise never to tell anyone what I am about to tell you."

Dana nodded.

"I'm what's known as an Immortal. I've been alive for almost four thousand years. The only way I can be killed is if my head is cut off. I haven't told you before now because I wanted to make sure you were old enough to understand how important this is to keep secret."

"Are there more people like you?"

Methos chuckled, "Yes, there are, but there are none who are older."

Dana's eyes grew wide.

"Go to sleep now, Small One. We'll talk more in the morning."

Dana settled close to him and fell asleep almost immediately. Methos stroked her curly red hair, wondering how he would tell her about the time he spent with the Horsemen. He knew it would be better for her to hear it from him than from someone who held a grudge against him. There were so many, he knew it would come out eventually and he didn't want her to hate him for what he'd left behind thousands of years ago.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Washington, D.C.
January 17, 1995

"Hey, Scully, take a look at this.". Two suspects were identified. One, a Russell Nash, was apprehended, but he was released because there was no conclusive evidence. The other, an unknown male, was the final victim. The killings stopped, but Nash and one of the forensic scientists disappeared.

The third option was to go with Mulder on the investigation. In her mind, that was almost as bad as simply telling him about herself and the others. She knew he would be able to handle it--their work on the Tooms case proved he was capable of believing someone could be much older than they looked--but her aversion to telling anyone was so ingrained, she never did it until she knew the other person could be trusted completely. The main problem with this option was the fact she usually avoided places with a lot of Immortal activity. She generally considered more than one beheading a year in a city as a lot.

Sighing, she grabbed her coat and went home to pack. This was one case she was going to make sure she had her sword on.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Scully quickly made her way to the baggage pick-up. She still wasn't sure how she would handle Mulder on this case, but if this Duncan MacLeod was the Boy Scout she'd heard he was, maybe he'd be willing to help out.

She mentally winced as she realized there would likely be Watchers, which was another reason she disliked encountering other Immortals. As far as she could tell, she'd never had one. Much of that was because she'd been raised and trained by an Immortal who spent almost as much time avoiding Watchers as he did other Immortals. They hadn't picked her up during her training since Methos was supposed to be a myth, and since then, she, like her mentor, had used different scams on occasion to spend a decade or so in the organization. She had been reasonably successful in keeping her name out of the Chronicles during those times.

"So, what do you think about the case?"

Scully was shaken from her musings by her partner's voice.

"To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what to think. The MO seems to be the same in all incidents, but I don't see how it could be the work of one person. I looked at some of the Interpol reports, and it looks like on at least one occasion three of these beheadings took place in different parts of the world." She was careful to act the way Mulder expected her to.

"You're probably right, but I think we should talk to this MacLeod."

"Do you want to do that, Mulder? I'd like to talk to the M.E. who did the autopsies." Scully didn't want to have her first encounter with the younger Highlander with Mulder around. Her partner was far too observant and would most likely notice the instinctive reaction all Immortals had around each other.

"Sounds good."

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Joe Dawson swore as he hung up the phone. Someone working in the FBI had screwed up, allowing a case involving Immortals to be investigated by two people the Watchers had been warned about. He glanced over to where two Immortals were sitting and reminiscing.

"Mac! Adam!"

Both turned to look at the Watcher, who motioned them over to the bar.

"I just got a call from one of our people in D.C. A couple of Feds got wind of the Immortal activity and linked it with the activity around your kinsman, Duncan, almost ten years ago."

"So? We'll give them the same thing we give the local cops. Nothing." Duncan answered.

"These two are different. Somehow, they've gotten into some really heavy stuff. According to our people, they've got a 75% solve rate."

"Who are they?" Methos asked casually, taking another swig of beer.

"Fox Mulder and Dana Scully."

Methos nearly choked, "Did you say Dana Scully?"

Joe nodded, "Why, you know her?"

"I know a Dana Scully. Last I heard, she was going into medicine. I never realized she'd joined the FBI."

"Does she know who you really are?" Duncan asked.

"You mean that I'm Methos? Yes. She also knows about the Watcher. You don't have to worry about saying anything around her."

"What about her partner, Mulder. Do you think he knows?"

"I don't know him, so I can't say. How long has she known him?"

"I think a little over two years, but I'm not entirely sure."

"Then it's highly unlikely she would have told him anything about Immortals."

"Well from what I've heard about them, we'd better be ready for anything."

 

As soon as he was back at his apartment, Methos hacked into the FBI databases. He wanted to talk to his "daughter" and student about how this guy Mulder ended up on a case involving Immortals. He was pleased to hear she was still unknown to the Watchers. If she had been, Joe wouldn't have worried so much about her and Mulder's presence. It didn't take long before he had her current address, phone number, cell phone, and email.

He dialed the cell phone number and waited. She picked up after three rings.

"Scully."

"Hello, Little One."

 

Scully's eyes widened when she heard the greeting. There were only five people who could get away with calling her that, and four had been dead for centuries. She glanced at Mulder, who was talking to one of the detectives and she moved away a couple of steps.

"What's going on?"

"You and your partner have the local Watchers spooked."

"Before you ask, no I didn't know he was even looking at this case. He sprung it on me this morning."

"Thanks. What can you tell me about him?"

She noticed Mulder had finished and was walking towards.

"Listen, I can't really talk about this right now. Can I talk to you later."

"Sure. You'll probably be able to find me at a blues bar called Joe's. If I'm not there, Joe Dawson'll know how to contact me."

"Thanks."

Scully hung up and looked at Mulder.

"Who was that?"

"An old friend of mine. I guess he's living here and heard I was in town."

"Going to get together with him?"

Scully nodded. "Probably."

Mulder watched her for a moment, trying to read her. He'd thought he'd gotten fairly good at figuring out how she would react in most situations, but so far, the only thing he'd been right about was her reaction to finding out about this particular case. If he didn't know any better, he'd say she didn't want to solve it.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Mulder flipped through the channels as he wondered what was going on with his partner. She'd been unusually quiet since he told her about the case. There was something about it that was making her nervous. A knock on the door connecting their rooms caught his attention.

"Mulder? I'm going to meet my friend. You gonna be OK?"

"Yeah."

"Don't worry, you'll probably get to meet him later."

As soon as she left, he called the Lone Gunmen.

Frohike picked up almost immediately.

"Turn off the tape, Frohike." Mulder said.

There was a brief pause before Frohike spoke again, "What do you need, Mulder?"

"What can you tell me about beheadings accompanied by electrical storms?"

"New case?"

"Yeah, but what's strange, is I think there's something about it that's got Scully spooked."

"You're kidding."

"No. She's said almost nothing about the case except that she thinks there's more than one person involved."

"Scully thought of that?"

"Yeah. It makes sense with the little evidence we have at this point."

"Alright. We'll see what we can dig up and get back to you tomorrow."

"Thanks, Frohike."

"I'll let you know what you owe us when we're done."

Mulder hung up, relieved to have his friends checking this out. He knew Scully was uncomfortable with this case, and that was OK, but the fact she was trying to hide it was starting to worry him. Except for their initial exchange when he told her about the case, she hadn't participated in their usual verbal sparring and barely responded to his wisecracks. He knew something was bothering her and wasn't telling him, and that bothered him.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Methos was relieved Duncan wasn't at the bar when Dana showed up. She wasn't in the Chronicles, and he didn't want to ruin her anonymity.

He walked over to her.

"Dana, it's been awhile."

"Seventy-five years, if I remember correctly."

"Close enough. We'll talk over at that table." He pointed to one that was reasonably secluded.

"So, how did your partner find out about the beheadings?"

"Would you believe the National Enquirer?"

Methos groaned, "He actually believes that stuff?"

Scully snorted, "You'd be surprised what he'll believe. He doesn't believe everything in those rags, but when he really gets into a case and starts making connections, there is almost no stopping him from solving it."

"Do you think you can derail him?"

"No. He'll know something's up. I think he already suspects just how uncomfortable I've been with this case."

"You know him better than anyone here. What do you think we should do with him?"

Scully glanced around before switching languages to the one she'd grown up with, "I think we should tell him everything."

"You're kidding." Methos answered in the same language.

"No, I'm not. Once Mulder picks up a case, he won't stop until he finds out everything he can."

"Why didn't you stop him before leaving D.C.?"

"I couldn't. Not without raising the suspicions of our superior, and I don't know if he can be trusted with this."

Methos nodded.

"This seemed like the best solution to a less than ideal situation. If this works, the only one who learns about us will be Mulder, and to be honest, it may not be a bad thing."

"Why's that."

Scully took a deep breath, "He's going to be Immortal."

Methos simply nodded, "I don't want him to know who I really am yet. I'll decide that when I meet him."

"I thought you'd say that, old friend."

Methos scribbled some instructions on a napkin and slid it over to her.

"Here's my current phone number and address. Why don't you bring him there? It'll be easier without all these mortals around." Methos grinned, "And I don't think he'd understand a form of Gaelic that's been unused for over six centuries."

Scully chuckled, "I'll give Mulder a call, tell him I'll pick him up."

 

Joe had noticed Methos talking to a strange woman. He waited until she left to make a phone call before going over to talk to the ancient Immortal.

"New friend?"

"That's Dana Scully, one of the FBI agents who has you guys so worried."

Joe looked over at her and whistled, "And she knows about Immortals?"

"Yes."

"So why couldn't she keep Mulder off of this?"

"She told me she learned about the case this morning. Mulder had already cleared it with their boss, and she felt it would be better to let Mulder come out here, tell him, and do a cursory investigation. I have the impression she trusts her partner a lot more than she does her boss."

"I overheard part of the conversation, but I couldn't understand the language. It almost sounded like Gaelic."

"I taught it to her. We used to use it when I wanted to talk to her about Immortals without having to worry as much about eavesdroppers like we did tonight."

Joe nodded. He suspected there was more to it than that, but he also knew Methos never gave out more information than he wanted.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Mulder jumped as his cell phone rang.

"Mulder." He glanced at the clock. 12:23.

"It's Frohike. Listen, we've found some information on the beheadings like you wanted. Can you meet us at the airport in half an hour?"

Mulder was genuinely surprised, "You're coming here?"

"Yeah. I don't want to talk about this over an unsecured line, so can we leave the reasons out until we can talk in person?"

"Sure."

Mulder hung up and checked to see if Scully had returned yet, but there was no answer when he knocked. That meant she probably still had the rental. She hadn't mentioned how long she would be gone, so he waved down a passing cab.

 

The Gunmen were already waiting by the time Mulder arrived at the airport.

"What did you find?"

Byers glanced around, "When Frohike told us about your request I remembered an antique book my grandfather left with me."

"A book?"

"Not here. If even half of what I can read in it is true, we can't let any of Cancerman's people know it exists."

Mulder nodded. "I'll give Scully a call."

"Where is she?"

"With some friend she heard is in town."

Mulder pulled out his cell phone. It rang before he could dial Scully's number.

"Mulder."

"It's me."

"Hey, I was just going to call you. I talked to the guys and they've got something that might help us with the case."

"Mulder, you didn't."

"Why what's wrong with that?"

"Look, we need to talk. Can you meet me at my friend's apartment?"

"I don't know where it is, Scully. Besides, what do I do about the guys?"

"What do mean? Where are you?"

"Back at the airport. They decided to hand deliver the information I asked them to find."

"What do they have?"

"Some book Byers got from his grandfather."

"Could you put him on?"

Mulder looked at the phone, more than a little puzzled, but he handed the phone to Byers.

"Scully?"

"About the book, is there an odd-looking symbol on it?"

"Yeah, why?"

 

Scully almost groaned.

"Describe it."

"Sort of like a distorted 'M'. It's encircled by--"

"A double ring with thirteen dots between the circles." She finished. "Let me talk to Mulder again."

Scully heard the phone pass back to her partner.

"Scully, what did you just say to Byers? He got really pale after you interrupted him."

"I'll pick you guys up at the airport."

"Uh, sure."

Scully hung up and went back to Methos.

"One of Mulder's friends has a Chronicle."

Methos swore. "Any idea about whose it is?"

"No. I wasn't going to ask over the phone and I doubt they would have told me anyway. Just the fact they came all the way out here from Washington tells me they realize how important it is, even if they don't know what it means."

"Well, I suppose that's something."

The two Immortals headed out.

 

Mulder looked at his phone for a moment before slipping it back into his pocket.

"Hey, Byers, what'd she say to you?"

"That book I told you about? It has a unique symbol I've never seen anywhere else. Scully asked if there was a symbol. I started describing it, but she interrupted and finished describing it."

Mulder frowned. This was an entirely new side of his partner he'd never seen before. Every instinct screamed that she wasn't telling him something important. He couldn't help wonder if she knew more about this than he thought. Had she been a spy after all? But if she was, why did she let Byers know she knew what that symbol was? More importantly, how had she known what it looked like with only a partial description?

"What was in the book, Byers?" Mulder asked.

"First, you have to realize I can't read most of it because whoever wrote it used five different languages. The three chapters that were in English were an old form. I also found some parts dated around 1600 A.D." Byers glanced around, lowering his voice, "It talks about this guy named Conner who had supposedly been alive for just under a hundred years."

"Must have been pretty frail."

"I don't think so. It talks about a fight he had. I think they called it a challenge. It was with someone a hundred and fifty. Conner won and cut off his opponent's head. The book called what happened a quickening. A little later, it mentions villagers who were frightened by a 'lightning storm' on a cold winter day."

Mulder rocked back slightly, "So this has been going on for hundreds of years?"

"That's what the book seems to be saying."

Mulder rubbed his eyes. This was too bizarre, even for him. There was no way Scully would believe it. At least, not without some heavy proof. Yet the only real argument she'd come up with so far had been about the newspaper rag he'd picked up on the case from.

For a while, he'd wondered if the Consortium had a hand in the beheadings, but this book seemed to indicate they had been occurring for at least four hundred years.

His thoughts kept returning to Scully. Did she have an idea about what was going on? And if so, how?

 

When Scully arrived, Mulder and the Gunmen were surprised to see her with a young man.

"Uh, Scully?"

"Guys, this is Adam Pierson. Adam, my partner, Fox Mulder, and these are some friends of ours, John Byers, Melvin Frohike, and Ringo Langly."

"Parents Beatles fans?" Adam grinned.

Mulder pulled Scully aside, "Can I ask what he's doing here?"

"I've been close friends with Adam my whole life. When I heard he was in town, I had to talk to him about some things in regard to the case."

"And you couldn't tell me?"

Scully looked amused, "Mulder, you've done the exact same thing to me I don't know how many times. I'd think you could give me a little slack here. Adam will take us to his apartment. We'll talk when we get there."

"What about the guys?"

Scully glanced over to where Adam and the Gunmen were having another conversion.

"Since Byers has that book, they'll be coming with."

"What does the book have anything to do with it?"

She looked up at him, her eyes pleading, "Not here, Mulder, please?"

He nodded, and they went back to the other four.

 

Mulder kept a watchful eye on his partner the entire drive to Adam Pierson's apartment. He could tell she was still nervous about something, but now there was something else. Resignation? He glanced at Pierson, but Scully's friend gave no indication of how all this was affecting him.

"So, Mulder, do you have any idea what all this is about?" Frohike asked as they pulled up to an apartment complex.

"No, but I have a feeling we're going to find out."

They followed Pierson and Scully into one of the apartments.

"Okay, Scully, can you finally clue us in on what's going on?" Mulder demanded once they were inside.

She sighed, "Before I can tell you anything, you have to promise not to tell anyone, including Skinner any of this. If Cancerman and his lackeys find out, it could make thousands of people targets for their experiments."

Mulder searched her expression, and could see a very real fear. It reassured him that he was right. She wasn't a spy for the Consortium. He nodded and looked at the Gunmen. They were somewhat uncomfortable, but their curiosity was stronger. They all nodded as well.

Scully took a deep breath, "Guys, I'm not...quite...who you think I am. I'm Immortal. I've been alive for almost 1300 years."

Mulder and the Gunmen only stared at her as Adam walked up and handed her one of the knives from the kitchen.

"I can't be permanently killed as long as I don't lose my head--and I mean literally. I haven't aged physically since I was around 29, and any injuries I receive only take a few minutes to heal."

Mulder rocked back. "Are you sure you're OK, Scully?"

Scully chuckled humorlessly before running the blade across her left hand. She held it out for the others to see. Mulder watched in shock as the cut visibly healed. Less than a minute later, not even a scar remained.

"Hey, Scully?" Langly's shaken voice asked, "What was that electricity around the cut?"

"That was my Quickening. It's what keeps me alive."

"So, what happens if you're...killed?"

Scully looked directly at Mulder, "If I were to lose my head near another Immortal, there would be a massive electrical discharge during which my Quickening is absorbed by the other Immortal."

Mulder's eyes widened in realization, "The beheadings in our case."

"All other Immortals."

He swore, "No wonder you were so nervous when I brought up this case."

"I happen to like having my head where it is. I mostly avoid other Immortals."

"Why didn't you say something in D.C.?"

"I didn't want Skinner to know. You had already cleared the case with him, and I really didn't want to have to explain to him why I talked you out of a case you were obviously interested in. This isn't something I just tell anyone I want, Mulder. There are thousands of Immortals out there who are at risk if mortals learn about us. It's generally accepted that if we're going to die, it's going to be at the hands of another Immortal."

"So how do you tell?"

"Immortals can...sense each other. It's a little different for everyone, but anytime I get close to another Immortal, I feel a kind of tingle in the back of my mind combined with my stomach feeling like I just went over a hill on a roller coaster."

"Did...you know any of the victims?"

"A few. But as far as Immortals are concerned, they were losers, not victims."

"What do you mean?"

Scully took another deep breath, "We have a legend. Supposedly we're to fight and kill each other in what we call the Game. The last remaining Immortal will win the Prize."

Mulder blanched, "And that would be..?"

"We don't know. At the very least, the combined Quickenings of every Immortal who ever lived. Many think it will give them enough power to rule the world."

"So where does Adam fit in with this?"

"I'm Immortal, too. I was the one who found, raised, and trained Dana."

"Found?"

"One of the many things Dana hasn't mentioned yet is the fact all of us are foundlings. I found her in a forest when she was a baby and decided to raise her as my daughter. I told her what I was when she was ten."

"Did you know she'd be Immortal?"

"Yes, I did."

"He told me it was sometimes possible to tell if someone was going to become Immortal, but they were never told. I guessed I might become Immortal when I was around twenty-five. I married when I was seventeen, and after eight years with no children, I started to wonder. I didn't know for sure until I died four years later."

"Why would that make you think you would be Immortal?"

"We're all sterile. It's simply not possible for us to conceive, even before we die the first time."

Mulder shook his head, "I think I need a drink."

Adam grinned, "I know of a good place near here."

"Just don't tell anyone I'm Immortal, OK?" Scully asked. "Even if someone knows about us in general, I kind of like being relatively anonymous."

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Joe watched Methos return not only with Dana Scully, but her partner and three other men. They took a table to the left of the stage. He wondered what the Old Man was up to now. As far as he knew, Mulder was the only one who was to be informed about Immortals, so who were the three other men with them? He looked a little closer and recognized the stunned expressions on Mulder's and the others' faces. Methos was as unreadable as ever, but Agent Scully kept looking at her partner as if she was afraid of how he would react once he got over the shock of knowing she had kept the knowledge about Immortals from him.

Setting down the rag he was holding, Joe shuffled over to the small group.

"So, how are you doing tonight?"

Methos grinned, "I think our friends here could use a drink."

Joe returned a couple minutes later with six mugs of beer.

"Thank you, Joe." Scully said.

The Watcher sat down, "You mind if I join you?"

Scully looked coolly at him, "Maybe."

Joe simply pulled his sleeve up, showing off the tattoo on his left wrist.

Scully nodded.

Mulder leaned over to her, "What is that?"

"It's the same as the symbol I have on the book." Byers whispered.

"Adam mentioned someone who had a Chronicle." Joe said thoughtfully. "Do you have it with you?"

"Why?"

"Byers, you can show it to him. It will probably be safer with him than back home."

The Gunman looked at Scully then nodded at Joe, "She never gave us a chance to leave our things anywhere. It's in my duffle bag."

"Bring it to my office. I don't want to risk anyone accidentally seeing anything that's written."

Byers hesitated, but when he saw Scully get up to follow Joe, he picked up the duffle bag. Once all seven were in the office, he took the book out and set it on the desk.

"What's so important about this book?" Byers asked.

"It's a Chronicle." Adam answered, "It was written by a group of mortals called Watchers. They record the lives of Immortals they can identify. Joe's part of that organization."

"Do most Immortals know about Watchers?" Mulder asked.

"No." Joe answered, "Immortals tend to be rather wary if not downright paranoid about mortals learning about them. If a mortal wanted to kill an Immortal and knew how, the Immortal wouldn't be able to see it coming until it was too late. If Immortals started learning about the Watchers, a lot of people who aren't involved either way could be hurt."

Mulder shook his head, "I've always thought I had a pretty open mind about the unusual and strange, but this?"

Joe chuckled, "Yeah, it's a lot to take in, isn't it? I learned about Immortals in Vietnam, a few days after I lost my legs."

"What happened?" Langly asked.

Mulder glanced around and noticed Scully wasn't there anymore. Joe was telling about how an Immortal carried him to a hospital, so Mulder slipped out to find her.

He spotted her almost immediately at a secluded table. She looked up as he sat down across from her. Mulder watched her for a minute.

"You're OK with this?" She asked, "You...you aren't scared of me?"

"Why would I be scared of you?"

"Mulder, my life depends on my skill in single combat. A lot of young Immortals are killed before they reach fifty. After about a hundred, we're generally established enough in the Game to survive. After a thousand, we start to become targets for the power of our Quickenings. Even very young Immortals can be very dangerous individuals if they've been trained well.

"I can also remember a time when I would have been burned at the stake for being a witch. People often fear what they don't understand, and if we don't understand why we're the way we are how can we expect anyone else to?"

"So, what happened in New York ten years ago?"

"An Immortal known as the Kurgan went on a rampage. He was responsible for the first beheading. The one in New Jersey. The second loser was Fasil. He challenged Conner MacLeod, a friend of mine who was using the name Russell Nash." Mulder nodded, recognizing the name, "Conner won, but was picked up by the police. He had left his sword behind, so all they had was circumstantial evidence. The sword they did find belonged to Fasil. Forensics determined it was not the murder weapon. The third beheading was the one witnessed by a survivalist. He gave the police a description of the Kurgan, who had won that fight. In the fourth fight, Conner beat the Kurgan and took off for his homeland of Scotland. I saw him not long after during summer vacation. I was relieved that monster was stopped, especially since I was in Baltimore at the time and ready to start packing if he decided to come south."

"Have you had to kill anyone like that?"

"I haven't really kept track, but I think it's somewhere between 75 and 100."

Mulder shifted uncomfortably.

"Mulder, that isn't even one a decade. If I really wanted to take heads, I'd either be dead, or my count would be several times what it is. Most of the Immortals I've killed came after me because they thought I would be an 'easy' target. I had to fight and kill about fifteen before I turned 100, and most of the rest came after me because they thought my being a woman would make me an easy target. As I grew older, I became better at avoiding other fights. I haven't taken a head in about fifteen years now, but my age will eventually make me a target for the power of my Quickening."

Suddenly, she stiffened.

"You okay?"

"There's another Immortal here."

"You sure it isn't Adam?"

Scully shook her head, "He's still within my sensing range."

"Can you tell who it is?"

She was facing the rest of the bar, so she did a quick survey of the room. "From what I've heard, it looks like Duncan MacLeod."

"What you've heard? You mean you've never met him?"

"No, but he's one of the more well-known Immortals. He hasn't exactly kept a low-profile among our kind."

"Or with the local PD, according to the files we've got."

Scully chuckled at that.

"He isn't going to try and kill you, will he?"

"Not unless I threaten him or someone he cares about."

 

Duncan looked around for the other Immortal, but didn't see anyone obviously reacting to the buzz. A couple near the back both had the long coats Immortals favored, but that alone didn't necessarily mean anything. Plenty of mortals wore long coats, especially professionals. Besides, the other Immortal would have had time to recover and ignore a new arrival if they didn't want a fight. Duncan was just fine with leaving a challenge out of the night's activities. Just then, Methos came out of Joe's office and walked over.

"Well, it doesn't look like we'll have to worry as much about Federal interference as much as we thought we would."

Duncan flashed a puzzled look at Methos, "What do you mean?"

"Mulder's been informed about Immortals. He understands the need to keep this secret. Dana told me about some of their work. They may work for the government, but neither of them trusts it. It seems they've had run-ins with people who would love to experiment on us if they found out about our existence. They've been trying to bring them down."

Duncan nodded. It had been bad enough when a rogue civilian doctor had accidentally witnessed his healing abilities.

"So they can be trusted?"

"I trust Dana, and it's obvious she trusts her partner. There were a few extras who ended up finding out, too, but that was only because they had one of your kinsman's Chronicles."

"What will they do now?"

"I don't know. Probably find some way to 'solve' the case, then bury it."

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

3:23 A.M.

Joe was cleaning the bar while Duncan and Methos answered questions from Mulder's friends when all six of them heard an explosion. The two Immortals were at the door first.

Methos muttered something, but Joe didn't recognize the language. Then he walked calmly over to two bodies Joe hadn't noticed.

"Are you going to stand there, or help me get them inside?" He demanded, picking up the smaller of the bodies, "And don't forget the sword."

Duncan grabbed the second body.

Joe watched them move past, recognizing the two agents.

"Adam, don't we need to notify the Bureau two of their agents are dead?"

"No." He set Scully down on the stage. Duncan just left Mulder on the floor. Methos checked on Mulder, then grasped his head and gave it a sharp twist.

"Adam..."

"There was nothing that could be done for him. Besides, he's at a good age to die."

Joe looked at the bodies again. He nearly fainted when he saw the tell-tail arcs of electricity jump across Scully's burns.

He glared at Methos, "You never told me she was an Immortal."

"I never said she wasn't. All I said was that I've known her since she was a baby and that she's known about Immortals and Watchers since she was ten. I never said anything about her real age."

"I've never read anything about her in the Chronicles."

"Who do you think raised and taught her?"

Joe stared at the Immortal's grin and shook his head.

"Obviously, I taught her well."

"What about Mulder?"

"He's in for a shock when he wakes up and finds out he's one of us."

While this was happening, the Gunmen were holding their own conversation.

"Why do you think they decided to kill them now?" Byers asked.

"Beats me, but if Scully is one of these Immortals, I feel sorry for anyone who tries to get in her way in finding out who killed Mulder." Frohike answered.

"But why didn't we find any discrepancies in her background when Mulder asked us to do a check of our own?"

Langly shrugged, "If she has lived for centuries, it makes sense she'd learn to fake a background. You have to admit, it takes a lot of planning for someone to fool the checks the FBI does on their people."

Frohike and Byers nodded and they went over to where their friends had been placed.

"How are they?" Byers asked.

Methos glanced down, "They'll be fine. Dana was always a fast healer, but injuries like this can take awhile to recover from."

"What about Mulder?"

"He'll be fine, but since this is his first time, it could take a couple hours."

"Mulder's one of you?"

"He will be once he wakes up."

"Di-does Scully know?"

"That he'll be Immortal, or that he died?"

"Both."

"She knew he'd be Immortal, but since she's dead right now, too, I doubt she knows he's dead."

Methos headed over to the bar for another beer while they waited.

 

Scully was aware of the strange sense of being suspended she always felt when she died. Time seemed to stretch and contract until she had no clue if she'd been out only a few minutes or a few hours. Finally, other sensations faded into her consciousness. A burning feeling in her lungs forced her to draw a painful breath. Almost as soon as the oxygen flooded back into her body, she was awake again. She coughed a few times to eliminate whatever was still in her lungs as she remembered how she'd been killed this time.

Scully rolled onto her stomach and pushed herself up. She winced slightly, the burns not completely healed yet.

"Where's Mulder?" She demanded.

"Right here. You were both killed. We're waiting for him to wake up." Methos answered.

Scully nodded, "How long?"

"The explosion was about half an hour ago."

"And I just woke up?"

"I guess your body had a lot to repair."

She went over to check on Mulder, "I hope he'll be okay."

"He's Immortal now."

"That's not what I meant. Mulder's pyrophobic. I can remember a few things just after the explosion. Mulder wasn't moving. He was on fire, but was panicking so badly, he couldn't move. For him I doubt there are very many ways to die that would be worse than fire. Especially the first time." She noticed Joe watching her curiously.

"If you're Immortal, how old are you?"

"Twelve ninety-three about a week before Midsummer."

"And you've never had a Watcher?"

"No, but I have been in the organization a few times."

Joe glared at Methos.

"What?"

"You told her how to get in?"

Methos shrugged, "Some of the ways she pulled it off were rather inventive."

"Is that how you beat the FBI background checks?"

"Compared to the Watchers, it was a piece of cake." Scully grinned.

"What's your real name?"

"Dana Scully. The last time I used any part of it, though, was around the end of WWII, and I added a middle name to fit in with the times."

"Where are you from originally?"

"Northern Ireland. Adam found me and brought me to a monastery where he raised me until I was ten. About that time, it was attacked by Northmen. Adam had been helping set up defenses, so no one was killed, but we left a few days later. He told me about himself and about the Watchers. We lived the next few years in a fairly isolated location where he started teaching me how to fight. I was married when I was seventeen, and began to suspect I might be Immortal after no children for eight years. I was killed four years later when my horse spooked and threw me. I broke my neck and woke up as I was being buried. Fortunately, Adam had come to live in the village and dug me up that night. We left and I spent the next six years learning things about how to fight and live as an Immortal he couldn't show me before I became Immortal."

Scully looked at where Mulder was lying.

"Adam, can you do me a favor? Mulder and I'll need some different clothes." She dug into her pockets until she found the motel key. Unfortunately, the plastic card hadn't survived the fire. She then checked her sword. Its scabbard had shielded it from the worst of the fire and seemed to be fine.

"Don't worry, I haven't done much breaking and entry in a few decades, but I should be able to handle a cheap motel door."

"Thanks."

 

About half an hour after Methos returned, the three Immortals noticed a change in Mulder's preimmortal buzz. It was starting to grow to the strength of a full Immortal.

Scully kneeled next to her partner, pulling his head onto her legs. She knew the first thing he would remember would be the fire, and she didn't want him panicking. She was aware of Duncan, Methos, and Joe pulling the Gunmen back, but right now, she was focused on Mulder. His buzz was continuing to strengthen and she knew it wouldn't be long before it reached that critical point where his body would jumpstart itself back to life.

Suddenly he gasped, his eyes popping open. He started screaming as soon as he had the air in his lungs.

"Mulder! Mulder, calm down. You aren't on fire. You're safe." Scully could see the wild terror in his eyes start to fade. Even as it did, she could see a realization flash in them. "You're okay."

Mulder looked up at her, his quick mind coming to the most logical conclusion of what had happened, "I'm Immortal, aren't I."

Scully nodded. She stood and reached down to help him up. He swayed a little as he got to his feet. Scully watched him a few moments before turning to the others.

"Joe, is there any food in back? I think both of us could use something to eat, and Mulder's body isn't used to the energy needed to repair the damage it took."

"Sure, there should still be some ribs left over. Duncan?"

The Scott headed to the kitchen.

"Mulder?" Scully touched his arm, "We need to talk. There are still things about being Immortal I haven't told you about yet."

She led him to one of the tables.

"Like what?"

"Like the rules governing the Game."

"Rules?"

"They are pretty straight forward. Our fights are supposed to be one on one, no witnesses. Immortals can watch, but we can't interfere in other fights. Some Immortals break those rules, and you'll have to be on your guard against the ones who do. There are only two rules you'll be able to count on: We can't kill on Holy Ground, and...there can be only one."

Duncan came back with two platters of ribs.

Scully immediately started eating, but Mulder hesitated for a moment. She could tell he was trying to come to grips with the sudden changes in his life. It hadn't even been twelve hours since he learned about Immortals, and now he was one. At least she'd been able to tell him before he died.

"Scully?"

"Yeah?"

"What--what happens now?"

"First, we need to finish up this investigation you started. Then, we find out who planted that bomb. Hopefully, whoever did it wasn't watching. In the meantime, though, we need to get you a sword so you can start learning to defend yourself against other Immortals. Especially since Seacouver's been a hotspot for Immortals the past few years."

 

"Look, I just want to make sure he's ok."

Joe rubbed his eyes.

"Frohike, this is something those two need to sort out on their own." Duncan growled, "You have no idea what he's going through right now. Mulder's just had his whole life flipped upside-down. Granted, he is handling it better than a lot of Immortals did--including me--but his mind is still in shock. Even if he is open to unusual things, it's going to take awhile before it really sinks in."

"How long?"

"That depends. The Buzz and the accelerated healing are usually the first an Immortal gets used to, since those are the most obvious changes. One of the hardest none of us ever really gets used to, though, is outliving everyone we know except for other Immortals. We learn to accept it, but losing our friends isn't something that gets easier with time."

"But he will be ok?"

"Yeah. Just give him some time. It won't be easy for him, but I think having some friends who know what he is will make it a little more bearable."

"What about Scully?"

"She's more than three times my age. She's had a lot of time to get used to this, and I'm sure she's had more than a few students in her life."

"I just hope Cancerman and the Conspiracy he works for don't find out about any of this. If they do, it's a safe bet they'll start hunting you guys down to find out what makes you tick."

"Who?"

"Cancerman. We don't know what his real name is and since he always has a cigarette, we just call him that or the Cigarette Smoking Man."

"How did Dana get involved in all this?"

Frohike grinned, "She joined the Bureau five years ago, spent the first two teaching pathology."

Methos chuckled at that.

"In '92, she was reassigned to derail Mulder's work on the X-files. Cancerman was behind it. They thought having a scientist working on cases involving paranormal cases would prove they were invalid and not worth the Bureau's time or resources."

"I take it things didn't work out the way they were supposed to?"

"Not for the Conspiracy. Scully ended up backing up Mulder's findings, gradually giving the X-files more credibility. Then, the Conspiracy managed to get their work officially closed. Mulder was placed on surveillance, and they sent Scully back to teaching at the Academy. Mulder managed to get the files reopened, and he and Scully have been there since."

"What was she like as a kid?" Langly asked.

Methos chuckled, "Let's just say she didn't have a normal childhood, especially for the times. We lived at a monastery for the first ten years of her life. I made sure she could speak and understand several languages. She also learned to read and write those languages. At that time, few men could read and it was almost unheard of for a woman to learn. I also started teaching her basic survival skills. After we left the monastery, I taught her basic sword fighting. I told her it was in case another Immortal tried to use her to get to me. When she did become Immortal, Dana told me she wasn't too surprised."

"And she still trusted you, even though you didn't tell her?"

"When I told her I was Immortal, I also made sure she understood that even though it was possible to sense preimmortals, we never told them. Think about it. If you believe you can survive death, wouldn't you be more likely to do something reckless and get yourself killed?"

Byers looked over at Mulder, "Yeah. I suppose it was probably a good thing Mulder didn't know, especially considering how much trouble he got into when he didn't know."

"What kind of trouble?"

"Usually happens when he thinks he might be getting close to finding out what happened to his sister, finding proof of alien life, or he thinks Scully is in trouble."

"She can take care of herself. She would have survived this long if she couldn't."

Methos shrugged, "She's a good teacher. I've met a few of her other students, and so far I know of only three who have fallen to the Game."

"How many has she had?"

"I think Mulder will be number seventeen."

"Is that a lot?"

"Considering training can last several years, yeah. However, I think some of those students left on their own after only a few weeks."

"Mulder, you okay?" Scully watched her partner with concern. He'd barely touched the plate of ribs and was playing with a bone he'd already finished with.

"I died, Scully. I was on fire and I couldn't move and it killed me." Mulder shivered, "The worst part, is I can remember every detail until I lost consciousness."

Scully moved so she could hold him. His mind was finally acknowledging the fact he'd been killed by one of his worst fears. She could feel him shaking.

"It's okay, Mulder. You're alive."

"But I died!"

"Yes, you did. But you're Immortal. Fire can't kill you. You don't have to be afraid of it anymore." She spoke as soothingly as she could, but his shivering didn't stop. After a while, she felt him relax and she knew he'd fallen asleep.

"I have a cot in the back room, if you want to stay here." Joe offered.

"Thanks. He's exhausted. Mulder gets so little sleep in the best of times, he'll probably wake up screaming in an hour or two. And then we have to get back to the field office for work."

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

January 18
Joe's

Mulder closed his eyes and smiled as he listened to the band. He'd never really been into blues before, but he found it fit his current mood. Ever since his sister's disappearance, he'd been an outsider. Whether in Chilmark because people believed he'd killed her, or at Oxford because of being American, or in the Bureau because of his obsession with the X-files, he'd never found a place to really belong. Now, he had been forced into the outside yet again by the simple fact that he couldn't die under most circumstances.

As the set finished, he went over to the bar for another drink. He'd noticed that, even though he'd already had his usual limit, he could probably still drive without being arrested for intoxication. He'd have to ask one of the older Immortals about that later. The thought made him grin. Now, he could probably out drink just about any mortal. If he was a gambler, he would consider making some extra cash in a drinking contest.

He felt the Buzz and nearly doubled over. Although it wasn't as bad as the first time, this was only the third time he'd felt it. Mulder glanced towards the door in time to see Adam walk in. The older Immortal spotted him and walked over.

"Drinking won't change the fact you're Immortal."

Mulder chuckled, "No, it won't. I just wanted to forget that I died last night."

"Good luck."

"Yeah, I seem to have found that out. I've already hit my former limit, and I'm probably still good for twice that. I doubt my wallet can handle it, though."

This time it was Methos's turn to chuckle, "You just haven't had time to earn the kind of money a lot of older Immortals have. If I were you, I'd take the money out of my retirement fund and open a Swiss bank account."

Mulder looked at him in surprise, "Why a Swiss bank?"

"They don't ask questions. You can will the money to a new identity every decade or so. After a few decades, the interest will have compounded into a rather nice cache to fall back on when you need to disappear quickly and quietly."

"Will I have to do that often?"

"Depends on how careful you are, and even then, accidents can happen."

"With my luck, I'll be out of the Bureau by the end of the year."

"Guess you just have to be more careful."

Mulder groaned.

"Hey, Adam. Just out of curiosity, but how old are you?"

"I usually prefer to keep my age to myself."

"Why's that?"

"What are you, a psychologist?"

"Actually, yeah. My main area of expertise outside the X-files is profiling serial killers. Believe me when I say it's nearly cost me my sanity more than once." Mulder drained the shot glass, "When I was still a rookie, it wasn't so bad. Then they discovered I was accurate on my profiles more often than the rest of my colleagues so they started giving me harder and harder assignments. More gruesome killers. I kept solving them, kept getting into the killers' minds, but it was also getting harder to back away from the cases when I was done. When I found the X-files, I also found something that could take my mind off of the killers I put away. I started reading through old cases, and eventually reopened some of them. I requested a transfer and officially reopened the X-files project. I worked it alone for about a year, year and a half before they sent Scully to shut me down. Sometimes, I still get called in by VCS for profiling, but at least now Scully's there to help me pull back when I get in too deep."

Just then, Joe came over to them.

"I think I might know who placed the bomb in the car." He said quietly.

Mulder looked at him in surprise, "How?"

"One of my Watchers saw an Immortal named Gregory Samuels wiring it."

"Wouldn't you have sensed him?" Mulder asked Adam.

"No, the car was parked too far away. And he may not have know Dana was Immortal."

"Why wouldn't he?"

"Mulder, we don't know how many Immortals there are. New ones like you appear all the time, others fall to the Game, and there are who knows how many like Dana Scully who the Watchers don't even know exist. Watchers can lose track of the Immortals they're assigned to watch, sometimes for years. We just don't know what they do during that time, and it's possible a new Immortal is found and trained before we pick up the older one again." Joe looked pointedly at Adam, "Or we don't know the teacher exists in the first place."

Mulder nodded. "What about me and Scully?"

"I'll leave you out of the Chronicles. I talked with her earlier, and from what she said, it could be dangerous for you if certain people learned about Immortals. Even if they do know, neither of you are in the Chronicles."

"Be careful, Joe, if they find out you're a friend of mine, you could be targeted. Immortals might be dangerous in a one-on-one setting, but the Consortium is like one of those mythological creatures. Cut off one head and there's two more to fight."

 

Scully walked into Joe's, instinctively pausing as she felt the Buzz of two Immortals. It only took her a moment to spot her partner at the bar sitting next to her teacher.

"Hey, guys." She said, sitting next to Mulder.

"Joe's people found out who planted the bomb." Mulder said, "It was an Immortal named Gregory Samuels."

Scully's expression hardened, "Let's go, Mulder. Adam, I might need your help with this one."

Mulder looked at her, "I take it you know him?"

"He killed one of my students a hundred and fifty years ago. Normally I'd let it go as part of the Game, but Samuels hired four mortals to shoot Ian before he even drew his sword. He probably would have killed both of us after the explosion if Duncan and Adam hadn't been there."

Mulder blanched somewhat, "So, where are we going?"

"First, we're finding a church where you'll be safe. Then, Adam and I are going to find Samuels."

"Why do I have to stay behind?"

"I know you are capable of defending yourself under most circumstances, but this time we're dealing with a 600-year-old Immortal who doesn't play fairly."

It only took Mulder a moment to read the underlying meaning, "Scully, are you sure this is a good idea? I mean, this could be considered premeditated murder."

Scully sighed, "Mulder, we can't arrest him. We don't have any solid evidence without bringing in why he was being observed by a Watcher, and we wouldn't be able to explain the Watchers without revealing Immortals. Even if we did have any evidence, he wouldn't be able to stay in jail. Either he'd arrange to get himself killed, paroled then killed, or he'd remain in long enough for guards and other inmates to figure out he wasn't aging. Anyway you look at it, the only way to really stop him is to fight him and have someone to take out any back up."

"Scully..."

"No. For this I need an experienced Immortal. If you had died even a few months ago and knew some basic sword fighting, I wouldn't hesitate to ask you to come with, but you've been Immortal less than twenty-four hours. If you've even considered sword fighting, it was probably some fencing when you were in school or imitating the fighting in Star Wars, am I right?"

"Well, I did take some lessons."

"Sword fighting--real sword fighting--is very different. In fencing, there are rules, protocols, safety equipment...you won't have any of those in a real fight. Until you learn to fight, you're going to be vulnerable to other Immortals." Scully looked at her partner, immediately aware of the familiar gleam in his eyes, "And I don't want you running off on your own until you learn, is that clear?"

The gleam faded as Mulder reluctantly nodded.

"Adam, you coming, or should I ask MacLeod?"

Methos snorted, "If you did that, he'd try to fight in your place."

"I'm not surprised, from what I know about him."

"Joe, I'll take Mulder to the church two streets down. Do you know where Samuels is?"

"No, Terry lost him about two hours ago."

"Thanks."

 

Joe watched the three Immortals head out and debated whether or not to follow them. His decision was made for him when MacLeod walked in.

"Hey, Joe, was that Methos, Scully, and Mulder I just saw leaving?"

"Yeah, I think there's going to be a Challenge tonight."

Duncan frowned, "Who?"

"An old 'acquaintance' of Scully's named Gregory Samuels planted the car bomb. I guess he used some questionable tactics in killing a student of hers once and she wants his head."

"Methos went with?" Duncan asked, surprised, "He never risks his neck without a really good reason."

"She is his adopted daughter as well as a student of his. I've seen the bond teachers and students have with each other with you and Richie, and between Conner and you."

"Do you know where they went?"

"None of them have Watchers. All I know is they're planning on dropping Mulder off at a church a couple streets over before looking for Samuels."

"So you won't have a location on them until Samuels' Watcher picks them up?"

"We might not have one until the fight is over. Samuels lost his Watcher."

Duncan started for the door.

"Where are you going?"

"To find them."

"If I were you, I'd find the church they left Mulder at and keep an eye on him. I've gotten the impression he has a tendency for finding trouble."

"You want me to baby-sit him?"

"I have a feeling Scully would be looking for heads if anything happened to him."

Duncan swore. "All right, I'll find him and make sure nothing happens to him."

Joe grinned, "Well, you do make a pretty good babysitter."

 

Mulder watched from the door of the church Scully and Adam had dropped him off at as they left. He sighed and headed farther into the church. He noticed he felt more relaxed here than he'd been in a long time. He'd been in churches before, but he'd never quite felt this before.

Sighing, Mulder sat on a bench near the door to wait. He leaned against the wall and let his mind wander. He wasn't too disappointed to learn he wasn't related to his parents. He'd never been very close to either of them. What hurt was knowing Sam wasn't really his sister.

As he thought about Sam, he wondered what he would tell her if and when he found her. Scully had said it was a secret not to be shared lightly, but Mulder wanted to be able to tell his sister everything, like he had when they were kids. One problem with that, though, was he had no way of knowing if she would even remember him. He knew from experience the Consortium could manipulate a person's memories.

His thoughts were distracted at that point by a Buzz. Mulder grimaced. He needed to get used to that.

"Mulder?"

He chuckled as he recognized MacLeod's voice.

"I'm over here, MacLeod. Scully send you to keep an eye on me?"

"Actually it was Joe. I guess your partner must have said something to him."

"Do we need to stay here?"

"I think there's a TV and VCR around someplace. You can tell me what to get."

"Great. How about a couple Mystery Science Theater 3000 videos? Preferably with Mike."

 

Scully glanced out the window, "I don't know this city very well. Where do you think Samuels is?"

"Depends on if he's expecting a fight."

Her cell phone rang.

"Scully."

"Soldier's Bridge. Half an hour. Be there, or I'll go after that partner of yours. Very careless of him not to check the door before opening it. You were lucky someone showed up when they did, although I don't know why he didn't take your heads."

The voice on the other end hung up, but Scully had recognized it.

"That was Samuels. He's finally ready to fight me."

"Where?"

"Soldier's Bridge?"

"I know where that is. I'll make sure he didn't bring any backup."

"Thanks." Scully reached into her coat, fingering the leather grip on her sword. It was a Roman short sword, much like the one she had trained with. She'd used several types of swords over the centuries, including katanas, rapiers, cavalry sabers, and European broadswords, but for this age, she had found the short sword to be the easiest to conceal. Her hand moved to her holster and she drew her gun. She handed it to Methos, "Here, in case he tries to cheat."

Methos took it and slipped it into his pocket without question. She'd gotten his survival instincts, but had a slightly different approach in using them. She was more willing to risk her neck, but she tried to eliminate as many risks as possible before doing it.

He drove up to the bridge and they both got out. Scully tossed her cell phone onto the front seat. She knew what generally happened to electronics exposed to a Quickening, and if she won, she really didn't want to have to explain why she needed a new one.

Neither could see anyone else there right away. As they reached the middle of the bridge, both felt the Buzz a moment before a shadowed figure stepped out from behind a support. They immediately separated, making it harder in case there were shooters nearby.

"Dana Scully. I really thought you were smarter than that. Bringing your student to a fight?"

Scully was startled for a moment, then realized Samuels must have been taking about Methos. He and Mulder weren't exactly twins, but in the dark and from the distance, she realized the two could be mistaken for each other.

She drew her sword, "This is between you and me, Samuels. It ends here." She let her voice slip back into the Irish accent she hadn't used in nearly fifty years. If anyone happened to witness any of this, an accent would hopefully make it more difficult for her to be correctly identified.

The younger Immortal grinned, "Of course, it does." He drew his sword, and three shots rang out. All three Immortals dropped.

 

Methos and Scully woke only seconds apart. She fingered the bullet hole in her shirt.

"Think anyone saw?"

"Nah, the shooter probably took off as soon as he saw his boss go down."

"Thanks for taking Samuels out first."

"I didn't want to lose my head because someone has a problem with you, Little One."

They felt Samuels wake up and looked on as he revived. Scully picked up her sword. She was ticked at him, but she wasn't going cheat. That was a good way of being targeted by other Immortals.

"Get up, Samuels. Your head is mine." She noticed her accent was even more pronounced, almost to the point of slipping completely back into Gaelic.

"You know, I'm going to enjoy taking his head when I'm done with you." Samuels grinned, picking up his sword.

The two Immortals started circling each other. Scully ignored the anger she felt at him. Once the fight really started, she would release her anger slowly. If she simply let it explode, she wouldn't last five minutes. Instead, her expression grew incredibly cold. If anyone from the Bureau had been there, they would have instinctively known to avoid the Ice Queen.

Samuels gave a loud battle cry as he attacked. Scully had been waiting for him and easily blocked his first two swings. She followed up with an attack of her own, driving him back a few steps. One of her attacks went through Samuels's defenses, cutting into his side.

He tried to attack again and break the rhythm Scully was getting into, but that simply left more vulnerable spots she took advantage of. Suddenly, he kicked her, causing her to stumble backwards. He pressed the attack. Scully deflected one blow, but she felt a painful crack in her wrist.

Thankful for the lessons Methos had given her in fighting with her off hand, she switched her sword into her left to give her wrist a chance to heal. This threw Samuels off-balanced. He was accustomed to fighting right-handed opponents. Now he had to adjust his technique.

He wasn't quick enough. Scully quickly disarmed him and finished it. She stared at the body for a moment before taking a step back. Tiny sparks flashed from the severed neck as a familiar white mist appeared around the body. It reached her body and the sparks immediately became lightning.

"For you, Ian." She said as the Quickening took her.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Mulder looked up as he felt his body responding to something he didn't recognize.

"What's that?"

MacLeod looked at him, "A Quickening. It didn't take them long to find Samuels. They must have fought fairly close for us to feel it."

"She killed him?"

"Or he killed her."

Duncan stood and went to a window.

"Mulder!"

The young Immortal walked over and looked where the Highlander was pointing. He could see flashes of lightning in the night sky.

"That's a Quickening?" He asked, awed despite the distance. He stared at the display until it died down. "I hope Scully wasn't killed."

"We'll likely know soon."

Mulder glanced at the TV. Mike and the 'bots were in the middle of one of their sketches, but he didn't feel much like watching anymore. Before he could start pacing, his cell phone went off.

"Scully?" He asked as soon as he answered.

"No, it's Adam."

"Where's Scully?"

There was a brief pause and Mulder was afraid the older Immortal was going to tell him his partner had lost.

"She's exhausted from the Quickening."

"Can I talk to her?"

"I wouldn't advise it right now. Once the exhaustion wears off, she'll be rather irritable for awhile."

"Why?"

"I've seen her after taking a Quickening before. She absorbed a lot of energy, and she'll need to wear it off before she'll really be herself again."

Mulder thought about that for a moment.

"I'm going to drop Dana off at the motel. I'll be there soon. You are still at the church, right."

Mulder chuckled, "Yeah, Joe must have sent MacLeod to make sure of that."

This time Adam chuckled.

"By the way, how did you get the number for my cell phone?"

"Number '1' on your partner's speed dial."

"Oh. Right." Mulder hung up and looked at MacLeod, "Sounds like Scully won."

Duncan simply nodded.

 

Scully had just finished showering when she felt the buzzes of three Immortals. She sighed, knowing Mulder would have a thousand and one questions for her she really didn't feel like answering right now. She hoped Duncan or Methos had warned him about how Immortals often acted after receiving a Quickening. Knowing herself, Scully knew Mulder ran the risk of getting shot by her again if he wasn't careful. Methos had returned her gun to her after throwing Samuels's body into the river saying he didn't want to get caught with an FBI agent's service weapon.

She heard the door to Mulder's room open. Apparently Methos and MacLeod had convinced him it was probably in his best interest to avoid her for at least the first few hours after a Quickening. Scully pulled on her robe then took her sword and sat down on the bed. She'd already wiped the blood off, but now she had to check for damage from the battle.

Her expert eye easily picked up the nicks on the blade. She reached over to the table and grabbed the rag and whetstone she used to care for her sword.

Scully lost track of time as she resharpened the blade. She was nearly finished when she noticed the door to Mulder's room open. Her partner hesitantly poked his head into her room.

"You want something?" She asked.

"I was just wondering how you were doing."

"I'm fine, Mulder." Scully turned back to finish sharpening her sword.

"You sure?"

Scully sighed in frustration, "Look, I'm rarely in a good mood after a Quickening, and this time's no exception. And don't bother trying any of your psychologist tricks, I've seen them all."

 

Mulder retreated back to his room. He wasn't quite sure what to think about this new side of his partner. He was beginning to wish he'd never opened that file two days ago. How was he supposed to know it had involved a highly secretive race of humans who just happened to have extremely long lifelines and a habit of cutting each others' heads off for some elusive Prize? Or that Scully was one and had been alive for almost 1300 years? Or that he would become one?

He found the remote and started flipping through channels. He found some show about a man who had escaped from some top-secret facility and was being pursued for his ability to insert himself into any job he wanted.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

The three Gunmen walked into Joe's bar to find him cleaning some of the tables.

"What was it you wanted to see us for?" Byers asked.

Joe looked at them, "I was hoping you would be willing to join the Watchers."

"We won't spy on our friends, Joe." Frohike said.

"I don't expect you to. What I want, is for you to help protect them and our organization."

"We'd do that anyways."

"I realize that, but the Watchers have resources that could help you with the job. Since both of them know about the Watchers, you don't have to worry about them finding out."

"You know we'll tell them."

Joe shrugged, "We're not supposed to interfere with Immortals, but a few years ago some rogue Watchers started hunting Immortals. Mac ran into some of them, and I had to tell him the truth about who we were to keep him from going on the war path hunting Watchers. Besides, it seems Dana has known about us for centuries."

"What kind of resources would we have?" Langly asked.

"A world wide network of professionals trained in everything from surveillance to research to computer security."

All three perked up at the mention of computers, "Computers?"

"We sometimes need to alter records to protect Immortals or ourselves. We need people who can do that."

"Would we need to get the tattoo?"

"It'll tell other Watchers they can talk you more or less freely."

"'More or less'?"

"Some Watchers are still suspicious of Hunter activity. If they don't want to talk to you, it's because they're being cautious."

Byers nodded, "I can understand cautious."

"So, what do you say?"

"You mind if we talk it over?"

"Go ahead."

Joe headed behind the counter and started taking inventory of the liquor he had.

"So, what do you think?" Langly asked.

"Well, it would be nice to have an organization of our own behind us."

"What if the Consortium finds out?"

"That's why Joe wants us. We know what they're capable of. With Mulder and Scully both Immortal, I think it makes sense to add more contacts."

"I don't know about you guys, but this almost sounds too good to be true."

"You saw how Scully treated him after she saw that tattoo. She's had a lot more experience with these guys."

"Think we should call her?"

Langly and Frohike nodded.

"Hey, Joe, do you have a phone we could use?"

"Yeah, over there."

Byers quickly dialed Scully's number.

"What?" Her voice demanded when she answered.

"Uh, Scully, I was just wondering-"

"Byers, unless Mulder's in trouble, which is extremely unlikely considering I can still feel him in his room, I'm really not in the mood to talk right now."

Byers heard a click as she hung up on him. He stared at the phone for a moment before hanging up.

"What happened?" Frohike asked.

"She hung up on me."

"What?"

Joe came over, "What happened?"

"I just called Scully, and she hung up on me!"

"Where is she?"

"It sounded like she and Mulder were at the motel, where else?"

"We found out who planted the bomb. Turns out it was an Immortal Dana had a grudge against. If she let Mulder go back to the motel, that means she probably took his head."

"She what?"

"Immortals tend to have long memories. I know of one Immortal who held a grudge nearly three thousand years."

"What did this guy do to Scully?"

"Killed one of her students using mortal accomplices."

"And, that's bad, right?"

"Immortals are supposed to fight one-on-one, no aid, but sometimes Immortals cheat to get an edge. Those who do are often hunted down by others."

"So, how does that explain why she hung up?"

"From what I've witnessed since becoming a Watcher, and from what Mac's told me, receiving a Quickening is incredibly taxing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Immortals have different methods for coping, but one thing I've noticed is that they often are irritable or restless for sometimes as long as a week afterwards. A lot of it depends on how powerful each Immortal is."

"What does that have to do with it?"

"Sometimes, the Quickening of a dead Immortal is so powerful, it overwhelms the normal personality of the survivor. Older, more powerful Immortals are less susceptible to Quickenings and take less time to recover, but at the same time, the Quickenings of those Immortals have the potential of subverting the personalities of younger, weaker ones"

"Can I just say how bizarre all this is?" Frohike asked.

"Don't worry, you'll get used to it. So, do you want the job?"

"Yeah."

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

9:46 A.M.

Scully really didn't want to be at the police station. She was still dealing with the Quickening, and her temper was on the short side. She felt a little sorry for Mulder for having to put up with her, but she'd found it easier to simply ride them out.

Her tension finally built up to the point she needed to do something or she might shoot someone. She told Mulder she needed a break and headed out. She didn't start to relax until she was several blocks from the police station. Eventually, she found herself at a park.

Sitting on one of the benches, Scully watched a young father playing Frisbee with his daughter. She felt the familiar ache she had from time to time when she was reminded of her inability to have her own children. She had accepted it centuries ago, but that didn't mean it didn't still hurt sometimes.

Scully smiled, recalling some of the good memories she had of her own childhood...

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Summer, 709 A.D.

Dana crouched in the bushes, completely still. Her ears strained to hear if her father had picked up her trail.

Suddenly, a pair of strong hands grabbed her. Her shrill laughter rang through the woods as her father started tickling her. Dana managed to wiggle out of his grasp, still giggling.

"Good job hiding." He said.

Dana scowled, "You still found me."

"I've also had a lot more practice looking for people. Come on, it's almost time for supper. The Brothers will be wondering where we are."

Her grin reappeared and she started running back to the monastery.

"Race you!" She yelled back.

Several minutes later, she was running through the gate to the monastery, followed closely by her father...

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Present

Scully sighed. At the time, she hadn't realized how unusual her childhood had been. Most girls were raised with the expectation they would marry and raise a family. After becoming Immortal, Scully realized she had been raised so she would be ready to fight when the time came. Methos had encouraged her to be physically active. She spent the first ten years of her life roaming the woods near her home, learning to read and speak various languages besides Gaelic.

Now, as far as she knew, she and Methos were the only ones left alive who remembered the particular dialect she had grown up with. There might be some researcher out there who had studied it, but she knew that, like modern languages, there were idioms, ideas, references that couldn't be literally translated. And they wouldn't have anyone to ask because as far as they knew, there was no one left who knew it.

Scully watched the girl misthrow the Frisbee. Its curving flight landed it near Scully. She picked it up and threw it back to the girl before walking off. She could finally feel the restlessness from the Quickening fade. She knew Mulder would be relieved to have her back to normal. Well, normal for when she wasn't dealing with the aftereffects of a Quickening.

She was about halfway back to the station when Mulder called.

"What's up?"

"They found another body."

"Where?"

"The river below Soldier's Bridge."

"I'll meet you there."

Cursing softly, Scully headed back to the site of her most recent fight. Methos had helped her dump the body and head over the side of the bridge. She hadn't thought it would be found this quickly.

 

Mulder looked up as he felt Scully's approach.

"Where's the body?" She asked him.

"Over here." He led her to where paramedics were covering it with a sheet.

Mulder watched her give the body a cursory look. He caught the subtle clues in her expression, telling him this was the Immortal she had fought and killed the night before.

He pulled her away from the local police, "Are you OK?"

She nodded, "Yeah. Has anyone found the head yet?"

"No, and they aren't too hopeful about it. They know it happened sometime last night, but for some reason haven't associated big electrical explosions with headless bodies."

"Mulder, I'm sorry about how I've been acting. It helps when I can spend some time alone."

"Does that mean you won't shoot me again?"

"Well, your chances have gone down significantly." Scully teased.

"You mean there's still a chance?"

She shrugged, "It's not like it'd do anything permanent."

Mulder was caught off-guard by her suddenly flippant attitude toward potentially serious injuries. It took him a moment to remember Immortals had highly accelerated healing, and a moment longer to remember that included him and Scully. He wondered if he would eventually have a similar attitude.

"Mulder, I don't know if I can do the autopsy on this one."

"Why, because--"

"No. I'd feel the same if it was the result of a couple Immortals I've never heard of. Somehow, it just doesn't feel right to do it to another Immortal." She sighed, "I guess part of it is that, for most of my life, it was considered sacrilege to dissect human bodies. I've mostly gotten past that, but part of that inhibition is still there."

"So, what made you go into pathology?"

"I've died more times than I care to remember. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like for it to be permanent. I don't have a death-wish, or anything, just curious."

"Does getting killed happen often?"

"Depends. Sometimes there's greater risk of dying than other. For us, though, it's not as big a deal because we'll survive."

Mulder shook his head, "I don't know if I'll every get used to the idea of living forever."

Scully looked amused, "You will. It isn't always easy, but I've seen some amazing things in my life." She waited a beat then added, "And probably half have been since I started working with you."

"Do you think we'll ever develop faster that light travel?"

"Not with the current technology. But then, I can remember meeting Leonardo deVinci. He dreamed of manned flight centuries ago, but his designs were impractical because science as we knew it at the time wasn't advanced enough for him to understand the physics behind flight. He wasn't the only one to dream beyond his time, either. Jules Verne imagined what it would be like to fly to the moon, yet when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin actually took those first steps, it was nothing like he imagined. There were no moon men, no signs of previous civilization. Just...dead rock. Submarines, lasers, nightvision technology, telecommunications, computers..." She noticed Mulder grinning at her, "What?"

"Just enjoying a side of you I never knew existed until two days ago."

"One thing I'd like to know, is how Samuels knew I was here."

"Could have seen you at the airport."

"I doubt it. He knew you were my partner and seemed to know that you'd be Immortal, but I never sensed him. If it had been at the airport, we were never far enough apart for him to tell you'd be Immortal without me sensing him. I believe he sometimes hired himself out as an assassin or hitman. If someone had hired him, he probably found out everything he could about us before trying to do anything. Depending on how long ago it was, he could have had any number of opportunities to find out you were preimmortal without me around to sense him."

"Unless he didn't know I'd become Immortal. The bomb could have easily have been to get me out of the way, so he could get to you easier."

"And when he saw Adam with me on the bridge, Samuels assumed he was you."

"Do you think the Consortium hired him?"

"If they did, we'll need to consider the possibility of them knowing. Samuels wouldn't have willingly told them anything, but that doesn't mean they didn't learn anything."

"Agents!"

Mulder and Scully looked at the officer approaching them.

"We've got a possible witness to this guy's murder. You're gonna love his story."

Scully looked at Mulder, "I think I'll do that autopsy. You want to question the witness?"

He read her unspoken request. Even if the witness couldn't remember details that would incriminate her, Scully didn't want to accidentally jog his memory by being there. It would be bad enough if the guy could give an accurate description.

"Sure. I'll let you know what we find out."

She nodded, translating it to, "I'll let you know if he could identify you."

 

Mulder watched the witness from behind the mirrored window for a moment before going in to talk to him. The young man was wearing torn jeans, black "AC/DC" T-shirt under a black Raptor's jacket and baseball cap. Mulder sat down across the table.

"You the FBI guy they said wanted to talk to me?"

Mulder nodded, "Yeah. You've got some information on the decapitation?"

"It was weird, man. I was just walking home from a party, around midnight. I'd gotten to the bridge, and saw two people with swords. There was another guy there, but he was just watching. I couldn't see any of them too well. It was dark and they were on the other side of the bridge. But I could hear voices. A man's and a woman's. The woman's was accented. Sounded...Irish or...Scottish or something. They started fighting. I didn't stick around, but a few minutes later, I saw lightning coming from the bridge. I went back, but I didn't see anyone. There was no body, so I didn't know what had happened until I saw all the police cars down here this morning."

"Anything else you can remember?"

"Yeah. I couldn't see them real well, but the woman had red hair."

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Scully sighed as she prepared for the autopsy. She wondered why bother, since she already had a pretty good idea of what she would find. She wanted to be anywhere else, but it was either here doing the autopsy or questioning a witness who may or may not recognize her.

She turned the recorder on and started with the external exam.

 

About the same time she finished, Mulder came in.

"What have you found?" He asked.

Scully turned the recorder off, "Basically what I expected. Death by decapitation, organs showed no visible signs of aging."

"What do you mean, no signs of aging?"

"Think about it, Mulder. If our bodies heal so completely, wouldn't it make sense the effects of aging simply wouldn't exist?"

"I guess that part just hasn't sunk in yet."

"Immortality takes some getting used to."

"What about you? From what you've told me, you were more or less expecting it."

"True, but I didn't know for sure. I still nearly panicked when I woke up as I was being buried. You didn't have to go through that for your first death."

"No, I just went through fire."

She touched his arm. "So, what did you find out?"

"Saw three people on the bridge, two men and a woman. All he could tell me was the woman had red hair and an accent."

"And, since I don't have one, I'm not a suspect."

Mulder looked at her curiously, "Even though you're from Ireland?"

"I haven't had that accent in almost fifty years."

"Do you know how weird it is to hear you talk like that?"

"Get used to it, Mulder. You'll probably get an earful when Adam shows up."

"What do you mean?"

"Now that he knows where I am and that I've got a student, he'll want to check up on us."

"You know, I've got the feeling his real name isn't Adam."

"No, it isn't, but his secrets aren't mine to tell. If he chooses to tell you remember this: Don't hold his past against him."

"Just how old is he?"

"Older than me."

Mulder groaned.

"The older we get, the more powerful our Quickenings. Older Immortals tend to be a bit more reluctant about telling our real ages because we don't want to be hunted down for our power."

"Do you ever wish you weren't Immortal?"

"Sometimes. Most of the time, I don't really think about it much." She sighed, "I guess I've lived long enough, I've learned to just accept things the way they are. We have no biological parents, and we can't have kids. Many of us are so paranoid about losing our heads, we either avoid other Immortals as completely as possible, or start hunting to eliminate threats to our continued existence. We don't generally tell mortals about ourselves, and even if we do, they usually die after a few decades. Sometimes sooner."

She looked at Mulder, and for the first time, she let him see behind the mask she had always been so careful to maintain. He was struck by what he saw in her eyes. He finally saw what she really was: an incredibly old soul forever trapped in the body of a twenty-nine year old woman.

She turned away abruptly and started to clean up.

"Does it get lonely?"

"Yes, it does. Our lives are lived in secret. Sometimes we might have relatively open public lives, but none of us can escape the burden of the secrets we carry with us from the time we first die."

Mulder was quiet as Scully finished cleaning up. He still wasn't sure what to think about this latest blow to his view of reality. When they caught Tooms, he had thought he had found a one-of-a-kind mutant. He never thought there could be as extensive a community of long-lived beings as there seemed to be with Immortals.

"Hey, Scully, what would have happened to you if Tooms had gotten your liver?"

"A new one would have eventually grown in, and I'd wake up as soon as my body was ready. And before you ask, he wasn't Immortal. I never sensed him, there was no Quickening when he died, and even if he was Immortal, his head was ripped away from his body by that escalator."

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Scully finished packing her things. After the autopsy, the locals had thanked her and Mulder for their help, then insisted they could take case back. She had been more than relieved not to have to worry about how to investigate what she considered normal Immortal activity. Mulder was still too much in shock at having become Immortal to really protest.

She smiled. Mulder had started to accept the new realities of his life, but it would take some time before he fully adjusted to the changes he had just gone through. It had been a long time since she had gone through the change, but she could still remember her fear of someone in her village seeing her alive. Methos had taken her back to the same place he had taken her when they left the monastery. He gave her the training she needed to survive and taught her how to hide herself from other Immortals and her Immortality from mortals.

Now, she needed to find some way of at least getting Mulder started with his training without attracting unwanted attention. She knew she would have to get him away from the prying eyes of the Consortium. If her suspicions about Samuels were right, they might know about Immortals, but the probability they knew about her and Mulder were much slimmer. Mulder was too new, the only Watcher who had seen his death was Dawson, and she had managed to avoid attracting the attention of the Watchers most of her life.

Of course, that didn't include the possibility that they had found out some other way, but even if they knew about her, they would not have found out about Mulder this quickly. She had a place back in Ireland that was isolated enough to train him, but getting Mulder over there quietly was a slight problem. Their enemies kept a close eye on them. She grinned. She had several throwaway identities ready in case she needed to disappear fast. The biggest problem was Mulder. He didn't have any solid identities stashed away.

Scully racked her long memory until she recalled an Immortal who did favors by setting up new identities for others. She wasn't sure where he was located, but the Watchers would. She'd check with Dawson before leaving Seacouver.

She looked up as Mulder came into her room.

"Ready to go?" He asked.

She picked up her bags. "Yeah. I would like to talk to Joe before we leave."

"Any particular reason?"

"I just need to locate someone."

"Who?"

"An old acquaintance who does favors in exchange for being mostly ignored by headhunters."

"What kind of favors?"

"Mostly creating new identities for other Immortals."

"He's a forger?"

"Where do you think I got my current identity? We don't exactly carry authentic ID's with us all the time. My current driver's license is authentic because I had to get a new one when I 'turned' twenty one, and my badge is obviously the real thing, but my birth certificate and social security number are both faked."

"Scully..."

"Mulder, I don't exactly have much of a choice. Eventually, neither will you. It's just the way we live." She threw her bags into the trunk and headed around to the passenger's side, "Besides, it's not like I'll ever need social security benefits. I'm stuck at an age where I'm expected to either have a job or be able to support myself independently. I have more than enough resources in various locations that if I didn't want to work, I could live off the interest in some of the accounts I've set up over the years."

"Why didn't the FBI pick any of this up when they did a background check?"

"I've had practice with getting into the Watchers. They don't want to admit Immortals by mistake, so they specifically look for holes and inconsistencies in someone's background. I learned to forge solid identities that would even fool them. When the FBI contacted me, I'd already been planning to try and reinfiltrate the Watchers, so I knew my identity should stand up to the background check and decided why not? It seemed like it might be an interesting job, so I took it instead. Besides, since I was in school at the time, it added a little more legitimacy to my current background. I had friends and teachers who were more than willing to act as character witnesses."

"What was your first thought when you found out you were being assigned to the X-files?"

"That they had no idea what they'd just done. They had assigned an 'unexplained phenomenon' to investigate other weird stuff." Scully grinned, "Hey, you gotta love the irony. And before you ask, the only times I ever tried to misdirect you was when I thought Immortals were involved."

"Like Tooms?"

"When we caught him and I didn't feel any buzz, I had no clue what he was. I think what really convinced me was that when he came for me, he went for my liver, not my head."

"So, if you thought he was Immortal and didn't want me to know, why did you suggest that he was a 'hundred year old serial killer'?"

"I was panicking. No offense, but I wasn't ready to tell you about Immortals then."

"How long does it usually take before you tell someone who you really are?"

"Depends, but it's never been less than two years."

"So, three years is pretty short?"

"You're only the third person I've told in less than five years."

"What about new Immortals?"

"That's different. No one technically has to know unless they are Immortal. Most of us never learn about Immortals until after our first deaths. When we run into an Immortal for the first time, they'll either help us, explain what we are and teach us or take us to someone else, or kill us."

Mulder grimaced. "I'm not sure I wanted to hear that."

Scully chuckled, "You've always wanted to know the truth, Mulder. Immortality might not be what you've been searching for, but it's part of who you are."

"Who am I, Scully? Even though I hated what happened to my family and sometimes wished I wasn't related to them, now that I know I'm not, I feel like I've lost a big part of who I am."

"You aren't the first to feel that way, and you won't be the last. Those of us who are raised by families and don't know they were adopted, or that they'd been switched, often feel it more deeply."

"Like me?"

Scully nodded.

"I-I think They know I'm not my parents' biological son. Why else would they take have taken Sam instead of me?"

"Why do you think that?"

"They wanted people for genetic testing. If there was any kind of DNA test, it would have shown I wasn't related to anyone. I would have been an unknown factor, a wild card. They didn't want that, so they took my sister instead."

"You can't be too hard on yourself, Mulder. You were twelve years old when it happened."

"You were learning to use a sword when you were twelve."

"The times were different, and I was raised by an Immortal who knew what I'd become one day. If I'd had a relatively normal childhood for eighth century Ireland, I doubt I would have even considered picking up a sword until after my first death and someone explained Immortality to me."

Mulder pulled up to Joe's, "Do you want me to come in with you?"

"You can stay in the car if you think you can keep out of trouble."

Mulder rolled his eyes as Scully climbed out of the car. He settled back and closed his eyes. A few minutes later, he felt Scully's buzz return. He opened one eye as she got back in, and was surprised to feel cold steel at his throat a moment later.

"Lesson one, Mulder: Never assume you know who it is when you feel another Immortal."

He swallowed nervously and nodded. She removed the knife, flipping back into whatever pocket she had been storing it in. Then, his curiosity got the best of him.

"How do you do that?

"Do what?"

"Hide your weapons?"

"Lots of secret pockets. It's also possible for us to...conceal...things that should be obvious."

"How does it work?"

"Beats me. It's as much a mystery as we are. Conner calls it a kind of magic."

"Conner?"

"Duncan's kinsman and Immortal teacher. He's the one I told you about who killed the Kurgan up in New York. I first met him in...1583. Or was it '84?" Scully frowned, then shrugged, "It was in Aberdeen. He'd recently lost his wife, Heather. He wasn't overly interested in the Game at the time. Only becoming skilled enough to defeat the Kurgan. I gave him a few lessons in Roman styles of fighting, and he taught me a few things he'd learned from his teacher."

"Did you and him ever..?

"It only lasted the month or so we were teaching each other different sword techniques. As I said, he had just lost his mortal wife, so he wasn't ready for any kind of long-term relationship with anyone, and I had been on my way to Munich when I ran into him."

"Hey, Scully, you're thirteen hundred years, right?"

"About that, yeah."

"Hadn't the Roman Empire more or less collapsed by then?"

"Yes, it had but Adam was around through it, and that was the style he taught me."

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*
January 20

"I thought the two of you were on a case in Seacouver?"

Scully glanced at Mulder briefly before answering their boss, "We were, but the locals insisted they didn't need our help."

Skinner nodded, "Alright. So what was it you wanted to see me about?"

"Sir, there were some...issues that came up during our investigation that Mulder and I need to deal with, and it's not something we can do on the Bureau's time.

Skinner's eyes narrowed, "So basically, what your asking for is some time off?"

Scully nodded.

"May I ask what you are planning on doing?"

"I'd rather not, but I can assure you we won't be trying to sneak onto any military bases or other government facilities."

"How much time do you need?"

"One month, minimum."

"A month?"

"At least."

Skinner sighed, "Fine. You can start your vacations when you finish the paperwork from your last case."

"Thank you, sir."

Skinner left.

"What do we need a vacation for?"

"Your training. It'll be easier if we start with few distractions. While I would have liked more time, we'll at least be able to get through the basics. After that, we'll need to figure out a training schedule around work."

"So where are we going?"

"Ireland."

"What are we going there for?"

"I've got a place there where we'll be reasonably isolated. The nearest village is about six miles from the house"

"What about neighbors?"

"I own a lot of the land surrounding the house. Most of the time, I don't mind letting locals use it for recreation, but there are a few places that I've closed off."

"Don't the locals get suspicious?"

"Not really. The man I hired to take care of the house has been working for me for over thirty years now. He knows what I am, and the Consortium has no hold over him."

Mulder nodded.

"Oh, Mulder, we'll need to stop in New York before leaving."

"Why?"

"You need a back-up identity in case you get killed publicly, and that's where Otto lives."

"Otto."

"The Immortal I told you about."

"Oh."

Scully turned to start on the paperwork from the case. Mulder tried, but he couldn't seem to keep his mind on it. He kept thinking about his recently revealed Immortality and its implications. The only way he could die was if beheaded. Not a very pleasant thought, but as long as his enemies didn't know that, he would have a reasonable amount of protection from just about anything they tried to throw at him. He grinned as he tried to imagine the reactions different people would have if they were to see him revive after getting killed.

"Mulder, are you going to work, or are you going to just sit there?"

"I just can't stop thinking about what's happened the past couple days. What I've learned."

Scully smiled sympathetically. "How about I finish this report and drive you home?"

"Scully, I don't need a babysitter."

That got him a raised eyebrow and amused look, "And if you run into a headhunter?"

He looked away.

"It's only until you learn to defend yourself."

"And...you're teaching me?"

"I haven't lost many students, and two of the three I have lost were because the other Immortal cheated."

"Is the training hard?"

"You'll probably hate me before we're done."

Mulder looked worried, "That bad, huh."

"I teach all my students to fight fairly, but to expect dirty tricks. That means I'll be using those tricks when we spar, so you know how to counter them, and so you'll learn what it's like to fight injured. I won't do anything permanent, but you will be killed sometimes."

He winced, "Not fire again, I hope."

"No, it'll be mostly stab wounds, some gunshots, falls from varying heights, maybe drowning...you'd be surprised how many ways we can be temporarily killed."

"Somehow, I don't want to think about that."

"Don't worry. It takes some time to switch from thinking like a mortal to thinking like an Immortal."

"What's the difference?"

"Well, our inability to die under most conditions means we're known to go into situations that would be fatal to mortals. We know we'll walk away. Most mortals wouldn't consider it without some really good motivation. An Immortal might think twice about it, especially if there's the possibility of witnesses, but sometimes the only good way of escaping a fight is jumping off a cliff, bridge, building, whatever. It'll kill us, but we'll get up again, usually before the other Immortal can reach us."

"Sounds painful."

"Yeah, but it beats loosing your head."

Mulder rubbed his neck, "Good point."

"It's also a good way to escape pursuing mortals. They see you jump, they look for a body. If they bother looking at all."

"So, you use dying the way some take to the woods?"

Scully shrugged, "Whatever works. Of course, if a mortal happens to see you die, you'd better be ready for damage control. Either explain, or leave town."

"You're talking about breaking the law?"

"How else are we supposed to live? We can't let anyone know who we are. You've seen what happens to people who are seen as different. Immortality is something a lot of people would to anything to gain. And it's something none of us can explain." She saved the report and shut her computer down, "Come on. I'll drive you home."

 

Scully parked outside of Mulder's apartment.

"You aren't going to walk me up, are you?"

"I can. You know what to do if someone comes after your head?"

Mulder rolled his eyes, "Shoot, head for holy ground, and call you."

"Don't shoot unless you have to. That tends to make others mad. I've known of Immortals holding grudges for less, and many of us have long memories."

"Uh, right."

Scully chuckled, "I'll see you tomorrow, Mulder."

He got out and headed inside. He felt Scully leave his sensing range before he reached the elevator. He found the whole sensing thing strange. It wasn't so much the fact that it existed, as the fact that he was the one doing it. And that Scully had admitted she had no idea how this Immortality stuff worked.

Sighing, Mulder unlocked his door and went in. He still wasn't sure what to think about his needing to learn to use a sword. He rubbed his throat, remembering how easily Scully had gotten that knife there. Of course, he hadn't been expecting it, but he realized she had been right. Just because he was expecting her to come back to the car didn't mean someone less friendly wouldn't show up. A slight shiver ran down his spine when he thought about what Scully had told him he could expect while learning.

He checked on his fish, but they'd died.

"Too bad you're not Immortal." He muttered, then thought it over, "On second thought, maybe it's a good thing you aren't."

Mulder tossed his coat over the back of his couch before sitting down and grabbing the remote. There wasn't much on, but he didn't really feel like putting in a video. He stopped at an infomercial and settled back for a mind-numbing hour of "This product will revolutionize the way you make pasta!"

He must have fallen asleep, because he was startled by the buzz. Mulder reached for his gun, but the sense faded almost immediately. He waited, somewhat nervously, for the other Immortal to return. He didn't feel the buzz again, but he still felt edgy as he fell asleep again.

 

Scully felt mildly uneasy about leaving Mulder alone in his apartment. She knew how much trouble he could get into if no one was there to watch out for him. Even then, there was no guarantee nothing would happen. At least now that he was Immortal, she didn't have to worry so much about whether he got injured. Now, all she had to worry about with him were other Immortals and if Mulder was careless enough to let someone see him heal.

Once she was inside, Scully called one of her Immortal acquaintances. She hadn't had time, but now that she knew she and Mulder could have some time off work for training, she needed to start making arrangements to get over to Ireland.

"Hello?"

"I'd like to talk to Otto."

"Who's askin'?"

She closed her eyes, searching her memory for the name he'd called her when they first met.

"Tell him it's the Phoenix."

"Hang on."

Scully waited for a few minutes before someone else picked up.

"Hey, Dana, what can I do for you?"

"I'm going to need your special talents for a new student of mine."

"How good does it have to be?"

"Temporary. The only ones who saw his first time were some of us and one who knows."

"What do you plan on doing?"

"Get him out of the country a few weeks. Neither of us want to leave this particular life yet, but there'll be too many questions if I'm seen teaching him."

"Ok, I'll need a physical description and age, picture, you know the procedure."

"Been doing it the past century since ID's started being used." Scully gave him Mulder's description.

"Will you be coming for pickup?"

"Yeah, sometime in the next couple of days. I want to get him started as soon as possible."

"Can I ask where you're taking him?"

"Ireland."

"Back home to meet the folks, huh?" Otto joked.

Scully chuckled, "He's already met my teacher."

"The Old Man? How much does you new student know?"

"Only that he's older than I am."

"Which would be obvious."

"Well, you know he doesn't like anyone knowing how old he really is. He's lucky he's been able to keep his cover as Adam Pierson for this long."

"What about you? What did you do with the last one I got you?"

"Went to medical school and ended up in the FBI."

Otto groaned, "No offense, I hate law enforcement officers."

"Don't worry, this isn't a sting, or anything. I've been Immortal a lot longer than I've been an FBI agent. Good ID's aren't that easy to come by these days."

"Is that how you met your student?"

"He's my partner."

"That must have been interesting."

"You got that right, especially since Immortals aren't that strange compared to some of the stuff we've investigated together."

"This I've gotta hear."

"Some other time, Otto. Right now, I need to focus on getting him trained and keeping our mortal enemies from finding out what we are."

"Right. I'm assuming you have email?"

"Yes, I do."

"Good, think you could send me a picture of him that way?"

Scully jotted down the address Otto gave her and promised to scrounge up couple good pictures of Mulder.

That taken care of, Scully set up her laptop to finish the reports. As she had told Otto, she didn't want to delay Mulder's training any more than was absolutely necessary. The sooner the reports were down, the sooner they could leave.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Skinner sighed as he read the expense reports from Mulder and Scully's latest case. At least those two were out of what little of his hair he had left for the next month. Neither had said where they were going, but calls to both apartments had gone unanswered, indicating neither of them were in D.C. and neither of them were answering their cell phones. Scully might have gone to her mother's house, but that still left Mulder unaccounted for. He just hoped they could manage to stay out of trouble.

He caught a whiff of cigarette smoke and looked towards the figure who had entered the office.

"What do you want?"

"I want to know where Mulder and Scully are."

"You mean you lost them?"

"They took a flight to New York last night, but my people lost them."

"I can't help you. They requested vacation time, and I haven't spoken to either of them since they left work yesterday."

The man Mulder simply called Cancerman looked worried.

"What did they do now?"

There was no answer as the nameless man walked out. Skinner watched him leave, wondering what kind of stunt his two agents had pulled this time.

Cancerman walked hurriedly down the hall. With Mulder and Scully unobserved, there was no telling the kind of restricted information they might uncover. He had sent an assassin after them on the latest case, but the attempt had failed. The man he and his associates had hired turned up dead the next night, apparently the victim of the headhunter the Seacouver police were searching for.

Cancerman needed to let the others in the Consortium know of this latest development. They would need to get some of their people out searching. The two agents were becoming too dangerous to the carefully laid plans of the Consortium.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Mulder stepped off the plane and looked around. The turbo prop airplane he and Scully had taken from Dublin had landed at an airport that was little more than a grass runway and a large barn that had been converted to a hanger.

"You sure this is the right place?"

"Yes, my property is about an hour's drive from here, give or take fifteen minutes."

They started unloading their bags. An aging man drove up as they finished.

"Dana?"

The Immortal stared at him a moment, then broke into a grin, "Sean, how are you doing?"

"Oh, fair. I'm glad you called ahead so I could get things ready for you."

Scully turned to her partner, "Mulder, this is Sean. He's been keeping an eye on things back at the house while I've been away."

Mulder noticed with some surprise the mild accent already creeping into her voice. He guessed she hadn't lost it as completely as she had implied.

"Pleased to meet you. I haven't had the pleasure to meet many of Dana's friends, as she's gone so often."

"Well, you know I can't exactly stay here that long before everyone else figures out I'm not aging."

Sean glanced at Mulder.

"He's like me, only a lot younger."

Sean relaxed, smiling, "I've brought the car. You can put your things in the back."

"Thanks. We'll rent a car later if we need one."

"So, how did you guys meet?" Mulder asked as Sean pulled away from the airstrip.

"The first time I met Dana in 1953, was when I was sixteen. No one had lived in the house for almost twenty-five years. Rumors and stories about the owner were quite popular, especially in my generation. Then, one day, this woman shows up and moves in. The only person who seemed to know her was the old caretaker."

"At that time, I had just taken the identity Kate Bryons."

Sean glanced over at the interruption, "Andrew passed away six years later. Dana told me who she really was and hired me as the next caretaker."

"Why you?"

"I saw her fighting another Immortal. Until then, I'd always thought she was just a teacher at the local secondary school."

Mulder chortled, "You? A schoolteacher?"

She shrugged, "I wanted to get to know the younger generation of the town. I knew Andrew was getting old, and I wanted to know his successor was someone who could be trusted. Teaching was an easy and inconspicuous way for me to get a feel for the different students."

Mulder just nodded as he leaned back to enjoy the scenery.

 

Scully waited until Mulder had unpacked before taking him into the basement where she kept the swords she had collected over the centuries. The young Immortal's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets as he took in the variety of weapons displayed on the walls.

"These are all yours?"

"Yeah. It's generally a good idea to have several extras in case one breaks or gets lost, or for students. Go ahead and look around, let me know if you see anything in particular you like. Otherwise, I can show you a couple I think might work for you and you can pick the one you feel most comfortable with. If you want to know about any of them, just ask. I've trained with just about all the different types of swords here."

Mulder nodded and started looking over the different selections. He noticed three blades that looked almost identical except for their lengths.

"Hey, Scully, what are these?"

"The long one is a katana, the short one is a tachi, and the one in the middle--"

"Is the green kangaroo?" Mulder interrupted with a mischievous grin.

Scully rolled her eyes, "That one's called a wakizashi."

Mulder took down the katana, "Do you think I could try this one?"

Scully nodded, "I'll grab another one, and we'll go outside. I don't really have room in the house for any serious sword training, and we're far enough away from anyone else, we won't have to worry about hiding any injuries."

 

Once they were outside, Scully showed him how to hold the sword.

"Ok, attack me."

Mulder hesitated.

"Don't worry about whether you might injure me. I've had a lot of time to practice and right now, I want to know where we'll need to start. I already have a pretty good idea of your strength, reflexes, endurance...but I need to see if there are any bad habits you picked up fencing."

"Bad habits?"

"I told you sword fighting is different from fencing. Your whole body is fair game, with the target right here." Scully pressed her blade against Mulder's neck. "Never forget, Mulder, if you lose your head it's over."

He nodded. He had a feeling that would be something Scully wouldn't let him forget.

"Good, now." She dropped into a defensive stance, her sword ready.

Over the next two hours, Mulder spent his time alternating between learning basic techniques and getting his butt kicked. At least she hadn't drawn blood so far. He guessed it was at least partly because she could beat him without really breaking a sweat.

He was exhausted but despite that, he didn't feel any soreness yet in his muscles. As he sat down on the steps up to the door, Scully put her hand on his shoulder.

"We're not done yet, Mulder."

"What do you mean?"

Scully set a small case next to him, "You need to learn how to take care of your sword. I'll help you the first few times, show you what to look for, but you'll need to be able to do it on your own."

Mulder looked at the blade, "Looks fine to me."

Scully looked it over.

"There are nicks and burrs all along the edge." She opened the case and took out the rag, oil, and whetstone. "Run your thumb here, you'll feel them."

He did, but only felt a couple of rough spots.

"Here, I'll do it for you this time, so you know how sharp it needs to be." She took the katana and started sharpening and oiling it while Mulder watched.

When she finished, she handed the sword back to him, "Now feel it."

Mulder ran his thumb along the edge again. This time, even spots he'd thought were smooth the first time he now realized had been roughened by the impacts with Scully's blade.

"Ok, now this is sharp." He said, looking at the healing cut it had left.

"It has to be. It's difficult enough to deliver the final blow with even the amount of damage it can take in a single dual. If it isn't cleaned and sharpened every time you use it, it can rust. That weakens a blade and can cause it to break in a fight. Or you'll be using a dull blade, making it more difficult to cut as deeply and as cleanly as you'd need to."

Mulder nodded. He still felt uncomfortable with the idea of having to decapitate someone.

"Come on, Sean's probably got supper ready."

He followed her into the house.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

February 5

Methos grinned as Dana appeared at the sense of his Quickening.

"I was wondering when you'd show up." She grinned back.

"How's he coming?"

"Not to bad. I had to break some habits he picked up fencing in college, but he's doing pretty well for someone who was raised in a society that doesn't use swords. He's adjusted to the buzz and the accelerated healing, but the dying and coming back he still finds weird."

"How many times have you killed him?"

She flashed an innocent look, "What makes you think I've killed him?"

"Dana, I know how I trained you, and how you train your students."

"Okay, okay, I'd say around fifteen, sixteen times. He's gotten himself killed in a couple crazy stunts, as well."

"And he still isn't used to it?"

"He can accept death and dying, it's the coming back he's been having a hard time with."

"By the way, where is he?"

"Sean took him into town for part of the afternoon. I've been working him hard enough, he needed a short break. They should be back soon, though."

"Going soft on him?"

"No. I told Sean to have Mulder run behind the car both ways."

"Twelve miles only a week into his training?"

Dana shrugged, "He was already running to stay in shape for the Bureau. All I did was increase the distance."

Methos shook his head, "Have I ever told you how devious you can be?"

"I learned from the best, Dad."

"I think I taught you too well." He groaned.

"Come on in, there's beer in the fridge."

Methos grinned again, "Lead on."

 

Mulder was ready to drop by the time he got back to the house. Sean had driven just fast enough that Mulder had had a less than easy time keeping up. At least his Immortal healing prevented his muscles from becoming sore.

As he walked into her buzz, he frowned.

"Mulder?" Sean asked.

"She's got company."

Just the Scully came out, "Adam's here."

Mulder relaxed. He still wasn't sure what to make of Scully's Immortal teacher, but she trusted him, and for now that was enough.

He and Sean went inside. Mulder immediately saw Adam, sprawled comfortably on the sofa.

"Mulder, how's the training going?"

He grimaced, "When Scully told me I could go into town, I didn't realize she meant I had to run the whole way."

"How many shirts have you ruined?"

"Only three. After that, I stopped wearing them for sword practice."

"I bet Dana likes that." Adam grinned.

Scully rolled her eyes, "I don't have to answer that."

"Dana, how about a quick sparring match?"

She shrugged, "Why not? And when we're done, you can fight Mulder."

The young Immortal groaned, "Scully, do enjoy torturing me or what?"

"Mulder, if you get the opportunity to spar with someone, it's usually a good idea to take it. You'll learn how to defend against other styles and it will help you adapt faster when you have to fight someone new. The faster you can adapt, the more chances you have at surviving."

The three Immortals headed outside. As Scully and Adam squared off, Sean moved next to Mulder.

"Have you ever watched her fight before?"

"You mean as opposed to getting floored by her?"

Sean smiled.

"No, not really. I'm not the best judge, but I've gotten the impression she's been holding back when we've sparred. I think she's been holding back since she joined the FBI."

"Not now, though. Watch."

Mulder watched as the two veteran Immortals started to circle each other. When Adam moved in to attack, Scully immediately reacted. Mulder couldn't believe how quickly both of them moved and reacted He recognized a few of the techniques Scully had taught him, but most of the fight was far more advanced than he thought he'd be in a year. It went on for nearly half an hour before Adam was able to disarm Scully and get his sword to her throat.

"Wow." Mulder said quietly.

"Really something, isn't it?"

Scully came over to him, "Okay, Mulder, your turn."

He gave her a pained look as he picked up his sword

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Unseen by any of them, a young man set down a pair of binoculars. He pulled out a small radio.

"I've found them."

"Where are you?" a raspy voice replied.

"Ireland. I wouldn't have found them if I hadn't gotten a tip they were seen on a plane to Dublin."

"Have they been taken care of yet?"

"No, not yet. There's some guy here we'll need to identify."

"Does he know them?"

"Looks that way. But there's something strange going on."

"Oh?"

"All three of them have swords. I'm no expert, but it looks to me like both Scully and the stranger know what they're doing."

"Agent Scully has a sword?"

"Didn't the last guy you hired get killed with a sword?"

"As far as anyone can tell. They never recovered either his head or the weapon used."

"What should I do about the guy with them."

"See if you can find out who he is, but if he gets in the way take him out."

"Right. I'll let you know when it's done."

He turned the radio off and picked up the binoculars again. Now, Mulder was sparring with the stranger while Scully watched. An aging man was sitting next to her, but the young assassin had already identified him as Sean Leary, the caretaker of the house Mulder and Scully were using.

Mulder didn't last long against the stranger. He was down within a couple of minutes, the stranger's sword finding his neck. The assassin frowned. If he didn't know any better it looked like they were practicing to fight until it ended in a beheading. He set the binoculars down again and picked up a camera. Unknown factors were always a liability in this job, and that was what this stranger was. If he knew anything, he would have to be eliminated with the two agents.

He took several pictures of them. As soon as they went inside, the assassin headed back into town. He'd read the files on his two targets and knew how messy things could get when they were involved. He had hoped this would be a nice, clean hit, but their track record didn't make that likely.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

"Mulder, can you get the steaks?" Scully asked as she checked some potatoes.

He found a plate to put them on. "Why isn't Adam doing anything?"

"Because he doesn't live here."

"Technically, neither do we."

"No, but he'll be leaving again tomorrow. We still have another two weeks before we need to be back in Washington."

"Do we have to go back?"

"No. You've got a temporary ID, I've got a couple backups, we could disappear, continue your training somewhere else. Or we could go back in two weeks, and continue working on the X-files."

"You'd go back with me?"

"One month isn't nearly enough time to become a good enough swordsman to survive the Game. Besides, someone has to keep you out of trouble."

Mulder set the steaks on the table, "It's just...For every answer we find there are ten more questions. That last case, I find out you already pretty much knew what was going on because it involved Immortals, and that's what you are, and by the way, so am I."

"Mulder, you know I couldn't tell you. You took enough risks when you thought you were mortal."

"So why'd you keep saving my life all those times if you knew I'd just wake up?"

"Because I've been wrong before, which is another reason I didn't tell you. No one knows why some people become Immortal and others don't. Sometimes it seems completely random, but others, it's too convenient to have been decided by chance."

Mulder nodded. "Sometimes I wonder if I'd be able to find her easier if I wasn't in the Bureau, but then I wouldn't have access to the X-files. They're the only lead I've got to what happened to her."

"And now you've got all the time you need and you're a lot harder to kill. I'd say those are two important advantages you didn't have before."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. I hadn't thought of it that way."

"Like I told you before, the switch from thinking like a mortal to thinking like an Immortal takes time, especially if you still have the life you had as a mortal. You haven't had to watch generations of mortals grow up, grow old, and die, you haven't experienced a Quickening, you haven't even had to change your identity to hide your past, although if you decide to leave the Bureau you will."

Scully cut off her impromptu lecture as she and Mulder felt Adam come into the kitchen, "Is the food almost ready?"

"Beer's in the fridge." Scully answered as she and Mulder sat down.

"So, where are you going from here?" She asked.

"I don't know, I might go back to Paris for a while. What about you, are you going back to the Bureau?"

Scully raised an eyebrow at Mulder. This was primarily his decision. She'd been in this identity long enough most Immortals would consider leaving, but she wasn't going to leave Mulder before she finished training him.

"I think we'll be going back. I still need to find out what happened to my sister, and right now the Bureau's my best chance."

Adam glanced at Scully, who just shrugged.

"Your lives." He started to say something else, but looked towards the window. As he started to get up, a bullet shattered the window, hitting Scully.

"Great. Mulder, help me get her away from the window."

As the young Immortal grabbed one of Scully's arms, he felt another bullet hit him in the shoulder. Fortunately, it went all the way through. During some of the training sessions when Scully shot him, the bullet lodged. It was always uncomfortable until his body could eliminate it.

As they set her on the couch to recover, Mulder looked at the fatal wound in Scully's chest as he fingered his own rapidly healing wound, the now familiar blue sparks from his Quickening flicking over it.

"I think I know who's behind this."

"That conspiracy you mentioned back in Seacouver?"

Mulder nodded, "And since they now know you're a friend of mine, they'll try to dig up everything they can on you, find out if you can be used against us."

Adam snorted, "Well, I've had my share of experience in manipulation."

"I want to take this guy out."

"We wait for Dana. She'll be fine any minute."

Mulder glanced at his dead partner as he felt her presence flair suddenly. A moment later, she woke up, coughing.

"Welcome back." Adam grinned.

Scully grimaced as she sat up, "You know, I really hate getting shot?"

"Don't do anything stupid, Dana."

"When have I ever done anything stupid?"

"What about your little adventure barnstorming?"

"That was seventy years ago. Besides, I was the only one who got hurt and no one saw me when I woke up."

"You were lucky you didn't lose your head in that crash."

"What crash?" Mulder asked.

"Back in the twenties, I decided I wanted to learn to fly. A friend of mine helped me build an airplane. I figured I'd make some quick money doing stunts in towns around the country. It only lasted about two years. One of the control lines snapped while I was doing a barrel roll, and I crashed."

Mulder stared at her for a moment.

"You guys ready to go after the guy who shot me?"

"What do you have in mind?"

"You were shot, too, Mulder. I can see the hole in your shirt. He's going to want to finish the job, and he'll think you're injured and I'm incapacitated, if not dead."

"Scully, he's got at least a sniper rifle. He may not know how to kill us, but how are we going to get close enough if all we have are swords? Unless you brought your gun, mine are back home because you said it would be too conspicuous to bring them."

"When did I say swords were the only weapons I've collected? I've got plenty of ranged weapons and firearms. They're in the basement, with the swords."

"How come I didn't see them before?"

"Because I didn't show you that section."

Mulder rolled his eyes as they headed to the basement. Even if that wasn't where Scully stored her weapons, it was probably the safest place with a sniper outside. Not that it really mattered if any of them were shot, but it would if they were seen healing.

Scully opened an unobtrusive door towards the back.

Mulder stared at a collection that included everything from longbows to Uzis.

"Scully, where did you get all these?"

"Here and there. Older weapons are ones I've used throughout my life, and some of the newer ones I picked up during a stint in the IRA. I also picked up a few items last time I was here. Wasn't too hard, what with all the fighting going on. I even have some night vision and thermal imaging equipment down here."

"What about ammunition?"

"Except for the muzzle loaders. I usually make my own for those."

"You actually use them?"

"Haven't since breech loaders were invented. Too slow, too clumsy, and too inaccurate." She picked up a Colt semi-automatic pistol and a quick-draw holster. "Go ahead and pick something out. Ammo's in that cabinet and those drawers. I'd advise against the automatics since they'd attract too much attention. Silencers are over there."

Mulder watched her for a moment before picking a pair of Berettas. Adam chose a rifle that had been outfitted with a nightscope.

"Hey, Scully, when did you get some of this stuff? Some of it's definitely newer than ten years."

"I've told Sean to keep some current items down here. You never know when you might need them." She screwed a silencer on the end of her pistol.

Mulder didn't say anything else as he prepped the guns.

 

"The shots came from that direction." Adam said, pointing into the woods.

Scully looked with her thermal imaging goggles, "He's not there anymore. At least, if he is, he's too well insulated for it to show." She scanned the woods, but didn't pick up anything she could identify as a human.

"We should head into town, see if any strangers have been asking about us."

Scully nodded, "He's probably been watching us for a couple days at least, which means he may have already seen one of us die and revive."

Adam groaned, "This just keeps getting better. Dana, how do you always find yourself in these messes?"

"Just lucky, I guess." She grinned.

"I don't believe this. I come here for five days to see how the training is going and to get away from MacLeod, and you've got an assassin gunning for you."

"Well, it's obvious he doesn't know about Immortals, or he would have gotten closer so he could behead us."

"Or he knows about Immortals, but not us. None of us are in the Chronicles."

"Can we just get this guy?" Mulder asked.

Scully and Adam grinned, "Let's go."

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Amber Leary watched the stranger return from one of the hikes he seemed to enjoy. There was something about him, though, that wasn't quite right. He hadn't given anyone his name and didn't drink at the pub.

As he disappeared into the room he was renting, she shrugged and went back to her book. A few minutes later, her uncle came in.

"Uncle Sean, who's renting the house you take care of?"

"No one. Dana's family has owned it for centuries."

"Why don't they stay here all the time?"

"Her family is somewhat...eccentric. They don't often stay in any one place long, though they'll settle down every once in a while, sometimes coming back here."

"Strange family. Do you think I could meet her?"

Sean smiled, "I think something can be arranged. What book is that?"

"It's called 'Ender's Game.' It's actually fairly good."

Just then, the stranger left again.

"Who's that?"

Amber shrugged, "I don't know. He rented a room from my dad a few days ago, but he's almost never here. He goes hiking a lot. His name is likely in the registry, though. Why?"

"Dana just asked me to keep an eye out for any strangers who might be interested in her."

"Well, I don't like him. He's too quiet. I've never seen him go to the pub."

Sean nodded. His niece had always been a fairly accurate judge of character. Even the con artists who came through on occasion couldn't fool her long.

"Why does she want to know about strangers?"

"She works for the FBI in America and her job has earned her a lot of enemies."

"And the two men with her?"

"One's an old friend, the other is her partner."

"Why'd they come?"

"Dana and her partner needed a break from their work, and her friend decided to visit."

Amber nodded.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Cancerman blew smoke as he thought about the phone call he'd just received. Both Mulder and Scully had been shot by his assassin. Mulder had moved at the last moment, though, and had only been hit in the shoulder. The assassin would be going to the nearest hospital to wait for them and finish the job.

It was too bad the two agents were so much trouble. If they had been willing to play by his rules, they would have made valuable assets. He regretted the necessity of having to kill them. He had liked them despite the trouble they managed to find themselves in. He sighed, knowing it would probably kill Teena Mulder to learn Fox was dead. She had already lost her daughter and husband.

He picked up an old memo about the decision to take Samantha instead of Fox. The genetic testing they'd done using the Others' technology had found he wasn't the biological son of the Mulders. No one seemed to know where he came from, but Teena still believed he was hers and no one wanted to tell her, thus possibly revealing the secrets they had sworn to keep. Bill had reluctantly agreed to keep the boy, but Cancerman knew Mulder hadn't had an easy time after Samantha was gone.

The hope had been that Fox would become an important member of the Consortium when the time was right, but by the time they would have recruited him, he had already aligned himself against the group.

Dana Scully, on the other hand, had been selected to derail Mulder after she joined the Bureau. At the time, they had thought she would be the perfect tool. A thorough scientist like her should have been able to easily disprove the perceived validity of the X-files. They were still wondering what went wrong.

Scully was something of a mystery. In the Academy and her first two years as an agent she gave all the indications she wanted to succeed. He had liked her, and so when the opportunity came to find someone who could debunk Mulder's work, he had picked her. If she had gone along with the plan, she could have virtually written her own ticket within the bureau, possibly even made an Assistant Director within only a few years. Instead, she had thrown her career away to continue working with him.

Adding to the mystery was this new information he'd received a few days ago. It seemed Scully was far more proficient in edged weapons than her background would indicate. She had never mentioned any previous experience with self defense or martial arts when she joined the FBI, yet the assassin had reported seeing her spar with a stranger.

Cancerman opened the envelope that had arrived earlier and looked at the pictures that had been sent. The first few he looked at were of Mulder and Scully. Both were carrying swords, but in some of them, it almost looked like Scully was showing Mulder how to use one. Other pictures showed Scully and the stranger in what seemed to be a sparring match. He had to admit, she looked good. He normally didn't get to see her wearing anything but business suits, but here she was, wearing faded jeans, a T-shirt, and her hair pulled back under a baseball cap. Carrying a sword. She looked about ten, maybe fifteen years younger in the picture. He flipped through until he came to ones of Mulder sparring with the stranger. There were only three pictures of him sparring, but it was the last one that caught his attention: Mulder, on the ground with the stranger's sword at his throat.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Mulder and Adam waited in the car while Scully went in to talk to the locals.

"Adam, has she always been this nuts about weapons?"

"Dana? She's collected swords since she got that house, but didn't start with guns until about two hundred years ago."

"What about before that?"

"Like most of us a sword, and whatever else she needed to survive."

Mulder nodded. He had to admit, he was beginning to get used to the new realities surrounding his life. He looked at the sword resting against the door. It still didn't seem real at times, but then he'd get hurt and his accelerated healing would kick in or he'd feel the buzz and it would remind him of what he was.