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For just a moment as she scanned the area Amanda worried that Methos had given her the wrong coordinates, or that something had caused him to leave the area without notifying her. The planet he'd directed her to didn't seem to have anything orbiting and the surface of the planet itself wasn't at all suitable for a landing, all storms and unstable outcroppings. But then there he was, his ship pinging on her shuttle's systems just as it came into visual range for her. There had to be some sort of interference coming from the planet itself - likely why he'd picked it in the first place. Not that the ship looked like it was worth the trouble of boarding. It was a step up from a wreck from the looks of it. He'd said he'd found it abandoned and now she could see why. It was a mess.

Except once she was docked in the underbelly and in the airlock she could see it was a masterful disguise. The docking bay wasn't pristine, but it would look disused from a distance. The airlock was functional but didn't look it. If Methos hadn't assured her beforehand Amanda was fairly sure she wouldn't have taken her chances with the seals.

He met her at the airlock door, opening it from his side and smirking when she climbed through and made a show of brushing herself off.

"I told you everything worked just fine," he pointed out. "Welcome to the library."

"That's not a ship name," she told him, dropping her bag to give him a hug. "And now I see why you said this would be a good place to lay low."

"Told you." He waited for her to pick up her bag, then led her through the corridor away from the airlock. "And it is a library. You'll see. Now, tell me what sort of trouble you're in?"

Amanda followed him up some steps and through several doorways that looked less and less like a ship and more and more like a house. As they walked she explained her last job and the people involved and it wasn't so much that she was in trouble as trying to stay out of it. Really, it would all blow over soon enough. Methos didn't question her on that, though she could tell he didn't quite believe it. She didn't blame him.

"So what have you been up to?" she asked, then stopped. Because they had walked into a room she had never expected, even with Methos calling the ship a library. She had expected terminals and maybe a handful of old books. Not shelf after shelf of leather bound hardbacks, rising from floor to ceiling, strapped in against rough patches. She hadn't expected the sheer number of physical books, the chairs with warm reading lights positioned just right, the desks to sit at, the archive boxes, the smell.

Methos gestured around the room. "Welcome to the library," he repeated. "Guest cabin's just down the corridor to the left. The rest of the library is through that door."

"The rest…" Amanda left her bag on one of the chairs and wandered around the room. "Oh, Methos. I may never leave."

But she had to leave, eventually. She wasn't sure what Methos did to keep his ship fueled and running and his galley stocked, but in the three weeks she spent on his ship that first time she knew he had to be doing something. Or have done something that was still paying off. He wouldn't say and she didn't push it. He'd never really pushed her on what she did, though he had to suspect she was still on the less-than-legal side of things. But regardless of how he kept himself going, she needed jobs to keep her shuttle in one piece and her stomach full. So when an offer came in and she had enough assurance that she wasn't being looked for, she took the job and headed out.

As she maneuvered her shuttle out from under Methos' ship a message came in from him on his private comm line. An open invitation whenever she needed somewhere quiet. Amanda saved the message and headed out away from the ship, back to colonized space where she could make a living.

*

The library was usually to be found in some all-but-empty system, orbiting an uncolonized planet or moon, or simply drifting somewhere between nebulas no one cared about. Methos seemed to like staying out of the way, which was perfect for Amanda's needs, really, even if it did seem lonely. But she did get a lot of reading done while she was there, and on her tenth stay on the ship Amanda discovered two whole shelves of Watcher chronicles.

"So, you didn't cart all these out here, did you?" Amanda asked Methos when he wandered into the innermost library room. Methos took stock of the piles of Watcher chronicles around her and sighed heavily. It was a sigh that said he didn't actually mind and would make certain they were put back where they belonged later, but he didn't want her to know it wasn't really a bother.

"No, I most certainly did not," he assured her. "If I had, I'd have put them in with the history, not the mythology. But I admit, the original owner had a different perspective on Immortality than we do."

"Well, he is dead," Amanda agreed, turning a page in the chronicle she'd been looking at. "So he somehow got his hands on all these Watcher chronicles and records, in leather bindings and all, and launched them into space as part of his collection, and he didn't even know what he had?"

"Yes, tragic, isn't it?" Methos picked up one of the books and took it with him when he left the room.

"Maybe not tragic, but definitely odd," Amanda muttered as she carefully paged through one of the chronicles. It wasn't on anyone she knew, but it was fascinating in a sort of macabre way. The Immortal it was on had been a bit of a villain, really. When she skipped through to the last few pages she saw who was responsible for taking the subject's head: Duncan MacLeod. She quickly closed the book and put it back where it belonged according to the collection's somewhat idiosyncratic shelving system. During her first stay, when she found herself utterly unable to figure out where anything was without making herself a map, Amanda had asked Methos why he didn't just reorganize the whole place by one of the more standardized systems. He'd given her a long diatribe on preserving the collection as a whole and how the organization was part of the collection itself and she was pretty sure he just didn't want to deal with shifting it all around. She didn't blame him - it would have been a monster of a task.

Still, she'd stayed on his ship for months at a stretch without realizing these Watcher books were even there, let alone how many of them there were. Who knew what else the place had? It made her fingers itch just thinking about a possible treasure being tucked away somewhere, waiting to be found. Not that she really wanted to steal from Methos. But it was a library after all, and it didn't have that many patrons. Just her, really. So while Methos was busy in one of the other rooms Amanda moved a few things around and slipped a tiny book from the Watcher shelves into her pocket to take with her. She'd be back to return it soon enough.

A discrete beeping sounded through the library not long after she'd pocketed the book. Methos ducked his head into the room.

"That would be your shuttle," he pointed out. She stuck her tongue out at him and edged past him through the doorway.

"Probably a job," she told him as she passed. "I'll give you a buzz when I'm heading back in your direction."

"Whatever direction that may be," he commented. "Good luck."

Amanda gave him a smile and headed to the airlock, logging into her shuttle's comm system through the terminal outside. Sure enough, it was a job offer, and a good one at that. High pay for a relatively low risk infiltration and file retrieval. The only real worry was that it was on a planet. It was always harder to make a quiet getaway when you had to get off a planet's surface. Still, it was manageable and Amanda wasn't about to turn down that sort of work.

The trip to the job was three days at her ship's top speed through nearly empty space. So she had plenty of time to read through the book she'd taken. It was small, fitting neatly into her hands as if it had been made for them. The cover was a dusty brown, letters long since worn off the spine and front but the impressions still vaguely readable. The cover, however, wasn't the important part. It was what the book said inside. It wasn't a chronicle so much as a description of certain esoteric odds and ends most Immortals themselves dismissed as fantasy. There was a chapter on dark and light quickenings. Chapters on magical abilities to see the future, influence people with one's voice, enter people's dreams and grant visions, cast illusions. And then one chapter at the end titled simply "Returning the Lost."

*

"Welcome to Alexandria Station, please submit all files and media for review."

The message was a recording, set to play automatically when anyone approached the station. Amanda had been trying to mute it for half an hour while she locked down her more sensitive files and hid them, but it was still repeating every two minutes.

No one had warned her - this was not in the job briefing she'd read through before signing on. She was going to have to talk to her contact about that, and charge something for it. Something high. None of the other archive stations she'd ever visited had pulled this sort of thing, but then they were all public operations and Alexandria was a privately run archive with an entry fee, and apparently a vested interest in what its visitors brought with them.

"Fine fine fine," she muttered as the last of her private files were sealed off in a hidden partition. And really, she should have been keeping them protected already anyhow. That was just sloppy of her and she frowned as she let the station's systems scan her shuttle. If all went well, they'd never even know she had files they couldn't see. After a couple of tense moments another recording sounded through the shuttle's cockpit.

"Thank you for your generosity, please proceed to slip sixteen."

Amanda maneuvered her shuttle around, finding the right slip and carefully docking with the station. It was nice and clean, well serviced and maintained. There was that at least. As she disembarked she nodded to a couple of other people in the corridor. She set the lock on the shuttle and then the second lock, then headed into the station to track down the files she needed.

Another thing no one had warned her about was the silence of the place. They had to be using some sort of sound-absorbent material in every surface. Quiet was all well and good, but she'd only just gotten to the main entry hall and she was already creeped out.

"Excuse me," she whispered to a young man seated at a kiosk at the entrance. He looked up and smiled.

"Ah, slip sixteen, yes? Amanda Meyer? Thank you for your generosity. How may I assist you?"

"My generosity?" Amanda asked. "Just how generous have I been?"

"With your media," he explained. "We appreciate the generosity of all our visitors."

"Oh, right, my files. Sure, if you want them. So I'm trying to find a couple of things."

"Then I will gladly aid you in your search. We have gathered so much over the years since our founding."

Amanda thought about the other ships - large and small - she'd seen docked or docking as she'd come in. If they all had to give over their data, of course the station would be practically brimming with information. What was amazing was that so many people did it. Then again, there she was, standing there while her files were added to the pile.

As it turned out, the entrance fee and the trouble she'd gone to with her files were all well worth it. The station had precisely what she needed and after a not-quite-modest extra fee - and with the accompaniment of her now ubiquitous assistant, she'd been allowed to peruse the rooms of physical media. Books, old magazines salvaged from Earth, some smaller publications from several colonies, ephemera from all over, even some very old scrolls and tablets. Amanda paused in front of a case holding a rather large book. It was ornately decorated, with metal filigree on the cover and an actual lock. Normally she would have passed it by. Nothing about it said it was actually valuable, just gaudy. Except it was open in its display case and she could see the pages inside.

The text was the same tiny printing as in the book from Methos' library and from what she could see of the text on the pages the book was open to, it was recounting the legend of the Methuselah stone. But more importantly than either of those, the text was written in two columns framing a hole cut into the middle of the book. A hole just the right shape and size to hold a piece of the crystal Rebecca had broken up for her students, like the piece Amanda herself had owned for centuries until that disaster in France. A piece of the Methuselah stone itself had been kept inside that book.

Amanda gestured to it and her guide quickly stepped closer.

"I don't suppose there's any chance of a closer look at this?" she asked quietly.

"I am afraid not, ma'am," he said, as blandly pleasant as he'd been for every question she'd asked. "It is quite fragile and I do not believe it has been transferred to our archives, due to the unique nature of the item." He checked the tablet he carried with him and nodded. "It is scheduled for holographic imaging next year. For a fee we can alert you when the image becomes available."

Amanda held back a petulant sigh and nodded. "Add it to my bill. Was there ever anything in that hole?"

Another check of his tablet and a shake of his head. "According to our records it was empty when the book was obtained."

Amanda frowned but nodded. She could wait for the image, and the amount she was going to charge for anything else she ever had to get from this iron-clad fortress of knowledge would mitigate the cost.

"I think I'm done, thank you," she told her guide. He smiled and led her out of the room and back to the entrance.

"Your account will be charged for the services provided," he told her. "Offset by your generosity, of course."

"Of course."

"We hope you will visit us again."

Even though Amanda would have gladly told him she never wanted to set foot in the place so long as she lived, she was sure more jobs would bring her there, so she just smiled and nodded and headed back to her shuttle.

Except when she got on board and checked the locks, it was immediately obvious that both had been disengaged. A quick review of her systems showed that they'd gone looking through her files but not found the hidden partition. But another quick review of her personal effects revealed a note left where she'd been keeping Methos' book:

"Alexandria Station is a secure repository for all media, physical and digital. We pride ourselves on the preservation of rare and delicate items such as the book found here. We will keep it safe for you and a holographic image will be provided to you free of charge. Thank you for your generosity."

The sheer gall of it left Amanda speechless for several moments. She read the note, then read it again. Media. The recording had said files and media. Of course they meant physical too. The other couple of items she had on board had clearly been looked over, but not deemed valuable enough to confiscate. Amanda stuck the note in her pocket and went to her terminal to get to work. There was no way they were keeping that book and if she was going to go and get it back, she was going to liberate the Methuselah stone book too. Who knew where they'd gotten it, but it probably hadn't been willingly handed over.

*

Over the past couple of hundred years, Amanda had taken more to information gathering and drifted a bit from outright theft. It paid better, for the most part, and whereas it could be tough to find a buyer for an artifact - and one had to store it in the meantime - data always had a buyer. She tried not to work for complete assholes or sell anything that would hurt someone and that was that. So really, breaking into Alexandria and stealing two books was almost a vacation.

As she slipped down the corridor behind a crowd of students and their mentor, probably on some exorbitantly expensive field trip, she was glad she'd kept up with the latest security measures. The class she was following paused in the entry hall while a guide came to meet them, checking their identities and verifying accounts no doubt. By the time they reached the back of the group Amanda had sidled away, lifting an ID badge from a young female guide and attaching it to her shoulder. Somewhere nearby there had to be a cataloguing department, processing all the odds and ends they'd taken from the ships docked at the station.

A door marked 'staff only' opened to let her through when she approached and saw a flicker of green light nearby, doubtless reading the stolen badge. Hopefully she'd have time to do what she needed before its real owner reported it missing.

The room beyond the door was full of computer terminals and storage banks. It was also empty. Amanda stopped to look at one of the screens and paused what it was doing. Apparently this was a processing center for the files sent in by visitors. At least, that's what it looked like. She could see ship names and slip numbers on all of the screens around her. So much for a protected operation, though with every visitor being assigned a personal guide to the place and no publicized security problems, they probably had a bad case of hubris going on. It only took Amanda a few minutes to insert a skimmer into the terminal she'd picked. Until someone found it and winkled it out of the system it would send her whatever information she wanted.

Beyond the terminal room was a maze of corridors and other rooms full of workstations and monitors and then a break room where she traded her ID badge for another one left in an easily picked locker. From a quick comparison, Amanda surmised her new badge had a little more clearance. When she heard voices in the corridor outside the room she left through the back entrance and strolled down to the next door.

Perfect. Inside a handful of people worked at tables full of real books, carefully examining them and making notes. Amanda glanced around, looking for her book. Well, Methos' book. His library's book, at any rate.

A woman seated nearby looked up and saw her.

"Good, finally," she muttered, standing and lifting a stack of books off her table. She thrust them into Amanda's arms. "These are all for room 2231A. Do make certain they're shelved properly this time. It's not our fault when you people don't put them away correctly but we're always the ones who get blamed."

Amanda nodded and hurried out of the room before the other woman got a good enough look at her to realize she didn't recognize her at all. Once outside she took a look at the books in her arms, but her book wasn't among them. That would have been far too easy, obviously. She looked around and spotted a sign pointing to 'Rooms 2000A - 3000A' and headed in that direction.

Room 2231A turned out to be smaller than she'd expected, but then there were a lot of rooms, so it made a certain amount of sense that no one room would be that large. She considered just tucking the books onto a random shelf, but putting them away would let her explore the room. The organization wasn't like anything she'd seen before in any other library or collection. But then, what did it matter to these folks? If they made their own rules, no one else could find anything and they had that much more bibliographic control.

Just as she was putting the last book away - and she felt she had a decent understanding of the basic layout - she heard someone else enter the room.

"Did that come from cataloguing or imaging?" a man asked from the end of the aisle. Amanda glanced over - not anyone she'd seen before.

"Cataloguing," she told him. "But imaging is my next stop."

"Good. Bring them this. It's on loan from a very generous visitor."

He stepped forward and handed her a small archive box. "Quickly. The visitor is still docked. We would like to send her the image before she leaves, as a show of our gratitude. And retrieve item 5965-BX and its contents from the display room as well." He took an empty box down off a shelf and handed it to her.

Amanda nodded and slipped out of the room and around a corner in the corridor to check inside the first box. It held her book, neatly packed and labeled, with a silvery stamp on the frontispiece that she was sure would act as tracking. And if this was the request they were trying to fill, item 5965-BX was probably the book she'd asked about. Also probably marked. It was like they'd never actually met a smuggler or thief before. But at least she wouldn't have to go climbing around in the ceilings to get into the display room on her own.

As she made her way to the display room through the labyrinth of staff-only passageways, three other people stopped Amanda and handed her items to "take down to imaging" for them. Amanda took each one with a smile and a nod and continued on, managing not to smirk only through sheer force of will. By all rights, each archive box should have had a bow on it.

Once in the display room she found the case she needed and waved her badge at the sensor. The back panel popped open just as someone walked through the door. Amanda ducked her head as a guide led in several of the students she'd followed back into the station.

"Ah, and here we have one of our keepers retrieving an item for imaging," the guide told his group, who made appropriately impressed sounds and watched as Amanda carefully removed the book and tucked it into the empty box. She would have simply closed up the case and been off with her completely-fairly-gotten gains, when another panel in the case opened. The guide gave Amanda a meaningful look and directed his group towards a large case full of comic books on the opposite side of the room. She quickly grabbed the capsule that was inside the hidden compartment and tucked it in next to the book, then closed up the case.

"These are a prime example of Alexandria's mission," the guide was saying as Amanda picked up her boxes. "Without our work, these priceless pieces would be in tatters, on the floor of some cargo freighter."

And whoever's they had been now couldn't read them. Amanda shook her head and left through the regular entrance to the room, passing by several guides and visitors before making her way back to her shuttle.

*

"Here," Amanda said as she exited Methos' airlock and handed him three of the books she'd taken off Alexandria.

"Oh my, and I didn't get you anything," he said, looking them over. When he opened them and saw silvery smears on the front pages he frowned. "Amanda. These had tracking stamps. Please tell me those blowhards aren't going to come looking for them? They'd probably take the whole ship."

"And you couldn't have warned me about them?" Amanda demanded. "I licked them off. Old trick, but it works, even if that ink does taste vile. I had to use up the last of my chocolate, getting the taste out of my mouth."

Methos was examining the contents of the top book and shrugged without looking up at her. "You didn't tell me you were headed there. I worked there for a month doing some reconstruction on some books with torn pages. They're assholes. You got the stamps in the back too? Oh, yes." Now he smiled at her. "So what possessed you to steal from Alexandria? Aside from a sense of karmic retribution in the universe?"

"Well." She handed him the small book she'd taken months back. "I had this with me and they took it. So I got it back and they just kept handing me things! It would have been so rude to refuse…"

Methos opened the book and frowned a little at the traces of silver on the front page, but said nothing about it before closing it and adding it to the top of his stack.

"So, you had a good time?" he asked as they headed further into the ship. "Do they have a bulletin out on you yet?"

"No," she assured him, following him in with the last book still in her hands. "And I promise I've been checking all the channels I know of to make sure. They did send me a notification that the images of my 'donated' and requested items would be delayed due to technical difficulties."

Methos was looking through one of the other books she'd liberated from Alexandria and only nodded in reply. He seemed engrossed, which made her hide a laugh. The book was something published in one of the colonies, a torrid romance between a noble colonist leader and the mercenary pilot hired to ferry the colonists through the dangers of barely charted space to their new home.

Amanda waited until they were in the innermost room of the library before getting Methos' attention again.

"So, I also found this," she said, holding out the last book. Methos set the others down on a desk and took it. When he opened the book and saw the hole in the middle he glanced up at her.

"Is this for what I think it's for?" he asked, looking back down at the book to read through the first page of text.

Amanda fished the crystal in its capsule out of her pocket and held it up. "It is. And Methos, I think we could actually do something with it. That book you had? This one? I couldn't leave them in Alexandria. We need them. That book I took has all sorts of things I know are real and this book was written by the same person! It's got a whole section on bringing someone back."

She stopped at the look Methos leveled at her.

"Explain," he said sharply. "I could read it, but obviously you've already done so."

Amanda picked up the smaller book and opened it to the last chapter.

"See, this part details some different ways we're supposed to be able to return a quickening once someone's beheaded. And the other book has a section on using the crystal pieces as vessels for parts of a quickening. So I thought maybe we could use the crystal to hold someone since we don't have a body for it."

Methos was staring at her, book all but forgotten in his hands.

"This is a horrible idea," he finally said. "Even if it worked, especially if it worked! Why would we do that? Who would we bring back? I don't want to pass off anyone I've taken. I doubt you do either. I mean, if we killed them there was a damn good reason."

"Rebecca," Amanda said. "Duncan has Rebecca."

"Through Luther! What if we try for Rebecca and get him instead? And how would we know when he'd be trapped in a hunk of rock?"

The thought had occurred to Amanda, but the books both mentioned that the whole thing seemed to be dictated by the will of the person performing the ritual. And Duncan MacLeod was nothing if not willful.

Methos was still going on about how ridiculous the whole thing was. "And besides, you just said Duncan has Rebecca. Not you, not me. And completely aside from the fact that he has a number of people I'm sure he'd like to bring back and we only have one piece of the crystal, he's not here, Amanda."

Amanda tried out one of her innocent looks on him. It was a good one and she'd been practicing it on her way back to his ship. It still didn't work, of course, because Methos knew her far too well.

"Amanda," he warned.

"I might have sent him your coordinates," she admitted. "But only him! The ritual only needs him and the crystal! I think."

"This is not an inn for wayward Immortals!" Methos groused. "And he's going to say no. Or he's going to insist on using it out of guilt. Or he'll want to trap someone he doesn't want ever going to someone else."

Amanda hadn't really considered that last possibility. That seemed just like something Duncan would do.

"Well, he's on his way," she said. At least, he'd sent her a message that he'd meet her at the coordinates she'd sent. She hadn't mentioned what those coordinates were.

Methos closed the book and sighed heavily. "Then you can guide him in," he told her. "I'm going to go read up on this plan of yours. It's entirely possible it's not actually feasible, you know that, right?"

"I know," Amanda said, holding up her hands. "But Methos, I owed her everything. I should at least try."

Methos shook his head just slightly and left the library, retreating down the corridor to his quarters.

*

"This is quite the place," Duncan commented as Amanda let him in through the secondary airlock. "What was so important that I had to come all this way and meet you on a derelict ship?"

"It's not a derelict," Amanda corrected. "It's Methos' ship and he'll throw you off if he hears you badmouthing it."

Duncan just grinned at that and followed her down the corridor. "So this is where he's been hiding out, huh? I get one message every couple of years and you knew where he was all this time?"

"It's only because you move around so much," Methos told him, greeting them at the entrance to the library. "Do you know how many messages I've sent that you've never gotten? No, because you didn't get them, because you up and moved."

Duncan peered around Methos into the library, clearly noting the shelves and furniture. "I've been going where they need me. And new colonies always need someone who can help get things set up."

"Very selfless of you." Methos stepped aside and gestured for Duncan to pass by him. "Since you're in such a mood, maybe Amanda's little proposal will work after all."

Three of the library chairs had been moved closer together, meeting around a table where the two books and the crystal sat. Duncan, however, looked around the room first, reading a few titles and peeking into the next room before returning to them.

"Right, so, what's this proposal I had to come here for? Why couldn't you explain it?" he asked Amanda.

Methos sat down and picked up the larger book to read a section in the middle, leaving Amanda to explain on her own.

"Well, see, we have these two books, and they're lovely pieces, Duncan. I mean, just look at them!" Duncan looked but said nothing, so Amanda pressed on. "They were written by some Watcher," she continued.

"A folklorist," Methos interrupted. "Specializing in things odder than the usual head chopping and rising from the dead."

Amanda cleared her throat and Methos shrugged and went back to the book.

"As I was saying, they were written by a Watcher. And they have a whole section on bringing back someone who's lost their head. See, he thinks Rebecca's crystals could hold the quickening of a dead Immortal, and he has a chapter on removing the quickening of an Immortal from the person who killed them, so I thought we could combine the two."

Now Duncan took a seat and stared up at her, then at Methos sitting across from him. "You're joking," he said to both of them. "You can't possibly be serious."

"Don't look at me," Methos told him. "It's Amanda's bright idea. I think it's dangerous, at best."

Duncan frowned and picked up the smaller book, the one that had started it all.

"Duncan," Amanda started, but he was already standing.

"I need to think about this," he told her. "Is there somewhere I can look at this? Alone?"

Methos put the larger book down and got up. "I've got a room you can use," he told Duncan. "Come on. And I hope you like frozen rations or you brought your own supplies."

Amanda waited in the library for two hours until she realized neither of them were returning. It seemed grossly unfair that the two of them would just go off together without even telling her they wouldn't be back. But then again, they hadn't seen each other in at least ten years. She'd seen them both from time to time.

The larger book was still on the table where Methos had left it, so she picked it up and sat down to read through it again. After a while she picked up the capsule and opened it, taking out the crystal and fitting it into the hole in the book while she read. It was nice to have it there, even if it wasn't the piece Rebecca had given her all those centuries ago.

Duncan found her there hours later, still reading with the book in her lap. He sat down next to her and sighed.

"Half the stuff in that other book isn't even real," he pointed out. "Some of it is," he added, forestalling her protest. "But some of it isn't. Methos says you want to try and get Rebecca back. I'm sorry, Amanda. I just don't think it's a good idea. We aren't supposed to bring people back."

Duncan set the small book on the table in front of Amanda and left. She hadn't even been able to bring herself to argue.

By morning, however, she was determined to change his mind.

"I just want to try," she told him when she found him eating breakfast. Methos was still nowhere to be found but Duncan had made it easy. "And if it doesn't work, well, it just wasn't meant to be!"

"And if it does work? What then?" Duncan asked. He swirled the last of his coffee and Amanda hoped he wasn't going to waste it. She'd brought it with her on her last stop and it was getting harder to find.

"Then, well, then we figure out what to do next. Come on, Duncan. Just think about what we could do if this works! Think about the people we've lost!"

"But they're not lost," Duncan pointed out. "They're not lost because we have them inside us. And if they're truly lost, nothing in either of those books will bring them back."

"You wouldn't even try to bring Richie back?" Amanda asked, and before the words were even out of her mouth she knew it had been the wrong thing to say. Duncan looked down at his coffee, then finished it off in one gulp and left the table.

Fine. He could go ahead and be stubborn and not even try. He could go back to helping planet-bound colonists build cabins when there were whole solar systems to explore. He could keep taking challenges and feeling guilty about them and she didn't care. Not one little bit.

Methos picked up Duncan's mug on his way by the table a moment later and filled it with the last of the coffee in the pot.

"I did warn you," he said, not entirely unkindly. "You know him. He's probably spent the past couple hundred years coming to peace with his regrets and now here you are telling him to go back and riffle through them. You really think he wants to dig into all of that?"

"Yes, I do," Amanda said. She stood up, stealing Methos' coffee and taking it with her to the library. She had intended to take the crystal and the book and figure something out on her own, but when she got to the library both of the books and the crystal were gone.

Amanda stormed down the corridor to the room Duncan was using but the door was closed and locked. She banged on the door and got no answer. It was all well and good for Duncan to say he didn't want to do it, but to keep her from even reading more on it, that was too much.

"Duncan MacLeod! You give those books back!"

Nothing. She tried over and over, to no avail. The door stayed locked and not a sound came from the room.

Amanda went to find Methos, who'd seated himself in the cockpit and accessed a camera in Duncan's room. Duncan himself was sitting on the floor in front of his bunk, sword's hilt in his hands, crystal on the floor at the sword's tip. And he was just sitting there. Doing nothing.

"When I heard you yelling I figured it was time to try out the security systems," Methos commented as Amanda perched herself on the rail behind his seat. "Looks like he's meditating."

Amanda watched as Duncan sat, motionless. "Maybe we should have gone back to Earth," she whispered after several minutes with no change. "Found that spring or something."

"It's a three month trip from here," Methos pointed out, also in a whisper. "There's got to be some colony that's blessed a spring between here and there."

Amanda shoved his shoulder and kept watching. She could see from the navigation console that he'd already set in the course, ready to go.

*

"Methos," Amanda whispered, prodding him awake. He'd fallen asleep in the ridiculously uncomfortable navigator's seat three hours into their vigil. Amanda had been watching for another six before waking him when a spark traveled from Duncan's hands to the blade of his katana.

"What?" Methos asked, instantly awake. He looked at the monitor and stared as another spark jumped down the sword towards the crystal. It started slowly, a spark here and there, just little bolts of energy, easily dismissed. Blink and you would miss them entirely. But there they were, gathering in intensity and striking the crystal, one after another. One particularly strong one snaked all the way down the blade, arcing from metal to stone at the end. Amanda could see Duncan's hands gripped tightly on the hilt as the lightning picked up speed.

"You know, it occurs to me that this really isn't the safest thing to do on my ship," Methos muttered. But the lightning seemed to be far more restrained than a typical quickening, staying close to the blade and the crystal, not even taking out the camera.

It felt like an hour, but truly it was all over in minutes. When the sparks stopped flying, Methos and Amanda could see the crystal glowing slightly from inside. Duncan set down the sword and picked up the crystal, cradling it in his hands for a moment before getting up and heading out of his room.

They met him in the corridor and he didn't even bother to ask how they knew. He simply handed the crystal to Amanda. It was slightly warm, but not so much that she couldn't hold it. The glow was fading a little, mostly visible in the little striations that riddled the shard.

"It's her," Duncan said. "But… I tried with Richie. It didn't work. Don't ask me to try it again."

He went back into his room and Methos followed, leaving Amanda to wander away, staring at the crystal in her hand. Unbidden, memories streamed through her mind, of Rebecca and the life they'd lived together, of the times they'd parted and reunited, then of Rebecca alone and with other people. She saw a house that might have been Greek. She saw a woman look at her with loathing and raise a knife that would kill her. She saw a man and knew him to be Rebecca's first teacher. On and on through the years until she saw herself through Rebecca's eyes.

When she broke free of Rebecca's memories, Amanda could hear Methos and Duncan talking in Duncan's room. Duncan was explaining what he'd done and doubtless Methos was noting it all down to record for posterity. Amanda wasn't interested in the specifics just now. She tucked the crystal into her pocket and headed to the library to think. She'd have to find a chain to hang it from so she could wear it around her neck. Some day she'd figure out how to get Rebecca out of the crystal. And until then, she had her close at hand.