Paris, June 25...
Darius tensed and looked up from his chessboard as the signature of a powerful Immortal presence
swept over him. Even though he was on Holy Ground, safe within the ancient stone walls of St. Julien le Pauvre,
instinct still kicked in.
He got up from his desk and headed toward the sanctuary, wondering who had come to see him this time.
As soon as he stepped into the sanctuary, he smiled in recognition at the sight of Duncan MacLeod walking
down the nave toward him. Duncan's hair was cut short and his face clean shaven. He was also dressed in a
British military uniform, that although was clean, had obviously seen action. Around his left arm was a
Red Cross badge.
Darius' smile abruptly faded when he noticed the grim look on Duncan's face and the condition of the other
Immortal walking beside him. He appeared young, but Darius couldn't see his face because his head was bowed.
It was late June, but the stranger was wrapped in a blanket and was shivering.
Some Immortals had certain talents that others lacked and during his nearly two thousand year lifespan, Darius
had become skilled at sensing and sorting out the signatures of other Immortals. Even though Duncan's presence
was almost overpowering, Darius could still, albeit barely, sense the other's. It was very quiet, almost whispered
and not much stronger than a Pre-Immortal's. Whoever he was, he was very young.
"Duncan," Darius said in a cheerful tone he did not at all feel, "it's good to see you. It's been too long."
"I know," Duncan said quietly. "But I need your help, Darius."
"Of course, always." Darius turned to the other Immortal, who was obviously the reason Duncan needed help.
"I see you've brought a friend," he prompted.
"Yes. This is Wilhelm," Duncan answered, "Wilhelm Friedrich, from Vienna."
The young man didn't look up even when his name was mentioned. Duncan gave Darius a troubled look,
and he knew immediately that strong measures were called for. "Why don't we all have some tea?"
Once in the rectory, Darius headed toward the kitchen to boil the tea. Duncan gently took the youth by the shoulders
and pointed him toward the tea table. "Darius and I need to talk. Have a seat, we'll be with you in a moment."
The young Immortal sat down without a word.
As Duncan joined him in the kitchen, Darius looked at him in with concern. "Tell me, Duncan," he said quietly.
Darius nodded as he put the kettle on the stove and turned on the gas. "When?"
"I'm not exactly sure. He's been very vague, but I think it happened last year."
"Do you know how?" Darius had some definite ideas, but he would let Duncan tell him.
Duncan was quiet for several moments as he watched the tea water begin to boil. "He hasn't told me
and I haven't asked. But I have... ideas." He shuddered. "I found him in Germany two months ago.
We travelled to Amsterdam and then came here."
Darius glanced over toward the study. "You're teaching him?"
Duncan paused again. "Not exactly. When I found him he was in a bad way, Darius. A very bad way.
I've told him what he is…but frankly…I'm probably the last thing that he needs right now."
Darius nodded, he was fairly certain now where the young man had come from.
The Highlander's eyes were haunted, and when he spoke next his voice sounded hollow.
"You…don't know what he's been through, Darius. I'm sure you've heard the rumors.
But you weren't there. If you had seen that… place where I found him. If you had seen
what he was like…"
That was all the confirmation Darius needed.
Duncan abruptly stopped talking and busied himself with setting out cups and spoons on the tray.
With a concerned frown, Darius reentered the study and looked at the newcomer, who was sitting quietly,
still wrapped in his blanket, head still bowed. He hurried over and knelt beside his chair.
"Wilhelm," Duncan spoke quietly as he came up and placed the tea tray on the table.
"This is Darius, the friend I told you about."
Finally, the young man slowly looked up into Darius' face. He was in his early twenties,
but although his head was also partially covered with his blanket, Darius could see that
his short blond hair was streaked with gray at the temples. He would have been handsome,
but he was pale and gaunt.
His eyes were a deep, intense blue, but-Oh, Lord! Darius winced at the sight, they were
the eyes of an old man; weary, haunted, and filled with pain.
Darius had met many Immortals and he knew that one could never tell how old they were by appearance.
They might look young but could be centuries old. Their eyes alone gave a hint of their true age.
But this Immortal! This Immortal actually was in his twenties, but from his eyes one would think
that he had lived for millennia.
As he stared into those ancient, haunted eyes, Darius felt tears forming in his own.
"Greetings, my son," he whispered.
For several moments the youth was silent. Then tears slowly began to form and silently stream
down his face.
Darius gently put his arms around the young/old Immortal and held him.
For almost an hour the three Immortals simply sat like that: Darius holding the youth, tears
in his eyes. Wilhelm leaning quietly against the ancient priest, tears silently streaming down
his face. And Duncan MacLeod sitting by the forgotten tea, watching wordlessly.