"Glenfinnan Bells"
by Rob Morris

December 21st, 1998

Rachel Macleod sat with her young guest, Benjamin Blake. He was an odd one, sometimes not responding to his own given name. But then, if what she suspected about Duncan was true, then Benjamin "Radar" Blake was not what he seemed, either.

"So who called you earlier, Ben? Family?"

"Kinda, Rachel. I mean, we don't see each other as much anymore, but Hawkeye and Margaret and me go back to Korea."

"Oh? So what did you all do in Korea?"

"Huh? Whaddya think we did, we served in the war...the software wars, I mean. We founded one of those start-up firms, that, ya know got, all started up, back when people were starting such things---up?"

Radar winced. He liked Rachel, but Mac had made it clear that it was HIS choice to tell her the whole truth. He had almost blown it, just then, by talking about Korea. He often wondered how Margaret's niece Dana kept all those FBI secrets, when he had trouble keeping his mouth shut about being an Immortal. 46 years as one had made him no more adept at keeping quiet. Rachel Macleod spoke again.

"Ah, I...suppose I understand. Ya know, Ben, I thought Duncan enjoyed coming to his...ancestral home. But this is his 3rd visit. The 1st time, he was determined to find, ya know, someone. The 2nd time, I saw the joy of purposeful reunification in his eyes. But now, his eyes retain a haunted look. You are his friend, Benjamin. Why, then, does Duncan look so haunted?"

Walter O'Reilly didn't know if he would ever get used to being called Benjamin T. Blake. Those names belonged to the Colonels, who were both like his father. They belonged to Hawkeye, very much like his older brother. But Duncan had told him flatly that Walter Eugene O'Reilly had to die sometime, or draw people's suspicions. Plus, he could finally stop dyeing his hair white. While he didn't know about his period of adjustment, he did know the answer to Rachel's question.

"Well, ya know Rachel, some people just got a lot of things ta be haunted about. Duncan's just one of them."

Rachel then closed shop and bid Radar walk with her, in the bracing December air, to see the land surrounding them. She wasn't sure of her feelings for Duncan, so felt that the coldness would keep her and Ben from drifting together, as she felt they might. The plan would've worked, but for her seeing a lake not frozen over, and playfully asking Radar about the Polar Bears Club in America. This time, to his credit, he did not faint.

As the two yelped from the icy waters--among other things, the man both had accurately pegged as being haunted sat and talked into a tape recorder.

"Hello, Joe, what do you know? I know this. You are damned lucky I am your friend. A Watcher who asks an Immortal to watch HIMSELF...aaah, what the hell. You and your daughter need time together, after all these years. Just like Connor needs to hide out, periodically. Just like Amanda prefers the company of her cop friend to me. Less judgemental, she says. Just like everyone around me eventually...needs to die."

There, in his room at the Inn, Duncan stopped the tape. He gathered himself, and started it back up.

"Sorry to wallow in self-pity, Joe. I've little reason to complain, I suppose. I avenged Richie, fulfilled my destiny, and obtained renewal--not to mention a new student. Oddly, though, training Walter--I mean Ben--has only brought up the hurt of all that I have lost. I came to Glenfinnan this Christmas season to seek a festive reunion. But all I hear is my Father's voice, disavowing me...."

Macleod was trying hard to draw himself up from his doldrums. He was failing.

"Joe, if you let Methos hear ANY of this, I swear that it will not go well for you! Now, training Wa-Be----Radar-has been a joy. Sidney Freedman lent him some basics, and he knows the Game, despite mainly staying out of it. He has Richie's enthusiasm, but not his immaturity. Perhaps, as Methos says, we are made too much alike, though. He had Rachel's eye from the moment we arrived. The pain of seeing them talk past me is not born in jealousy, though. I see a happy Immortal with a young woman who thinks he is Creation itself. I see Tessa. In Radar, I feel a pain born of not wanting to avenge him. I'm tired of seeking vengeance, and avoiding seekers of vengeance. Don't worry, Joe, I'm not in despair. But I am bone-tired. I feel, oddly, as though the cycle of events that began with Connor and Slan Quince invading my antiques shop ended with Fitzcairn's vision and my subsequent renewal. Then, along came Connor to bookend it all, with Radar in tow. As this new cycle begins, I feel as though there are fewer eyes upon me. Irrational, I know, but its how I've felt, these past six years. Quoth The Wabbit : 'Did Ya Ever Have The Feelin' Ya Wuz Bein' Watched?' That wasn't a shot, Joe."

Duncan wondered why he was being so down in his recorded thoughts. Part of him wanted to pay Joe back for begging a Journal out of him. But part of him was really tired. Not lay-down-and-die tired, but needing some spiritual coffee tired.

For the next three days, he kept to himself. Radar helped Rachel with her bar and Inn, while the children delighted in the war stories of the "worldly" Benjamin Blake. By Christmas Night, the despair was gone, but not the exhaustion. Macleod's world had demanded too much from him, for too long.

"Joe, I'm sitting up on a hill, overlooking the town. Rachel and Radar had a brief spat, but now they seem to understand one another better. Radar's heart is still tender from his many losses, and he wishes to protect it, not unlike Margaret Pierce once did. Oddly, he has an idea which may prevent future vengeance- seekers from coming at me. It does not make us hunters, either. I'll discuss it with you in the New Year, since we'll need your help to implement it. Blast it, Joe! I am no longer emotionally dead, but for all my talk of renewal, I need a sign! I need to know...."

Duncan stopped recording. Standing just down the hill from him was a man dressed as a town crier. The local costumery shop had mistakenly dressed him as an Old English Town Crier, but he looked effective nevertheless. He intoned a single familiar message, over and over again.

"Fear Not, For I Bring You Good Tidings Of Great Joy, This, That Shall Be Unto All Men. For Born Unto You, This Day, In The City Of King David, Is A Savior, Who Is Immanuel, Foretold Of Isaiah, Descended Of David's House, A Child Who Is Christ The Lord."

For all the wonders he had seen, these simple words never failed to stir Macleod's faith. Even when shown on an animated children's special, the one about the boy and his little tree. The man knew how to say it, Duncan conceded that freely. Feeling Rachel must have hired him, Duncan ran down the hill to thank her, while the man repeated.

When he told everyone of the Crier, they made for the hillside like a shot, and sat in dumb awe. Rachel explained their reaction to Duncan and Radar.

"Since the time of Henry Braymore, called The Blake, and his clan's conversion, the Crier has appeared to only certain people, Duncan. Once one sees him, all may view. The story goes that he is not a crier at all--but The ArchAngel Gabriel! Oh, Duncan, what a sight for this Christmas!"

Her joy and tears were seconded by Radar, who thought of one now gone.

"I just wish I coulda showed Bishop Mulcahy this before he died, 9 years back!"

Duncan smiled.

"Francis always kept his faith, Ben! He would have enjoyed this, to be certain. But it was we who NEEDED to see it. Especially myself."

All of a sudden, Duncan felt free and reenergized both. He had been reborn while rescuing his friends, earlier in the year. But now he felt truly alive again.

For Rachel, the pain of two she loved so well soon departing faded and became acceptable. She would see them again.

For Radar, the name Ben seemed at long last to become his own. The townspeople returned, basking in the apparent miracle, not seen there for over a 100 years. The mayor spoke.

"Three Cheers For Duncan Macleod! And Three Cheers For Macleod's Angel!"

As the people cheered the good omen and the man who brought it with him, Radar said:

"Macleod's Angel, huh? A fella could get used to that, couldn't he, pal?"

Duncan put his hand on his new student's shoulder. In the New Year lay unguessable, even unspeakable challenges for them. But for now, he simply responded:

"Indeed he could, Radar. Merry Christmas!"

Rachel now:

"A Merry Christmas to both of ye handsome devils! Don't be strangers. Force me to choose between ye! Its always been my dream--sort of."

Radar got into it.

"I thought we acted out your dream last night with the saddle and the--Merry Christmas, guys!"

As the angel faded, a hearty chorus of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" rang through the town, seconded by the bells of Glenfinnan.

The Possible Future: 2250

"Excuse me, sir? Is this Glenfinnan?"

"Where else would it be, lad?"

"Has Macleod's Angel appeared yet?"

"He does na appear every year, you know. Why are you so anxious to see him?"

The young man looked at the 650-year old Duncan Macleod quite sheepishly.

"You'll think I'm a fool."

"I will if you don't tell me."

"I'm making a choice, sir! If I don't see the Angel, I'm going to hop a cargo ship, and seek interstellar commerce as my trade. Get a real job, as my folks'd say."

"And If You Do?"

"Then, sir, I fully intend to join the service!"

Macleod smiled. The service had changed some since his early days. Now, exploration was more its goal, and he was glad for it. He was also glad that Connor and Walter had founded the company that handled most ID checks. Being an Immortal was more difficult, nowadays, but the Game was The Game, after all. He needed to come back to Glenfinnan sometimes, risk or no.

"We'll see about the angel, lad. But you should not let so random a thing decide your fate! By the way, my name is Duncan Macleod, and I'll thank you not to joke about it, if you would be so kind!"

"Och! I would never be so rude, except that I have failed to introduce myself. My name is Montgomery Scott. But my friends call me Scotty!"

Macleod gently shot back, "And you let them?"

The two laughed, then waited with the others. That Christmas Night, Macleod's Angel again appeared, and a young man heard a pathway to the stars in the Glenfinnan Bells.


Note: There is another story of the Bethlehem Angel's reappearance as a town crier, but I've been unable to locate it. I freely acknowledge and thank that unknown writer. Merry Christmas and Hearty Thanks to all my friends on Alt.Tv.Highlander and Happy New Year - Rob Morris