Chapter Three - I'll Carry On, Carry Over, But I Will Not Carry....
LONG ISLAND, 1947
Connor saw his teenaged adopted daughter chatting with Hawkeye and Carlye. The young man had needed some training, early on. Packing antiques for shipping was an art unto itself. But medically trained hands proved deft at handling other delicate works, and the set of cheap plates that Connor had sacrificed --a 40 piece set became an 80 piece-- proved to have been well worth it. Hawkeye nearly had a heart attack when he thought he'd have to pay for them.
Pierce now had his own key, and occasionally baby-sat Rachel. While some would say this was a great deal of trust to put in a relative stranger, Russell Nash, aka Connor Macleod, knew people. This Hawkeye Pierce had a sense of honor and duty not all that different from Connor's kinsman Duncan. In other words, he was a hero looking to be disillusioned. Connor's trust would not prove unfounded.
"Inventory? Hawkeye, we were going to the movies!"
"Carlye, Mister Nash here gave me a rather sizable loan so that I could stay in med school. That means that sometimes the fun stuff has to wait."
"Between school and your job, we hardly see each other anymore, even for living together."
"I hope its while I'm still a part of your life. Because the way you're going, pal, that just won't be much longer."
After Carlye had left with Rachel, Connor nodded at Hawkeye.
"Pierce, are you sure you wanna do this? I mean, your woman just laid down some terms, that I heard."
Hawkeye had already begun his initial counts.
"Russ, I can change the way I answer the telephone for her. I can and will learn to leave the toilet seat down for her. I can even learn which phrases and slang she thinks are cute, and which she thinks are vulgar. I'll do almost everything to and change almost everything about me for the woman I love. I'd even abdicate a throne if I had one."
"You mean besides the toilet."
"Ah-huh. Well, I can and will jump through hoops, all for her. She's worth it, and being with her is worth it. But I am who I am. At my core, I am a man who has to regard the deal we made as being above my own comfort. Carlye, she'll learn that when we get married. I don't commit easily. But when I do--that's it. My word. My Bond. My Goodness, My Guinness. Maybe even my Pilsner."
Connor was slowly getting used to the quips Pierce used to hide his insecurities.
"Well, a man who'd give up both a good woman and some good beer to count dust-mites with me is worth having around, in my opinion. When I order, you want I should get some ribs?"
To his credit, Hawkeye never once looked up from his work. He may not have cared much for it, but he had made a deal.
"I told you how I feel about Ribs. No thanks."
"Is this place in Chicago really all that? Cause I haven't been there since the Great Fire."
And he hadn't, either.
"Its like I said. Adam's Ribs are like Ambrosia. They could grant Immortality."
"Who wants to live forever?"
As the evening wore on, Connor tuned in a radio station that played mainly instrumentals. It helped pass the time. Pierce got into some of the music as he went.
"I don't remember ever not having a radio. Its hard to imagine what people did without it, just a short time ago."
"My family used to throw spears across the Loch, hoping to hit an enemy. A human-sounding yelp was considered a good evening."
"Russ? Remind me never to meet your family."
"Not much chance of that."
There was a sadness in the other man's voice Pierce wisely chose not to question him on. Outside, the quiet neighborhood grew quieter still.
"Oh. You got a call from some guy in Toronto. Name was---Lacroix. What is he, one of your creditors?"
"You could say that. He does like to come around and put the bite on."
Hawkeye had the oddest feeling like a bad joke had been told. But Connor had an even odder one.
"Pierce---get the hell out of here!"
"NO--I'm almost finished."
Connor pulled out a handgun, and put it in Pierce's hand.
"You're all done, now! Take this and get out of here----"
But just as suddenly, Connor pushed him down, pulled out an Asian sword, and bid him be quiet in his scrunched position.
"Russ? Mister Nash?"
The doors, rear and front, both came open, and two men with swords waited, one on each side. Connor nodded.
"Koeranthos and Kaliearn. Okay. Which one of you goes first?"
Connor knew how to deal with the after-effects of a Quickening, but he would still be vulnerable and exhausted even if he beat the first opponent. He was not, however, to be given that chance. Both men twirled their weapons.
"You're supposed to be good, Macleod. Why not take us both on at the same time?"
Hawkeye saw Connor's face take on a look of pure disgust, as though a sacred line had been crossed.
"Damn You! You know that's against The Rules!"
The second man was all smiles as he came forward.
"Oh, who's going to know? Or for that matter, care?"
Connor Macleod, or Rusell Nash, proved he was indeed one of the very best. By fist, sword, and foot, he managed to hold them both off and even wound one of them. But little by little, their vile tactic wore him down. Just as he had one of them by the neck at swordpoint, the other stepped up and held his sword at Connor's back.
"All too easy."
Connor then saw something that the other two could not, in the recessed mirror. Hawkeye now held his gun to the back of the man in front of Connor. Koeranthos laughed.
"You want to kill me, boy? Then you have to blow my head clean off. You ever witnessed that kind of gore, little man?"
Cocky with youth, Hawkeye pulled the trigger.
"I'm a medical student. I've seen things that would curl your hair, Mister.............. ...aaagggggggahhahahahahhahhhahahahahahAGGHHHHHH!!!!!"
Where once had been the head of a human being was now a bloodied stump. The bullet had shattered it like a ripe watermelon. Hawkeye was screaming. His hand burned from the powder. His neck was bleeding from skull fragments of the dead Immortal. His heart threatened to give out. His vision was redded out from the salty spray of the man's torrent of lost blood. As he fell back and dropped it, the handgun went off once again, and he screamed again. Kaliearn raged, but Connor finished him and tossed the bodies outside, into an alleyway. Glancing at Hawkeye, he closed the door--and it began.
"What have I done? What have I done?"
Distracted and in pain though he was, Pierce couldn't help but notice his employer through the rear window. Russell Nash was being inundated by lightning. When the storm was done, he came back inside.
"First off, thanks for saving my life. Second............"
He trailed off. Hawkeye grabbed at his bloodied neck, and nodded, noting the windstruck alley outside.