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Disclaimer: Xena, Warrior Princess and the names, titles, and some of the characters are the sole property of Renaissance Pictures and MCA/Universal. Highlander and the names and titles are the sole property of Davis/Panzer Productions, Rysher Entertainment and Gaumont Television. This story, all other characters and action sequences are the property of the author. No copyright infringement is intended and the story is meant to enhance our love for both TV shows. This story may not be sold. Or archived without the authorís permission.
Sex/Violence: Implied sex, usual Xena fighting, usual Highlander beheading, cursing
THE MAN FROM THE HIGHLANDS
Marcella R. Wiggins
Itís another beautiful, sunny morning, with Xena and Gabrielle walking towards a village, when Xena hears something in the bush. "Gabrielle, hold Argo a minute" she instructs, and without waiting for a response, she enters the woods. In the clearing on the other side, Xena sees two heavily armed men staring down another man with a pearl handle, long blade sword. The man, with long hair tied back in a ponytail, is breathtakingly handsome, wearing a royal blue kilt with matching sash. The two men attack and the man is killed before Xena can intercede. The men run off and as Xena is about to check the dead man, he comes back to life. She pulls back in shock. The man hesitates for a moment, regaining his strength and then picks up his sword and leaves. Xena returns to Gabrielle and the two continue their walk. "Anything wrong, Xena?" Gabrielle asks. "No, nothing" she answers.
"I do not wish to fight you", the handsome young man with a heavy brogue accent tells a crowd of villagers surrounding him. "Tell me, wíat Ďave I done?" he asks, brandishing his pearl handled sword. "Youíre wearing a dress for one thing", a villager offers, looking at the manís royal blue kilt and sash that drapes across his broad shoulders. "Tisí no dress Iím wearing! Tisí but a kilt and where I come from, tisí the style!" the foreigner rebuffs.
Xena and Gabrielle come up on the scene and Xena recognizes the man from this morning. Gabrielle gasps, "Whoa, heís gorgeous." Ignoring her, Xena immediately goes and stands beside the foreigner. "Whatís the trouble here, boys?" she asks. "Heís not from around here" a villager answers. "Well, neither am I" she hisses, drawing her sword. The foreigner looks at her in shock. "A woman who fights?" he asks. "A man who wears a dress?" Xena answers, looking at his knees. "Iíll nar Ďave a woman fighting for me." Xena looks at him with disbelief and backs away. "As you wish."
The villagers attack the man and he deflects them, blow for blow, with choreographed moves of style and elegance. "Xena, did you see the size of his sword?" Gabrielle asks in awe. "Gabrielle, thatís just an old centaur tale", Xena quips, never taking her eyes off of him. Soon enough, he starts to lose ground, "Períaps I was a wee bit Ďasty" he says to Xena. "Perhaps", she repeats with a smile, and she and Gabrielle join the fight. Xena is impressed by the foreignerís expertise with a sword. The foreigner is impressed by Xenaís expertise in combat. Gabrielle is impressed with the obvious chemistry between the two. Soon the villagers give up the fight and disperse.
Turning to Xena, the foreigner offers his hand and introduces himself. "Iím Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, and I owe you me tíanks. May I repay you fer your kindness?" "Your thanks is all I want", she responds. "Iíve nar Ďeard of a woman fighting with such skill and grace as Iíve witness tíis day", he exudes. "You arenít from here are you? This is Xena and Iím Gabrielle." "Gabrielle, Iíll be tíanking you as well then."
"What brings you so far from your people?" Xena asks. "Iíve been traveling for weeks, chasing the bastards wíat stole a sacred artifact from my land", Duncan explains. "I caught up with them just this morning, but they jumped me and I Ďad to fight them off." Xena looks at him, knowingly. "They joined up with an army to large for one to fight", he finishes. "Where are they now?" Xena asks. "Theyíre camped on the beach, oíer yon Ďill." "I know that army. The warlordís name is Abimelech, and heís particularly nasty", she explains. "Tisí why I came to solicit Ďelp, but you saw the results." "Well, Iím offering mine." "I can nar ask a woman to risk her life", Duncan refuses. "What is it with you and women?" Gabrielle quips to herself. But Xenaís eyes almost sparkle at the challenge as she replies, "Youíre not asking, Iím offering. Now show me where the camp is."
The day dissolves into night as the three of them lie on a cliff over looking the beach. "By the gods, Xena, there must be hundreds of them", Gabrielle exclaims. "To many for the likes of us", Duncan replies. "Oh, you donít know Xena. Sheís fought off more than that single handily AND saved my life in the process", Gabrielle brags. "Gabrielle..." Xena reprimands from embarrassment. "I Ďould be interested in Ďearing the story", Duncan encourages, but Xena interrupts, "Some other time, right now we need to set up camp and get ready for tomorrow."
That evening, as Xena, Duncan and Gabrielle quietly finish their meal, Gabrielle asks, "Duncan, what do you have on under that skirt?" Duncan spits out his drink as Xena rolls her eyes in disbelief. "Iíll tell you lass, if youíll be telling me wíat you Ďave under yours", Duncan laughs. "Enough said!" Gabrielle concedes. "Itís just that Iím fascinated by your customs. Can you tell me about some of them?" "Iíll be doing better tían tíat, lassie, Iíll be showing you", Duncan says as he goes to his knapsack and takes out his bagpipe. "What is that?" Gabrielle questions, moving closer. "Tis but a musical instrument", he answers and inhaling, he blows into the bagpipes resulting in a horrible, screeching noise. Gabrielle jumps back in shock as Xena does a double take. Holding her ears, Gabrielle shouts, "I think itís broken." Duncan laughs at her and continues warming up.
As he begins to play and the beautiful music fills the air, Gabrielle, being the bard that she is, asks, "Thatís beautiful. Does the music tell a story?" "Aye, tisí of unrequited love, but most folk make up their own words", he explains. "Please, play more?" As Duncan plays again, Xena, moved by the music, begins to hum. Soon she joins in, making up a love song as she goes along. The two stare deeply into each otherís eyes as Xena delivers a hauntingly, beautiful aria.
Afterward, they sit in silence for what must seem like an eternity to Gabrielle, who looks first at Xena, then at Duncan and says, "Letís all just take a moment, shall we " "What? Oh yeah, we better turn in" Xena says.
"Xena, Ďow will we be getting pass tíat army?" Duncan asks as they make their beds. "We walk in the front door", she states matter of factly, and then walks over to Argo. "Iíll nar understand you Greek women", Duncan exclaims under his breath. "Donít worry, Duncan, it means that Xena has a plan", Gabrielle explains as she starts to lay her bedroll to the right of Xenaís, as usual. But then, seeing that Duncan has laid his to the left of Xenaís, she changes her mind and moves to the other side of the fire, away from them. Gabrielle has a sly smile on her face as Xena comes back and sees what she has done. Whispering to her, she asks, "What do you think youíre doing?" "You can thank me in the morning" Gabrielle says as she lies down. Xena, almost shyly, lies down beside Duncan and the two spend the night trying to avoid each other.
"Good morning, Xena, did you sleep well last night?" Gabrielle laughs. "No, and Iíll be Ďaving you to thank for it", she smiles and says in brogue. "Now youíre even starting to sound like him" "Itís part of the plan", she says. "Of course", Gabrielle smirks. Ignoring her, Xena turns to Duncan, "I need you to teach me your accent, but you only have a few hours. Can you do it?" "Aye, lass, twill be an Ďonor" "Good, in the mean time, Gabrielle, I need you to go into to town and get a few things."
Morning dissolves into mid day to find Xena and Duncan sitting on a log, facing each other. "Good, now remember, you nar pronounce the ĎHí. Try it again", Duncan instructs. "Aye, laddie" she says, clearing her throat. "Ďere, wíat are you saying, tisí a fine morní in the glen", Xena struggles with the pronunciation. "Very good, now, tisí comfortable you must be with the accent. Just relax and let it roll off yer tongue", Duncan encourages her as he gently strokes her arm. Xena smiles and says, "Youíre a bonnie lad, with a good Ďeart, Duncan MacLeod", and unconsciously, softly, tucks a stray strand of his hair back in place. Duncan takes her hand and looks long into her eyes, "I tíink youíve got it!" The attraction was too much for both of them and Duncan slowly leans closer, locking eyes with her until he kisses her, gently, sweetly, fully, on the lips. Xena responds with the same, slow tenderness.
Finally, she brings them back to reality by saying, "We have to stay focused. Itís time to go." Duncan corrects her, "Winch, Ďave you not been listening?" Xena laughs and corrects herself, "Aye, tis right you are, laddie."
Suddenly, Duncan goes rigid. He scans the horizon, sensing danger. Xena instinctively looks around as well, then she asks, "What is it Duncan?" "Xena", he says as he stands and draws his sword, "Tíereís sometíing I Ďave to do and I nar want you caugít in the middle..." "Iím already in the middle..." she quips as she stands, then stops, also sensing danger approaching. She draws her sword as a man steps out of the woods with his sword drawn. "Stay out of tíis Xena, tis not wíat you tíink it is."
Duncan approaches the stranger, who closes the distance between them, until finally, they circle each other as they talk. "Iím Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod." "Iím Artimius of Greece." "Iím not Ďere for you, we donít Ďave to do tíis", Duncan offers. "Oh, but Iím here for you, foreigner. Your head will be one more trophy on my list", he boasts as he thrusts his sword at Duncan, who easily deflects it. "And after your quickening, I think Iíll add your woman to my conquests" Artimius adds. Duncanís eyes turned to rage, "Iíll nar let you lay a Ďand on Ďer or anyone else." He thrusts his sword at Artimius who deflects with such power that sparks explode between the swords. The two fiercely parry back and forth, as Xena watches, ready to help. As their swords clash, bringing them face to face, Duncan makes one last gesture, "Walk away, wíile we still can." "Coward, donít worry, your death will be quick, so to speak.", and with that Artimius pushes Duncan back and kicks him in the stomach, causing him to double over. Artimius raises his sword over head, preparing to strike when Xena screams, "Noooo". The distraction was enough for Duncan to drive his sword through Artimiusí stomach. As Artimius doubles over, Duncan stands, raises his sword and slices off Artimiusí head.
Duncan weakly walks away and Xena comes to his aid. "STOP!" Duncan commands and Xena stops, watching as Duncan falls to his knees. Then suddenly, lightening bolts crackle out from the body of Artimius. The white-hot electricity repeatedly strikes Duncan, who is jolted and jarred about. Lightening crackles everywhere and Xena instinctively dives and rolls away from a rock, just as a bolt strikes it, exploding it into a million pieces. She rolls back onto her feet, and again watches as the lightening travels down Duncanís sword, through his body, illuminating his eyes, his teeth, his heart. Finally, the quickening is over and Duncan bows his head, dropping his sword and placing his hands on his knees for support.
Coming over to him, Xena kneels and quietly asks, "Are you all right?" "Aye, tis sorry I am tíat you Ďad to see tíat", Duncan replies. "Donít worry about me, Iíve done worse. Can you stand?" Xena helps Duncan up and he takes a deep, strong breath, regaining his strength. "What was that all about?" she asks. Duncan tells her the story of the immortals as they walk back to camp.
Gabrielle is there, waiting on them. "Did you see that lightening, it came out of nowhere, not a cloud in the sky. The Gods must be angry at some poor soul." Duncan looks at Xena as Gabrielle continues, "Howíd you do?" Xena, not wanting to let on that anything happened, replies in full brogue, "Tis fairing well, lass. Now, did you find the tíings you were about?" "What?" Gabrielle asks in confusion. "Did you get the stuff?" Duncan repeats in plain English. Xena and Gabrielle look at him and laugh as everyone relaxes.
Taking the bag from Gabrielle, Xena goes behind some bushes. "Iíll be riít back", she says in character. Duncan turns to Gabrielle and asks, "Ďave you been knowing Xena for long, lass?" "It seems like all my life", Gabrielle replies proudly. "She Ďas a focus tíatís unpenetrable, but she Ďas a gentle soul wíatís undeniable", Duncan describes. "You see that too?" Gabrielle asks, looking at him with renewed respect.
Xena returns, wearing a short skirt and sash that match Duncanís royal blue colors. She hands her sword to Gabrielle. "Me lord, will I be passing for the proper Gaelic lassie, tíen?" she asks. "Aye, but much more beautiful than a mere lass", he compliments. Duncan straightens Xenaís sash, as Gabrielle watches both of them watching each other. Preparing to leave, Xena turns to Gabrielle and asks, "You know what to do?" "Yes, Iíll meet you back here in the morning", she answers. "Be careful" Xena mothers.
Xena and Duncan mount their horses and ride off as Gabrielle walks in the opposite direction.
Reaching the encampment, Xena and Duncan dismount and walk straight in. "Halt, what do you want here?" a guard asks. "Iím Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, and Iím Ďere to claim wíatís mine." The guard looks at his kilt and laughs. "Just take us to see Abimelech", Xena demands, out of character.
The guard leads them into the tent and tells Abimelech why they are here. Abimelech, a large, fat man, looks at Duncan and laughs until he looks at Xena and drools. "Your woman has bought you enough time to tell me what you want, before I kill you", he states. "Youíll be Ďaving an artifact of mine tíatíll Iíll be wanting back", Duncan explains, "Tisí rightfully mine, but Iím offering to pay for it". "An artifact?" Abimelech doesnít know what the word means. "Me lord, tisí but a cross with many jewels, wíat was stolen from the Ďigh lands of our clan", Xena explains. "How much is it worth to you?" Abimelech asks Duncan. "Twenty thousand of your dinars", Duncan offers. "Thatís impressive, but not enough", Abimelech states. "Throw in the girl and you have a deal" "Iíll nar be selling my woman to the likes of you." Duncan was not prepared for that, but Xena was. She turns to him and suggests, "Wíat if Ďe only buys an Ďour of me time?" then turning to Abimelech she asks, "Would tíat not be intriguing to ya, Abimelech?" "An hourís not very long", he complains. Moving closer to him, Xena explains in a husky voice, "Aye, but an Ďour wit me can be an eternity." She smiles at him, running her fingers down his fat chest.
Meanwhile, as the sun is going down, Gabrielle, in a small boat, rows in sight of the encampment. She throws the anchor over and sits back, waiting.
"Stop, Iíll nar be doing this!" Duncan reconsiders the plan. Xena looks at him sternly and says, "Duncan MacLeod, tisí not YOU who is doing tíis. Am I not me own woman who does wíat she pleases?" Duncan looks from Xena to Abimelech and finally concedes. Xena turns her attention back to Abimelech. "Feisty to boot. Iím going to enjoy this", Abimelech decides. "Me lord, tis only the beginning. But miít we Ďave a wee look at the cross first. Just to set Ďis mind at ease?" Xena asks, nodding towards Duncan. "Bring in the cross", Abimelech commands over his shoulder as he rubs his large, fat, hands along Xenaís arms.
"There is your cross, which you can have as soon as Iím finished with her. Now, leave us alone." Abimelech pulls Xena closer to him, until she is almost lost in his bulge. Duncan looks at her, ready to complain, but Xena nods for him to go on. As he leaves the tent, Duncan looks toward the sea.
Gabrielle leans back in the boat, rocking to the motion of the waves. She taps her wrist several times to ward off seasickness; then she drapes her arm over the side, gingerly tapping the water, looking up at the stars filling the night sky. Suddenly, something bumps her hand and she jumps, almost tipping the boat over, losing her oar in the process.
Xena stalls Abimelechís approach with questions, "Tisí a fine tíing youíve done Ďere tonight. Will you not be telling me wíat your plans are?" He looks at her as if she were stupid, "First, Iím going to make mad passionate love, then Iím going to kill that friend of yours and then weíre going to make more love." "I thought as much ", Xena says in her normal accent. "What?" Abimelech asks. "Tisí nothing, me lord", she responds in Gaelic. "But wíat of the ship?" "Howíd you know about that?" "Tisí simple, me lord, why else would you be camped on a beach?" "Youíre very perceptive. Thatís good, since youíll be coming along for the ride. The ship will be here shortly to transport my treasures to Crete, where I have a buyer waiting. Heíll be especially generous when he sees you."
"Son of a bacehe!" Gabrielle exclaims as she reaches over the side to retrieve the oar. Paddling with her hands to keep up with it, she doesnít notice the shark circling around toward her. Just as she grabs the oar, the shark attacks, narrowly missing her hand. "What in Tardes ?"
Abimelech pulls Xena to the bed and as just as he was about to climb on top of her, a horrific screech blares from outside. "What in Zeusí name was that?" he yells, and goes out to see. Suddenly, another screech pierces the air. The men start running, first right and then left and then into each other. Grabbing one of the frighten soldiers, Abimelech asks, "What is it?" "A monster coming from over there", he answers, when, hidden on the opposite cliff above, Duncan makes another screech on his bagpipe. "Agggh", Abimelech grunts in frustration. "Send every last man to the hills and find this monster. And donít return until you do." As Abimelech directs his men, Duncan sneaks back into the tent with his bagpipe in hand.
Gabrielle hears Duncanís bagpipe and grabs the oars, preparing to row toward shore. She is distracted though, when the shark bumps the boat several times with its snout. Gabrielle tryís to keep from getting seasick by pumping her wrist repeatedly, but it doesnít help this time. Groaning, she gives up and leans over the side, just as the shark rises out of the water.
Xena takes the cross and places it in a sack, tying the rope securely around it while Duncan removes the bag from the pipes and blows into it. Tying it off so that it is fully inflated, Xena ties the cross to the bag. "Ready", Duncan takes the cross and crawls under the tent, just as Abimelech enters. "Now, where were we?" he asks.
Walking to the edge of the beach, Duncan tosses the cross and bag into the water. "Lass, I Ďope youíre out there", he says.
Gabrielle canít contain her stomach anymore and lets it go just as the shark opens his mouth. This seemed to satisfy the shark, because it swam away. "Better the second time around, I guess" Gabrielle quips as she brings in the anchor and paddles closer to shore.
"Me lord, wíat was tíat awful noise?" Xena asks, stalling for time. "Nothing to worry your pretty little head about, just some monster running around." Xena begins to wail, "Ewwo, Iím afraid twill eat me!" "Itíll have to get in line, now come here!" Abimelech demands. Xena runs around the bed wailing and bawling as Abimelech chases her, yelling and pleading. Duncan walks in and after subduing his laughter, draws his sword, and shouts, "Stop, youíll nar be laying a Ďand on me woman."
Abimelech, panting for air, goes for his sword and prepares to fight. "Guards" he shouts, "Guards, where is everybody?" "Me lord, you sent them away", Xena hisses as she drop kicks his sword out of his hand, and elbowing him in the face, catches the sword. Duncan bows to her expertise. Xena laughs and says, "Ďurry, we Ďavnít much time before the ship arrives", but as they turn to leave, ten guards come rushing in. "You takí the Ďigh road and Iíll takí the low road " Xena suggests and maneuvers five of them towards her. "And Iíll be there afore ye", Duncan concludes and moves toward the rest.
Gabrielle retrieves the bag from the water and places it in the boat. As she rows away, a ship approaches from the opposite direction.
While Xena and Duncan battle for their lives, more guards rush in. Xena battleís seven of them at once, when one got the upper hand and was about to strike the fatal blow. Duncan rushes over and blocks it with his sword, and with a skillful move, plunges his own sword through the soldierís heart. Xena bows to his expertise. They fight side by side until finally the tent becomes full of soldierís. "Letís get out of here!" Xena shouts. With a fierce blow of her sword, she slices the tent pole in half, causing it to collapse around them.
Xena and Duncan crawl out from under the tent flap and run toward their horses. Several guards rush them, but the two easily defeat them. They mount their horses and escape towards the cliffs just as Abimelech makes his way out of the tent. "After them" he orders as one of his men runs up and points towards the ship. "Wait," he commands, "we have more important things to deal with than the loss of one little cross and a pretty girl. Prepare to greet our friends from Crete."
Xena and Duncan slow their horses to a walk and Duncan asks, "Do you tíink they will follow?" "No, I saw the ship on the horizon, that will keep them busy. I just hope Gabrielle made out all right, she doesnít do well on water", Xena says, dropping the accent. "Not to worry, sheís a fine lass, with a good Ďeart, wíat kin takí care of Ďerself", Duncan offers. "You see that too?" Xena asks. "Aye, youíre a good team, and Iím be Ďoldin to you both"
Night falls as the two set up camp. Duncan turns to Xena and says, "Xena, I owe you me life." Xena looks at him and smiles, "But, youíre an immortal." "And does tíat matter to you, Xena?" he asks. "Not tonight" she replies. As their bagpipe love song fades in, Duncan takes her hand in his and says, "Iíll be returning to my Ďomeland in the morní, but Iím tíinking Iíll be making love to you tonight, if youíll Ďave me?" Xena softly strokes his rugged cheek and smiles, "Iíll have you." They kiss, soft and tenderly at first, but as the passion rises, the kiss becomes harder, deeper, hotter. Duncan takes her in his arms and Xena embraces him with her whole body.
The next morning, Gabrielle walks up to find the two asleep in each otherís arms. Touched by the tenderness of the moment, she turns to leave, as they wake up. Realizing her vulnerable position, Xena quickly gets up and moves apart from Duncan. "Did you have any trouble?" she asks Gabrielle. "None worth repeating in mixed company", she jokes as she hands the cross to Xena, who in turn, hands it to Duncan.
"Xena, I nar Ďave the words to tíank you proper, but tisí tíanking you I am", Duncan says as he caresses the cross. "And I also rescued this " Gabrielle says and hands Duncan the bag to his pipes. "And will you be playing tíis and tíinking of us tíen?" she asks with a Gaelic accent. Laughing, Duncan replies, "Aye lass, and Iíll be tíanking you as well", and kisses her on the cheek. Gabrielle puts her hand to her cheek and sighs.
As their bagpipe love song fades in, Xena and Duncan walk, with his horse in tow, a short distance up the road. Duncan turns to Xena and says, "Yer a wee lass, Xena and I leave you my Ďeart." And Xena replies in his accent, "And youíre a bonnie lad, Duncan MacLeod, and Iíll nar be forgetting you." He kisses her tenderly, then mounts his horse and slowly rides toward the horizon. Gabrielle walks up to Xena, who touches her fingertips to her lips, then raises her hand in good-bye as Duncan looks back at them. She whispers, "And yer a bonnie lad, Duncan MacLeod, and you Ďave my love." A tear makes its way down her cheek as the love song plays on and it fades to black.
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