Title: Arrowheads and Excuses
Author: akire
Email: akire@mailcity.com
Status: C/U
Category: Crossover: Highlander/Voyager (AU), plus misc others
Spoilers: umm, got a basic grasp of the Highlander universe?  Fine.  Oh
yeah, we're a Clan Denial fanfic.  This Voyager is an AU one, but there
may still be spoilers for various bits and pieces across the seven
seasons. 
 Disclaimers:  D/P and Paramount really DO own them.  If you don't
recognize it, its probably mine.  If it's silly or crazy, definitely is
mine.  But if anyone sends the lawyers after me, I'm sending out the
boys with swords ;)  Oh yeah, and imitation is the sincerest form of
flattery.  If you recognize a specific fanfic creation, it belongs to
its author (when this series is finished, I may tally them up) 
Rating: PG, prob.  Hey, I'm not offended by much, if it should be rated
higher, tell me! 
Content Warning: purists beware.  Language may offend some readers. m/m
relationship lovingly described. 
Summary: The Immie's get a sudden burst of nobility and now have to
explain their resurrections to the Captain...that is, as soon as
someone pulls the shafts out of their backs. 

That's long enough. On with the show!

 ~~##~~

The attack was a complete surprise.  They were aware of the presence of
an indigenous population, obviously, but the Prime Directive precluded
any attempts to make direct contact with them.  Instead, the Captain
ordered the survey teams into areas that were currently uninhabited by
any group of nomads, and told them to work fast and quiet.  It was
evident that she was loathe to intrude on this primitive world at all,
but Voyager's desperate state of reserves left them no option.

The other two away teams had merged with the main one after coming up
empty handed in their search quadrants.  The group was large but was
working well in closing in on the elusive mineral lodes.  They had
split into four teams.  The two luckless teams were searching the
hillsides, whilst one team lead by B'Ellana and the other by Janeway
herself scoured the valley floor from either end.

B'Ellana's team consisted of Harry, Richie and Sam Wildman.  They were
working faster over the rough terrain than Janeway, Tuvok, Adam and
Rachel.  Methos knew his young lover would probably gloat about that
fact when they returned to Voyager.

Then the sky was full of arrows and stones and everything went straight
to hell.


Later, Methos would swear blind that he had taken a rock to the head,
explaining why he joined Reia in automatically protecting the mortals. 
Neither of the elder pair had been shot by an arrow in a very long
time, but it hurt just as much as they remembered.  As Methos slumped
into the Vulcan's arms, he managed to stay alive long enough to mutter
'get them out of me, would you?'  He was as dead as the other
Immortal's before the transporter beam finally locked on and rescued
them.

 ~~##~~

Reia sucked in that first painful breath and focussed automatically on
her surrounds.  Sick bay?  Shit!  Witnesses?  Oh....crap.  Her mind was
shockingly calm.  Doubtlessly the screaming hysteria would be along
shortly.

"Lieutenant Wills?  Doctor Pierson-Ryan?"  A voice was asking from
above her head.  The holodoc.  Gingerly, Reia pushed herself vaguely
upright and instinctively tracked to her left, towards the source of
the dying Buzz sensation.  Her eyes met Methos' on the other biobed and
he rolled them sarcastically.  So much for not dying in public.

Methos' eyes slid past her to fix on something past her feet.  Pushing
herself into a sitting position, she saw Tuvok, B'Ellana, Tom Paris,
Chakotay and...oh double crap, Janeway.  What happened on the planet
came flooding back with blinding clarity.  Crap crap CRAP!

Hello hysteria.  Welcome to the party.

The two biobeds next to her showed Richie and Harry lying face down,
arrow shafts protruding like hedgehog spikes from their backs.  Pushing
down the giggle that was bubbling in her throat, she gestured at them. 
"You might want to yank them out, you know."  She swung her feet around
and carefully stood up, automatically noting the bloodstained tears on
her ruined uniform.  "Hurts like hell, but they'll thank you in the
long run."  Wincing slightly, she stretched her shoulders until they
popped and re-settled.  Methos had also gotten to his feet and had
circled around to begin calmly yanking the arrow shafts from his
lovers' back.  Realising that the mortal and holographic crewmembers
were just going to stand there, she went to her student and began
removing the lethal darts.

They continued to stare.

Throwing the last of the arrows onto the foot of the bed, she casually
commented to Methos "You know, the way they're standing there, you'd
think they'd never seen anyone come back from the dead before?"

Any sarcastic backchat was drowned out by Richie's dramatic moan as he
came back to life.  "Oh man, did anyone get the number of that bus that
hit me?" He moaned as he rolled onto his side in a half-foetal position
for a moment, letting his Immortal healing finish the job.  Sighing
again, he accepted the hand Methos offered him and stood.  "How's
Harry?"

"Still coming around.  Give him time," Reia said calmly.  Already she
could feel the tingling that presuaged the blossoming of his Buzz as
the young man resurrected himself.  A few seconds later, and Harry was
gasping and groaning.  She rubbed his shoulder to calm him through the
first disorientating moments of a complete resurrection  whilst his
training had seen him recover from a huge array of near-fatal wounds,
this was the first time he had come back from the grave since his
original death.  But soon he was coherent enough to stand with her
assistance.  

While this was going on, Richie had become aware of their audience.  A
quick glance passed between the three elder Immortals as the reached
rapid agreement on what to do now.  Explanations were clearly in order,
but how best to go about it?  Surprisingly, it was the newest member of
their little group who solved the immediate problem.

"Captain, I know this looks a LOT weird from where you are, but I
promise we'll explain everything AFTER we've had a shower and found
some clothes that aren't full of holes."  He stuck his index finger
through one of the more obvious gaps for emphasis.   "Give us an hour?"

Janeway's eyes narrowed.  "Half an hour. And you will be escorted back
to your quarters by security, and a guard posted at your doors.  I'm
sorry, Harry," she continued in a slightly softer tone of voice.  "But
I can't ignore the possibility that you four may be Changlings or
something else."

Methos, Reia and Richie loathed being guarded on principle, but
acquiesed without argument.  The sooner this was over with, the better.

 ~~##~~

Their escorts took them to the door of the briefing room, but did not
follow them inside.  All four had chosen to ditch their Starfleet
uniforms for more non-descript, comfortable clothing which better
reflected their true personalities.

The entire senior staff, including the Doctor with his holoemittor,
were already in attendence.  Richie knew they'd probably been comparing
notes on what they saw, wondering in some way whether this was just an
elaborate hoax.  They stared as the four came in to stand in a ragged
line at the foot of the table.  No place had been provided for them to
sit like the others.

"I guess its time for that explanation now?"  Harry asked when it
became obvious to him that his elders weren't going to start them off.

"If you wouldn't mind."  Janeway's eyes were like...granite, Reia
decided.  Glittery and cold and rather hard if you tried to push.

"Uhh...."

Another look passed between the three elders.  

"We're Immortal," Methos said.

"We're really hard to kill," Reia said at the same time.

Richie smirked as they glared at each other.  "We can die, but arrows
are not the way to do it," he finished, ignoring the look his elders
shot him.

Harry, kinda used to this verbal sparring after nearly a year of
Immortality, finished off with a sweet smile.  "Any questions?"

Paris smiled, obviously waiting for the punchline that would never
come.  "Immortal?  What are you guys talking about."

Another look arced over the heads of the younger pair.
"Demonstration?"

Methos nodded, a gleam in his eye.  Richie automatically stepped away,
his back to the nearest wall.  "Uh uh," he grunted with a vehement
shake of his head.  "I'm not the fresh meat."

Methos smiled again, his predator smile, as he jerked his head at
Harry.  "Newbie rules?"

Reia shrugged.  "If you must," she capitulated in a bored tone.

Harry looked at his teacher.  He looked at Methos.  He looked back at
his teacher.  He sighed and turned back to the group assembled around
the table.  "Stay.  Don't do anything.  I'll be right back."

He saw the look of confusion flit across everyone's face
simultaneously.  Then a hand reached around from behind, grabbed his
chin and shoulder and neatly snapped his neck.


He awoke to pandemonium. The holodoc was staring at him, as shocked as
a hologram could get.  Security guards had Reia, Methos and Richie by
the arms.  Kathryn was giving the trio a death glare so hot he was
surprised the Immortal's had not burst into flames.  Any further visual
exploration was cut off by Tom's shout.

"Harry?!  What the..."

Methos shook off the security goons who had him by the arms, Reia and
Richie only moments behind.  "Ahem.  Right."  He made a show of dusting
off his sleeves.  "As we were saying, we are Immortal.  We are rather
hard to kill.  But we do get hungry."

Richie picked up his cue smoothly.  "And my stomach is telling me we
missed lunch.  Let's go see what Neelix's special of the day is, huh?"

Reia rounded off the repartee.  "Sounds good.  You coming, Harry?"

He nodded, delicately, just in case bones were still knitting, and
pushed himself upright.  "At least you didn't ruin another set of
clothes," he noted wryly.  Brushing off his hands on his trousers, he
rejoined his group.  Unsurprisingly, they weren't allowed to exit.

"No.  You three will be escorted to the sickbay.  The Doctor will
perform a complete medical examination, and a range of tests to
determine how..." she gestured to where Harry had recently did his
expert impression of a corpse.

To her surprise, the group in front of her laughed.  "Good luck!
Millions of scientists, mortal and Immortal alike, have tried to figure
out what makes us  us.  They've had thousands of years to solve the
puzzle, and they've never gotten anywhere.  I somehow doubt that you
will do any better."

Kathryn the scientist nodded coolly.  "I'd like to try anyway."

"No."

Redhead stared at redhead.  "What did you say?"  Kathryn's voice was
like a laser.

Reia was unrepentent and unmovable.  "I said no.  We are not lab rats,
Kathryn Elizabeth Janeway, we are not your latest toy"  She scolded as
if the Captain were an errant child.  "We are not a science project you
can take to a fair.  We are sentient beings, and we are all registered
Federation citizens.  Now, unless you'd care to conveniently forget
about all the rights and privileges that entails, my friends and I will
be getting some lunch."

She smirked, seeing a loophole.  "You are also Starfleet officers."

Richie answered that one, arms crossed in gleeful, final, defiance of
loathed authority. "I believe that a copy of our resignations,
effective immediately, will have logged into the system already?"  The
formal paperwork had taken hours to complete, but they knew it was
better to have it on hand 'just in case.'  Even Harry, dedicated
Starfleet officer, had grudgingly admitted it would be handy to have in
reserve.  In the end, he was surprised how easy it was to click 'send.'
He had expected to have more regrets.

He then saw the looks on the faces of Paris, Torres and the others.
Okay, one teeny little regret.

Reia's expression did not seem to change, but her whole posture
screamed triumph.  "Unless you have something you wish to say now,
Captain?  No?  Well, I'm sure you'll want to check that our
resignations are all in order.  If you'll excuse us."  As a group, they
swept out of the room.  Harry felt he was being herded, slightly.

Surprisingly, their escort did not follow.  An oversight Methos knew
would be rectified shortly.  "Who's buying?"

"Harry," Reia said easily.  "You've got the largest quarters, kiddo.
Besides," she continued as she examined a fingernail.  "I already took
the liberty of stashing spare kits and swords in your closet."  She
looked her student in the face, eyes dancing.  "For a rainy day."

Harry groaned as the turbolift sealed him in with the discordant
singing.
   Its raining, its pouring.... 

~~##~~

Harry stared at his hand pensively, his mind ablaze with what ifs and
what nows.  The adrenaline burst which carried him through the pre-
decided course of action had faded, leaving him feeling jittery and
nervous.  Feeling the pressure build inside him, he finally rose from
his knees and went over to the tiny alcove which held his musical
instruments.  Picking up his clarinet, he clicked the keys in an
automatic scale, but did not try to play.

He felt like he should be plotting or planning or doing something, but
everything had been discussed to death months before.

He snorted at his own choice of words.  A rustle of material, and slim
hands wrapped around him in a platonic hug.  "How you doing, kiddo?"

He leant unconsciously into the quiet strength his mentor exuded.
"Does it get easier, to just up and leave everything behind?"

He felt rather than saw her little shrug.  "Sometimes.  If it's just a
job, it's almost a relief to go.  But when what you are doing is
interesting, or important, or exciting, well...those are the times when
it can be hard to let go."  She hugged him a little tighter around the
waist.  

"Cycles," he murmured, aware of her attentive silence.  "Everything
flows in cycles."

She grinned against his back.  "I used to know this Watcher, he was a
religious man.  Used to have this saying.  'When God closes a door, he
opens a window.'  Some things come to an end as other things just get
started.  The trick is climbing out the right window."

Any further philosophy was cut off by the door chime.

Richie poked his head around the corner into the alcove.  "Showtime!"

 ~~##~~

If Harry hadn't lain on the briefing room floor, dead, less than an
hour ago, Janeway wouldn't have believed it.  Immortality itself 
well, there were beings like Q, and the Traveller, but human
Immortality?  Then there was the rest of the story.  The Games, the
battles, the Gathering.  The clandestine training sessions and secret
conferences that had apparently been going on under her nose for
months, with no one outside their little circle any the wiser for
Harry's sudden change in status.

She looked at each in turn.  Rachel Wells  by her record, she seemed
average in every way.  Middling grades in the Academy, personnel
reports which showed someone diligent, but not overly so.  Nothing to
draw attention.  Nothing until that confident display of absolute
authority in the briefing room.

Then there were the Pierson-Ryan's, a physical dichotomy  Adam, dark
and lanky, sprawling elegantly across most of the couch.  Richie, well-
built with tawny red curls, sitting casually in the small space left
him.  She couldn't picture either of them as hardened survivalists,
taking heads in such a cruel and brutal way.

If she couldn't picture them killing, she couldn't picture Harry even
associating with people who deluded themselves so.  Harry, so sweet and
innocent, a dedicated officer and a talented engineer.  Raw and
untried, but enthusiasm to burn.  There was no way he could be a part
of this.

But, a little voice in the back of her head said, what was all that in
the briefing room?

"Let me get this straight.  You four never age, can't die under most
circumstances, yet you go around killing rivals because you believe you
are playing some gruesome cosmic Game for some undefined Prize."

Richie nodded.  "Sounds about right."

Kathryn let her exasperation show in her voice.  "Don't you hear
how...how..."

"Twisted?"  Rachel supplied with a quirky grin.

"Yes!  How twisted this all sounds."

The four in front of her nodded amicably.   "Yeah," they muttered.  The
unspoken 'So?' hung in the air like a miasma.

Adam shrugged.  "Hey, Captain, we didn't make the rules, we only live
by them."

"Why?  Why do you have?  Why don't you choose to live another way?"

"Because I like living?"  Adam's voice was acid sweetness.  "People
have from time to time decided not to play.  Note the emphasis on the
past tense there."

"But what about free will?"  She was less than impressed when the
quartet in front of her laughed out loud.

"Free will is one of the greatest myths ever to be perpetuated by the
human race," Reia pontificated when the sniggering had died down to
manageable levels.

Janeway turned to Harry, a young man she thought she knew well.
"Harry, you've been very quiet.  What do you think about all of this?"

He shrugged philosophically.  Kathryn couldn't help but notice that the
gesture was almost identical to the one Rachel gave almost every time
she spoke.  "Captain, I can't say I'm thrilled with the idea, but I
understand it.  Well," he snorted.  "At least as well as any newbie can
70,000 light years from centre court of the Game-playing universe."

"So you are going to play..." her lip curled as she spoke the badly
misused word.  "Play this game?"

"Yes," he said without a moment's hesitation.  "I don't intend to start
hunting the minute our bow bumps dock, but I'm not going to be a
sitting duck either.  I've already made my decision, Captain.  But what
remains to be decided is what we are going to do here and now."

"Harry?"  Confusion was evident in her tone.

"What.  Are.  We.  Going.  To.  Do.  Now?  Quite a straightforward
question, really."  Rachel leant back into her seat.  "I think you
realise that even if you wanted to, you have no grounds to throw us
into the brig for the next seventy years."  She threw an inquiring
glance to where Tuvok had stationed himself like a sentry by the door. 
"House arrest?  Possible, but awkward."  She threw a smile at Harry.
"Especially as I have a student to train so he isn't picked off
when...oh, as soon as our bow bumps dock."  The smile turned into the
even present smirk.  "We've already resigned, but we don't mind earning
our keep from time to time.  We are still doctors, engineers,
scientists..."

"...lawyers, shamans, indian chiefs..." Richie continued in a mumble.

"...and we have the papers for all of the above," Adam finished in the
tone that indicated that this was a long running joke.

Harry nodded.  "We're short-staffed as it is, Captain.  I think you
realise how much of a symbolic gesture the resignations were."  He
peered at her, gauging reaction and planning his verbal course.  "We're
not Changlings, we're no different to the people you knew from before. 
Now that you know the truth, we can make a few minor adjustments to the
way we live, but overall its business as usual."

Kathryn leant forward.  "Adjustments?"

Harry blushed.  "Well, I'm getting kinda sick of only having two hours
sleep a night, myself..."

  ~~##~~

The conversation raged for another few hours, as concessions were made
and offered by both parties.  The document was drafted by Adam and
Chakotay  two men used to getting their way without resorting to
shouting  and the draft was bounced around several times for comment.

But now the senior staff and the Immortal foursome were standing once
again in the briefing room.  The 'contract' was as symbolic as the
resignations, but all took it seriously.  Bridges needed to be mended
and trust regained on both sides.

Of course, Richie and Adam had to do some damage to the somber mood,
post haste.  "Hey Adam?"  Richie stage-whispered.

"Yeah, Brat?"  He replied at a similar volume.

"Did we remember the bit about carrying swords?"

"Yep."

"What about training regimes?"

"Check."

"No ordering us on missions that could get us killed, temporarily,
permanently or otherwise?"

"Volunteers only," Adam confirmed with a nod.

"What about primary access to the Rigan Olympic Volleyball simulation."

Adam clicked his fingers theatrically.  "Damn, knew we forgot
something!"

Kathryn was trying desperately to stifle a grin.  "If you all are quite
ready?"

Adam bowed to Rachel regally.  "Ladies before gentlemen."

She returned the bow with equal majesty, gesturing for him to take
precedence.  "Age before beauty."

"Pearls before swine."

"Oh for crying out loud!"  Richie pushed between them, and signed the
document.

Adam and Rachel swapped a look.  "No respect for their elders these
days."

"What is the world coming to?"

Richie snorted.  "Look where it came from."  He handed the padd to his
lover and watched as he signed off and handed it over to Rachel, who
added her approval before passing it on to Harry.

Rachel then delivered it back to Kathryn with a level of pomp and
ceremony not seen from her since the 16th century.  

"Gotta love contractual obligations," Richie remarked to the room at
large.

Kathryn checked the document one final time, then logged it into the
computers.   She then extended her hand.  "Welcome to Voyager.
Pleasure to have you aboard."

  ~~##~~