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April 03 2006 @ 05:04 pm
Highlander: The Highwayman, DM/OFC, [PG13], 1/1  
Title: The Highwayman
Author: SireesAnwar
Show: Highlander
Part: 1 of 1
Rating: PG13
Characters: Duncan MacLeod, Methos,  Joe?
Archiving: Fan Fiction Net
Warnings: Death, Angst
SPOILERS: None that I know of.
Disclaimer: I don’t own the Highlander characters or anything about them so don’t sue me.
Summary: Duncan remembers a past love as their story comes back to haunt him. Based on the Alfred Noyes poem The Highwayman. Also somethings are different from the poem... the thought is Alfred took liberties with Duncan's story...
AN: The Poem the Highwayman is supposed to be about a horseman who rode around Britain in the 1800’s. My story is set in England near the end of the 1800’s. My idea is that Duncan tells this story to the poet Alfred Noyes and Noyes changes it to be more about the famed Highwaymen of the time.

The Highwayman

Prologue: Now

Duncan pulled off the road. He had been driving for hours, not stopping for anything; only wanting to get there. His car came to a stop. He just sat there starring at the beautiful scenery surrounding him. The thick trees and the beautiful green plains, he could still see the cobblestone road once traveled by the famed Highwaymen of France’s past. He starred off at some trees picturing riders passing underneath their branches. He looked down at the seat next to him. The paper folded on the seat had made him come back to an old tortured memory. He turned to the door of his car and pulled the silver handle. The door clicked opened and a lifetime of memories flooded him.


Duncan sat with Alfred a newly found friend from the pub. They had gone outside and sat down on the hard, cold cobblestone to drink and laugh. Alfred laughed at another story Duncan told him. Duncan stopped and starred at the man who had told him he was a poet. “I have a story for you, my good man, though it is not as jolly as the others.” Duncan took another drink of his whiskey; his poison of choice and began his story.

Remembering: Late 1800’s

Duncan had recently arrived in England. He was getting closer to the 300 year old mark. It seemed he had come at a bad time. Red Coat rode through the countryside searching for bandits. He had been riding the cobblestone roads for months now between towns. He had been traveling quite a lot when he had stopped at the inn and decided to get a bit of rest. He walked in to a quiet setting will few patrons at that time of the day. He grabbed a seat in the corner by the fire and relaxed waiting to be served.

“What can I get ya, sir?” A woman’s voice asked.

He had heard the footsteps approach but hadn’t been prepared for the sight he would see when he faced her. “Ale is fi…” Duncan stared at the woman. She was beautiful. Her hair was jet black like his own and her dark eyes where sparkling. Word’s couldn’t do her justice. He felt his heart leap into his throat and he swallowed hard. It had been quite a many years since Duncan had been so tongue tied around a woman but she left him speechless.

“Sir?” The woman looked concern. Her dress rustled as she moved closer to him. “Sir?”

“Um, I’m sorey. I don’t know what came over me.” Duncan swallowed again. “Ale would be appreciated.”

“Right away.” She walked off, and Duncan followed her with his eyes. Love had struck him in the heart. When she was out of sight his focus drifted back to the fire and the dancing embers. Duncan was startled by a mug slammed down on the table.

Duncan stared up at the woman again, “I didn’t catch your name?”

“Beth Willis. And yours Sir?” Beth smiled at him as she wiped down another table.

“Well, it wouldn’t be Sir. Duncan McLeod of the Clan McLeod.” Duncan puffed out his chest a bit with pride.

“Quite a long name.” Beth walked away with emptied mugs in her hands.

Duncan looked around noticing the place had emptied itself. He was the only poor bastard sitting around drinking ale, apparently. “This place yours?” Duncan called to the woman.

“No, it is my fathers? He’s going to be away for a couple days. He had to go to town for some supplies.” Beth walked out of the kitchen and wiped her hands on a rag. “I suppose you’ll need a room.”

“Yes.” Duncan nodded.

Beth walked over to his table and sat across from him. “Tell me, where did you ride from?”

“London. Long ride.” Duncan stated flatly. His mind wasn’t on the long ride but rather on the beautiful woman before him.

Beth and he continued to talk about their lives with one another for hours into the night. The inn and pub didn’t get many visitors that night and at dawn Duncan rose from the table. “I should be getting some sleep now, Beth.”

“Of course, I have kept you up talking until the sun returned. I’m truly sorry.” She stood in front of him.

He put his hand on her arm. “I’m not.” Duncan smiled at her and then headed up to the room Beth had given him.

Duncan stayed at the inn for a few months growing closer to Beth with everyday. He had confessed his love for her after only weeks and they had met in secret to keep her father from discovering their love affair.

It hadn’t taken Duncan long to stumble upon the ostler, Timothy, in the stable with Beth cornered. “I don’t feel the same as you, Timothy.” Beth pack into the hay stacks. The fear on her face was evident from the entrance of the barn.

“No, you rather be with that Scottish heathen!” Timothy’s face burned red. He had loved Beth for years and was working his way to marrying her, but then the Scotsman had arrived and Beth was swept away. Timothy knew her father would only ask a better pouch for her and then hand her over to the Scotsman. The very thought of it angered him. He knew she was spoiled because he had spied them together in the stable, but it mattered little to Timothy, because he loved her.

“What is going on?” Duncan strolled into the stable. “The lady told you she wasn’t interested.” Timothy turned and glared in Duncan’s direction before running from the stable. Beth sighed and ran into his arms. “Maybe someone should tell your father he isn’t to be trusted with you.”

“Forget it, Duncan. I am so happy to see you.” Beth smiled up and him.

He leaned in and kissed her. “I miss you to, lass.” He kissed her again with a bit more vigor and then lifted her up into his arms and took her to the hay piles.

In the morning, when Beth awoke she dressed quickly and started to run into the inn when she heard Duncan, “Your leavin’ me here?”

“I thought you’d gone.” Beth smiled at him as she started moving back to the stable.

“And leave my love in the stable. No.” Duncan opened his arms and she ran straight for him. They fell into the hay and he kissed her. “I will be leavin’ again. I have business to take care of.” Duncan didn’t want to tell her that he knew another immortal was in the area and bound to find him. Duncan had planned to find out more about the man on this trip through the countryside. He was sure the man was a red coat but it bothered him very little. The game was the game.

Duncan strolled into the inn weeks after he had left. He had been correct about the other Immortal. He was a Red Coat but Duncan hadn’t come across him yet. His eyes searched for his love, the landlord’s daughter, Beth, who was beautiful with dark eyes and long flowing black hair she often braided with a red ribbon through it. Beth was the only part of the inn he loved. He had come to understand her father was a cruel man who welcomed the bandits into his inn. Duncan felt the tension as he saw Red Coats sprinkled throughout the pub.

He sipped at his whiskey. He waited for her to emerge from the back room. He was there to watch her, to see her and admire her beauty. He knew it would be awhile before he could hold her. A man entered the inn and Duncan instantly felt the immortal presence. ‘Why was this happening now?’ He turned his head slightly to see a man approaching him dressed in a red uniform. The Red Coat sat at his table.

“It is obvious you too are here for the game.” The Red Coat smiled at him. Duncan wasn’t in the mood for the immortal games. He was waiting for his heart to jump into his throat when Beth entered the room, but this idiot interrupted his daydreaming.

Duncan leaned back in his chair and took a long look at the Red Coat. “It is? No, I’ve found better things to occupy my time.” Duncan smiled at Beth from across the room.

The Red Coat looked to Beth. “Indeed, but the game is the game, Scot.”

“I am Duncan McLeod of the Clan McLeod.” Duncan leaned forward slightly. He would rather avoid the immortal than take his head, but the Red Coat was right. The game is the game.

“I am William York. I will meet you at sundown by the crossroads.” With that the man stood and walked out nodding to his fellow Red Coats.

Duncan waited for Beth a while longer but she didn’t emerge from the back. He had completely lost track of her whereabouts while talking with York. He grabbed his hat and head to the ostler to get his horse. He started to ride away but decided to give it one more try. He trotted up to her window that resided on the second floor. He pulled his sword from its sheath and lifted it to the wood shutters. He tapped firmly with his sword. The shutters opened and Beth peered out, smiling at him. “Duncan, I couldn’t come out to see you off. My father is already suspicious.”

He stood upright in the stirrups so he could kiss her before he left. Her braid tumbled down to his shoulder. The smell her perfume curled down to meet his senses. He smiled at her. “Watch for me. I’m after a prize tonight. I will be back before the dawn. We can leave together. I have something very important to tell you.”

Duncan rode hard towards the crossroads where York waited for him. Branches wiped by him as his mind contemplated tell Beth about his immortality. Duncan pulled hard on his reigns as he entered the crossroads and saw York waiting for him. “I had begun to think you were a coward.” York yelled to him.

Duncan pulled his katana out of the sheath as he jumped from his horse. “I have someplace else to be.” Swords clashed in the sunset. Both immortals were consumed with being the one to survive. The glistening of the steel blinded Duncan momentarily and he ducked quickly nearly loosing his head.

“You are quick, Highlander!” York laughed at Duncan.

The corner of Duncan’s mouth curled slightly. “I’ve learned well!” He swiped again and York blocked.

The clashing of swords became a continuous dance until York’s sword was flung across the road. “You bested me Highlander. Take my quickening.” Duncan swiped one last time and the Quickening prevented him from hearing the Red Coats approaching. Duncan landed on his knees panting; the quickening always took it out of him, more than likely it took it out of all immortals. His senses returned and he heard the Red Coats yelling at him and he realized what the scene they were watching looked like.

A Red Coat lying on the road with his head missing while another man was planted near him with the offending sword, which had killed their comrade, clutched in his culpable hand. If her were one of them, anger would be boiling inside of him. No doubt these Red Coats wanted his head, not for the quickening, but rather for sweet revenge.

Duncan jumped to his feet and whistled for his horse which came running. Duncan quickly mounted and took off with the Red Coats wasting little time in pursuing him through the countryside, only to lose him in a forest of trees. A quick dismissal of his shadow was something he’d become a master of.

Duncan rode harder until he was sure he’d lost them. He tugged on the reigns turning his horse back. His horse circled and he knew he’s managed to lose them. Now to wait out their search of him; he couldn’t head back to the inn now. Duncan pulled the reins and his horses and trotted over to a barn where he slept and hid out until the morning.

Duncan awoke in the late morning and quickly saddled his horse and mounted it. Duncan turned his horse and headed back to the inn. He had so much he wanted to tell Beth. He knew if she would ever be with him; she would have to know he was immortal. She would have to know about the games and she would have to know he couldn’t have children. She would forgive him for being late.

At a clearing among the trees the Major turned his horse in a circle. “Damn, I want that man dead. He killed an English officer!” The Major yelled. His angered face beginning to match his coat.

One of his Lieutenants rode up to his side reluctantly. “I have seen him before.”

The Major wasted little time in waiting for the young Lieutenant to continue and prompted him. “Yes? Where?” The Major demanded. He would have his revenge. What heathen believe he could murder an English officer and be arrogant to believe he’d live to enjoy his rampage? No, the Highlander would died at his hands if possible.

“The Inn. He goes there to court the landlord’s daughter.” the Lieutenant smiled back at his superior officer.

The Major smiled devilishly and slapped his horse. “Men, we’ve got a comrade to avenge.” The entire Red Coat troop was headed for the Inn, with one goal on their lofty minds.

Beth peered out her window. She could see the Red Coats headed towards the inn. The sun was setting and Duncan had not returned. Something was wrong. He always returned when he said he would. She watched the Red Coats dismount and head into the Inn. Beth felt something stir inside of her. Something was wrong she could feel it. When the Red Coats poured into her room her feelings were confirmed. She listened as they bound and gagged her with a gun beside her to kill her if she cried out to the Scottish Highlander. They knelt by her window and hide out in the trees; waiting for Duncan to return. They had told her father he had killed a British officer. Beth didn’t care; one less was a good thing, but her father, ever changing in his loyalties, gave them access to the inn for a trap.

Beth wiggled to get free but the rope only dug into her wrists making them bleed. A Red Coat approached her, “Stop squirming. There is nothing you can do to save him now.” He snickered at her and then kissed her face. She squirmed as his disgusting mouth touched her skin. He moved away from her and went back to the window to watch for the Highlander.

She starred out the window, pleading silently for Duncan to never return. She waited along with the Red Coats for a few more hours. The moon had hidden itself and the sun was full and shining brightly, she heard the hooves of a horse on the cobblestone. She looked to the Red Coats who sat still. Had they heard it? She knew they did. She gazed out the window and notice movement down the road. It was Duncan. She could see him riding up to the Inn. All she could think was that her love would die. She had to save him. She pounded wildly on anything her feet could hit. The Red Coats did nothing to stop her. She wasn’t sure why. Didn’t they hear her making noise? She looked out the window and noticed Duncan still riding. They could hear her but he could not. She had to do something. She looked at the musket beside her and knew what she had to do. She twisted her hands around to reach the musket and her finger found the trigger. “I love you,” she thought as she pulled the trigger, slumping forward as the metal ripped through her breast warning her love of impending doom.

Duncan rode through the eerily quiet countryside. Something was wrong. He was sure he’d be dodging the occasional Red Coat, but none had shown themselves. Where were they? His mind raced as the high sun beat down on him. He was drawing ever closer to his goal… his Beth.

A loud noise startled him and he tugged of the reigns, stopping his horse. Had he just heard what he thought he had? Was it coming from the inn? He had been there so often and so many Red Coats had seen him. He had put Beth in danger all because he was immortal. “Beth!” He screamed as he kicked his horse into a perilous run, a white cloud of dust churning behind him as he rode. He had almost reached the Inn when the ambush set upon him knocking him off his horse and killing him.

The Red Coats smiled down at the Highlander on the road, lying there dead. “Leave him and the inn keeper here as a warning to all those who will harbor bandits.” A couple Red Coats picked his pockets; taking anything of value they could find. Then the Red Coat troop rode off down the road, leaving a bloody scene in there wake.

Minutes later, Duncan sat up, coughing. His mind whirled. It took him only a moment to orientate himself. He got to his feet and screamed for his love. “Beth!” He stumbled towards the Inn. He found her father lying on the floor of the pub dead. Duncan passed him and ran for the stairs. He stumbled up them yelling, “Beth! God, no! Please, no!” Duncan flung her door opened and found her on the floor covered in her own blood with a gun at her side. She had killed herself to save him, an immortal that wouldn’t have died anyway. Duncan knelt down beside her and pulled her into his arms and screamed. He kissed her lips and whispered to her, “I will avenge your death.”

Duncan turned to the spellbound Alfred. The poet opened his mouth to speak but closed it again. He turned towards Duncan. “Wherever did you hear such a story?”

“In my travels.” Duncan drank down some more whiskey and winced as it stung going down. He peered at the bottle he polished off. “Put that in your book of poems. I will be forever grateful if you did.”

“Who would believe in an immortal?” Alfred looked to the Scot.

Duncan looked to the poet. “It’s a story.”

“All right. I will write about it, but what will insure you will ever see it.” Alfred looked at him dumbfounded.

“I will look for it for the rest of my life.” Duncan rose from the cobblestone floor. He could faintly hear the horse hooves trotting along the rode. Duncan looked up to the window on the second floor of the pub. He could picture Beth hang out of the window waving to him, but such a pleasant sight wasn’t for him to see. She wasn’t there nor would she ever be again. Duncan looked to Alfred and made a gesture of a bow that he never quit executed. He turned and stumbled down the cobblestone moving on as he always did.

“Good-bye friend.” Alfred yelled watching the young inebriated Scot stumble away.

Alfred Noyes entered the publisher’s office. “This is the final poem to go in the book. Stick it anywhere.”

The publisher picked up the paper. “The Highwayman?”

Alfred looked at him. “It is actually about a Scottish Highlander but the story I heard was a bit hard to believe. I changed a few things but the base of the story is still there.” Alfred sat back and waited for his publisher to read it.

The man looked up at Alfred with a heavy-hearted expression. “Alfred, this is wonderful.” The publisher shook his head. It was quite obvious the story of the poem had made an impact.

Alfred nodded thinking about the Highlander who’d told him the tale and now believing he’d met a legend very few would recognize. “It is my favorite as well.” Alfred stood and head out the door.

Epilogue: Now

Duncan felt the hand on his shoulder. “Duncan, you have to stop returning to this spot.” Methos counseled.

Duncan turned to him. He hadn’t heard the old immortals car pull up. Joe stood at the passenger’s side leaning on the opened door of the ancient immortals vehicle. No don’t Methos had been worried enough about him to go to Joe for information. Another person now knowing a painful memory he revisited only occasionally and only when caught of guard but the words.

Duncan nodded and handed Methos the folded paper. “Why do they always change history?” Duncan walked to his car and got in.

Methos looked out over the countryside. Joe had told him enough. Methos being the old soul that he was worried enough to come fetch his friend. He sighed into the breeze and then turned and headed towards Duncan’s car. He stopped and looked at the Highlander. “You’ll be all right to head back?”

Duncan nodded. “Yes, time mutes old wounds.” The younger immortal started his car and backed it away, tearing off onto the dirt rode churning white dust behind him.

Methos unfolded the slip of paper. “The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes.” Methos sighed. He knew the poem well enough and now he knew the memory tormenting his friend.

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight, over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding-
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say-

"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.

He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gipsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching-
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through the casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say-

Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till here fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up strait and still!

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!

Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him-with her death.

He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding-
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard,
And he taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love knot into her long black hair.