I'd have to say, if by some miracle Adrian
himself ever ended up reading some of my work, this is the one I'd like
him to see. Most of the answers in Duncan's "interview" were inspired by
AP's own words in various chats and articles. All in all, I think I got
it right. As for the rather sharp temper, I'd have to say that's all Duncan;
although with Italian blood in him, you're never quite sure.
There were two men outside and it looked like theyíd been waiting for a while. The Press Pass had gone out of style long ago, but there was still a certain oily, too casual quality that marked every journalist; his partnerís expensive-looking camera confirmed it. MacLeod blocked the open doorway, keeping the pair outside in the chill morning air.
"No thanks boys"; his voice was far more pleasant than his body language. "This place works mostly by word of mouth, I donít need any promotion."
The taller man pushed his way into the swiftly closing door, almost losing a few fingers in the process. "Let me explain. Weíre doing an article on modern urban violence. I came here looking for a professional opinion."
Mac hissed a sharp breath, a sign the intruder either didnít notice or chose to ignore. "Violence is not my profession; I teach an artform." Duncan hated publicity, with good reason, and there was something about this man that he instantly disliked. On the other hand, the world was becoming a place even a Highland warrior would call violent. Anything he could do to turn the tide might be worth the risk.
The reporter smiledĖ a flash of teeth that never quite reached his eyes, "Thatís exactly the point of view Iím looking for." He turned to his photographer, a little too quickly for Duncanís taste, "See, Jimmy, I told you heíd be perfect."
The door opened, slowly. "Iím Duncan MacLeod; come in." This provoked another grin; "Amazing, Iím a Duncan too! Duncan Thorne, of the Examiner."
MacLeod stopped him with a harsh glare; "If you want an interview, youíll get one; but I donít need a new best friend."
Mac led Thorne to the office, but lost the photographer somewhere along the way. Jimmy seemed quite fascinated by the weapons displays. "What is he doing?"
Thorne glanced casually out the large office windows, "Donít worry, heís just getting some mood shots. Now, can we begin?" Duncan nodded, carefully. "Letís start with a general statement. Do you think that society is becoming more violent?"
Duncan paused to wet lips gone suddenly dry. He had always preferred action to words and now here he was, caught in a verbal sparring match. "I think that man, that is, humans, have always had violent instincts and probably always will. Itís in our blood; our ancestors were hunters." He paused again to gather his thoughts; "But itís the role of society, of civilisation, to set limits. Society teaches the individual how to control his instincts." He added, "Something it hasnít been doing very well lately."
Thorne nodded encouragement throughout, scribbling eagerly in his notebook. He hated the mini-recorders everyone was using these days; he needed a pencil in his hand. "OK, now how about you? What made you open a place like this?"
"Hey, I didnít create this, itís Charlieís. Charlie DeSalvo: he wanted to keep the kids off the street; give them something productive. Iím just following his lead, making sure the dream lives on."
The manís statement took him in a new direction, Thorne adjusted his questions to follow the new trail: "And do you really think that teaching someone to fight is Ďproductiveí?"
Duncan closed his eyes for a moment, thinking how many times had he heard teach me how to fight from victims of bullies who wanted to become bullies themselves. "Thatís where youíre wrong, Thorne. Itís not about fighting, not if you have the right teacher. You donít just learn combat; you learn discipline, self-control and, if youíre lucky, a better understanding of who and what you are. A student leaves here with more power over himself than power over others." He watched the reporter smile and nod as he scribbled in his notebook, but he had a distinct feeling the man wasnít trying to understand. It was frustrating; especially considering he still hadnít had any breakfast.
The regulars starting coming in and Thorne was still talking. As Duncanís temper grew shorter, the questions started getting worse; "But I heard that youíve been teaching swordplay; you canít claim that as just self-defence."
Mac gave a contemptuous snort; "I hate that word. Anything that involves a weapon isnít play, unless you count those Hollywood fopsÖ"
There was an audible snap as the tip broke off his pencil, fop? Thorne considered himself an expert wordsmith, but he couldnít remember ever hearing, or using the word Ďfopí in casual conversation. With a start, he realised that he had missed some of what the man was saying.
"ÖKendo hasnít used live steel in almost a century; we use bamboo practice swords and full armour. I practice with live steel because it feels different, but only for solo exercises." Thatís all you need to know anyway, he added silently. "Iíve taught one or two exceptional students how to use a steel blade; but they have to give me a very good reason, and Iím the one who decides when theyíre ready."
Thorne wasnít paying attention to the waves of frustration and borderline hostility pouring off MacLeod, or he never would have pulled his trump. "I heard you had a personal brush with urban violence; something to do with your fiancée?"
Duncan rose to his full height, gripping the edge of the desktop to avoid doing something heíd regret, or at least something he wouldnít want to see on the front page. His voice was a tense whisper; "I really donít think this interview should continue any further."
Thorne didnít back down. "Just answer me this: if you could find the man who killed your fiancée, if he was standing right here, what would you do?"
"I did meet him, once."
"I did nothing," the last word trailed off into an angry hiss.
"And what did you want to do?"
Duncan was up and on the other side of the desk before Thorne could even blink, "Get out."
The reporter sputtered protests as MacLeod, without touching him, backed the man out of the small office and, slowly, out of the main room. "Iím a Journalist! I have the rightó" his last words were cut off by the slam of the door. A single glare sent Jimmy in swift retreat. The patrons, who had watched the whole thing in silence, now acted as if they had been deaf and blind to all of it. That didnít stop one or two from smiling slyly when they thought Mac wasnít looking.
§ § §
Methos heard the phone ring in his small Seacouver apartment; once again he told himself that his next persona was definitely going to have a decent income. No more starving students! He picked it up on the third ring, "Pierson." He heard a familiar voice on the line: "Iím worried."
"Dawson? Whatís wrong?" concern crept into his usually cool voice.
"The dojoís closed; nobodyís seen Mac for three days, not since the new issue of the Examiner came out. I want you to go check on him."
"Me? Why donít you do it, he knows you better."
"Considering the kind of sounds that have been heard coming from the place, I donít think it would be too healthy for me."
"Oh great, and my 5,000 year old head is expendable?"
Despite his own better judgement, Methos found himself outside the dojo. Mac had given him keys for the elevator, but never anything for the building entrance. No matter, Amanda wasnít the only one who knew a few tricks with doors.
Before he even reached the elevator, he could hear muffled shouts and the occasional crash. It was the first time he had ever heard an Immortal before he Felt them; curses in 4 languages that he knew and 2 more that he didnít recognise.
Opening the overhead door, he was confronted not by a sword but by a crumpled magazine thrust into his face. "Have you seen this yet?"
Methos dodged instinctively; "No I havenít, and frankly I canít see it right now."
"I never should have agreed to that damned interview! No matter what you say, they just pick and choose until they get the story they want."
"You did what? Were you out of your pony-tailed head?!"
With a deep sigh, Mac forcibly calmed himself; "Maybe I was. But I never said any of this, at least not in the way they imply."
"What can you do about it? Assassinating the Press isnít exactly encouraged in modern America; no matter how many people have been tempted."
Suddenly a dangerous gleam flashed in the Highlanderís eye; Methos wisely got out of the way as he rushed to a small writing desk. "Iíll beat him at his own game: letter to the editor; demand a retraction. If that doesnít work, Iíll cry slander; heíll never know what hit him!"
He was already muttering choice phrases as he reached
for a clean sheet of paper. As he watched, Methos developed a new appreciation
for the phrase "the pen is mightier than the sword." Poor Thorne didnít
have a chance.