DISCLAIMER : Richie Ryan and Connor MacLeod used to belong to Davis-Panzer Productions. They belong to their fans now. I guess Emily Ryan still belongs to them as does Duncan MacLeod. Fiona MacDonald belongs to me. All characters are free to return to their original owners, but they refuse to go, so I guess I'm stuck with them for now. Please do not repost this story without asking me first. Direct all comments to me. I want to thank Kristine Larsen for beta-reading this story.
Absolutely no permission is granted to use this story in whole or in part in another piece of writing.
Connor shook his head. He couldn't believe he'd let Fiona get him involved in this. He'd come west to check on the antiques shops left to him by Edwin Russell, the biological father of Russell Nash. Connor had assumed the identity of the dead infant to mask his Immortality. Believing Connor to be the son he'd never known, Edwin Russell had tracked him to New York and left him the antiques shops he'd owned in San Francisco. Connor had timed his trip to coincide with the holidays, so he could visit Fiona and Phillip, her current mortal husband. She was planning a "family" Christmas celebration including himself and his kinsman, Duncan. He was certain there were plans for his birthday as well. There generally were when she was this adamant about his presence for Christmas.
Before going to San Francisco, he'd stopped by Fiona's to drop off most of his things and pick up his car. He had intended to visit the antiques shops and then return for Christmas. Fiona had collected a few of the "letters to Santa" that the Postal Service was making available to the public. The letters were from needy children who would probably get no Christmas presents if it weren't for the generosity of strangers. Fiona was determined to be one of those strangers and had insisted that he select a letter from the stack. She was certain he'd have time to fulfill a child's request on his return trip to her home. He had shoved it into his pocket without any intention of reading it, but he had.
Connor had felt an unexpected pang when he read the letter. It was written in an adult hand, so the child involved must be fairly young. The little boy was interested in cars and trucks it seemed. His requests were fairly simple but beyond the means of a family with little extra money. At the bottom of the letter was a note from the adult who had written the letter for the boy. She said she was the boy's foster mother and could barely afford to buy necessities for the boy and herself. The boy needed shoes and clothing. She needed a winter coat. The note sounded desperate. She had included all the sizes of the items she needed.
Connor had found himself thinking about the letter and the woman's plight at the oddest moments until, without realizing it, he found himself in a toy store surrounded by gaudy Christmas decorations, screaming children and frantic adults. He was about to leave when he noticed a set of miniature cars and trucks by Matchbox toys. It wasn't exactly what the boy had asked Santa for, but it would certainly bring a smile to a small boy's face on Christmas morning. Connor promptly bought two of the sets. He might as well indulge himself in addition to the boy.
Shopping trips for the clothing and shoes followed and now Connor sat in front of the dilapidated apartment house that corresponded to the address included in the letter. He knew he wasn't supposed to deliver the items personally, but it was already Christmas Eve and there was no other way to get the things there in time for Christmas. He patted the envelope in his pocket. He'd put $200 in an envelope to help the woman and child, if he thought they needed it. Stepping out of the car and looking up at the apartment house, he was certain they needed it. He was sorry he hadn't put more money in the envelope.
Connor frowned. He'd bought far too much. He'd have to make additional trips to the car. Connor removed as much as he could carry from the car and headed into the apartment house. He'd better just deliver these things and be on his way. He was expected at Fiona's.
Connor knocked on the apartment door that matched the address on the letter. A woman opened the door a crack and looked at him suspiciously. She was young and attractive, but life was clearly beating her down.
"Merry Christmas," Connor said and smiled. The woman didn't respond. "My name is Russell Nash and I picked up your son's letter at the post office. I realize I wasn't supposed to deliver these personally, but I waited too long to have them delivered through the usual channels."
The woman shook her head. After Connor produced the letter from his pocket and handed it to her, she opened the apartment door for him. Dropping the packages inside, Connor smiled at her again. He got a slight smile in return.
"There's more in my car downstairs. I'll be right back."
"More?" the woman asked in surprise.
Nodding, Connor left the apartment to retrieve the rest of his purchases. When he returned, the woman was studying the tree he had purchased on impulse during his drive to deliver the gifts. He helped her put it in place and they decorated it quickly. As they worked, he asked her questions about herself and her son. She spoke lovingly of the little boy in her care. Connor smiled. The child was in good hands.
While Connor arranged the gifts under the tree, Emily Ryan unpacked the groceries he'd bought. From her letter, he assumed their food budget was as limited as everything else and he thought he'd include some traditional Christmas items. A turkey, assorted vegetables and desserts came out of the bags and went directly into her refrigerator. He saw her shaking her head as she put the food away.
"You really shouldn't have done all this."
Connor looked around tiny apartment. There was much more he could do for them. He smiled.
"It was my pleasure."
Connor reached into his pocket and removed the envelope of cash. He handed it to Emily Ryan.
"No," she said firmly, offering it back to him. "You've done too much already."
Connor shook his head. He hadn't done nearly enough. As he pushed her hand away, Connor got the vague sensation of another Immortal. Frowning slightly, he looked around quickly. He didn't want this woman and her innocent child in danger. His thoughts slowed. It wasn't another Immortal. The sensation wasn't strong enough. There was a pre-Immortal nearby. Connor turned towards the sensation. There was a small figure in the shadow of the hallway. He caught a glimpse of curly reddish hair as the figure fled down the hall. Connor tried not to react to the discovery that this woman was caring for a pre-Immortal child. The gifts he'd bought might just be for a potential student... or adversary.
"Is something wrong?" she asked.
He shook his head. He couldn't tell her about the future that awaited her son.
"No, but it's late and I should be going."
The woman walked quietly next to him to the apartment door.
"I can't thank you enough."
"Just enjoy yourself... Merry Christmas."
Emily Ryan sat at her kitchen table and studied the pile of cash in front of her. She'd never had that much money in one place at one time.
She was too old to believe in Santa Claus, but in her opinion Russell Nash came as close as anyone ever would. She'd hoped the letter she'd helped Richie write would bring a toy and maybe some clothing for him. Instead, there was a pile of presents under a huge tree. A few had her name on them. She could imagine the excitement on Richie's face when he saw everything in the morning. She was glad he slept through the visit. Richie would have asked too many questions of the stranger.
She contemplated the stranger. He was charming but there was something undeniably odd - almost dangerous - about him that didn't include his generosity. He seemed in a hurry to leave. She wondered if he had somewhere else to go. She should have at least invited him to return the next day for dinner. Laughing softly, she shook her head. Richie would have been shy for a minute or two before he bombarded the man with a constant stream of questions.
There was suddenly a great deal of food in her refrigerator. The turkey was so large, it reminded her of the prize turkey from Dickens' A Christmas Carol. She could imagine Richie asking, "the one as big as me?" just like the boy summoned by Scrooge to buy the prize turkey for Bob Cratchit and his family.
She sighed. It was late and she'd been feeling very tired lately. She should just go to bed and appreciate all the wonderful things Russell Nash had so generously given to her. She wished he'd left an address, so she could write to him and tell him how much Richie enjoyed everything.
Connor tried not to think about the woman with the pre-Immortal child during the drive to Fiona's, but it was difficult to keep his mind from wandering back to them. He hadn't gotten a clear look at the boy. He'd have to find a way to help support them without letting them know where the money came from. It shouldn't be too difficult. He'd done such things before.
He considered whether to tell the others about the boy. He decided against it. He wouldn't mention the boy's future Immortality. There'd be too many questions and there was nothing any of them could do. He would satisfy himself by ensuring the boy's comfort while he was growing up.
Connor cursed himself loudly. He'd left the boy's letter at the apartment. He no longer had their names and address. He had his businesses to attend to and didn't want to raise suspicion while trying to find them again. He had names and a city. It might not be that difficult. He would try to track them down when he returned to New York. He could certainly send them a small stipend every month. As the boy got older, he'd increase the amount. He wanted the child to attend good schools and get an education to last centuries.
Emily Ryan stroked the coat gently. Although the style was plain and would not make her stand out when she wore it, she could tell from the feel of the fabric that the coat was expensive. There was a hat and gloves to match. She'd be warm the rest of this winter and for years to come.
"Mommy, why are you crying?"
Wiping her face, Emily looked into Richie's big blue eyes. She wasn't aware she was crying.
"Because Santa made me very happy with his presents. Do you like what Santa brought you?"
Richie nodded vigorously.
"What do you like best?"
Richie held up a tiny motorcycle with a sidecar before running off to play with the rest of the things he'd eagerly unwrapped earlier. He'd been asking questions about Santa's visit the previous evening, but Emily told him he must have been dreaming. He'd described Russell Nash fairly well. During his questioning, she realized he must have been watching them from the hallway. She was just glad he hadn't burst into the room while the man was still there leaving all these marvelous gifts. For all his generosity, Russell Nash didn't seem like a man used to playing Santa.
Emily got up slowly. The thoughtful stranger had brought a large loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, butter and a gallon of milk. Richie could drink as much milk as he wanted. She had money to buy more. Right now, she should try to entice him from his toys with breakfast.
Before she went into the kitchen, she paused to watch him playing. Richie was a sweet child. He was rarely sick. Even the typical childhood illnesses only kept him in bed for a short while. She was grateful he was seldom as difficult as some of the other children in the neighborhood seemed to be. She'd been thinking of trying to adopt him, but doubted she would be allowed to as a single woman. It might be worth the attempt since she'd had him so long.
Richie's new collection of cars and trucks seemed to be creating a massive traffic jam in her living room. Smiling, Emily went into the kitchen. She'd love to adopt him and see the man he'd grow up to be.
Connor looked up at the house as he got out of his car. He'd planned to be at Fiona's for Christmas Eve, but his late delivery to Emily Ryan and her foster son made that impossible. He'd driven all night just to get here. He was certain they were waiting for him. He looked forward to the meal Fiona had probably prepared.
Walking up to the house, he thought of the gifts he'd left with the woman and the boy. He hoped the gifts brought them some pleasure.
When he walked into the house, he got a warm hug and kiss from Fiona, a firm handshake from her mortal husband, Phillip, and a welcome glass of scotch from his kinsman, Duncan.
"You're late, Connor. I expected you last night. Did you have a problem?"
"Not a problem... exactly."
Fiona tilted her head at him as they walked into her living room where a large Christmas tree stood seeming surrounded by presents. Connor noticed the presents he'd dropped off before his trip to San Francisco were included with the rest. He was certain the woman next to him was planning a celebration for his birthday as well.
"What did you do, Connor?"
He shrugged. He hadn't done any actual damage and there was no way to change what had happened.
"At least, you won," Duncan said, half-seriously.
Connor shook his head.
"I played Santa."
Fiona frowned at him a moment before her eyes widened.
"You visited them? You brought the presents personally? What were you thinking?"
"I was thinking of making a small boy happy. I hope I succeeded."
"He saw you?"
Connor frowned into his glass. The boy had seen him, but he doubted the child understood why he was there.
"No," he said with certainty. "His belief in Santa Claus is still intact."
Fiona studied him closely. Connor grinned at her.
"There's something you're not telling me."
"What makes you say that, lass?"
"I don't know, but I'm certain an Immortal was involved."
"Well, there was me," Connor said. When she frowned at him, he laughed and added, "No, lass, just a woman and a little boy."
Fiona frowned. Connor was keeping something from her, but she couldn't figure out what it could be If the child were in trouble or danger, Connor would say something. She glanced at Duncan when he refilled her glass of scotch. When their eyes met, he shrugged. Fiona sighed. At least she wasn't alone in thinking Connor wasn't telling them the entire story.
Hearing Connor's voice, she turned towards him. He had engaged her husband in conversation. When Duncan joined them, the men laughed. Fiona smiled. Whatever Connor might be keeping from her, there was a holiday to celebrate.
Connor frowned at the papers in front of him. After returning to New York, he'd made some discreet inquiries and had located Emily Ryan and her foster son. As soon as he saw the address, he knew it was correct. Although he'd considered it briefly, he'd rejected the idea of visiting Emily Ryan and her foster son in future. Helping them from a discrete distance was a far better option.
It had taken longer than he expected, but he had managed to set up a system to send them a monthly stipend without having it traceable to him. He had hoped that the additional money would ease their circumstances. The amount was to increase annually to keep up with the boy's growth and needs.
The checks were being returned uncashed. At first he assumed the small family had moved and set about finding them again. What he found was news of Emily Ryan's death. The boy had been returned to the foster care system. Although inquiries were made, the boy's whereabouts were a mystery. Connor didn't want to care for him personally, but he wanted to make certain the boy found another home. He'd even entertained the idea of suggesting the boy to Fiona and Phillip. Fiona would be a doting mother and an exceptional teacher if the boy became Immortal while in her care. She'd also have both MacLeods to help with the boy's training.
No one would release any information about the child, but there had to be a way to find him. Connor would keep trying. Of course, the boy could have been adopted. He wished the young pre-Immortal well and hoped he would find a safe and loving environment like the one Emily Ryan had created.
Wondering when he might meet the boy again, Connor sighed and threw the papers back onto his desk. He wouldn't look for the boy anymore. As unfortunate as it might be, the boy was on his own. Until the boy became Immortal, it was probably better that he didn't know anyone named Connor MacLeod even existed.
Around 1975, Connor assumed the identity of Russell Nash who died as a baby in Syracuse, New York in 1945 and "inherited" the Hudson Street property in New York City. The setting for this story is around 1978 or 1979 which would make it before the events of the first Highlander movie, which is set in 1985.
Connor inherits the antiques shops from Edwin Russell in Family Ties (story).
A Christmas Carol was published by Charles Dickens in 1843. The title of this story comes from that work.
The other side of this story is A Ghost of Christmas Past