Jessica L. Blackstone
Methos took a small draught of warm beer, the liquid quenching his thirst as he sat and looked at the desert, his thoughts shifting like the sand blowing across the dunes. Most of the locals thought him mad, for weeks now this was all he did. Let others watch the seas. He always came back to the desert. The constantly shifting sameness exuded a rare timeless peace.
Dry. Hot. If it was a residual memory of his mortal life it was lost to his conscious mind and not terribly missed. It was enough to simply watch and let his thoughts roam where the winds of fate took them like the desert sands.
Even if where they took them was always the same place.
MacLeod. The Watchers. Galati.
He continued to look out over the desert, absently noting that the wind was slowly picking up. Sure enough, the tavern owner came out calling “storm,” sending everyone into a scurry of activity, anxious to get inside before the storm hit. Everyone, that is, except Methos. He continued to sit motionless, hard-learned habits from long ago telling him that there were still several minutes before it hit.
Hazel-gold eyes picked up the circling dust cloud on the far horizon edging across the sands. He slowly stood up, the ends of his turban beginning to snap wildly in the harsh winds. ‘Yes, indeed’ he thought as he took one last look at the approaching whirlwind. “Sandstorm.”
The dark coolness of his room did nothing to calm the intensity of his thoughts as the screaming of the high winds against the shuttered window heralded the storm’s onset. The room was a harsh contrast to the suite he had in Rome. Not that he cared. Spending the entire two days and nights in the ancient city sleeping. When he woke and finally managed to stay awake, he left. It held no appeal for him. No, his destination was always the same, the location was the only thing that changed.
He laid himself down on the bed. Passionate brown eyes flashing into his mind as he remembered the last time he had slept with MacLeod. A ghost of a smile on his face as he remembered how Duncan had slowly flamed the simmering need between them into a raging fire which even he could not resist, over a simple game of chess.
It had been a long time since he played the catamite. His mind instantly revolting at the denigration of the affinity he shared with the highlander. The rapport had been there from the first second they met one another’s eyes. A recognition so deep that MacLeod instinctively knew who he was. Methos. Duncan could never be capable of such baseness. And therein lay the failing. The flaw in their friendship.
He was. Had been. Numerous times. Too many…
Jacob Galati. Even if he had to do it again, he would. The Watchers wanted a scapegoat. Duncan MacLeod was not an option. Another would have to do. Who better than the killer, himself? A decision the judgmental highlander was incapable of understanding.
Open or closed the image before his eyes never changed. The last look MacLeod gave him. Anger, disgust, but even more cutting--betrayal. The one thing he could never do, not to Duncan. Others yes, easily, without conscience. He had done so in the distant past, knew exactly what he had been, was capable of in order to survive. Changing didn’t eradicate the past but only made remembering it the more tragic.
Methos gave a tiny shake of his head. Maybe the highlander was right. Perhaps he had been Adam Pierson, mild mannered Watcher so long that he had lost sight of who he was…of where his loyalties lay. There was only one thing--person he had no doubt about, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.
He closed his eyes tightly at the shot of need that coursed through his traitorous body. Gritting his teeth at the brutal truth, the inescapable realization that the damning words that had fallen from the highlander’s lips were as true for him as they were for Duncan.
It wasn’t just the body he wanted, it was the man. The loyalty, desire to do what was right, and the pleasure that lit the generous brown eyes as he experienced the world around him. The damnable code of honor was as much of a part of the highlander as his graceful body and just as alluring. A glamour that even he could not resist.
Hell! It was that more than anything that brought him to the Scot’s side when Kristin went to Seacouver. Such a man was to be protected at all costs. Simple goodness was rare in this world. Something to be guarded and cherished. He would have been content to bask in that glow for as long as the highlander allowed.
Methos liked him.
Friendship among immortals was rare, anything more--usually unthinkable. Definitely un-wise, but the fact remained--he liked the boy scout. Hopefully they were still friends if they were nothing else.
“Yes?” he asked at the sound of someone at the door.
“Sir, the storm has passed.”
“Thank you,” he acknowledged. He walked over and drew open the thick wooden shutters to reveal the hot sun blaring down onto the white sands. Amazement filling him that he hadn’t even noticed the storm’s passage.
He strode slowly through the dark alley, his white t-shirt already damp with perspiration from the heat. Damn it! He knew he had seen it here only a couple of decades ago. These shops never disappear. He knew of a tavern that had been in the same place for two hundred years.
Methos continued walking through the oldest section of the market with only a half remembered memory to guide him. Aha, that’s it, he thought as he strode through the half span of darkness which served as the entrance to the shop filled with curios, shawls and one very badly used vase if he trusted his memory.
A grin broke out over his pale face. Yes it was still here. In the exact same place. The vase that was being used as a planter for the owner’s various herbs. Covered in about a century of dust making the faint design virtually impossible to see. A vase that was far older than anyone would guess, especially the proprietor. Methos approached the old man and began to bargain, grinning at the man’s shock at his fluency in the native tongue.
Twenty minutes later, he left with a rueful expression on his face and the proprietor smiling behind him. The owner’s conscience had gotten the better of him and he had thrown in the herbs as a gift. Tourists, they were completely mad.
After carefully removing the plants with as much dirt as he could, he set the vase down on the table in his hotel room and carefully began to clean it with a white silk cloth. Each pass of the material revealing more of the beautiful Asian design. Methos didn’t stop until it was as clean as the day it was first made. His hazel eyes inspecting the entire surface for flaws and finding none to his utter delight.
With one swift call to the concierge he had arranged for a packing crate and filler to be sent up. He carefully wrapped it in tissue paper. Methos waved away the offer of help from the young boy and sent him on his way with a generous tip. No way was he going to trust anyone with this package.
He set the vase in the crate and carefully placed the straw around it until it was secure. Arrangements had already been made to send it with the next shipment of artifacts being sent to the United States as part of an exhibition. Dawson would receive it in several weeks time. Enclosed in the crate was the note containing one simple directive. “Not until he asks,” signed A. Pierson.
The short stop at a internet café in Rome on his way to the airport had allowed him to hack into Joe’s account to check the Watcher’s and MacLeod’s current status. Joe had been fully reinstated as Watcher to the Immortal Duncan MacLeod. A new Tribunal was going to be elected to decide Jack Shapiro’s fate. The highlander had returned to Seacouver and from what Methos could read between the lines of Mac’s chronicle was giving Joe the cold shoulder.
Methos hadn’t even wanted to guess what the brooding Scot would be giving him if he was there. No it was best that he stayed away for awhile. Let recent events fade from the highlander’s mind. Leaving no trace of his cyber trespass, he had departed giving no hint of his present whereabouts.
He walked down to the lobby, being very careful not to jar the crate he was holding before him. His little gift would take a few weeks to arrive and in the meantime, he would perhaps seek enlightenment. Yes, in a place of peace and tranquility--Las Vegas.
Methos stepped out into the bright sunlight and glanced around. Good, there was no sense of any immortals near by. He slowly walked down the stairs towards the terminal when the sound of a name caught his attention.
A big grin spread across his face as he spotted the tall man striding toward him.
“Denver! It’s good to see you,” the black man greeted, immediately reaching for the carry on bag that was slung over the man’s shoulder.
“Rick,” Denver acknowledged as he handed over his luggage, “I see you got my message.”
Rick nodded, his teeth flashing brightly as he smiled. “Lola sent me to pick you up. She even let me take the jag.”
Denver frowned slightly at the news but said nothing as he got in on the passenger side.
Rick gave a sideways glance at the dark sunglasses which contrasted sharply with the pale skin and chuckled as he started the car. “Where’ve you been man, the north pole? Didn’t they have any sun where you were at?”
Denver just smiled, it was an old joke. He bent down and turned on the radio, a James Brown song instantly spilling from the loud speakers across the passing desert.
“Good to have you back, man. The Oasis needs two bartenders…”
“Lola didn’t hire anyone after I left?” Denver asked surprised. It had been over three years since he had summered in Vegas.
“She did. A couple of guys, they just never work out,” Rick’s eyes flicked to the man sitting beside him with a wistful expression on his dark face, “not like you.”
Denver laughed, “We’ve already been through this, Rick. I’m straight and even if I wasn’t, man, you are definitely not my type.”
“And Lola is?” The words left Rick’s mouth before he could stop them.
Denver’s face tightened. “Lola is my problem,” he said coldly.
Rick shivered in the 110 degree heat and slowly nodded.
The drive was silent after that with only the shrieks of James Brown filling the air.
He followed Rick into the dimly lit room, grateful for his sunglasses which allowed him to clearly see the half dozen men at the bar and one woman. Lola.
All eyes were on the tall man in the black leather vest and faded blue jeans as he swaggered over to the counter.
“Draft beer, please,” Denver ordered, his English accent exaggerated. It was best to see who was going to cause trouble immediately.
“Get it yourself, Den,” the red-head challenged.
He gave a slight tilt of his head while steadily meeting the green eyes. And that was that. Denver took his place behind the counter and drew himself a beer. The new bartender at the Oasis had just been hired.
The sunglasses were absently taken off and hung in the collar of his t-shirt as he automatically started filling the orders the waitress, Nell brought him. His long fingers knowing every cranny and idiosyncrasy of the bar taps, which ones worked and where they stored the good liquor versus what they served the tourists. Simple work that thankfully was virtually mindless.
An hour passed uneventfully as he slipped back into “Denver Lane,” almost as if he hadn’t been anyone else the last three years.
“You a faggot like the other one?”
Denver focused on the tall bulk of muscles that had drawn him from his thoughts. “Why? Are you looking for a piece of ass?”
The bearded man’s face flushed red with rage as he stepped around the counter and swung his right fist at the fag’s big nose. His blue eyes blinking dumbly when he met thin air and seconds later finding himself in a chokehold with a knife at his throat.
“Now, let’s try this again, shall we?” Denver conversationally said in the man’s left ear. “I believe you were asking me something about a date?”
The other men in the bar laughed softly at the idiot’s misfortune. The regulars already having seen Denver Lane in action.
The mans fat jowls swung disgustedly back and forth as he shook his head. “No, I wasn’t askin anybody nothin. Was a mistake!”
“I thought so and if I ever hear that you’ve given Rick a hard time. There won’t be any second chances…got it?” He shook off the sense of déjà vu that the latter words inspired, his face grim as he waited for the redneck’s answer.
Denver carefully released his hold on the fat neck and gave a solid push unbalancing the jerk. Unfortunately the asshole caught himself just in time before hitting the floor and hurriedly fled while rubbing his neck compulsively.
The remaining patrons were gifted with a swift fierce sweep of the golden eyes before being mercifully released when Denver turned around to work on one of the taps which was sticking.
Several of the men released the breath they had been unaware they were holding. All of them ordering another drink at the confusing relief they felt that they had just escaped…something.
Denver unscrewed the tap and carefully took it apart. Maybe all it needed was a good cleaning.
He was rubbing down the counter when he heard someone come in through the back door, instinctively moving closer to his bag stored underneath the corner of the bar.
“So how’d it go?” Rick asked.
“Fine. I noticed you beat a fast retreat as soon as we arrived,” he dryly commented.
Rick held up his hands in a playfully defensive gesture. “Today, was my day off, man.” The green eyes took a glance around the empty bar. “I came back because I figured…”
Denver’s eyes flicked to the man’s face realizing what was behind the hesitation. “Yeah, if you still have a spare room, I’ll crash at your place.”
“It’ll be like old times.”
“Hopefully, we’ve both learned better,” Denver stated with a wry twist of his lips.
Sure enough, just as he was wondering if Lola was going to come out from the office she had disappeared to after he relieved her at the bar, the red-head lazily waltzed out. “Ready to leave?”
Denver gave a short nod. “What time do you want me to come in tomorrow?” he asked as he walked towards the door emptyhanded since his carryall was already waiting out in the car with Rick.
“Noon,” Lola replied her green eyes narrowing angrily as she watched the good looking man begin to walk through the doorway. “Where the hell do you think you’re going?”
“Rick’s place,” Denver casually replied over his shoulder as he slowly turned around.
“Not this time. You’re staying with me.”
“Sorry Lola, all I came here for was a job. Nothing else.” He steadily gazed at her with no expression on his face as he waited for her response.
“You found it pleasurable enough the last time,” she argued.
Denver gave a small sigh and looked slightly down. He had only slept with her the night before he left because he didn’t think Denver Lane would be back in Vegas. He gave a rueful shake of his head. “I’m not in the mood to get involved with anything more complicated than making drinks.”
Lola laughed, she couldn’t believe it. She scrutinized the pale rugged face. There was something definitely different about it, you could see it in the mesmerizing eyes. “Well, well, you’ve gotten your heart trampled on, haven’t you?!”
Denver’s lips tightened. “Do I come in tomorrow or not?”
“Twelve to six. Don’t be late,” she warned dismissively.
He strode out into the cool night with a grim expression on his handsome face. Denver slammed the door angrily after he got in. “Don’t ask.”
Rick knew better than to disobey Denver when he was in this sort of mood. Whatever Lola must have said to the man must have really hit its target.
“How’s school going?” Denver asked the younger man just as they were turning down the street where Rick lived.
Rick shot a bright smile in Den’s direction. “I graduate in December.”
“Good going. Still interested in opening up your own place?”
“Yeah, but it’ll be a couple of more years till I can save up enough to even think seriously about it,” Rick replied as he pulled into the empty parking space next to something covered in a brown tarp.
Rick watched grinning as Denver slowly approached the hidden object with a sly smile on his face. Denver slowly drew back the cover to reveal a shining, black chrome and steel motorcycle.
“I thought you’d have sold it by now,” Den said as he ran a hand slowly over the handles in a fond caress.
“Fortune provides, my friend. I got a job working at the university, besides how could I give up the one thing that guarantees that I get lucky every night at the club.”
Lane snorted. With the kid’s good looks he didn’t need any help and he damn well knew it. “Want to go for a ride?” Denver asked, his eyes twinkling.
“I thought you’d never ask.” Rick had come prepared, hoping that the tall Englishman would be staying with him like before. He opened his car’s trunk and pulled out two leather jackets and a single helmet.
Denver’s eyes narrowed slightly as he accepted the leather jacket, his own from three years ago, but said nothing. He waited until Rick got settled behind him before starting the engine, a smile breaking over his face at the smooth roar and headed for the open desert.
Lane cut the engine after a few miles. Both men were silent as they felt the desert instantly blanket them in black stillness. The pale light from the headlight only weakly illuminating the immediate area of the motorcycle. A solitary circle of light in the vast darkness.
Rick moved, the leather of his jacket creaking as he stood up and pulled off his helmet. He walked a few steps into the sand and took a deep breath. His green eyes gazing at the horizon where the hundreds of bright stars guarded over the empty desert.
Methos watched the young man and suddenly realized why of all the lifetimes he could have returned to, he came back to Denver Lane. Unfinished business.
“Richard,” his voice carried easily in the cool air.
Rick hesitantly turned back to the road and the man casually sitting astride the motorcycle.
“Don’t wait for me.”
Rick met the eyes that were bathed half in shadow for several long seconds before looking down embarrassed. He turned back to the desert and exhaled. A small smile spread across his face as he slowly strolled back to the road. “Do you mind?” Rick asked with a motion towards the bike.
Denver gave an acknowledging nod before sliding back on the bike. “Show me what you’ve learned.”
Rick’s smile got brighter as he put his helmet on and mounted the motorcycle in one swift motion. Adrenalin rushed through him as started the bike and accelerated. The empty desert flashing by out of the corner of his eyes as he turned around and headed back into the city. The feel of Denver pressed against his back and the strong arms embracing him forming a memory that he would remember at odd times throughout the rest of his life.
“You’ve gotten better. Where have you been going on it?” Denver asked as he swung his bag over his shoulder and started up the stairs after Rick.
Rick’s laughter had tinge of sadness underlying it as he let them into his apartment. “Sojourns into the desert are addictive. You were right about it being a good place to think.”
“About?” Denver looked around the small apartment, pausing in front of the bookcase which was filled to overflowing.
The young black man gave a slight shake of his head. Rick turned with a sheepish expression on his face. “Uh, Denver, I didn’t sell your bike but I did sell your…bed.”
Denver chuckled and gave the handsome kid an admiring glance at his machinations. “Don’t worry. The couch will be fine.” Denver sprawled across the sofa as he spoke, much to Rick’s chagrin. “Goodnight.”
The casual tone put the faint hope that the handsome dark-haired man would change his mind to rest inside Rick’s heart. “Night, Denver.”
Denver settled back against the cushions with a sigh. It wasn’t as comfortable as MacLeod’s. His mind instantly going back to the last time he slept on a sofa. The leather couch at the loft. He had never slept in the bed there…he wondered what it felt like…
Rick stumbled blearily into this kitchen. “Damn, man, I forgot you were an early riser.”
Lane shot a quick smile at the young man. “That’s the problem with memories, you have a tendency to only remember the good things. Here.” Denver set a omelet and a cup of coffee in front of the man who was still trying to wake up.
“I’m going to be taking the motorcycle out. I have a few things I need to do before work.”
“No problem. The bike’s yours, after all.” Rick said with a wave of his hand.
Denver shook his head negatively. “I’ll be using it while I’m here, but the title is already in your name.”
“What?” Rick had never looked at the papers Denver had left with the bike in addition to the verbal admonition to sell it if he needed the money to pay for college. “Thanks, man.”
This time it was Denver who waved away the gratitude. He rinsed out his coffee cup and placed it in the sink. “See you later.”
Denver pulled up in front of the public library. He ignored the stares as he entered and quickly sat down in front of one of the computers so he could check his e-mail. One message from Joe. Methos silently cursed as he read that his request for a leave of absence was denied. The Watchers considered Adam Pierson absent without leave.
Nothing about MacLeod. Damn the infuriating, ungrateful child. He hadn’t been able to get the Scot out of his thoughts since early this morning. A niggling worry that the man was in trouble. He had to find out what was happening in the exasperating man’s life.
Lane stood up reluctantly. It was too risky for him to hack into the watcher’s database from a static internet address. He would have to go and buy a laptop. Something portable that he could discreetly hook up to an a high speed line. Denver gave a charming smile to the suspicious librarian on his way out. What was so unusual about a biker using a computer? It was the Information Age, after all.
He was still trying to decide if Adam Pierson was going to stay with the Watchers when something out of the corner of his right eye caught his attention. Denver stopped suddenly and looked into the store window with a curious expression. He grinned broadly as he read the title of the books that were prominently on display against a blue and green tartan material. “It can’t be,” he softly whispered.
Denver walked into the bookstore and over to the paperback display, swiftly turning it over to read the back. His boisterous laughter carried throughout the store, causing an employee to instantly scurry from the back.
“May I help you, sir?” The young woman asked.
“I’ll take this.”
“Great, that’s one of our best sellers. I’m sure she’ll like it?”
“Best seller, huh. I’m not surprised.” He was still chuckling as he walked out the door. Blade of the MacLeods. It was perfect. He was tempted to read it right now, but he still had to buy the laptop and grab something to eat. Methos wondered how in the hell the highlander came to be starring in a romance novel.
Methos felt naked as he walked into the electronic store, completely unarmed. However, he didn’t feel up to explaining to the police why he had half a dozen concealed knives scattered across his person and so left them along with the short broad sword on his bike.
It took him only a few minutes to buy the notebook computer. Very few of the models had a built-in NIC. Something he needed if he was going to connect up to high speed network. He paid cash for the IBM, ignoring the startled looks of the cashier as he casually counted out five one thousand dollar bills.
The knives were reflexively replaced when he reached his bike and only then did he open the box to transfer the computer to the cushioned leather pack that he swung across his back. Methos flexed his chest and shoulders testing the fit. There was no way he could return the broad sword to the center of his back. He decided to wear it openly around his left calf. Something that a biker had a better chance to get away with in this day and age. It wouldn’t be “concealed” in any event.
Denver set up the laptop on the kitchen table. He made himself a sandwich, keeping an eye on the screen for any problems as it booted it up. It would be irritating as hell if he found out in the middle of his hack that the hardware wasn’t working properly. It checked out okay. Now he needed to decide when and where. The luxury suites at the Mirage hotel had access to a T1 line. Now the question was when? He decided that he would try it tomorrow before Mirage’s checkout time. The online chronicles would be updated by then with the latest reports from all field watchers. He’d be able to find out what the highlander had been up to lately.
Methos suddenly grinned as he remembered the book. But with a quick glance at the clock, he dismissed the idea. Eleven-thirty, no time to read. He quickly cleaned up and carefully returned the laptop to the pack which he stowed away in his room.
‘That was another thing,’ he thought silently as he settled the sword back into its harness underneath the black leather vest. I need to get something to sleep on.
His shift at the bar passed uneventfully. Denver spent most of the time bored, wishing that he had brought the book. The place didn’t start to get busy till five-thirty. Rick showed up at six to take over, but he offered to stay and help after a group of fifteen traipsed into the bar.
“Thanks, man. I’d really appreciate it.” Rick said eyeing the newcomers. Between the two of them they managed to keep the alcohol flowing and five people had to be ‘escorted’ from the premises.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, man. I’m glad that you’re back,” Rick enthusiastically said later that night as they closed up. “Bouncer as well as bartender. You’re definitely not getting paid enough.”
“Do you always have this many troublemakers?” The kid shouldn’t have to deal with the sort of riffraff that he threw out tonight. One nasty guy in particular was a killer, judging from the number of guns he found on the guy after knocking him out.
Evidently Rick had been thinking along the same lines. “Think that guy is going to come back looking for some payback?”
“If he does, he’ll be looking for me.” Concern filled him as he looked at Rick. “I think that you should start looking for some other place to work, Rick.”
“Here it comes, I knew you would start trying to be my big brother. Try to run my life.”
Denver frowned. “I never…”
“I can take care of myself.”
“Not against tonight’s sort of guy. The man I threw out would have blown my brains out or yours, without a second thought if I hadn’t been prepared for him.”
“Yeah, but he’s not a typical customer.” Rick tossed the keys to Den as he headed for the door.
“Have a hot date?” Denver called as he followed the man out of the bar.
“I’m going to The One, wanna come?”
Denver shook his head as he locked the door. “Nah, I’ve got some reading to do. I’ll see you later.”
Methos was working the kinks out of his neck when he walked through the door. ‘And he just thought he was a little rusty with his blade work. He had completely forgotten how grueling hand to hand fighting could be. Adam Pierson had lived a very soft life.’ He pulled up short at the thought’s past tense. So maybe he had decided to let the easygoing Watcher go. He couldn’t imagine going back to that life, not now, not after…
He grabbed a beer from the fridge, remembering that he still hadn’t gotten a bed. The sword was easily slid under the sofa as he settled on the couch with the romance novel in one hand and the bottle in the other.
An amused expression spread across his tired face as he began to read about the highland barbarian, Duncan MacLeod. “Smoky-eyed Scot, indeed,” he muttered laughing at the description of the hero. It didn’t take him long to finish. He laid the book down on his chest and closed his eyes.
Methos wondered who Carolyn Marsh was and how she knew about immortals. The encounter between Mac and Coventry was sensationalized and totally wrong but it did happen. He remembered reading of it in the highlander’s chronicle. The details of the time period were also astonishingly accurate for a mortal. So either Ms. Carolyn Marsh was an immortal or MacLeod had told her. The latter was most unlikely, even for the headstrong Scot.
He scrutinized the photo on the inside back cover. She was no one he recognized, and the name didn’t ring any bells. He tossed the book onto the coffee table and switched off the lamp he had been reading by. Rick still wasn’t back. ‘He must’ve gotten lucky’ Methos thought as he fell asleep.
It was child’s play for him to slip into one of the very recently vacated suites of the Mirage hotel. Methos locked the door behind him and quickly connected the laptop to the hotel’s network. It took only a couple of minutes to tap into the hotel’s T1 line and access the internet. He used three servers to confuse the IP address. If anyone tried to trace his handiwork they would think it originated in Tibet.
He had about an hour before the maids came by to clean the room for the next guest. His methodical steps were rewarded as the Watcher insignia filled the screen before defaulting to the main menu. ‘Joe really should change his password’ Methos thought snidely. He’s had the same one for three months now.
His eyes rapidly scanned the chronicle, pausing when it reached a name. How the hell did Mac get mixed up with Kantos? And Clay is dead. The man was more than good. Methos stared, frustrated at the terse account of Haresh Clay’s death. Joe’s entries were usually thorough, even to a fault.
Methos held his breath as he read the name at the end of the chronicle entry. Luke Sinclair, Watcher. He sighed as he read the next account, extremely relieved to find that Dawson was back doing the reporting. But why was Sinclair assigned to MacLeod even temporarily? Methos bit his lip in irritation. The next name of the immortal that the highlander defeated wasn’t familiar. The man hadn’t even marked a century.
The sketchiness of the first two chronicle entries, even the ones by Joe clearly indicated that Mac was still harboring a grudge against the Watcher. But the later ones did not. Dawson was back with the meticulous details that were available to him as Mac’s friend.
However, Haresh Clay’s death still bothered Methos.
There was no mention of Carter, surely he would have avenged his lover’s death, or tried to? He hurriedly went back to the main menu and selected Clay’s chronicle. Methos whistled softly as he read how MacLeod’s protégé, Ryan killed Carter Wellan three days before Mac killed Clay.
Well that explained it. Even their own Watcher realized that Clay didn’t want to live without Carter. He shook his head in amazement. Strange to think MacLeod mixed up with one of the most well-known immortal couples, let alone the others. The highlander certainly lives an interesting life, too interesting. A wry grin formed on his face. ‘Hell, he even managed to meet me.’
Methos went back to Mac’s chronicle, the grin slowly faded as he read of the highlander’s houseguest. Amanda was back. Well, the cheerful minx would definitely keep MacLeod from brooding. Mac would have his hands full dealing with whatever mischief the beautiful thief was contemplating.
A sound from the hallway brought him quickly back to his own current mischief. Time was running out. Methos quickly scanned the remaining entries. He stifled his laughter at the reference to Carolyn’s Marsh romance novel as a possible alternate source for information about MacLeod. So, he wasn’t the only Watcher to discover the book. And Amanda had left after only a couple of weeks. He logged out of the server, erasing his tracks as he did so. MacLeod was still in one piece and he had to get out of here. He slipped out of the hotel just as he had entered, by the back service elevator.
Denver was whistling as he walked into the apartment.
Rick turned startled. “You’re in a good mood. I guess I’m not the only one who had a good night,” he commented while returning to focus on the steaks that he was cooking.
“And a good morning.” Denver slung the leather pack on the couch where he joined it in a graceful sprawl.
“Hungry?” Rick asked as he served the steak on a plate along with some steamed broccoli.
“I could eat.” Denver rose and sat down at the table. “So, is it serious?” He smiled as he watched the young mortal begin to fidget.
“Um, well. Not really, maybe. I…” Rick stammered to a stop as he realized that Denver was laughing at him. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” He joined the good looking man at the table and began to eat.
“Yes, I apologize. How long have you know him?”
“Five months. I met him one night dancing at The One. We hit it off and we’ve been dating of and on ever since.”
“More on that off, I hope?”
Rick nodded. “Pretty steadily. I think you’d like him. He’s smart, good-looking. Only…”
“Only what?” Denver sat back in his chair and stared at Rick.
“He’s a lawyer.”
“And that’s a problem?” Denver asked with a confused expression.
“Yes. No. I don’t know. He wants…”
Denver nodded his head knowingly. “He wants to settle down.”
“Yes and I don’t know if I’m ready for it.”
“You’re going to graduate with an MBA in December. Wait until you’ve found out what you’re going to be doing then. I’m sure you’re going to receive several job offers, considering you managed to get your degree in only three years with high honors to boot.”
Rick was startled. He hadn’t told Denver what his grade point average was. “How did you?”
“Let’s just say I’m good with computers. Speaking of which,” Denver walked over to the couch as he spoke and picked up the leather backpack. He sat it carefully on the table beside Rick. “An early graduation gift since I’m not going to be here around Christmas.”
Pleasure suffused the dark handsome face as he slowly pulled out the black laptop. “It’s top of the line. Thanks, man, but I can’t accept it. Not after the Harley.”
“Yes, you can.” Denver firmly asserted as he stood. “I didn’t get much sleep last night so I’m going to crash. What are your plans for today?”
“Yanic and I are flying out to his family’s ranch house for the weekend. Would you like to join us?”
Denver’s eyebrows lifted quizzically. “Yanic, huh?”
“He’s French. His parents emigrated in the seventies and yes they have money.” Rick looked down at his plate.
“And that is what really bothers you?” Denver guessed.
Rick’s face was glum. “Yes. I don’t want him to think that I’m with him because of the money.”
Denver lightly punched Rick on the shoulder. “He doesn’t. Otherwise you would have immediately moved in with him as soon as he asked. Don’t you work tonight?”
“No, Lola…” Rick’s voice trailed off as he saw Denver’s expression. “Sorry, man but Lola said she’d take over my shifts tonight and tomorrow. Look, I’ll call Yanic and cancel,” he hurriedly offered.
Denver gave a snort. “Kid, if I can’t handle someone like Lola, then I must be dead. Go, have a good time.”
“You can sleep in my bed while I’m gone,” Rick called to Lane as he disappeared into the bathroom.
Rick was already gone by the time he came out of the bathroom. As much as he liked the kid, he was glad that he’d have the apartment to himself. He had forgotten how much work it took to create himself anew. He’d been Adam Pierson so long that he’d gotten sloppy on the little details that make up a convincing persona. Such sloppiness usually proved fatal.
It was definitely time for a permanent change. Not to Denver Lane but to someone else, someone wealthy. The modest income bit had become increasingly tiresome.
He settled himself on the couch, his thoughts once again occupied with a certain dark eyed Scot. Methos wondered if MacLeod thought about him. ‘If he did it was probably just to curse him,’ his cynical side whispered. The ancient immortal sighed and resolutely pushed all thoughts of the highlander out of his mind. He turned to the practical idea of buying a bed, since he didn’t know how long Denver Lane was going to be in Las Vegas.
“What are you thinking of, cherie?” The handsome fair-haired man asked his companion.
Rick turned with a small smile. “Denver.”
“Aah, your friend. I cannot wait to meet the great man. You’ve spoken so much of him I feel like I know him.”
“I don’t,” Rick stated seriously.
Yanic glanced sideways at his lover in concern. “What do you mean?”
“I think I have him figured out and then he lets something slip that makes me realize that I don’t know him at all.”
“For example?” Yanic asked curious about the man who he’d been jealous of more than once.
“He gave me a brand new laptop just now,” Rick began.
“As an early graduation gift and let drop that he was good with computers. It is a top of the line laptop. Three thousand dollars at least. Now why would someone with that kind of money, knowledgeable about computers be working as a bartender? It just doesn’t make sense.”
“How long have you know him?”
“I met him three years ago around this same time. He breezed into town and then left at the end of summer.”
“Sounds like he’s on vacation.”
“Yes, but vacation from what?”
“His life?” Yanic suggested.
Rick didn’t reply but continued to stare out the passenger window.
After a short nap, he went out and bought a bed frame along with a set of mattresses. While looking at the various mattresses he again wondered what the highlander’s bed felt like at the loft and make a silent vow to find out if the opportunity ever presented itself.
He didn’t have the patience to pick out furniture, besides why buy a bedroom suite for only a couple of months? Better yet, he would have a bed tonight. Delivery would be in two hours which gave him enough time to buy the needed bedding.
Methos scowled as he looked at the various comforters. He hadn’t seen such ghastly patterns since the 1970’s. He stuck with a plain solid blue.
He spent the rest of the afternoon getting the room ready. The bed frame was quickly put together and the boxes that the room had accumulated were moved to the hall closet. Thankfully it didn’t take long and he was relaxing on the couch, drinking a beer when the doorbell rang.
Methos stood back with a satisfied expression at the results of the day’s shopping. The bed looked great, but it felt even better. He laid down on the finished project and fell deeply asleep.
The roar of the phone snatched him from the soft caresses of a sword roughened palm and the silky feel of long brown hair.
“Yeah!” Denver growled into the receiver.
“Denver, you’re twenty minutes late.”
Lola’s frigid voice instantly dispelled the dream’s sweet languor. Denver glanced at the clock, seven twenty-five. “Damn it. Sorry, Lola. I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”
Methos shot the phone a dirty look as he hung up the receiver. ‘This was getting more than tiresome,’ he thought darkly to himself. He couldn’t fathom the strong attraction that was enticing him even in sleep to the Duncan’s side.
But he refused to go back, like some errant child. The annoying Scot would just have to learn to accept him the way he was. Death before dishonor was not for him.
Denver made it to the bar in record time, walking in with an apologetic expression. “Sorry, I overslept.”
Lola smirked. “Till seven in the evening? You must have had one hell of a date. Do I know her, or him?” She asked with a vicious smile.
“I think I can handle the bar, Lola. Feel free to take off,” Denver smoothly replied as he automatically began filling orders.
The woman stepped back disconcerted at how easily the tall man began to ignore her existence totally. She would show him. ‘We’ll see just how good he is, handling the bar all by himself,’ she thought snidely as she retreated to the back office.
Denver relaxed as he noted Lola’s departure. It looked like he’d be looking for a job sooner than he thought. But first he’d have to get Rick out of here. That was the last non-alcoholic thought he had for the night as he was soon swamped with the Saturday night rush.
He was exhausted by the end of the night and not at all in the mood for the red-head. Denver kept his focus on the bottles he was tightening and putting away.
“So, how about it?” Lola asked in sultry voice.
Denver turned peered out from under half closed eyes and gave a dismissive laugh.
Lola reddened. “You’re fired.”
“Fine, give me what you owe me and I’m gone.”
The woman stalked over to the cashier and counted out three hundred dollars. “Don’t come back,” she spat as she threw the money at him, before stalking away.
He picked up the money and left. Denver immediately began to whistle as he walked outside. Yes, his next identity would definitely be wealthy. The work class ethic was entirely overrated.
Denver flexed his thigh muscles but made no move to get off the motorcycle. He restlessly shifted as his gaze was repeatedly drawn towards the garish lights. The engine instantly roared to life at the single kick and then he was tearing down Las Vegas Boulevard.
‘What the hell am I doing here?’ he asked himself with a bored glance at the people gambling at the surrounding machines. He stood looking around, the past veiling his view as he remembered what the Casino Royale looked like decades ago. Methos looked disdainfully down at the little boys who narrowly missed crashing into him as they ran through the room. He shook his head, times have definitely changed.
Denver deliberately ignored the interested stares as he made his way into one of the more private bars. “Whiskey,” he ordered as he sat down. He definitely needed a drink. He paid little attention to the bartender until the bottle’s label suddenly came into focus. Straight from the Highlands. “Figures,” he muttered as he swung his head back and emptied the glass in a single gulp. Scottish whiskey. Denver motioned to the girl to leave the bottle. One drink was definitely not going to do it as he continued to glare at the label.
‘When was he going to learn? Duncan wasn’t going to get over it. Hell it was over a month and he still hadn’t asked Joe about him. I could be dead for all that he knew. And why do I care what the sanctimonious child thinks of me? I’ve stayed alive for five thousand years. The highlander was not going to make it to his first millennia if he continued dealing with others as if they shared his strict code of honor. And what about honor. He had to protect Duncan. As the clan chieftain’s son, Mac should understand about loyalty. But no, it was just like with Kristin. MacLeod couldn’t make the hard decisions, even though it might mean his own death.’
“Suicidal,” he muttered as he began pouring his tenth, eleventh drink? Denver motioned for another bottle.
It was the cool feel of silk that woke him. He silently groaned as he realized that he was in a bed. A bed that wasn’t his. It had been over a millennia since he’d last pulled such a stupid stunt. He opened his eyes hesitantly wondering who he was going to see. A relieved sigh escaped him as he saw no one.
He sat up, cursing silently that he had no clue if the person he could hear moving around in the outside room was a man or a woman. That was the thing about immortals, even the pleasurable aftereffects of anal sex were healed within minutes. He couldn’t remember being so off his game in millennia. He was going to end up permanently dead at this rate.
“You up?” a man’s voice called.
‘Well, that answers one question,’ Methos thought darkly to himself as he picked up his jeans from the chair by the bed and pulled them on.
He was casually buttoning his blue shirt as he walked barefoot into the sitting room.
The fair haired man sitting at the table eating breakfast looked up with a big shit faced grin. “Hardly the worse for wear, Lane. I expected you to be out until tonight considering how far gone you were.”
That explained why his memory of this morning still hadn’t returned. His brain cells hadn’t been repaired yet. “How long was I out, Chuck?” Methos asked in a relieved tone instantly recognizing his ‘rescuer’ as a friend of Rick’s that Denver Lane had hung out with three summers ago.
“Only about two hours…how are you feeling?”
Denver just gave him a sharp look as he joined him at the table. “Which hotel is this?”
Chuck laughed. “The Sahara. Man you must’ve been totally out of it.”
Lane just nodded. “I remember starting out at the Casino Royale, and then everything becomes a blur. It’ll come back to me,” he concluded dismissively. “How did we hook up?”
“You were just about to get into it with security at Caesar’s when I appeared,” Chuck explained nonchalantly.
“And? How did we end up here?”
“I got Thompson, the manager of Caesar’s to drop the charges of felonious assault and brought you here.”
Methos forehead wrinkled. “You had a room here?” Last time he was here Chuck had an apartment.
“I’m the manager.”
Denver smiled. “That’s great. Last time I heard you were going to take that job offer in Reno.”
“This place made a better offer. It totally surprised me when I saw you. I didn’t know you were back in town…” Chuck’s voice trailed off but his eyes were filled with curiosity.
“I’ve only been back a few days,” Denver informed him before he took a sip of coffee. “I’m back at Rick’s and I WAS back at the Oasis.”
“Was. Need a job?”
Denver nodded. “If you have one. Although I don’t think I want to bartend. Have an opening in security?”
Chuck smiled as he remembered the five security men at Caesar’s it took to ‘escort’ the deceptively weak looking man sitting opposite of him from the Palace. “Sure. What the hell did you do, anyway?”
Lane responded with a Cheshire smile that only broadened with Chuck’s laughter.
It was approaching noon, by the time he finally made it back to Rick’s after picking up his bike from the Casino Royale. Methos was utterly chagrined as his memory of the events of the early morning returned to him by the time he finished eating breakfast with Chuck.
‘What the hell was I thinking?!’ he berated himself. Getting drunk while unarmed! Suicidal, that’s what it was. Even given that Vegas was one of the more unofficial “sacred grounds,” which immortals had agreed to keep neutral, it still went beyond recklessness.
He took a sip of beer and walked over to gaze out of the window at the skyline. He wanted to move, standing still felt wrong. Methos hadn’t felt this restless since…MacLeod left Paris after the Kalas debacle.
Then, he knew what he had to do. Relying on instinct, he cleared out of his apartment before the magnetic highlander returned. He had needed time to sort out his contradictive feelings regarding the annoyingly charismatic man, in addition to being revealed for who he was for the first time in over five hundred years.
And now just as then, the restlessness was driving him to act. But this time he wouldn’t give into it. He wouldn’t seek out MacLeod like before. No matter how much this…agitation was compelling him. It was in Mac’s hands to indicate if he wanted their friendship to continue.
Methos gritted his teeth in a grimace of a smile. After all, he had plenty of time--eternity in fact.
He welcomed Rick’s return late in the afternoon with relief. Even though Yanic Dekuyne had passed the security check he had ran on him earlier, Methos missed the young man’s cheerful presence. It would keep him from thinking about the highlander.
“How was your weekend?” Rick called from his bedroom.
“Have you eaten?” Denver asked while turning the frying chicken in the skillet.
“I could eat.” Rick stood in the bedroom’s doorway for a few seconds staring silently at the thin man cooking. “So, how was it?”
“Lola fired me.” Lane drained the grease from the skillet before sliding the chicken onto a plate.
Denver held up his hand to halt any more shocked words from the young man. “Don’t worry about it. I’ve already got another job and so do you--at the Sahara.” He arched his eyebrow pointedly as he handed Rick his plate.
Rick accepted it with a shamefaced grin. “All right, so it was already getting a little too hairy at the Oasis. I asked Chuck to keep me in mind if a job opened up, but how in the hell did you hook up with him?”
Lane’s lips gave a wry twist as he snorted before owning up. “I had a little too much too drink after work and ended up in a little ‘brush up’ at Caesar’s when Chuck spotted me.”
The dark-skinned forehead wrinkled in confusion. “Brush up? But how?”
“Chuck talked them out of arresting me and took me back to the Sahara to sober up.”
Rick looked down with an uncomfortable expression. “Did you…?” ‘But did he really want to know?’ he silently asked himself as he asked the question.
“No, we did not fuck.” Denver met the green eyes unerringly. He wasn’t going to mention the kiss he laid on Chuck, or the suggestive way he stripped off his clothes in front of Rick’s college friend, before he fell asleep. Okay, passed out. The memories of last night were still smarting.
Chuck, however, had been a good sport about the whole thing. Den didn’t think he would mention it to Rick.
“Arrest you for what?” Rick asked, wondering what he had missed.
Den waved his hand dismissively. “Minor disagreement. Nothing to worry about. Chuck wants you to start as soon as possible.”
Rick started. He had forgotten about Denver’s other revelation. “Lola fired you? What for?”
Lane just gave the other man a pointed look. “Want me to come along when you give Lola your notice?” He asked switching the subject.
“No, I do not.” Rick stated emphatically. ‘Jesus! What was it with older guys that made them think that he needed a keeper? First Yanic and now, Denver. You’d think he was sixteen by the way they treated him sometimes.’
“So we’ll still be working together,” Rick commented as they ate dinner.
“Yes and no. I’ll be working security.”
Rick grinned. “Tired of bartending?”
Lane simply nodded and continued to eat. This way he could still keep an eye out on Rick. See that he was all right before Denver Lane disappeared forever.
Duncan raised the gate while wiping the sweat from the back of his neck as he stepped into the loft. He gave a slight shake of his head settling the long damp shanks more comfortably down his back.
The workout had helped a little but he still felt restless. Like he was missing something or someone. MacLeod glanced around the familiar room. The place felt even more empty since Amanda skipped town. As much as he enjoyed the little minx’s company, and even felt saddened by her departure, there was a part of him that felt sheer relief when he saw her packed suitcases on the day she had left.
He had hoped that Amanda’s vexing personality would keep his mind off the ideas that had been tormenting him ever since he encountered Haresh Clay…and Carter Wellan. Instead her presence and ensuing conversations only served to remind him of the very immortal he had been avoiding thinking about ever since his return to the States.
Methos had been quite deliberately thrust to the back of his consciousness. Recent events had helped him to avoid thoughts of the irritating immortal somewhat but they also served to remind him in damning ways. Which brought him back to Clay and Wellan. Nine hundred years. They had been together, lovers, for nine hundred years. And love it had been. Clay’s haunted eyes spoke of nothing less.
Duncan stepped into the shower and closed his eyes, letting the hot water do what the workout could not, soothe him. He absently began washing his hair while he continued mentally tormenting himself.
And he had been impressed with the Valicourt’s 300 year old marriage. The two men had stayed together three times as long with nothing tying them together but themselves. He had let himself begin to wonder if that sort of thing was possible for him, but not with Amanda, with Methos.
That’s what made the conversation with Amanda over their relationship so farcical. Fate playing it’s whimsical hand with his life and heart. At least Amanda had the courage to ask straight out if he loved her, something he could never do with Methos. The very thought made him snort aloud.
He could just imagine Methos’ cutting reply especially in light of his ultimatum. Damn the interfering man! Anger warred with other emotions whenever he thought of Methos and Jacob. Time had lessened it somewhat. Reason tempering Jacob’s death and the whole mess to a more bearable level.
Hard learned logic allowed him to judge the events more calmly. Especially Methos’ words. The things that the ancient immortal had NOT said.
MacLeod sighed as he thought of Jacob. If it had just been a matter of immortals, there might have been a way out of the mess without anyone’s death. But Mac’s life wasn’t the only one in jeopardy, Dawson’s was as well, and that was the one detail which dramatically changed everything.
He could now concede that he had been too hard on Methos, but damn it, the man was so infuriating. Even now, he still couldn’t believe the way his friend had coldly decided who would live or die.
First Amanda, then Dawson and now Methos. No one seemed to think that he was capable of taking care of himself. MacLeod finished his shower, resolving to get at least Methos to understand that he didn’t need any more “help.” Yes, definitely. The next time he saw him. “Where the hell is he?!” MacLeod muttered as he stepped from the shower.
Joe pulled the new bottles out of the box and placed them one by one on the shelf, taking pleasure in the normal routine. He was glad to be back in the States. The quiet settled into his bones like an elixir which was desperately needed after the last couple of weeks.
It had troubled him more than he let on to MacLeod about the possibility that some of the gods and saints that make up the various religions could have been masquerading immortals such as Larca. He sighed. There was no point in worrying about it since it couldn’t be proven.
Yes, he definitely needed this respite and so did Mac. They were almost back to the way they were before that whole Watcher mess. The highlander coming in every few nights for a drink and conversation. Joe smiled as he remembered the immortal’s gleeful expression as he had described his explosive coup d’état against Cory Raines. The practical jokes of immortals. He chuckled softly.
It had been good to see Mac laughing again. Amanda’s antics putting the final touches on Richie’s reconciliation with MacLeod as nothing else could. And a good thing too considering that the kid had unknowingly killed one of Duncan’s good friends, Alec Hill.
Joe frowned wondering if he shouldn’t have kept his mouth shut and not told Richie the truth. No, it would have been a disservice to the young woman who didn’t understand her attraction to Richie.
He looked up as the door opened.
“I have a package here for Joe Dawson,” announced the man as he strode in with a large crate.
“That’s me,” Joe responded as he moved towards the end of the bar. He absently signed for the package while his eyes skimmed over the various stamps from numerous countries pasted across the crate. That wasn’t so unusual. Most of the artifacts his contacts sent him arrived in exactly the same state. He wondered if it was more of the lost chronicles that the Watchers were always looking for from past Watchers who for some reason or other disappeared without word.
He carefully pried open the top of the crate with the bar he kept under the cash register. Joe mussed the straw filler around gently looking for the shipment receipt. It was usually on top. A few seconds later, the crinkle of paper was distinctly heard as his hand searched down inside the right side of the box. It must have slipped down.
Dawson groaned at the distinctly printed notice. “Damn it!” He stared at the message in disbelief. “Not until he asks. A. Pierson.” Joe rubbed an agitated hand over his beard. He couldn’t believe this. Wait till he got his hands on Methos. He’d get him for putting him in the middle. “What the hell do I do now?” he plaintively asked the empty bar, eyeing the crate with hostility, all curiosity about its contents gone.
And things WERE so peaceful.
Rick pulled on his jacket as walked through the deserted hallway. “Den,” he called in a slightly raised voice. He was suppose to be back here writing some report. The young man broke into a smile as he walked into the office on the left to fine his roommate scowling down at a piece of paper.
“I forgot why I got out of security,” Lane grumbled as he stood, clutching the paper in his hand.
“Ready to go?” Rick said as he followed him out into the hallway.
Denver glanced sidewise at the other man. “I thought you were going to Yanic’s?”
“Something came up,” Rick noncommittally replied.
Den frowned as Rick refused to meet his eyes and instead kept his attention on the end of the hallway. “Uh-huh. Meet me at the back exit. I have to drop this off.”
After leaving the report on his boss’ desk, Denver quickly made his way towards the back. “Want to get something to eat?” He picked up the helmet stowed on the bike and handed it to Rick while he gracefully swung his right leg over the seat. The sunglasses came out and were automatically put on.
“Sounds good. Wilde’s?”
“Wilde’s it is.” Denver kick started the cycle and pulled out into the street.
They were soon relaxing in the restaurant, drinking beers until their food arrived, when Denver brought up the conversation. “What came up?”
Rick sighed in irritation. “Just a little disagreement.” He started peeling the label off the beer bottle. “I hurt him.”
Denver’s shook his head in confusion, that certainly didn’t sound right. Rick loved Yanic, of that he had no doubt. Even he hadn’t seen anything objectionable in the dark handsome man when Rick had finally introduced them a week ago. The man was well-read, good humored and most importantly just as deeply in love with Rick. “How?”
“He thinks I quit my job because of you, not him.”
“What? But you asked Chuck for a job weeks before I showed up.”
Rick nodded. “You and I know that. It’s just lousy timing. Yanic had been asking me for weeks to quit the Oasis. Strange that I do it within the first week of you staying here. He thinks that I feel…something for you. That I care more about what you think than him.” He looked up for a second at the other man but quickly shifted his attention back to the piece of paper he was tearing apart.
“That’s it.” Denver stood up abruptly and reached over to get the kid on his feet. “Now, I want you to go over there and tell him that there’s nothing between us but friendship. That he has nothing to worry about.”
“But I already tried that,” Rick protested with a heartsick expression.
“Make him believe it,” Denver instructed.
The green gold eyes glinted with an intensity that made Rick shiver slightly. He gave a small nod and started towards the exit.
Denver watched him go with a bemused expression before walking over to waitress and canceling both of their orders. He wasn’t that hungry anymore.
The tiny clouds of dust his boots kicked up was the only thing moving in the stillness. Denver stopped atop the dune he’d been trudging up for the last hour and looked across at the darkening horizon.
He could disappear into the desert and survive. Just walk away. He’d stayed here too long already. Methos lifted his foot to take another step but froze before turning on his heel and stalking back down the path.
MacLeod walked into the nearly deserted bar and over to the man behind the bar. “Joe.”
“Mac, how’s it going? The usual?”
At the highlander’s nod, Dawson reached under the bar for the bottle of whiskey he kept for his friend and poured him a drink. Joe watched the other man silently for several seconds as the immortal played with the shot glass, his brown eyes staring into the liquid as if it would tell him something.
Joe put the glass down he had been drying and picked up another while he waited for Mac to get whatever had brought him to the bar off his chest. After a couple of minutes, he decided to help the other man out, besides the tense silence was worrying. “Hear from Richie?”
Mac looked up startled, like he had forgotten where he was for a second. He gave a slight nod. “Postcard from LA.”
Dawson nodded and picked up another glass while his eyes scanned the remaining patrons automatically for those who needed something. MacLeod tossed back the drink suddenly, catching Joe’s full attention once more.
MacLeod pushed the glass towards the other man indicating he wanted another.
Joe picked up the bottle and began pouring.
“Have you heard from him?”
“Yes and no.” Joe finished pouring, punctuating his statement by firmly pushing a cork in the top of the bottle.
The highlander’s eyebrows quirked upwards silently requesting Dawson to continue.
“There have been a number of stealth probes to the Watcher database, specifically the northwestern server from several locations over the past couple of weeks. Rome, Tibet, Kathmandu, New York…”
Mac nodded as he took another drink, this time more slowly as he pictured Methos in each of the named cities, doing what the man did best--running away. How typical. He gave a slight snort, “It figures.”
Joe stared silently at his immortal friend arguing with himself about what he was about to do. But he owed Methos. He was partly responsible for the rift between the two immortals after all. He flushed slightly as he thought about how hard he had come down on his friend, the oldest being known to be on the planet when the immortal had only been trying to help.
Dawson shuffled to the right slightly and turned around to reach down under the bar behind him. “That was the ‘no’ part,” he called as he carefully pulled out the crate and lifted it. “And this is the yes,” he gruffly finished as he placed the crate on the top of the bar to Mac’s left.
“What?” Duncan stood and placed one hand on the crate, his brown eyes filled with curiosity.
“It’s for you, and no I don’t know what’s in it. All I know is that it‘s been cluttering up the place, so I’d appreciated you taking it off my hands. This isn’t a storage facility.” Joe began furiously wiping the far end of the bar as he spoke.
“Sure Joe,” Duncan replied with an undercurrent of amusement. He cast a fond glance at the man as he picked up the crate and turned towards the door. “Thanks for the drink.”
Joe merely snorted and gave a slight shake of his head. For once, he didn’t want to know what was in the crate. With the old man you just could never know.
Duncan placed the crate on the coffee table. He carefully began lifting off the lid which had already been loosened, presumably by Dawson. He frowned at all the straw allowing no clue to what was in the box. Mac quickly began to pull out the straw and tossing it to the floor by the handful.
He kept his mind blank, not letting himself hazard a guess at what the ancient immortal could have sent him. The highlander’s face darkened as more of the objects shape was revealed.
Duncan burst out laughing as he pulled the object out of the crate by it’s mouth. A broad smile covered his face and his eyes opened in wonder as he scrutinized the elaborate design covering it.
A Ming vase.
MacLeod shook his head in amazement. Where had the old man found it? He snorted. Methos probably had it the whole time, the bastard. What the hell was he up to now? And what the hell does this mean?
The smile that had been covering Rick’s face as he quietly let himself into his apartment the next morning was replaced with a frown as he saw the tall form sleeping on the couch.
He was debating taking off his shoes when the sound of soft laughter stopped him.
“I’m awake. You can stop your creeping, lightfoot.”
Rick straightened up fully and walked into the center of the room. “What’s up?” he asked his eyes immediately noticing the black leather bag on the floor that had been blocked from view by the couch.
Denver swung his legs off the couch and sat up. “I’m leaving.”
“But you’ve only been here a couple of months. Come on Den. Don’t leave, especially not because of Yanic. Everything is okay between us.”
Denver gave a small smile, and stood up with a negative shake of his head. He walked over to the window, his back towards the young man. “No, I’ve been here too long already. I’ve done what I wanted to and now it’s time to leave.”
Rick heard the resoluteness in the man’s deep voice and knew that there was no changing his mysterious friend’s mind. “This time it’s for good, isn’t it?”
Denver turned around with a sad smile on his face. He grasped Rick’s shoulders and stared silently into the man’s earnest eyes. “You’ll be fine.”
The hug was quick but deeply felt by both men.
“Denver?” Rick called as the tall man was walking out the door.
“Yeah?” Den turned slightly to look back at the kid.
“I hope you find what you’re looking for.”
Denver nodded and thought “so do I” as he walked out, shutting the door behind him.
Methos didn’t know why he was still doing this. It was really pathetic. He stared at the monitor’s screen morosely as the web mail screen loaded. Every time he had checked in the last several weeks there had been no new messages. But once again he was putting himself through this laughable ordeal.
He lazily typed in his password while he searched around the airport corridor for the nearest bar. He really needed a beer. The new mail sound brought his wandering attention back to the computer screen instantly.
The immortal unconsciously held his breath as he clicked on his inbox which would automatically open up the e-mail.
“Your package has been delivered. Dawson.”
A grin covered his face as he logged off. Now all he needed to find was the counter where he could exchange his international ticket for a domestic one. After all, he’d already been to Katmandu twice this century.
***Next up: Will Duncan welcome back Methos with open arms? Discover what happens when Methos shows up in Seacouver in “Return of the Nomad.”