Sweet Conflict VIII
J. L. Blackstone
Additional material from
The New Watcher Chronicles CD also used.
No copyright infringement intended
An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast;
a wild beast may wound your body,
but an evil friend will wound your mind.
Cassandra observed the tall dark-haired man walk into the building at exactly 6:30 pm once again. The knowledge gained from three weeks of watching told her that he wouldn’t venture out into the streets of Paris again until early morning. Her eyes flickered up toward the windows of the apartment on the second floor which flooded with light after a few moments.
Methos absently flicked on the light switch once inside the flat and moved towards the kitchen after shutting the door softly behind him. After looking at the contents of the refrigerator for a moment he pulled out three potatoes and a beer.
With a twist of the top, the bottle was casually opened. A long swig of the golden malt-flavoured liquid did much to drain the tension that had plagued him all day. His neck muscles loosened a fraction making him sigh in satisfaction.
The silver bowl was placed in the center of the kitchen counter with a matter of fact air. Methos picked up a potato and began peeling the skin off. His forehead furrowed as the strips were short, the knife though sharp enough either peeling off too little or too much, with more actual potato being discarded than skin.
He scowled down at the knife that was slicing through the flesh part, angling it slightly to match the curve of the potato when the knife suddenly slipped and a piece of potato went shooting into the air, hitting the beer bottle sitting on the counter beside him. “Cach!”
He quickly righted the bottle before grabbing a dishtowel to wipe up the spilled beer. He’d call Mac and tell him to bring the good paring knife from the barge. This one was pitiful.
It wasn’t until three heartbeats later that he froze and clenched his eyes tightly shut at the wrenching pain that lanced through him.
He clutched the towel in his fist, denying the memories that were assailing him.
It was over.
There would be no call. No nothing.
He’d not seen MacLeod since his return to Paris three weeks ago, although he knew that the man was back living on the barge. Truth be told, he’d not wanted to see him--until now it seems, with his subconscious finally deciding to speak up during the day as well as night.
Nightmares he’d expected but not the memories that continued to haunt his sleep every night since that day. Memories not of bloody battles under a bright harsh sun, but of green rolling fields and of mountains, laughing green eyes. Images that were not his, nor Silas’, and definitely not Kronos’.
They were his.
Somehow he’d…absorbed…for want of a better word…memories from MacLeod. How, he still didn’t know and the why, the why he couldn’t abide thinking about.
The water swirled around in the silver bowl as he rinsed the cut potatoes. He adjusted the setting of the stove before depositing the potatoes into the pan to cook.
He settled heavily down behind his desk and pulled the open book toward him. It was a collection of essays written over the centuries by Watchers on the nature of the quickening. With a sigh he once again began reading. There had to be something here to explain what happened at the base; some clue to….Theoretical physics and the properties of energy transference had never been one of his fondest interests. He sighed.
Outside in the cold air, Cassandra frowned as she glanced down at her watch, 2:30 am. She started the car and after a last accusatory look up at the brightly lit apartment drove away.
Duncan smiled and clapped as the music wound down. “Sounds great, Joe.”
Joe shook his head slightly as he headed toward the immortal. “We’re getting there,” he allowed, settling down next to him at the table. “What’s up?”
The highlander shook his head casually and gave a slight shrug as he took a sip of tea. “What’s this about a tour?”
He smiled at the change of subject. “It’s only a few cities, London, Dublin…” Joe stared intently into the supposedly open gaze of the highlander, the melancholy brown eyes all too evident for someone who’d known him as long as he had. “Dammit, Mac,” he cursed softly, “Go and talk to the man. You’re not doing anybody any favors--”
Joe frowned at the emphatic tone.
“HE was the one who wanted it this way, not I.”
He inwardly sighed at the stubborn expression on Duncan’s face. Another one that he recognized all too well. “Okay, okay. Then talk to me. What happened in that submarine base? I’m not going to be able to put off the Council for much longer. I‘m getting‘ nothing from either of you…”
Duncan’s eyebrows quirked upwards at the statement. “Oh?”
He shook his head and smiled fleetingly. “Something more than who beheaded who…something that might explain why I’ve been asked for chronicles specifically pertaining to quickening dynamics.” His eyes narrowed at the sudden stillness that came over MacLeod at the words. “So something did happen.”
Mac looked down at his hands, “Maybe.”
“Maybe?” he repeated in disbelief. “What the…”
“I don’t know what happened Joe…I thought…” Duncan shook his head and fell silent. “Nevermind.”
“Nevermind,” Joe pursed his lips for a moment as he stared silently at the downturned head, “Well can you at least tell me this? Why is Cassandra ghosting Adam?”
MacLeod’s head shot up. “What?! Cassandra’s in Paris?”
“Yep. Returned on the same train as Adam.”
“I don’t understand,” Duncan began slowly, “they were together?”
It was the tone of the highlander’s voice that gave him away. Joe sighed. “No, not together, together, Mac.” And that brought up a whole new set of questions he was going to ask the Old Man the next time he dropped in. Joe looked out over the club toward the bar where Maurice was talking rapidly into the phone. “According to her Watcher she’s been following him.”
“But hasn’t approached him?”
Joe shook his head. “Is she setting him up?”
“No, I told her--” Duncan stopped and stared for an intense second into his eyes before continuing. “She knows she’ll have me to deal with if something happens to...”
“I see,” he remarked. So Mac had given his protection to Methos. “That might not be enough to stop her. She’s learned his schedule by now, his routine.”
Duncan paused uncertainly at the concern in his voice.
“You’re not the only one hurtin’ right now.”
MacLeod nodded once before turning and striding out with a halfhearted wave to Maurice.
Maurice walked over to the table. “He seems even unhappier than when he walked in?”
Joe waved off the comment. “He’ll be all right, MacLeod’s having some romantic difficulties.”
“Not with that exquisite specimen of femininity, Mademoiselle Amanda?”
“No,” Joe replied in a dull tone. “Not Amanda.”
She was coming up to the car when she felt it. Cassandra slowed and began looking casually around the street for the other immortal she could sense.
“Yiiii!” she screamed as a hand clamped over her mouth while another grabbed her around the waist pulling her into the alley.
“What do you think you’re doing?!”
Cassandra relaxed, immediately recognizing the highlander’s voice. “Duncan!” she cried, still breathing heavily. She turned in his arms and pushed him roughly away. “This is none of your business!”
“I warned you…” Duncan began before she cut him angrily off.
“Stay away from him,” Duncan bit out in a dark tone.
She scoffed, “What? Like you? Not behavior one would expect from a friend…”
Duncan sharply inhaled at the insinuation.
“My relationship with Methos is my concern.”
“And now it’s mine,” she replied. “It became so when you refused to let me put him down as he should have been, long ago.”
“He’s not an animal!”
“Haaaa Haaaa Haaa! No wonder he was able to fool you! So naïve! But then again you didn’t see how easily he fell in to padding at Kronos’ heels,” she hissed.
Cassandra smiled sweetly up at MacLeod. “Oh, yes! Methos. Kronos’ ever faithful dog…or should I say--bitch.”
She took a sudden step back at the expression that came over the handsome face. “Duncan,” she stammered as she looked up into the normally warm brown eyes, before Duncan suddenly turned on his heel and strode away. The relief that instantly filled her transformed into shock when she noticed Duncan was headed across the street towards the bookstore.
The shock on Cassandra’s face was nothing compared to the amazement that flashed over Methos’ face when the handsome Scot walked into Shakespeare & Co.
Methos quickly buried all emotion and gaped at the man who’d stopped after taking two steps into the store as if frozen. They stared into each other’s eyes, both bewildered at the unexpected confrontation, although MacLeod was the one who had deliberately initiated it.
Methos’ eyes flickered past MacLeod out the window. He spotted the now altogether too familiar sight of the woman standing on the opposite side of the street staring in the direction of the bookstore. He returned his focus to Duncan with an expectant air.
“I thought you should know.”
“Thanks,” he replied tonelessly, his eyes locked again on Duncan’s. He didn’t move and MacLeod didn’t either.
It could have lasted a minute or an hour. But all he was aware of were the eyes which were once again accusingly full of bruising sadness. A miasma of sorrow surrounded the highlander like a cloud. So much, so many emotions flitting behind the brown eyes that an unobservant person would pronounce them blank.
All or nothing. The story of him and MacLeod. ‘How appropriate,’ Methos thought dryly to himself, wondering at his own temerity, even after losing so much, his cynicism remained intact.
Neither of them had been content with nothing. Locked not in a battle of wills but more of despair. Invariably stuck between what was and what neither could imagine. Duncan looked good. Physically. The long fine dark hair pulled tightly back in a ponytail.
Methos’d just parted his lips to speak when the man turned on his heel and walked out the door as abruptly as he’d entered. He stared at the tall retreating figure in wonder. Duncan’s eyes had flashed with a cold rage for a split second before he’d strode out.
Methos felt his heart falter. MacLeod knew.
He immediately looked out across the street for Cassandra’s slim figure but she was no where in sight.
MacLeod clenched his hands into fists down at his sides, fighting the almost irresistible urge to hit the fair high cheek boned face. He knew that if he started he wouldn’t be able to stop.
It had materialized all of a sudden, within a second he was somewhere else. Naked and sweating, the heat pressing in on him from all directions as he looked down into a familiar pair of eyes.
Methos arching up beneath him, his long black hair wild with damp strands sticking bewitchingly to his face and neck.
His cock indolently spasming inside the tight vice, the hairy skin of his thighs stark against the pale almost hairless legs and buttocks.
For a second, a millisecond, the familiarity, the fluency of their bodies as they moved fiercely together made him think it was simply another memory of his, but then--
The lustful cry that emitted from Methos as the fluid streamed out between them; the hazel eyes burning with violent ardor, shattered the illusion.
He’d suspected it, but he’d pushed it away. Not willing nor able to deal with it while he’d been looking for the Horseman.
But now, now there was no getting around it.
If he turned around and went back right now he’d kill him.
And for the first time he didn’t know if it would not be permanently. The emotion in Methos’ eyes flashed before him once again, making him grimace.
An emotion that he’d never seen in Methos’ eyes ever before.
Not for him.
Methos sharply inhaled; the noise loud in the shattered silence left behind the highlander. He turned somewhat unsteadily and began walking towards the back of the store. The immortal presence still at the edge of his senses, warned him to shake this dazed feeling off; his current vulnerability all too reckless considering the identity of the other.
The unremarkable sight of the long red-haired immortal casually flipping the pages of a book in the second to the last stack somewhat expected so that the invitation issued without thought from his lips. “Care for some tea?”
He didn’t wait for a reply but continued on his way toward the small kitchen area in the back. The sound of Cassandra softly following behind instantly noted.
Cassandra sat stiffly down at the small table and watched him as he filled the kettle with water and set it upon the stove. He pulled out the serving tray and began placing a variety of food stuffs on it. The traditional biscuits were there as well as some cold cuts and some cheese he’d brought from his new flat yesterday to serve as lunch.
“It was Caspian.”
Methos started slightly at the brusque statement but remained with his back toward Cassandra, gracefully turning only when finished. He held out the tray and placed it in the center of the table before settling down in the chair opposite of her.
He watched Cassandra’s down turned face as she fiddled with the various tidbits on the tray, un-able, no more like unwilling to meet his eyes.
Not that he could blame her. Having to face your murderer and violator was never easy. Dealing with Kronos, but Cassandra had been spared that at least…well for a thousand years…only after she’d run Kronos to ground in Seacouver—and failed to kill the maniac but succeeded in destroying HIS life.
The high pitched squeal from the kettle startled them both. Methos rose and quickly removed it from the heat, his awareness remaining behind him on the immortal still sitting at the table. “Caspian?” he finally spoke as he held out the cup of tea and saucer to her before returning to his seat.
She was careful not to allow their fingers to touch as she accepted the cup, just as he was. Strange that once she gloried in his touch and he hungered for the tenderness in hers.
Several lifetimes ago.
“He was by the cage…bragging of what he was going to do to my…body…after he’d killed me, of course.”
Methos nodded. Caspian’s cannibalistic tendencies were well known to him.
“Silas came in looking for you…”
The immortal’s name made him even more weary.
“…Caspian told him that you were with Kronos, most likely sweating beneath him.”
He raised blank eyes to hers, neither confirming nor denying the question easily read in the green eyes.
Cassandra sat back against the chair and stared intensely at him. He didn’t know what she was looking for, Death or her lover, both of which had died long ago.
“I lost,” he slowly drawled with a wry twist of his lips, his eyes holding no amusement.
Cassandra’s eyes widened, her eyes filled with terrible comprehension. “But the slaves--you took me--- ”
“Lust and a desire for beauty that I thought was long dead,” he paused and continued in a deliberate tone watching the green eyes as he spoke, “I forgot about Kronos--and what I was.”
They stared at each other, both reliving the last time they were together. He could still feel the softness of her face against the palm of his hand.
“What I did to you back then--regret will not change what happened. Hate me if you must, but don’t forget what I am, checheg. The bridge was the last time…” he warned, his eyes hardening not bothering to complete the verbal threat.
“And next time?” she demanded in a brusque tone, ignoring the ancient endearment.
“If you challenge me, my hand will not be stayed--by anyone.”
Cassandra’s nodded stiffly before she stood. “He’ll kill you.”
With a languid lowering of his eyelids he acknowledged the truth in her statement. “Perhaps,” he drawled.
She turned and walked towards the back door, pausing on the threshold with her hand on the doorknob. “He loves you,” she bit out as she stepped outside.
Methos stared in shock at the closed door. Where the hell did that come from?
Joe looked up at the sound of a deep voice greeting the bartender. If it was anyone else it would almost be comical--farcical even, with one appearing as soon as the other disappeared, sometimes missing each other by mere minutes, although Mac hadn’t put in an appearance today--yet.
He sighed. As it was, it was simply tragic not to mention aggravating to the one stuck in the middle. Never a good place to be between friends--especially sword wielding ones. He finished playing the hook before gesturing to the others to stop. “Hey, how about a break, fellas?”
“Okay.” “Sounds good.” Joe listened to the murmuring of his bandmates as they dispersed. Rick was telling a joke about a rabbi walking into a bar while they went through the entrance, along the way passing the tall thin dark haired man who’d just entered.
He rested the guitar against the stool beside him as he stood, the cane in his left hand taking all his weight as he stepped slowly towards the ramp on the left side of the stage.
Joe shook his head bemusedly at the grinning immortal and smiled wryly as he made his way towards the table in the corner. He felt like some sort of yenta. Who’d thought he’d end up as a couple’s counselor? Maybe he should suggest it be a required course at the Academy, although maybe that was part of the reason for the no fraternization rule between Watchers and Immortals in the first place. “Adam.”
“How’s it going?”
“We’re leaving next week.”
“Yeah, the gig in London.” Methos looked off in the distance and at the stage before returning to the table.
“Also Dublin, Madrid, Edinburgh…”
“What happened to Glasgow?” Methos asked with a small frown.
“Didn’t work out with the scheduling, Aberdeen instead.” Joe waited patiently for the inevitable question. He stared at the other man, smiling faintly at the saturnine face which was frowning down at the table as it had insulted him. He said nothing for a few moments watching the long pale finger draw invisible circles on the tabletop.
“Mac dropped by yesterday.”
Joe’s eyebrows shot up, “and?” he prompted.
The other shrugged.
“Still in a tiff about Bordeaux.”
He grunted at the uninformative statement. “Bordeaux? What exactly happened in Bordeaux, Adam?”
Methos’ lips pursed for a second but nothing was uttered.
Joe sighed heavily. “Listen, pal,” he began, “do you know how much heat I’ve been getting about you?! The Four Horsemen? Kronos? Nobody made it inside and Mac‘s account was just as informative as yours,” he said his voice thick with sarcasm. “Why is MacLeod asking me about Quickening anomalies in the Watcher chronicles?”
Methos’ head jerked up at the word ‘Quickening,’ “And what have you found out?” he casually inquired.
“Uh-eh. You’re not getting out of this that easily, buddy. Unless I start getting some answers, the library is closed.”
Anger flashed in the hazel eyes for a moment, the lips pursed in annoyance before the eyes were filled with proud amusement, like a father who‘d just witnessed one of his children hit a homerun. “Okay, Joe, what do you want to know?” Methos asked as he leaned back against the chair.
“How did you become a Horseman?”
The act shocked Joe. He swallowed, his throat suddenly dry as he wondered if he really wanted to know. “Gene!” Joe called out to the passing man, who was getting the club ready to open for Maurice. “Bring us over a bottle of whiskey, would you?” It looked like they both were going to need something to get through this tale.
Dawson certainly wasn’t starting out with the small stuff. Methos accepted the cold glass of whiskey with a brief smile. He relaxed at the familiar taste of the warm gold liquid on the tip of his tongue before allowing it to smoothly glide down the back of his throat. “Only for you Dawson.”
Joe nodded at the statement. “I’ll only report what is necessary. This will be for my own personal journal,” he vowed the immortal.
He stared down at the liquid remaining in his glass, wondering exactly how to begin. How to explain a descent into madness so long ago…in another world, another time. “It was over 3500 years ago. I was living with a small nomadic tribe. Life was simple, poor by modern standards. We followed game, trading with those we came across. Kronos…” he paused for a second, seeing in his mind’s eye the tall dark figure on a horse that came barreling over the dune directly into the campsite. Knowing as he stood, sword in hand what the other was there for. “I lost the challenge.”
“You lost,” Joe repeated his face wrinkled in confusion. “But--”
Methos slowly moved his head in the affirmative while he absently toyed with the shot glass still half-filled with the dark gold liquid. “I was allowed to keep my head in return for my freedom.”
“No,” Joe whispered, his grey eyes filling with horrible comprehension.
He snorted at the expression on the Watcher’s face. “It wasn’t the first time I was a slave, Joe, although it turned out to be my worst by far.”
“What happened to the other nomads?”
The small smile on his face fled as he remembered that first day and night. “I managed to keep Kronos sufficiently entertained for several hours, which allowed them to escape into the desert. Kronos was alone, he’d sent Caspian off to the coast and Silas wasn’t to join us till a couple of years later.” He took another drink of whiskey, draining the glass, and immediately reached for the bottle for a refill.
He stared at the swirling liquid as he poured. “I didn’t stay a slave for long,” he stated in a firm nonsense tone, picking up the tale once again. “Even though my talents as a body slave were once praised by royal courtesans themselves, I knew it wouldn’t be enough to keep my head. Kronos had to ‘need’ me.”
“Humph,” Joe snorted, “it apparently worked.”
Methos’ bitterly laughed, “too well it seems.” Who would have guessed it? Even now a part of him couldn’t fathom why he hadn’t been forgotten, lost in time by the sociopath.
Joe blinked at the blunt statement but didn‘t comment.
“Kronos wanted greatness, power…I convinced him that I could help him get that power. Strategy had always been second nature to me…“ his voice dropped off as he remembered the dusty walls of the temple that he’d been studying in where he’d encountered the first map he’d ever seen. The wonder that filled him at the very idea; all the known world neatly mapped out on a simple parchment. There had been so much to learn. “Over a year had passed by then but by the time that we encountered Caspian near the Black Sea, I rode beside him.”
“You were a Horseman.”
“I was Death,” he admitted quietly, so different to how he’d told Duncan. But he’d had to get MacLeod away from him at the time. There had been no other way.
“What about Bordeaux?” Joe asked bringing him out of his reverie. “Melanie Hind tailed Cassandra and them to the base from the hotel but didn’t make it inside.”
Annoyance filled him at the memory of Kronos’ “unveiling” of the female immortal in the cage below, watching him to see how’d he react. Even now, there were nights he still woke up shaking from nightmares of MacLeod fucking him into the mattress in the bed at the old power station while Kronos watched. If the Horseman had ever found out about MacLeod…“Kronos got her while MacLeod was--out.”
“That’s when Caspian and Silas attacked MacLeod?” Joe stated more than asked as he poured himself another shot.
“Yes,” Methos replied.
“And two days later?”
“MacLeod tracked down Kronos. Mac won,” he casually stated in a glib tone.
“And Silas?” Joe questioned gently.
He closed his eyes, once again seeing the surprise in Silas’ eyes as his friend realized that he’d been serious about challenging him when the giant tried to follow Kronos’ directive to kill Cassandra. The rumble of boisterous laughter and the sound of a knife whittling away at a piece of wood echoed in his ears even now. “He was going to kill Cassandra.”
Joe nodded. “So why is she here now? Revenge?”
“Who cares,” he replied, with a slight shake of his head.
“MacLeod for one.”
“It doesn’t matter anyway. We’ve come to an understanding.”
“Which would be?” Joe prompted in exasperation.
“If she attacks me, I’ll kill her.”
Joe stared at him in silence for a moment.
“What?! Do you expect me to offer her my head. Don’t confuse me with MacLeod. It was a long time ago. The first betrayal may be the one you always remember but you’re a fool if you allow yourself to forget to live.”
Dawson looked down at the table for a brief moment before returning to studying his face.
Methos stared at him for a moment, waiting for the inevitable when he suddenly looked up in surprise. The lights in the bar were dimming in preparation for the club opening. He hadn’t realized the time. He’d just wandered in, hoping Joe would still be here at rehearsal.
“Anything else?” he asked Joe.
Grey eyes searched his for a second before the man grinned. “Whatcha’ have planned for Wednesday?”
His forehead furrowed in confusion at the change in subject before he suddenly remembered the date and smiled slightly. “Christmas?”
Joe nodded, the smile on his face broadening at his reaction.
“Nothing,” he replied cautiously, silently groaning as the grey eyes began to brim with amusement although gratified at the watcher’s earlier un-remarked acceptance of his carnal relationship with Kronos.
“Good. You’re coming over to my place.”
“Joe,” he warned. If the watcher thought he could get him and MacLeod back together.
“Hey, I would think, you, for one, wouldn’t let an old man spend what may be one of the his last Christmases alone.”
From the look of it, there was no way Dawson was going to take ‘no’ for an answer. He didn’t know why, but he found himself agreeing to be there. A small part of him (the masochistic part) looked forward to seeing the highlander despite yesterday’s incident. Hell, if nothing else it would give him the opportunity to give the bloody man his birthday gift.
Duncan pulled up short at the sight of the tall figure standing at the end of the hallway as he rounded the corner towards Dawson’s apartment.
He frowned, and immediately began mentally kicking himself at being so caught up in his thoughts that he missed the telltale feel of an immortal presence nearby. However, ever since Bordeaux, “his” presence wasn’t the same. It seemed to fade into the background, almost seamlessly melding with his own, more like two objects reuniting…
Duncan shook his head at the fanciful notion, his face darkening as he approached the ancient immortal who still hadn’t deigned even a single glance in his direction, almost like he’d known that it was him and not some other immortal.
His irritation continued to increase as he stared at the patrician profile while he listened to the movement from inside the apartment. A muffled curse from the other side of the door caught his attention for a millisecond before returning to Methos.
“Take your time, Joe,” Methos called out, his long pale fingers readjusting their hold on the neck of the bottle of scotch hanging down by his right thigh.
Methos’ persistent disregard for his presence only enflamed the anger he’d felt for the other ever since that day in the bookstore. He was just about to say something to shatter the immortal’s composed façade when the door abruptly opened.
“Merry…” Joe’s voice faltered for a moment before continuing, “Christmas, Mac. Adam.”
His sidewise glance towards Methos at the voiced alias went unremarked, although he noticed with spiteful glee the tightening of the face, especially around the mouth.
“Come in, come in, guys,” Joe invited, his obvious cheerfulness trying and failing to disperse the tension in the air.
Duncan slowly followed Methos into the sweet smelling apartment. He smiled as he spotted the elaborately set dining table at the far end of the room. Holly decorated the table as well as the walls giving the flat a warm festive atmosphere. His anger at the obvious manipulation faded and he sighed at the obvious trouble Dawson had put into the evening. From the smell, a turkey and a ham had been cooked along with whatever else was in the covered dishes on the table.
His attention turned to Methos, curious at what the other made of the place. Methos was placing the bottle of scotch on the kitchen counter.
“What do you need me to do?” Methos casually asked Joe.
Joe shook his head. “It’s already done. For now anyway. You can clear later when we eat dessert,” stated Joe. “Go ahead, MacLeod, take a seat.”
Duncan took a step forward before realizing that he still had his coat on. He shrugged it off and was about to lay it over the back of the sofa when a pale hand appeared in front of him. His eyes met Methos’ as he laid the coat over the outstretched arm like he’d done it a hundred times in the past, which he hadn’t. In fact it had been the reverse. Him always picking up from the floor the ancient immortal’s coat, shirts, jeans….
He wondered what Methos was thinking, the eyes more green today than he’d ever seen them, reflecting the forest green shirt he was wearing. But besides the color he could read little behind the impenetrable eyes. What did Methos hope to accomplish? Why was he still here? His cover was blown. Adam Pierson’s life was over. He couldn’t expect for them to--he abruptly cut off his thoughts and strode over to the table and sat down to the right of the Watcher.
“Mac, would you?” Joe gestured to the wine chilling in the bucket on his left on the corner between them.
“Sure.” He was pulling out the cork when Methos returned. Without looking up he followed the sounds of the soft even steps as they made their way to the other side of the table. The last part of the cork withdrew from the bottle and he straightened up, his eyes immediately drawn to the dark haired man warily staring across at him.
He frowned. What the hell did Methos have to be afraid of him for? He wasn’t the crazed killer, here! He wasn’t the one who lied! With a brief shake of his head he threw off those thoughts, and began to slowly pour the deep red liquid into Joe’s wineglass and then his own, careful to keep all his attention on the glasses. Afterwards, he deliberately set the bottle carefully down in the center of the table.
Methos stared at him for a second before picking up the bottle and pouring his own wine.
Yeah it was petty, but so what. He wanted to have as little as possible to do with the other immortal. He was here for Joe, not him. He started eating, doing his best to concentrate on the roasted meat he was placing on his plate and not the mesmerizing voice coming from the other side of the table.
“…so you went with the red.”
“Yeah, what do you think?” Joe asked, gesturing to the ham. Duncan damned himself for watching the rosy lips enclose over the small piece of meat, remembering the feel of them against his own. How hot they were when they---
With a small shake of his head, he buried the carnal memories that were bombarding him by just being in the man’s presence. It wasn’t going to work. He didn’t know what Methos was up to with this dinner. But he wasn’t going to fall for the old man’s ‘shy unassuming act’ a second time. “So, Joe…found out anything about strange quickenings?” he asked breaking into the others’ conversation.
Methos’ eyes widened in surprise and he gave a small negative shake of his head.
Duncan grin broadened.
“Mac,” Methos began in a warning tone.
“What?! It’s not like it’s a secret, is it?” he challenged. Maybe now Methos would come clean about what he knew about their joined quickening. Why else had Methos also asked Dawson to look into the Watcher archives? What happened must have meant something, done something. Why else would it have taken so long for Kronos’ Quickening to settle down inside him, even now whenever he was around Methos his ‘presence’ felt off-- more noticeable yet less intrusive with an almost recognizable awareness. Older immortals always had stronger more intense sensations with their ‘presences.’ Cassandra had, Methos, Kanwulf, Kronos, of course.
Methos sat back against the chair in irritation. “MacLeod!”
Joe’s eyes flitted from him to Methos before returning to meet his. “Nothing new, I’m afraid. I’d already combed the archives after your,” he gestured towards him referring to the dark quickening, “experience, but found nothing that I haven’t already mentioned. How about you?”
MacLeod watched the hazel eyes darken in irritation and laughed. “Yes, Methos, tell us what you’ve found out. We’re all friends here after all. There’s no need to keep secrets any longer,” he scorned.
Methos shot a sidewise glance at Joe before he said, “It’s a private matter, surely you of all people would understand that some things were not meant to be chronicled.”
“Humph. Like the watcher who befriended the great Methos?” he jeered.
“No you ignorant highlander. I’m talking about the very nature of the Quickening!”
“It’s purely theoretical…” The hazel eyes shot surreptitiously towards Dawson while pleading with his eyes for him to shut up. In the past that’s exactly what he would have done, following the ancient immortal’s lead, but not now after…
“What? Is it something only the world’s oldest immortal can comprehend?” He turned towards Joe, “sorry Dawson. Guess the fraternity of Watchers only goes so far…” he sneered. He really didn’t want Joe to know about what happened in Bordeaux between them with Kronos’ quickening but he couldn’t stop himself. The half answers Methos quipped and the damnable laconic words that always hinted at more but never illuminated anything, drove the words to pour out of his mouth. “The needle didn’t dig deep enough did it? How strong does the ink have to be to ensure loyalty! Strong indeed for a man who has no honor!”
Methos’ face had always been fair but now any remaining color drained from it and along with it the madness that seemed to drive his tongue. Silence reigned except for the sound of his breathing as Duncan stood over the table, not remembering when he’d risen to his feet to lean over towards Methos.
Duncan slowly straightened, retreating from the cold green eyes which held his as Methos slowly stood, gracefully dropping his napkin upon the plate that was half filled with food. He held his breath when Methos finally looked away and turned to Joe. “Thank you for the dinner, Joe.”
Shocked silent he watched him swept over to where the coats were and put his on before walking out the door without any further glance in our direction.
Joe shook his head at the immortal who’d just sat heavily down in his chair. “Thanks, Mac.”
Duncan looked up guiltily. “Sorry, Joe.”
“Some way to treat a friend.”
“Yeah, the FRIEND that has hauled your and my butt out of the fire a couples of times now.”
MacLeod muttered something unintelligible.
“What was that?”
“You’re taking his side?”
He let out a long irritated sigh. “There is no side, MacLeod. You are one stubborn son of a bitch, you know.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about?” Duncan dismissed.
“Oh yeah? Well let’s look at the facts, forget about all this Horsemen crap. What type of man has he been since you‘ve meet him. What has he done that was so bad? Helped you, warned you about Kristin, and let us not forget when this supposed ‘evil’ man left the side of his dying lover to save you from yourself, risking his own life for what, the second or was it the third time to save yours.”
“Joe, you don’t understand--”
Joe let out a bark of laughter and stood up to lean over into Duncan’s face. “It’s been over two thousand years since he was that man. How long has it been since you killed an innocent in cold blood, MacLeod? Kinda funny that you‘re the one throwing the first stone isn’t it?”
“Yeah, you keep telling yourself that Mac. But I’ll tell you what I know. I’ve known Methos for around seven years, by two names. The first was an easygoing acquaintance, the second is my friend, tried and true. One that I trust with my life. Now I‘ve said my piece. I’m out of it from now on. Any info on Adam, Methos whatever the hell he decides to go by will have to be gotten from the man himself.”
Duncan nodded, regret coloring the brown eyes. “Sit down, Joe and eat. I’m sorry about this evening.”
Joe waved off the words. “Don’t worry about it. The only reason he even came was to give you your present.” Joe laughed at the highlander’s shocked expression, did the two immortals really think he was that clueless. He‘d known that was the only reason why Methos had shown up and thought it likely that it was behind the highlander‘s as well, even I the man himself was not aware of it. “It’s the one on the table in front of the fireplace.”
Joe watched the immortal slowly get up and pick up the present. “I wouldn’t,” Joe warned him just as MacLeod was about to chuck it into the burning fireplace, “--do something that will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
MacLeod turned to him with a wary expression, the present still in hands.
“It’s not wise to throw something away, not knowing what it is. Who knows, it might be the one thing you’ve been looking for,” Joe said cryptically. He’d dug around and found out what the box contained, once again surprised at the depths that Methos would go to for MacLeod.
Duncan looked down at the gift for a long moment before placing it on the sofa next to his jacket.
“So, what’s Amanda doing in New York?” Duncan asked as he returned to the table.
Joe shook his head. “Cartier has a show…”
Methos pulled the collar of his coat tighter around his neck. The temperature had dropped since he arrived at Joe’s. A deep sigh escaped him as he walked toward his apartment, still shaking his head at his foolishness in thinking that Duncan would accept his past.
He paused for a millisecond at the curb across from the building to scout around for other immortals, his reunion with Kronos all too fresh in his memory. So with one graceful move his sword was gliding through air to meet the other with a clash as he approached his apartment door. With a push and a slashing cut downwards, he forced Cassandra to drop her sword.
He grabbed her neck with his left hand. “Is this what you want?!” he bit out as he brought the edge of his sword against the pale skin, forcing her backwards around the corner of the building into the shadows.
Methos stared down into the beautiful green eyes. Yes, she was still beautiful. Even now his body remembered the satin softness of her skin as they laid with their limbs intertwined. “Damn you,” he whispered against her cheek. “Surely your life has been good. One bad lifetime against so many. I am sorry,” he pressed his forehead against hers, while he readjusted the grip on the sword. “…it wasn’t all bad, it wasn’t all a lie. I needed…the killing…all the blood…I was losing myself. Such beauty, I wanted it, wanted you. Hate me but don’t force me to kill you.”
“You’re a monster.”
His eyes clenched tightly shut at the harshly hissed words.
“You let him drag me away, why?! I trusted you--”
“He would have killed you, I couldn’t let that happen, don’t you understand.?!” Methos dropped his sword and grasped both of the female’s shoulders. “I let you go! I saw you and I let you go!”
Cassandra’s eyes widened as he roughly shook her. “What?”
“You had to survive.” Methos brought his right hand slowly up and caressed the side of her face. “I couldn’t let him win,” he whispered, “and now…I cannot die, no matter how much I might wish it.”
Methos stepped back and picked up both swords. “You aren’t strong enough, Cassandra. My head is not for you.”
“Ha! You would have me believe some altruistic motive behind your cowardice! You‘re a coward Methos, you always were…how Duncan could ever--”
The sword at her neck cut off the rest of the damning words. “My relationship with MacLeod is none of your business! I will kill you if you come at me again. I‘ll have no choice. My quickening must go to someone who will be around for the gathering.”
Cassandra stared at him in disbelief. “Duncan. Someone like Duncan.”
“Yes!,” he hissed. “The power will help him. I won’t let anyone stop me. Not even you!”
He thrust her away from him. “Get out of Paris, Cassandra.”
Cassandra’s right hand was rubbing her throat unconsciously as she slowly backed away with her eyes still fixed on him. “I’ll never forgive you.”
“I don’t expect you to. Just let me be.” He met her eyes, hoping that she would do as he bid. He’d never wanted her death, but if it came down to him or her--there was no real choice. ‘Survival, it was what he was good at’ he mentally mocked himself as he watched her continue to back away toward the front of the alley.
Once she reached the street she stopped. “Do you love him?”
“I trust him.”
Cassandra nodded once and then she was gone.
Methos slumped back against the wall and slid down until he was sitting on the cold concrete. He raised his face up to the sky as he felt the presence of the female immortal gradually fade away. It was over, he hoped.
He slowly drew himself up and walked towards the front door muttering, “Happy Christmas” under his breath. All he wanted to do was sleep. Hopefully, tomorrow would be better.
Duncan didn’t know what had awoken him. All he knew was that once again he found himself wide awake at 3 in the morning, slumped on the sofa staring down at the square shaped object in the middle of the coffee table.
Right where he’d left it two nights ago. Passing by it day and night, deliberately refusing to look at it let alone contemplate opening it. Irritated that he didn’t have the guts to just throw it away.
After all Dawson would never know, but then neither would he.
Why?! Why couldn’t he just forget? Stop thinking about him, remembering how warm his skin felt pressed up against him at night.
None of it was real. It was some sort of game Methos had been playing. It must have been!
He grabbed the present and roughly began tearing the paper off, not caring when his rough treatment caught the box, tearing it and forcing its contents to spill out into the pale light.
His quick inhalation blared loud in the silence as he stared down at the cloth that fell like soft rain across his arms. It couldn’t be--
--but it was.
The multi coloured pattern upon the old cloth so familiar he could count out the number of threads of each particular colour.
He ran his hand slowly over the wool not believing what his heart and his eyes were telling him.
For it wasn’t one solid piece of tartan but one made up of smaller individual patterns intricately interwoven in a way to highlight three larger panels in the center.
Three panels that appeared older than the others. Much older.
It was these that his hand was immediately drawn towards. His palm coasting over the soft cloth tenderly as words echoed in his ears.
“….now Duncan, see here. One day, I’ll be making one of these for your son. It’s not much but its tradition…”
Duncan held the fabric up to his face and cried.
“How hard can it be to alphabetize?” Methos muttered under his breath as he pulled the books off the shelf that were incorrectly placed. He knew he shouldn’t be so hard on Antonin, it wasn’t the teenager’s fault. The holiday sale had left the bookshop a mess. It had only been two weeks since Christmas and he was still finding books in the aisle.
He jus wasn’t in the best of moods after Dawson’s visit. Finding out that he’d been dishonorably discharged from the Watchers was not the best beginning to his day.
It was good to see Joe, although he wished the impetus behind the visit had been more pleasant. After delivering news of his dismissal, Joe had then revealed the coup d'etat.
A watcher had officially been assigned, Timothy Wyatt. He’d actually warranted two Watchers. Lucky wasn’t he? Wyatt apparently was in the field, while Amy Zoll was appointed to clean up the ‘mess’ of his chronicle.
Amy he’d had met a few times while he knew nothing about Wyatt. He could have found out of course but thought he’d allow it to unfold. No matter how good Wyatt was, it wouldn’t be long before he slipped up. Maybe he’d invite him in for a beer.
But if Joe had any part in picking him, he’ll be on to my tricks. Damn Dawson. That’s what you get for fraternizing with Watchers…
Still it had saddened him that a part of his life was over. Adam Pierson hadn’t died but in a way he had. He could still die but something in him railed against the thought.
Letting go of his current persona was something he just couldn’t bring himself to do.
He shuffled over to the front desk and began looking through the stack of mail. Most of it was junk. After five minutes he was about to give up and go back to shelving when a small 3 by 5 envelope caught his eye.
Familiar handwriting addressed it to A. Pierson.
He hardly breathed as he slowly slid the edge of the letter opener across the top and pulled out the gold embalmed Thank You card.
After a deep breath he opened the card. He couldn’t believe it. That bastard! After everything he’d done for the man. Did he not realize how hard it was to find four hundred year old tartans made by a particular region, let alone the same person? It had taken all his charm to beguile Rachel and her fellow kinswoman to construct the final artifact.
Methos shook his head slowly as he reread the inscription again: D. MacLeod.
He needed a drink.
Joe answered his cellular phone on the second ring. “Dawson. How are you doing Melanie? She is. Ok, call me when you arrive.”
He ended the call and walked back into living room. “Cassandra’s on a plane to New York.”
Duncan relaxed against the back seat of the couch. “Good.” Now he didn’t have to worry about Cassandra and Methos killing each other. It was hard enough that Methos was going to be sticking around Paris. According to Dawson, ‘Adam Pierson’ had made no plans to ‘disappear.’ Methos even had a Watcher now.
“So what are you gonna do?” Joe asked.
MacLeod slowly shook his head. “Too much has happened. I don’t know.”
“Mac, I always thought you and Methos getting together was a bad idea but the man doesn’t deserve---.”
“I know Joe,” Duncan cut him off. “It’s just gonna take me some time.”
Joe stayed silent for a moment. “Well, that’s the one thing both of you have plenty of.”
Duncan nodded, his face sober. He didn’t want to talk about Bordeaux or the Horsemen anymore, one horseman in particular. His face brightened as he asked, “So playing tonight at Maurice's?”
“Eight tonight. Shall I tell him to reserve a table?”
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
Duncan didn’t know why he was drawn to St. Julian’s today. Perhaps it was the sense of peace that he always felt while there. He only wished that Darius was still there to greet him as he stepped into the dimly lit church.
But his friend had been dead for almost three years, so why did he feel the presence of another immortal here.
The only other people present was an old woman who was praying at the altar in the front and a dark-haired man sitting in the middle of the third row on the right. The patrician profile all too familiar.
He slowly walked up the aisle and sat behind the man to his left. The scent of fresh flowers and wax was heavy in the air as he traced the curve of the man’s neck with his eyes wondering what he was doing here.
Methos had implied that he’d known Darius, but he never revealed just how well and he had never asked. Just one of so many things he’d never asked.
The silence between them always ever present. Methos not telling and him not asking. Never meeting in the middle it seems.
Duncan stared at the white and gold altar, praying for guidance from his old friend.
Timothy peeked around the red vigil lamps at Methos and Duncan MacLeod. Initially he wasn’t going to enter the church, afraid of revealing his presence to the former Watcher, but after spotting the famous Immortal entering the church he couldn’t resist. He knew that he’d lucked out on being assigned to the oldest known immortal, but he’d never dreamed that he’d get to see him as well.
Adam was rumored to have been good friends with Dawson though and everyone knew that he and MacLeod were close. Some argued too close. But what better way to get real in-depth information on the immortal you’re assigned.
They were on holy ground though, so unless they left they weren’t going to fight. However, neither men gave any intention of moving. Both men were staring towards the front of the church apparently ignoring the other.
Oh well, he’d note it in his report. He just wished that he’d worn something a little warmer. There was a heavy draft of cold air running right through his hiding area.
1 Welsh (Cymraeg) swear word meaning “Shit” homage to Peter Wingfield being Welsh.
2 Mongolian name meaning “Flower” used here as an endearment.
3 St Julian le Pauvre The 11th century church in Paris where Darius lived and ultimately died. Located on the Left Bank of the Seine in the Latin Quarter, St. Julien sits across the river from Notre Dame in a little park called the Square René Viviani, just upstream from the Quai de la Tournelle where Duncan's barge was moored. Information taken from the Book of Darius Website with my sincere gratitude.
Detailed wording about the joined quickening between Duncan and Methos are my own to the best of my knowledge, however I might have picked up some ideas from Tessa Rae’s What If Series among other stories. If you feel that you or someone you know haven’t been appropriately credited please e-mail and I’ll rectify the matter.
If you like the story or just parts of it, even if you hated it, I’d really appreciate you letting me know. Constructive criticism is great but even just a hello makes my day. If you’ve been to my website, you know that I’m working on my Master’s thesis and nothing cheers me up after getting a draft back that is bleeding with my supervisor’s comments like some feedback. It let’s me know that someone is reading them besides myself.
Jessica L. Blackstone
Posted: October 15, 2004.
Next story in the series is Fool: One who is deficient in judgment, sense, or understanding. It covers the episodes Duende and Forgive Us Our Trespasses.
Back to Series
Back to Series Index (Netscape Version)