Return of the Nomad
Sweet Conflict: Part IV
Jessica L. Blackstone
Dialogue taken from the Highlander: The Series episode
Written by David Tynan
No copyright infringement intended.
"Maybe Culbraith was doing what he thought he had to do. You don't know what made him like that," Richie said as they walked through the doors of the dojo.
"Right, I don't. And I don't care.” Mac still couldn’t believe that Richie had stopped him from taking Culbraith’s head.
“But Mac, if you talk to him. You might find that you understand each other,” Richie casually grabbed MacLeod’s arm, forcing the highlander to slightly face him. “You know, you might even find a reason NOT to fight.”
"I don't need a reason to talk to him, Richie. Some people are evil. Not bad, not misunderstood, just plain evil. And you don't talk to evil, you destroy it," MacLeod declared as he walked away towards his office.
"But Mac, evil only exists because of fear. That's what Methos is talking about."
"Methos? You talked to Methos?" Duncan couldn’t believe it. ‘Methos was in town?’ he thought as he stepped out of the office with an incredulous expression.
“I know. Imagine that. The oldest immortal alive. Here I thought he was a legend, and then he shows up out of the blue.” Richie was still flattered that Methos had deigned him worthy of his teachings.
"And feeds you this stuff about peace and love." Methos would never spout such garbage of that MacLeod was dead sure.
"Mac, this guy's got wisdom and strength. Listening to him is like listening to some kind of saint."
MacLeod snorted, knowing intimately that was one word that could never be used to describe the ancient immortal. "He's no saint, and I don't care how old he is, he's wrong."
"Mac, you're not hearing what I'm saying. I'm talking about a chance to change our lives FOREVER, to live without being afraid."
"What, without a head?"
Richie shook his head, disappointed. "Sometimes I don't get you, Mac. Sometimes, I just don't get you at all."
MacLeod got into the lift and used both hands to pull down the cage. He
leaned back against the far wall, still thinking of Richie’s last words as the
elevator slowly rose. ‘Methos was back. Why the hell hadn’t he come to see me?’
A Couple of Hours Earlier:
Methos let himself the loft, silently mocking how easy it was to get in. ‘You would think that a friend of Amanda’s would have better security?” he thought as he walked through the door with his bag slung over his right shoulder.
The lack of immortal presence had alerted him within seconds of getting out of the cab in front of the dojo that neither the highlander or his student were there. He glanced around the bright airy room. Nothing much had changed it seemed since his last visit.
He strolled into the kitchen area, absently putting his bag down on the counter and made his way over to the fridge. Methos peered into it for a few seconds before getting a beer whose cap was immediately tossed behind the appliance as he continued his tour of the place.
Methos thoughtfully paused as he wandered over to the bed. ‘Well, it certainly looked comfortable AND Mac had given him the run of the house,’ he told himself with a smile.
He sat down and began to take off his boots. After all, the only real way to see how comfortable a bed is, is to lie on it. He laid the boots beside him as he scooted back across the bed before stretching out. ‘No, that still didn’t feel right.’ He grabbed one of the pillows near the head board and placed it under his head.
‘There that felt better.’ Methos luxuriated in the highlander’s bed for a few moments indolently drinking his beer. The only thing missing was a little music. But that was easily remedied. He slightly turned and grabbed the remote control from the nightstand that was behind him by the bed.
Methos snorted as opera music filled the loft as soon as he turned on the stereo. He quickly switched the station looking for something better, leaving it on a jazz station.
He had just shifted on the bed and drew up his left knee when he felt the presence of an immortal nearby.
The ancient immortal couldn’t help but tense as his mind tore through all the possible reactions the highlander might have to finding him provocatively sprawled across his bed. None of his thoughts were detectable however, when he turned his head slightly to boldly meet the Scot’s brown eyes as he walked out of the elevator. “Hey grab a beer, there’s a cold one in the fridge,” he arrogantly offered in an exaggerated accented voice.
“Yeah, I know. It’s my fridge. I thought you were out wandering the world?” MacLeod asked while he strolled towards the bed.
“Tibet. Yak butter plays hell with the digestion. Besides, I had all the enlightenment I could use.” He raised the remote control to skip to the next station.
MacLeod reached out and unceremoniously snatched the remote control from the upraised hand as he walked past the bed. “Maybe you should have kept it to yourself .” With short irritated motions he manually turned off the stereo, with his back towards the other immortal.
Methos lifted himself up on his right elbow and looked up at the Scot curiously. “Sorry I must have dozed off. What is it we're talking about?”
“All that crock you're feeding Richie.” Mac turned and began to walk around the other side of the bed, looking down on the immortal reprovingly.
“Right, and what crock would that be, exactly?” Methos asked, his hazel eyes following the highlander’s path around the bed.
“Oh, you know. Stop fighting, lay down your sword, give peace a chance. Ring a bell?” Duncan taunted, punctuating the question by grabbing the bottle in Methos’ hand.
Methos let MacLeod pull the beer from his grasp as he realized what or more accurately who the highlander was talking about. “Wow. So he's here, is he?” He asked Mac as grabbed his boots and moved into an upright kneeling position.
“Who's here?” MacLeod asked, staring down at the other man with his arms folded across his chest. He wondered what the old man was going to come up with to explain this one.
"The other Methos," Methos announced as he gracefully stepped off the bed and sauntered past MacLeod carrying his boots.
Duncan stood frozen for a second, before turning towards Methos with a puzzled expression, “What?”
Methos laid his boots on the kitchen island as he wandered over to his bag lying on the counter. “I never actually met the guy…but I’ve heard rumors.” He rummaged in his bag for the tool he knew that he had somewhere. He had noticed when he took off his boots that one of the soles was loose. “Wanders around the place, spreading his message to other immortals.”
“Using your name?”
“Well, it’s not like it’s got a patent or anything.” Methos quipped as he walked back towards his boots, having found the leatherman.
“Sounds like the guy’s starting a franchise or something?” Duncan retorted, grabbing the boots which were laying on the island stove right before Methos’ could.
“What about this line about peace and love? What’s that all about?” MacLeod demanded as he turned and walked away toward the living area, where he pointedly tossed the boots to the floor.
“Well, maybe it’s just exactly what he says it is?” Methos replied, following the other immortal. He picked up the jacket he had earlier left on the chair and carelessly tossed it off, before sitting down with one of his boots in his lap.
Duncan turned around just in time to see the coat thrown to the floor, automatically moving to pick it up. “Turning the other cheek only gets you slapped harder.”
“But it's got such a nice ring to it,” Methos proclaimed, watching with amusement as Mac picked up the jacket and placed it neatly on the couch. “Yeah, no more fighting, no more killing. Peace and harmony. Don't tell me you never fantasized about that. Some young sucker's always going to fall for it.” Methos couldn’t stop his eyes as they roamed down the highlander’s body, immediately noting the well developed muscles on the strong lean frame. Evidently MacLeod had spent the several months training.
“Richie has,” MacLeod informed him as he sat sidewise on the couch.
“Voila,” Methos said, shooting a knowing glance at the highlander.
“He thinks the guy's some kind of prophet,” MacLeod declared in a bewildering tone.
“Well who's to say he isn't?” Methos challenged as he continued to try to bind the sole to the bottom of the boot.
“You are!” Duncan asserted. He reached out to grab the tool from Methos’ hand, finally getting the man’s full attention. “This guy's a fraud.”
Methos stared affronted for a millisecond at the presumptuous man before smoothly getting to his feet and walking around to stand behind his chair. “Look, there are enough people out there who want my head for who I am. Now I say, if he wants to play Methos, let him.”
“Even if it gets him killed?”
“Yeah.” ‘Better him than me,’ he immediately thought, backing away as MacLeod rose and began walking towards him. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” He continued slowly walking around until he was back where he had started. Methos picked up the worn shoes, giving no outward indication that he noticed the highlander circling around him. “Look at these boots. What happened to craftsmanship? I only put a thousand miles on them.”
“You're gonna convince Richie that this guy is a fake,” MacLeod ordered as he sauntered past and pointed the tool in the other immortal’s face for emphasis.
Methos pulled the tool from the highlander’s hand. “What makes you think that he will believe me?” he plaintively asked, looking skeptically at the highlander. Methos wondered what the hell he was doing even considering telling MacLeod’s protégé who he really was. He really was losing his edge. Damn MacLeod.
Duncan reached out and grabbed the boot in Methos’ hands. “Because, you are gonna be very sincere,” he sweetly ordered.
Methos couldn’t believe it. “I left Katmandu for this,” he said, his gaze shifting back and forth between Duncan and the boot.
“So, how did your young friend meet this fountain of wisdom?” Methos asked while they walked towards the black convertible.
“He ran into him on his way back into town last night.” MacLeod sneaked a glance at the other immortal as Methos got into the car, his eyes unwillingly noticing the graceful sprawl the tall man immediately effected once in the seat.
“I should have known it wasn’t you spouting on about peace and love. It slipped my mind that Richie had met ‘Adam Pierson’ the last time you were in town, not Methos.” He started the car and headed to Joe’s. Knowing Richie, that would be the first place the kid would go. To tell Joe all about the ‘great immortal’ he had just met.
Methos’ lips tightened at the subtle barb, but said nothing.
“If it had been you, I’d have never heard the end of it from Richie.”
Silence fell inside the T-bird as both men thought of the last time they had seen each other.
“Thanks for the Ming.” MacLeod’s grip tightened on the wheel but he kept his attention on the road, missing the slight shrug Methos gave but feeling the slight brush of Methos’ shoulder against his.
“I owed you one.”
“That you did.”
Methos’ eyebrows quirked as he gave Mac a sharp look. The emphatic tone implying that he was responsible for something else besides the vase that had ended up on the floor in pieces. His face hardened at the underlying rebuke. He wasn’t going to apologize for Galati again.
MacLeod stopped the car outside of Joe’s but made no move to get out and neither did Methos. The two men sat still and avoided looking at the other while their minds thought about the one thing that both had been desperately trying not to think about.
The highlander sighed and said softly, “I am sorry about…”
“It’s in the past,” Methos replied, cutting off the rest of what the highlander was about to say. He gave the Scot a brief sidewise glance as he continued, “Besides, you had a point.” The ancient immortal had opened the door and got to his feet as he spoke.
Duncan shot a piercing look at Methos’ over the roof of the car. “So what have you decided, if I may be so bold to ask?” he questioned in a playful tone with an underlying seriousness.
“Adam Pierson is currently AWOL according to the Watchers. I still haven’t decided if that’s going to change.” Methos informed him as they walked across the street toward the building.
MacLeod snorted at the non-answer and gave a disbelieving shake of his head as he held open the door. “After you,” he invited mockingly. The ancient immortal hadn’t changed in the slightest, enlightenment indeed.
The two men turned towards the entrance, one because of the buzz heralding another immortal and the other out of curiosity.
Richie relaxed as he recognized the tall thin man walking through the door followed by Mac.
“Methos, what the hell have you been telling Richie?!” Joe asked in a gruff indignant tone.
Richie turned to Joe, startled. ‘What the hell?’
Methos shook his head sadly and gave Dawson a chastising look for the Watcher’s lack of discretion. ‘The cat was definitely out of the bag now.”
“Richie, I’ve got to tell you something,” MacLeod said quickly before either Joe or Methos could speak. “That guy you met last night was not Methos.” He gestured to ‘Adam’ who was settling himself on a stool before the bar. “This is.”
Richie stared for several seconds at the ordinary man staring solemnly at him. He shifted his gaze alternately from Mac to Joe, seeing the seriousness in both their eyes. “Adam is Methos!? You’ve got to be kidding me?!” Richie stared at the man who was casually leaning back with his elbows on the bar.
“This has gotta be some kind of joke. Joe, help me out here. I mean, 5,000 years of wisdom? Him?”
"Well, I dunno about the wisdom,” Joe replied with a smile at the back of Methos’ head. “But yeah, 5,000, that's about right."
Methos watched Duncan take off his coat and sit at a table, showing no response at Joe’s attempt at humor.
“I know it's a little hard to believe, but what you see is what you get,” Duncan glanced at Methos, wondering not for the first time why the ancient immortal insisted on dressing like a commoner. “This is the real Methos.”
Methos looked at MacLeod’s student and shrugged his shoulders. What else was there to say.’
“You guys don’t understand what I’m saying. It’s not the name that I care about. I mean, this Methos, that Methos…it’s the message I believe in.”
"Richie, the message is wrong and it's gonna get you killed. You just met this guy.” MacLeod slowly rose and stepped in front of Richie. “What he’s saying goes totally against everything that we know. Why would you want to believe him?”
“Because he offered me his life. Now why would he do that?” The young man replied with heartfelt conviction.
“Because he's afraid to fight you,” Duncan replied without hesitation and moved to sit at the bar with the ancient immortal.
“Or because he knew you wouldn't take it,” Methos drawled.
“Oh, yeah, right.” There was no way he was going to listen to this guy, no matter who Duncan says he is. He still didn’t understand how the sarcastic know-it-all could have been responsible for curing Mac from his dark quickening.
“There's one born every minute!” Methos quipped with a brief sidewise glance at the highlander.
“Okay fine whatever. I mean, I’m talking about peace here, fellas.”
Methos took a smooth draught of the beer Dawson had been kind enough to pour him. He had heard the platitudes before and would again. That was one thing about drivel, it had a long shelf life.
“I’m talking about a chance to end the killing forever.” Richie picked his coat and looked at MacLeod, “And you know something, of all people, I thought you would understand.”
All three men watched silently as the young left.
“He's young, all right? Young people....they make mistakes,” Joe said explaining Richie’s stubbornness.
“Yeah, look at disco,” Methos added, always trying to be helpful. Gods, he was glad that era was over.
Duncan glanced at Methos but said nothing at the nonsensical statement. He had more important things to do than try to analyze any more of the maddening man’s cryptic statements. “I gotta get going. I've got someone to find.”
“I'm gonna go check on this other Methos, maybe I'll turn something up,” Joe said and headed towards the back office leaving the oldest immortal alive sitting alone in the bar.
‘Yes, it definitely seems I’m as popular as ever,’ he thought as he looked around. “Maybe I'll go and buy some socks.…” Methos said aloud to no one, pressing his closed fist against his temple as he leaned his elbow on the bar in a classic thinking pose. All his socks had been worn through as a result of his recent travels, something he’d only just remembered this morning while wandering around Mac’s place.
Methos wandered down the walkway, a plastic bag filled with the dozen pair of socks he’d just bought swinging against his side. He gazed up at the light streaming through the large glass dome, absently wondering if MacLeod had ever been here. He snorted at the obvious answer. Mac’s wardrobe cost more than Adam Pierson’s salary for the last three years and would never be found at a mall.
He made his way leisurely back to the dojo, wondering why of all places for Mac to have a second home he picked grey Seacouver. His old socks were thrown in the trash while he stored the new ones in his pack, which was still sitting on the kitchen counter.
MacLeod’s cool reception left major doubts about just how welcome he’d be if he stayed the night. He took out his cell-phone and dialed the number of his realtor. Maybe an offer of a few of the thousands of dollars that Adam Pierson suddenly inherited from a distant Uncle would persuade the current tenants of the waterfront apartment he’d leased to leave five days early.
Methos shook his head at the estate agent’s negative reply. Two days at the earliest. He looked around the empty loft with a bored expression. He’d head back to Joe’s and see what the Watcher found out about the pretender.
“Hey Joe,” he greeted as he strolled into the bar. Methos smiled innocently at the grudging welcome that shone in the grey eyes. Although Joe might try to hide it, the Watcher liked Adam even before he found out that he was the mythical Methos.
Methos settled himself at the bar and casually accepted the beer Joe handed him.
“Well?” Joe asked.
Methos’ eyebrows arched, “Well what?”
Dawson sighed. “Have you seen Mac?”
“Not since this morning. Hunting.”
Joe nodded and gazed off into the distance. Richie had told him about interrupting MacLeod’s challenge with Culbraith right before he and Methos had dropped in earlier. “So what have you been up to old man?”
Joe’s eyebrows arched in confusion.
“I needed some new ones,” Methos explained after taking another drink.
Joe glared at the ancient immortal clearly expressing his disbelief.
Methos just shrugged. Typical.
Dawson just shook his head sadly.
“So who have you assigned to the pretender?”
Dawson slightly frowned. “Morgan. Why?” Joe asked distrustfully.
“Oh, I thought I’d meet the legendary man myself. After all, how many times does one have the opportunity to meet someone of his esteemed age and wisdom?” Ritchie’s insistence in still believing the fool’s rhetoric had only increased his desire to meet the infamous “Methos of love and peace” whom he’d been hearing about for the last couple of decades.
Methos grinned. “Address?”
Joe stared at the innocent expression so incongruous to the fierce intensity that shone in the gold eyes. Methos didn’t fight, so he knew that he didn’t plan on killing the imposter, at least not yet. He took out a piece of paper and quickly scrawled the address of the pretender’s small estate.
Dawson slid the paper towards the other man. “So, Adam, are you going to apply to be reinstated?”
The gold-green eyes blinked as they met Joe’s eyes, before looking down at the bottle he held in his hands. “What do you think?”
“Adam…Methos. I didn’t mean,” Joe’s voice trailed off as he saw the incredible eyes harden into pure gold making him feel even worse about the harsh words he had leveled at his old friend about his loyalty to the Watchers. He winced at the memory. If anything, Methos was probably the closest one in a similar position to his; balancing on the edge between two worlds.
“When Stone was about to cut my head off, he accused me of laughing at the Watchers, of making fools of them. That was false. The Watchers have been around a very long time, Joe. If there is anyone who comprehends what a venerable organization it is, it’s me. Mortality makes their courage and wisdom even more amazing, not less.”
“That Watcher that you befriended, the one you told the Tribunal about, was he the first one you met?”
Methos’ lips twisted wryly. Dawson was incorrigible. “No.”
Joe gave a knowing smile. He knew that he was not going to get anymore from the ancient immortal, but give him some time and he’d eventually get the old man’s story.
“See you later, Joe.” Adam stood up and called over his shoulder, “Put in the request.”
Dawson nodded. He’d just been waiting for the word.
Methos glanced attentively at the blooming flowers in neatly manicured beds as he strolled along the grounds. He had picked up a faint buzz of an im`mortal presence immediately upon getting out of his car, a benefit of his advanced age. His range of awareness was much greater than younger immortals.
He sauntered down a series of steps feeling the buzz getting strong with each step. It shouldn’t be much longer now. ‘Aah! And there he is.’ Methos deliberately paused on the top landing of the last series of stone steps allowing the pretender to sense his presence. “Methos, I presume.”
The pretender glanced to the right at the owner of the smooth baritone that held a hint of amusement. “So they tell me.”
He grinned at the irony of the situation as he carfully picked his way down the stones, “You know, it's interesting. I was always told that you were a myth.” Methos halted as he reached the ground, “And yet you look very, very real.”
The imposter certainly had the wisdom look down. Hazel eyes took in the gray beard, mentally calculating from the man’s kneeled position just how tall the pretender would be when he stood. The man definitely had a few inches on him. Maybe it was the added height that had the love of the masses.
“Tell me, is it true that you were a friend of Socrates?” Methos asked as he began to slowly venture closer to the “ancient immortal” who continued to foolishly work on planting flowers, allowing him, an unknown immortal to approach.
“Oh, I've had many friends.”
Well, that certainly sounded like one of my responses. “And, um, I--I've always wondered...Cleopatra, what was she really like?” he asked and bent down to peer closely at the other’s face, extremely eager to hear what the man came up with.
“She was a woman. She loved, she lived, she died.” The pretender stood and walked in front of his guest as he knelt down by a different part of the flower bed.
Methos looked down to keep his broad smile from being seen. The man was good. He’d give him that. He slowly straightened, his right hand gracefully pulling out his sword, “Yeah, speaking of death…” The sword hovered within inches of the kneeling man’s neck. “You seem very vulnerable.”
The pretender gave a slight glance towards the razor edge beside him and showed no reaction as the sword was casually withdrawn, “We're all vulnerable.”
Methos casually began scrutinizing the blade and before returning it to it’s former threatening position. “Yes, but you a little more than me, I think, he drawled as he gracefully swung the blade to rest point down in the ground with both of his hands casually clasped upon the hilt. “I mean, a lot of people might want the head of a 5,000 year old man.”
“A lot of people might want to listen to a 5,000 year old man.”
‘Hah! You’d think that wouldn’t you,’ Methos thought snidely, knowing the exact opposite. “I suppose that's true. I mean, 50 centuries, after all, you must have learnt a lot. Ah…Knowledge, wisdom, that sort of thing."
“Truth is, my beliefs are very simple.”
Now we’re getting somewhere. “Yes, I heard about your beliefs. Do you really think that there's no such thing as evil.”
"So what, Genghis Khan and Hitler were just children playing up?” Horrible visions from the past tore through Methos’ mind at just the mention of the names. The child had no idea what evil was.
“They were men, driven by fear to commit evil acts.”
Simple indeed. “And if their mothers had loved them truly, then, it would have been a different world.”
“Can you say it wouldn't?” the pretender challenged.
Methos stared fixedly at the imposter. “What about the Game? Do you really think that we can end the Game?”
“I think it's worth trying.”
“Even if it costs you your head?” Methos raised the sword threateningly. He casually swung up the sword behind him to rest on his right shoulder as the pretender stood and faced him. ‘The man wasn’t dead after all,’ he thought as his eyes followed the hoe’s journey as it was thrown to the ground.
“Can anyone live for 5,000 years and say they did nothing? Risked nothing? Merely stayed alive? It'd be pointless.” The pretender challenged, his eyes steadily meeting the man’s gold eyes.
Pointless? The weight of the years pressed down on Methos. The arrogance of youth was a privilege he had lost long ago. Methos snorted and grinned, unconsciously pursing his lips as he briefly glanced down at the ground before venturing, “Some might think that that experience was worth saving.”
“I'm not one of them,” the imposter replied, “But, we can talk about it.”
“No, I've got a prior engagement, I'm afraid.” The sword swung gracefully into an arc as Methos strolled away, secreting the sword as he went back along the same path he’d come.
“I didn't catch your name,” the pretender called over his shoulder to the retreating immortal, his attention ostensibly on the flower bed at his feet but in actuality filled with curiosity at the strange immortal with the intense eyes.
“No, that's right, you didn't,” Methos replied as he slowly twirled around at the base of the stone steps, his voice full of mocking laughter.
The man was just as crazy as he thought. Gardening. Little did the imposter know that he had indeed spent several decades in various lifetimes doing exactly that. Sanctimonious drivel. Just enough to provoke emotion, a little thought but no real solution.
Pointless indeed. He had spent more centuries that the few that this charlatan had even been alive trying to discover exactly that. A sense of purpose. The only thing he found was that nothing really changed through time, but if one was lucky one found interesting, one might say unique individuals whose personality and aura shined so bright that they even warmed cynical old bastards whose passion for life had burnt out so long ago.
Alexa had been one. MacLeod was another.
Methos stalked angrily up to Joe’s. Hell, the pretender wasn’t even as old as MacLeod. He walked into the bar, nodding to Joe as he passed him.
Joe didn’t even raise an eyebrow as he watched the ancient immortal walk behind the counter and grab a bottle of very old whiskey and a glass before moving to sit down at a table.
Methos shook his head, his lips pursing as he thought about what to say. No, anything he said would reveal too much, so he simply shrugged.
“Well, while you were out sightseeing, I was busy finding out about the Prophet. The man behind the message.” Joe gave a wry grin at Methos’ snort of derision. “Yeah, it seems he’s been proselytizing all across North America. First mention of him was in a chronicle dated 1967 outside of Berkley.”
“It figures,” Methos muttered as he poured himself a drink, which he quickly swallowed.
Joe nodded. “Funny thing is, he seems to leave a whole lot of dead bodies behind for a man of peace.”
“Fools.” Methos never had thought too much of MacLeod’s student. First Kristin and now this. The only reason the kid had made it this far was because of his teacher. Speaking of which, Methos straightened up at the inevitable feel of an immortal approaching, not relaxing until the recognizable visage walked into the bar.
Both men watched the highlander sit down at the table. Methos didn’t comment on the haunted expression on Mac’s face.
“Culbraith?” Joe asked when it became obvious Methos wasn’t going to.
“Couldn’t do it,” Duncan blurted out. His attention focused inward so that he wouldn’t see the other men’s expressions.
“What happened?” Joe cried. He knew every dirty detail about what happened between the two immortals in Andersonville back in 1864. The Watchers had had a guard inside the prison, one who’d kept very accurate accounts.
“HE was there.”
Joe’s attention shifted to Methos who was slowly shaking his head in disbelief. Oh, this wasn’t going to be pretty.
“And what did the new Prophet have to say?” Methos drawled with an ironic smile, his eyes flashing angrily.
“It wasn’t what he said, it’s what he made me remember.”
“What was right for Darius is not right for everyone.”
Duncan looked up, shocked at the familiarity inherent in the smooth voice. “You knew him.” The fake Methos had implied that he did.
Methos met the highlander’s gaze cautiously, “Our paths crossed from time to time.”
“And?!” Duncan eyes blazed with curiosity. It was just one of the many things he had wondered about but had never dared asked the ancient immortal. How many other immortals did Methos know? Did he know Connor?
“Darius’ path was his own.”
“But you don’t fight,” MacLeod stated in an attempt to learn more, something, anything that would help him deal with this confusion.
“I fight when it’s required.” Methos’ eyes held Duncan’s for a few milliseconds before returning his attention to the glass in his hand which was once again empty. Richie he could understand, but Duncan? Mac couldn’t be so feeble-minded.
“A little pathos, a little pop psychology…the guy is either delusional or he is a fraud,” Methos agitatedly asserted, following Mac who had stood and walked over to the bar. “And YOU are buying it.”
“I’m not buying anything,” Duncan called over his shoulder as he stirred sugar into the cup of coffee he was fixing for himself..
“No?!” Methos challenged as he drew up beside the younger immortal, leaning his elbows on the bar as he ranted into the other’s face. “One speech from the wise one and you for-give Culbraith. What’s next? Friendship rings, the Love Boat?” he asked sarcastically.
“I haven’t forgive him,” Duncan refuted throwing the spoon down with an audible clink before continuing, “he just made me think.”
“Ooooh! I’m just staying, don’t think too much,” Methos said to the other’s back before moving to return to his seat at the table. “We wouldn’t want another one on the list.”
MacLeod turned back. “What list?” he asked Methos who was just about to sit down.
“Ask Joe.” Methos twisted the top off the whiskey bottle. Let Joe try to pound some sense into the man. The child wasn’t listening to him.
“I did some checking on this Methos flake.”
Both Duncan and Joe glanced at Methos who was blithely pouring himself another drink.
“The other one,” continued Joe, giving Methos a wary glance, knowing he was pushing it but not being able to pass up the subtle tease. Who knew when he would get a next chance? They were so few and far between when it came to the old man. “Anyway…uh there’s a trail of dead immortals behind him.”
“He’s killing them off,” Duncan declared his alarmed glance shifting from Joe to Methos as the latter began slowly shaking his head.
“No, he's just suckering them in. And then the immortal lays down his sword and the next immortal doesn't.”
“Meanwhile, out gentle friend moves on spreading the word,” finished Methos glancing sidewise at the pacing immortal.
“Well, I’m not a convert and I don’t intend to be.” Duncan stated giving Methos a look.
“Well, but what about Richie?” Joe asked in a voice full of concern.
Duncan glared at Methos as he sat resolutely down.
Methos’ eyebrows arched silently echoing Dawson.
MacLeod looked down for a few minutes. What was he going to do about Richie? “Thanks, Joe,” Mac said as he put on his leather jacket, waiting patiently as Methos took the cue and grabbed his own coat.
“Later,” Methos called as he followed the other man out.
Joe shook his head slowly, a worried expression on his face as he watched the two immortals walk out together.
MacLeod turned to ask the man who he found once again in his life, “You haven’t told me where you plan on staying...”
“You haven’t asked,” came the smooth reply. “I could go to a hotel or.”
“Fine,” MacLeod said as he abruptly started the car, quickly shifting into gear. “You’re staying with me,” he said in a tone that brooked no argument.
Which was fine with Methos, who hadn’t traveled around the world to spend his time in some cold sanitized hotel room. Now the only question was if he would be spending his night on the couch or in Mac’s bed. Hopefully, the latter.
MacLeod was silent on the drive over, presumably thinking about Richie. Once again, Methos thanked his…or would that be the Pretender’s fortuitous arrival in Seacouver.
Oh, he had no doubt the highlander would still be brooding, but at least it wasn’t about them…err him. Mac’s current dilemma a bitter reminder of exactly why he hadn’t taken on another student since 1816.
‘And what would you call, MacLeod?’ a small voice inside his mind taunted. Methos snorted. “Sorry,” he apologized unaware until Duncan started that he’d done it aloud.
Duncan’s attention went back to the road and to his own thoughts.
‘Mac would be the first one to take my head, at even the hint of such absurdity,’ Methos shot back to the little voice.
‘What about Kristin?’
Kristin was another Richie screw up. I should have let her kill the boy, save the world the trouble.
‘Protecting MacLeod from Kristin’s wrath,’ the tiny voice persisted, ‘was akin to Mentor and Odysseus.’
No! He didn’t want that responsibility. Methos viciously silenced the voice and returned his attention to his surroundings. Not surprised to find them already in front of the dojo.
Methos watched from beneath veiled lids as Duncan moved around the loft. Recognizing he highlander’s all too familiar routine of getting ready for bed and realizing with utter surprise that he had missed it. The sounds relaxed him as he lounged in the leather chair facing the bed’s direction, again wondering where he was going to end up sleeping. MacLeod was giving him no clue. In fact, Mac was acting like he was invisible, an attitude which managed to both relieve and irritate him at the same time.
When Mac finally exited the bathroom wearing nothing but his black silk pajama pants, Methos was ready for anything.
Duncan paused beside the immortal who had remained motionless in the chair ever since their arrival. “Well?” he asked brusquely, wondering what was going on behind the impenetrable eyes.
Methos just gave him an wide open look of innocence.
“Never mind,” Duncan muttered under his breath as he moved towards the bed where he roughly drew back he coverings before slipping into it. He gave one last covert glance at the other immortal before turning off the light, plunging the loft into darkness.
Methos stayed still for a few seconds before gracefully rising. He casually disrobed as he made his way slowly towards the bed until he was wearing only his boxers, hesitating for a second by the bed before sliding in beside the stationary man.
He softly exhaled, consciously making his body relax. Memories flowed over him in a wave. It had been months since they’d last slept in the same bed, the smell of Duncan’s aftershave, the feel of the strong solid presence so close. Methos glanced at the lean back that was so pointedly turned to him and sighed. Well, at least he was in the bed. It was even more comfortable than earlier.
MacLeod walked out of the bathroom, drying his hair with a towel. His gaze immediately caught by the man sprawled on his stomach in his bed. The Scot’s brown eyes narrowed as they followed the muscled lines up Methos’ back until stopping on the back of the dark head that was turned away. Memory supplied what the fine hair felt like. He focused on what he could see of the pale face, noting that even in sleep there was a sense of guardedness surrounding the ancient immortal. It surprised him that his lover was sleeping so soundly. Or perhaps not.
Methos shifted slightly, his right knee gliding upwards a few inches before being fully extended resulting in even more exposure of the pale long legs to the hungry brown eyes.
Duncan continued to watch mesmerized as Methos suddenly rolled over onto his back to lie in the center of the bed. Desire curled through the pit of Mac’s stomach as he watched the pale red lips part slightly as Methos breathed. He blinked, once again startled at the ancient immortal’s sensual beauty. The tousled hair falling over his forehead drawing one’s eyes to the long black eyelashes that slightly fluttered as the ancient immortal dreamed; looking positively wanton.
He scowled as he distantly wondered how many others had had the exact thought. No wonder Methos stuck to the drab sweaters and jeans. That along with his ragged jacket allowed him to effectively downplay his looks. He’d been around Methos long enough to realize that the immortal didn’t do anything that wasn’t perfectly affected.
Misdirection was second nature to the old man. At times, it seemed like Dawson knew Methos better than him. That was unfair he knew. Joe had known him longer, only as Adam Pierson. Duncan’s expression darkened as his eyes roamed down the sleeping man.
No wonder Richie didn’t believe he was the real Methos. Who would think that the pale long limbed form that lay before him had experienced over five thousands years of living? And loving? Duncan quickly buried that particular thought. It stirred feelings that were best left unexamined.
The new Prophet outwardly looked more like one would expect of a five thousand year old man. Even Mac had known that the pretender wasn’t as old as him. One only had to look into the open eyes to realize. But Methos’ eyes…
His task long forgotten, Duncan knelt slightly and slowly leaned over the entrancing face, pausing within inches of the tempting lips.
Lips which were already twisting into a slight smirk as Methos apathetically opened his eyes. Eyes which this morning were gold with little flecks of green…
“Kinda pushing it aren’t you?” Mac asked his Scottish accent thicker than usual. “Allowing another immortal so close while unarmed.” The words hadn’t even completely left Duncan’s lips when he suddenly found the edge of a very sharp knife pointed at his jugular.
Methos’ eyebrows arched quizzically. “You were saying?”
“You’re worst than Amanda!” Duncan cried being careful not to move a millimeter.
“I’m glad at least one of you has some sense,” Methos rebuked as he casually withdrew the knife and placed it within easy reach on the mattress beside him. His hands gracefully made their way behind his head as he continued to gaze up into the dark handsome face which hadn’t moved an inch.
Duncan gave an inelegant snort. “You’re one to talk.” MacLeod didn’t know how anyone could manage to make a shrug graceful but the aloof immortal did, all while meeting his gaze challengingly. Mac tilted his head slightly to the right as he continued with is initial intention, carefully watching the detached eyes for any hint of refusal.
Delight filled MacLeod when he saw the long missed tell tale signs of arousal as the eyes below began to darken with desire. Methos’ lips parted slightly allowing Duncan to delicately probe between them before taking the irksome mouth in a deep kiss. The highlander took his time re-introducing himself to the exasperating mouth, leaving no hot spot undiscovered.
Mac was gratified to open his eyes briefly and find the normally blank face full of passion. He slowly drew away ending the kiss gently, pausing like before within inches of the ancient immortal waiting once again for the wondrous eyes to open.
Methos lazily looked up at the highlander, damning himself for what he must look like given the smirk on MacLeod’s face. Methos gently untangled his hands from the damp hair which somehow had managed to make their way to Duncan’s head. His eyes wandered down the dark chest as Mac straightened up, and widened in appreciation as the highlander turned around to pick up a towel, the graceful movement of the muscles promptly making his cock harden even more.
Methos watched from beneath half-lidded eyes as MacLeod finished getting ready, presumably to go out somewhere. His hazel eyes gazed appreciatively at the final result. The dark brown sweater complemented the Scot’s intense eyes and hair beautifully.
“I’m going to meet Ritchie…” Duncan hesitated as he glanced at Methos who hadn’t moved from the bed, unwilling to show his interest in the old man’s plans.
“I’ll be here.”
MacLeod nodded, it was as much of a promise that he could expect from Methos.
“Well, that didn’t take long,” Methos drawled while he adjusted the sleeves of the sweater he had just pulled on.
MacLeod lifted the cage and stepped out of the elevator, briefly glancing at the other immortal as he passed him. He sat heavily down in the chair, his thoughts still back with Richie at the church.
Methos’ eyes arched while he scrutinized the highlander’s expression. “Couldn’t talk him out of it, eh.”
Duncan tilted his head back against the chair as he met Methos’ eyes. “I can’t decide for him.”
He nodded. “I was just about to head out for a bite to eat. Care to join me?” Methos casually asked.
Mac shook his head.
Methos hadn’t thought he would. Duncan needed to be alone. “I’ll see you later.” He quickly pulled on his jacket, automatically checking the sword’s position before heading towards the door.
He knew where he was going. It was a little place that Alexa had shown him. It had great coffee and better still a bookstore next door. Sadness filled him at how little Alexa had managed to see of the world that she found so fascinating.
Methos walked into the café and quickly settled at a small table in the back by the fire escape exit. He had a perfect view of the entrance just in case. A bitter smile formed on his face as he quickly fell back into the immortal lifestyle after ten years of respite.
He took a sip of the coffee. It was still as excellent as he remembered. He smiled as he remembered the last time he ate here, Alexa laughing opposite him, her eyes bright and clear. Methos clenched his eyes shut. Memories, that was all he was ever left with. Mary, you saw much on that dark night.
He strolled into the dojo, not at all surprised to find Dawson in the office talking to MacLeod. Methos accepted the drink Mac handed him as he made his way to the chair in the corner.
“What’s up?” he drawled while sliding his coat off and laying it beside him, being careful to keep the book he’d just bought from falling out of the front pocket.
“Richie’s given up the sword, literally.” Joe snorted, shaking his head slightly as he took another drink.
“He returned Ashe’s sword,” MacLeod informed him in a low tone. “He thinks he’s going to change the world.”
“So, Richie's his newest disciple. Isn't that cute,” Methos drawled, not at all surprised.
“Oh, and I suppose you would know just what to do?” Joe retorted matching the ancient immortal’s sarcastic tone.
“Oh, yeah. Standard response to unforeseen dilemmas perfected over many centuries.”
“What?” Duncan asked.
“Nothing.” It was time the highlander got that half hoped, half imagined view of him as some sort of all good, all wise immortal out of his head for good. Dawson as well.
“You know, I think I liked the other Methos better,” Joe said, giving Methos a dirty look.
“You asked,” Methos stated. “I think maybe I'll just go...look at the graffiti in the men's room,” he mocked as he gracefully stood and picked up his coat.
“Is it just me or this guy really being a JERK?!”
Methos sharply glanced back over his shoulder at the anger in Joe’s voice but continued to walk away, while shrugging into this coat. Dawson really cared about the kid.
“There's nothing to do,” MacLeod responded ignoring Dawson’s outraged question. “ It's Richie's decision, and we have to respect it.”
“What? Even if it kills him?”
“I taught him how to survive. What he does with that is up to him.”
Methos stood just out of sight, cursing himself for not following his own advice as he continued to listen in on the two men’s conversation.
“Some guy comes along, says everything is just rosy. No more death, no more fear. Well, hell, Richie's going to buy into that. But it's a mistake that's gonna cost him, Mac” Joe declared.
“Well, it's his to make. It's about integrity.”
He silently groaned at Mac’s stubborn response. Methos knew that MacLeod would never be able to forgive himself if Richie got himself killed.
“Okay, there’s this Spanish guy,” he begins, as he walks back into the office, “Alejandro Diego Spinoza. One day he gets called into the Inquisition for questioning. Red hot pincers, tongs, the usual drill. Now, all he has to do, is say 'no,' okay. Very simple word. They take his home, his money, his lands, but he will not give in.”
“So what happened?” Joe asked not sure if he wanted to hear Methos’ answer and wondering what the point of this little tale was?
“He died screaming in agony. But…he kept his integrity.”
Duncan drained the last of his drink “Don't save my seat,” he said, giving Methos a resigned look as he rose. “Let yourselves out,” Mac called over his shoulder.
“You are one calculatin' son-of-a-bitch,” Joe commented in an admiring tone. Smiling in relief at Methos clever manipulation. Mac would keep Richie from doing anything stupid.
Methos smiled slightly. “Shall we?”
Joe nodded as he grabbed his cane and headed towards the exit. “I heard back about Adam Pierson’s re-instatement.”
“And?” Methos asked holding the outer door of the dojo open for the Watcher.
“You’re on Probation.”
“How long?” Methos asked as they crossed the street towards Joe’s vehicle.
Methos nodded. It was to be expected.
“Still interested?” Joe asked as he started the ignition.
“Yes.” Methos briefly glanced at Joe’s face while he fastened his seatbelt, wondering at the Watcher’s amused expression. “What?”
“You haven’t asked me who’s going to be your supervisor?” Joe glanced sidewise at the ancient immortal.
Methos laughed realizing the source of Joe’s amusement. He sighed dramatically. “What penance am I going to have to perform to get back into the Watchers’ good graces, oh powerful one?”
“I’m sure I can come up with something…appropriate,” Joe laughingly replied, his grey eyes glinting with mischief.
Methos grinned, softly laughing along with his old friend.
Duncan casually looked up as Methos walked into the loft, but continued to set the table for two. “Hungry?”
Methos nodded as he gracefully laid his jacket over the leather chair before approaching the counter. He perched himself on the stool and gingerly accepted the spoon MacLeod offered him. The unreadable expression on Duncan’s face alarming him. “Richie?” Methos asked, his eyes following the highlander as he traveled to sit on the bar stool beside him.
“Richie took Culbraith.” Duncan gave a brief sharp glance in the ancient immortal’s direction before he began pointedly eating.
“And the pretender?” Methos asked, taking the hint and tasting the soup.
“According to Ritchie, Culbraith took him out before he arrived at the garden.”
The ancient immortal snorted contemptuously. He was still amazed that the imposter had lasted as long as he had.
MacLeod stared steadily at Methos with a considering air. “Why are you here?”
Methos looked down at the food he was eating. “I would think that was obvious.”
Duncan shifted slightly in the stool towards the other immortal. “With anyone else it would be, but not with you.”
Methos stiffened at the resolute tone and stared straight ahead, refusing to meet the highlander’s inquisitive eyes. “I…” he fell silent. Why the hell? He suddenly smirked.
“Perhaps,” Methos said as he began to slowly edge away from the highlander. “I missed the scintillating company of the Blade of the MacLeods,” he declared with a grandiose gesture in the long-haired man’s direction.
MacLeod groaned and covered his face with his hands. “Not you too!”
Methos’ smiled got even broader as Duncan’s face flushed. “My only question is…who’s Carolyn Marsh?” he asked still warily keeping his distance by moving to stand on the other side of the island counter.
“Coventry’s wife.” He shot Methos a look.
“Sir Terrence Coventry?”
Duncan nodded. “How did you?”
Methos eyebrows arched as he watched the confused expression on MacLeod’s face clear as the highlander answered his own question.
“Damn book,” Scot muttered with a dark expression as he resumed eating. “Carolyn wanted to teach Terrence a lesson.”
Methos snorted and settled himself back on the bar stool.
“Unfortunately I got caught in the middle.”
“MacLeod and his matchmaking.” Methos hid his smile by taking a sip of the wine.
“It was all Amanda’s fault.” Duncan looked down, suddenly serious. He stole a quick glance sidewise at Methos, wondering what the older immortal was thinking. “About Amanda…” he began in a halting tone.
“How is the little thief?” Methos cheerfully inquired.
“She’s fine,” Duncan replied his forehead wrinkling in confusion at Methos’ apparent unconcern, especially as he was sure Methos knew that they’d slept together while she’d been in Seacouver. Irritation filled him as he realized that the ancient immortal had once again steered the conversation away from them. “You never answered the question.”
Methos picked up his bowl and stood, slowly making his way towards the sink. He placed the dishes into the sink and turned around to lean against the counter facing Duncan whose eyes he had felt intensely watching him the whole time. He looked off to the side considering. “Why did you and Fitzcairn visit one another over the years?” Methos quietly asked, his hazel eyes boldly meeting the highlander’s.
“We were friends, it was fun,” Duncan responded without even having to think about it, since it was so obvious. He frowned as he met Methos’ patronizing eyes. “That’s it, that’s your answer?!” MacLeod demanded.
Methos’ eyebrows gracefully arched, “Isn’t that enough?”
Duncan angrily sputtered. “No.”
“I wasn’t sleeping with Fitz,” MacLeod stated and began walking towards the other immortal.
“You sleep with Amanda.”
“So that’s what this is?” Duncan searched the gold green eyes for some sort of answer.
Methos closed his eyes briefly before opening them to meet the warm brown eyes with a sigh. “Duncan,” he softly breathed as he reached up with his left hand to gently caress Mac’s cheek.
He leaned into the caress, stepping closer to quickly take Methos’ mouth in a bruising kiss. Anger filled him at the composure the older immortal always seemed to possess. Duncan tore his mouth away ending the kiss just as roughly as it had begun. “I’m going to bed.”
A thoughtful expression covered Methos’ face as he watched the highlander stalk away. This wasn’t going the way he had hoped. He lightly traced his swollen lips with a fingertip, wondering if it would be better if he just left. It hadn’t worked last time. He was always drawn back.
Without conscious decision he walked towards the sleeping area. Methos stared silently down at the bed, which had neatly been made up and not by him, sometime during the day. He sat down on the bed and quickly removed his boots before moving to the center of the bed--to wait.
Duncan pulled up short at the sight of Methos sitting cross-legged in the center of his bed. A scowl quickly forming as he wondered what the hell Methos was up to.
“I take it that your offer of hospitality isn’t withdrawn,” Methos smoothly began.
“…because my apartment isn’t going to be ready until tomorrow at the earliest,” he continued as if MacLeod hadn’t spoken.
Mac froze, the curses he had been about to utter forgotten. “Apartment? Here?”
Methos gave a small nod.
Duncan stared silently down at Methos’ face as the full extent of the simple words filtered through his brain. Immortals only got apartments when they intended to stay awhile, usually to set up a new identity. “Why?”
Annoyance flared in the hazel eyes in response to the suspicious tone. “I thought I’d stick around for a while…besides Dawson is my new boss while I’m under probation.”
Of course. Watchers. MacLeod knew that Methos had to have an ulterior motive. It didn’t have anything to do with him. “Sure,” he casually replied motioning to Methos’ position. “Are you going to spend the night meditating?” Duncan sarcastically asked, indicating with his right hand that he’d like to get into bed.
Methos stared for a few seconds up at Duncan before gracefully uncrossing his legs and moving to sit on the edge of the bed. He purposely brushed slightly against the highlander’s chest as he passed him.
Mac sighed in exasperation and pulled back the bedding, deliberately ignoring the sounds of the man getting undressed on the other side of the bed. Mac closed his eyes and turned on his side away from Methos’ direction. He tensed slightly as he felt the bed sink lower; the memory of this morning’s kiss unexpectedly filling his mind.
He suddenly turned over. Not at all surprised to find Methos staring at him with an expectant expression. The words he’d been about to say disappeared, as he was once again caught by those damn eyes. He gently traced the pale cheekbone with his left forefinger. The finger dark against the fair skin. He gasped at the sudden memory of Methos writhing beneath him. The fair almost smooth legs entwined with his.
His right hand tightened on Methos’ waist, searching the hazel eyes for some hint of why the five thousand year old immortal was here, and knowing that he’d never get more than this.
Duncan laid back and casually reached up to turn off the light. “Goodnight Methos.”
Methos listened as Duncan’s breathing evened out and the highlander finally surrendered to sleep. It both pleased and irritated him that Mac still trusted him enough to sleep beside him.
Annoyed at himself that he actually felt guilt over not being able to give, not capable of giving Duncan what the Scot wanted. Impossible. He softly sighed, sadness filling him at what he knew to be true. Five thousand years made a bitter teacher. His very nature continually challenging this insane decision to settle in Seacouver.
He gazed at the man sleeping beside him. Memory provided the details that the darkness hid. The feel of the muscled chest pressed against his back, the callused palms sliding up his thighs. The sound of Duncan’s laughter as he stumbled across evidence of Amanda’s capers in the morning paper.
Mac turned in his sleep, his arm moving instinctively to curl around the body beside him. Methos relaxed into the embrace, cursing his own weakness as he did so.
Duncan woke to the familiar sight of Methos reading. Only one thing differed, he scrutinized the prominent features of the man sitting up in the bed beside him. “What are you reading?” he asked, his voice still rough from sleep.
Mac snorted. It was the last thing he would have guessed. “Any particular reason,” he asked as he swung his legs off the bed and stood.
MacLeod walked into the bathroom surprised at how normal it felt waking up next to the other immortal. It was as if the intervening months of separation had never happened. The bright crisp morning light allowed him to see last night’s conversation a little more favorably. He stepped into the shower thinking of the olive branch Methos had handed him last night.
An apartment. Here. He didn’t know quite what to make of it. It was an answer of sorts, he guessed. At least it indicated that whatever this thing between them was, it wasn’t one-sided. Methos’ presence proved that, if nothing else. He didn’t have to come back.
Methos had no real tie to the present century, at least none that Mac knew of. And definitely not one to Seacouver. He’d only been here once before and that was to warn him about Kristin. Duncan frowned, once again wondering what was so special about him that the ancient immortal felt obligated to protect. He hated feeling like a child. He’d had enough of that with Connor. He’d be damned if he’d take it from Methos.
He took his time getting dressed. Not at all surprised to find Methos exactly where he had left him as he walked past the bed. Irritation filled him as he spotted the scattered clothing on the floor.
Duncan picked up the familiar brown sweater and tossed it at Methos.
“Hey!” Methos cried as the sweater he’d been wearing yesterday landed on top of the book.
Mac laughed. “Nice sweater.”
“Mine were dirty.”
“Uh-huh.” MacLeod walked towards the kitchen, calling over his shoulder, “What do you want for breakfast?”
“Sausage,” Methos absently replied, as he stood and put down the book by the stereo. He made a show of picking up the remaining clothes from the floor before walking towards the bathroom. After dropping the them into the hamper, he stepped into the shower, gladdened by the highlander’s good humor.
He tensed at the sound of the door suddenly opening.
“You’ll be needing this,” MacLeod called out over the sound of the running water. The thump of something hitting the floor easily discerned.
Methos smirked as he looked up and let the hot water course down his face. He bathed himself, hunger encouraging him not to linger. He was not at all surprised to see his carry all on the floor, when he stepped out of the shower. It was fortunate that his place would be ready tomorrow.
He grinned as he squatted down and pulled out the last sweater that really was clean. ‘What MacLeod didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him,’ he thought as he got dressed, making a mental note to do laundry sometime today.
Mac grinned as Methos walked towards him carrying his duffel bag. His eyebrows arched as the other immortal sauntered past him down the hallway to the stairs.
“Going somewhere?” he asked when the old immortal finally reappeared, minus the bag.
Methos settled himself on the stool facing MacLeod. “Laundry day.”
Mac snorted, giving a pointed glance at the black sweater that the ancient immortal was wearing. It looked clean to him. “How is it that I always end up cooking for you, when you’re the one who first offered?”
“You weren’t exactly enthused, I seem to remember,” Methos smoothly replied.
MacLeod silently cursed himself as he watched Methos’ face slightly darken at the reminder of the period following Alexa’s death. “Well, road tar this definitely isn’t,” he declared as he placed the plate of food before the other immortal with a flourish.
Methos looked down, his eyebrows arching questioningly. “What is it?”
“An omelet. With sausage,” he pointedly added.
“Looks more like a pie,” Methos replied as he took a bite, nodding his head. The highlander certainly could cook, he wasn’t bad in the kitchen either.
“This apartment…” Mac began as he spooned out his own plate.
Methos warily nodded at the younger immortal to continue.
MacLeod looked down already regretting bringing up the subject. “When will you be moving in?” he finally asked, changing his mind about what he’d been about to ask.
“Tomorrow…unless I’ve already worn out my welcome?” he asked in a cheerful tone.
Mac shook his head, annoyed at how much the exact opposite was true. “Good area?” he asked in as casual a voice as he could manage.
“The waterfront. Adam Pierson recently came into a small inheritance,” Methos replied with a small smile.
“So what are your plans for today?” MacLeod asked changing the subject.
“That’s it?” Mac couldn’t believe it.
“I might drop by Joe’s, see what penance Adam Pierson is going to have to perform to get back into the Watchers’ good graces.”
Mac stiffened at the mention of the Watchers. Why couldn’t Methos…? He shook his head, still impressed at the other’s audacity in infiltrating the very organization whose singular purpose was to observe immortals. At least they wouldn’t have to be worried about being seen together, here as they had in Paris. He picked up Methos’ plate, along with his and walked towards the sink.
Methos stood, he’d leave the clean up to Mac while he did what he did best. He wandered over to the couch and laid down, treasuring the opportunity to watch MacLeod, unobserved of course. Methos kept his eyes slightly open as he leaned his head back against the arm of the couch; relaxing to the old Scottish ballad the highlander was humming.
He slowly woke from his slight doze when he felt someone close by. Methos released a soft sigh as Duncan pressed his mouth to his in a gentle kiss.
“Did I mention how good you looked yesterday, wearing my sweater,” Mac breathed as he pulled back. “The color suits you.”
“It doesn’t look so bad on you either.” Methos looked up at the tall man, in all honesty he didn’t ever remember seeing the Scot when he didn’t look good. Except when he was dying of course. Even the grey sweater he wore today somehow managed to appear sexy. He closed his eyes in disgust at himself. Damn he had it bad. Like some schoolboy crush.
Any retort MacLeod was going to utter was soon forgotten as they sensed another immortal. Mac immediately moved towards his sword, relaxing as the elevator started going down. “It’s only Richie,” he informed Methos who had sat up straighter on the couch, now wide awake.
“I figured,” Methos commented with a wry smile. He knew that the elevator required a key, one which he didn’t have but MacLeod’s protégé did.
“Hey guys, how’s it going?” Richie greeted as he walked out of the elevator, a few minutes later.
“Hey Richie.” Mac smiled at his young friend. Worry filling his brown eyes as he noted the slight hesitation Richie showed as he approached them after hanging up his jacket next to his helmet.
“Methos,” Richie acknowledged.
“Call me Adam,” Methos instantly drawled, his eyes flicking from Richie pointedly to MacLeod.
Richie nodded, “You got it.”
“Come in, take a load off.” Mac gestured to the chair.
“Thanks, I will. Uh, Mac,” he began, stopping the immortal as he passed him. “I want to apologize for Culbraith…”
“No, you were right. I shouldn’t have interfered. If I hadn’t then maybe…”
“It’s in the past,” the Scot cut off, ignoring Methos’ small snort. “Want something to drink?” Mac asked, stepping towards the refrigerator.
“Beer would be great,” Richie replied and sat down, glancing curiously at the immortal sprawled in the couch opposite him.
“So, what’s up?” MacLeod asked as he handed Richie a beer.
“Nothing really, just thinking.”
Mac nodded understanding, and wandered towards the side of the room. He perched himself on the table, his back towards the others. His thoughts turning toward the strange immortal and his message. “You really think peace between us is possible?” he asked.
Methos couldn’t believe it. What naiveté! And from MacLeod no less. Well maybe that wasn’t so surprising considering the other’s idealistic nature.
“I'd like to think so,” Richie replied.
“It would be nice,” MacLeod commented in a wistful tone.
Methos rolled his eyes but wisely kept his mouth shut.
“You know, I don’t even know what his real name was,” Richie commented. “I know he wasn’t the REAL Methos,” he began with a pointed look at the immortal lounging on the couch, “but he was a good man.”
Methos gave a long suffering sigh. “Look, I’m sorry I disappointed you kid,” he said as he swung his legs off the couch and stood.
“That’s okay,” Richie stated as the oldest known immortal alive, slowly approached.
“Later,” Methos said on his way towards the door.
Richie stood up as Methos passed him. “Old timer!” he called, causing Methos to pause. “You got any words of wisdom for me?”
Methos tilted his head. “N-o-p-e.”
MacLeod smiled while Richie gave a slight grin at the definitive answer.
Richie watched Adam leave, still amazed that the sarcastic man was the legendary Methos.
Mac glanced over at sound of the door shutting, half wondering where Methos was going.
“Well, uh…thanks for saving my life…again.”
“Yeah, all I did was level the playing field,” MacLeod said dismissing it as no big deal.
Richie looked thoughtfully down at the floor for a few seconds. “You know, Mac, I think I'm gonna head out of town for a while,” he began saying as he walked over to the coat rack. “Just get on my bike, and try to figure some stuff out.”
“One of those big questions?" MacLeod asked shifting to the left to look at Richie.
“Oh, yeah,” Richie replied adjusting the coat he had just put on.
“If you don't find the answers. Keep looking.”
Richie picked up his helmet and began walking towards the elevator. “I will."
“Richie,” MacLeod called, not exactly knowing what he wanted to say. “Be safe,” he cautioned.
Richie looked down for a few seconds at the concerned words, before finally meeting the highlander’s gaze. “You too, Mac,” he directed as he pulled down the elevator cage. “See you.”
Richie tensed at the feel of another immortal’s presence as he walked through dojo. “I’m headed out of town,” he informed Adam who was standing by the office.
Methos nodded. “Good luck.”
“Are you going to be staying a while?” Richie asked curiously.
“It looks like it,” Methos casually replied, his right eyebrow arching questioningly.
“Just curious,” Richie answered as he continued past the other towards the exit. He suddenly turned back and asked, “Where did Mac first meet you? Was it in Paris where he told me he met Adam Pierson?”
Methos nodded. “Yes, it was during that mess with Kalas.”
“I remember,” Richie said half torn with the idea of sticking around to ask Methos what his life has been like but realizing that the ancient immortal would just probably tell him to fuck off. “Take care.”
“You too.” Methos watched the kid walk out the door and smiled, all too familiar with that look. The one people got when they learned that he was Methos. Now there was another person who knew who he was. He shook his head in disbelief at his continued folly. ‘He really was losing his edge,’ he thought. It had been more than a millennia since anyone had known his real name, and now there were four in a mere three years.
“There you are. I was wondering where you’d gotten to,” MacLeod muttered as he walked into the dojo’s small utility room. He paused, slightly thrown at the sight. Methos was sorting laundry.
Mac didn’t ever remember seeing the old man ever do laundry, not even during the short time they lived together on the barge. He hadn’t ever thought about it…until now.
“You do know what you’re doing?” Mac asked in a dubious tone.
“Sorting lights from darks.”
“It’s just that…I don’t remember you ever doing your laundry in Paris. In fact, I did it.”
Methos smirked as he threw a load of t-shirts into the washer and proceeded to add detergent like an old pro. “Little late to have a fight about it now.” He stated, turning the machine on with a flourish. “Besides you offered.”
“Right.” MacLeod stepped up beside the other immortal and absently began helping. “Well, Richie’s out of town for a while.”
Methos nodded, “he’ll be okay. You’ve taught him well.”
Mac shot Methos a doubtful look.
“He’s a little naïve but like Joe said, he’s young.”
“I guess,” Mac muttered as he looked down a frown on his face as he suddenly realized something. “Methos, there are no socks here.” He hadn’t come across a single one.
“There aren’t any dirty,” Methos replied matter of factly, continuing at Mac’s disbelieving expression. “I bought new ones…old ones were full of holes. At least my boots made it here before falling apart. Speaking of which, I’m going out later to buy a new pair. Care to join me?”
MacLeod stared at the winsome smile and shook his head slightly, utterly bewildered at how at ease he felt, standing here next to this man. “Yes, I’ll go with you to the mall, Methos.” The small smile on his handsome face marring the effect of the long suffering tone as he shared a sidelong look with the ancient immortal.
***Next up: Just what happened after Duncan’s and Methos’ trip to the mall? A short epilogue/interlude titled “Between the Raindrops” before Sweet Conflict Part Five.