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Master of Opportunity (Part 4)

by Denise Proctor and Bertha Trusdell (c) 1999



Some time later Joe woke to find Methos staring out the window. The Immortal had been trying to decide how much more to tell his friend. He realized that, now that he'd begun the story, he had to finish it. Joe deserved nothing less. But Methos wasn't sure how much of the details he needed to disclose. The next part of his tale would be covering what Methos had always considered to be his greatest failure. Even after all this time, he still felt the guilt and the pain. Did he really want to reveal that part of himself to Joe? Could he?

Methos turned as he heard Joe stirring and caught the look in Joe's eyes. Those eyes showed Methos many things: curiosity, worry, pain, caring, and trust. Joe did care about him, Methos knew that. And, when everyone else seemed to turn aside, Joe always seemed to trust him. How could Methos not show this mortal the same consideration? How could he not trust Joe with the truth? In that moment Methos decided that he would give Joe all the detail that he desired. He would trust Joe.

"How you doing?" Methos asked lightly as he came back to the bed.

"Better." Joe responded, reaching for his water. "I must've nodded off for a minute."

"No problem, Joe," Methos smiled as he helped hold the water glass to Joe's lips. "It gave me a chance to try to remember all the detail that I KNOW you're going to want."

"And you better not leave anything out, if you know what's good for you." Joe threatened.

"Oh, yeah?" the Immortal laughed. "And what are you going to do to me?"

"I may just come back to haunt you for the NEXT five thousand years!"

Methos laughed even louder as he reclaimed his seat in the chair. "Oh, no! Anything but that!" Getting comfortable, he tried to recap. "OK, where were we?"

"You had realized that Darius was your anchor." Joe helped.

"Yeah, right. He was also my confidant, as Ambrosius had been. And, believe me Joe, I needed it. I needed someone to whom I could talk out my doubts with, someone who could assure me that I was on the right track, someone that I could vent my frustrations to. And, believe me, I was definitely frustrated."

"The search wasn't going well?" Joe ventured

"That's an understatement." Methos shook his head. "I had traveled most of the known world searching for the next Champion and I was having no success. My greatest fear was that I wouldn't find him and that I'd be forced to face the demon. I didn't think that I could do that again."

"But you did find the Champion, didn't you?" Joe sat a little straighter in anticipation.


"Oh, yes, I found him. It may have been better for him if I hadn't." Methos sighed, remembering that event. "I had just about given up hope of ever finding the Champion when, sometime around 994 AD, I began hearing stories about a titled land owner near Bremen, in Saxony. He had money, power, a loving family, everything that he could possible want. But then he started making claims that Satan was on his way, that Satan was going to destroy the world and only he could stop him. Of course, everyone thought he was crazy and, soon, everything he had was lost. His family abandoned him; his friends turned him away until, finally, he was alone. But he still kept trying to make everyone understand that Satan was coming."

"Now, there have always been crazies that saw the new millennium as the end of the world, but this one sounded a little too close to what I was looking for, so I decided to track him down and check him out. After all, I wasn't having any luck anywhere else. My other concern was that the time would soon be upon us for the battle. I was desperate to find the Champion. So I headed to Saxony only to find that the man, Lord Timothy of Gilliam, had gone.

I tracked him through Europe, into Asia, as he headed to what is now Iraq. I was getting frantic. The battle was almost upon us and I was chasing this man, who may or may not be the Champion, half way around the world.

Finally, I had success. I found him in a crypt located under an ancient temple and, I could tell, he was definitely the Champion. But, to my horror, he was already locked into his battle with the demon."


Methos rose from the chair and, raising his arms over his head, stretched his entire body. Moving around, trying to get the kinks out of his muscles, he stood at the foot of Joe's bed and continued.

"Now, you have to remember, Joe, my task had been to find him and train him, prepared him for this confrontation, to teach him what he needed to know. I had spent a thousand years searching for him and came upon him too late. I had failed to train him and I thought that he was unprepared for this battle, so I did the only thing that I could think of. I tried to help him fight."

"But I thought it was supposed to be a one-on-one battle?" Joe questioned.

"Yeah, well," Methos hung his head, embarrassed, sadness in his voice. "I disregarded that part and it may have cost Timothy his sanity."


"I tried to join the battle, but Timothy kept trying to push me away. I can still hear him screaming in my mind "only one...only one". But I wouldn't listen. I was determined to help him whether he wanted me to or not. In the end he wound up fighting the demon and me." Methos shook his head sadly. "I thought I knew better then he did but I only made things worse. It turned into a long, drawn out battle. But he succeeded in defeating the demon. After it was over, I went to him to help him. He just stared at me with this wild look in his eyes and he kept repeating it over and over again...'only one, only one.'"

"There can be only one?" Joe asked. "Was he quoting rules?"

"I don't know, Joe." Methos sighed. "I don't know if he meant in this battle or if he was talking Immortal battles in general, but for days that was all he would say. I stayed with him for a while, waiting for him to get a hold of himself, to regain control of his mind. He never did." Methos sat in the chair again, looking very tired.

"I can't help thinking, Joe, that he lost his sanity because I interfered. In my arrogance, I decided that I had all the answers and, because of that, Timothy lost his mind."

"You don't know if that's true, Methos," Joe told him

"I don't know that it's not, Joe." Methos smiled at his friend, appreciating the man's attempt at comfort.

"So, this Timothy survived his battle." Methos nodded. "Was he supposed to train the next Champion?"

"Yes." Methos replied. "That's how it was supposed to work, I think. But, in his mental state, he wouldn't be able to do it. He wouldn't be able to track him down."

"So you took on the task?"

"I had to, Joe." Methos was beginning to sound exasperated. "Timothy ended up this way because of me. I know..." He cut off Joe's attempt to reassure him. "We don't know that for sure, but I felt that way, then and now. I decided that I had to find the next Champion but first I had to do something with Timothy. I had to find somewhere safe; somewhere that he could stay until I could bring the Champion to him. You see, I was afraid that if he wasn't involved in the next Champion's training then, somehow, it wouldn't work right. I don't know." Methos shrugged. "At this point, I was so afraid of doing something wrong again, that I was trying to cover all my bases."

"So, what did you do?"

"I had to convince him that I was his friend, that I would protect him and that he still had a job to do." A faint smile crossed the ancient's face. "It took me quite a while, but I finally succeeded."


**1203 AD - Scottish Highlands**


The lone horse trudged through the deepening drifts on this frigid, winter day. The two men were both wrapped up against the cold to the point that they were nothing more than fur wrapped shapes in the snow. The tall, thin man, leading the horse, leaned closer to the rider.

"Come along Timothy, it is not much further and you will be able to rest." Timothy, the man on the horse, did not respond at first but after a few moments, he seemed to realize that he had been spoken to.

"That will be good." His voice, rusty from disuse, barely made it to the ears of the other, trudging through the snow. Timothy sank back into his furs and did not speak again.

A heavy sigh escaped the lips of Methos. This journey was the end of a bad century as far as he was concerned. His life had not been the same since the Gods had charged him to find this man, the Champion, and help him. Gods were funny beings; they expected miracles to happen and gave little useful information to aid a person in their task. "No disrespect intended," he hastily added with a glance upwards. Methos had seen the work of a displeased God firsthand and he did not want to see it again.


Methos glanced at the still figure on the horse. It was hard to think of him as the Champion yet Timothy had not only faced Ahriman, he had prevailed. There had been a cost for that victory; his family, his fortune and his sanity. How many people would have stood by an individual who made wild claims of a demon appearing that only he could see? Methos knew, from personal experience, how painful it was to have those you love view you as evil.

Methos had spent hundreds of years tracking Timothy. Armed only with a vague sense of what he was trying to find, Methos had set forth. He knew he had a limited time to find this Champion before it was too late to help him. Methos gave a bitter laugh at that thought. He had arrived in time but it had still been too late to help. Timothy had struggled and won his battle but Methos could not shake the feeling that his very presence, as a former Champion, had caused something to go wrong, horribly wrong. Timothy, still reeling from the loss of his family and having to deal with Ahriman, had lost his fragile hold on sanity. Was Methos to blame for that? He did not think Timothy blamed him, if Timothy was even capable of making that determination.

Following that battle, Methos had tried to convince Timothy to come with him. Methos wanted to get him established someplace remote and safe, so that Timothy would be able to share his knowledge with the next Champion. Methos sighed once again. How many times would he have to do this, he wondered. How many more times would Ahriman face down a Champion? Would this continue until the Evil won? Methos sincerely hoped that was not the case.

Through the lightly swirling snow, Methos spied the landmark he had been looking for. The two pines that were intertwined led to a hidden cave among the rocks. Methos had found this spot several years ago and decided it was a perfect place for Timothy to await the arrival of the Champion who was to succeed him.

The old Immortal looked back again at Timothy. He had not moved and was still staring straight ahead, oblivious to all around him. Shaking his head slightly, Methos also felt a sense of relief. It had taken him nearly two hundred years to convince Timothy that this was the right thing to do. He did not want to spend the next who knows how many years babysitting this man while waiting.

Stepping more quickly, Methos urged the horse forward and spoke up. "Look Timothy, this is where we were heading! This is the place I have been telling you about."


Timothy did not respond but did turn his head slightly to survey the surrounding area. A faint smile ghosted across his face and he gave a faint nod.


"This looks like a good place. I think I will like it here." Timothy looked at Methos, his eyes clear and all of his intelligence showing forth. "You will send him to me when he is ready?"


This was not the first time that Timothy was rational and sane but as before, the sheer change that came over him was startling. Methos could only, once again, thank whatever Gods where responsible, that he had not suffered the same fate that Timothy had.


The two men went into the cave and Timothy dismounted, shedding some of his furs in the warm air of the cavern. Lighting a torch, he moved about, exploring his new home. Methos left him to it and concerned himself with getting the equipment and supplies off of the horse. Several hours passed in silence as the two men went about their separate tasks, making the cave habitable. Timothy, after glancing at the fire that had been started, set out with his snares. Methos saw him leave but did not comment on it, knowing that he had to let go at some point. Timothy returned shortly with two hares that he expertly prepared.

Following the meal, Methos prepared to leave, taking the horse with him and leaving Timothy on his own. Even though he knew it had to be done, he could not help but feel apprehensive. Timothy and his knowledge had to be preserved for the one who followed him. It was highly unlikely that another Immortal would track him here but it could happen. "Get hold of yourself, man," Methos thought to himself. "There is only so much you can do. Besides, if Timothy is lost, you will still be around."

The young looking man stood awkwardly by his horse, not sure what to say or how to take his leave. He shifted for a moment and looked everywhere but at the Immortal sitting by the fire, watching him expectantly.

"I will be fine here, Marcus" Timothy said. "I have everything I need and no one to bother me. I can rest here until he comes to me. You will send him to me?"

Methos nodded in the affirmative. "Yes, Timothy. I don't know how long it will be but I will find him and I will send him to you. " He stared intently at the reins in his hand. "I will come and visit when I am in the area, to see how you are. Are you sure you will be alright?"

With a wave of his hand, Timothy laughed, for the first time since Methos had found him. "Marcus, this is all I want. A place to be alone and wait. Do not worry, I will wait until he arrives."

The two men gave each other a short nod and Methos took his leave, not looking back but forward, to the future, and the next task he had.



"You just left him alone in the cave?"

"I had to, Joe." Methos tried to explain. "I couldn't keep him with me. I had to go find the next Champion and, as before, I didn't have the slightest clue where to begin." Methos sighed and shook his head. "I decided that if I put him someplace completely out of the way that he would be safe. He was able to take care of himself, despite his tenuous grasp on reality. I did go back to visit him from time to time but even that became harder and harder to do."

**1487 - Timothy's Cave**

"Timothy, my friend, it is good to see you are doing well." Methos spoke quietly, so as not to startle the man. Each time that Methos had returned to check on him, Timothy had retreated further and further from the world of men. Sometimes he wondered if the only thing that kept Timothy from forgetting he was a man were these visits and the job Timothy still had to do.

Timothy barely took notice of the Immortal standing in his cave. His gray eyes quickly scanned the face of Methos and he cocked his head to one side as he thought.

"You are Marcus." Timothy finally said. Methos smiled again and stepped forward. Once he had been identified, he no longer worried that Timothy might attack.

"Yes, my friend, I am. It has been a long time since I have seen you. How are you doing?"

"I am tired, Marcus. Have you come to tell me that he has been found?" A hopeful expression crossed Timothy's face as he waited for an answer.

Methos felt his guts clench, he so hated to tell Timothy that he was still searching but the time seemed near at hand. His expression told Timothy what he needed to know and the hermit sighed heavily.

"How much longer must I wait, Marcus? How long have I been waiting already? I have lost all track of time living here."

Methos paced near the fire. "Not much longer, Timothy, not much longer. I think the next time I return I will be able to tell you that your journey is almost complete. You will be able to teach him what you know and then you are free of you obligation."

"That is good then. Tell me again what I must do when he gets here?"

Methos made himself comfortable and began his tale once more, his listener drinking in every word.




"Poor guy," Joe said, shaking his head. Methos looked over at him, his eyebrows arched in question. "Well, it's obvious that you didn't find the Champion by your next visit."

"No, I'm afraid not. And it was getting more difficult to face Timothy, having to tell him that I'd failed. But how did you know that?"

"Well, Mac was the next Champion and you didn't meet him until...what...1995? And didn't he come across Timothy on his own? So, you never got to tell Timothy that the Champion had been found."

Methos gave the Watcher a wry smile. "Yes and no. Mac did run across Timothy on his own but I was able to tell him that I'd found the Champion. You see," Methos lowered his eyes, a guilty look on his face. "I actually met Mac a little before 1995." Seeing Joe's frown, Methos laughed. "I was getting desperate. It had been almost six hundred years since the last battle and, once again, time was running out. But, as I left Timothy one winter day..."


**1592 - Scottish Highlands**


Methos rode his horse slowly though the hills, wrapped in a woolen cloak and hunched down against the biting cold. His latest visit to Timothy had been painful and frightening. Painful because he had, once again, been unable to tell the man that the new Champion had been found. Frightening because, as time went on, the hermit's grasp on reality seemed to be slipping, irrevocably, away. If Methos didn't find the next Champion soon, he feared that Timothy would be unable to teach him what he needed to know.

After leaving Timothy's cave, Methos had traveled from village to town, gathering and spreading whatever news he could. He found that things in the Highlands changed very little in the passing years. Border skirmishes, cattle rustling, Clan gatherings; these things had gone on for hundreds of years past and, Methos was sure, would continue for hundreds of years into the future. The latest news that had stuck in his mind was the ongoing Clan battle between the Campbells and the MacLeods.


As he rode along the border of these two Clans, Methos recalled that they had, for years, vacillated between being friends and enemies, agreeing to alliances only to have them shattered by perceived grievances. This latest clash, Methos had heard, had started by the theft of a cow! Methos laughed at the absurdity of the idea. A cow, for goodness sake!

To add to his amusement of this situation was the fact that a temporary truce had been called so that the chief of the Clan MacLeod could await the birth of his first child. Methos had no doubt that, once this child was born, the petty battles would resume. He finally concluded that these Clans, like children, fought simply to have something to do.

He was heading now to a village that he'd visited before, small enough that Methos couldn't even remember its name but large enough, he knew, to have an inn. The thoughts of a warm fire, a good meal and a soft bed indoors enticed him, drawing him onward.


He guided his horse off the main track, following a little known trail that would bring him to the village even faster. As he moved on through the trees, he began to notice signs of a battle. Whether it was a clash of Clans or an attack of some other kind, he could not tell, but, as evidence of debris turned into occasional bodies, he knew that these people had been overwhelmed, with little chance for escape.


Moving past the obviously dead bodies, he made his way slowly along the trail. He decided not to stop, knowing there was nothing that he could do. He would tell the people of the village, allowing them to care for their own.

He continued to ride on, leaving the gruesome scene behind him when, suddenly, he became aware of Immortal presence, so faint as to be almost negligible. 'This has to be a pre-Immortal,' Methos decided, 'and a very young one, at that.' Dismounting, he began to walk slowly along the trail, scanning the growth by the sides of the path, trying to locate what he assumed to be a child. A small sound drew his attention to the brambles surrounding the base of a tree. Kneeling down, he pushed them aside to reveal a dark-haired girl, possibly eight years old, laying face down, obviously dead. This could not possibly be the source of the presence that he still felt, tickling at the edge of his mind.

Drawing a compassionate hand over the child's hair, he said a small prayer for her soul and started to move on when, once again, he heard a sound. Reverently moving the little girl's body aside, he was assaulted by the cries of an apparent newborn child. Was this babe destined to be Immortal?


A boy, he had been saved from freezing to death by the warmth of the dying little girl. Now, exposed to the elements, he let out a lusty scream, determined to alert the entire forest to his displeasure. Methos removed his cloak, wrapping the dark-haired child in it. Holding the bundle to his chest, he soothed the baby as he tried to think of what to do. He decided to continue on to the inn, hoping that, by then, he would have thought of a solution.

Pulling his spare cloak from his pack, he wrapped it around his shoulders. Methos mounted his horse and, settling the child inside his cloak, headed toward the warmth of the inn.


An hour later, Methos entered his room. He had hidden the baby from the innkeeper, deciding that it was better if no one could trace this child to him. Now, he placed the sleeping child, still wrapped in his cloak, on the bed and went to build up the peat fire. He didn't want either of them freezing to death before he could decided what to do.

"Well, young man, what am I going to do with you?" Methos asked as he came back to stand over the bed, looking down at the child. At that moment, the baby squirmed, stretched and opened his eyes. Sitting down on the bed, Methos unwrapped the child, picking him up. He had known many children in his five thousand years; he'd even raised a few himself. He could tell that this baby wasn't yet one day old.

"You've had an eventful life so far, haven't you, little one?" he smiled as he cradled the child in his arms. A sudden stream of warmth splashed against the Immortal's cheek. "Hey! Don't piss on me!" he yelled, wiping his sleeve across his face. "This isn't my fault, you know." Startled by the loud comment, the baby began to whimper. "Shhh," Methos whispered, lowering his voice, as he tried to soothe the babe. When the whimper threatened to turn into a full-blown wail, Methos placed his finger at the child's lips, surprised at how strongly he reacted to something to suck on. "Hungry, aren't you. Well, as soon as the innkeeper brings my dinner, we'll see what there is that you can eat." Maybe some broth or bread dipped in gravy, he thought. Methos just knew that he had to give the poor baby something.

Chuckling to himself, he watched this newborn, still suckling on his finger. He'd forgotten how 'unpredictable' little boys could be. Concentrating, he could definitely feel the pre-Immortal presence. But there was something else, too, something that Methos couldn't identify. At that moment a knock at his door announced the arrival of his meal. Placing the babe on the bed, he covered him with the cloak, hoping to muffle any discovering sounds. Wiping his face again, he opened the door, just wide enough to accept the tray of food then, handing the innkeeper a few coins, double the amount agreed upon, Methos closed the door.

He settled back onto the bed, placing the food beside him. Retrieving the child from his cocoon of clothes, Methos again cradled him in his arms.

"Well, little one, let us see what there is here that you like." Methos broke off a crust of bread and, dipping it into the gravy, gently put it against the baby's lips. Immediately, the hungry child started suckling at the offered nourishment.

"Like that, do you?" Methos smiled as he sat back to feed himself and the child. Now he just had to figure out what to do with this future Immortal. He couldn't keep him, for many reasons. His current search for the Champion was taking all of his time. Besides, this child deserved to be raised by a family, surrounded by loving guidance.

"Your future will be difficult enough, little one. You will need strong roots on which to grow."


The baby, satisfied and content, seemed to smile at Methos. As the ancient Immortal looked into the newborn's blue eyes, a sense of recognition surrounded him, passing over him, flowing through him, taking his breath away. He had experienced this feeling only once before in his life, when his had first met Timothy.

He held the child out before him, studying him, trying to decide if this feeling was real or just a product of his imagination. Looking deep into the blue eyes, he concentrated on the sensation. The presence of Immortality was unmistakable and so, to Methos' surprise, was the other, more important impression: the sign of the Champion.

"By the Gods," Methos moaned as he clasped the baby to his chest. "I've finally found you."

He looked down at the child again, as if to assure himself that he wasn't crazy. The baby, unimpressed with his importance, snuggled down into the comforting arms, preparing to go to sleep. Methos held him gently, knowing that it was even more important now that he find the right family with which to place this child.

A family with a strong bond of loyalty, that was important. 'Placing him within any clan would almost guarantee that,' he thought. But who would take in a foundling and raise him as his own, with a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of duty? Who would raise him as the warrior that he would need to be?

"MacLeod." Methos uttered the name that suddenly came to mind. He had met the chieftain on a few occasions and knew the man to be harsh but fair, strong and kind. And with another child due at any moment, this one would have a companion with which to grow. Yes, Methos decided, this man could successfully raise the next Champion.

"Do you want to be a MacLeod, little one?" he whispered at the sleeping child. Now that his decision was made, he had to determine how to get the child to the MacLeods. If he was to secretly guide this child throughout his life then there could be no connection between them. But Methos knew of a peasant woman who lived in the forest who would be able to help him. He would give her the child and she would take him to the MacLeods. She would convince them to take the child in.

Knowing that he had to move quickly, Methos packed his belongings and the baby and headed out to find the peasant woman and start this newest MacLeod on his road to the future.



Master of Opportunity ] Shades and Shadows ]

Designed and Maintained by Lyria Wollich - 2001    

Highlander Fan Central

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