of Opportunity (Conclusion)
by Denise Proctor and Bertha Trusdell (c) 1999
Emily Baldwin started her shift just before dawn. She checked the night
sheet to see if her patients had sleep through, problem free. After
concluding that no crisis had occurred while she was away, she started on
her morning ritual of checking all the rooms. It was her habit to walk the
halls, checking in to make sure all her patients were comfortable before
she started her required duties. As she headed down the hallway, glancing
into each room as she passed, she thought of the events of yesterday.
That young man that visited Joe Dawson yesterday...what was his name?
Pierson, that was it...Adam Pierson. Emily had taken an instant dislike to
the boy but she didn't know why. He was very handsome, she admitted to
herself, with his dark hair and ivory skin. You could tell that there
wasn't an ounce of fat on that slender, muscular body. And he had a
fabulous smile, the kind that could take your breath away. Emily smiled as
she recalled the image he presented as he had walked towards her
Then there were those eyes. She could imagine the women who lost
themselves in those pools of ever changing color, colors that flickered
and danced with playfulness, mischievous barely contained within them. But
they were also very frightening eyes. She had watched as they had turned
to deep, terrifying pits of blackness when he had gotten angry. Is that
why she didn't trust him? No, she finally admitted to herself. She didn't
trust him because of Joe.
She had known Joe Dawson for many years, had seen him come in for
check-ups after returning from Vietnam. He had always teased and taunted
her, but the verbal barrage had always been accompanied by a friendly
smile. Their sparring had become the routine and they both seemed to enjoy
it. She wanted the relationship to become more personal and had just
worked up the nerve to ask him out when, suddenly, he'd left town, moving,
she'd heard, to the West Coast. She cursed the missed opportunity then
went on with her life.
Then, about a year ago, he'd come back. She was saddened as she watched
him fight the terminal illness that continued to take away his strength
and energy, forcing him to, finally, be confined to the hospital. She
hated the illness that brought him here but at least she was able to take
care of him, make him comfortable and protect him. And that's what she was
doing now, protecting him.
In the two months that he'd been in this hospital and under her care,
Emily Baldwin had watched as Joe had received no visitors. A multitude of
phone calls, yes. And she had become familiar with everyone of the
callers, some from halfway around the world. But still, no visitors. Until
yesterday. Then suddenly, this Adam Pierson walked in and decided to take
over, as if he knew what was better for Joe than she did.
What did he want from Joe? Was he after his money? His property? Emily
didn't know. But, if this young man was really a friend, why hadn't he
come to visit before? Why had he left Joe to fight this battle alone? 'Oh,
well,' she thought, 'that was yesterday. The Pierson fellow is gone and
things will be back to normal today.'
These thoughts ran through her mind as Head Nurse Emily Baldwin
continued her rounds. As she stopped at the door of Joe Dawson's room she
was surprised by what she saw.
Joe was sleeping soundly, the monitors telling Emily that everything
was normal. What surprised her was the other sleeping figure.
Adam Pierson had placed two chairs next to Joe's bed and somehow
managed to drape his body between them. Covered by a small blanket, his
one hand abandoned the warmth to rest lightly on Joe's arm as if to assure
the man that, even in sleep, he was still there.
As she watched, Pierson stirred and, slowly opening his eyes, saw her
standing in the doorway. He gently unfolded himself from his makeshift bed
and, satisfying himself that Joe was still sleeping soundly, went over to
He was exhausted. Thirty-six hours ago he had been hauled out of a
sound sleep by the phone call from Dr. Madison. Six hours of air travel
across at least five time zones had helped to expend his energy. Then,
there was the tale. He had spent the whole day, with only brief pauses for
Joe's medications, giving the Watcher the intimate details of his life.
The absolute highs, the deepest lows and every emotion in between had been
explored as he chronicled the reasons and events that brought him into the
life of Duncan MacLeod. By the end of the day he was emotionally, as well
as physically, drained. But still he couldn't relax. He had caught maybe
an hour or two of sleep as he sat at Joe's bedside during the night. Now
he awoke to find the nurse from hell staring at him. He needed a shower
and he needed some sleep. What he didn't need right now was another
He stepped past her into the hallway, forcing her to turn after him. If
she wanted to fight, he was determined that she wasn't going to disturb
Joe. Rubbing his hands over his face, trying to wipe away the sleep, he
sighed as he looked her in the eye.
"Good morning, Nurse Baldwin." He smiled, trying to be
cheerful. Maybe, if he were pleasant, she would be, too.
"You slept here all night?" she asked, keeping her voice low.
Her question came out as a mild accusation.
He nodded, too tired to waste words stating the obvious. She looked him
over from head to toe, as if reassessing him.
"What are you doing here, Mr. Pierson?"
"What?" Methos was momentarily confused by her question.
"What do you hope to gain by being here? What do you want from
Suddenly he realized where her questions were coming from. She was
trying to protect Joe and she saw him as a threat. Sighing, he shook his
"Joe has already given me the most precious gift there is."
Seeing her questioning look, he explained. "His friendship. What more
could I possibly want?"
"If you're such a good friend, you and this MacLeod person, why
haven't you been here for him? Why has he been dying alone."
As exhaustion got the better of him, he hung his head. He didn't have
the energy for this. He took a deep breath, hoping to regain some
strength, then looked her in the eyes.
"Joe hid his illness from me, just as I'm sure he hid it from
MacLeod. He didn't want us to have to go through watching this illness
slowly eat away at him. Hell, I didn't even know he was sick until
yesterday!" Realizing that he was getting loud, Methos lowered his
voice. "We haven't been here for him because that is what he
That sounded like something Joe would do, she admitted to herself.
Maybe she had judged this young man poorly. It was obvious to her now that
he cared about Joe. And she could see that he was exhausted. As her
mothering instincts kicked into gear, she decided that he probably hadn't
eaten yesterday, either. Well she could take care of that.
She placed a hand gently on his arm. "Down the hall is the nurse's
lounge. There's a shower in there, if you want to use it."
Bewildered by her sudden changes of attitude, he wasn't sure how to
answer. He nodded.
"Good." She smiled. "And while you're getting cleaned
up, I'll see about getting you two some breakfast."
"Oh...uh.." he stammered. "I...uh...really appreciate
that, Nurse Baldwin, but, well...I've tasted the hospital food, you see,
Her smile broadened. "I understand, Mr. Pierson. But there's a
café down the street that makes great pancakes and sausage. They also
have the best coffee around." She leaned closer, dropping her voice
to a whisper. "I can have them deliver it for the both of you. I'm
sure Joe would like something different."
The thought of a hot shower and some good food filled him with joy.
Taking her face in his hands, he placed a kiss on the nurse's forehead.
"Nurse Baldwin, you are an angel sent from heaven!"
Emily Baldwin blushed. This young man really was very nice. And very
handsome, too. Getting control of herself, she switched back into Head
"That's enough of that, young man," she said, trying to
appear gruff. "You just get in there and take that shower! And don't
dawdle!" she ordered. "It wouldn't due for Joe to wake up and
you not be there." With that, she turned and walked away but not
before Methos saw the smile on her face.
Ignoring Nurse Baldwin's words, Methos had dawdled. The hot water
pulsing over his aching body had felt like heaven, easing his tired
muscles with its soothing warmth. After what, he realized, was an
extraordinarily long time, Methos emerged for the shower and dressed
quickly. He wanted to be there when Joe woke up. Running his hand through
his short, spiked hair, he grabbed his bag and head back to his friend's
Coming quietly through the doorway, he found Joe sitting up, wide
awake. It appeared that he, too, had been bathed and his hair combed.
Dropping his bag, Methos walked over to Joe.
"Good morning," he said with a smile as he sat on the edge of
the bed. "You look rested and refreshed."
"So do you," Joe smile in return. "Where'd you go? Back
to your hotel?"
"Actually, there is no hotel." Methos admitted, a bit
embarrassed. "I came here directly from the airport yesterday. I
didn't take time to get a room."
"So where did you get cleaned up?"
"The nurse's lounge down the hall has a shower in it. Nurse
Baldwin let me use it."
"Nurse Emily Baldwin?!" Joe asked, in total shock. "The
same Emily Baldwin that keeps wanting to throw you out of here?" When
Methos nodded, Joe laughed. "What did you do...threaten her?"
"No," the Immortal assured his friend. "I think we've
finally reached an understanding. I think she realized that I'm not here
to steal your vast wealth or harm you in any other way. She's very
protective of you, you know."
"Hmm," Joe shook his head. "Maybe that explains the
personal sponge bath." Methos raised his eyebrows in question and Joe
laughed. "And they call me a dirty old man! Let's just get back to
the story, ok?"
"Not just yet, Joe." Methos said as he saw a deliveryman step
into the room. "I think breakfast has arrived."
The aroma of freshly cooked pancakes and sausage wafted across the
room, setting Joe's mouth to watering. "What did you do?" he
whispered, savoring the smell of the food.
Methos paid the man then brought the bag of food over to Joe's table.
"Not me, Joe. Nurse Baldwin. She thought we'd both like some 'good'
food for a change." He began pulling out styrofoam containers,
opening them to reveal the warm treasures inside. Placing one container in
front of Joe, he took the lid off the large cup of coffee and handed it to
his friend. Joe sipped the steaming brown liquid as Methos settled himself
down on the bed.
"Ahhh" Joe sighed, savoring the flavor. "That tastes
great." He looked down at the steaming food before him. "And
this looks fantastic. Whatever you did to Nurse Baldwin, keep it up."
Methos laughed as he squirmed into a more comfortable position,
preparing to dig into his food. "You just eat it before it gets cold.
I don't want all my efforts to go to waste."
At that, both men began to devour the breakfast. But, by the time
Methos was finished, Joe was only halfway through his meal.
"Everything all right, Joe?" he asked, trying not to sound
"Great," Joe answered around a mouthful of pancakes. "I
just want to enjoy every morsel." He caught the Immortal's eyes.
"Why don't you continue with your story...and stop worrying!"
"Ok...ok," Methos surrendered, grabbing his cup of coffee. He
got more comfortable, leaning against the foot of the bed. "So where
was I in my long and often boring tale?" he inquired.
"Long, yes...boring, I don't think so." Joe silently offered
Methos some of his food and was secretly glad he declined. "You had
just finished telling me how you penetrated the Watchers."
"Ah yes, getting back in with the Watchers, for what I did not
know, would be my last time." Methos sighed, somewhat regretfully. It
was difficult not to feel regret; the Watchers had been a large part of
his life for so long.
"I knew the time was getting near at hand for Duncan to face his
challenge. I had to meet him personally to help prepare him for the last
few steps of his journey. I had made sure that he was well prepared by
others but the only way to insure that was to test him myself and shore up
where he was weak."
"So you made sure that I knew Adam, hoping I would introduce
you?" Joe cocked his head slightly.
"No, I had not planned to let Duncan know of the Adam Pierson
persona right off. I did not want to involve you in it...remember the
motto "observe and record but never interfere?" Methos gave a
mock stern look to Joe. "I had no idea how you decided to ignore it
to suit your own purposes."
Joe almost choked on a bite of his breakfast and Methos held up a hand
to stay the tide of angry words.
"Joe, I am not judging you here, believe me. It is fact that you
ignored or at least bent the hell out of the rules when it suited you. But
I was planning to meet MacLeod through Sean Burns. From there, I would
cultivate a friendship and we would go from that point. I had no idea our
meeting would come about because of Kalas."
Joe nodded thoughtfully and then a thought occurred to him. He frowned,
trying to think of the detail that was nagging him. He chewed and narrowed
his eyes at Methos.
"The Chronicle!" Joe exclaimed.
"The Chronicle?" Methos echoed, innocently.
"If you had planned all along to meet with MacLeod, how did he get
the Chronicle? The one that led him to me? I know what the Chronicle was,
how did he get it?"
Methos gave a small smile. "The Chronicle, ah yes. I had removed
it from the Watchers Library many years prior, just so that I had access
to it if I ever needed it. Yes, I had planned to meet with MacLeod all
along but there was just a small snag in my plans that was ...shall we
**1993 - Paris **
Darius sat at his desk, his head in his hands, contemplating his
dilemma. Xavier St. Cloud had committed murder last night then confessed
the crime to Darius, knowing full well that the priest could not report
the crime to the police. Six innocent people were dead and there was
nothing that he could do. Or was there?
Should he break the seal of the confessional, a primary vow as a
Christian priest, to stop this killer? 'No,' Darius thought, 'a vow once
taken is a vow for life.' Should he leave his sanctuary of Holy Ground and
challenge Xavier, taking a head for the first time in 1500 years? It was a
He had been a warrior, a general, leader of an army that had swept
across the continent, conquering everything in its path. He knew how to
kill. Or, at least, he used to. His only battles recently had been in the
abstract. He enjoyed the games that he played with Duncan; the strategies
of chess, the tactics of the battle reenactments. But toy soldiers and
game pieces were no replacements for the challenge of an actual battle.
So he sat here, agonizing over his inactivity, searching for a
solution. Suddenly, the presence of another Immortal washed over him,
demanding his attention. Could it be Xavier, returning to taunt him again?
Darius shook his head as he pushed himself away from his desk. 'Stop being
paranoid, old fool,' he laughed to himself. 'Its probably Duncan, here for
his game of chess.' Darius walked over to the door, preparing to greet his
friend. Pulling the door open, Darius was surprised to find no one there.
With the presence still humming in his head, Darius knew that the
Immortal was still inside the church. Leaving his room, he made his way to
the altar, searching the interior of the church but seeing no one. 'Is it
possible that we passed each other?' Darius wondered, returning to his
room. The door stood open, just as he'd left it. As he entered the room,
the presence grew stronger. Feeling a little nervous, even in this
sanctuary, Darius called out softly.
Darius caught a small movement in the darkened corner opposite where he
stood. Separating itself from the shadows, a shape emerged and stepped
into the light, revealing the form of a young man who, in reality, was the
oldest man alive.
"Methos!" Darius relaxed as he closed the door behind him.
"You startled me."
"Forgive me, my friend, but I had to be cautious." Methos
said as he sat wearily in the nearby chair. "I cannot be seen
Walking over to his cabinet, Darius retrieved a bottle of scotch,
usually reserved for Duncan, and poured an ample amount into a glass for
his worried friend. Coming back to the desk, he handed the drink to
Methos, who eyed the amber liquid with a smile.
"Drink up, my friend," Darius smiled. "Duncan will never
As Darius sat back down at the desk, he watched Methos empty the glass
in one swallow. He waited for the ancient to meet his gaze before he asked
"Tell me what is wrong, Methos."
"I have to leave," he answered. "Immediately."
"Who is after you, my brother?" Seeing Methos flinch at the
endearment told Darius all that he needed to know. "Kronos?"
"Yes," came the quiet response
"He has found you?" the priest asked.
"No, but he is getting too close."
Darius sighed at his friend's situation. "Will you leave your
Pierson identity behind?"
"No. I just think it is time that Adam Pierson did some
out-of-town research. Way out-of-town."
Methos rose from his chair and started pacing the room like a caged
animal, his frustration breaking through his normally calm exterior.
"Of all the times for him to show himself, why did he have to pick
now. We're so close to the end and there's still so much to do." He
stopped at the far wall, pounding his fist on it, in an effort to relieve
his growing tension. Placing his forehead against the cool stone, he
sighed, "Duncan still has so much to learn."
Darius crossed over to stand by his friend, placing a calming hand on
his back. "And I have no doubt that you will be here to teach
Methos looked at the priest, searching his face. "But I have to
prepare, just in case that I'm not. That's why I'm here."
Darius nodded as he guided the man back to sit, once again, at the
"I will do whatever I can, but I'm afraid that isn't much. I can
guide him, Methos, and I can counsel him but I'm afraid, I can no longer
protect him. His honor will not allow others to fight his battles nor will
it allow him to run, you know that."
"Yes, I know." Methos shook his head. "Somehow, in the
past six months, he has become an Immortal magnet. Every lunatic on the
planet seems to be looking for him." He clenched his fist in
frustration. "I could just kill Connor for dragging him back into the
"It wasn't Connor's fault. He didn't lead Slan to Duncan."
Darius tried reasoning with the other Immortal. "As a matter of fact,
he chased Slan, trying to prevent him from getting to Duncan. And when
that failed, he did everything in his power to prevent Duncan from taking
"Connor should have taken Slan's head before he every got close to
Duncan." Methos shouted. Hearing how ridicules he sounded, Methos
gave up, folding his arms onto the desktop and gently lying his head down.
"Connor did what he could, Methos." Darius gripped the older
"I know, I know," the muffled voice responded. Methos lifted
his head to face the priest.
"But tell me, my troubled friend." Darius grinned at Methos.
"What can I do?"
Methos reached down to his duffel, searching through the contents.
Finally finding what he was looking for, Methos straightened, handing
Darius a book. The priest gingerly accepted the apparently ancient,
leather bound journal, gently leafing through the exquisitely lettered,
"What is this?" Darius asked, reverently examining the tome
"It's a Watcher's Chronicle." Methos told him. Darius looked
up at the mention of the mortals that tracked their every move.
"Whose Chronicle is it?" Darius asked. "Surely not
"No," Methos smiled. "It is Timothy's Chronicle,
covering the years 957 through 999 AD, leading up to the period when
Timothy faced Ahriman. His Watcher tracked his training and his other
preparations for the confrontation. Of course, his Watcher thought that he
was mad. I made some notes inside, so that Duncan may know what to
"But what do you want me to do with it?" Darius asked
"Read it, expand on it, add whatever you think that Duncan may
need to know. Then, when the time comes, if I haven't returned, give it
too him." Methos ran his hands through his hair, hoping that he was
covering all the bases.
"I don't know what else to do, Darius. I just know that if I stay
around here, Kronos will track me down. I've done what I can to throw him
off the scent, but I can't be sure. He still may find me. Or worse, he may
find Duncan, and that's a confrontation that I can not allow to
"Duncan's an excellent fighter, Methos. He could probably take
Kronos, if he had too."
"But I can't risk it, Darius, not yet." Methos grabbed the
priest's hand trying to convince him. "I can't risk him before the
millennium. He's too important to lose." Methos rose, grabbing his
duffel, making ready to leave. Darius got up from the desk, and, coming
around to face his friend, placed his hand on Methos' shoulder.
"Rest easy, my old friend. Leave town, protect yourself and I will
do what I can to protect Duncan." Darius assured Methos. "And, I
promise, Duncan will receive this Chronicle, no matter what happens."
The tone of the priest's voice caused Methos to look him in the face,
seeing, for the first time, the worry in his friend's eyes.
"What is troubling you, Darius?"
"Besides the fact that my oldest friend is leaving town?"
Darius smiled at Methos, trying to ease his concern. "Nothing that
you have to worry about, I promise."
Methos continued to search the priest's face, knowing, unfortunately,
that Darius wasn't going to tell him anything else.
"All right," Methos said, as he headed for the door.
"I'll be out of contact for a few months, at least, but I'll contact
you as soon as I can." Methos turned to face his friend again.
"Take care of yourself, Darius and take care of Duncan. Just be here
when I return."
Methos pulled the priest into a quick embrace then quickly walked away.
Darius watched the ancient Immortal disappear down the darkened hallway,
his presence fading with his exit.
"I truly hope so, my ancient friend. I truly hope so."
"But he wasn't there when you got back, was he?" Joe asked
Methos shook his head, fighting back the tears that threatened to
escape his eyes. "No. By the time that I returned to Paris, Darius
was dead and Duncan had returned to the States. But he did have the
Chronicle." Methos shook his head. "That damn Chronicle. I gave
it to Darius and those bastards killed him for it."
"Those 'bastards' would have killed him anyway, Methos.' Joe
assured his friend. "Horton would have killed you all, if Duncan
hadn't stopped him."
"I should have stopped Horton." Methos challenged. "I
was a Watcher! I should have seen what was happening!"
"You did what you could, my friend." Joe smiled.
"Besides, that Chronicle led Duncan to me and I, in turn, led him to
"Not a part of the plan, Joe," Methos shook his head.
"And we both lost a good friend in the process...."
**1995 - Paris**
Methos turned off his computer. Taking the backup disks, he placed them
into the safe that was hidden in the wall and, locking it, slid home the
secret panel. He turned back to the desk and rested his head on his folded
arms, weary beyond belief.
Don Saltzer was dead. His friend and mentor on everything Watcher
related had been brutally murdered and Methos didn't know why. He had
entered Shakespeare and Company and found Don's body, the letters
"M" and "E" written in blood beside him. Who Don was
trying to leave a message for or what that message had meant, Methos
wasn't sure but he knew that there was nothing more that he could do for
Reining in his grief, Methos had set about the task of wiping Don's
computer clean, copying then deleting all the files pertaining to their
current project: an interactive Watcher database, all the records in one
handy, easy to access file. It was going to make retrieval so much
That done, Methos did the same with all of Don's other Watcher related
files, secreting the discs on his person before calling the police. With
the Watcher's information safe, Methos knew that he could come up with a
workable story, and alibi, for the investigators.
His discussion with the police completed, Methos had returned to his
apartment to download Don's files. He would let the Watchers know that he
had them, safe from outside scrutiny. But for now, he needed some peace.
The shrill ringing of the phone disturbed him. He decided to let the
machine pick it up. He wasn't in any mood, at the moment, to speak with
"Adam Pierson here." He heard the machine say. 'You can leave
a message after the beep."
"Adam, this is Joe Dawson. When you get..."
Methos lunged for the phone, cutting off the machine.
"Joe, I'm here." Methos was afraid to ask why Dawson was
calling him. Had something happened to MacLeod? 'That's all I needed now,'
he mentally groaned.
"Adam...good." Joe recovered, momentarily startled by the
interrupted message. "Adam, I heard about Don. I'm sorry."
The condolences hung in the silence as Methos allowed this information
to sink in. Joe knew about Don! How did he find out? And so fast? Methos
began to feel as if things were spinning out of control.
"How did you find out, Joe?" he asked, hoping that his voice
didn't betray his disorientation. "Did Headquarters call you?"
"No," Joe responded. "Duncan MacLeod did."
Joe proceeded to tell him everything that had been happening with
Duncan (and Kalas) for the past few months: Kalas beheading Brother Paul,
his obsession with destroying MacLeod, his beheading of Fitzcairn and,
finally, his murder of Don Saltzer.
"But why would Kalas kill Don?" Methos asked, in amazement.
"What could he possibly have that Kalas wanted? And how did MacLeod
"Mac went to the bookstore looking for Kalas." Joe said.
"He found Don, who tried to tell him what Kalas wanted. He managed to
write out the letters "M" and "E" before he
died." There was a moment of silence on the transatlantic line before
Joe continued. "Adam, I think Kalas is searching for Methos."
"That's crazy, Joe." Methos stated in disbelief, refusing to
accept this idea. "There is nothing in the records to even suggest
that Kalas and Methos ever crossed paths. What would Kalas want from
"What do you think he wants?" Joe's voice began to rise in
frustration. 'These researchers just don't understand' he thought as he
tried to bring himself under control. Taking a deep breath, he ventured to
explain to the university grad student.
"Do you know how powerful Kalas would become if he took a
Quickening as old as Methos'?" Joe asked evenly. "No one would
be able to defeat him, not even MacLeod!"
Methos was silent, his mind racing with this information. Kalas was
hunting for him and Don had died because of it! He wanted to crawl in the
nearest hole and hide for a few centuries, at least. But he couldn't do
that, not now, because now Duncan was involved. He had to think of
"Is MacLeod looking for Kalas?" Methos needed to find out
where Duncan was. 'I can't protect what I can't find.' he raged at
"No, actually he figured that it would be better if he found Kalas'
target first." Joe stated. "He's looking for Methos."
With those words, the world that had been so recently spinning out of
control, came to a sudden stop. Duncan was looking for him! His mind began
to race. He could leave Paris, save himself, but then who would watch over
MacLeod? He could let Duncan find him, maybe it was the right time. Or, he
"Adam. ADAM!" Joe shouted into the phone.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Joe, I was thinking about Don." Methos said,
trying to cover his distraction. "What were you saying?"
"I told MacLeod that if anyone could find Methos, it would be
you." Joe took the silence on the other end as fear, so he tried to
reassure the young Watcher. So many of the non-field guys reacted that way
to the possibility of meeting Immortals.
"Adam, trust me. Duncan MacLeod is an honorable man. He won't do
anything to you and he'll be very discrete. Please, as a favor to me, help
Methos almost laughed aloud at the mortal's plea. 'Help him,' he
thought. 'Like I haven't been doing just that for the last four hundred
years!' But this was different, this was to stop Kalas. This was for his
"OK, Joe, if you say so." Adam Pierson agreed. "Send him
over and I'll do what I can."
"Glad you said that, my friend," Joe laughed. "Because
he's on his way."
"Pretty sure of yourself, aren't you, Joe?" He found himself
smiling for the first time in days.
"No. I was sure of you." Joe replied "He should be there
any time. Let me know what happens."
"OK, Joe, I will." Methos promised as he hung up the phone.
Running his hands through his hair, he tried to come up with a plan. For
four hundred plus years he's been staying out of MacLeod's way, always
following but never too close. Their only meeting had been that rainy day
on the road to the monastery, but Duncan would never remember that. Now
Methos was going to come face to face with his charge. What was he going
MacLeod would know him as Immortal; there was no way around that.
Should he be up front and honest and tell the Highlander that he was
Methos or should he wrap himself up in his Adam Pierson persona and not
breath a word?
"I think I'll just play it by ear." Methos said as he got up
from his desk, preparing to set the stage for this fateful meeting.
Grabbing his journal from the desk and a couple beers from the
refrigerator, Methos sat on the floor next to the bed. Pulling his Walkman
from the nearby table, he pushed the earphones into his ears, allowing
Adam Pierson to take control.
A short time later, his mind was assaulted by an Immortal presence, one
he recognized as Duncan MacLeod. He slid his hand under the bed, feeling
for his sword. 'Just in case,' he told himself as he took a deep, calming
breath. 'Well, this will either work out well or it will destroy
everything. No big deal.'
He felt the Highlander getting closer, his presence actually bringing a
feeling of comfort. He saw him now, out of the corner of his eye, moving
cautiously at the bottom of the steps. He heard him call Adam's name.
Adam Pierson turned to look at the man who stood there, starting at
him. Turning off the Walkman and pulling the plugs from his ears, Methos
"Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. Have a beer." He tossed
a can at Duncan, pleased to see how easily the Scot caught it. But the
look on the Highlander's face worried him. Was it bewilderment? Confusion?
Recognition? For reasons that he would never understand, even if he lived
to be ten thousand, Methos added to the greeting.
"Me casa et su casa."
The look on Duncan's face turned to one of stunned realization.
Now it was his turn to be surprised, as he smiled at the man before
him. 'Bright boy' he thought.
"But how did he recognized you?" Joe asked, his voice
"I don't know, Joe," he answered, shaking his head. "I
just don't know. It could have been the Latin. It could have been
anything. Maybe it was one Champion meeting another. I don't know. But I
knew that I couldn't deny it. I couldn't lie to him."
Methos looked over to the man in the bed, realizing that Joe was
struggling to stay awake.
"Why don't you get some sleep, Joe," he said, reaching out to
place his hand gently on the other man's arm.
"But I want to hear the rest of this." Joe protested, unable
to fight off the drowsiness.
"I'll tell you the rest when you wake up," Methos promised
"You'll be here?" Joe asked, as if he believed that Methos
would disappear as soon as his eyes were closed.
"I promise, Joe." Methos assured him. "There's no place
else I'd rather be."
He smiled at Joe as the old Watcher closed his eyes, his even breaths
telling Methos that he was already asleep. He reached out to touch the
hair on Joe's head, smoothing the gray mane that had been thinned by the
"I think my running days are over, my friend."
A short time later Joe awoke to find Methos still sitting by the bed,
"Feeling better now?" Methos asked as he moved the water
glass closer to Joe, placing the straw to his lips.
Leaning forward slightly, Joe sipped the cool liquid then sat back,
"Yeah," he answered, breathing deeply. "I'm surprised
that you're still here."
"Think I'd run out on you?" the Immortal smiled, placing the
glass on the bedside table
"Given the choice of finishing the story and running, I figured
that you'd run."
"To tell you the truth, Joe, it feels good to have somebody to
tell." Methos sat back in his chair, getting comfortable. "I
haven't been able to talk to anyone since Darius."
Joe nodded as he looked at the Immortal, really seeing him for maybe
the first time. All that he had heard these past two days had astounded
him. That Methos had had an agenda all along was not really a surprise.
The depth and span of that agenda was. He had always felt that being 5000
years old could be very lonely, but to carry the weight that Methos had
carried for the past 2500 years must have been devastating. Yet Methos
survived. This man that he called friend was, indeed, an extraordinary
"So, where were we?" Joe asked, wanting to get back on track
"Where were we." Methos took a minute to think. "Oh,
yes. The meeting."
Joe eased himself down in the bed, getting comfortable. He watched
Methos as his eyes darkened, lost in the memory.
"We left the apartment to take a walk, down by the canal. MacLeod
seemed to be a bit in awe of 'Methos, the oldest Immortal'." Methos
shook his head and smiled. "I was definitely in awe of him. Remember
that this was my first, real face-to-face meeting, the first opportunity
to see, up close, the man that he'd become. And do you know what amazed me
most of all?" Joe shook his head. "He hadn't known me for thirty
minutes, didn't know me from the garbage man, but he was ready and willing
to protect me. I was touched. I was also terrified."
"Terrified?" Joe seemed surprised. "Why?"
"I spent 400 years doing everything I could to insure that he
stayed alive and he's willing to risk it all for someone he doesn't even
know. That was one habit I was going to have to break."
"You never did succeed, you know."
Yeah, I know." Methos smiled. "Anyway, I left him there at
the canal and walked back to my apartment, trying to decide what to do.
But I already knew. I had to find Kalas and take him. I couldn't let
Duncan fight this battle. He was too important to lose. I had to find
Kalas first." He snorted with the irony of the situation. "Just
my luck, he was waiting for me outside my flat. The aftermath of that
encounter was one of the lowest points of my life."
**1995 - Paris**
He dragged himself slowly from the water, collapsing on the bank. He
lay there, in the darkness, feeling totally despondent. He had failed! He
had gone up against Kalas and the man had beaten him. If it weren't for
that fall into the water, he would have lost his head.
He was good with a sword. 'Damn it, I am very good with a sword!' he
silently ranted. But Kalas was better. Methos couldn't beat him and now
Kalas would go after MacLeod. He wouldn't be able to beat Kalas either.
Methos was tired, drained to his very soul. All these years of work,
all the sacrifices that he'd made and now, when the end was in sight, he
was going to lose everything.
For 3000 years he had been running, from himself, from Kronos, from
everything that mattered except MacLeod. He had barely managed to defeat
the demon. Timothy had won, but because of Methos, he had lost his mind.
Methos swore that this time, with Duncan MacLeod, he would do everything
right. This time he would succeed: the demon would be defeated, Duncan
would survive and Methos would finally have made his retribution.
But now, with the end only a few years away, Kalas comes along, out of
nowhere with plans to destroy it all. Methos couldn't defeat him. MacLeod
wouldn't be able to defeat him. There was nothing left to do.
Or maybe there was. Kalas could defeat MacLeod. He would defeat Methos.
But could Kalas beat them both? Was that the answer? Would the joining of
his and MacLeod's Quickenings be the only way to win? And how could he
convince Duncan to take his head?
Part of Methos was surprised that he so lightly contemplated his own
death. But another part of him knew the truth. He couldn't do this
anymore. He couldn't go on, after 2500 years. He no longer had the
strength, no longer had the desire. He was just so tired!
He forced himself to his feet, rising slowly from the ground. His
decision was made. He would find MacLeod, challenge him then let him take
his head. With their combined Quickenings and Duncan's passion, Kalas
would be defeated.
Methos brightened with a sudden thought. When Duncan took his
Quickening, he'd also gain all the knowledge of the Battle yet to come.
He'd learn all that he needed to know about being Champion! This must have
been what Timothy had in mind. This was the perfect solution! That his
death was a by-product of this solution was, surprisingly, a comfort.
His decision reinforced, Methos headed off into the night, searching
for the Highlander
He felt the Immortal presence and knew that he has found MacLeod.
Exhausted by his fight with Kalas and by 5000 years of life, Methos forced
himself through the arch that led under the bridge, coming upon MacLeod.
He saw the concern on the Highlander's face. 'He's worried about me.'
Methos noted. 'He should be worried about himself. Doesn't he realize
what's about to happen?'
MacLeod spoke to him and he responded, not really hearing the question
or the answer. His mind, numb with fatigue, was concentrating only on the
actions necessary to achieve his goal. He would fight, he would lose and
the Highlander would take his head. With only that thought in mind, he
MacLeod was startled by his action, parrying his attacks with his hands
and arms before grabbing Methos and throwing him into the wall. Backing
away, he reluctantly drew his weapon, asking 'Why?'.
The part of Methos' brain that was controlling his speech gave some
mundane answer as he attacked again. MacLeod, realizing that this was a
battle in earnest, avoided, then began an attack of his own.
'Yes!' Methos shouted in his mind. 'He's finally on the attack. Now I
just have to lose.'
Putting up only the minimum of defense, Methos allowed MacLeod to bring
the katana to his throat. But why was the Highlander stopping? Why
wouldn't he finish this? Didn't he understand?
"What are you waiting for, MacLeod?" Methos asked, extending
his neck even further, providing a large target. The Highlander stared at
'Why is this so difficult, Highlander?' Methos questioned in his mind.
'I mean nothing to you! Take my head!'
As if in response to the ancient's thoughts, MacLeod responded.
"NO!" he shouted as he knocked the sword from Methos' hand.
Methos sagged in defeat. Why wouldn't this child take his head? 'Maybe
if I make him mad...'
"I'd have killed you," he stated, hoping to inspire anger.
"No, you would have made a mistake and let me take your
head!" Methos was surprised that MacLeod could read him so easily.
'This Scot is smart,' he thought.
"Do you think I want to die?" Methos asked. Maybe he could
reason with this child. "Do you think it's easier after thousands of
"Then why?" he heard MacLeod ask
"Because, if you don't kill me, Kalas will."
"Not unless I get him first." MacLeod responded with bravado.
'If I can break through his Scottish pride, I might be able to make him
understand.' The oldest Immortal thought
"And if you don't?" Methos challenged. "I cannot beat
him, I've tried. He will take my head and then he will have the strength
to take yours."
Duncan began to pace. 'Good, that's got him thinking.'
Suddenly, MacLeod turned around, exasperated. "So, after 5000
years, your only solution is that I kill you?"
"He can beat me." Methos said as he turned to face him.
"He might beat you. He can't beat both of us!"
"If it's that simple," the Highlander challenged, "why
don't you take my head?"
'Please, MacLeod,' his mind pleaded 'I just want this to end. Don't you
realize that I can't do this any longer? How can I make you understand?'
"Because it's not just a matter of who is the best fighter."
Methos voiced as he moved closer. "It is about passion and hate. I
don't have the fire. You do. You want Kalas."
Methos reached down, gently taking the blade of the Highlander's sword
and placing it to his throat. 'Take it, Highlander!' he begged in his mind
as he offered the Scot his head.
"Live, Highlander, grow stronger. Fight another day."
MacLeod stared at Methos, his sword still poised at the old man's neck.
'Good, he's thinking about.' Methos reasoned. 'Take it, take it, take
it...' became a mantra in his mind
"No!" Duncan shouted as he moved his katana, throwing it to
the ground behind him. Standing in front of him, he grabbed Methos by the
upper arms, as if trying to shake some sense into this man.
"I will not challenge you, Methos, and I will not take your head.
Don't you realize how important you are?"
"You don't know me, Highlander."
"I know you enough to know that this is not the answer." His
voice was raising in anger. "How could you think that I would do
this? Don't you realize that you are my friend?"
As Methos heard these words, something inside him shattered. His body
went limp. Duncan tightened his grip, preventing Methos from crumbling to
the ground. Turning him around, Duncan lowered him gently to sit against
Methos' mind was racing, as if freed from a very long sleep. 'He
doesn't know me five minutes and he offers to protect me. I attack him,
unprovoked, and he still calls me friend.' He tried to make sense of the
events, but his mind wouldn't allow him to think. He looked up at the
Highlander, seeing the concern on his face. Realization began to dawn on
his slowly settling mind.
'This is a man of honor,' he thought. 'This is a man of good. How dare
I contemplate ending my life and leave this man to the events yet to come.
He is the Champion, at this moment and for the future. I must make sure he
survives. This is my reason to live!"
Methos smiled at the Highlander, then slowly shook his head. "You
are such a pain in the ass."
"Yeah, well, it's part of my charm." MacLeod responded,
chuckling as he sat down next to the oldest Immortal.
They sat together, in silence, each lost in his own thoughts.
"So, what do we do, now, Highlander?" Methos asked lightly
"I go find Kalas." Duncan stated emphatically, waiting for an
argument. Getting no response, he got to his feet. Offering his hand to
Methos, he asked, "What are you going to do?"
Standing to face the Highlander, Methos smiled. "Oh, I'll think of
Picking up his sword, Methos turned and walked away, his hands stuffed
deep into his pockets, a new spring in his step.
'Oh, yes, I'll think of something,' he thought. 'I'll do whatever I
must to protect you, MacLeod. You will survive to fight your battle with
Ahriman. And I fully intend to be there to see it!'
"So you arranged for the police to pick up Kalas?"
Methos nodded. "I had originally told them that I wasn't there
when Don had been killed, which was the truth. After Mac left me under the
bridge, I went back and told them that I had lied, that I had been
frightened but that I had actually caught a glimpse of the man who killed
Don. When they wanted to know why I was coming back to them now, I told
them that I had spied the man, just outside my apartment. So, they took me
back to my place and we ran into Kalas on the way."
"And you identified him and had him arrested." Joe chuckled.
"Mac was pissed, you know."
"Yeah, I know," Methos smiled. "But I couldn't risk it,
Joe. I wasn't sure that he could win and I couldn't take the chance. I
figured that Kalas would be in prison until at least after the Champion's
challenge. But I hadn't counted on Amanda."
"Yeah, she sure did throw a wrench into things, didn't she?"
Joe sat back into the pillows and relaxed. "I thought Mac was going
to kill her when he found out what she'd done."
"And if he didn't, I swore that I was going to. She doesn't know
how close she came to losing her pretty little head."
"Would you really have killed her?" Joe asked
Methos looked up at him, aghast. "After six hundred years of
searching for him and four hundred years of preparing him, are you
kidding? If Kalas had beaten Mac, Amanda's head was the first thing I
intended to take!" Methos took a moment to stretch the kinks out of
his muscles. "But, fortunately, everything worked out in the
"Yeah. Mac eventually returned to the States, back to Richie and
the dojo. Then you showed up at the loft when Kristen came to town. Why
didn't you just call him? You had to know the danger you were putting
yourself in when you showed up on his doorstep."
"Didn't matter, Joe." Methos replied. "I knew that he'd
be vulnerably to Kristen, because of their past and his ridiculous moral
code. She would have taken him, eventually, if I hadn't acted.
Besides," he smiled, "if I hadn't paid that visit to Mac, I
would have never met Alexa."
Joe smiled at the memory of his former waitress, the young girl he had
taken under his wing. Methos had fallen hard for her, acting like a giddy
teenager when he asked her out on a date. Joe was sure that she was the
best thing to happen to Methos in a very long time.
"You made those last months of her life worth living, you
Methos hung his head. "I did the best I could, Joe." After
all this time he still missed her elfin face, with her bright smile. He'd
had many mortal women and many mortal wives but none of them had effected
him the way Alexa had. "I never thought her death would effect me
like it did."
"You loved her, man." Joe told him. "After all, you're
That observation made Methos laugh. "There were times in my life
when that was in doubt, my friend."
"Never by me, Methos."
Methos looked at Joe's withered face, at his bright, caring eyes.
"No, Joe, never by you." Methos smiled at the Watcher.
"You've been annoyed with me, frustrated by me and, at time,
genuinely pissed off at me, but you never doubted my humanity. Even in the
worst of times." Methos looked around the room, fighting back the
tears that threatened to fall. Getting his emotions back under control, he
looked back at Joe, smiling. "You've been a good friend, Joseph. The
Joe nodded, unable to put his thoughts into words for fear that his
emotions would take control. Methos seemed to understand this as he sat
back in his chair. The two men sat quietly for a short time, lost in their
own thoughts. Finally, Joe decided to get the Immortal to answer some
"So," Joe ventured, studying his friend, "tell me what
happened when Kronos came to town."
Methos, sitting with his elbows on his knees, dropped his head into his
hands. "I screwed up big time on that one, Joe." Methos sat,
shaking his head silently for a few moments, remembering the
near-disaster. Suddenly rubbing his hands over his face as if wiping away
the past, Methos looked at his mortal friend.
"As Kronos said, I got sloppy. I had come back into town and got
myself wrapped up in Mac's problems. First there was the 'other' Methos
and that fiasco with Richie then Ingrid came to town, with all her
baggage, dropping it at Mac's feet. I should have realized that I wasn't
in control when I made you this little promise." Methos smiled.
"I had no idea that Kronos had found me until he showed up outside my
"You didn't know that Cassandra was hunting for you?"
"Cassandra wasn't hunting me, Joe. She was just a tool that Kronos
used to get to me. That was until he found a better one."
"MacLeod," Methos agreed. "Kronos' plan was simple, as
the best plans usually are. He wanted to bring me back to him but first he
needed a tool. So, knowing that Cassandra would hunt him to the ends of
the earth, he allowed her to find him then he led her straight to me.
Knowing that I couldn't kill her, he figured that he would, putting me
into his debt. Kronos had a way of collecting on his debts."
"So Kronos came to town, knowing that Cassandra was following him.
Do you think he knew that she would go to Mac for help?"
Methos nodded. "He planned on it. She would go to Mac, which would
lead her to me. He was counting on the fact that, with my instinct to
survive, I would turn to him."
"But you didn't, not really."
"Not until I had no other choice." Methos looked down to
study his hands, as if seeing on them the blood of the thousands that he
had killed. Even now, when it was over with and in the past, the memory
terrified him. He took a deep breath and continued.
"I wasn't surprised to wake up after taking that dagger in my
chest. Even if Kronos planned to kill me, I knew he'd want to taunt me
first. So I said what I had to say and did what I had to do just to
survive long enough to get away from him. When I did, I headed straight to
Mac. That was my big mistake." Methos rose from the chair and began
pacing, needing the movement to settle his soul.
"You see, at that point I didn't know about Cassandra or Kronos'
little plan. I intended to tell Mac a version of the truth: An old enemy
had come to town and I was bugging out. I knew that, if I ran, Kronos
would hunt me down. I intended to draw him as far away from MacLeod as
"Didn't you think Mac could take him?"
"I wasn't sure, Joe, and I couldn't take the chance. But then
Cassandra showed up and told Mac about my part in the Horsemen. I denied
everything, of course, and with Mac's help, I got away. But now I knew the
depth of Kronos' plan. He was aware of Mac and, because I ran right to
him, Kronos would know how important Mac was to me. If I ran now, Kronos
would still hunt me down, but I knew that he would kill MacLeod first. My
only chance to save Mac was to get him as far away from me as
"Which is why you staged that little scene outside your
Methos nodded. "I had to make him hate me, so I told him the most
brutal of truths. I had to make sure that he never wanted anything else to
do with me. Keep him away from me and keep him away from Kronos, that was
"A plan that didn't work."
"Nope." Methos shook his head. "My plan to deal with
Kronos was what it had always been: do whatever I could to make him happy
until I could get away. But Mac, with his 'white knight' attitude, decided
to help Cassandra track Kronos down. So I shifted my plan to do whatever I
could to help him succeed."
"Even if it cost you your head?"
"The world could survive without me, Joe. It couldn't survive
without MacLeod." Methos stood silently by the window, staring at the
world outside. "I still didn't like the idea of MacLeod facing
Kronos, but I couldn't think of any way to stop it. So I was biding my
time, hoping that I'd come up with something."
"And hoping that, whatever it was, Mac would back you up."
Methos turned to Joe, a sad smile on his face. "There was a part
of him that wanted to trust me, that still wanted to believe in me. I was
hoping that part would win out and it did, in the end. But, for a long
time, I wasn't sure. Then, when I found out that Kronos has sent both
Caspian and Silas after Mac, I gave up. I figured that there was no way
that he could survive both of them. I underestimated him, once
Methos sat down in the chair again, drained by this telling. "I
had no hope left, Joe, not for my redemption, not for the world. Without
MacLeod, everything was lost. The only thing that mattered now was
survival. I tried to convince Cassandra that, if we stuck it out, made
Kronos happy and stuck together, we could both survive. But she wasn't
having any of it. If it meant working with me, she'd rather die."
"Would you have let her?"
"Joe, in my mind, everything that mattered was destroyed. I'd lost
a special friend, the world had lost it's Champion, and everything I'd
done for 2500 years had been for nothing. So, yes, I would have let her.
If she wasn't willing to try, then I wasn't going to die helping
The two men sat quietly for a few minutes, each lost in his own
thoughts. Finally, Joe broke the silence.
"But you went back to save her in the end."
Methos looked at Joe, shaking his head. "Saving her was a
by-product of my actions. I was still trying to protect MacLeod."
Seeing Joe's questioning look, Methos continued. "When I realized
that Mac was alive, and that he had taken Caspian, I knew there was a
chance. With Caspian's Quickening, he now had enough power to take Kronos,
as long as it was a fair fight. That meant that I had to do something with
Silas. I didn't want to kill him, Joe. He was my friend. But, when it came
down to a choice between him and the Highlander, well...there really
wasn't any choice."
"So you took his head." Joe concluded.
"I took his head," Methos agreed. "I protected MacLeod
and, together, we destroyed the Horsemen and saved the world." Methos
chuckled. "And Mac stopped Cassandra from taking my head. It was a
fair trade, I guess."
"But the relationship that you two shared was never the same after
"No, Joe, it wasn't. And it couldn't ever be again. Duncan felt
that I had lied to him and, instinctively, he knew that there were other
secrets that I was keeping. Unless I was willing to tell him everything,
he was always going to have that doubt, no matter how much we tried to
"So why didn't you tell him the truth?"
"After that whole episode, I couldn't, not right away. There's no
way he would have believed anything that I said. Then Keane came along,
which was a whole other problem, then Byron and the aftermath of that. By
the time I decided to tell him the truth, it was too late."
"It seems as if the Gods were testing you." Joe said, with a
Methos laughed a real laugh, the first one that Joe had heard in many
hours. "It does seem that way, doesn't it. What's that Murphy's Law?
'Everything that can go wrong will'? " Methos let out a sigh, shaking
his head. "The important thing is that everything worked out in the
"Yeah, I guess it did." Joe replied. After a moment he asked,
"What was the problem with Steven Keane?"
"What?" Methos was momentarily confused
"You said that Keane was a whole other problem. Why?"
Methos leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. "Steven
Keane, Steven Keane, Steven Keane," he sighed. "He was
definitely a test from the Gods..."
**1997 - Paris**
Methos could hardly believe his ears, listening to Amanda. Steven Keane
was after Duncan? He cursed silently, yet fluently, under his breath, not
letting it show on his face. The one think he had dreaded for centuries
was unfolding before his eyes.
After Amanda left, he found himself unable to go back to sleep. Steven
Keane, after all of these years, was finally coming back to haunt him.
Methos gave himself a mental slap; he should have killed Keane when he had
the chance but there was always the possibility that Keane would be
"You had to be so smart, didn't you?" the old Immortal
muttered to himself, throwing off the bed covers and getting up to pace.
"Never before did you have this happen and you took it as a sign that
it may be needed. A bitter, ironic chuckle escaped his lips before he
continued. "Now, look where it has got you! Not only is it possible
that you are about to lose Duncan, you may have to kill Keane in the
bargain." Methos stopped his pacing and collapsed into a chair.
"Why me? I know I needed retribution but did it have to be so damn
hard?" He questioned the ceiling, rhetorically, hoping that the God
would not actually answer. "I think I have done well with what I was
given...is this some type of further test?" Running a hand through
his hair, Methos stared at the wall, his mind drifting backwards.
**1658 - England**
"Bernard! My old friend, how are you?" The tall, red haired
man gave a wide smile of pleasure and grasped Methos' hand.
Methos smiled broadly in return and warmly returned the greeting.
"Sean, it is good to see you! It has been too long since we last
spoke. How is that student of yours you were telling be about last time we
Sean shook his head in mock sadness. "The mind is the first thing
to go. Bernard, that was over 100 years ago. Steven is no longer my
student. He has been out on his own for quite some time. Curious that you
should mention him, though. He happens to be visiting me at the moment.
Let me introduce you to him."
Methos gave a theatrical moan of anguish. "Please, I have been
riding for what seems like weeks. Let me bathe and eat first." He
began to follow Sean bent over, acting like an ancient old man.
Sean laughed and picked up Methos' bag while signaling a stable boy to
come take his horse. The two immortals made their way to the manor house,
sharing news with one another and catching up on events.
The door closed behind Sean as he left and Methos was alone at last. He
gave a grateful sigh and opened his coat, pulling out the wads of stuffing
that put on at least 50 pounds to his appearance. He looked in the crude
mirror and grinned rakishly at the image there. He was sporting a full
mustache and beard. Once again, Methos gave thanks to whatever fashion
dictated that wigs were in. He wore the most powdered and outrageous wig
he could. A hand went to his nose and he gave a slight grimace. There was
nothing he could really do to disguise it but an actor had shown him ways
to minimize its presence. An eyepiece and an annoying nasal voice
completed the ensemble. Bernard Adams, the gentleman fop was complete.
Methos stretched like a cat and dropped wearily to the bed. He had not
come to visit Sean so much as to see Keane. He had been hearing things
about Keane that had him a bit worried and Methos knew he would have no
choice but to come and see the man for himself.
He had been fortunate enough to discover that Keane was visiting Sean.
Wasting no time, Methos had resurrected Bernard Adams and made all haste
to Sean, hoping fervently that Keane would still be there when he arrived.
Methos made a grimace of disgust. After the debacle of chasing Connor all
over the world, he had not looked forward to doing the same to Keane.
Glancing out the small window, Methos judged enough time had passed and
he regretfully donned his padding once more. It may add weight but it was
also damn hot!
Methos descended the stairs and followed the sound of laughter to the
study. He paused outside the door to check his appearance one last time,
took a deep breath and minced into the room.
Sean looked up and smiled as Methos made his way into the room. The
other man looked in distaste at the ...creature coming towards him but
innate politeness kept him from laughing. Sean, who was used to seeing
Bernard, thought nothing of it.
Methos saw the look of disgust on Keane's face and gave a chuckle to
himself. "It works yet again" he thought in triumph.
Methos had long made it a practice to study people so that when he
needed a persona to use, he had one available to him. Bernard Adams was
based on a gentleman who was a supporter of Louis XIV of France. He
dressed in the loudest colors that he could and made no secret of the fact
that his taste for bed partners did not extend to women. He was also
deadly with a sword and no one crossed him without a good cause.
Methos practically danced his way over to Keane and grabbed one of his
hands, carrying it to his lips for a lingering kiss. "Sean, you must
tell me who this delicious man is? Surely, this is not the Steven Keane
that you have told me so much about?"
Sean shook his head, sure that Steven was going to hit Bernard. Keane
merely disengaged his hand and bowed slightly.
"Steven Keane, at your service sir. And you would be...?" He
waited expectantly for the reply.
Methos waved a hand, complete with lace handkerchief, airily.
"Bernard Adams, late of France and many other places. We certainly
did not have, " he hesitated briefly and added emphasis to the word,
"men like you there. I would remember if we did." Methos gave a
titter into his lace and was pleased to note the further disgust in
The three men chatted briefly and Methos took the opportunity to study
Keane carefully. Since he had established his interest, despite no
encouragement from Keane himself, neither of the other two men saw
anything unusual with his scrutiny.
The more Methos saw of Keane, the more his blood ran cold. Keane had
all the earmarks of a Champion yet how could that be? Less than 25 years
before, Duncan had fully realized his potential as an Immortal and gained
the knowledge of Timothy. Why, if Duncan was the Champion, did Keane also
display the same characteristics? Was there a reason for this? His blood
ran cold with a thought. What if that meant that something had happened to
Duncan? He took a deep breath and calmed himself, surely Connor, for all
that he was an idiot, would have let him know. Could this be a further
test for him, for Methos? Was he supposed to chose between the two men?
Methos gave an inarticulate groan. He had entirely too much time and
effort put into Duncan to even consider choosing Keane over him. On the
other hand, what if Keane was the better man?
"Bernard, are you feeling well?" Sean's concerned voice broke
through his musings and Methos quickly mustered a smile.
"Quite well, just tired. I was thinking how lovely it would
be...in bed, " He paused again for effect before adding,
Keane clenched his jaw hard to avoid saying anything that would offend
Sean or his guest. He was relieved when Adams made his good nights and
left. He turned on Sean and exploded.
"Sean, where did you ever meet that...that thing? He is positively
disgusting! And those clothes!" Keane was sputtering with righteous
Sean collapsed into a chair and bent over with peals of laughter.
Steven looked on in disapproval until Sean calmed himself. He pulled a
handkerchief out and wiped the tears from his eyes.
"Steven, Steven. How many times have I told you that appearances
can be deceiving? Bernard is more than he seems to be and you would be
wise to not let his foolishness make you think otherwise. You could learn
a great deal from him if you would but be receptive to him."
Keane flinched slightly. "Receptive to him?" He repeated,
somewhat alarmed. "Surely you don't mean...?"
Sean snorted and shook his head. "No, I am not suggesting that at
all, don't be absurd. I am merely saying listen to what he has to say and
by all means, see if you can get him to spar with you, he is superb with a
Keane looked relived and then thoughtful. He sat in an overstuffed
chair and picked up a glass of brandy that Sean had poured. He sniffed it
in appreciation and sipped it slowly.
"How did you meet him anyway?"
"A mutual friend, Darius, introduced us. Darius is a priest and
one of us as well. He and Bernard are good friends. " Sean prudently
did not mention that he actually knew Bernard by another name and a vastly
different appearance. He must have a reason for the subterfuge so Sean
sipped his brandy as well and the two men changed the topic of
Over the next several days, Methos made every effort to spend as much
time with Keane as possible, trying to get an insight into the man. Keane
was an honorable man and he was a little too unforgiving for Methos'
taste. It did seem to be a fault of the young, Methos thought cynically.
Time would cure that or he would not survive to have it cured.
Upon discovering that Keane was an avid chess player, Methos initiated
a game. It was as Methos suspected, Keane was a brilliant technical player
but lacked vision.
Keane looked in disbelief at Methos, who sat back smugly after saying,
"You sneaky bastard! That is so...unethical!" Keane
exclaimed. Methos merely smiled and shook his head.
"You silly kitten, what makes you think it is unethical? It was a
legal move, just one you had not thought of. Don't let it worry you so
much." The older Immortal leaned over to pat Keane fondly on the
Being in the company of Methos, as Adams, for the past few days had
desensitized Keane to his constant patting and touching of his arm, cheek
and shoulder. He no longer flinched and tried to subtly move away when
Methos reached for him. To make sure there were not any doubts about
Keane's habits, Steven made it a point to relay story after story about
women he had loved and those who had loved him.
Methos found it all greatly amusing although maintaining himself as
Adams did get wearing at times. To make sure that he was not accidentally
discovered, it meant that he had to sleep in all of his padding. Luckily,
the sense of an approaching Immortal always gave him enough time to make
sure he was presentable.
"So you are a master chess player and Sean tells me you are good
with a blade as well." Steven mentioned, a little too casually.
Methos examined the nails on his left hand carefully before answering.
He held his hand out for inspection. "Do you think a pinky ring with
an emerald or a sapphire would look better on this hand? I want something
to bring out the color of my eyes."
Keane sighed heavily; he had learned that until he answered such
trivialities, Adams would act like he had not heard him. He looked at the
hand in question and tried to get a good look at the eyes. As always, the
eyes were half lidded, as if Adams was on the verge of sleep.
"I would try a garnet, it is different and not as many wear
them." Keane spoke quickly, trying to master his impatience.
Methos pursed his lips and twirled one finger into his brandy. He made
a show out of licking the brandy off while keeping his eyes on Keane.
Steven, wise to this game, ignored him completely and busied himself
setting up the chessboard again.
"Sean is correct, I am wonderful with my sword." Methos gave
a simpering giggle. "Although just how that dear man would know that,
I am not sure."
Keane rolled his eyes upwards and did not comment.
"Naturally I am good with a blade, precious. I am an Immortal. If
I were not somewhat skilled, I would not last long. I am very fond of
living, so much to do...so many people to enjoy."
Steven looked at Methos in sudden curiosity. "Just how old are you
Bernard? You know my age but you never mention your own."
Methos waggled a finger in admonition at Keane. "A lady never
reveals her age you know."
Keane gave a sudden grin, making his normally sober face look quite
boyish. "You, sir, are no lady."
Methos placed a fluttering hand over his heart and gave a slight moan.
"You wound me to the quick, dear one. I demand satisfaction..."
He paused, amused at the look of apprehension that came over Keane's face.
"Not that way, kitten, although if you are interested...perhaps
later." Methos gave a slight laugh. "I am willing to practice
with you. Sean has a lovely clearing that we can use without fear of
harming anyone. If one of us should be so careless to actually kill the
other, well, then no one will be the wiser."
Keane was more than mildly apprehensive after hearing that speech. Had
Sean been mistaken in calling this man friend, was he waiting for the
chance to kill Keane? Steven pushed the thought from his head and the two
men went to get their swords.
In the clearing, Keane carefully folded his jacket and placed it on the
ground, giving a few practice swings with his blade. He waited impatiently
for Adams, who soon came sauntering his way towards him.
The two immortals bowed to one another and held their swords aloft.
Because he wanted to see what kind of fighter Keane was, Methos took the
The clear air was soon filled with the sounds of steel clashing with
steel as the men began the ancient ritual. Methos gave Keane many
opportunities to blood him, but the only way Keane could have done it was
by employing an unorthodox method. Methos remained blood free.
Keane smiled to himself, Sean had been wrong. There was nothing
extraordinary about this man's ability with a blade. He was better than
average but nothing that was impressive. He radically changed his opinion
when Methos executed a spinning turn that ended with his blade against
Keane's throat. Steven swallowed gingerly, very aware of the sharp
instrument at his neck and the knowledge of just how vulnerable he was.
Methos was aware of it as well and an internal battle, one that did not
reflect on his face, was being waged.
"Kill him! Kill him now! The can be only one and that can apply to
the Champion as well." Methos certainly agreed with this assessment.
"Wait and see, you may need him in the event anything happens to
Duncan. Why tip your hand and ruin the friendship with Sean? Duncan will
need friends like Sean in the future. Hold, wait and see." The more
practical side of Methos urged.
Methos looked into Keane's eyes, reading the trust there. 'Foolish boy,
trusting one whom you don't know.' Methos thought.
Keane was beginning to get a little worried at how Adams was just
standing there, looking at him, with his sword at his throat. He felt the
pressure on the blade increase just a fraction and Steven closed his eyes
briefly. When he opened them again, Adams gave a rueful smile, pulled his
blade back and offered a hand.
"Would you like to see how I managed that? Sweetness, if you want
to get ahead, you are going to have to learn to communicate your moves
less. Shall we try that again?"
"Duncan was ready to die, thinking he deserved it after meeting
Keane. I could not allow that to happen. " Methos said simply.
Joe opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again. He took a
breath to speak and then let it out slowly.
Methos laughed. "I know what you are thinking Joe. If Duncan died,
at least I had Keane to rely on as a back up." Joe nodded in
Methos sighed and looked back at Joe. "Duncan was the Champion, no
doubt, by that point. He had Timothy's memories and he had hundreds of
years of preparation. Would you have wanted to see how Keane would have
handled Ahriman with such a short time to prepare? I always go with the
Joe responded with a yawn, followed by a grimace of pain. Methos walked
over to the bed and pushed the button to call the nurse.
"I think its time for your medication and possibly a short
"I'm not tired." Joe protested but, even as he voiced the
words, he knew that Methos didn't believe him. Seeing the stark look on
the Immortal's face, Joe gave in. "OK, I'll take a nap. What are you
going to do?"
Methos stood a little straighter, shoving his hands into his pockets.
The mischievous glint in his eyes belied the innocence of his words.
"I'm going to see about lunch," he said with a smile as he
headed to the door. Joe returned the smile as he relaxed into the pillows
behind his head.
Out in the hallway, Methos intercepted Nurse Baldwin, who was
responding to the call.
"I think his pain is getting worse." He confided in her.
"The medication doesn't seem to be lasting as long as it did
Nurse Baldwin nodded. "I'll increase the dosage a bit, but you
realize that it should make him sleep a little longer."
"I know," Methos replied. "That doesn't matter. The only
thing that's important is that Joe not be in pain." The nurse smiled
her understanding. "I'm going to get some lunch," he told her.
"I'll be back in about an hour."
"I will be off duty by then but I'll bring the afternoon nurse up
to date. She won't give you any trouble." she assured him. "You
go and enjoy your lunch and I'll take care of Joe."
He thanked the nurse then turned and headed down the hall.
Methos returned a short time later and poked his head cautiously into
the room, ready to leave again if Joe was still sleeping. As soon as the
top of his head was visible, Joe called out.
"Quit lurking at the door, I am not dead or asleep. Get in
Methos walked in, grinning. If Joe was irritable, he was feeling
better. Glancing behind him as he reached into his coat, Methos pulled out
a brown bag. Taking out a beer, he set the bag on the table in front of
Joe smiled and glanced towards the door. Methos shook his head
"She is nowhere near, I checked." Methos lowered his voice
Joe reached eagerly towards the bag and stopped.
"Is this what I think it is? You wouldn't torment a dying man,
would you?" Joe asked in a suspicious tone.
Methos managed to look wounded despite the fact that he was smiling.
"Pastrami on rye, hot mustard, extra pickles and some extra hot
chips. Would I improvise on that?"
Joe dove into the bag, pulling out a thick sandwich wrapped in waxed
paper. He took a deep, appreciative breath before taking a bite. He closed
his eyes and chewed slowly, bliss etched across his face.
Methos gave a chuckle that caused Joe to open his eyes and grin back
sheepishly. He swallowed and took a handful of chips, using a beer to wash
"Much better than the slop they feed me in here, let me tell
you." Joe stated firmly. The ancient Immortal shook his head and
resumed his position in the chair, legs thrown casually over an arm.
After taking a moment to appreciate the food, Joe started in again.
'There is still something that I don't understand." Joe said,
watching Methos closely. After listening to Methos explain his tale, there
was one point that Joe couldn't comprehend. And the more that Methos said,
the less sense it made. He needed the answer.
"What's that, Joe?" Methos asked softly, smiling at his
friend. After everything that he'd just told Joe, he couldn't imagine
holding back anything now.
"When the business finally began with Mac and Ahriman, you lied to
us all. You told Richie and I that you'd never heard of this demon. You
told Mac that you thought he was crazy. If this is what you'd been
preparing for for 400 years, why did you lie?"
Methos looked at Joe for a moment then slowly rose from his chair. He
walked over to the window, staring out but seeing nothing. His mind went
back to those fateful days, back to that time when he'd almost lost it
all. Back to his greatest miscalculation.
"Methos?" Joe prodded
"I thought I still had time, Joe." His voice was barely a
whisper. "I thought I could save you all. I underestimated Ahriman
and it cost Richie his life."
Methos rubbed his hands across his face, trying to prevent this
depression from overtaking him. 'It worked itself out in the end,' he
argued with himself. 'Yes, but at what cost?'
Methos came back to collapse in the chair preparing to tell, what was
for him, the hardest part of this tale.
"When I saw Mac on the Quay that night, searching for Kronos, I
suspected that Ahriman had arrived. Then, when Richie came to us and told
us about Landry and Horton, I was sure. But I thought there was still
time. I knew that Ahriman wouldn't kill Mac because that's not how the
battle works. But I knew that, if he could, he'd try to use you or Richie
against Mac. So, I came up with a plan. I would convince you and Richie
that Mac was going crazy. I would get both of you to leave, telling you
that I would take care of him, like I had during the Dark Quickening. I
was going to convince you that it would be safer for everyone that way.
Then, once you two were safely out of the way, I was going to tell Mac the
truth and prepare him for the battle." Methos shook his head, his
voice sounding worse then Joe felt. "But I underestimated Richie, I
underestimated you and, more importantly, I underestimated Ahriman."
"How did you underestimate Richie and I?"
"I underestimated your relationship with Mac, especially Richie's
devotion." Methos sighed. "It didn't take a whole lot to
convince you that Mac had lost it. After his little scene with Horton's
coffin at the airport, I think you half believed it already."
Joe nodded, remembering that unbelievable day. He hadn't told Mac about
moving Horton's body because he had been afraid how the Highlander would
react. When Mac did find out, he had accused Joe of lying to him, that
Horton was still alive. Joe remembered thinking that Mac had gone mad.
"But Richie was a whole other story. No matter what I said, he
wouldn't believe that Mac was crazy. You even tried to convince him."
Joe nodded. "He was determined to stand by MacLeod, no matter what
"But he didn't know it would cost him his life, Joe. He had no
idea what lengths Ahriman would go to, but I did. I should have protected
him better, but I still thought that I had time. I didn't think that
Ahriman would act so quickly against Duncan. I realized later that just as
I recognized Richie's devotion, so did Ahriman and he used it to weaken
"By killing him?"
"By having Duncan kill him. You see, Ahriman wanted you and Richie
out of the way, too. He wanted to isolated MacLeod, to weaken him, to
destroy his inner strength and outer support system. And, boy, did he find
the way to do that. When we walked into that race track that night and
found Mac kneeling over Richie's body, I realized how fatal my error had
been." Methos was silent for a few minutes. Joe could see the pain on
the Immortal's face, could hear it in his voice.
"The kid didn't deserve to die, Joe," Methos whispered.
"Not like that, not by Mac's hand. And Mac didn't need to have to
carry that with him for the rest of his life. When he walked out of the
racetrack that night, I thought that Ahriman had won. I thought that
everything had been lost because of my miscalculation. I didn't know what
"But what did you do?"
"I followed him." He saw Joe's face frown in confusion.
"Not right away, I had others do that. What do you think the Watchers
were for? No, I stayed around for you for a time but, as soon as I could,
I was out of there. I followed him at a distant, making sure that no one
challenged him or that he, in a desperate need to die, didn't challenge
someone else. Then, with a little underhanded, anonymous coaxing, I got
him to the monastery. Once he was there, I knew he'd stay for a while and
I could go off to find what I could to help him."
"Why didn't you tell him the truth?"
"Do you honestly think that he would have believed anything I told
him? And, if he did, how do you think he would have reacted, knowing that
Richie could have been saved if he'd only known? No, it was safer for both
of us if I stayed away. So I had the monks keep me informed. And, when Mac
finally left and headed back to Paris, I was right behind him."
"But we never saw you." Joe told him, still a bit confused
"No, you didn't," Methos agreed. "I'd come to realize
how strong you were, Joe. I'd hoped that, when Mac returned, you would be
there to help him. I couldn't, not directly. I'd done that with Timothy
and his madness was a result. I wouldn't risk that with MacLeod."
"So you left again?"
"Yes. I headed back to the East, looking for anything I could to
help him. I knew that he had Landry's journal and I knew that he had
Timothy's memories. I just hoped that I could find something that would
help him to put all that information into perspective. And I did."
"The Tibetan singing bowl." Joe whispered in amazement.
Methos nodded wearily. "That seemed to trigger what he needed to
know. After that, the battle was his to fight. You couldn't help him and
neither could I. No one could. So, I retired to the Monastery and waited.
When I received reports that the battle had obviously been won, I stayed
at the Monastery for a while." Methos looked up at Joe, who was
surprised to see tears in the ancient Immortal's eyes. "You see, Joe,
I had my own guilt about Richie's death that I had to deal with."
"And did you?" Joe asked quietly, his compassion for his
friend almost overwhelming him.
"Eventually. I learned a lot of things during that time of
"Like I needed Duncan's friendship." Methos flashed Joe an
embarrassed smile. "I had spent 400 years of my life guiding and
pushing and manipulating him. When I finally met the man that I had made I
found, to my surprise, that I liked him. He was a good man, Joe, and not
because of what I'd done but, probably, in spite of it. He had been my
reason for living but then, after getting to know him, I had found a
reason to live. I wanted to get that friendship back."
Duncan paid the cab driver and raced into the hospital. He made his way
to the information desk and waited impatiently for his turn.
"Joe Dawson? He is a patient here?" Duncan asked with some
trepidation, afraid that he had been too late despite the efforts he made
to get here as soon as the phone call had come.
The woman behind the desk smiled pleasantly and handed him a map of the
hospital, visiting hours marked and Joe's room circled. Duncan thanked her
and hurried off.
The shift nurse looked up as a tall, dark man walked in, a duffel bag
over one shoulder and the wearied, anxious expression that she so often
saw on family members who came at the eleventh hour.
"Joe Dawson?" the man had a deep baritone voice and brown
eyes that seemed to implore her to say that Joe was still here.
"Mr. Dawson is resting for the evening." She said in a low
tone. "Visiting hours ended an hour ago, I am afraid you will have to
come back tomorrow."
MacLeod gaped at her foolishly for a moment and felt his anger begin.
"I know visiting hours are over, I got here as soon as I could. Dr.
Madison told me it was urgent that I get here as quickly as possible and
that I would be admitted to see Joe as soon as I arrived. Can you please
check his chart to see if there is a note there?"
The nurse's smile slipped a notch and she gave a mental sigh. This was
a new one. She had heard just about every ploy possible from people trying
to slip past after visiting hours.
"There is not any need for me to check. It is against policy to
allow visitors after hours. Unless, of course, you are an immediate family
member? Are you an immediate family member, Mr...?"
"MacLeod, Duncan MacLeod, and, no, I am not an immediate family
member. Would you please check his chart? Please." Duncan said,
leaning forward and tried keeping his hands still. His nerves were strung
to the breaking point after the trip he had just made and the constant
fear that he would arrive too late.
The nurse refused to look and the conversation grew louder despite both
participants trying to lower their voices. The nurse was about to call
security and Duncan was contemplating knocking her unconscious when Emily
Baldwin came through the door. The nurse looked up in relief at the
appearance of the Head Day Nurse and motioned her over.
"This is Duncan MacLeod and I have been trying to explain to him
that he can't...." She never got to finish what she was saying as
Emily immediately grabbed Duncan by the arm.
"Duncan MacLeod? We have been expecting you. Joe has been waiting
all evening." She began to lead him down the hall to where Joe was.
She looked back over her shoulder at the dumbfounded nurse. "I will
deal with you later. It says right on Joe's chart that MacLeod was to be
admitted no matter the hour."
Duncan was too relived to feel smug and followed Nurse Baldwin down the
hall and around a corner. As they approached the door, it swung open and
Methos sauntered out, stopping at the sight of MacLeod and the nurse.
"Of course, you already know Mr. Pierson." Emily said. Methos
came forward, a smile on his face and was not prepared for the cold look
on MacLeod's face.
"Yes, I do know Mr. Pierson." Duncan said, his voice hard and
cold "Is there someplace private Mr. Pierson and I can chat for a
moment? I would not want to disturb Joe."
Emily indicated the nearby lounge, a little confused at the
undercurrents she could almost see between the two men. She watched them
go into the room and close the door. She smiled to herself. At least Joe
would be happy that both of his friends were here. Once again, she
pondered what tie these three had that seemed to bind them so close to one
"Alright Methos," Duncan demanded as soon as the door was
closed. "What in the hell is going on and why wasn't I called sooner?
How is he?" Methos, ready to greet the Highlander warmly, stopped
Methos had been through a grueling 48 hours, both mentally and
emotionally. He was exhausted and his nerves were rubbed raw. Part of the
fatigue was from sharing his tale and part of it was from having to come
to terms with the fact that one of his closest friends was about to die
and there was not a damn thing he could do about it. To have MacLeod
practically accuse him of keeping him deliberately in the dark was the
"How typical of you MacLeod, to judge before you know the facts.
Listen, you bloody Highlander, I just found out myself that Joe was ill. I
got here as soon as I could and I have been here almost nonstop for the
past few days. I've had to watch a man that I love and admire get a step
closer to death with each passing moment. Just who do you think you are to
be demanding anything of me? I don't owe you and I damn sure don't have to
explain myself to you!" Methos spoke softly but forcefully, his eyes
blazing and his fists clenched beside him. His entire body shook with
contained emotion and his pain and anguish at the situation showed in
Duncan took a deep breath to retort and let it out with a gusty sigh.
"You are right, I'm sorry, Methos. I should have known you would let
me know. I would be willing to bet Joe didn't tell anyone." At the
confirmation nod from Methos, Duncan continued. "I have been on
planes and trains for the past 30 hours and I suppose I wasn't thinking
clearly." Duncan smiled apologetically at the other Immortal.
"How have you been, my friend?"
Methos let out the breath he was holding and tried, then failed to make
a sarcastic remark. Instead, the two Immortals gripped each other by the
forearm, the touch more than words saying everything that needed to be
"I am holding up but I wish I could say the same for Joe. He is
going fast, Mac; I can see a difference in just the short time I have been
here. He's on pain meds almost constantly now and he drops off to sleep
often. I don't think he has much longer." Methos spoke through a
thick throat, emotions still at a high. Afraid that they would overwhelm
him, Methos took several deep breaths and kept his face averted.
Duncan was not really sure how he should react so he did nothing. He
studied the poster on the wall quietly, waiting for Methos to regain
"I think the only thing that has kept Joe going was waiting for
you to arrive. He won't admit it MacLeod, but he views you almost like a
son." Both men gave a chuckle at the thought given the age
"It is damn hard to lose someone, isn't it? It must be hell for
him too. He is laying there dying and there I sit, in all my glory. Over
5000 years old and looking the same as I did when I was in my early 30's
while he is an old man. "
Duncan shrugged, helplessly. "It never gets any easier, does it?
Loving and then...inevitably losing mortals. All I can think is how rich
my life has been for having known them."
Both men stood looking at each other, one thinking of a petite brunette
who died a lingering death and the other man thinking of a striking blonde
who died in a moment of senseless violence.
"Let's go see Joe." Methos suggested, opening the door.
Emily looked up from her task, interested in seeing what was going on.
She had heard raised voices from the lounge but no crashing furniture so
she had not investigated. To make it look like she was not paying
attention, she lowered her head to her task. From the corner of her eye,
she saw the two men open Joe's door and heard Joe's voice, clear and
"MacLeod! Damn, it is good to see you, man!"
The two Immortals stood silently, side by side, looking down at the
newly covered grave. Joe had finally succumbed with his dearest friends by
his side. Methos had seen many mortals die in his five thousand plus
years, but this one hit him the hardest. There hadn't been many people in
his life that knew the whole truth about Methos. Ambrosius had been one of
them, Darius had been another; Joe had been the third. Immortals and
Mortal, Holy man, warrior/priest and musician/bartender, three men who
shared a common trait: The ability to know and accept the truth about a
man once known as Death.
Duncan had paid for Joe to be buried here, in his beloved Chicago, the
place of his birth. Their relationship had been tumultuous at times but
sprang, thought Methos, from their tendency to care too much. Mac had also
taken the mortal's death hard.
Methos let out a heavy sigh and turned to find MacLeod watching him, a
slight smile on his face.
"It was the eyes." Duncan said softly
"What?" Methos didn't have a clue what the crazy Scot was
"When we met in your apartment in Paris. I knew you because of
your eyes." Duncan took Methos by the arm and led the stunned
Immortal over to a nearby bench. "They're very expressive, you
know." he said, smiling slightly. Sitting both of them down, facing
each other, Duncan continued.
"I came to your apartment in search of Methos, he was the only
thing on my mind. And when I saw you, when I looked into you eyes, I just
knew. It's as if they were saying, 'I am Methos', as if you really wanted
me to know. I also felt some sort of unexplainable connection. I didn't
realize what it was then, but there was definitely a connection. I felt it
and it frightened me, always kept me off balance." Duncan sighed.
"I always felt that there was something that you weren't telling me,
some deep, dark secret. Then Kronos and Cassandra showed up and I thought
that was it. After all, who would want to admit to being Death?"
Duncan smiled. "But, somehow, that didn't quite fit."
Shaking his head, Duncan looked away, remembering. "When I left
Paris, after taking O'Rourke, I had a lot of time to think. I tried to
figure out how and why we were connected. I thought about all of our times
together. I tried to understand why a man who survived by avoiding a fight
would put himself in danger for me. Then it dawned on me that, from the
moment that we met, you were protecting me. But I still couldn't figure
out why, so I did a little checking. Do you know what I found out?"
Methos shook his head, unable to speak, stunned by what he was hearing.
Duncan smiled at his friend's predicament.
"I traced you to almost everyone of importance who ever crossed my
path." Duncan held up his hand to stop the protests he saw Methos
beginning to voice. "There was always someone with a different name
but I'm sure it was you. Then I remembered Matthew the Scribe."
Duncan looked at Methos and smiled, waiting for the older immortal to
recognize the name. "On the road to St. Christopher's Monastery, at
one of the lowest points in my life, he offered me warmth, gave me
directions and an important piece of advice. Do you remember what that
advice was? He told me '...there is a time to fight and a time to simply
live." I never got a look at his face and his voice was muffled
beyond recognition but I knew I'd never forget those eyes." Duncan
smiled as Methos appeared to relax. "A real Master of Opportunity,
weren't you? But, still, I didn't know why!" Reaching into the inside
pocket of his overcoat, Duncan pulled out two videocassettes. "Then I
Methos' eyes widened in horror, afraid that he knew what was coming.
"What's that?" he squeaked, barely able to get his voice working
"After Joe died, Dr. Madison gave these to me, saying that Joe had
wanted me to have them." Duncan watched as what little color he had
drained from Methos' face. "After the doctor contacted the two of us,
Joe asked them to set up a video camera in the room." Duncan held up
one cassette in each hand, an immense smile lighting up his face.
"Two entire days of Methos telling the truth."
Methos slowly reached out to take one of the offered tapes. Duncan saw
the color return to his face, pale to pink to bright red, before the
oldest immortal exploded.
"That low-life, sneaky, manipulating bastard!" Methos jumped
up, pacing in front of the bench, as if the movement would help him find
the words to put with his feelings.
"He held me to a promise that I never meant to make, he plied me
with question that he knew, he KNEW, I would answer, then he tapes the
whole damned thing! He planed to give this to you from the start!"
Methos turned to Duncan to find the Scot barely controlling his glee at
the older Immortal's indignation. Methos was stunned into silence.
After a moment of glaring, his features softened as his face slowly
broke into a smile. As the anger drained from his body, he began to
chuckle, admiration apparent in his voice. "And he called me a
calculating son of a bitch." Shaking his head, he sat down again next
to Duncan as the Scot, finally losing control, dissolved into
As Duncan finally got himself under control, Methos sobered. What would
this mean for their often-fragile friendship? Would Duncan react with
anger at what he had to see as life long manipulation? 'He doesn't seem
angry' Methos noted. 'Maybe he didn't watch the tape.'
Duncan watched the shadow pass over his friend's face. "What's
"Did you watch this?" Methos asked, holding the tape out to
The Highlander gently took the tape as he nodded, his eyes not leaving
the older man's face. "Yes, I did. A few times."
"And...?" Methos asked, afraid to hear the answer
"I think that you were given a task that would have broken a
lesser man. Against all imaginable odds, you succeeded and for that I
thank you." Duncan smiled as Methos looked at him in a mixture of
disbelief and confusion. "Everything that you have done, all that you
have suffered, made me who I am. I'm the man I am today because of you, my
They sat there looking at each other for a few minutes as Methos, whose
world had been turned upside down by the events of the past week, and
Duncan, who lost a good friend but finally, FINALLY, gained the truth,
seemed to let everything settle into place. Methos broke the silence.
"So where does this leave us, Highlander?"
"I'm not sure." Duncan let his eyes roam over the cemetery,
taking in the tranquility of the grass, the trees and the open space.
"Will there be another Champion?"
"Yes." Methos answered quietly, nodding his head. Duncan
looked back at him as he continued. "At first I thought that it would
end with me. Then, after my failure with Timothy, I thought you would be
the last. But now, I know the truth." Methos sighed, the weight of
the past and the future settling on his shoulders.
"It is all about balance, Duncan. For Good to endure, Evil must
exist." Methos shook his head in resignation. "For a very long
time, I was that Evil. Now, I must do everything that I can to assure that
the forces of Good are prepared for the ongoing battle."
"A battle that is fought within the soul of one man, every
thousand years." Methos nodded. Duncan smiled, clapping his hand on
his friend's back. "Well, this time your task will be easier,"
he assured him.
"Really?" Methos asked him, "And why is that?"
"Because, from now on, my friend, we will do it together."
Methos stood and turned to face this man, searching Duncan's face.
Seeing the honesty and trust that it held, Methos knew that this was his
reward. The Gods had given him a partner in this task, someone to lighten
"Together." He agreed, nodding. His heart was lightened by
the knowledge that he could now add Duncan's name to that list with the
Duncan rose and the two men embraced, warriors in a common battle, two
men with a single goal.
"I do have a favor to ask," Duncan said, laughter sparkling
in his eyes.
"And what is that?" Methos asked, smiling in return
"Please, whatever you do, please don't call me 'little one'!"
Duncan begged, laughing.
"Well, you're not so little anymore, are you?" Methos
playfully punched Duncan in the arm as the Scot shook his head, a smile
still on his face. "Then I promise I won't call you that."
Methos slapped MacLeod on the back, pushing him along the path. "So,
Mac, have you ever been to the Salisbury plain? I have a little place
there that I'd like you to see."
As they continued to walk the path that would lead them back to the
car, Methos lifted his eyes to the heavens, offering an unvoiced 'Thank
you' to the gods. And there was one other thing of which Methos was
Whatever gods Joe believed in, Methos was sure that he now occupied his
rightful place beside them.
*****The End (but the battle continues)*****
1 Enseki : Japanese word meaning 'relative separated by distance'