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This story takes place immediately after Will You Be There In The Morning? It is rated NC-17 for two men doing the wild thing. If you do not want to read about that, please use the delete key. You don't have to read the previous story to understand this one, but there are references to it that might help you understand this story. MacLeod, Methos and Joe belong to Rysher. I will return them unharmed. Jim Ralmont is mine. If you want to use him, please ask. All my stories are archived at seventh_dimension.simplenet.com under the pseudonym of scifiscarlet. I want to thank my beta readers (REJ.,Debra,Lisa, Cassidy, and Reolla. Special hugs to Cassy- she spent many many hours providing feedback and this story is definitely better for it) for the comments on my stories. Okay to archive to seventh dimension, HLX, HLFIC- any place else- ask
By the way- I love feedback please oh please
Prologue: Monday morning Late May
The sun's golden rays came through the portholes in the barge streaking the two lovers with it's light, bathing them in a field of brightness. Methos stirred and gazed at his companion. Duncan usually awoke earlier than he and this was a rare treat to watch his lover inconspicuously. He watched Duncan's chest move up and down as each breath was exhaled from his lungs and looked in awe at Duncan's smooth, wrinkle free face, no worry lines to show the troubles he'd seen in his 400 years. His face was beautiful to look at when he was awake, and a joy to behold when he was sleeping. His lips curved into a slight smile, his dark brown curly tresses caressed and framed his face as if to create a snapshot in time. In actuality, he <was a snapshot in time, growing up in the Scottish Highlands four hundred years ago, with his chieftain father, groomed to lead his tribe in battle and fame, a time of chivalry and honor. The Highlander embodied all those traits even in his Immortal life, protecting his friends and "clan", a code of honor dictating his behavior, even when it might mean the forfeit of his life. Methos smiled, kissing his Highland child on the lips and forehead, careful not to wake the slumbering man and left their bed for his morning routine.
Methos stretched his long frame and heard the popping sounds his joints elicited at the exertion their owner placed on them. His white alabaster skin contrasted with the dark olive tones of Duncan's skin, now mostly hidden in the bedclothes. Methos' well-developed muscles contracted as he walked across the barge to the bathroom in a stealthy manner, his 5000 years of experience a plus in remaining quiet while others were in the room. After dressing, he grabbed his dagger and wallet, hoping to return to the sleeping man before Duncan knew that he had departed. __________________________________________________________________
Monday Early Morning - Late May
Will you be there in the morning? Will you be there in the morning? As Duncan woke from his dream, he smiled inwardly. Last night Methos had come back to him, "home", yes he had come home. He remembered falling asleep thinking of the Heart song- "Will You Be There In The Morning?", remembered looking at Methos' fine chiseled features and thanking the powers that be that they'd been allowed to reunite. He'd accepted Richie's death and made his apologies to Joe for his part in their estrangement after his student's death. Purpose had returned to his life and he smiled at his good fortune. But then, all of a sudden it hit him; he felt no "buzz" in the barge; Methos wasn't there.
Monday Early Morning - Late May:
It was early morning when Methos left the barge, the sun low in the horizon, trying to rise above the Paris skyline. The spring day, its renewal evident, matched Methos' mood. The flowers peeked out of the ground, their bright yellow, red and blue petals straining to reach toward the sun. The mixture of browns and greens in the grass, a sign of new growth, combined with the bright blue sky, its color reminding Methos of the ocean, made Methos' heart fill with promise. MacLeod and he had reunited, Joe had recovered from his heart attack, and in celebration of last night, he was off to buy breakfast. He had no cares or worries, but what to buy for the ravenous man back at the barge.
He walked down the quay and turned toward the nearly deserted outdoor market, hearing his footsteps on the pavement as he walked from kiosk to kiosk. The vendor's wooden kiosks, awnings rolled up to display their wares, stood in long parallel isles; their multitude of colors overwhelming to someone unused to navigating this type of venue. Methos inhaled the scent of freshly cut flowers, the aroma of coffee beans, the sweet smell of baking bread and warm pastry, and the spicy scent of cloves, garlic and cinnamon as his senses were assaulted by the plethora of goods available to purchase. He bought fresh croissants, cheese and fruit and placed them in his bag to make it easier to carry.
Taking out his wallet, Methos paid for some fresh flowers to add to the celebration as a small boy 'bumped' him; preoccupied, he didn't notice the lad's partner relieving him of his wallet.
The cackle from a flock of birds flying overheard made Methos look up in the sky to watch their flight, wondering if they were as happy to return home as he was. Turning to his left, he saw a young couple holding hands and his mind wandered to last night. Duncan's large hands on his neck, his callused fingertips massaging his temples and then his back and hips. MacLeod's lips on his neck, his mouth, behind his ear, his nipple, in fact every inch of his skin. MacLeod's warm breath as it kissed his body for hours. His mind relieved the sensual visions from last night as he walked into the street and collapsed onto the pavement as he collided with the car.
Mid -Morning Late May
Duncan's eyes flew open, searching the barge for Methos. MacLeod grabbed the sweats from the floor, pulling them on as he hastily made his way to the stairs. Climbing the stairs two at a time, he flung open the door. His eyes swept the deck for any sign of Methos. He ran to the stern of the barge, no Methos. He looked in the water, no Methos. He opened the door to the bridge, no Methos. He returned to the sleeping quarters and looked in the bathroom, no Methos.
Methos was gone.
Duncan paced the barge, slamming his hands on the bed and kitchen counters as he crossed the floor of the barge. <Damn! He did it again. Left without a word and I thought this time was different. Damn you Methos! Can't you stay and deal with life? Oh I forgot. That's right... you hate commitment. Never get hurt. Keep your head. Damn! Damn! Damn! I love you Methos and all you ever do is bring me up and then slam me down! I can't go on like this. I guess that is what you wanted, isn't it? A quick and easy lay, then leave when no one is watching. Sly aren't you? Well, I'm not letting you get to me, this time. I will survive without you, thank you very much. Duncan stopped abruptly, realizing his tirade to an absent audience was not solving any problems and that no one was listening to him. <Listen to me. I'm talking to a man who isn't even here and I'm having an argument with him. I'm losing it. I need to calm down and look at this again. Maybe he didn't leave. Maybe............I don't know. I need to ........run. Yeah. I'll go for a run and when I come back, ......I don't know, but I'll deal with it later.
Duncan put on his running shoes, his shirt, and grabbed his wallet and keys. He walked up the stairs of the barge, looking one last time for Methos, knowing that he wasn't there, but hoping just the same.
<I'm not going to let this bother me. He's gone, so I must start my day like any other day.
Duncan jogged down the winding path in the park, but his mind was not reaching the calm he craved. He almost tripped on the uneven sidewalk and nearly missed running into another jogger. After this near collision, he stopped and tried to center himself before continuing his jog, but his mind wouldn't turn off its repeating tape loop.
<Methos, I thought you wanted me. Last night our bodies lay together, our souls intermingled. You made my heart glad. Was it all a hoax? Is life with me so frightening that you run at the first opportunity? You said you forgave me. I'm so gullible. I wanted to believe.....I guess I've been alone too long. I was wrong or you wouldn't have left. Left. without saying goodbye.
Duncan's jog had slowed to a fast walk, his thoughts causing turmoil to his workout rather than the desired effect of his workout calming his thoughts. As he walked, the tapes in his head took another interpretation.
<Maybe that's not the way it is at all. Methos probably went out to get some of his things. Remember, he'd planned on staying at Joe's for a while to help the Blue's man while he recuperates from his heart attack. Calm yourself, the old man is probably waiting for me to finish my run and join him in the big bed in the barge. Relax. Yes, that's probably it, and Methos will greet me with open arms when I return, well maybe he'll have me take a shower before he greets me, but...... Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, you are one sorry excuse of a man if you can't trust your lover.
As he came to this new conclusion, his heart lifted and Duncan began his workout in earnest. Duncan ran three miles around the park, enjoying the sunshine on his face and the cloudless blue sky. He noticed the park filling up with early runners and watched several couples walking their animals. Their intimate touches, laughs and knowing looks spurned Duncan to complete his workout in order to hasten his return to Methos.
Duncan returned to the barge, smiling at the anticipated reunion. As he slowed his pace, he looked for Methos, expecting to see him dressed and waiting for him on the barge deck. Scanning the deck, he didn't see Methos, but he "knew" he'd be waiting inside, lounging on the couch, beer in hand, waiting for Duncan to fix him breakfast. As he climbed the barge plank, Duncan didn't feel the "buzz". Duncan's breathing was shallow, his pulse quickened. He looked in the bridge, no Methos. Adrenaline pumped, he looked in the head, no Methos.
"Methos," he called with half a heart, knowing there would be no answer. The tightness in his chest increased and his sweaty hands made grasping the door handle difficult.
As he walked into the barge, he searched for signs of his lover. <Maybe he left something here,.... that would mean he really isn't gone, and he's coming back. The barge held no signs of Methos, not even a note. No, Methos left him and Duncan was alone again. <Maybe something happened to him. Maybe he's hurt or maybe..... I'm foolish. He's not here and he's not coming back. Damn! Methos! He left, again, no goodbye, I'm alone.
Duncan showered. Cleaned the bathroom. He cleaned the deck. Checked the moorings. Waxed the deck. Dusted the shelves. Washed the dishes. He showered again. When Methos returned, Duncan wanted it to look as if he was occupied with his daily activities rather than pining away for the Ancient Immortal. With each passing hour and no sign of the Immortal, his hopes of Methos' return slowly faded.
His stomach growled as he looked out the porthole and was surprised to see the setting sun in the horizon. He opened the refrigerator and saw a carton of milk and juice, but little else. He went to the cupboard and saw some old bread, pasta, rice and beans. Duncan got out the rice cooker and measured enough ingredients for several portions; then placed the beans in a pot to simmer on the stove as he retrieved some fresh pepper, onion and crab boil to add to the mixture. As the food cooked, he set the table for two people, still hoping that Methos would waltz in to the barge at any moment; he had a knack for arriving right at dinnertime. As the beans finished cooking, Duncan combined them with the rice in a large bowl, stirring them together. They smelled wonderful, reminding him of the trip to the French Quarter he had taken several years ago. He sat down and dished out some of the aromatic mixture onto his plate, poured himself a glass of wine and took a tentative spoonful of the delicacy. Blowing on the mixture as it was still steaming, and preparing himself for the spicy taste of the dish; he ate several bites of the dinner, but found he had no appetite for eating. He scraped off the mixture into the garbage and put the remainder in the refrigerator. He cleaned his plate, silverware, and pots and left them drying in the dish rack.
Picking up his wine, he went to the bookshelf and chose a book about Scottish history. He went to the couch to read his selection, stopping to turn on the lamp. Duncan read the first paragraph, trying to keep his attention on the material, but his mind kept wandering in other directions.
He thought about their time together and realized that only two short years had passed since Alexa died and they became more than just friends. Pictures of their first joining on the beach, the sun on their backs, suntan lotion smeared on their bodies to "protect" them from its burning rays, brought a smile to his face. But the smile faded as he recalled the deaths of Byron, Kronos and Richie. His hurt and anger at Methos' lies resulted in a breach in their relationship, but he had eventually accepted Methos' past and they renewed their friendship. Joe's heart attack last winter had reunited them, started them talking, making plans. Their sweat drenched, slick bodies, satiated by intense lovemaking, lie intertwined on Duncan's bed last night. Then this morning......Methos was gone, too scared to make a commitment.
He looked down at his book and realized he wasn't going to accomplish any reading tonight, he had to get out of here. Duncan knew that if Methos wasn't here now, he wasn't going to return. Grabbing his car keys, he locked the barge and went to his car.
Duncan had no destination in mind, but he didn't want to go anywhere where people knew him. He thought music would calm his soul, so he drove to Georges. He read the Marquee advertising this evening's music entertainment, a jazz singer. Not wanting to hear jazz, he kept driving. He'd read about a new bookstore that specialized in ancient texts that closed late, so he drove to the bookstore. He parked his car, walked inside and roamed the aisles until he reached the history texts. Life in Babylonian Times, The Pharaohs of the Early Dynasty, Tools of the Bronze Age, each title brought visions of Methos to his mind as he saw his lover in his previous lives. Duncan walked out of the bookstore. <Maybe dancing is what I need, now what is the name of that club Amanda told me about last year? It was somewhere on the right bank. He drove to the right bank, but after a 15 minute search, he acknowledged his weariness and returned to the barge, parking his car on the quay above the river.
As Duncan walked toward the barge, his heart pumped quicker, his breath came in quick spurts and his spirits soared; he thought he felt a "buzz". As he climbed the plank, he called out Methos' name and looked for the Ancient Immortal. He looked in the bridge, behind the tarps, and then went into the living quarters, but no sign of Methos. Tears filled his eyes and coursed down his cheeks as he allowed the events of the day to flow over him. Methos wasn't here and he wouldn't be coming back. Duncan slid down the wall and sat on the floor as he cried for his loss, for his redemption, and his future. Time passed, but Duncan didn't know how much, his joints stiffening from their crouched position. He belonged in bed; stripping off his clothes, he slid between the cool sheets, hoping for relief from this accursed day.
Closing his eyes, hoping to sleep, Duncan found his mind had other plans for him. <Where did I go wrong? Methos loves me, or I thought he did. Hell... I'm so confused. Did he intend to stay? Why am I so gullible, believe what I want to hear? Oh I want you Methos. Whatever the problem is, we can work on it together, we can fix it, just please come back.
Thoughts such as these roamed in the Highlander's head all night, reliving these last few weeks, their last night together, their last conversation, and yet he couldn't pinpoint a problem. Methos had answered his question last night with a yes and they had returned to the barge for a wonderful night of lovemaking. (had it been only last night) What happened? Did he push Methos too fast for them to be together, to be a couple? Did Methos still hold him responsible for Richie's death? What? The Highlander had no answers, just questions, but he knew that Methos had the answers; the only problem, no one knew where to find him. __________________________________________________________________
Monday Mid Morning - Late May
After the car hit him, his packages went flying into the air; his body slammed into the windshield of the car, landing in a heap a few feet from the hood, and his dagger, torn from its hidden sheath, punctured the underside of the car.
"He walked right in front of me! I tried to stop. I did. Can someone call an ambulance?" the upset motorist pleaded to the crowd that was quickly gathering around Methos.
The ambulance arrived and searched his person for identification and found none. They took him to the hospital; not realizing his Immortal healing powers would soon resolve the damage to his body.
Several hours later, Methos opened his eyes and instant terror shot through his body. Where was he? How did he get here? Whoa.....Better yet, who was he? He looked around and saw stark white walls and outlets for medical equipment. Looking down, he saw he lay in a hospital bed, dressed in a hospital gown, and he had an IV in his arm. Locating a mirror on the side of the room, he pulled the white sheet and lightweight blanket away from his body and walked over to it. Looking at his image, he saw a bandage on his head, but saw no bruises on his face or neck. <Hmmp That's odd. No bruises, no sign of injury. I'm not sore, but I have a head wrap. I guess I was in some type of accident. Got to get some answers.
His brain tried to remember, Snippets of thought, places he'd been, pushed through his memory, but it was a huge jumble of scenes and faces. He saw himself standing by the pyramids in Egypt with people in Egyptian costume and they were talking in Egyptian. He carried a medical bag and tended a sick slave in New Orleans, afterwards making love to a slave woman. He fought a man with a sword on a bridge and they fell into the river. He saw himself sitting in a living room, talking with a man and a woman and he cut his hand, only to see it heal. <I must be dreaming. As he was trying to make some sense of these visions, he developed a strong headache. He put his hands to his bandaged head and lay on the bed, hoping to alleviate the pain, but nothing stopped the "buzzing" in his head.
The door to his room opened and a man walked in. The man wore a pair of khaki pants and a blue button down shirt with a Save the Children tie around his neck. He wore a doctor's white coat with a badge identifying him as Dr. Jim Ralmont and he had a stethoscope around his neck. He parted his short light blond hair on the right side.
"Jim Ralmont", the man stated as he walked over to Methos.
"ah.." Methos sat up in his bed and extended his hand to acknowledge the introduction, but then stammered, "glad to meet you. I'm ......... Sorry I can't remember my name."
"New are you?" He questioned.
"New..........I don't know what you're talking about," responded Methos.
"The game........you know Immortals.... There can be only one........." the Immortal quizzed Methos.
The look Methos gave him told Jim that Methos didn't know about Immortals or the game.
"Welcome back. You just died and now you're Immortal," he stated matter of factly.
"What? Immortal.........Died........ I remember walking to get some foodstuffs from the market and ................ I don't remember much else," he answered sheepishly.
"Well, you were hit by a car in the market and were brought here by ambulance. When you were hit, you died, but you didn't really die, because you're Immortal."
"Wha......." Methos started asking the doctor in front of him.
"It's like this. There is a group of people in this world who cannot die, well we can die, but I'll get to that part later. Anyway when we experience our first death we become Immortal. You were alive when they brought you to the hospital; otherwise you wouldn't be in this room, but rather the morgue. Anyway, sometime between the docs fixing you up and me getting here, you must have died. Don't know how the nurses missed it, but I guess since you didn't stay dead long, it is sorta understandable. I bet if I took off those bandages, you wouldn't have a scratch on you. Let's see what's under those bandages, shall we."
Methos looked at the doctor warily, scanning the room to see if there was a quick exit where he could escape from this lunatic.
"For all I know, I should be calling the nurse to tell her there is some strange man in my room who says he is a doctor, but wants to come at me with a pair of very sharp scissors. I just don't know Dr. Ralmont," Methos responded, his skepticism shinning through.
"O.k. You have a point. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll show you that I'm telling you the truth about being Immortal by cutting my hand with these scissors. Immortals heal very quickly and I won't need stitches or anything. No scar will form either. Then do you think you can trust me to take off your bandage?"
Methos eyed him carefully and weighed what Dr. Ralmont said.
"Deal, but only if you let me cut you so that I know you aren't trying to fool me with some magician trick."
He cut the doctor's hand and then watched, mesmerized, as the little blue zaps of Immortal quickening healed the cut before his eye.
"Woah. I guess that can come in pretty handy sometimes. Your turn. I always wanted to know what I looked like with a buzz cut," he retorted with a grin.
Dr. Ralmont proceeded to cut Methos' bandages and handed him a mirror so that he could look at his head. Just as the doctor stated, there were no marks on his head where he and the truck collided.
"All right. You are two for two. So what's it like to be Immortal. I mean ... So you heal quickly and I didn't die the first time, but can I die? I can't quite believe that Immortal means truly Immortal."
"You're a smart guy. Yes you can be killed permanently, but someone has to chop off your head."
"Lose your head," Methos sat up straight in his bed and looked aghast at the Doctor.
He was thinking that this man must have a few marbles loose, but here he was talking about Immortality in one breath and then in the other, he talked about beheadings as if they happen daily.
"I'm out of here," he started to get up from the bed.
"Not so fast. Let me tell you a little more about Immortals and then if you still want to leave, you can. Trust me. I'm a doctor and this is a hospital. Do you think I would really harm you?" He spoke softly trying to reassure Methos.
"Okay. I'll stay for the story lesson and then I'll decide."
The doctor sat down in one of the chairs in the room and proceeded to tell Methos about Immortals. He allowed Methos to cut himself, just as he cut the doctor. He explained about Methos' headache and then showed him how the headache goes away when he left Methos' range. After he answered all his questions, Methos believed that this man told him the truth.
"All right , so I'm Immortal, what do I do now?" He queried the doctor.
"You learn to fight. I will get you a sword and teach you to fight."
"To fight....... With a sword.........This is the twentieth century Doctor, aren't guns going to be more effective?"
"Haven't you been listening to a word I said. Yes, guns are effective, but you can't be killed by a gun. You have to learn how to fight with a sword so you can behead your opponent," he said trying not to show his exasperation with this new Immortal.
"In a few days, I will get you out of here. You had a nasty accident and we don't want to bring any attention to your quick healing ability. I'll release you and you'll come home with me. I'll tell my neighbors, you're a friend from college. You know, we need to come up with a name for you since you can't remember yours. I can't keep calling you John Doe. Any suggestions?"
"Something nondescript would probably be good. If I understand you correctly, the more anonymous I am, the better I'll be able to hide from other Immortals. Well lets see..........How about Michael Adams? I like that. I think I look like a Michael and that is pretty nondescript. What do you think?"
"Michael Adams, that has a nice ring to it. Nice to meet you Michael."
"All right. In a few days, I'll come home with you, but tonight I think I'll sleep. I'm tired. By the way, since I don't have a concussion or anything, do you think you can get me a beer, maybe two. I really think I could use one."
"Sure. I'll bring you a few. Any kind in particular?"
"Yeah- ... I can't remember what I like. Just get me something with a kick, not some watered down American beer.
"Coming right up," and the doctor left Michael to get his beer while he contemplated his newfound Immortality.
He was immortal, could live forever, as long as he kept his head. Then again, he had to learn to fight with a sword, and that didn't seem to be an efficient way to fight. He'd had a long day and could think about this Immortal stuff later, after all, according to Ralmont he had many lifetimes to live.
Tuesday Late May
Morning came and an exhausted Duncan accepted that the ancient Immortal wasn't coming back; therefore, he had to get on with his life. He reached back in his memory to ascertain what constituted his life before Methos had reentered it, but visions of solitude, loneliness, and emptiness entered his head.
Then he remembered he still had Joe. Methos had promised to help Joe at home while he recuperated from his heart attack. After all, Duncan had lured him away last night, the old man probably had returned to Joe's this morning. <Methos was loyal to his friends; of course he was with Joe. He would just call Joe and ask to talk to Methos.
Duncan reached over to the phone by his bed and dialed Joe's number. Joe answered on the first ring, surprised to hear the phone ring at this hour of the morning.
"Hello," Joe's gravely voice answered the phone.
"Joe, How you doing? Adjusting to being home again?" Duncan tried to keep his voice light.
"Yeah. I kinda missed the place. Lots of dust bunnies multiplying in here. I thought you guys cleaned it while I was laid up?"
"Well we can't catch 'em all you know. Gotta give you something to complain about. Wouldn't want you too happy. Have to make you remember what your friends are good for."
"Oh I remember, Mac. Speaking of friends, When are you and Methos going to come up for air? It would be nice to have some company besides old Jerry Lewis movies. So when are you guys going to divert my attention."
Duncan clutched the phone and tried to compose his voice as Joe's words confirmed his fears.
"Oh I'll be over in a little bit. I'll grab some groceries for breakfast on my way over," he replied trying to hide the disappointment in his voice.
"See you in a while," the Watcher quickly answered as he hung up the phone.
<Damn. I was so sure, he'd be there. I just knew that Methos had gotten up early and returned to Joe's to help him. Wrong again. Where is he? I just can't, NO! I don't want to accept that he's gone. AGAIN. Methos, I miss you.
Joe looked at the phone as he replaced it in its cradle.
<That was a strange conversation. Mac sure sounded odd after I mentioned the two of them coming over. Hope nothing's happened between them, the other night they were making my living room into voyeur street U.S.A. Hell, I thought I'd walked into a blue movie. Mac said he'd be over, there was no mention of Methos. Damn, Old Man what the Hell is going on?
<Where is the "old man? Oh, Methos, I hope you haven't left again. Mac's smile had returned and his laugh... I missed my friend after Richie died. If you've hurt him again, I'll........ I don't know what I'll do, but it won't be pleasant.
About an hour later, Macleod arrived at Dawson's place, breakfast in hand. Walking from his car, he took several deep breaths to calm his racing heart. <Maybe Methos showed up at Dawson's since I talked to him this morning. I'll ring the bell and I'll feel presence and this whole charade will end. As he approached the door, he felt no "buzz" .<Damn. Damn you Methos. I don't want to be here without you; we were supposed to do this together. Duncan stood at the doorway for several seconds, calming his mind, trying to erase all thoughts of his lover and knocked on the door.
Joe wheeled himself to the door, saw Mac through the window to the side and opened the door to let the Immortal inside.
"Joe," handling the brown bag to the Watcher, "here's breakfast. I didn't know what you wanted for breakfast for so I brought croissants, baguettes, fruit, cheese, and Danish. I stopped at that little coffee stand you like so much, La Coffee or something, and picked up some fresh hazelnut and Italian roast coffee to go with our meal. "
"Mac," looking into the bag, "there's enough food to last me all week. Were you expecting to feed the entire flat?" Joe questioned, a note of surprise tingeing his response. Reaching into the bag, he gave Mac the coffee. "I guess you could be a gracious guest and brew up some of the coffee you brought."
"Sure Joe. What kind would you like?"
"Oh I think the hazelnut sounds good. I haven't had that blend in a while."
Duncan gathered the supplies for the coffee from Joe's cupboard, silently preparing the aromatic beans for brewing. He opened the cabinets and retrieved two plates and two mugs, napkins, forks, spoons and knives to set the table for their meal; then he sat down, quietly staring out the window. Joe watched, taking in the almost automatic movements of the Immortal.
The coffee finished brewing and Duncan continued to stare out the window, oblivious to his surroundings.
"hmmp," Joe said quietly.
"Sorry, Joe. Oh I see the coffee's ready. Let's eat."
Duncan took a croissant, buttered it, and bit into it.
"Joe, these are so fresh. I haven't had croissants in so long. I remember when I first tasted one. I think Kristen introduced me to them. She did like the finer things in life. She tried to make me into a "gentleman, said I was a barbarian". A "barbarian" hah. Can you imagine? .....Oh Of course, you can, you're my watcher. You know all about Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. .... Sorry"
"No need to apologize Mac. I like hearing your stories."
"Want some more coffee? You seem to be empty. It is good, isn't it Joe?"
"Yeah. It's good. I'll take some more."
Mac refreshed both their mugs and finished his croissant. "So. Joe.... Now that you're home, what are you going to do with all your free time?" he said with a chuckle.
"Oh I don't know. Maybe I'll read. I hear there are some fascinating chronicles out there. Right now Mac, I'm taking it one day at a time and letting this old ticker recover."
"Sounds good to me. Are you finished? I'll clean up."
Joe watched as Mac efficiently put all the remaining food in containers, cleared the table and washed the dishes. When he was finished, Mac went into the living room to sit on the couch. His eyes looked around the room, as if seeing it for the first time. The two men sat in silence for a long time, but when MacLeod looked at his watch, he found it had only been 10 minutes.
"Mac," Joe looked at the immortal, "What's up?"
"What do you mean Joe?" Mac answered as he carried his coffee cup into the kitchen for a refill.
"Mac, two nights ago, you left with Methos before you made my living room into Voyeur street U.S.A.; now you are here by yourself, you talk about trivial things, then sit silently in my living room like it was a death sentence. I'm your Watcher, for G-d sake, I know you better than you know yourself, or admit that you know yourself, and I say something's up. What gives?" Mac returned from the kitchen and walked over to the window. He looked out to the courtyard, hoping to avoid Joe's Watcher's eyes.
"Joe, I'm sorry. I guess my mind is somewhere else, or I should say on someone else, Methos. I guess he decided this wasn't a good idea, cause I woke up........to an empty barge. He just disappeared. I waited all day for him, but I never heard from him. Damn him Joe. Did he really want this or...... I'm so confused." The Highlander's eyes misted, but he squeezed his eyes closed, stopping the tears from falling.
"Damn him! " the Watcher muttered under his breath, not wanting to add his frustration to Duncan's unhappiness. "Did you guys have an argument? Anything to give you a clue that he was going to leave," Joe questioned his friend.
Returning his gaze to the Watcher, he responded quietly, "No, nothing."
"I just can't believe he would just up and leave. Maybe something happened to him. Maybe he ran into another immortal and ....." Joe stated, trying to find a plausible reason why Methos would have left.
Duncan quickly walked back into the living room as the reality of the possibility hit him.
"No. He's alive Joe. I mean, ever since I killed Kronos, we seem to have this weird connection, like I always know he's around. It's hard to explain Joe. I just know he's alive, not dead."
"Really? You never said anything before," the Watcher queried.
"Well it didn't seem important. Okay. Let it be. Right now, I'm worried about Methos. If he's not dead, then where is he? But ...if he left...No, Joe. He didn't leave! There has to be another explanation," Duncan answered as he paced the room, continuing to look out the window as if he expected Methos to come down the walkway and end this foolish conversation.
"Joe! Maybe you can locate him in the Watcher database. Another Immortal challenged him and he fled, you know how he hates to fight." Mac's shoulders eased their tight stance and his face relaxed its grimace as the possibility of finding some answers increased.
"Mac," Joe said softly, trying not to hurt his friend, "maybe there isn't another Immortal, maybe he just left."
Duncan stopped pacing as the words hit him. "Joe...Please. Maybe another Immortal kidnapped him and he didn't run." Mac sighed as he responded to the Watcher. "I just have to know," Duncan pleaded with his Watcher, knowing he wanted to use their friendship to further his own goals.
"Joe, help me........ find him." Duncan pleaded.
"Whoaaaa... You're right. There may be another explanation. I'll have to do some digging and go through the back door."
"Thanks, Joe. I owe you one. I know I owe you more than one," the Highlander grinned, the tension easing from his body as he felt that the disappearance of his lover would soon be solved.
"Mac........bring me my computer and my files. Let's get to work and see what I can find out."
The Scot sighed with relief, letting out the breath that he wasn't even aware he held, and brought the equipment to his friend. He bent down to plug the connections to the outlet and phone jack, then he watched in anticipation as Joe began his search.
Joe sat at his computer, typed in his Watcher codes and searched for information linking other Immortals with Adam. Joe found no reference to anyone resembling Adam associating with the known Immortals in town. As Joe continued to search for information, Mac paced Joe's small apartment. He cleaned the coffee cups. He dusted the shelves. He straightened yesterday's newspaper. He swept the floor. Duncan surreptitiously watched his friend at the computer, seeing Joe's brows knit and his mouth turn into a tight frown; Duncan realized that Joe couldn't find Adam either.
<Methos, why? Why did you leave me? Did you leave because of Brian Cullen, Richie, Kristen, Kronos, Byron...... Is it because there can be only one and that our friendship cannot exist in our world?
MacLeod"s eyes grew misty as he finished his internal monologue. At first he tried hiding his sadness from his Watcher, but then he realized that Joe would understand. Still it hurt his pride to let Joe know how much this man meant to him and how he so easily had the power to hurt him. As he finished placing the silverware in the drawer, he slumped against the wall and a few tears coursed down his cheeks.
At first, Joe tried to ignore the Immortal, continuing his search for Methos' whereabouts, but when he saw Mac give up his attempt at hiding his emotional state, he wheeled himself over to Mac and placed a reassuring hand on his back. No words were spoken as the two men understood each other's thoughts.
The afternoon sun cast shadows on the kitchen floor and the play of light made Duncan's unshaven face appear somber. Joe wheeled himself to the counter to make himself another pot of coffee.
"If he just up and left, I'm going to kill him when I find him," Joe muttered under his breath. "I can't believe he just left. He really is one selfish bastard."
Taking his head out of his hands, Duncan responded quietly, "Joe...........I'm sure there is an explanation."
"An explanation. You're great MacLeod. Just great. The man sleeps in your bed and then in the morning leaves you without as much as a goodbye. G-d you gotta love it. Next you'll tell me you're going to go after him and find him so you can torture yourself some more," Joe responded with a note of sarcasm.
Duncan stood up and begun pacing the tiny kitchen, its compact nature helpful to Joe, but cagelike to Duncan in his agitated state. "Well," Duncan stammered, trying to present a plausible explanation to his friend. "There has to be an explanation Joe. An Immortal has him, or maybe he sensed another Immortal and had to leave quickly or .....I'm just not ready to write him off yet. Give him a few days. Maybe he'll just show up and we'll all have a good laugh," the Highlander responded earnestly trying to convince himself of this possibility.
Running his hands through his soft gray spiked hair, Joe felt the grime on his body and the exhaustion from this morning's search.
"MacLeod you are priceless," Joe sighed with exasperation. "I'm going to clean up. I feel like I haven't bathed in a week. When I'm done, I'll look some more."
Duncan looked at his friend, seeing the heavy eyelids and puffed bags under his eyes, and realized the toll the search had taken on his friend. He nodded his head and poured some of the coffee Joe had brewed. He went to the front door to pick up the newspaper, having spied it earlier. He brought it in the house and sat on the couch to read it, but had no better luck reading the paper today than he did reading the book of Scottish history last night. He put down the paper, walked to the window, and looked out, hoping to see the familiar face of his friend walking down the path.
"I feel much better now. I'm surprised you could even stand next to me," Joe quipped as he rolled out of his bedroom. "Let's see if I can locate our Elusive friend."
Mac sat on the couch, trying to read the paper again, while Joe searched the database for Methos. After 45 minutes of additional searching, Joe rolled his shoulders and stretched his arms, "Mac.........I'm sorry. I can't find any information."
"Nothing? Have you checked the routes out of town? What about other Immortals? Are there any 'visitors' in town?"
"Yeah, Mac. I did. No matches. He's disappeared. Methos can be pretty elusive if he wants to disappear. Maybe we should try his apartment. If he planned to leave, he would have packed up and shipped his books."
A smile crossed MacLeod's lips for the first time in several days. "Great idea, Joe. But... Joe, wasn't he planning on staying here, so most of his stuff is in the guest room. When would he have had time to vacate?"
"Mac, you know Methos. He can pack up and leave at a moment's notice, he can always replace his clothes. The only possessions he carries are his journals."
"Yeah I guess you're right. I'll go to his place later and see if he left anything." Duncan responded, his voice full of hope.
Joe turned to his computer and began shutting down the files he had queried. As he stroked the last key on the keyboard, he turned to MacLeod. "Stop cleaning the imaginary lint from my couch. Its plenty clean already."
Macleod looked sheepishly at his friend as a small smile curved his lips, "Sorry Joe. I guess I need to keep busy."
"Its okay Mac. Remember Mac, the only way we're going to find him is if he is challenged, taken prisoner, or otherwise involved in the Game. Maybe someone hasn't reported in and I'll get something tomorrow, but nothing right now."
Sitting straighter on the couch, "What do you mean, someone hasn't reported in? I thought you guys know everything we do?" Duncan responded with a hint of anger.
"Mac, We have our own lives and obligations too," Joe responded with a little irritation.
Mac relaxed again, sliding his back into the cushions, "Sorry Joe. If he left town, I guess I could accept that. If an Immortal is hunting him or he lost a challenge, I would try to deal with that too, but it's this not knowing that is killing me."
"I know Mac. He's my friend too and I'll kill him when I get my hands on him if he.......... I don't know... If he did this on purpose," the Watcher answered, his fear and worry showing through.
Duncan looked at Joe, realizing for the first time, the level of hurt and worry the Watcher felt. He hadn't thought about how Joe was handling Methos' disappearance. Methos and Joe were friends too and it must hurt him to know that Methos up and left. It's bad enough he left Duncan, but Joe, a mortal didn't have many lifetimes to enjoy his friendship. He wondered how Methos could do that to Joe? Duncan needed to get Joe's mind off of Methos for now.
"Well we can't find Mr. Elusive so......... you want to watch a movie? I could go to the video store." Mac queried his friend.
"No. Actually I'm kinda tired. I think I'll take a nap," Joe yawned, a tired edge to his voice.
"Joe! How selfish can I be? You just got out of the hospital. I'm sorry. Let me help." Mac went over to Joe's wheelchair to wheel him toward the bedroom.
"Go away MacLeod. I'm not an invalid. I just said I was tired. Now leave me alone. Stay if you must, but don't play mother hen," Joe snapped at MacLeod.
"If that's what you want," Mac said softly.
"That's what I want! Now I'll see you in a few hours .........or not," the Watcher replied tartly and closed the bedroom door.
MacLeod cleaned the apartment while Joe slept, then cooked a few meals and left them in the refrigerator. He left a note saying he would check out Methos' apartment and would call Joe tomorrow.
Joe woke from his nap and was relieved to see Mac was gone; saw his note and the food in the refrigerator. He hoped the Scot would put Methos out of his mind, but knew his hopes were unrealistic. He continued his earlier search of the data bases, but found nothing. He ate an early dinner and retired to his room to watch some television, falling asleep soon after he turned on the tube. __________________________________________________________________
Mac left Joe's apartment and drove to Methos' apartment. He'd only been there a few times because Methos seemed to like the barge better, but Mac found Methos' apartment fascinating. Mac let himself into the apartment, finding the spare key in the bush where Methos kept it. He loved the shelves and bookcases filled with every imaginable type of book in every known language. There were books on subjects ranging from religion to history and many topics in between. It seemed to Duncan that Methos loved books just for their feel; their content a minor consideration. Of course, there were the old man's journals. Duncan would love to read some of those sometime, but he knew Methos' valued his privacy and would never let him do so. Being in Methos' apartment allowed him to feel a connection to his lover, even though he was alone.
Glancing around, he "felt" Methos' presence. Of course, there was no "buzz", but Duncan could feel his lover. He walked into the spotless kitchen, no dishes left to dry on the drain board, no dirty spoons in the sink, not even a pan on the stove left to dry. A sweater lay draped over the couch and a pair of tennis shoes was left in front of the television, but everything else was in its place. Duncan walked into the bedroom and looked at the bed. A quick vision of the two men in that bed brought a smile to Duncan's face, but quickly faded as he remembered his quest. Duncan's eyes viewed the room and spied Methos' current journal. Duncan wanted to read it, but he knew it would betray a trust he still felt for his lover.
<Damn. His journal is still here; his clothes and all his possessions are still here, but where is he? Duncan locked the door and left the apartment, thinking of activities to fill the remainder of his day.
Michael was released from the hospital and moved in with his "new" teacher, Jim. Jim lived in Neuilly in a large old house, far removed from the road by trees and bushes to increase his anonymity. He allowed Michael to explore the home and his surroundings for a few days before they began training.
He had converted part of it to a gym so he could work out in privacy. He found a broad sword for Michael and they began practicing daily; their routines consisted of sword practice, street fighting, hand to hand combat, and various forms of the martial arts. Jim wanted his student familiar with all forms of combat so he could defend himself against attack from other Immortals, knowing that an Immortal coming into the "game" this late had a very low chance of survival past his ordinary lifetime. Michael exhibited a cut- throat attitude when they practiced, one he hadn't seen in many Immortals, much less in mortal men. Michael took all their lessons to heart and never needed to be shown or told twice why he needed to do something. He learned quickly, a fact that Jim commented on frequently.
One afternoon following a particularly difficult lesson, one that Michael had picked up quickly, Jim wondered about his student's past. He and Michael were cleaning their swords in the gym area and listening to a "Queen " CD in the background.
"You sure you never did this before? I've had students who took months to learn some of the moves you seem to pick up in just days. Are you hiding something from me?"
Michael looked at his teacher, his eyes innocent, not hiding any information, "No. I don't think so. This seems somewhat familiar, but I can't seem to pull it from my memory."
"I've been Immortal for 300 years and in all my time I've never heard of an Immortal losing his memory. It certainly is unusual. Are any memories returning?"
Michael finished cleaning his sword and he walked over to his towel to dry his face again. He completed a few additional stretches as he felt his body recovering from its workout.
"Maybe. Sometimes I have visions, I'm in them and they are filled with pictures of me that I don't recognize," he answered, his forthright answer making Jim feel guilty about questioning Michael's story.
"Maybe you aren't a new Immortal, these visions could really be memories. Maybe something terrible happened to you and that is why you don't remember."
Michael shook his head, "I'm sorry. This Immortal business seems very unfamiliar to me. I promise if this isn't my first time around, I really don't remember any other life."
Jim grabbed his sword and towel and motioned for Michael to walk back to the main house with him as they continued this discussion. He watched his student and did not see any signs of deceit, "Well, there was no identification on you when you were brought into the hospital. The police couldn't find any information on you and no one reported anyone matching your description missing. If you were Immortal before the accident, no one in your circle came looking for you. We like to keep our anonymity and you sure are anonymous. Well, talking about what ifs isn't going to help you any. If your memory comes back, let me know. If this is your first death, you can't return to your old life anyway. If you are an "old Immortal", then you've just added my training to your repertoire of teachers."
The two men reached the main house and stopped before going to their respective rooms to get cleaned up. They looked at each other, relaxed in each other's company, student and teacher.
"You were hit by the truck in the market and brought to the hospital. Maybe we should go back to the market and see if it jogs any memories for you. You're lucky I found you on my ward in the hospital; otherwise, you might still be wandering around trying to make sense out of this Immortality stuff."
Michael turned toward his teacher and shook his head in agreement, "I guess that couldn't hurt, it might even help. I would like to know why I was at the market and who I am, even if I can't go back to my previous life. Maybe it will jump start my memory. Let's go tomorrow."
That night Michael went to bed and could hardly sleep; the anticipation of seeing the scene of his accident pumped his adrenaline, keeping his body excited.<I know something will jog my memory, Its got to. Immortals don't just forget who they are. Jim was a very good teacher and he was learning a lot, but he "knew" there was more to his life. The "dreams" were more frequent, nightly, if truth were told. He was in all of them. He was dressed in Egyptian finery, slave garments, Victorian lace and many other forms of dress. He knew he couldn't be a new Immortal, but telling Jim this wouldn't help the situation. Jim had checked with the police after his accident; no one had inquired about him, nor had they found any identification on him. He needed Jim to refresh his skills, even if he was an old Immortal, because training was never wasted.
That night, he had a new dream.
**He was dressed in a white robe, tied at the waist. He had long hair, down to his shoulders and his face was half painted with blue. He rode a fine horse and was accompanied by 3 other men, similarly dressed. They rode in the desert, along the sandy dunes and made their camps when water could be found.
The fire was flickering its orange, yellow sparks into the desert sky. The men sat around it, finishing the last of their supper.
"Brothers, tomorrow we ride again. We have been here too long. Our supplies grow low and our skills need practice," ordered the man with the scar by his eye.
"Aye, Aye," the rest of them agreed.
"Tomorrow we ride. I can fill the thrill of the hunt. I haven't had a woman in many a fortnight. These desert plants fill my belly, but fresh kill would taste good," bellowed the large man.
"Where shall we go?" Questioned the man in the white robe.
"Brother, we shall ride to the south. I smell their cooking fires at night on the desert winds. It should be a good day, tomorrow. Sleep, my brothers. We rise for our conquest before daylight."
The men tended the fire and retired to their tent. Before the first light of day, they had broken camp and mounted their horses for their raid. They came upon a village to the south. The four horsemen rode into the encampment yelling the battle cry of death. As the inhabitants heard the screams of their attackers, they attempted to hide from them. Unfortunately, there is no place to hide in the desert and the men and children were slaughtered within minutes. The horsemen took the females captive, tying then to their horses and then they helped themselves to the village's bounty.
"An easy victory, my brothers. Come let us travel south to set up our new home. When we arrive, we can split our bounty for we share all, we are brothers," their leader commanded.**
After this dream Michael woke drenched in sweat, sickened by the visions. He got out of bed, paced his room, fear gripping his heart. Evil, pure evil. Death- This couldn't be him, not now, not ever. Denial- He slumped down the wall by his bedroom door.
<Yes, Oh Yes, MacLeod. I killed them, but I didn't kill 50, I didn't kill 100. I killed 1,000. I killed 10,000 and I was good at it.
<Where had that come from? It was too vivid. And who is MacLeod?
Michael tried to sleep again, but it eluded him.
The next day, the two men drove to the site of the accident and parked the car on one of the side streets. They had chosen to go in the late afternoon, a slow time for the market, the lunch crowd having gone; the evening customers not ready to purchase their goods for supper. Michael walked around the market trying to spark memories from the various sites and sounds. Jim wanted to protect Michael from any Immortals in the area, so he kept a silent vigil while Michael walked the market, hoping his memory would return, independent of Jim's suggestions. Michael stopped in front of the bakery; the smell of fresh croissants wafted over him and tantalized his senses. He hoped the sensory stimulation would spark some memories, but all he remembered was purchasing the light pastry bread. He stepped in front of the fruit stand and the same picture came to him, purchasing the delicacy, but nothing more. As he walked toward the flower stall, the owner greeted him," So happy to see you monsieur. I see you have recovered from your mishap. That car hit you pretty hard, I was certain you were dead."
"Thank you. I seem to have recovered, but my memory is still fuzzy. Madame, can you help?" Michael inquired, his voice full of hope.
"I'm sorry monsieur. I'd never seen you before that day. I just opened up my kiosk that week. It was a memorable week."
"Thank you, Madame. Good day," the disappointment in his voice evident.
He walked toward the coffee kiosk and a sense of deja vu overwhelmed him. The coffee container looked familiar, he recognized the insignia. <Now why do I remember this? Now he remembered, he'd bought coffee here before! He remembered buying coffee by the pound, once a week, on Thursdays. He always bought a two pounds a trip. He could smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, drinking it with a tall brunette in the side table overlooking the river. Her name was Jeanette. <Oh this is wonderful. I must tell Jim the news. I knew my memory would return.
"Jim, Jim!" Michael yelled, searching for his companion.
"Coming, Michael. Did you remember something?"
"Yes. It's that coffee stand. I remember buying two pounds of coffee on Thursdays and drinking some at that table with a brunette named Jeanette. Isn't that good news? My memory is returning. Just a few more trips around Paris and I'm sure other information will come to the surface.," the excitement in his voice clearly rising as he relayed more of his memories.
Jim looked at Michael, seeing the excitement in his eyes, the anticipation in his voice and was eager to acknowledge his success; however he couldn't do so, "Michael, It's not a memory." he said softly.
"What? How do you know?" Michael answered crestfallen.
"Michael that is a common commercial for the market. It's been airing on the television for about a month. I'm sorry."
"Oh," Michael replied, the disappointment evident in his voice.
"I was so sure. I'll keep trying," Michael replied, not wanting to accept defeat.
"Yes. Keep trying, maybe something will come to you."
After several trips around the market, nothing sparked Michael's memories. Disappointed, the two men returned to the side street where their car was parked and went to Jim's home. Neither spoke on the return drive.
<Damn I was sure the market would spark some type of memory in me. I want to know who I am. I'm tired of living an anonymous life.
The two men returned home. Realizing how disappointing the market trip turned out; Jim felt an intense practice session would get Michael's mind off the excursion. Jim taught Michael a new method of fighting that involved using your sword when your back faced the opponent. As he demonstrated the technique, Michael made a very effective counter move.
"Nice. Where did you learn that move?"
"How the hell should I know? It worked didn't it," he retorted vehemently.
"Yeah. Let's continue," Jim replied, trying to dissipate Michael's anger.
They progressed to traditional hand to hand combat. Michael repeatedly threw Jim on the mat. Then he had Jim pinned on the mat, flat on his stomach, hands behind his back and Michael's foot in the middle of his back.
"Michael," Jim yelled. "It's me, Jim. Let up man. I'm not your enemy, I'm your teacher."
Michael remembered where he was and released his hold, walking toward his towel, shoulders slumped, head downcast.
"Michael?" Jim asked," What happened back there?" Receiving no response, Jim repeated his questions. "Michael, answer me. What's happening?"
Michael wiped his face with the towel, dropped it on the floor and slid his back down the wall. He looked at his teacher, the pain in his eyes so poignant. "SSSSorry. .... I ...got... carried away. I guess I lost myself in the heat of the moment," he explained as he placed his head in his hands.
"Yeah I'd say that's an understatement. Watch yourself. Okay?"
Shaking his head in acknowledgement, he quietly got up and walked to the house.
Michael walked into the kitchen and went directly to the cabinet and retrieved a glass, then went to the refrigerator, opened it and got out the orange juice. He poured himself a large glass of juice and walked to the kitchen chair to sit down. He slowly drank his juice as he stared out into the kitchen foyer.
Jim followed him inside, watching his student's efforts to calm himself. "Michael, no hard feelings. Why don't you go clean up and I'll start lunch. I need to take care of some things in town this afternoon and I want you to go with me."
"Sure. What kind of things?" queried Michael, his curiosity sparked.
"We'll talk at lunch. You are rather ripe at the moment and I'm hungry. Now go."
Michael came down the stairs of the old house a short time later, drying his hair with his towel. He walked into the kitchen, grabbed a beer and sprawled in a wooden kitchen chair.
"Okay Jim, I'm clean. Now what gives? Curiosity is killing me."
Jim placed the spoon he used to stir the soup with on top of the spoon rest that lay on the stove and turned toward Michael.
"Michael, you've been working with me for several weeks and now we need to re-establish you in the community. We need to get you some identification and some funds. I've got a few hundred thousand dollars in an account; you can use it until you start putting money aside for yourself."
Michael's eyes widened and he sat up straight in his chair as he looked at his benefactor. "A few hundred thousand," he whistled "Thank you. How can I ever repay you?"
Michael thought about his offer and then realized that repayment would require going to work. "I don't really think I have any skills, at least none that I remember. I guess that will be next on the agenda............find me a job. I do have to be an honest man."
Jim picked up the spoon to stir the soup again and saw that it was finished cooking. He took two bowls from the cupboard and poured an equal amount of soup into them. He brought the bowls to the table and motioned for Michael to eat.
Jim took several sips of his soup and continued his conversation with Michael. "Soup's good today. Maybe adrenaline makes me a better cook? Anyway, we were discussing your "work". First you need to finish your training, then we can think about a job. Do you remember what you did before your accident?"
"No, not really."
"What do you like to do? Maybe we could come up with a job that way," Jim queried his student.
"I'm drawn to your library; I could spend a lifetime in there and never get bored."
"Books...Libraries... Do you like to research Michael?"
"It sounds intriguing. I know I could easily spend my day reading, so I guess doing research wouldn't be much of a stretch. But what would I research?"
"I saw an advertisement in the doctor's lounge yesterday for a research assistant, someone with an interest in medicine, but they would train them. What do you think? I could put in a word for you."
Michael finished his mouthful of soup and looked at Jim with a keen interest in his eyes. "Research...........Mmmmm Sounds intriguing. I think I'm going to like this new life. Now about that identity. What do we do to get me established? "
"Easy enough, Michael. I have all the necessary equipment in my basement and after we clean up lunch, we'll work on a new identity for you."
Tuesday Morning- May
The following day, MacLeod called to see if Joe had found anything new, but the Watcher had nothing to report. Mac thanked him and asked to be notified if anything came up. This routine continued for several weeks. Each day Mac would call in the morning, hoping Joe had some news for him, and Joe would spend his free time researching Watcher data, looking for that elusive reference that would give them a clue to Methos' whereabouts.
Mac tried to reestablish his routine, but found his heart wasn't in it. He muddled through each day trying to find some purposeful activity for his pent up energies. He even thought of going away, but the thought of travel without a companion did not entice him. He was sad, morose, almost depressed and Joe worried about him. Many times, he invited Mac to come over for lunch or dinner or just to chat, but frequently Mac declined, preferring to stay in his barge and brood.
Several weeks later- Late May
One day, a new entry sent a red flag in Joe's search.
*Ralmont took his new Immortal out today. It appears that the man is in his early thirties, has a slim build, but appears to be very muscular, probably a runner. He has black hair, cut very short, almost in spikes at the top. His most prominent feature is his nose, which is rather large, but not overly so to make him unattractive.
They went to the bank and opened up an account for him ( the new Immortal). The account was opened under the name of Michael Adams (presumably the new Immortal's name). Next they went to the University and had a meeting with the top researcher in the Medical library. After these excursions, they went shopping to purchase Michael some clothes: bought a trench coat, several Henley sweaters and black jeans. End report *
Joe read the description, immediately thinking that it described Methos to a "t", right down to the clothes he wore. He was puzzled by one thing and that was why Methos would pose as a new Immortal. He researched Ralmont in the network and found he lived in the outskirts of Paris. According to the database, Jim was 300 years old and didn't enter the game unless pressed. He worked at Hotel D'Invalides in the acute care ward. Further investigation, showed Ralmont had taken home an unknown accident victim matching Methos' description about 3 weeks ago. Joe put the facts together and guessed that Jim Ralmont had found Methos in the hospital, told him about his Immortality and then taken him home to train him. This was a logical turn of events except that Methos didn't need a teacher.
The Census was being taken in that area and Joe thought he could pose as a Census taker and check out Ralmont's student, hoping it was Methos. He wouldn't be too suspicious if he were just doing his job.
Dawson drove out to the home of Jim Ralmont, his pulse beating faster with each mile his car traveled, feeling like a schoolboy on his first date. Something told him that this was Methos, but the churning in his gut reminded him that some rather unusual things were happening if Methos and this new "Immortal" were one and the same. He located the property with little difficulty and grabbed his briefcase out of the back seat, making his disguise as believable as possible. He ambled up to the front door and rang the bell. After a few minutes; the door was opened by Methos.
"Yes, may I help you?" Methos looked at Joe, not recognizing his friend.
It was Methos, but he obviously didn't recognize Joe. Joe's stomach tied itself into knots and he begun perspiring. He couldn't let Methos know he recognized him, it might scare him away. He had to continue in this charade until he returned to his car.
"I'm part of the Census team and I've been assigned to your area. May I ask you a few questions? It is very important that the government get an accurate count of the rural population."
"Well I would be happy to help, except I'm not from the area. I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to provide you with much information," Methos replied, appearing genuinely sorry he could not help the man at the door.
"I see. So have you been here long?" The Watcher asked, hoping to see how long this "problem" had gone on.
"No. I arrived about 3 weeks ago. Why? Is that part of your survey? It doesn't seem to be a vital piece of information."
"No. It's not part of our survey. I'm sorry. I was just curious. It was rude of me. Well I guess I've taken enough of your time, Mr......Oh I didn't catch your name."
"I'll tell Dr. Ralmont you were here. Thank you for coming," and Michael closed the door.
<Sly one isn't he. Still doesn't want people to know who he is, even if he doesn't know himself
The drive back to the city was uneventful and the Watcher mulled over the events of the day in his mind. He needed to let Mac know that he'd found Methos. MacLeod was on the deck of the barge painting the trim by the stern. The last flood had damaged the finish and he had taken to refurbishing the barge to occupy his days. It was detailed work that took a lot of painstaking accuracy to complete. The barge needed his attention, especially now that he tried to keep his mind focused away from Methos. He had just completed a section of trim when he heard the phone ring. Mac put down his brush and went into the barge to answer the phone.
"Mac! I found him," exclaimed the Watcher.
"You found him!" Mac exclaimed. "Where is he? Is he alive? Is he okay? Tell me Joe."
"He's alive, but you better come over so we can talk about this," Joe instructed his friend.
Mac drove his Citroen to Joe's apartment as quickly as he could. He was afraid to think what Joe was going to tell him. He concentrated on the positive...Methos was alive and Joe knew where he was. Whatever else he told him, he could handle. He arrived at Joe's and rushed into the apartment, barely taking time to knock.
Seeing Joe in the kitchen, Duncan briskly walked into the small room and began interrogating his friend, "So...........tell me where is he?"
Joe opened the refrigerator and grabbed two beers. "Mac........You better sit down. Have a beer. I have a feeling you'll want one by the time we're finished."
Duncan recognized Joe's stalling techniques, "No. Talk to me Dawson," he demanded.
"Sit." Joe repeated, his voice firm like a school teacher.
Shunning the beer, Mac sat on the couch, his haunches barely touching the cushions. "Okay, I'm sitting. Now talk," Duncan castigated his friend.
Joe looked at his friend and wished he could remove all of his recent pain, but acknowledged he didn't have that power. He took a swig of his beer, hoping to gain courage for himself as he shared his news with MacLeod. "He's alive and living in Paris. He is with Jim Ralmont, a doctor. Methos had an accident, Jim found him and took him home."
"No! No!" Mac cried as he remembered his own accident and subsequent kidnapping by a mortal doctor. "He doesn't need to be taken in by any doctors. Tell me where he is and I'll go get him and bring him home!" Mac stood up from the couch and began walking toward Joe. Joe stopped his pace with a hand to his chest and replied with a calm in his voice that he didn't feel, "It's not that simple Mac. Ralmont's an Immortal and he is training Methos,"
"Training Methos. Joe, Methos is 5000 years old; he could train all of us. What are you saying?" Duncan demanded.
"Methos doesn't appear to remember who he is and Ralmont is teaching him as if he is a new Immortal. I went out to Ralmont's place, posed as a Census taker, but Methos did not recognize me at all."
Mac sat down on the couch, his body slumping and his hands held his head as he let out a long sigh.
"Now what Dawson? He's alive, but doesn't know who he is. Where do I go from here? How can I help him? Have the Watcher's ever seen anything like this before? Help me Joe."
Joe sat on the couch next to Duncan, his hand on his shoulder, attempting to offer solace to his friend. "I don't know Mac. I haven't had time to think about the ramifications of all this. Let me do some more research and I'll get back to you."
Lifting his head from his hands, he smiled and looked at his Watcher. "Thanks Joe. While I'm here, anything you need?" Mac asked his friend as he realized he had again forgotten to cherish this friendship and nurture it like he told himself he would.
"Yeah. You could make us some lunch. Afterwards, I'm running low on groceries and ......"
Mac squeezed Joe's shoulder and walked to the table where Joe had set the beer that he'd offered him earlier. "Sorry. Remind me sometimes, will you? I can be a stubborn, brooding Son of a Bitch and get lost in my own little world. I forget that you lost a friend too," he replied with a sheepish grin on his face.
Mac set out to market, cook and clean for his friend, while Joe again went to his databases to uncover lost knowledge of the race of Immortals.
Most of their practice sessions occurred at night, since both of them worked at the hospital during the day. Michael seemed to enjoy his work and found the days passed quickly. He frequently had to be reminded to eat and was often chased out of the library by the staff when they realized he would stay there indefinitely if they didn't push him out. Sometimes, as he was working, his mind would spark a memory of familiar things, but when he tried to retrieve them, he could not.
He had been working for about a month, familiarizing himself with the resources, the journals and the protocols when the head of the library asked him to work on a special research project involving Ebola. Ebola, the word stuck at his memory, this was familiar, he'd heard about this virus, it was deadly, but there was something deadlier still, something he knew first hand................. The connections would not come and Michael was left again with the knowledge that he knew more than he remembered.
Joe searched through his Watcher databases, but found few references to lost memories. The few he found were very frightening because the Immortals who lost their memories usually suffered a quick beheading before they could recover. He decided to talk to Mac tomorrow when he came by to do the weekly shopping. It had been six weeks since Methos had left Mac's barge that fateful morning and Mac stilled missed his lover. He'd hoped that Methos' memory would return after a few short weeks, but it had not. The longer Methos' memory didn't return, the more concerned the Scot became. He knew he couldn't just go up to Methos and say "oh by the way your real name is Methos, you're 5000 years old, you're my lover and I want you to come home.'
Since it appeared he wasn't in any immediate danger to himself or others, Joe and Mac had decided not to interfere. This had been one of the most difficult decisions of Duncan's life. He missed Methos and he realized that the ancient Immortal meant even more to him than he was previously willing to admit. His days were filled with training and running errands for Joe along with whatever miscellaneous tasks he could find to fill them. His nights were spent in his barge, thinking about his lover, frequently accompanied by a glass or two or three of his favorite Glenmorangie. The sleepless nights were beginning to take their toll on his physical condition as well and he knew that if challenged by a strong Immortal, he was not in the best of shape to greet that challenge. He and Joe had to come up with a plan.
Joe and Duncan ate dinner that evening at Joe's place. Joe prepared a simple meal of pasta, green salad, and bread sticks.
After the meal, Duncan began clearing the table.
"So Mac, what's new?" Joe asked innocently.
"Not a lot, Joe. Same old, same old. I run a few errands, practice my sword work. I lead a boring life," the Highlander sighed as he answered his friend. He took the last of the plates to the kitchen and emptied the food into the garbage disposal.
Joe followed Mac into the kitchen and sat at the table, watching his friend clean up. "Mac, you look tired. Are you sleeping?" Queried the Watcher, concern in his voice.
"Joe. I sleep," Mac sighed as he rinsed the dishes. "I just have a lot of nightmares. I keep seeing Methos lose his head or worse." He placed the dishes in the dishwasher and dried his hands on the dish-towel. "I don't know how long I can stand by the sidelines. We have to interfere, Joe. He has to remember for his own survival and I miss him." Mac answered his friend, the pain and frustration evident in his face.
"School is starting soon. Are you going to teach this semester?" Joe asked, hoping to change the topic.
"I don't know Joe. I'm having a hard time developing the passion to teach, I don't have that right now," Duncan grinned as he answered the Watcher, remembering Methos' statement about his passion. <You told me I had passion and that is why I could kill Kalas. How ironic, I don't have the passion anymore now that you're not here old man.
After the last pot was clean, he began putting the leftovers in containers so that Joe could enjoy them later in the week.
"Joe, it's been six weeks and there is still no sign that Methos remembers anything. I don't think I can do this any longer. I know he's safe, or relatively so, but...... ," the anxiety clear in his tone.
Duncan finished his tasks in the kitchen and the two men retired to the living room. Joe asked Mac to bring him a beer from the fridge and Duncan grabbed two, bringing one for himself, as he sat down in the chair facing his Watcher friend. Joe took a slow draw from his beer, trying to organize his thoughts in a cohesive manner.
"I know Mac. I'm afraid of what will happen when the Watchers realize that Michael Adams and Adams Pierson are one in the same and that Adam Pierson is Immortal. If Methos wants to return to the Watchers, they can't be allowed to find out."
He was quiet for a few moments letting his words sink in. "Right now, no one but Jim's Watcher has really seen Methos. If he sees someone challenge Jim and Jim loses, I assume Methos will go hunting to avenge Jim's death." Joe took a draw of his beer, and tried to read Duncan's face for understanding of the delicate situation. "Once that occurs all hell will break lose because his picture and name will be all over the files."
Duncan shook his head, acknowledging Joe's scenario. "Of course Jim doesn't have to lose a battle for this to happen, Methos could be challenged in his own right and the scenario would end up the same," Duncan stated, sharing his thoughts with Joe.
"Yeah. We have to intervene before Methos takes a head. It just that simple," Joe grinned.
"Simple," laughed Mac. "You say that as if just stopping Methos from fighting was as easy as taking candy from a baby. Remember Joe, who you are talking about. Methos may not remember who he is, but I can assure you that deep down in his memories, he still knows how to protect himself. There is nothing simple about this situation."
"I know Mac. I know," sighed the Watcher.
Despite Duncan's levity he was worried. He stood up and walked across the Watcher's living room, looking out the window and door.
Joe followed Duncan's pacing, saw the rigid back, the tight fists and the slightly drooped head. He knew the time had come for "interference".
"I've wracked my brains on this one Mac. The only thing I can come up with is for one of us to befriend Methos."
Mac nodded for him to continue. "Then maybe we could jog his memories, take him places we've been, bring him in contact with "old friends."
"Go on, Joe. I'm with you so far," Duncan acknowledged his friend's plan.
"It's gotta be me. He may be leery of other Immortals and of course we can't forget the obvious here,-- you have a very special relationship with the old man --and you may have trouble keeping everything totally objective."
Mac turned toward his Watcher, a small smile turned his lips up at their corners. "Okay Joe, but on one condition, you talk to me every day and tell me how he's doing. Deal."
Duncan stopped his pacing, retrieved two beers and returned to his chair. The two men chatted about other less pressing topics for an hour or so and then Mac excused himself. He realized the Watcher needed his rest and wanted him to be ready for his latest challenge.
The sun was low in the horizon. The day had been intriguing for Michael, having worked on the path of Ebola's latest epidemic. He found he had a knack for research and enjoyed it immensely; there was something exhilarating about solving a problem when all the answers were available, but the researcher needed to fit them together like the pieces of a puzzle. He enjoyed the thrill of discovery, wrapping himself in the knowledge of solving mysteries. As he completed his work for the day, his mind thought about Ebola again and the name Kronos popped out of the recesses of his memory.
'Kronos, Kronos,' he rolled the name of the tip of his tongue and without knowing why, developed a sour taste. <Who was Kronos and why do I remember him with not so fond memories? I'll ask Jim if he recognizes the name, maybe he can shed some light on the subject for me.
He placed his journals away and went out of the medical building to walk home. He had not gotten far when he felt the now familiar buzz of another of his kind.
"Jim, is that you?" Michael asked the dark.
"Jim is that you? How sweet. Are you scared? Looking for your mentor, Jim? Well he's not here and no one can protect you. I guess you'll have to fight me, boy," the unknown Immortal laughed using a sadistic tone.
Looking toward the voice, Michael saw the Immortal. He was about his height, but heavier. He didn't appear to be in good physical condition as evidenced by the "beer" belly and thick neck and chest. This man probably tried to use his size to compensate for his lack of physical prowess. Michael felt that he could beat him, but really didn't want to fight. It was one thing to practice with Jim, but it was another to be faced with the reality of taking someone's head, even if they wanted yours.
The street was eerily deserted. It usually wasn't empty at this time of day, but then he remembered there was a moonlight bicycle ride scheduled for later that evening and realized the police had already cordoned off the area in anticipation of the riders.
"What do you want?" Asked Michael stalling for time.
"Why your head, of course. Isn't that the way it's done? We fight and I get your head. There can be only one. Enough of this talk- Let me introduce you to your greatest fear- death-Kyle Long. Now draw your sword," the Immortal hissed at Michael as he drew his sword from inside his coat.
Adrenaline pumped through Michael's veins. He had known this day would come, but didn't think it would be this soon. A calm came over him as he assessed his opponent and realized he was ready for this challenge. His sword came out of his coat as he simultaneously shed his coat and dropped it on the grass at the side of the road. The two men locked swords. Michael brought up his sword to strike at his opponent's sword arm, catching his bicep, a thin line of blood oozing from the strike. The Immortal returned the strike with a strike to Michael's shoulder, but Michael turned as Kyle leaned into the move. Next Kyle attempted to strike Michael's sword arm, but again Michael turned in time to stop the connection. Michael's breath came in short spurts; but his stamina was still strong and he didn't struggle. The two men parried for a few minutes; Michael allowing his opponent to make a few successful lunges. Jim had taught him the importance of weakening his opponent but not giving him an indication of his skills until you have fought him for several minutes. Kyle's body coursed with adrenaline, his heart beat fast, and he anticipated the quickening of his Immortal opponent. Michael cut and slashed Kyle several times in the first few exchanges. Kyle was fast; he blocked most of Michael's barbs, but when Michael pretended to go for Kyle's shoulder, then turned at the last minute and stabbed him in the gut instead, Kyle realized he underestimated his opponent. Michael stabbed Kyle several more times, but Kyle was unable to return the strikes. Michael landed a killing blow to his heart. Blood squirted and flowed down his shirt and arms where Michael had struck him. He removed the blade form Kyle's heart and then took his head.
The quickening bombarded Michael as he screamed and yelled from the electrical assault. During the quickening he absorbed Kyle's memories, nothing in the melange of visions stood out and he was relieved when the storm ended. After the storm abated, his mind briefly flashed through some of his own past, showing him images of himself and several other men, drinking in a bar, laughing on a barge, but the images were quick and Michael didn't have time to study them for clues to his enigmatic past. He looked down at himself after the quickening, saw bloodied pants and shirt with several rips in his clothing, picked up his coat from the ground, wrapped it around himself and quickly went back to Jim's place.
As Michael walked into the house, Jim was preparing their dinner. Looking up from his preparations, he saw Michael's disheveled appearance and knew Michael had been in a fight.
"I assume the other guy looks worse. You take his head?" Jim laughed.
"Yeah. He caught me as I was leaving the Medical Building. He underestimated my abilities; just like you said, don't show 'em all your stuff. I guess I better wash up. Smells good."
"Yeah go wash up. We'll talk later."
Michael knew what 'We'll talk later' really meant. It meant he needed to leave. <How do I know that? We haven't talked about this, but I know Jim will tell me I'm on my own. Saddened by the fact, but acknowledging nothing held him to Paris , he realized he wanted to start a life on his own. He just wished he remembered his previous life, where he came from, what he did, but wishing didn't bring knowledge and he had to settle for his current situation. As he rinsed the dried blood away from his body, he recalled his earlier thoughts in the library and reminded himself to discuss them with Jim at dinner.
The two men ate dinner in silence. It was a quiet affair as Jim didn't cook elaborate meals. The silence spoke volumes, as each man knew this was a time to say goodbye and farewell. Before he lost his opportunity Michael brought up his last question of his mentor. "Jim, may I ask you something?"
"Sure Michael." he responded with the ease of a friend, someone you could talk to without fear of reprisal.
"Do you know much about other Immortals?" Michael questioned his teacher.
Taking his plate to the sink, he motioned for Michael to follow him into the kitchen "Well, I've met a few in my day. Why?"
Michael emptied his plate and rinsed it in the sink, then placed it in the drain board to dry. He leaned against the counter, hands on either side of his waist, as if they were supporting his weight. "Well I've been studying diseases in the Library and came across a reference to Ebola. Whenever I see that disease, my mind brings up the name Kronos. I'm wondering is this man an Immortal? Can you shed any light on the subject?" He looked at his mentor with hopeful eyes. Turning toward Michael, Jim shook his head, "Sorry, my friend. The name means nothing to me, but I try to stay out of the 'game'."
Jim walked over to Michael and placed his hand on Michael's shoulder, "I'm sorry you are in the 'game' so soon. I had hoped to train you some more, but I realize that there is little I can offer you in the way of training. I wonder if you are truly a new Immortal or just one who's forgotten his past."
Michael saw the unspoken question in his teacher's eyes, (was he holding back), but knew his teacher trusted him, "I don't know the answer to that Jim, but I think....I don't know what I think. I have visions, dreams, no not dreams really, because sometimes I have them when I'm awake." Michael felt the weight of his teacher's hand on his body and recognized the trust Jim had in him. He felt he'd broken that trust by not telling Jim the entire truth. He ducked slightly, removing the hand from his shoulder and walked toward the living room. "Jim, maybe I'm not a new Immortal, I really wish I knew. If I'm an old Immortal, who am I? I just don't have any answers," finally admitting his "truth" to his teacher.
Jim looked at his "student" and his heart went out to him. He knew that Michael needed to leave. Their "rules" mandated the student leave after he took his first head, but he liked Michael and wished he could have helped him regain his memory before sending him away. He didn't want to send him away, but he knew the "rules" and maybe if Michael left, he might regain his memory.
"Michael, you know you are always welcome in my home, but it is time for you to leave and make your way in the world.
His body relaxed a little and he walked to the couch where he sprawled as he continued the conversation with his teacher. "You've given me enough money and credentials to start on my own. I will pack my bags and leave tomorrow. Wherever the first plane goes that is headed toward the ocean, I'll be on it. I best be packing so I'll be fresh in the morning," Michael responded, stifling the yawn threatening to escape from his mouth.
"Can I give you a lift to the airport?"
"Yes. I'll see you at breakfast." Michael replied and walked up the stairs to pack his gear.
Joe got up the following morning, his heart soaring. He was going to talk to Methos. While he knew Methos wouldn't know who he was, he figured his little stint as a Census agent could be explained as a temporary job. He hoped that eventually the two men could become friends again and then ...... then maybe he could return things to their pre-accident state.
He checked the database for any Watcher news and saw that Kyle Long had been taken last night by a new Immortal. Kyle's watcher made the notation, but there wasn't a note about the Immortal who took his head. The Immortal's description was given, but identified only as unknown Immortal. In reading the description and location of the fight, he knew it had to be Methos. (It appeared that Ralmont's Watcher was watching him rather than Methos last night, otherwise Methos would've been identified. They were lucky again, but he knew their luck was running out.)
"Damn. I knew we should've acted sooner. Maybe he's still around, tying up loose ends. I'll go over to his job and see what I can find out."
Joe quickly got into his car and drove to the Medical complex. When he located the library, he inquired about the researcher. He was told that unfortunately the researcher had quit this morning, stating a family emergency that would take some time to resolve. He asked if Michael had left a forwarding address, but the clerk told him no. The gentleman offered to take Joe's name and address if Michael were to return, but Joe declined the offer. He walked back to his car with a gnawing in his chest.
Joe drove over to the barge; deciding talking to Mac in person would be the best way to relay this new development. In his current mind set, he didn't think to go home to his Watcher database to see if he could track Methos.
Duncan wasn't home and Joe decided to wait for his friend, not wanting to be alone. Duncan arrived a few minutes later, having just completed his morning run and wondered why the Watcher sat at his front door. He then remembered their conversation from last night and a feeling of doom came over him. He sprinted the last few yards up the gangplank and began questioning his friend.
"Joe- Something happened. Is Methos dead? Why aren't you at the library? Talk to me Joe, " he spoke very rapidly and Joe wouldn't have understood him had he not known the Highlander so well.
"There was a fight last night," Joe began "and Methos won".
The Highlander slumped against the door, relief showing on his flushed face.
"He's gone, Mac. He called his job and told them he had a family emergency and didn't know when he'd be back."
"Did you check your databases for information on where he went? Did you have him followed? Did he fly or leave by car? " Mac rapidly questioned Joe, hoping he had answers.
Joe walked over to Mac, and spoke very slowly and softly, hoping his speech would calm the Highlander.
"Slow down Mac. Up until now, Jim's watcher has been following him and we haven't needed a second watcher. Maybe we will be lucky and Jim helped him get out of town."
"You mean you don't know where he is?" The realization that he might have lost Methos again hit him and he walked back to the edge of the gangplank.
"Yeah, I don't know, Mac." Joe admitted, the pain and grief evident in his voice.
Mac walked over to the side railing and looked into the river. <Old man, you've left again without a goodbye. Tears coursed down his cheeks as all of his frustration and pain came to the surface.
Joe walked over to Duncan and put his hand on his shoulder. After a few minutes, Duncan composed himself "Okay, Joe. Sorry. We were just so close. Why don't I go get changed, go back to your place and see if there is any information in your databases."
Backing up from Mac, Joe sternly informed the Highlander, "Back up the cart here Mac. I'm the Watcher, not you. *We* will do nothing. * I * will go back to my place and see what *I* can find out. *You* will stay here. Do you understand? If the Watchers see you hanging around with me asking questions about some new Immortal, it could be very bad. Remember they don't know that Adam is Immortal. Let's keep it that way. Okay?"
Wiping his face with the towel he had wrapped around his neck, Duncan looked sheepishly at his Watcher, "Sorry Dawson. I promise not to interfere. Wait isn't that your line? Now I understand how hard it must be for you to stay out of our lives. You must pick and choose your battles. Just find him. He's too important to lose," the passion in his voice evident again.
Joe returned to his home and the Watcher network. It seemed that Jim indeed dropped him off at the airport, but after that no one knew where he had gone. Joe decided a visit to Jim was in order.
Joe dressed in his most conservative suit, went to the hospital where Jim worked and asked where he might find the good doctor. He was directed to an office on the seventh floor. Joe signed in at the desk and stated he didn't have an appointment, but he urgently needed to see Dr. Ralmont. The receptionist informed him she would see what she could do, but made no promises. She disappeared to the back of the office and returned to tell Joe that the doctor would see him in 45 minutes since he had a cancellation that morning. Joe thanked the receptionist and sat down to wait. At the appointed time, the receptionist escorted him back to the doctor's office.
Joe entered the office and surveyed his surroundings. The office was decorated in blues and greens; a beige Berber carpet was laid on the floor to reduce noise. Several copies of Impressionist Art in gold gilt frames lined the walls and green and blue chairs were set in front of the rectangular cherry wood desk. Behind the desk, a matching credenza held a computer, a half dozen medical books, and a phone. On the right wall, Dr. Ralmont's current medical licenses were framed in gold edged glass frames. There were several files filled with medical literature. Overall the effect was calming.
"Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, but I have urgent business." Joe informed the doctor. "Yes," Jim responded politely. "
Dr. Ralmont, my name is Joe Dawson. I am a friend of Adam Pierson." Joe looked at the Doctor, trying to read his expressions.
"I don't think I know anyone by that name." Ralmont responded as he looked at the man sitting across from his desk. <What did this man want? I'm a busy doctor and don't have time to play 20 questions.
"Well, Adam disappeared about two months ago. After searching for him ourselves, we contacted a private investigator who thinks a man fitting his description appears to be staying with you and is going by the name of Michael Adams. I don't have a picture of him, but here's a sketch the detective had his artist draw from my description." As Joe handed the sketch to the Doctor, he used his Watcher training to detect any deceit from Ralmont. He hoped he could detect any efforts Ralmont made to lie about Methos' whereabouts.
As Joe was relating the story, Jim's felt a large pit in his stomach developing. He looked at the sketch and it resembled Michael. What should he tell this man in front of him? This man seemed harmless and genuinely interested in finding Michael. He wasn't Immortal, so he wasn't after his head. On the other hand, since Michael was Immortal now, he needs to severe all of his ties with his mortal life, but..... he'd probably been Immortal before his accident and had amnesia. Michael really wanted to know his identity before his accident and if this man knows him, maybe he can help. "Yes, I recognize him. I met him in the hospital about two months ago. He didn't have any identification on him when he was brought in and I took him home with me after his stay in the hospital because he didn't remember anything about himself. Unfortunately he is no longer with me."
"What do you mean? He is no longer with you?" Joe responded, trying to disguise his knowledge of this fact.
"I mean he left this morning. I took him to the airport myself."
"Did he leave a forwarding address? Do you know how to get a hold of him?" Joe asked anxiously.
"No, unfortunately he only said he would go close to an ocean."
"I see," the disappointment evident in his voice.
"I can take your name and number and if he contacts me I'll notify you. Maybe you can find him again." Dr. Ralmont offered, trying to provide some consolation to his visitor.
"Thank you. Here is where I can be reached," he handed the Immortal his business card with the information and got up to leave.
"I hope you find your friend. He's a nice guy."
"Yes he is a *nice* guy," and Joe chuckled to himself and the reference to Methos being just a guy.
Joe left the hospital, saddened by his failure to locate his Immortal friend.
Michael got on a plane headed for the continents. He was drawn to the West coast, but didn't know why. On the plane, he sat next to a man who attempted to strike up a conversation with him as soon as he sat down. Michael didn't want to talk to him; he wanted to sleep, dream, think. He hated being cooped up in a small place, breathing the recycled air, smelling the stale bodies of his fellow passengers.
Another waking memory quickly came to him. He was on a ship in the middle of an ocean, no land could be seen. He was a passenger and had been on this journey for some time. The winds were fierce, blowing gallons of water on the deck, making it slick to walk upon. The ship swayed from side to side, a by-product of the waves. Nausea filled his stomach as it responded to the movement, and he craved his stomach to settle. His body shivered from the cold winds that whipped through his clothes while he walked on deck during the day and seeped through the doors during the long nights. When he crawled in his empty bed at night, he reminisced of his lover waiting for him at the end of this journey and he wished the trip would end soon.
He hated the time it took to get anywhere on a ship and decided that while planes were not the best way to travel, they were a far better way then ships. He landed in San Francisco and decided to set up residence. He stayed in a hotel for the first few days and then found himself a place near the water. He used his newly established credentials to secure employment with the University of California-Berkeley and began a new life. San Francisco's many attractions kept him busy; the museums drew him to them, the beaches called to his soul, and the multitude of bars gave him a social life, albeit an anonymous one. Being Immortal, he didn't have to worry about communicable diseases and he found the irony in that fact amusing as he studied communicable diseases for a living. He went to numerous bars, sometimes choosing those that catered to gays and other times he chose ones that catered to the straight community. He didn't favor one over the other, but enjoyed the variety. He wasn't seeking a relationship and this set up suited his purposes.
He continued having dreams, some were mere snippets of events while others seemed to re-enact full stories. He frequently dreamt of the four Horsemen and each time he had that dream; he woke sweating and horrified. Many days he went to work exhausted because he couldn't go back to sleep after his dreams. His waking memories increased as well, but try as he might; he couldn't remember any information that helped him recover his identify. He hoped that since his dreams were increasing in frequency, his mind was on the verge of a breakthrough with the piece of critical information that would lead to his identity.
Every morning and evening Joe reviewed the information in the Watcher database, hoping for a clue to the whereabouts of the elusive Immortal, but each day that passed without a trace of the old man, verified Methos' ability to hide. He scanned the network with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation, acknowledging that sooner or later, hopefully later, Methos' picture would be posted and his anonymity lost. Joe thanked G-d that Ralmont's Watcher was not on site when he took Long's head, otherwise his identity would be known by all; but that also meant no one knew where to find him. He hoped that some day soon, Methos would regain his memory and contact Macleod or himself, but with each passing day, this seemed less and less likely.
Joe suggested to Mac that they return to Seacouver. He hoped a change in venue would provide some needed activity to each of their days and if by some miracle, Methos had gone to the Americas, maybe he might settle in somewhat familiar territory. In addition, if he had gone to the America's, a trip across Continent would be faster than traveling across an ocean. Mac agreed to the move and told Joe it would take him about two days to close things at the barge. Joe had fully recovered from his heart attack and decided to formally renew his Watcher ties. He notified the Watchers that he was returning to Seacouver to take over his business at the bar and to resume his duties as Northwest Supervisor. They were pleased to hear he had made a full recovery and were anxious to have him return. Mac closed up the barge and the two men left Paris in mid October.
Joe returned to the bar, seeing the stage again made him realize how much he'd miss playing and composing. He vowed to begin doing both as soon as possible.
Mac found the dojo as he'd left it. White sheets covered the furniture in the loft, dust covered the sheets and a musty smell hung over the entire apartment. It needed airing and cleaning and he would have his work cut out for him for the next few weeks. He welcomed the activity, as it won out over his idle times these last few months. At least in Seacouver, he could possibly resume his teaching duties at the University, teach some martial arts classes, enjoy Joe's bar and run the dojo. His time would be occupied and he sorely needed that distraction.
Mac cleaned the loft and restocked his supplies, while Joe resumed his duties at the bar and in the Watchers. Joe frequently attended to Watcher business, but always scanned the network for information on their lost friend. They had been in Seacouver for 8 weeks and Christmas decorations adorned the streets and malls. Their lives had developed a routine that kept them busy and sometimes MacLeod had a few moments where he didn't think of his love.
The four day Thanksgiving break ended and the
Christmas decorations were hung throughout the medical complex; since Michael
had no one to celebrate the holidays with and didn't feel it appropriate to
contact Ralmont, he considered the time as an extra vacation. Eight months had
passed since his accident, but his memory still had not returned.
The medical school closed for two weeks for Winter break so Michael decided to take a short trip up the coast to tour the bookstores. He'd been purchasing antique books from area stores and a co-worker had mentioned that he might want to investigate the Seacouver area for additional purchases. He rented a car and booked a hotel room for several days, leaving the reservation open depending on how his trip fared.
Duncan was in Hirschfield's, a bookstore specializing in rare and old texts, looking for books on Medieval history. He agreed to teach a course for the Seacouver University in the spring and needed some background texts to develop his curriculum. The clerk at the store helped him locate several texts and he reviewed them for the remainder of the afternoon. He thought one might suit his purposes, but wanted to continue to look before making his purchases. Thanking the clerk, he left the shop and returned to his loft. The next few weeks were filled with business from the dojo and he didn't have time to investigate other bookstores.
Methos had lost his memory, but his aversion to fighting was still intact. There was a fight in San Francisco, but no quickening; the two Immortals agreed to end it before death. A Watcher for Mathew O'Connelly identified Mathew as one of the Immortal's, but didn't name the other Immortal involved. He gave a description of the Immortal and it sounded like Methos, so Joe red flagged the Watcher's report to follow up on in the future. Unfortunately, there was also a note saying that since no record could be found on this Immortal, a Watcher had been assigned to him. He didn't tell Duncan, as he didn't want to get his hopes up just to be dashed again.
Duncan went to Dunaway, a new bookstore in the old part of Seacouver, to continue his search for lecture material. As he browsed the store, thoughts of Methos flooded his mind. Methos loved books and could easily get lost in bookstores for hours at a time, forgetting that he wasn't in his own apartment, but rather in a business to buy not look. He browsed through the store and saw a text on ancient swords that caught his eye. He sat down to look at it and the owner of the store came by to talk to him.
"Nice book. I wasn't sure there'd be a market for this type of book here in Seacouver, but you're the second person today to look at it."
"Second?" The Highlander's ears perked up.
"Yeah, A guy was in here this morning looking for old books. He said he didn't care what they were about, just that they were old. I showed him this section and he seemed to light up from inside. Stayed all morning, but then he left. Said he'd be back though."
"Do you remember what he looked like?" Duncan asked, his hopes climbing.
"Yeah. Well he was about your height, but slimmer. Had black hair, short, cut above his ears. Wearing a Henley sweater and a long coat, sort of like yours, come to think of it. Nice young man, too. Had a funny accent. I think it was English, but I'm not sure."
Duncan's heart soared as he listened to the man. <This had to be Methos. Methos had returned to Seacouver, to him. What a wonderful Christmas present. Wait till he told Joe. He hugged the owner and thanked him, leaving the store in a hurry.
The startled owner thought it strange, but shrugged. "There's all kinds in this world."
Duncan drove to Joe's, hoping that Joe would be in and they could use his new information to locate Methos. Duncan parked his T-Bird in the lot behind the bar and rushed in the back door. Joe sat on the stage practicing for the night's set. As he heard the door open, he saw Duncan rushing in to the bar.
"Joe, Joe- You'll never believe. I went to this bookstore and was looking for books on Medieval history, but I found a book on ancient swords so I looked at it instead." Duncan's eyes were wide with excitement, his upper arms were close to his sides and his hands made small wavy circles. "The owner said another guy had looked at the book today. I asked him to describe the man to me and Joe.......... I think it's Methos. Methos is in Seacouver. I knew he'd return," Duncan's voice had risen as he related his story, and now he was almost shouting.
Caught up in Duncan's excitement, Joe quickly walked to the back room and turned on the computer containing the Watcher files. "Mac. I saw a note in the files describing a new Immortal that sounded like Methos, but I didn't say anything to you because I wasn't sure. Let's see if this guy's Watcher reported him in the area."
As Joe typed in his private codes, he indicated Duncan should sit, but Duncan just paced the floor in the little room.
"You know, this is hard enough without you wearing a hole in my floor. Duncan, relax. Besides if its Methos, we still have to figure a way to help him regain his memory. And ....there is this little added problem called the Watchers. If this guy is Methos, Methos now has a Watcher, not a pleasant thought."
Joe continued to punch information into the computer and then turned the screen towards Duncan.
"Here you are my friend. One Immortal- Michael Adams- the man "we" know as Methos, oldest living Immortal here in our little town of Seacouver. He's staying at the Hilton."
"G-d Joe - Now that we found him..... what do we do? I've been so intent on finding the old man, I haven't given much thought as to how to get him back."
"Well MacLeod as Methos would say, that is the $64,000 dollar question," Joe answered with a slight grin on his face.
Michael had been in Seacouver for three days and found the city filled with great bookstores. He had purchased several volumes to add to his library at home and he still had several bookstores to peruse. It was Friday night and he felt like listening to some music and to drink a few beers. His mood called for something different so he asked the concierge at the hotel to give him the location of several establishments he might try. The concierge gave him three names of local bars; the first was a sports bar called The Train Wreck and its clientele consisted of 20 somethings looking for a good time or a pick-up. Michael wasn't interested in this type of atmosphere for the evening, so he left after drinking one beer. The second suggestion was a place called the Hard Rock Cafe, but again this wasn't what Michael had in mind. It was nearing 11:30 in the evening and he tried one last place, a bar called Joe's. The concierge told him they play mostly blues there, but usually they had a live band on the weekends.
Michael walked into Joe's and went to the bar to order a beer as there weren't any empty tables. "Barkeep, over here," Michael said louldy, trying to get Joe's attention. "I'd like a Guiness."
Joe stopped dead in his tracks as he heard the familiar voice. <Could they be that lucky? Would he just walk in and identify himself? Joe walked down to the patron to get a good look at him, yes, it was Methos, but it appeared he didn't recognize Joe.
Methos recognized the scrutiny of the bartender and his adrenaline coursed through his veins; he wanted to turn around and walk out the door, but something stopped him. He couldn't identify it, but he knew he had to stay for awhile.
"Do I know you?" he demanded of the bartender.
"No. You just remind me of someone else. Sorry. Didn't mean to scare you. Let me buy you a drink." Joe offered, hoping to keep the Immortal in his bar while he contacted Mac.
"Thanks. I'll have a Guiness- extra Stout," he responded.
"Coming right up. I haven't seen you here before? New in town?"
"Not really. Just passing through. The people at the hotel recommended your place, so I ended up here. How long is the band gonna play?"
"Oh they just finished their set. They'll play another in a half an hour, stick around, they're good."
"Yeah, I think I will. I think I'll grab a table. That couple looks like they're leaving."
Joe watched Methos head toward the table and settle in. He eyed the Immortal, trying to gather information that might prove useful.
Michael watched the people in the bar: lovers out on a date, guys trying to pick up girls, loners listening to the music and the small groups of people talking, oblivious to the music surrounding them. He glanced over to the bar and saw the bartender watching him again. This man was familiar, he knew him, but.... He couldn't pull the information from his brain. Frustrated again by his amnesia, he drank his beer and enjoyed the music from the jukebox.
Joe retreated to the office to call Mac, praying he was home at this hour on a Friday night. He dialed up Mac's phone and got the machine.
"Damn! Mac, I hoped you were home. It's me, Joe"
Mac picked up the phone.
"Sorry about that Joe. I wasn't sure who would be calling me at this hour on a Friday and I didn't really feel like being sociable."
"Mac. He's here. In the bar. Get done here. I told Methos that the band will play one more set, so you've got some time. He seems to have settled in to wait for them to return."
"I'm on my way. And thanks Joe," Duncan told him, his excitement barely contained.
Mac was in sweats and a T-shirt, ready to retire for the night. He quickly grabbed a pair of jeans and begun putting them on. He was struggling with the legs when he realized he still had his sweats on, he took off the pants and sweats and tried again. He finished dressing, grabbed his sword and walked to the elevator, fishing for his keys as he entered the cage, but they weren't there. <Where are those keys? He walked to the kitchen and looked on the key ring, but no keys. He went to the bedroom and looked on the nightstand, but no keys there either. Then he remembered he'd gotten a call this afternoon from a dealer as he returned from his weekly shopping and had placed them by the phone in the hallway. Angered at his delay, he bounded down the stairs rather than ride the elevator.
He was going to see Methos! He'd thought about this day for 8 long months and now he needed a game plan. He couldn't just say 'You are Methos, my lover and I want you to come home.' That would be great, but there were many problems with that, the least being that Methos didn't know his identity. Maybe he could try to befriend the man. That might be difficult since Immortals aren't usually on friendly terms. He had to find a plausible way to approach him. Maybe he should just strike up a conversation about the Holidays coming up. No that wouldn't work either. He arrived at the bar without a plan, parked his car and entered the bar, praying this night would end well. Mac walked through the door and felt Methos' Immortal buzz. He looked around until he spotted his old friend and tried not to smile as he knew the Immortal would not recognize him.
Michael felt the buzz of another Immortal and stiffened in response. Surely the Immortal would not try to challenge him in the bar, there were too many people. How could he leave and not be noticed? He looked around and KNEW there was a back door by the bathrooms. Then he remembered there is an office to the side of the bar, and the bartender keeps a bottle of Scotch behind the counter. No wonder the bartender looked at him like that. He knew him. Wait a minute, if the bartender knew him....then maybe he could find some answers. Still he didn't like this scenario, the Immortal was walking towards him.
Following the Immortal protocol, MacLeod, introduced himself.
"I'm Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod and I'm not here for your head. I just came for the music."
<Oh my G-d. It's him. The man from my dreams.
Michael was speechless. He knew this man, had seen him so many times in his dreams, and now he had a name to place with the face. He was in a waking dream. He stared at the tall, stunning man in front of him, unable to speak, finally realizing his stare, he spoke, "Glad to hear it. I wasn't looking for a fight tonight. Seems kind of crowded in here to be drawing swords. Since you're not after my head, care to join me, there aren't a lot of open tables," he replied, trying to keep his voice from giving away all of his uneasiness.
"Thanks. Haven't seen you here before, new in town?" Duncan questioned Methos, trying to keep his tone light.
As he waited for Methos to respond, he waived to Joe to bring him a beer. He needed to keep his hands busy, not wanting to accidentally caress his lover's hand.
"Just passing through actually. I take it you're from around here. Maybe you could give me some information about the places to go, see, eat, etc."
"Sure, Me..Glad to be of help."
You started to call me something. Do I know you?" Michael inquired, suspicion in his voice.
"No. You just look like someone I know," replied Duncan, trying To keep the conversation flowing.
<What's going on here? The bartender looked like he knew me, but denied it. As MacLeod walked in, I had another of those waking memories and I "knew" this place. MacLeod's definitely the man from my dreams, yet he says he doesn't know me. He started to call me something. I need to keep him here, maybe he can solve the mystery."
"You know, the bartender said the same thing to me earlier tonight.... You know me, don't you? This wasn't coincidence, was it?" anger tingeing his response. "Who are you and how do you know me? Talk to me!"
Duncan cringed at Methos' accusatory tone. He didn't know what to do, hadn't expected to have to explain current events to Methos, yet he didn't want to lie to Methos and he wasn't sure how this man that Methos had become would react to the whole truth. Duncan couldn't lie, Methos deserved to know the truth, regardless of its consequences.
"Yes," he replied softly "I know you."
"Tell me what you know," Michael demanded.
"What do you want to know?"
"Well for starters, who am I?"
Mac began fidgeting with his glass and tapping his fingers on the table. He took a drink of his beer, trying to stall.
"Maybe this isn't the place to have this conversation. Maybe we should move this to a more quiet setting where we can hear each other's conversation," he replied, his voice unsuccessfully hiding his discomfort.
"Are you stalling?" Michael accused.
"No. I just think it would be a good idea. Joe doesn't need us messing up his bar."
"The bartender. He owns the place."
"The bartender. Great, just great. Everyone knows me, but me," Michael hissed. "Okay, let's go. Where do you suggest?"
"Yes, that is fine. Holy ground it is. Where's the closest church?"
"There is a church two blocks south of here. Its called Holy Trinity. I'll meet you there in 5 minutes."
"I'll be there. And MacLoed?"
"No tricks. It is holy ground."
"No tricks, I promise."
Michael left the bar and walked to the church. Before leaving, Mac summarized their conversation for Joe, promising to keep the Watcher informed of the evening's events. Mac walked to the church, praying to whatever G-ds there were that this would work out and Methos would at least be returned to him as a friend.
Duncan walked slowly to the church. He needed time to organize his thoughts and to determine the best way to handle the situation, fearing Methos would bolt if he felt threatened. And this time ...there wouldn't be a second chance. He had this one opportunity and he had to be successful.
As he walked into the church, he felt Methos, "Where are you? I know you're here. I feel you."
Michael was standing by the altar, watching the door. As MacLeod entered, he walked toward him. "Over here MacLeod- talk to me. WHO AM I?" he shouted at the approaching figure.
The two men stood facing each other about half way down the main isle of the church. The deep brown, well-worn wood of the pews was smooth from many years of use. In the right corner, MacLeod saw a small low wooden table with lighted candles burning. Behind the men stood an altar, and above the altar hung a wall hanging of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. They were the only occupants of the building.
Duncan motioned for Michael to sit in the pew before answering his question. Duncan took a deep breath and responded, "Your name is Methos and you are 5000 years old,"
He allowed the information to seek in. The name was old, like himself. It sounded Greek, maybe Roman, and would explain the dreams he'd had about ancient Rome. He had 5,000 years of memories, so many lifetimes of love, hate, and war. The dreams and waking visions must represent real events in his life. Phenomenal- 5,000 years.....too long to contemplate.
A look of revulsion came over his face as he remembered some of the more gruesome dreams and the reality of his life hit him. He scooted back on the pew, trying to increase the space between him and MacLeod. "Go on," he urged Duncan. "How do I know you?"
"We were friends, I mean we are friends, hell I mean I hope we're still friends," the need to make Methos understand and accept his information, coming across with Duncan's words.
<Friends. This man calls me a friend. I remember him from my dreams and that seems right, but does he know about my past? Does he know about the men on horseback, the killing, raping, marauding? Have I told him about the atrocities? If so, would the man still call me his friend?
He saw the man looking at him with those doe eyes. "Why don't I remember anything?" he questioned Macleod in a strong voice, trying to hide his fear of rejection.
Finding it difficult to hide his emotions, Mac got up and walked to the front of the church, pacing the area in front of the pew as he continued the conversation. "You got hit by a truck and .........your memories disappeared when you died. That's what Joe and I figure."
"What does Joe have to do with this?" Methos looked at MacLeod with a look of confusion. This conversation was getting stranger by the minute.
"Well Joe is my Watcher."
"Your Watcher?" Michael looked at Mac with an obvious confused expression, "What's a Watcher and why do you have one?"
"Watchers watch Immortals. They record our lives, but do not interfere."
"You mean to tell me someone has been watching my every move since I became Immortal," Methos questioned Mac with a sneer. "I had this feeling of being watched for the last few weeks. It gives me the creeps. Why do they watch us?"
"They record the events of our lives; what we do, whom we associate with, whom we fight, whom we kill." Mac walked in front of the altar and fingered the cloth lying there, averting his eyes away from Methos, in an effort to restrain himself from embracing the Immortal. "They don't know what we are thinking or feeling about these events, 'They record, but do not interfere.' They usually don't know Immortals as friends, like Joe does."
Methos watched MacLeod's pacing and saw his reluctance to look at him. "If they don't interfere, then how come you know him?" Methos questioned MacLeod, a puzzled look on his face.
Looking at Methos, he responded, "I found out about the Watchers and made Joe talk about his job with them. We've had our disagreements, but basically he's my friend."
"I see. You know me because I'm Immortal, but Joe is a Watcher. Even if he 'interferes' with your life, but that doesn't explain how he knows me?" Methos looked at MacLeod with a slight frown on his face and a squint in his eyes. "Well that gets kind of complicated," MacLeod answered his friend as he continued to pace the aisle.
<Here it comes. I hope I like what I hear.
Methos tensed his body, bracing himself for the truth, thinking this was the key to MacLeod's avoidance, "Tell me," he encouraged.
"He knows you because you're a Watcher," Duncan said calmly.
"I'm a Watcher," Methos repeated back to him. His eyes grew wide and his mouth opened with a look of questioning on it.
"Yes. You're a Watcher,"
"But I can't be a Watcher, I'm Immortal," Methos retorted
"Yes you're Immortal and you're a Watcher. You went by the name of Adam Pierson. You joined the Watcher's about 12 years ago to search for yourself, Methos- the oldest of our kind. Joe met you when you joined and you two became friends. It was a wonderful hiding place. An Immortal searching for himself, making sure never to find himself. Rather clever, " Duncan responded in a matter of fact tone.
"Clever, yes. I search for Methos, but never find him because I am him. Interesting concept, MacLeod. I think I like me........ Does Joe know I'm Immortal?" Methos queried, the look of concern obvious on his face.
"Yes. Joe knows your Immortal. He even knows you're Methos. Surprised the hell out of him when he found out! He'd sent me to protect you after an Immortal found out about the Watchers. The Immortal knew about Methos and wanted his quickening and power. Joe feared that you, as the Methos' Chronicler, would be a target for the Immortal. He sent me to protect you. That's how we met," Mac grinned at the irony in the situation.
MacLeod walked over to the area where the candles were lit, staring at their flames. The flickers from the candles gave the church a luminous glow and an otherworldly feel. He felt this entire experience was otherworldly, having to explain to a man with amnesia that he is a 5000 year-old Immortal definitely qualified as a unique experience. It would make a great movie of the week. The heat from the candles warmed MacLeod, he tried to heat his soul from the flames as well.
"Joe knows I'm Immortal. You know I'm Immortal, but to the rest of the world, I'm a Watcher chronicling Methos. Interesting twist on things, Macleod. I'm a real Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde," Methos grinned at his joke.
Methos mulled over the information for a few minutes, then a look of horror came over his face," Macleod if the Watchers think I'm a new Immortal, then they have assigned a Watcher to me? 5000 years of anonymity and one bout of amnesia chucks it all. Great, just great," Methos ranted. He got up from the church pew and paced in the other direction, his pent-up energy needing a release from his body.
"Not exactly. While you lost your memory, you didn't lose your desire to stay out of the game. You've only taken one head since your accident and then you walked away from the fight a few weeks ago. Your Watcher hasn't posted a picture of you. The only information in the database is your description, no one has put two and two together," MacLeod told Methos, his voice soft, trying to calm his friend.
Methos tried to digest the information that Duncan had just given him. It made sense in a convoluted fashion. "Oh. I see that could be a bit annoying," Methos quipped.
The two men stopped their pacing and silence permeated the church. Duncan sat down in the pew and waited for Methos to digest the conversation.
Methos walked over to MacLeod and sat down, "I don't know why, but I do believe you, MacLeod. That is what most people call you, isn't it? It just sounds right."
"Yes- Most of my friends call me MacLeod or a version there of," he replied softly, his friend addressing him by his nickname making his heart soar.
"Well MacLeod I guess I need to stay away from the Watchers until I figure out how to lose mine. Is that right?" Methos quipped.
"Yeah. I'll call Joe and update him, maybe he's thought of a solution," Duncan said reassuring his friend.
Duncan stood up and walked over to the area where the candles were burning. He wanted to talk to Joe in semi-privacy. He hoped Joe had come up with a solution to their problems, but just in case he hadn't he didn't want Methos to get worried. The old man had enough to digest from their recent conversation, trying to integrate all the information he'd just learned. Duncan retrieved his cell phone from his coat, dialing Joe's.
"Joe's. Dawson speaking. Make it quick. I've got a bar full of thirsty patrons," the Watcher grumbled into the phone.
"Joe, It's me, Duncan. I've talked to Methos. Now we just need to solve the problem of his identity and the Watchers. Any suggestions? He's stayed away from them all these years and I'd like to keep it that way."
"You know Mac I've been thinking on this since he showed up and I think I got a solution," Joe quipped.
"I'm all ears," Duncan's interest peaked.
"Well Methos' Watcher doesn't have a picture of him yet," the Watcher led with this statement.
"Yeah. I know. So we don't want to give him one either."
As Duncan listened to Joe explain his plan, he started pacing the floor. "You want me to do what," Duncan yelled into the phone. "Are you daft man. I'm not killing him, even for the Watchers."
Methos watched 'his friend' talk to the bartender.
<The man has passion, that's for sure. He seems awfully concerned about my well being, such a Boy Scout. There must be more to this friendship, then he's telling me. Maybe someday, I'll know. For now my biggest concern is those damn Watchers. Watching Immortals, where do they come off thinking they can do that?
"I know- G-d Damn it Macleod - Let me finish."
"Sorry Joe- go ahead," Duncan apologized.
Duncan listened as Joe explained the remainder of his plan. "Well it might work. I don't like it Joe, but I'll talk to Methos and see what he says. I'll call you back in a few."
MacLeod hung up the phone and called to Methos. Methos walked over to the candles and looked at MacLeod.
"Methos, This is what Joe is proposing. "I don't like it, but right now it's our only option." MacLeod explained the scenario. "What do you think? If you've got a better idea, I'm open to suggestions. After all, you can be pretty inventive," Macleod queried his friend. "MacLeod," he stated as he turned toward the Immortal, "Let's do it. It's better than spending my days in this church. As much as I like holy ground, I don't intend to spend my next lifetime hiding from the Watchers."
Duncan returned to the pew for privacy and flipped his cell phone again and called Joe.
"Alright Joe, we'll be out there fighting in 10 minutes. By the way, what time is it? "
"It's just a little after 12:45. You guys have been talking for over an hour."
"Thanks Joe- I'll see you. Hope this works," and Macleod broke the connection.
Duncan stood up from the pew and walked to the side of the church where the candles were lit and turned toward his friend. "Methos, I hope this works and gets the Watchers off your trail, but it will not bring your memory back. I fear that unless it returns, you remain in danger and that scares me."
Methos looked at MacLeod, seeing the concern on his face, but didn't know how to respond. After a moment, he answered, "I know MacLeod. I'm not fond of the Watchers knowing my secret, so we will deal with that issue first. Right now, we have a fight to stage and we must make it believable. What shall we fight about? Remember, the show's got to convince my Watcher," quipped the ancient man.
Mac thought for a few moments and a smile crossed his mouth, "I know, you dishonored my female friend. Any Watcher who knows me will believe that one."
"That sounds good enough for me. Let's go stage 'our' fight."
Methos grinned at MacLeod and walked over to him and shook his hand. Then the two men walked out of the church yelling at each other, hoping to convince "their audience" that this fight was real.
"You coward. I recognized you in the bar as the man who hurt my Alice and you retreat to holy ground. Can't fight, scared are you?" MacLeod taunted Methos.
"I didn't do anything she didn't deserve. The woman cheated and lied to me," Methos retorted.
"She did not, she is honorable. I know you dishonored Alice, she cried in my arms all night after you attacked her. We'll fight at the park in 10 minutes." Mac yelled at Methos "Better go say your last prayers because you won't be going to confession on Sunday," taunted Duncan, as he walked away.
Duncan arrived at the park and looked around, hoping to locate Methos' Watcher, and identified him in some bushes. He tried to maneuver himself so that the Watcher didn't have a clear view of the fighting. A few minutes later, he felt Methos arrive in the park.
"I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod and your head is mine. Draw your sword."
Methos bowed toward Duncan pulling his sword out from his coat. The two men locked swords numerous times and then Duncan swept Methos' sword away from him and they fought hand to hand. Duncan grabbed Methos in a wrestling hold, flipped him to the pavement, where Methos landed with a thud, knocking him unconscious. Duncan hit him a few times trying to waken him, and said out loud, "another day Mr. Adams. I'll not take my foe when he can't defend himself. It is not honorable."
Duncan stood up and retrieved his sword that he'd lay down when they'd started their hand to hand combat. Walking away from the park, he heard a car driving down the street and as it passed a street lamp, he recognized Methos' Watcher.
<That went well. Let's hope we can fool him with part two of the plan.
The taut muscles in his arms and shoulders ached from the combination of fighting and adrenaline release. He'd found Methos, but he didn't remember their past, didn't know about their love, their reunion. It would be a long time, if ever, until he felt his arms around that glorious body. A glance at his watch told him it was only a little after 1:00, so he walked to Joe's, hoping to ease his weariness with a glass or two of scotch.
Mac walked into the bar and went toward the counter where Joe handed him a glass and a bottle of Scotch, the bartender recognizing the need in his friend's eyes. Duncan poured himself a finger of scotch and sat on a bar stool.
"Thanks Joe. I saw Methos' Watcher leave. So far your plan is working. You sounded so sure that he'd leave, how'd you know?"
Joe smiled as he explained the situation, "Well, we had a little divine intervention. His sister lives in Seacouver and she was very pregnant. He's been wearing a beeper since he got here, in case she went into labor. When he checked in this morning, he told me about the situation. I told him I would put another watcher on his Immortal, if he needed some time. After you guys finished your 'fight', his beeper went off and he called me. I told him, not to worry, because his Immortal was down and wouldn't probably go after you again."
Mac's forehead scrunched with "worry" lines as he heard the tale. "But Joe, I thought the plan was for Methos to fight me here and you report I killed him."
"It is Mac. But don't you see the glory in this; I don't have to lie about you killing Methos. I'll just say when I sent the new Watcher to his location; he couldn't find him. The Watcher checked the hotel and nothing doing. Methos can go on a little tour for a week or two and when he doesn't show up at his job, or return to San Francisco, we will just make a note in the database to look for him and reassign his current Watcher." Joe responded craftily with a glint in his eye. "We lose track of Immortals; don't tell anyone, but we usually pick them up again when they get in a fight." Joe continued to polish the counter top and inventory his liquor as he allowed Mac to think through the latest twist in this plot.
Mac smiled at the craftiness his Watcher displayed and thought to himself 'we don't interfere' as he laughed at Joe's manipulations.
"You had this planned all along. Why didn't you tell me?"
"If the beeper hadn't gone off, I would have made my entry stating you killed Michael, but now I can just say that I sent another Watcher and Michael was gone. I won't need to lie. By the way, I sent Mike to the park, he'll be back in a few."
"You sly old fox. I like you Joe, like how you think. Thanks, Thanks old friend. Everyone needs friends like you," Duncan laughed and shook his Watcher's hand.
Mac felt presence and turned to the door to see Methos walking through.
"Joe. Mac. Can I have a beer Joe? My head really hurts. I just woke up eating sidewalk in Soldier Park. My sword was way out in the grass and I feel like a truck ran over me. In fact, I feel like I've been fighting with you, MacLeod, sometimes I'm this sore after our little sessions. Of course, why would I be fighting you in Soldier park at 1:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning? Come to think of it, I can't remember how I got there. Must have been one hell of a fight. I guess the other guy wasn't after my head. Lucky me."
Joe drew a beer for Methos and looked at a smiling MacLeod. Thank G-d Methos had regained his memory, but there was still the problem of the last 8 months.
"Methos, what day is it?" MacLeod questioned his lover, hoping to break the news slowly.
Methos looked at Mac with quizzical eyes, "I don't know, why?"
"What do you remember about the last few months Methos?" Duncan asked his friend.
"Mac- What's got into you? We're in Joe's bar having a drink celebrating my intact head and you're asking me what day it is and what I did the last few months? Me thinks you've had too much Scotch tonight." and he bent down to kiss his lover.
Avoiding Methos' kiss, Mac tried to regain his lover's attention. He stepped away from the bar and looked at Methos with a seriousness Methos hadn't seen in a while. "Just answer the question, Methos. Think about the last few months. What have you been doing?" He replied sternly.
Methos took a swig of his beer and contemplated the question. He allowed his mind to go back to earlier in the evening and remembered he'd been in the bar with Mac and then they went to a church. They talked in the church and then they went to Soldier's Park and 'pretended " to fight.
He looked at Mac, watching him and he felt like a specimen under a looking glass. The memory didn't make sense, so he pushed further. He'd been in an accident, was found by Ralmont, who trained him because he thought Methos was a new Immortal. He remembered living in San Francisco and then visiting here to search for some old books. He'd come here tonight to listen to the music and then found Mac and Joe and pushed them into identifying themselves. He and Mac left to discuss who he was and then staged the "fight" to fool the watchers. No wonder Mac looked at him like that. He'd been gone for 8 months. Mac must have been miserable.
He remembered before the accident, Joe's heart attack, Mac and his reunion, their last night together, and .....the market. He must have had the accident at the market.
Methos heart clutched in his chest and his eyes misted as he looked at his lover and saw the love and relief in his eyes. He got up from his bar-stool and went to kiss the Highland child.
Holding his hands, Methos talked quietly to MacLeod, "Mac I'm so sorry. I went to get breakfast and I ended up in the hospital. You must have been frantic. How did you survive?"
"Frantic yes, then angry, hurt, confused, lonely. My emotions ran the gamut, but Joe helped. He's a great friend and lucky for us doesn't abide by that funny Watcher oath of 'non interference'," Duncan admitted as he squeezed Methos hands. "But Mr. Elusive, after you took your first head, you disappeared." Duncan smiled at his reference to the ancient man's ability to disappear. "I'd finally found love, only to have it brutally taken away. I was...... Oh Methos, it doesn't matter anymore. I love you," he whispered into Methos ears as he kissed Methos' neck.
Methos turned to the Highlander and kissed his lips softly. MacLeod returned his kiss, his long awaited reunion better than he could imagine.
"hrummm," Joe voiced, trying to remind the men where they were.
"Sorry. We'll take this somewhere else," the two men responded almost in unison.
Mac and Methos left the Watcher to finish cleaning up the bar and to lock up for the night. As he placed the chairs on top of the tables, he reviewed the events of the last few months, especially the last few days. He smiled to himself as he silently thanked the powers that be that Methos had returned to them and that maybe Duncan would return to his "normal" self. He'd been too solicitous these last few months, those Boy Scout tendencies really shining through when he felt helpless and in need of rescuing people in distress, especially if the person was his lover.
Duncan and Methos walked to the T-Bird in silence, their hands entwined, squeezing each other every few seconds. Duncan drove to the loft, and for the second time that evening he tried to keep his speed under the limit, not wanting to postpone his reunion with Methos any longer than necessary. As he parked the car, he leaned over to kiss his lover and Methos enthusiastically returned the embrace. Methos broke the kiss telling Mac, "the bedroom was the proper place to hold this reunion."
They entered the elevator, each man trying to restrain himself. As they entered the loft, by tacit agreement, each man disrobed, leaving their clothes in a path to the bed. Duncan reached out to hold Methos as he lay his body over his lover.
"Oh Methos, I've dreamt of this reunion so many times. I was so angry at you when you weren't there when I woke up that morning in Paris. I thought you'd left. I'm so glad you just died. No.... that didn't come out right. I'm not glad you died, but I'm glad you didn't leave me."
"Shhh , love. I promised you I wouldn't leave that night and I meant it. I went to get us some celebratory breakfast and I lost track of time. When I realized how long I'd been gone, I wanted to hurry back before you awoke and realized I'd left. I'm sorry Duncan. Forgive me love?"
"Yes, but Methos , there's nothing to forgive. Enough talking, let me show you how much you've been missed."
Duncan kissed Methos' mouth, savoring the taste of him. He'd had other lovers in the past, but none who affected him like this man. He could drink of him as if he were liquid. He kissed his face, starting at the eyelids and traveling down to his neck, where he took small bites and then offering soothing licks to calm the nipped flesh. Methos arched his neck allowing Mac easier access. Mac kissed his arms, stopping at the elbows and wrists. When he got to Methos' fingers, he took each one into his mouth and sucked them, then he cupped the Ancient Man's hand around his sensuous lips and kissed the tender area. Methos moaned appreciatively at the attention his lover lavished on him.
Mac began an exploration of his lover's chest. First his hands used a feather light touch to skim over the entire surface, then he used his mouth to trace the same path, licking his way across the sweet flesh. Finally he nipped and bit tiny sections of his lover's torso.
As his explorations moved further down his lover's body, his body slid down the bed, Methos' erection rubbing against his thigh as it reacted to the heightened stimulation.
When Duncan reached Methos' belly button, he began swirling his tongue around the sensitive area. Methos' sighs were getting louder which heightened the Highlander's pleasure even more.
"And now for the piece de resistance." Duncan sighed as he lowered his warm mouth to Methos' cock. He began his explorations with long licks to his shaft, followed by a suction of his cheeks when he reached the sensitive tip. He continued his laving of the Ancient's shaft for several minutes, enjoying his scent and musky aroma. Then the Highlander moved down to draw each of his testicles into his own warm, moist cavern. As he sucked on the balls of his lover, he took his hand and gently moved it to the sensitive tissue below, tracing and pushing with gentle ease to add to his lover's pleasure. He continued his loving, enjoying the feel of his lover's body under his own, in his mouth, and in his touch.
"Mac," Methos barely whispered.
"Mmmmm," responded his lover.
"I want you," he said in a throaty voice.
"You have me, Methos. Now and forever."
"No, Mac. I want you in me. Now," the ancient man's body tensed as he responded.
Mac released his lover's balls and quickly opened the drawer by the side of the bed to retrieve his tube of lube. He motioned for his lover to turn over on his belly and to get on his knees so that Mac could prepare him for their union.
"No, Mac- I want to see you. I need to see you, to see your face when we make love."
"I'll show you, just follow my lead and we'll do this together."
Mac slid one finger and then two into the tight rosebud of his lover. As Methos' body responded to his ministrations, pushing back, he knew the time was right for their reunion.
"Mac, place my feet on your shoulders. Then bring yourself close to me and enter me. Trust me. Mac"
Macleod did as his lover instructed, placing Methos' feet on Mac's shoulders and leaning up towards Methos' opening. He began to push his hard erection into his lover and stopped as his cock went in half way.
"Why are stopping, love? It feels wonderful."
"Oh Methos.............I've dreamt of this moment for so long. I want to treasure it and the memories. You feel so good. It's been too long."
"Go ahead, my love. We have all night, and after that a lifetime of nights."
Macleod pushed his erection into Methos until he was deep inside him. He tried to go slowly, but he quickly lost his control and he pumped into his lover, enjoying their joining, relishing the knowledge that this man was his friend, lover, confidant, and his companion. He loved him like he had not loved anyone in his life. He grabbed Methos' cock and pumped it with the same rhythm he used as he moved in the old man's body. Soon they were both releasing their essence, a shower of love between two halves of one soul.
Afterwards, they lay in each other's arms and Duncan thought again of the song he had listened to on their last night together.
I'm lying beside you just thinking about us Too tired to go to sleep and too much in love I know I'm crazy but I can't close my eyes I'm scared you won't be there in the morning when I rise
Will you be there?
Who do you dream about? Are you alone in your sleep? To who will you reach out? Oh, Let it me be
Oh baby, you're my obsession, my addiction, my drug Don't want to be without you when I wake up
Now he knew that Methos would be there when he woke up and he smiled.
Methos looked at him, seeing the smile on his face and questioned its presence. As Duncan explained about their last night together and his fears, small tears ran down Methos' cheeks. "Mac"
"I'll be there in the morning tomorrow and every other morning for as long as you want me. And Mac,"
"Tomorrow, we both go get breakfast, Deal."
"Deal , Old Man- I love you."
"Yeah I know. I love you too. Thanks for finding me, but MacLeod......"
"Next time, don't throw me so hard."
finis - comments This was supposed to be a Holiday offering, but real life got in the way. I apologize for the late posting. Couldn't put the apology in the beginning- it would have spoiled the fun.
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