Methos worked his way through the chronicles, checking only
the last entry of the last book of every Immortal whose
whereabouts were currently unknown but who apparently vanished
within a certain area of the world. He worked quickly, not
wanting to remain in Seacovuer any longer then he had to. Being
here made him intensely uncomfortable but this was the best way
for him to get the information he needed. Thank the deities Joe
never revoked his Watcher privileges. To be honest, he was
surprised that his former friend hadn't revealed who he really
was to the Watcher council but, then again, maybe he was afraid
of the repercussions.
He'd already gone through the computer files but there were
still hideous gaps in the information entered in there. Hence
his search through book after book after book. Normally he would
find this fascinating but the sense of urgency was ruining the
normal sense of fun. He had been here for four days straight,
sleeping in snatches and grabbing food from the kitchen when he
got too hungry to continue. His companion had spent his time
mainly searching the library and sleeping, not really able to
help Methos in his search. Even now he. . .
A scent reached Methos and he stiffened, nostrils flaring
even though, technically, he was not the one receiving the
scent. Ever since that odd double Quickening seventeen months
ago, he had found himself able to tap into Nightstormís
senses, a decidedly odd experience but well worth it. And now
that sense told him that a human. . .a mortal. . .had entered
the library. Another Watcher, no doubt, coming in to do some
research of his own.
Yes, his. Methos smiled slightly, realizing that he was
finally reaching the point where he could get more detailed
information from his borrowed senses. He closed his eyes,
concentrating on the sensory input.
The newcomer was male and in his middle years. . .how
Nightstorm could figure that out from scent alone Methos had no
idea. There was a heavy scent of pain mixed liberally with a
very real scent of plastic and metal. Methos frowned, his mind
searching for the reason behind that combination when a
once-familiar sound reached him and he stiffened again,
realization reaching him just as the newcomer spoke.
"What the hell are you doing here?!" The familiar
voice was harsh and Methosí eyes flew open, turning to look at
Joe Dawson. Methos stared at him blankly for a long moment,
trying to keep his emotions under control. A bit of anger at
being caught by the last person he wanted to be caught by, joy
that Dawson was alive and well, concern at the new lines that
creased his former friendís face and a great deal of sorrow at
what had been and could never be again.
"Research." He said finally, reaching over to close
his laptop, not wanting Joe to see what he was researching. He
concentrated briefly on Nightstormís whereabouts and finally
established that his companion was hiding several bookshelves
away. He sent what he hoped was a stern order for him remain
where he was and turned his attention back to Joe.
The Watcher hadnít moved, just leaned on his cane and
stared at Methos with hard eyes. But were they as hard as that
fateful night two years ago when Cassandra, having guaranteed
that the people he once called friends would ever have anything
to do with him, "forgave" him and let him live? Methos
didnít think so.
ĎSo, youíve had time to think, old friend, without
Cassandraís influence. I wonder if MacLeod has managed to do
"Iím surprised you dared to come back." Joe said
tightly and Methos shrugged.
"I had loose ends to tie up and some research to do.
This is the only place that has the information I needed."
He glanced at the rows upon rows of chronicles then back at Joe,
sighing at the suspicion in the other manís eyes. "This
has nothing to do with MacLeod. Or Cassandra or Richie or
Amanda. I no longer have any interest in them and no plans on
seeing any of them until the final Gathering. If then." He
carefully covered the pain of that lie with practiced ease,
scooping up the chronicles with the intent of putting them away.
He glanced down at his list, pleasantly surprised that he had
managed to reach the bottom. Good. Now he could go home.
Home. What an odd idea. Two years ago, kneeling on the floor
of the barge with his wrists bound to his neck, he had thought
he'd never call any place home again. Or, for that matter, any
person friend. And certainly no Immortal. Life was full of
Silently he made his way to the shelves, slipping the books
carefully into their places. Finished, he returned to the table
and wasn't surprised to see Joe there, looking at the list he
had left on the table. He mentally kicked himself for leaving it
in plain sight then shrugged. Why bother? He had no real reason
for hiding his research. He started to gather together his
notes, aware of Joe staring at him thoughtfully.
"What are you researching?" The other man asked
abruptly and Methos paused, frowning. Oh, hell. Why not? As long
as he told him what he was researching and not the real reason
why he was doing the research.
"Certain. . .missing Immortals. Immortals whom the
Watchers have lost track off. Vanished for one reason or
another. Presumed dead but not known by whom."
"Why are you researching that?"
Methos shrugged. Now for the lies. "Something I was
curious about. Some time back, when I was doing other research
here, I noticed that some Immortals just disappeared. I got
curious and not having much else to do now that I'm not hauling
MacLeod's ass out of the fire every other week, I decided to
scratch the itch. Unfortunately, the best place to look is here
so here I am. And now," he slung the backpack onto his back
and scooped up the laptop. "I am out of here. Hopefully
never to return." He paused then sighed, sending a
"come-hither" thought to his companion.
Claws clicked on the wooden floor and Nightstorm appeared
from behind a row of shelves. With a single bound, he leapt onto
the table, standing patiently as Methos slid the laptop into one
side of the pack the huge wolf wore and adjusted it so that it
rode comfortably. Satisfied, he looked up to see Nightstorm
studying Joe intently. A warm feeling of approval came from the
wolf and Methos bit his lip, wishing futilely for that time when
Joe would have invited him to the bar for a beer and quite
possibly a bed for the night. But those times were gone forever
and he gave Nightstormís ear a gentle tug.
"Come on, old son. Letís go." The wolf jumped
down, pacing Methos as he started for the door. Once there, he
paused, frowning, wondering. . . "Joe." He said
abruptly, not turning to look at the man. "Has Cassandra
ever told you why I submitted to her demands?" There was
silence behind him. "Why I let her do that to me; paint my
face. . .make me back into Death, flay the skin from my back,
tell all of you the truth of what happened between the two of
us? Why I let MacLeod and Richie. . .and you. . .torture me all
Joe cleared his throat. "I assumed that you choose
survival. Like always. You keep your head in exchange for
telling us the truth. It isnít as if you lost much." He
Pain flared in Methos and he closed his eyes against the
threatening tears. "Not lost much? At the time, Joe, it was
everything." He said in a low voice then, in a louder tone,
he continued. "You forget. I tried to spur MacLeod into
taking my head. Begged Cassandra for it. No, if it was my head I
was bargaining for, I would have very gladly given it to
He sensed the confusion in the man behind him and dropped a
hand to rest lightly on the wolfís head. The feeling
intensified and he realized that Joe had not really thought
about it. He had always assumed that Methos, the ultimate
survivor, had chosen survival.
"Then why. . ?"
"Ask Cassandra." Methos interrupted. "My guess
is sheís still full of self-righteousness, still thinks that
what she did was for justice and not simply vengeance. She just
might tell you the truth." He closed his eyes tightly and
took a deep breath. "I have to go. Get some decent food and
some sleep before heading back." He looked over his
shoulder at his former friend and he felt his heart ache. In his
own way, he had loved. . .still loved. . .the crotchety mortal.
"Good-bye, Joe. Have a good life." He said quietly
before walking from the room, Nightstorm at his heels.
Left alone in the library, Joe stared sightlessly after him
and wished he had followed his original instincts two years ago
when Methos was effectively banished from Seacouver and from his
Methos tossed the backpack onto the floor of his jeep and
stepped aside for Nightstorm to jump on the seat. He didnít
bother taking off the wolfís pack, knowing that his laptop and
the other items secured there were infinitely safer. In order
for a stranger to get the pack they would have to kill the wolf
and, unlike his brethren, this wolf would not stay dead. He
wondered briefly what Joe would think if he ever found out that
there were nonhuman Immortals. Not many though. In fact, he
suspected that Nightstorm was the only one.
Sliding into the driverís seat, he started the car and
drove away from the Watchers headquarters. He doubted he would
ever return and wasnít too surprised to find that he really
didnít care. The Watchers and his place in their society was
now no more then a past chapter in his life.
"Well, old son. How about we find a nice little place
that serves beer and raw meat by the pound?"
Nightstorm whuffled his enthusiastic agreement.
"Yeah, well this time *I* get the beer. You get the
meat. The last time you got drunk, I had to pay to remodel an
entire tavern and hide a body to boot."
Nightstorm whined and buried his head under the blanket on
the backseat, obviously thinking it very unfair for Methos to
bring *that* up.
Joe left the Watchers headquarters several hours later,
wondering how much longer he would remain with the group. The
higher-ups were unhappy with him and his relationship with the
various Immortals he knew. To be truthful, he was growing
increasingly unhappy with the various Immortals he knew. Amanda
had vanished shortly after the Horsemen incident and the
revelation of Methosí part in it. Richie kept disappearing
back into the motorcycle circuit, reappearing now and again. In
fact, he had been due to arrive for a visit this morning. Duncan
was still around and so was Cassandra. At least she was at the
moment. She had vanished after "forgiving" Methos only
to reappear a few months later, moving in with Duncan.
Joe wasnít stupid. It hadnít taken him long to reason out
the revenge Cassandra had taken on Methos. She had alienated the
only friends the ancient Immortal had acquired in centuries.
Quite possibly the only true friends since the Horsemen. But
they hadnít proven to be very true, had they? Who was it that
had said a true friend was someone who stayed when all others
walked away? They had walked away, disregarding what they knew
of the manís present.
For the first few months after the revelation of Methosí
past, every time Joe had thought of the man he had known as Adam
Pierson, he had seen the face of Death. But that memory faded
under the onslaught of what he knew personally of the man. The
days of Methos shyly courting Alexa, finally convincing her to
spend her last months letting him show her the world. The night
he had flown in from Switzerland with Alexaís body, when he
had gotten drunk and wept inconsolably for hours before finally
falling into an exhausted sleep on Joeís couch. Methos
offering his head to Duncan to help him win against Kalas.
Methos leaving Alexaís side to come help Duncan fight the dark
Quickening. Methos laughing, tossing out sarcastic, jesting
remarks, drinking beer stolen from any refrigerator he found it
in. Helping him. Helping Duncan. Being a friend....
If he had been capable of it, Joe would have kicked the side
of his car. Instead, he settled for slamming the door as hard as
he could before driving away.
Finding a place willing to serve a overly-large wolf was
close to impossible anywhere but before he left home, he had
made a point of looking up a few places run by members of the
Community. A small family-run Oriental place on the list proved
most helpful, sending one of the children out to buy several
pounds of prime beef. Expensive but worth it to keep Nightstorm
happy. Methos settled at a table outside, Nightstorm happily
munching away underneath, snarling at any passerby that got too
He was clear across town from the dojo and from Joeís. For
some reason, he didnít think Joe would call and tell MacLeod
he was in town so he figured he could eat, catch a quick nap and
be long gone before the other Immortal ever knew he was here.
This thought reassured him until he felt the unmistakable buzz
of an Immortal in the back of his mind.
Nightstorm growled as Methos raised his head, looking for the
bearer of that buzz. Not in sight yet, a fact that had ceased
surprising him months ago. Apparently his link with Nightstorm
had given them both much larger ranges of Immortal detection. A
helpful talent that helped him avoid other Immortals when
He was just considering the wisdom of ducking out of sight
when he heard the sound of a motorcycle. He automatically looked
in that direction and his heart sank, realizing it was too late
for him to get out of sight as Richie Ryan went by. For a
moment, he thought the younger Immortal may not have sensed him
but then the riderís head turned to look directly at him. He
heard Nightstorm snarl and dropped a hand to rest on the
wolfís head, staring directly into Ryanís eyes as the
younger Immortal noticeably hesitated then rode away. Methos
closed his eyes in disgust, having no doubt that Ryan would call
MacLeod as soon as he reached a phone.
"Shall we wait for them or flee while we can?" He
asked the wolf. Nightstorm snorted and returned to the serious
business of eating. Methos sighed. Well, he hadnít eaten yet
and, to be honest, why should he flee? After all, Cassandra had
"pardoned" him, forgiving his past acts, apparently
content with the belief that she had ruined his life forever.
Little did she know that, in reality, she had freed him.
He felt the buzz of two Immortals just as the little girl
acting as his waitress appeared with his food. He smiled at her,
leaning back so she could skillfully juggle the plate in front
of him, plucking the condiments from the shelf of her crippled
arm and setting them on the table before politely inquiring if
there was anything else he needed.
"Bring another pot of tea, dear, and two cups. Then you
may wish to remain inside for a time."
She looked at him with wide eyes then nodded, darting back
into the restaurant, leaving Methos to reflect that sometimes
being a member of the Community could be as dangerous as being
an Immortal. At least the kids were brought up to respect that
danger. He reached for the chopsticks, glancing up as the
~Presence~ drew nearer.
"Damn!" He muttered. "Cassandra!"
There was a sharp crack and the table jumped. Methos blinked,
looking down at the table then at the wolf now sprawled on the
ground, looking dazed. "That was brilliant. Did you knock
yourself out cold or are you just practicing for your imminent
future as a rug?"
The wolf glared at him and stood up gingerly, carefully
stepping clear of the table before looking at the newcomers.
Methos smiled, glad the table was of wood and not wrought iron
like last time. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the little
girl re-appear, setting a pot and two cups on the table before
fleeing back into the building.
"Methos." MacLeod said coldly and the ancient
"Please!" He said sharply. "Adam. Iím still
using Adam Pierson." He looked up at his former friend,
seeing surprise etched on his face. Obviously MacLeod had
expected Methos to still be that cowed, dejected man of two
years past. "Have a seat." His eyes slid to the woman
next to MacLeod. "Both of you. Some tea?" He gestured
toward the pot before using the chopsticks expertly to take
several bites. "I assume you're here for a reason?" He
"What are you doing here?" Cassandra demanded.
"Tying up loose ends." He said pleasantly.
"Getting my stuff in storage shipped out. Doing some
research. Etc, etc, etc."
"It might be best if you left town." MacLeod said
tightly and Methos flicked a look at him before returning to his
"I plan on it. As soon as I finish eating and get some
sleep, I am gone. And for Trinity sake, will you two seat down!
If you think you're intimidating me, you think very wrong."
He returned to his food and, after a long moment, both MacLeod
and Cassandra pulled out chairs and sat down. "That's
better. Hmmmm. Excellent. Ever try this place before? Have some
tea. It's very good." Silence. "Look, MacLeod. I had
no intention of meeting with you or Cassandra or anyone else. In
case you hadn't noticed, this place is clear across town from
your usual hangouts. If it hadn't been for Ryan coming by, you
never would have known I was here. And frankly, I don't
understand what you are doing here. My life is no longer any
concern of yours." He glanced at Cassandra. "Or
Cassandra was staring at him narrow-eyed, apparently not
liking what she saw of Methos' attitude. Not that Methos cared.
Nightstorm let out a sudden sharp series of whoo-whoos, the
kind he made to greet someone. Methos looked up to see Joe
approaching. "Great Goddess! What is this, old home week?
Have a seat, Joe. When's Richie due?" He glanced at the
restaurant, not surprised to see the girl watching him. Holding
up the hand holding the cup of tea, he stuck up a finger then
gestured at Joe. The girl nodded and vanished.
"Richie doesn't want to see you." MacLeod said.
"Good. We're running out of room around the table. Are
you here to discuss anything in particular or are you just
thinking to bug me?"
"Actually, we're just wondering how your life is
going?" Cassandra said with a slight smirk.
"My life? Well. . ." Nightstorm whoo-whooed in
sudden urgency and Methos glanced down at him. "Park's over
there. Don't get spotted by a cop." Nightstorm snorted and
tried again with a sharper whoo this time, looking back over his
shoulder at the pack. "What. . .oh!! He dropped the
chopsticks and hastily dug out the cellular phone tugged into a
pocket. "Sorry about that, old son. I forgot to turn up the
ringer, didn't I? Excuse me. . ."
He flipped the phone open. "Hello?" The others at
the table blinked as Methos' angular features literally lit up,
his eyes sparkling with sudden joy. "H'lo, luv. What's the
good news? Ahhhh. . ." If anything, Methos looked even
happier. "Couldn't wait 'til I got home, eh? You're
kidding. Three?!" There was a sudden thump and the table
jumped, almost spilling food onto Methos' lap. "Just a
minute, luv." Methos looked down, meeting Nightstorm's now
somewhat crossed eyes. Tugging the phone down so he wasn't
speaking directly into the mouthpiece, he held up two fingers.
"How many fingers have I got up, Nightstorm?"
The wolf whoo'd three times before toppling over to lay
blinking on the ground.
"Hmmmm." He lifted the phone back up. "Nightstorm
just knocked himself out. Apparently he is not thrilled at the
idea of triplets. No, no. Wooden table, not iron. Are Jarod and
Steve still there? No? Damn. How about Ben? Good. Ask him to
stay until I get back if he can. He can? Good. I'm leaving in
the morning. I'll see you soonest then. Love you." He
smiled as he closed up the phone, looking down at Nightstorm.
The wolf was levering himself up slowly.
"Triplets." He said pleasantly and the wolf flopped
back down, whining pathetically. He looked up with a wide grin.
"This could be fun." Nightstorm apparently didn't
think so as he crawled over to hide behind Joe, still
"Tri. . .triplets?" Cassandra stuttered.
"Yes. My soon-to-be wife is expecting. Triplets."
he added in the wolf's direction and Nightstorm covered his ears
with his paws. "Actually, Cassandra, I should thank you. If
it weren't for you, I'd still be here, pulling MacLeod's fat out
of the fire every other week and trying to explain why my past
does not meet up with his high standards. Which, to be honest,
doesn't concern him in the least. Now. . ." He smiled.
"Now I have a woman who loves me, friends who care about
what I *am* and not what I was, a wonderful teaching job and
access to some of the finest research libraries in the world. In
other words, my wet dream come true."
end beginning one
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