Standard disclaimer: the concept of Immortality and the characters of Connor MacLeod and Methos belong to Rysher and are copyrighted by them.
This story is for fun, not for profit. The other characters are copyrighted by me, Vi Moreau. The Immortal Elena Duran is a recurring character with a lot of history by now.
New York City, 2002
"Sorry, MacLeod. I just can't get used to that 'peaty' taste. I know it's blasphemy to you and your kinsman, but Scotch - excuse me, whisky - is just not my drink. You know, beer has a long and noble history," Methos said, smiling.
Connor MacLeod snorted with some derision. He now understood a lot more about the man walking out of the bar with him from the fact that Methos preferred beer to whisky. He looked the ancient Immortal over, wondering again what had brought Methos to New York, to him. The last time Methos had shown up on Connor's doorstep he'd been with their mutual Immortal 'friend,' Elena Duran.
Methos and Elena were being hunted by a pack of Immortals. Connor had gotten involved, and he and Duncan and a few others had almost lost their heads. So this time Connor had bluntly asked Methos what he wanted.
Methos, or Richard Allen, as he called himself now, had shrugged, holding his arms out at his sides in a disarming manner. "MacLeod, I don't want anything. I'm flying out of the country in the morning. Since I was in the neighborhood, and felt like company ..." He paused, then continued. "I don't make you uncomfortable, do I?"
Connor had considered the old man coldly and carefully for a long moment before saying, "No."
So they'd gone out to dinner and for a drink afterward. They'd talked a little, with Methos doing most of the talking. They'd told a few true stories and a few not-so-true ones. And they'd caught up on a few mutual friends, a few mutual enemies, and a few who were friends of one and enemies of the other. Connor had found that the old man could be quite ... charming when he wanted to be.
He'd even made Connor laugh.
As they walked out of the bar, pulling their coats around them against the cool breeze, the two men reacted simultaneously to the drama unfolding in front of them. They couldn't have had a better ring-side seat if they'd sca lped tickets.
Connor's first, immediate thought was how quietly and rapidly, considering his size, the man was coming up on his intended female victim.
She was just crossing the Immortals' path, only a few yards in front of them. As Connor lunged forward, intending to push her out of the way and take the brunt of the attacker's charge on his own body, he realized he wouldn't get to them in time. The man was going to reach her. That was physics, reality. But after that initial collision - then Connor would be on top of the attacker.
As Connor rushed forward, Methos thought: MacLeod to the rescue, they're both the same. But he, too, knew that the woman would be swamped by the sheer size of her assailant, and that he could do nothing about it. And he wouldn't have to, in any case, would he - not even afterwards? MacLeod would take care of it. All Methos had to do was cheer the Highlander on at the proper moment.
But as the Immortals watched, the woman turned completely around, just at the last second. She grasped her attacker by his upper arms, then stepped back with him, pulling him towards her in the same direction he was already moving. The instant his back foot left the ground, she tucked in both elbows and twisted her spine to the right, dropping her right arm and raising her left - and tossing her would-be assailant aside like a sack of meal.
The big man hit a parked van with a bone-crunching, meaty thud, then slid down, unconscious.
By this time Connor was almost on top of her, and she was turned partly away from him. As she turned back to him, he just barely managed to stop cold right in front of her, despite his momentum. He held his hands out at his sides in a non-agressive gesture. "Friend," he said, taking a hasty step back from her as soon as he regained his balance, watching her closely.
The woman looked at Connor for a moment. Then, apparently satisfied he wasn't another attacker, she cried out, "I did it! It worked! Dammit, it worked!" She laughed briefly to herself. "I don't believe it!"
Methos noted that the whole incident had taken place in complete silence. But now she was speaking, and her voice was filled with awe and joy, and as Methos came up he saw the wonder and delight and beauty of her expression. It was the universal face of the toddler who'd taken his first step, the boy who'd killed his first boar, the woman who'd just felt new life stir inside her for the first time. It verified his original estimate that she was not a black belt or an expert, but a talented and very lucky martial arts student. An amateur. And he couldn't help smiling with her as he clapped softly in appreciation. "You should believe it. You did that very well indeed!"
She looked at Methos, nodding. "I've only been at it for about two years! Master said if I could feel when he was off-balance, when his back foot was off the ground, then I could throw him, even if he's much bigger. My God! He was right, I ..."
She trailed off and turned to look at the man crumpled almost at her feet.
Methos saw the exact moment when reality hit her.
"My God, is he all right?" she asked, almost choking on the words.
"Do you know him?" Methos asked her. The last thing he needed was to get between a man and his estranged wife or girlfriend ...
"No. I ... I don't. But ... should we call the police?"
But by this time Connor had crouched down beside the man to check him over. The attacker had hit the side of the van head first, leaving a sizeable, visible dent in the door. It was possible that the sound of breaking bone had been his skull cracking. No such luck, Connor saw, not even any blood. But Connor was also interested in the bulge he'd seen in the big man's pocket. Using his body to cover his actions, Connor slid the pistol from the man's pocket into his own. The woman didn't need to know that if her defense had failed, her attacker would have probably shot her.
Now he rose smoothly back to his feet and reassured her. "No need. He'll have a headache, that's all." In fact, Connor didn't much care; he said it only to make her feel better, concerned because now she'd begun to shake, visibly. "But are you all right?" he asked her.
His instinct was to put his hands on her shoulders, to comfort her, make her feel secure - but he didn't dare touch her.
"I ... he was going to ... oh, God!" she began.
Methos reclaimed her attention. "What's your name?" he asked her conversationally, but with a little steel in his voice.
She responded to the steel, almost automatically. "I ... Jennie. Jennie Myers ... I ..."
"Jennie, my name is Richard Allen. And we can only guess what's in another person's heart, can't we? But," he leaned closer to her - but not too close - stressing the next words, "he never even got to you. You didn't panic, you did the right thing, and he never touched you."
"Yeah," she said in an exhalation of breath. "That's right. But ..."
"In fact," Methos continued, "I'd like to buy you a congratulatory drink. To celebrate."
Now she studied him closely, obviously, then studied Connor as well.
Methos hurried to introduce the Highlander. "Where are my manners? Jennie Myers, Iain MacKinnon," he said, giving Connor's latest alias.
"I'm very happy to meet you, Jennie," Connor said with obvious sincerity, as he examined her briefly under the streetlights. Blonde, slim, attractive but not exceptionally so, maybe five foot four or five, in her late thirties. Her face was much too pale, and he could see almost all the whites of her eyes. But she'd stood up well under pressure, and he felt proud for her. He gingerly held out his hand, the traditional sign that he was friendly and unarmed. He was worried about still spooking her - he knew how close to the edge she was.
"If you feel uncomfortable, we can each go our own way," Methos soothed. "You've had kind of a rough night ..."
But then she took Connor's hand in hers and shook it. "You were coming to help me, weren't you?" she asked him.
"Yes," he replied with his lightning-quick smile. "But you didn't need it."
She looked down one more time at the man on the sidewalk. When she looked up, she tossed her hair back, and her smile included both Immortals. She shook Methos' hand, too.
"It's nice to meet you both. And yes, you can buy me a drink. To celebrate."
Her voice was a little shaky, but she'd get over that soon enough.
"Good," Methos said.
"I suggest you try another bar," Connor said softly. He'd noticed the man had already started to stir, and he wanted her out of there.
Methos had noticed, too, and took a closer look. Methos saw a huge brute of a man; and although some of his size was fat, it only served to cover a layer of muscle. He had towered over the woman, and he was almost bald, too, and fair ... in fact, he looked somewhat like Silas. Methos' brother Silas.
The ancient Immortal felt a pinprick at his heart - and once again he felt the hole there that Silas' death had left, the small tear ... but he pushed it away, as he pushed so many feelings away, constantly. Now wasn't the time.
He gave Connor a minute nod, then said to Jennie, "Iain's right. You don't want to push your luck. In fact, you should avoid this particular bar in the future."
"Yeah. Oh, you mean, in case he comes back! Oh, no!" she said, suddenly realizing the implication.
"Just stay out of his way. Come on, I know a nice place just a few blocks south of here. It's a nice night for a walk," Methos said, gently drawing her away, giving Connor a chance to do ... whatever Connor was going to do. He'd seen the cold savagery in the back of the Highlander's eyes. And Methos was suddenly very glad he was not the man who had attacked Jennie Myers.
"You two go ahead. I'll catch up," Connor said, keeping his voice steady, keeping the anger and the anticipation hidden.
Methos smiled at Jennie, giving her all his attention, reinforcing her confidence. "You know of course, the better you get at this, the less you'll have to use it. Because they'll look at you and sense your strength, smell your confidence. And they'll go elsewhere ..."
Before they reached the corner Methos glanced back quickly and saw that Connor was once again crouched intently over the attacker.
Connor studied the man, filled with disgust and loathing. A big, hulking beastie, wasn't he? And like the Kurgan, he used his size and strength to hurt those who were weaker. A man that size had not needed to run at the woman, who actually reminded him of Heather a little, her coloring ... but no, his Heather had been a true beauty. And this bastard could have just stepped up and intimidated Jennie Myers, or just grabbed her purse and ran. But his obvious intention had been to hurt her. And from behind, too.
Bloody fucking coward!
Connor hated bullies, but a long time ago he'd realized that he couldn't save mankind or change the world. However, he knew he could save one person, or change one thing. His gaze bored into the man just starting to regain consciousness in front of him, and he wondered if he could save, or change, this one man. Well, he'd talk to him, but it probably wouldn't make any difference, Connor thought pragmatically. This man had power, and he'd learned very well to use it, learned to abuse it.
Connor looked carefully around - the only two people on the street were walking by and not paying attention to them.
He hooked his fingers into the attacker's belt and put the man's arm over his own right shoulder. Then, taking a deep breath, he straightened his legs as he breathed out, muscling the larger man to his feet. The man moaned, and Connor made a soothing sound as he half-carried, half-dragged him to the mouth of the nearest alley.
What Connor could do is make damn sure the bastard didn't hurt anyone for, say, the next few months. In fact, he thought, smiling grimly, dangerously, he could make sure that this man would never run up behind anyone again.
Not without pain, that is.
As the two slowly moved down the alley, Connor thought of an old Gaelic blessing.
In the bar a few blocks away, Methos watched in amusement as Jennie threw back her head and whooped with laughter. She was not particularly beautiful, but she had a quick mind. She also had a sense of humor and a big, contagious laugh which filled up a large area of the room. He'd watched with satisfaction as the darkness and fear had left her eyes while they sat and talked.
A very long time ago Methos had realized that he couldn't save mankind or save the world. In fact, he didn't want to. But he could make one person a little happier, change one little thing, and sometimes bring himself a small pleasure at the same time. Because one of life's tiny good moments involved making a pretty woman laugh wildly at your jokes.
He stiffened slightly as he sensed an Immortal, but relaxed when Connor MacLeod came into the bar to their table.
"We were starting to get worried, Iain," he said, his voice amused, his eyes dancing. But he studied the Scot briefly, seriously, wondering exactly what MacLeod had done.
"Not for me, I hope," Connor answered, sitting down, keeping his expression bland, unreadable, then turning to smile at Jennie's obvious good humor. "Did I miss anything?" he asked her.
She giggled. "Your friend is ... very funny. Really funny!" She swallowed, taking a breath, then added, "He's kept me very well entertained while we waited for you." She glanced gratefully at Methos. "He almost made me forget what happened tonight."
"I'm sure he did," Connor commented dryly. "But don't worry - from now on you'll see them coming, Jennie. Which reminds me of an old Gaelic blessing," he said, looking at the older Immortal.
Methos' curiosity peaked immediately. An old Gaelic blessing?
Connor recited, "May those who love us, love us. And those that don't love us, may God turn their hearts; and if He doesn't turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping."
Jennie laughed. "I like it!" she exclaimed.
And Methos stopped wondering.
At that moment the waitress brought three new drinks and put them on the table. "What? No beer?" Connor asked sarcastically.
Methos met Connor's eyes, then distributed the drinks, saying, "No. I took the liberty of ordering whiskys all around for when you arrived."
"Good," Connor said, acknowledging, accepting, the older man's approval. "Then I'm in time for the toast."
They held up their glasses, and it seemed to Connor that the whole bar hushed slightly, just for them. Or maybe he just stopped listening to everyone else.
"What shall we drink to?" Methos asked. "Jennie?"
She frowned into her glass, thinking about it for a minute. Then, looking earnestly at them both, she said, "How about ... an end to violence?"
Connor and Methos carefully avoided looking at each other.
"Yes," Methos said, lifting his glass. He paused a moment, then murmured, "Oh, yes!" and drank.
"I'll drink to that," Connor said.