The End of Time,

Part Five

(The sequel to "All My Immortality",) a WIP

CelticAngel

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Duncan left Methos and Richie painting the cottage when he felt the presence of another immortal, and heard the sound of a car door shut. A slightly inebriated Methos had looked worriedly around at first, but seemed to settle when he realized it must be Connor.

"Wonder how the hot date went?" "Adam" asked worriedly.

"Let's let him tell us." Duncan suggested.

"You would think she would tell him, knowing that we know."

"When did you get to be such an old gossip, Methos?"

"Adam. I'm not gossiping, I'm concerned." Adam took another drink of beer and almost tipped off the ladder.

"Hey, Old-timer, come down and let me paint the high spots. You're high enough as it is." Richie encouraged.

Adam was about to respond with some smart remark until Duncan made a serious gesture toward the floor- his meaning quite clear. "You know it's a wonder I stayed alive this long without so many people telling me what to do."

"Adam, how many times did you die before we met?"

"Who knows? Thousands? Maybe?"

"How many times have you died since we met?"

Adam leaned across the top of the ladder as he stared at his hand, raising and lowering fingers, then finally gave up. "A couple?"

"That's my point." Duncan smiled at Richie, then took Adam by the arm and pulled him off the ladder. "You work down here. Richie will paint the high stuff. No more beer. Either one of you."

"You know, I'm beginning to wonder why I'm moving in here."

"Well good. I wish you would concentrate on your goals a bit."

Adam looked curiously at Richie who was trying not to smirk. "Is he making fun of me?"

"Yeah, I think so, but you deserve it."

"Oh, okay." Adam sat down on the floor and began painting the woodwork automatically.

Duncan motioned to Richie then pointed at Adam. "Keep an eye on him," he mouthed silently. Richie nodded and Duncan slipped out of the cottage.

 

Duncan found Connor sitting in the rickety porch swing, staring out at the front yard. He handed him a beer, which Connor slowly accepted. Stealing a quick glance at the old Scot, he could see the truth on Connor's face, though he knew from experience that to anyone else, Connor would appear to be a relaxed, content man swinging on the front porch on a warm summer evening.

He'd seen Connor this way often enough to know what he was feeling. He'd been there through several of his previous heartaches, just as Connor had been for him. Gone now was that extra sparkle from the blue eyes that had gleamed so brightly since the afternoon before.

"Broke your heart, didn't she?"

Connor closed his eyes in disgust. When he reopened them he stuck a foot out and pushed Duncan over the rail and onto the ground where he landed on his feet laughing.

"Sorry, but it's pretty obvious." Duncan grinned then vaulted back over the rail, which almost gave way under him. "Going to have to fix that, one of these days." He quoted.

"She's still married to that jerk." Connor finally threw back his head and took a long drink.

"So you know about him?"

"They've been married for ever. I went to their wedding. Of course, I know about him."

"So you don't like him?"

"What's not to like? He's perfect for her. They're madly in love. He treats her like a queen. He has money, charm- "

"A past."

"Don't we all? I know about his past. I've known since before she did. Not too much unlike our old skeleton in the closet. Only I hate him."

"So you do hate him?"

"Of course not!" Connor looked up, the distress and conflict almost comical on his face. "Aren't you listening to me?"

"You hate, Adam?"

"Don't be an idiot! I hate Aaron!"

"You just said you didn't!"

"You're not listening, I very clearly said I hate him! But there is nothing to hate. He was my friend before he was her husband. She was my student. They fell in love immediately. She never loved me like I loved her, so I hate him!"

"But there's nothing to hate?"

"Of course not! Aren't you listening? He's my friend."

"Oh." Duncan kept quiet for a moment, not real certain just what he could say.

"Oh, don't sit there feeling sorry for me! I'll get over it. I always do."

"So, why did she ask you out?"

"To talk over old times. To seek my advice concerning her and Aaron."

"Which was?"

"To stay with him unless she only plans to marry me." Connor paused when Duncan laughed. "I will always be her teacher. Nothing more."

"That wasn't a very teacher like kiss. What subject did you teach, by the way?"

"Oh that? Unfortunately, that is a game we play. Who will be the first to give up kissing? Sheer stubbornness." Connor smiled fondly and raised his eyebrows. "I always win." This followed by his wicked laugh assured his kinsman he was truly all right.

Duncan shook his head, grinning.

"So, how are things here?"

"Things?"

"Yes, how is the cottage coming? How is the MTV set? Any more memories, flashbacks? Accidental beheadings or other wise unplanned quickenings?"

"Well, now that you ask. Richie, apparently had a memory about his abusive childhood."

"When?"

"This morning, I guess."

"He didn't say anything."

"No, and I don?t think he wanted to. He was asking some questions about his past and I sort of put two and two together."

"How's he doing?"

"Better than I expected. He's keeping an eye on Adam for me."

"What's wrong with Adam?"

"He's been hitting the beer pretty hard. I think he's having some memories he's not sharing. Some thing's going on."

"Maybe he should see Aaron. They have a lot in common."

"Too late. Didn't I tell you this afternoon?"

"What?"

"Oh, that's right, I didn't because if I had told you that, I would have had to tell you Angie was still married."

"You knew?" Connor stood up. "You let me go out with her believing she wasn't married any longer? How could you do that?"

"I figured you would tell me to mind my own business, like usual."

"And I would have!" Connor nearly shouted. He stopped at Duncan's amused smirk, turned around in a full circle rubbing his hand across his face. "So what about Adam and Aaron?"

"Seems they have a past."

"What kind of a past?"

"A past. He was once a captive of Aaron's. For several years."

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" Connor stretched his arms up toward the sky. "How did life get so complicated?"

"Don't ask me." Duncan shook his head.

"I'm asking them!" Connor motioned toward the stars. "You really aren't listening to me are you?"

"Me or them?" Duncan nodded toward the sky.

"You." Connor jerked his head toward Duncan and stared at him. "Where is your mind tonight?"

Duncan's eyes widened in disbelief. There was no dealing with Connor when he was in one of these moods. He had learned a long time ago to just humor him until it passed. He shook his head slowly. Tonight wasn't one of those times. "You know, I don't know what's the matter with me. It's not like I haven't been here all evening with an amnesiac, whom I hope to God never remembers his past while I want nothing more than for him to remember his life with Tessa and me. Or having to deal with a reformed drunken, ex-barbarian doctor who wants desperately to forget his past. Or that I'm trying to remodel this dump, plan a course schedule, start a new career, while simultaneously looking after two mental patients, and listening to a 500 year old man carry on about a lost love who he knows has been happily married for the last 350 years. Maybe I'm just a little pre-occupied. And for the record, you are the one not making any sense."

Connor had watched patiently during the tirade, but now broke into laughter. "You're probably right. Oh hell, I'm going to bed."

________________________

When Duncan awoke the next morning Connor was already up and apparently out running. Duncan put on a pot of coffee then went back upstairs to roust the rest of the crew out of bed. After knocking several times and receiving no answer from either Richie or Adam, Duncan barged in to the youngest Immortal's room first.

"Come on," He grabbed a bare foot sticking out from under a thin sheet. Richie jumped and flipped over on his back, carefully pulling the covering with him. The hot late summer nights forced them to sleep as scantly as possible.

"Up you go," Duncan shook the boy's shoulder.

"What?" Richie yawned as he stretched.

"Same thing as every morning, Sunshine. Let's get moving."

"But we were up so late. Summer is almost over. Can't I sleep a little while longer?" He rubbed at sleep filled eyes reminding Duncan of a small child. The Scot crouched down beside the bed speaking in an amused and patronizing tone.

"You know, when I was your age we didn't have summer vacations to sleep away because we didn't go to school. We worked everyday, or we hunted, or we went into battle-"

"And herded your sheep and cattle and pigs, grew your crops, saved the damsels in distress and slayed a couple of fire breathing dragons all before breakfast." Richie carefully peeked over his pillow to watch Duncan eyeing him skeptically. "Right?"

"You left out carrying water up hill a mile from the spring."

"Now if you Highlanders were so smart why didn't you build down hill of the spring?"

Duncan leaned over Richie in a threatening manner. "If you don't get out of this bed, I'm going to show you smart- right across-"

"I'm up!" Richie jumped out of bed wrapping his sheet around him, the rest of his protest lost in a huge yawn.

"Good. Stay that way. Be ready to run in ten minutes." Duncan left the room to find his next victim.

"Oh, man!"

Duncan ignored Richie's whining and burst into Adam's room after a warning knock. Duncan stopped half way through the door. Adam sat hunched over on the floor, backed into a corner, clutching a pillow tightly. His eyes were open but he wasn't actually focusing on anything. Duncan wondered for a moment if he might actually be asleep.

"Adam?" He spoke quietly. "It's me, MacLeod. Mac?" Duncan opted for the nickname mostly used only by Richie and now Adam. "Methos?"

Duncan noticed Adam's head tilt slightly. "Methos?" He moved closer to the transfixed immortal.

"Yes, Kronos?" Methos' eyes closed for a moment preparing for the worst.

"Hey, Methos, wake up. You're dreaming. You're only dreaming." Duncan still hadn't touched him yet, afraid that he would scare him.

Methos began making swiping motions at his arms and hands. He cupped his hands together and lifted them to his face as though he was washing. He began speaking in an ancient language Duncan had never heard. He continued with the washing motions.

"Oh, my God!" Richie appeared in the room now dressed in shorts and a baggy sleeveless tee, and running shoes.

"Richie, go find Connor." I think he's already running. Start in the opposite direction so you'll run into him."

"Is he okay?"

"I think he's dreaming. I can't wake him up."

"Let me try." Richie dropped to the floor in front of Adam.

"Richie- "

"Mac, please. I know what I'm doing."

"You've seen this before?"

"Oh, yeah." Richie put a gentle hand on Adam's shoulder. "Adam? Adam, wake up. It's Richie. Adam, come on, it's me. Adam?" Richie patted Adam's face gently. Adam grabbed his arms and stared directly into his eyes. "Adam, come on. It's me. Wake up. It's Richie, remember? You've got to wake up."

Methos mumbled something frantically still in the old language.

"Come on, man, say it in English. You know I don't understand gibberish."

"You've seen him do this?"

"Yeah, during that whole Horton-Kronos demon thing. "Course, now I know more about it."

"What language is he speaking?"

"I'm clueless. But I began to suspect that he might be older than he let on when I heard it the first time."

"Richie?" Adam finally spoke in English. The look of panic still registered in the large hazel eyes. Gold flashed brilliantly around the gray-green circles.

"Yeah, buddy, it's me. It's Richie, and Mac."

"Mac?" Adam darted a quick look at MacLeod.

"Yeah, I'm here, right here." Duncan put a careful hand on his shoulder.

"What's going on?"

"You tell us." Richie encouraged. "Were you dreaming?"

"Oh, yeah, I guess I must be. I'm on the floor?"

"Yeah, wild night, huh, Dude?"

Adam thought about it for a moment then forced a brave grin. "Yeah, wild." He swallowed deeply.

"Let's get you up." Duncan plucked the lithe body up before he could voice any protests.

"Man, I've been up all night."

"What do you mean?" Duncan steadied him.

"I've been awake, I think. No. It's been a dream. I've been dreaming." Adam was still obviously confused and disoriented.

"Do you want to sleep in your bed for awhile?"

"No! No more dreaming. Just a shower."

"Are you sure?" Richie asked.

"Oh, most definitely. I'm okay now. I'll make it to the shower."

Duncan still kept a guiding hand on him and led him to the bathroom. Richie followed closely.

"Thanks, guys. I'm sorry if I freaked you out. I can manage now."

Adam hurried into the bathroom and quickly shut the door. Duncan motioned Richie downstairs and followed behind him. "So how often have you seen this?"

"Three of four times. Usually after I spent an all nighter with Horton. He'd do the same with Kronos."

"He called me Kronos." Duncan shook his head. "So did you have any problems, last night?"

"No, I slept like a rock. I was too tired to dream. Besides, Mac, those guys haven't been around since you beat that demon, Ahriman." Richie took a carton of juice from the refrigerator and found a glass.

"How did you know his name?"

"Adam told me."

"Oh. Tell you what. Let's skip running today. I want to talk to Connor when he gets back. You ready for breakfast?"

"Sure, anytime." Richie sat down at the bar with his juice.

Adam came downstairs, dressed and ready to run. He stopped short in the kitchen when he saw Duncan, Connor and Richie, sitting at the table, already devouring breakfast. He noted that Connor looked particularly tired and he realized that he must not have taken the news about Angelique and Aaron too easily.

"So, what's this? We're not running today?" He almost grinned in amazement. "Aren't we fearful that some big bad immortal might come along and kill us all?" Adam slipped into his chair and picked up a glass of juice.

"I've already done, five miles, you young punk." Connor threw a muffin at Adam. "If you want to run, go ahead."

"No, thanks. I'll skip today. I need to conserve my energy. I'm old." Adam inhaled the muffin.

"I have never know you to expend any energy." Duncan passed him a plate of eggs. Except when you're eating."

Richie grinned at the easy banter and resisted the urge to ask Adam if he was feeling better. "So, what are we doing today? You guys are never going to believe it, but we got the kitchen done last night. All we need now is the bedroom and bath."

"Good!" Duncan declared. "Then maybe we'll get started on the house again."

"Sorry." Adam admitted uncomfortably. "I didn't mean to interrupt your plans."

"Are you kidding?" Duncan reassured him. "I'm glad to see the cottage get done. At least it will look like something's getting done around here. The house will take forever to finish."

"Yeah, but it'll be fun, right?" Richie encouraged. "Rebuilding this old place from scratch. It will make it like a real home."

"Yeah," Duncan gave him a warm smile. "It sure will, Richie." Suddenly all the problems of the last couple of days fell neatly in their places for Duncan. If Richie only knew what it meant to him to hear him call this place home. Maybe they were making some progress after all. It was so hard to tell sometimes.

Richie did his best to be comfortable and relaxed around Duncan, but the Scot knew deep down that the boy still worried. But, since last night he had shared some of his deepest concerns with him alone- not Connor. He had now referred to this house as home. Yeah, this had to be progress. Duncan glanced at Connor who gave him knowing grin.

This couldn't be easy for Connor. He had put so much time into both Richie and Adam. He had taken them in, relieving Adam of a tremendous responsibility and devoted a great deal of effort into furthering their training. Sure he grumbled about needing to get on with his life, but Duncan knew he was going to miss them terribly. He was sure Connor liked them both, but he could sense a particular fondness for Richie. Perhaps because Richie was truly a young one, where Adam was just trapped in time. The nagging feeling that this was similar to relinquishing custody bothered Duncan.

"Okay, so I'm going to go finish painting." Adam announced standing up. "But I am going to need to do some shopping soon. I need- everything!"

"Well, maybe when we go into the big city, Saturday, we can get some things then. I bet the girls wouldn't mind shopping." Richie raised his eyebrows.

"Oh, yeah." Adam almost grimaced.

"Oh, come on. You aren't chickening out on me, are you?" Richie took his plate to the sink.

"No. Of course not." They headed to the staircase to change out of their jogging clothes.

"Adam, you've hardly dated since I've known you. Time to loosen up."

"You don't have much room to talk, you know."

"Adam, wait." Connor called out.

Richie and Adam both turned around.

"Richie, you go ahead. I need to talk to Adam a minute."

"Oh, sure. I get to do all the work." Richie bounded up the kitchen staircase.

"What's up, Connor?"

"Duncan told me what happened."

Adam eyed Duncan suspiciously.

"How are you feeling now?" Connor continued.

"I'm fine. It was just a nightmare. I should have warned you guys I walk and talk in my sleep."

"I want you to talk to Dr. Knight, today."

"I don't think so." Adam turned to leave. "I know she's a babe, but no thanks."

"I'm talking about her husband. An even older more experienced friend of mine."

"We've met." Adam looked nervously at Duncan, uncertain how much he had told Connor.

"I realize that. I know about the past. I know it all, but you will go see him today. Either of your own free will or kicking and screaming. Whatever it takes. Here's his number. I'll make the call if you want."

"I?m not going to do anything of the kind."

"Oh yes you will." Connor laughed. "How you get there is up to you. Conscious? Unconscious? Makes little difference to me."

Adam took a deep breath and stared at the floor. Fine. If Connor wanted him to see Aaron, he would. They needed to get this over with anyway. Damn shame he wouldn't live to enjoy the cottage now that it was almost done. Agree to the meeting, Methos. Kronos' voice urged quietly. I'll go with you. You can take Aaron. You just have to remember everything I taught you. Now you'll truly understand why I was so hard on you. Now you will understand what you are. Methos nodded. "I will," he mumbled.

It was immediately obvious to both Duncan and Connor that Adam's response wasn't exactly keyed to Connor's statement.

"You will what?" Connor demanded.

"I'll call him and arrange to meet him. We need to get this resolved." Adam reluctantly took the phone number from Connor.

"Good." Connor offered an encouraging smile and slap on the shoulder.

Adam nodded then hurried up the stairs.

"You think this will work?" Duncan tapped nervously on his coffee cup.

"I don?t know. I do know that we can trust Aaron. And I know that Adam grows worse each day. His moods are too extreme. His eyes too haunted. Several times since we've been here, I've seen him look completely terrified, standing all alone. If we could at least get them to talk, Aaron could help him in so many ways. He's been through all of this himself."

"I just wish we knew what was causing this. Why now?"

"Like everything that haunts you- unfinished business." Connor grabbed up another muffin and left through the back door.

Once again Duncan found himself left with a kitchen full of dirty dishes. He surveyed the mess. "How do they do this to me? This is no way for the son of a clan chieftain to live."

 

Upstairs Richie had just slipped into his painting jeans and shoes. When he stepped back into the hall pulling his tee-shirt over his head he had the strangest sensation that he was being watched. Just before he started to pull the shirt down he thought he glimpsed someone in Adam's doorway. In the brief second that it took the shirt to pass over his field of vision that someone was gone. Thinking he heard voices in Adam's room, he peeked in the open doorway. He found only Adam talking on the phone. Maybe the guy on the other end had been talking rather loudly.

Adam hung up the phone and turned around. "What?"

"Did you see someone else up here a second ago?"

"Like who?"

Richie looked around for a moment, then stepped back into the hall and looked around.

"Richie, was it one of us?"

"No. I didn't feel anything. I just thought I saw something and heard a voice."

"I was on the phone."

"No, it didn't sound like you. Well maybe I'm just thinking too hard. Get dressed, we're burning daylight."

"Actually, I've got to go meet Aaron Knight."

"Why?"

"Ask our self appointed guardian angels." Methos picked up his long coat and felt for the sword inside.

"They're making you go fight him?"

"Yes, but they don't realize it. Actually they're suffering from this delusion that he and I have a lot in common and that he can help me. I don't know why they think I need help to begin with. I've done just fine up until now."

"I think they think he can help you deal with all of these memories you're having."

"The only way to deal with them is to forget them. I can't do that if I'm talking to someone about them all the time. Especially someone like him."

"Isn't it weird? I want to remember and you want to forget. You ought to consider yourself lucky."

"Well, I don't. And you might not either when you start remembering all the crap you went through." Adam brushed past Richie and bounced down the staircase.

Richie sighed deeply and ran frustrated hand through his short curls. He turned suddenly when he felt a cold chill touch his shoulder. The hall was empty. "Listen, I told you once. You stay in your world. I'll stay in mine. Maybe you're trying to scare me. Maybe you just want to be friends. I'm just not real comfortable with that, okay?"

Richie stomped down the stairs mumbling about psychopathic immortals, confused ghosts, vicious demons, and French Angels.

"That a new alternative rock group?" Duncan quipped catching only parts of what he was saying.

"Very funny." Richie let the screen door slam as he went outside to find Connor.

 

Methos watched as Aaron opened the creaky cemetery gate. A quick moment of apprehension filled him as he took note just how powerful the larger man was. Even dressed in 21st century clothing the man still looked the part of the warrior he was. The blond curly hair was cut short now. Like Methos he wore jeans and a loose pull over shirt. Methos wondered where he could possibly be hiding his sword. Aaron watched him curiously. That same all knowing, all wise look of three thousand years ago. Methos could tell that the former soldier still regarded him as nothing more than a servant.

"Where's your sword?" Methos asked before he realized the words were out of his mouth.

"I assumed I wouldn't need it. You asked to meet on Holy Ground." Aaron remained calm.

So damn self-assured. So in control. No fear. Always the reasonable one.

"You're still a fool, Aaron."

"Am I? Why?"

"Because, I only asked to meet you here to arrange a time and a place."

"We could have done that over the phone. Hell, you could have sent me an email."

"True, but I wasn't thinking too clearly this morning. Having spent the night with you."

"Excuse me?" Aaron smiled his confused amusement. "Gee, I must have had more wine than I realized."

"The entire night reliving what you did to me." Methos pulled his sword but Aaron only cocked his head slightly.

"You know, I don't remember you being such an unwilling participant."

"I was a slave. I knew what was expected. Don't try using your psychology on me. It won't work. I'm too far gone."

"After meeting Kronos, I figured that out myself. I am sorry."

"Oh, let me guess, if you had known, things would have been different, right?"

"No." Aaron shook his head. "Not entirely."

The anger rose in Methos' chest. "Just like that?"

"Do you want me to lie to you? Tell you that you misunderstood me? We both know what I was. We both know what you were. I believe that you've changed. Why can't you accept that I have? Because you're the victim in this case? Are you prepared to stand in my shoes when your old immortal victims come calling on you? Or did you leave any behind?"

Methos stared through Aaron, visions of Cassandra standing above him with Silas' axe. She wouldn't have forgiven him. She would have killed him, if MacLeod hadn't stopped her. And he deserved it.

"If you believe what I did to you is worthy of my death, if you believe that the way I've spent the last 3,000 years accounts for nothing, come with me."

"Right now?" Methos swallowed hard. Both MacLeods would kill him. There wouldn't be enough of him to go around.

"Right now."

It's a trick.

"You don't have your sword."

"No, I don't, but we both know I'm guilty. If it's an execution you want, you'll have it."

"You expect me to believe that you'll just let me kill you? Without a fight?"

"We both know I'm guilty." Aaron walked slowly to the edge of the cemetery. "Let's step off of holy ground and get this over with."

Careful, Methos.

"You're up to something." Methos followed sword in hand.

"No, but this is your only chance. If you don't do it now, you admit that you have no more right to judge me than I do you. You come after me again, and I'll kill you." Aaron left the cemetery a few feet and stood with his back to Methos.

Methos stood a few feet behind him, his knuckles turning white around the sword as he raised it in the air. Yes this man was worthy to die. He had been a cold-blooded killer, but then so had Methos. He had been a mercenary, but so had Methos. He had raped, burned villages, destroyed lives, but not nearly as many as Methos had.

Come onMethos. The man's a fool to trust you. He doesn't understand what you are.

"Tell me something, Methos. Who will be your executioner?"

Methos brought the sword down swiftly next to his side. He took in several convulsive breaths almost sobbing. Aaron turned around slowly, studying him. "Thank you."

Damn you, Methos! How could pass up such an opportunity.

Methos raised tear filled lashes and managed to speak through gritted teeth. "For what?"

"Mercy." Aaron clapped a hand on his shoulder.

"How? How did you know I wouldn't kill you?" Methos pulled away from his grasp still clutching the sword tightly in his hand.

"I didn't. I could only trust what I felt was the truth. Trust that you weren't the same person you were three thousand years ago." Aaron smiled in relief then turned and walked away back to the main campus.

Methos watched him walk away. There was a time when he could walk away like that. He'd spent the last two thousand years walking away from a fight, not lifting his blade no matter how he was challenged. Confident that he knew exactly who he was and who he was no more. Then suddenly it had all changed. Kronos had come back into his life. Kronos and Cassandra had both unearthed the skeleton he knew as Methos and exposed him to his friends as what he really was. A cold-blooded butcher of innocents. A burner of villages. A raving lunatic.

And then the most miraculous thing happened. MacLeod had saved his life. He had stood by him even when his common sense had told him to end their friendship. He had looked at what he believed to be the real Methos and found something worth salvaging. Something worth saving. He killed both Caspian and Kronos- not only to avenge Cassandra, but to save Methos. He had stopped Cassandra from killing him. He had begged for his life.

He had trapped him in his own guilt.

"If I judged him worthy to die, then I judged myself the same way. And I wanted to live."

And he was terrified of absolute death.

But MacLeod had judged Kronos and Caspian worthy of death. He himself had killed Silas- his friend. Had Silas truly been any more worthy of death than he had been?

"Oh, Methos! You think too much!" Kronos laughed behind his back. Methos turned around suddenly. Kronos stood there dressed in his usual black attire but this time of the 21st century. Jeans and leather jacket. Methos wondered why he wasn't hot in the heavy coat on this late summer afternoon. Kronos leaned against tall obelisk grave stone, arms folded in front of him shaking his head. "You have always been such a thinker. Now I've tried to tell you for five thousand years- quit thinking and just do it. Relax and enjoy the life fading in the grasp of your tightly clutched hands."

"Why are you here? Why won't you leave me alone?"

Kronos grew grim. "I told you I would come with you. I had hoped to watch you kill Knight. I can't tell you how disappointed I am, although, I am getting rather used to it now."

"Sorry to let you down. I can't kill him anymore than I can kill you."

"Really? Was there more to your relationship with him that you didn't tell me about? Let me see, which rescue was that anyway? There were so many. One would think you were letting yourself get captured just to get away from your brothers."

"Maybe I was." Methos raised his chin defiantly.

"Well you know what they say about greener grass. But you always came home. Always came running back- or kicking and screaming- depending on your mood and the treatment received by your captors."

"Until the last time."

"True. It took two thousand years to find you that time. Were you worried that I'd still be angry about that whole poisoning thing? About your continued attempts to run from me? Was I really that bad?"

"I couldn't live that life anymore. I couldn't keep killing innocent people. I couldn't stop you and I couldn't stand to watch. Everything I tried to do, everything I tried to understand or learn about you prevented. The only free thoughts you ever allowed me were how to plan the next raid."

"Yes, you were of but little use the last hundred years or so. Do you know what happened to you?"

Methos shook his head. "No. I just grew tired of it all. I suddenly understood what we were doing was wrong. I wanted to leave and find out about the world. About other ways. You knew I was beginning to understand and learn that we Immortals were not the rulers of this world. That the world belonged to mortals- not us! That mortals weren't here just for our amusement."

"Your heart grew back." Kronos nodded. "You became weak. You got soft. You practically became mortal."

"What is really so wrong with that? Why didn't you just kill me to begin with? Why did you have to- to- kill me again and again and again? Why did you have to make me the same as you?"

"Wonderful. Just when we were starting to get somewhere." Kronos looked up just as Methos felt the sensation of another immortal. "Knight is coming back. Maybe he decided he want's your worthless head after all."

"Get lost, Kronos."

"Why? He can't see me. Only those I choose to let me see me can."

"Methos," Aaron called from the side of the path. "Why don't you come inside? Come in and talk for awhile."

"Talk? About what?" Methos turned to look at him incredulously.

"Anything. I don't care."

"What could we possibly have to talk about, Aaron? The best way to kill a captive? How to burn a village?"

"How about living with those crimes for thousands of years?"

Methos laughed. "Have you got some wonderful secret you want to share with me? Dr. Knight's magic cure for guilt ridden immortals?"

"No. No snake oil. No quick fixes. How do you manage? How have you lived with it all these years? What have you been doing?"

"Somehow I don't think you and I sitting down over a glass of tea, chatting over old times in your office is too likely." Methos smiled sarcastically.

"Fine. We don't have to have tea and we don't have to go to my office. You name the time and place."

"I don't think so. I'm going home."

Aaron nodded. "If you decide you want to talk, my house is out on the Old Fort Road. It's a parsonage, the church hasn't been used in fifty years, but it's on Holy Ground. There's a cemetery, the whole works."

"Convenient. Take a head, bury the body?"

"Never thought about that, but I might keep it in mind." Aaron smiled. "Take my card, at least. Aaron stuck the card in Methos' hand. Give me a call."

"Not bloody likely."

To Part Six

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