Disclaimer: Sarah MacGregor and Kevin Drake (along with the colorful locals of Glenfinnan) belong to me. The rest are Rysher's and were borrowed without permission. As usual, I promise to give them back.
The man who used to be Adam Pierson was sitting in a bar in Rio with Connor MacLeod; tanned and relaxed from spending two weeks on the beaches and tickled with the knowledge that he had a flight to Seacouver booked in two days. It had been a rough year since he had last seen MacLeod; wrought with more sword fights and quickenings than he had dealt with in the past three centuries. He was tired of fighting. Tired of beating hasty retreats. Tired of not being able to talk to his friends for fear of endangering them. Tired of waking in strange beds alone and wondering where he was and which name he was using that week. In short, Methos was ready to go home, get Sarah and disappear into misty Highlands--or anywhere for that matter--so long as it was with her.
"She and the kid have gotten quite chummy," Connor said.
"Richie? That's to be expected. They've actually always been pretty close."
Connor shrugged; his attempt to bait the skinny Englishman had failed. In fact, the man had been just about immune to every attempt he had made.
"Nothing you can say will rile me up, MacLeod, I'm going home day after tomorrow," Methos added with a grin.
"Have you told them?"
"No, I think it would be more dramatic to just walk in, don't you?"
"You'd better hope you don't walk in on something you don't want to see," Connor said.
Methos shook his head. "Not going to work, MacLeod."
Connor laughed in capitulation, "Okay. So, what? Are you going to let yourself into her apartment and sit on the floor waiting to toss her a beer?"
Methos raised a hand to attract the waitress' attention and ordered another drink for both himself and Connor, "I hadn't thought about it really. Maybe I'll just walk into the back of one of her classes. Or maybe I'll get Dawson to trick her into thinking he's taking her to some nice restaurant and show up there myself. Or....maybe I'll let myself in while she's in the shower and hop into bed. Wouldn't that make for a nice reunion?"
"Ever the romantic, it's no wonder the women swoon over you," Connor chuckled.
"I have never once in my life seen Sarie swoon. I doubt she knows how."
"I saw her swoon once," Connor said. "It was a hundred and ten degrees in India and we had been out of water for two days. Swooned right off the back of an elephant and into a mud pit on the banks of a dry stream."
Methos laughed, then his face darkened. "How was she doing when you last saw her?"
Connor shrugged into his beer. "As well as can be expected. She was extremely worried about you, but pushing onward. She was just about to start taking some graduate classes...the English Department wants to give her a seat and offered her one if she'd get a doctorate."
"This'll be her fifth," Methos said.
Connor nodded. "I think she said something about Yeats."
Methos sipped his beer and smiled. Sarah had told him once that she and WB Yeats had been close friends. It was amusing to picture her debating with the many wizened Yeats scholars of the Literary World, none of whom had even the remotest of clues about her.
"And had there been a lot of people looking for me?" He asked.
Connor nodded. "Duncan took care of two, Sarah got the next three, then the kid got the one that nearly beat her."
"That's only six."
"I got the last one before he even found Sarah," Connor smiled.
Methos took a long pull on his beer and sighed. "Thank you for taking care of her."
"Taking care of her?" Connor snorted. "Like she'd let anyone take care of her! I was just trying to spare her the stress of a fight on top of writing another thesis. That's my story and I'm sticking to it."
"Regardless," Methos chuckled, "thanks."
They both looked up and toward the door as a buzz ringing through their heads announced the arrival of another of their kind. A tall Welshman made his way through the crowd and approached the table.
"I am Benjamin Thomas, which one of you is Methos?"
Connor snickered. "Methos is a myth, boy."
"I have been hunting Methos for nearly six hundred years. I'm no boy, and he's no myth."
Methos sighed and offered his hand. This was getting old. "Care to have a beer before we try to kill each other?"
"No, but I'll allow you the luxury of one last drink before I take you head. Meet me in the ruined station behind the Port Authority in one hour. And if you don't show, I have the name and address of someone in Seacouver whose lovely red head will be a pleasure to take."
Methos sighed again and nodded. "Let's go then."
Close to an hour later, Connor began to worry. Methos should be back by now. After all, he had promised another round of drinks. The Highlander tossed a crumpled bill and a fist full of change onto the table and headed for the door.
He arrived at the abandoned station too late. Burned out windows and the smell of smoke told him there had been a quickening and a fire long before the sound of sirens reached his ears. He ducked in though an open door and scouted the area. There wasn't much time.
Flames were still licking the fallen beams and dancing amongst the rubble. A long sword, broken off about ten inches from the hilt lay near a blackened pile of rafters and other debris. He approached it with his heart in his throat and examined it carefully. Methos' sword...the other half was about three feet away. This was not a good sign.
Connor crossed the floor to pick it up and tripped headlong over a pair of beat up Nike light hiking boots--burned, but still recognizable--sticking out from under the rubble. He gulped and looked around for what he desperately hoped not to find. The sirens were getting louder.
He scrambled to his feet and pulled away some of the lighter beams covering what he was praying only looked like Methos' body. Gaps in the pile revealed a familiar t-shirt with the University of Seacouver Fencing Team emblem on the pocket. The rest were too heavy to move. He glanced around again and saw what he had been looking for lying about four feet from where Methos' neck would be. It was blackened and damaged considerably from the fire, but the severed head had unmistakably large ears and what was left of a shock of brown hair.
Connor heaved a heavy sigh and tried to push the thought of having to break this news to Sarah out of his mind. She was strong, but not that strong. He grabbed the other half of the sword and tucked it into his coat before slipping out another exit as the sirens pulled up to the building.
Richie stood in the middle of his living room holding a lamp that doubled as a CD rack. He had just purchased it and was looking for a place to stow the treasure. Problem was, it didn't really go with the hardwood floors and plush throw rugs of Sarah's apartment. It clashed with the oil painting of a celestial calendar that hung on the wall near her favorite reading chair and did absolutely nothing for the antique steamer trunk next to the couch.
He'd been living there for nearly four months and had done next to nothing to personalize the apartment. She had given him free rein when she left Seacouver, the only stipulation being not to trash the place. But he was having a hard time dealing with the concept of making it his own. He hoped that Sarah would return once the pain of losing Methos had eased some and it was easier to believe that she would if the apartment remained close to the way she had left it.
He had added some pictures to the mantle; one of he and Sarah in the Glasgow airport that he had asked the guy at the rental car counter to take after their arrival on the trip to Glenstrae--she was looking tired from the journey, but happy to be back in Scotland. If he had known then how that trip would change his life and what would come to pass over the next year or so...well, he probably wouldn't have been wearing that stupid grin. Next to that sat one of he, Duncan and Methos taken by Sarah on an outing to the island. Methos looked a tad green from the canoe ride over, but he and Mac were holding up fish that they had later grilled and eaten outside by a fire.
Behind that one and to the left, sat one leftover from Sarah's collection. He had been more than a little surprised to see that the shot of her and Methos in the hammock on Anne's deck had remained behind when she left. It was a lovely picture of them doing a crossword...he supposed that maybe it brought back too many memories for her. Duncan had suggested that he put it away, but Richie had decided to leave it out. Just because Methos was dead, it didn't mean that he should forget about him and what he and Sarah had had. Mac had taken the whole thing pretty hard. Not only was it heartbreaking to watch Sarah try to cope, but it had undoubtedly dredged up memories of Tessa for him.
Richie set the lamp down and crossed to the mantle. Tessa. He hadn't known that Sarah and Tessa had ever met until Glenstrae, when their quickenings mixed. Later, Sarah had told him that, in the two hundred years that she had known Mac, she had never seen him love anyone like he had Tessa. There was a picture of he and Mac and Tessa that he kept on his night stand; a place where Duncan would not have to be confronted with it. Sometimes when he couldn't sleep, Richie would run the day the picture was taken through his mind. They had just returned to the states and were setting up the antique shop for re-opening. The ordinarily stylish Tessa was wearing a baggy t-shirt and shorts and had dust smudges on her cheeks and forehead. Mac was smiling and holding a dust cloth and he stood between them with a Big Mac in one hand and a Coke in the other.
Everything had been so simple then. There were no buzzes. No swords to learn to use. No Game. At least not for him. He was eighteen years old and the concept of life stretching endlessly before him had an entirely different ring to it. Not for the first time, Richie wished that he had been able to trade places with Tessa that night on the street.
Richie sighed and picked up the last picture from the mantle; a shot of he and Sarah at a party Joe had thrown shortly after Methos had left town. He was sitting on a stool at the bar and she had thrown her arms around his neck from behind to duck into the picture. She was wearing one of the few smiles that crossed her face in that period of time. It had been a rare moment of reverie in the midst of the emptiness and worry.
Now, Sarah was gone to parts unknown. Methos was dead. And so was Tessa.
"Tell me again," he asked the walls, "what's so great about this immortality thing?"
[Two months later]
Duncan looked up with a start as Richie's buzz hit. He had been on edge for over a year now, waiting for immortals to come hunting Methos or Sarah, and the stress was beginning to take it's toll. Things had been pretty quiet recently, but a buzz still raised his adrenaline level more than usual.
Richie smiled a greeting and sat down across the desk from him.
"You look tired," Duncan said.
"I haven't been sleeping very well. I keep having all these wild dreams about..." he trailed off. There was no need to tell Mac about his dreams of Tessa and Sarah.
Duncan sighed, "I miss her too."
Richie flushed slightly, he hadn't meant to say that aloud. "I...I've been thinking a lot about Tessa lately..."
"Both. I miss both of them. But it's a different kind of missing."
Richie nodded. It was one thing to miss someone who could walk through your door at any moment and quite another to miss someone who would never grace your presence again. He wasn't sure which was harder, though.
"What is the point in all this, Mac?"
Duncan shrugged, hoping that Richie wasn't slipping into a philosophical mood; that was a side of his personality that he had a hard time dealing with and in fact hadn't even known existed until Sarah had befriended the boy. He wasn't sure if it was a result of their mixed quickenings, or if Richie was just maturing, but it unnerved him slightly. Their dynamic was one of teacher to pupil, not equals.
Richie sensed Duncan's closed mood and shrugged himself.
"I don't know that there is a point, Richie. Even Methos said that he hadn't found one."
"Sarah told me once that she believed in fate...that everything happened for a reason. But for the life of me, I can't figure out the reasons behind all this."
"I don't know."
A moment of heavy silence fell and Richie wandered out into the dojo. He took two half-hearted swipes at the punching bag, then dealt it a vicious kick and stalked out the door.
From the office, Duncan heaved a sigh and tried to focus on the books
again. Another buzz distracted him not moments later. Convinced it was Richie returning, he didn't bother to look up.
"Good thing I'm not after your head," Amanda said.
Duncan jumped at the sound of her voice, but smiled. "What brings the lady thief back to my humble abode?"
Amanda dropped her suitcase and flopped into the chair Richie had so recently vacated. "Sarah told me about Methos and I figured you boys could use a little cheering up."
"You've seen her?" Duncan leaned forward, eager for news.
"She stayed with me in Paris for about two weeks, then left. No, I don't know where she went."
"How was she?"
"Sad, Duncan." Amanda sighed. "Is he really dead?"
"Connor saw the body."
"Maybe he was wrong. Maybe it wasn't Methos' body. He's been around a long time and must be good at faking his own death."
Duncan shook his head. "Connor saw the head. And he gave Sarah Methos' sword...it was broken."
Amanda sighed again. "He loved her so much...it's awful."
"This has hit you harder than you're admitting, hasn't it?"
Duncan looked up and forced a half smile. "I'm okay."
"No you're not. I know you, Duncan, you're not okay. None of us are okay."
He heaved a weary sigh. "I just wish that she had stayed around here."
"So you could protect her?" Amanda smiled. "When are you men going to realize that we can protect ourselves?"
Duncan shook his head. "No. That's not it. I just know what it's like to try to mourn alone. She needs to be around people who care for her and can help her through it."
Amanda got up and walked around behind his chair, then leaned down and wrapped her arms around his chest.
"She needs to mourn in her own way."
Richie looked up suddenly from the television, a buzz ringing in his head. He grabbed his rapier and crossed to the door, peeking through the peep hole to see Amanda waving at him.
"Amanda!" He yanked open the door and gave her a hug.
"Hey Richie, I thought you might need some company," she smiled, looking around the apartment.
"I was just about to watch a tape of last week's X-files, want to join me?"
Amanda shuddered. "That show gives me the creeps. It's just not natural. And it's not the same since the guy who played Mulder left."
Richie shrugged. He'd never been a big David Duchovny fan. The man was just too damn good looking. "I think Scully is one of us and I'm just waiting to see how she finds out."
Amanda walked past him and stood in the middle of the floor, examining the CD rack. "This is a nice spot...very accessible."
"I...I didn't know where to put it," he said.
"What this place needs is a woman's touch," she smiled.
"It already has one."
Amanda shook her head. "Richie, she may never come back. You should make this place your home. It's what she wanted."
"You don't think she's coming back?"
"I don't know," Amanda sighed. "But I wouldn't count on it. There are too many memories of Methos here for her."
Richie wandered over to the couch and sank down. "I miss her, Amanda."
"I know you do. You guys have a very special bond...I'm sure she misses you too."
He shrugged and kicked the leg of the coffee table rhythmically.
"Do you want to talk about it? I mean, Duncan isn't really very open about this kind of stuff and I'm sure it's brought up memories of Tessa for him."
"Did you know her very well?"
"Who? Tessa?" Amanda shook her head. "No. Not really. She was lovely though. She should have been one of us."
Richie nodded, unable to speak.
Amanda sat down next to him and lay an affectionate hand on his arm. "You must be having a rough time with all this....losing all these people who were so dear to you."
He sighed and nodded again. "I was just starting to get over Tessa's death...and then Methos...and then Sarah left and now I'm just not sure what the point to anything is. We're supposed to have all the time in the world, right? But Sarah and Methos only had seven months."
"I know. Life isn't fair some times, not even for us," Amanda said.
"Not only is it unfair, it downright sucks."
"It does sometimes, but you can't let that rule you. Yes, Methos and Tessa are dead, but you're not. Richie, you have the world to see...don't spend your life in mourning."
Richie opened his mouth, about to tell her that mourning was all he had been able to do lately, but the phone rang. He looked at it, but made no move to answer.
"Aren't you going to get that?" Amanda asked on the third ring.
Richie shook his head, whomever it was, he didn't want to talk to them.
"Hello?" Amanda said, picking up the receiver. "This is Amanda...Richie isn't....Oh!...How are you?...Good...I was worried about you....Yes, he's here, hang on."
She handed the phone to Richie, who shot her an inquisitive look.
"I think you'll want to talk to her," Amanda said with a smile. "And I'll be leaving."
"Hello?" Richie asked.
Across the line, a very familiar voice sounded. "Hey Kid, what's up?"
"Sarah?" Richie's face lit up. "Where are you? Are you coming home?"
There was a pause, followed by a sigh. "No, I'm not coming back yet."
"Oh. Well...how are you?" Richie leaned back and waved as Amanda slipped out the door.
"I'm okay," came Sarah's answer. "Have you trashed my apartment yet?"
"No," he laughed.
"Well, why the hell not?"
He sighed. "I was hoping you'd come back soon. I didn't want to mess it up."
"Richie, I'm not coming home any time soon. I can't," she paused and trailed off.
"Well, we miss you."
"I know. I miss you guys too. But I just can't be there yet. It's all still too raw."
"You're in Scotland, aren't you?"
"How'd you know?" She laughed.
"Your accent is coming back."
Close to an hour later, Richie hung up the phone and wandered around the apartment for a while, picking up objects that had no doubt been carried through the centuries in packs and trunks during Sarah's travels. Some of them belonged to Methos as well: a bronze statue of a crane, wings extended in a preflight dance, which Sarah had told him dated back to ancient China, and used to sit on one of the shelves in his many bookcases, now holding a place near the stereo. And a very strange looking piece of art--a black globe with colored dots that spun on a pedestal-- sat on her desk, rotating endlessly.
When he had asked her what it was supposed to be, she simply shrugged and said that perhaps it was the world's oldest Rubix Cube. Sarah had hated that thing when it resided on Methos' desk, but she had spent hours staring at it in the days before she had left Seacouver. Richie supposed she felt the same way about tokens of her past with Methos that he did about the items in her apartment. If they were left untouched and honored, it was easier to pretend nothing had happened.
[author's note: about the X-files....if we follow the timeline established in Long Lost, the year is now late 1998. It's perfectly reasonable, though very disheartening, to think that Duchovny might have left the show.]
[end part 1]
Richie was alone in the dojo, trying to focus his brain on a kata, when the buzz hit. He spun around to find a complete stranger standing in the doorway. The young man looked harmless enough in his chinos and knit sweater, but Richie remained wary.
"I'm looking for Sarah MacGreggor," the stranger said in an uppercrust British accent.
"She's not here," Richie answered.
"You're her student?"
"I'm her friend. What do you want with her?"
The other immortal crossed the floor and offered a hand. "I'm Kevin Drake, Sarah is an old friend of mine."
Richie shifted his sword into his left hand and shook hands with Kevin. "Richie Ryan."
"I heard about Methos and I wanted to give Sarah my sympathies, do you know when she'll be back?"
"She's gone out of town for a while."
The other man's face fell for a moment, but his expression shifted back to congeniality rapidly. "Oh, any idea where she might be?"
"No. But if she calls, I'll let her know you stopped by."
"Please do." Kevin smiled, "Tell me, are the rumors true about Methos?"
"That he really was five thousand years old?"
Richie shrugged. "I never asked him how old he really was."
"Imagine though, the power and knowledge you could amass in fifty centuries," Kevin smiled again.
"He always seemed like just a guy to me," Richie said. "And Sarah never really seemed impressed by his age."
Kevin chuckled. "She told me once about how they met in Scotland and traveled together. It must have been wonderful to have a love that lasted throughout the centuries like that, no?"
Richie shrugged again, eager to get back to his kata. This guy was boring him to tears...way too amused with himself. What was it about these elder immortals that made them think they we so damn interesting? He couldn't even imagine Sarah spending ten minutes with him, let alone talking about her travels with Methos.
"We spent some time together in London in the late 1800s," Kevin continued, "we'd walk along the Thames and she would go on for hours with her Methos stories. And the way she said his name...with such obvious love," he sighed.
London? The 1800s? Sarah had thought Methos to be dead then. And she hadn't been in love with him, at least not admittedly. Somewhere in the back of Richie's mind, alarms went off.
"It's funny though, to hear a name like Methos said with a Scottish burr," Kevin chortled. "Comes out sounding a lot like the Gaelic version of Merlin."
Sarah only called Methos by his real name when she was extremely angry with him. The rest of the time is was Petey, even when referring to him. And she *never* would have told his secret, not even if she believed him dead.
Richie raised his sword.
"Easy there," Kevin said, backing away a step.
"I don't know who you are, pal, but if you're hunting Sarah, you'll have to go through me first."
Every trace of congeniality fled from the other immortal's face. "Well, it certainly took you long enough. And Sarah's not the one I want, though I'd take her if I had the chance."
"Methos is already dead, you idiot." Richie said, watching as the other man produced a rapier from under his coat.
"If you believe that, you're a fool. Immortals like Methos don't lose fights."
"What about immortals like you?" Richie said, taking the first swing.
"I don't either."
Richie had scored several good cuts on his foe, and taken a good slice to his own thigh when the distraction of Duncan's buzz brought them up short. Duncan paused in the doorway, slightly shocked at the scene in front of him and fighting back the urge to get involved.
Kevin Drake backed away from Richie, his sword still raised. "Three's a crowd, don't you know," he said. "Be sure to give Sarah my regards."
"Stay away from her," Richie growled.
Kevin spun and pointed his sword at Duncan, who stepped out of the way as he passed.
"This isn't over!" Richie yelled. "I'll find you!"
Laughter and footsteps echoed on the stairs.
"Let him go," Duncan said.
Richie threw down his sword in frustration. "Would you?"
Mac sighed. "Come on up stairs, you need some time to heal."
Duncan sighed again. "He was looking for Sarah?"
"Doesn't he know?"
Richie shrugged and sat down on the floor, using his hand to apply pressure to the wound on his leg. "He thinks it was all faked."
Duncan crossed over and examined the wound.
"Do you think he could be right?" Richie asked.
"No, Connor saw it. And Methos would have sent more postcards to Sarah if he were still alive."
Richie nodded. "It's just so hard to accept that someone is dead when you don't have any real proof."
"There is proof. Connor saw his head."
"But I didn't. And Sarah didn't."
"You've never been to Antarctica, but you believe it exists, don't you?" Duncan asked.
"Mac, I'm in no mood to be philosophical," Richie snapped.
Inwardly, Duncan sighed with relief. "Your shirt's a mess. Come upstairs and get cleaned up."
"I've got clothes in my locker."
"You've been pretty rattled lately, are you okay?"
Richie shook his head. "It's all just so unfair."
"It's all part of the Game, Richie."
"Dame the Game, Mac! What is the point of having all this time to live if you can't spend it with the people you love?"
"Sarah and Methos knew what they were getting into," Duncan said.
"I'm not talking about Methos. I'm talking about Sarah. And Tessa."
"I don't really see how you can compare the two, they are totally different."
Richie shook his head again and looked under his hands at the rapidly healing wound. "For you, maybe. But not for me," he wiped his bloody hands on his shirt and sighed. "Mac, Tessa was more than just my friend. She was as much a mentor to me as you are. She was a mother, an aunt, and a sister all rolled into one. She understood me and treated me like an individual--not like Duncan MacLeod's sidekick boy immortal."
"And Sarah was the same way," Duncan nodded.
"Only more so, because of the whole mixed quickenings deal. She is part of me. Like we're twins or something. I feel all disjointed and weird when she's gone."
Duncan didn't know what to say. He had no way of comprehending what Richie was describing. There was no one in his long life that he had come even close to having that kind of bond with. Richie and Sarah were as close to bloodkin as two immortals could get. It was one thing to lose someone you loved with all your heart and soul, but quite another to lose part of your soul itself. Even though Sarah was presumably still alive and well, to Richie, her absence must be like a death of sorts. Only utterly lacking in closure. No wonder the young man had changed so drastically over the past months.
"I don't know, Mac," Richie stood. "I just don't know."
Duncan lay a hand on his shoulder and squeezed supportively. "Come upstairs for dinner?"
"Thanks, but I think I need to be alone for a while," Richie smiled the same smile that Sarah had when she told Mac she was leaving Seacouver. Resolute. Calm. Completely lacking mirth.
And his mentor watched with a grim frown as the younger man made his way into the locker room. Maybe Richie was thinking of leaving as well. He hoped not. Too many people had left, one way or the other, in the recent years.
Richie stood under the shower, his head against the wall and eyes closed as the blood washed from his skin and swirled down the drain. Sarah had taught him how to block a stroke like the one that had split his thigh open. Something like that would never happen to her. He played the fight over again in his mind, knowing that Drake would find Sarah eventually and she wouldn't make the same stupid mistake he had.
When the water ran cold, he toweled off and pulled on fresh clothing, wondering how many pairs of sweats he would lose to bloodstains before he lost a fight for real. And would anyone mourn him like Sarah was mourning Methos? Or even like he had mourned Tessa?
Mac had sent the lift down for him, but Richie shouldered his gym bag and walked slowly out of the dojo. Maybe it was time to start thinking about moving things around in the apartment a little bit. If only so the CD rack would have a home.
The telephone screamed in Richie's ear. He slammed his sleepy fist into the alarm clock. But the shrill noise was still ringing loudly. It was three fifteen in the morning. This had better be good.
"What?" He growled into the receiver.
The connection was terrible.
"Richie?" A voice crackled over the line. ".....Sarah.....there?"
"It's three am, who the hell is this?" Richie answered.
Richie yanked the phone away from his ear as a painful squawk sounded.
A long string of curses could be heard intermittently through the static. They were followed by one word that came quite clearly.
"Methos is dead, pal. Don't bother to come looking."
More crackling and curses.
"Look pal, if you come looking for her, you'll have to go through me first," Richie slammed down the phone and pulled it off the hook again. He was in no mood for another call from this freak.
Six thousand miles away, on a small island off the coast of Africa, the man who used to be Adam Pierson kicked the support post for the pay phone and swore loudly. He searched his pockets for change to make another call. MacLeod would be able to explain just why it was that Richie had answered Sarie's telephone in the middle of the night.
Three bottle caps. A SOG tool. Chapstick that had long melted in the heat. The remains of a roll of Butterrum lifesavers. A pencil stub and several small scraps of paper-one of which bore the phone number of the lovely woman who had been throwing herself at him the previous night. No change. He crumpled the papers and tossed them into a nearby trash can.
Dead? Richie had said that Methos was dead. He didn't remember losing his head. Nope. It was there. Wait. If Richie thought he was dead, so did Sarie. Shit. He kicked the post once more, for good measure.
How did that bit of misinformation make its' way back to Seacouver? Of course. MacLeod. The elder. Another long string of curses startled the passers by. He supposed it could have been an honest mistake. It had been a close fight and he had been wounded grievously. If Connor had come to the station and found his body...no doubt burned quite badly...and there was a head, not very far away from where his own lay hidden under a pile of fallen rafters...
Methos shuddered. That would explain why his sword had been missing. Either that, or Connor MacLeod was having a great laugh at this and cozying up to Sarie. He spun on his heel and strode rapidly back toward his hotel. He needed a flight out of there. Fast.
Methos arrived in New York on October the 15th and took a cab straight to Nash Antiques. It was after midnight, but he wasn't about to wait until morning. Smashing the glass with his elbow, he let himself in, waiting for Connor to greet him with drawn sword. The Highlander was never one to disappoint and arrived in the shop holding the katana poised for battle.
If Methos hadn't been so distracted by the rumors of his own death, he would have found the look on Connor's face to be worth more than a thousand words. As it was, he half expected Sarie to walk in wearing the top half of the Highlander's pajamas and wielding her rapier. But she never appeared over Connor's shoulder.
"Oh boy," was all Connor could say. He repeated the phrase twice.
"Is Sarie here?"
"What?" Connor shook himself out of the spell. "Sarah? No."
"Where is she?"
"I don't know. You're supposed to be dead."
"Yes, well, I'm not."
"I can see that."
Methos narrowed his eyes at the Highlander. "You're sure you don't know where Sarie is?"
Connor shivered. "It's cold down here, come upstairs?"
"You didn't answer my question."
"I don't know where she is. Nobody does. She left Seacouver about six months ago. She stopped here on her way out of the country, but I haven't seen or heard from her since."
"You'd better be telling the truth, MacLeod."
"Nobody knows where she is," Connor repeated.
Methos slumped forward. Sarie was somewhere, believing he was dead. They had done this before...only she hadn't been in love with him then. He didn't want to think about what she was going through.
"You look exhausted," Connor said. "Come upstairs and have a drink."
"I have to find her," Methos answered.
"Well, you won't find her tonight. Come upstairs and rest. Tomorrow is soon enough to start the search."
The following morning, Methos awoke on Connor's couch, yet again confused over time and place. A lifetime that spanned five millennia often brought such confusion, but this past year and a half had been worse than usual. He was forever waking in strange beds, hearing foreign languages, and wondering what day it was. Compound that with the aftereffects of so many quickenings, and it left one rather dazed at times. He stared up at the ceiling for a few minutes, trying to orient himself.
Just as the pieces of the past twenty four hours were beginning to fall into place, a pair of thick brow ridges appeared in his line of vision, followed by a sharp nose and unshaven chin.
"Coffee?" Connor asked.
"Wonderful idea." Methos sat up and threw the blanket back, shivering in the chilly air. This wasn't Africa, he'd have to remember to sleep in something more than his boxers.
"So," Connor said as Methos joined him at the table, "you still planning on crawling into her bed while she's in the shower?"
"Not funny, MacLeod," Methos grumbled.
"Didn't they have razors wherever the hell you were?"
Methos shrugged and took a long gulp from the steaming mug Connor set before him. "Adam Pierson was always clean shaven. People don't expect me to have a beard."
"You call that a beard? Looks more like a scruffy..."
Methos looked up, too weary of both heart and body to make a witty reply.
"Okay. I'll stop," Connor took the seat across from him. "Should we call Duncan?"
"No...I'll just catch a flight out later tonight. It's not like he'd be able to find her in the course of one afternoon," Methos paused to take another gulp of coffee. "But Dawson might," his face lit up.
Connor shook his head. "She told me Dawson had called off her Watcher."
"What?! Why would he do that?"
Connor met his gaze and held it hard. "Because she was in mourning and needed some time alone."
Methos clutched his head. "Oh God, what have I done?"
[end part 2]
Duncan was fumbling for his keys at the door of the dojo when the buzz struck him. Richie hadn't been around in the three days since his fight with Drake, so he doubted it was him. Amanda maybe. Or possibly even Sarah. But that wasn't likely.
He opened the door cautiously and stepped into the darkened room, reaching into his coat for the katana. The Highlander was on his back with a heavy knee in his chest before he had even touched the hilt.
"I am Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod, who are you?" He managed to croak out.
An eerily familiar chuckle sounded in the dark. "Haven't you come up with a better line than that yet?"
"Not funny, Methos," Duncan scowled and shoved the other man off, rolling to his feet. "Methos?!"
"You were expecting someone else?"
Duncan flipped on the lights and stared at the oldest living immortal with utter disbelief.
"Close your mouth, MacLeod," Methos grinned.
"You're supposed to be dead," Duncan stammered.
"Yeah, people keep telling me that. Got any beer?"
Duncan pointed to the lift and followed as Methos lead the way across the floor.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Richie asked, nearly dropping the bag of groceries he was carrying at the sight of who was sitting on the stairs to his apartment.
"Is that anyway to greet a person?" Methos smiled. "And please don't tell me that I'm supposed to be dead, I've heard that quite enough recently."
"You look like hell," Richie frowned, shifting the bag so he could get to his keys.
"You've looked better yourself," Methos responded, standing and following him into the apartment.
He stopped just inside the doorway and looked around, more than a little overwhelmed by being there again.
"Close the door, willya?" Richie asked, heading for the kitchen.
Methos nodded and shut the door softly behind him.
"She's not here," Richie said, watching as the older man's face worked through a series of emotions.
"I know. I came to see you."
Methos stood in the middle of the floor, feeling like an uninvited guest in a place where he had practically lived. Things had been moved around a little bit, but nothing had really been replaced. She could be at the grocery store. Or maybe working in her office at the University. Or possibly even napping in the bedroom. But she wasn't.
He wandered over to the mantle and examined the pictures Richie had so carefully arranged there, his eyes falling on the shot of Sarah and himself in the hammock. Methos took the frame and sank down onto the couch with a sigh.
They had been arguing playfully over a six letter word for fertile. Sarie was insisting that it was prolific and he believed it was fecund. She had scowled at him and told him that not even the New York Times knew what fecund meant. If he closed his eyes, he could still feel the weight of her back against his chest and hear the breeze and little Mary's babblings in the background.
Richie got out two beers, but left one sitting on the counter. He took a seat on the hearth, trying to decide just how angry he really was with this dead man sitting on his couch.
"You mind telling me what the hell happened in Rio?" he asked.
Methos opened his eyes and looked at the younger man, wondering what had transpired between Richie and Sarah while he had been away. He sighed and told the story of waking up, extremely disoriented in the morgue in Rio. Benjamin Thomas' quickening had rattled his brain pretty good and it took him nearly three weeks to sort out his own memories and identity. Since then he had fought and killed three more men and one woman, all in the span of a month. Then, quite suddenly, people had stopped coming for him. He spent the next few months getting his affairs in order and creating a new identity yet again. Then, on his way back to Seacouver at long last, he had placed the phone call to Richie
"And you had no idea that we all thought you were dead?" Richie asked.
Methos shook his head. "I wouldn't have let Sarie believe it, had I known."
"Well, she does."
"I know. And that's why I have to find her."
"Maybe she doesn't want to be found," Richie said.
"Do you know where she is?"
Richie shook his head. "No idea. I haven't heard from her in months."
It was, of course, a blatant lie.
"I thought for sure she'd keep in touch with you," Methos sighed.
Richie opened his mouth, considering recanting his previous statement. But the image of Sarah sobbing on the dojo floor popped into his head and stopped him. He wrestled briefly with opposing emotions.
Sarah had been so hollow in the month before she left Seacouver...he knew that her light would return with Methos. But, this scruffy man sitting on his couch was the sole cause of most of the pain he and his circle of friends had been coping with for nearly two years... if he just killed him now, it would all really be over at last. And Sarah need never know.
"I don't think I like the expression on your face," Methos said. "Thinking of trying for my head?"
"You're already dead, who would know?" Richie answered in a voice cold enough to shock even himself.
Methos cocked an eyebrow Richie's way. "You can stop taking care of her now. I'm back."
"Just like that? You waltz in here after two years--after letting her think you were *dead*--and now you want everything back to normal?"
Methos nodded. "Just like that."
"It's not that easy," Richie snapped.
Richie stood and crossed to the door, yanking it open. He looked pointedly at Methos, then retired to the bedroom.
Methos was roused from his nap by the sensation of another immortal traveling to the loft via the lift. He threw back the blanket and reached for his sword instinctively, then remembered where he was and who it was likely to be. MacLeod would still be at the University, but Richie might be on his way to a mooched dinner. Or maybe it was Sarie. But not likely.
"Could you get the gate please?" Amanda asked from behind two grocery bags. "Duncan? The gate?"
Methos crossed the room and pulled it up, stepping out of the way as she headed for the kitchen.
"I thought we could have shrimp curry tonight, with green beans and a nice cucumber salad to cut the spice," she said. "Sound okay?"
"Lovely. Except for the cucumbers. They repeat."
Amanda spun around and would have dropped the bags, had he not leapt to catch them.
"Hello, Amanda," Methos said with a grin.
She stood slack jawed as he set the groceries on the counter, then flung herself into his arms.
"Methos! God! It's you!"
"Whatever did you do to your hair?" He asked, tousling the short platinum blonde locks. "Do you have renegade Watchers after you again?"
"*My* hair? Look at you! Grizzly Adams," Amanda said, tugging at his beard. "Oh Methos, it's so good to see you."
He smiled and released her. "It's good to be seen."
Amanda's hands flew to her mouth. "Oh God, what about Sarah?"
Methos shook his head.
She opened her mouth to mention Richie's recent phone call, but decided not to. Methos would have already gone to Richie looking for Sarah. There must be a reason the younger man hadn't shared his knowledge. Though...maybe Richie didn't know where she was. No. It had been obvious from the lilt in her voice that Sarah was somewhere in Scotland.
Instead, she hugged him again and brushed the hair from his forehead. "You'll find her. And when you do, she'll throw herself into your arms and you'll live happily ever after."
"You think so?"
Amanda nodded. "I know so."
"If I were Sarie, I'd be livid."
Amanda shrugged and turned back to the counter to begin unpacking the groceries. "She'll get over it."
Methos smiled from behind his beard and took the shrimp from her to place in the refrigerator.
"And she'll find that rugged look you're sporting positively impossible to resist. You'll be lucky if she lets you out of bed to eat."
"I like to eat in bed," he grinned.
Amanda handed him two cucumbers and a container of yogurt, momentarily entertaining the thought that Sarah would be very lucky to know what that beard would feel like against her neck.
"Yes, I'm sure you do," she said.
Joe Dawson leaned back into the overstuffed couch and watched Methos pace a circle around Richie's living room. He looked both at home and completely uncomfortable at the same time. Certainly the immortal had spent his fair share of time in what used to be Sarah MacGreggor's apartment, but it had been almost seven months since she had last graced the threshold and Richie had begun to make it his own.
"I can't believe you just let her go off without a Watcher!" Methos exclaimed.
"I can't believe *you* let her think you were dead," Joe responded.
Methos spun on his heel and barked his shin on the coffee table, which should have been six feet to the left. He swallowed an oath and glared at Joe.
"I had no idea she thought I was dead."
"Well, you could have at least picked up the telephone every once in a while," Joe said.
Richie chuckled from the kitchen, but chose not to get involved in the conversation.
Methos scowled deeply. "Well, so I'm a jerk."
"You said it, not me," Joe grumbled.
"Let's stick to the topic at hand, shall we?" Duncan offered.
Methos looked around the room and sighed. The couch was where Sarie's favorite reading chair should be and the antique steamer trunk was now home to one of two incredibly large speakers. Richie's rapier hung over the mantle in the hooks that should be holding hers. A basket of dirty laundry sat near the bedroom door, which was mercifully closed. He didn't want to think about how the bedroom might have changed, or what might have transpired in there in the time that he had been gone.
"So no one has any idea as to where she is?" Methos asked.
"I'm sure we can put our heads together and come up with a list of likely places," Duncan said.
Richie looked up from the sandwich he was making, but again, said nothing.
"Would she have gone to Glenstrae?" Duncan continued.
Methos stopped pacing to examine the racing trophy that sat where Sarie's clay oil lamp used to be. "I doubt it. She might have passed through there when she first left, but she wouldn't have stayed for long."
He looked around for the lamp and finally spotted it on the top shelf of the bookcase by the door.
"She called me from Germany a few months ago to tell me that she had killed Paul Ito in Japan and Gunter Schlieren in Lindau...both of whom were looking for Methos here," Joe said, jerking his thumb at the immortal.
"Lindau," Methos sighed. "That figures. I'm sure she spent some time in Kyoto at Temple as well."
"Amanda said she stopped in Paris for a couple of weeks," Duncan offered.
"Where would you go if you were her?" Joe asked.
Duncan shrugged and Methos flopped onto the couch at the far end.
"We've covered all the places I would have gone if I were her," Duncan said.
The immortal shook his head. "I'd go somewhere that didn't remind me of myself."
"What?" Richie asked on his way to the hearth, his mouth full of turkey and rye.
"If I were Sarie, I would go someplace that didn't remind me of Methos."
Richie nodded and sat down on the bricks.
"So, if we get out a map and cross off all the places you two ever were together, that should narrow it down," Duncan said.
Methos chuckled. "We've been everywhere in Europe, through most of Asia and just about all of Africa. About the only place we haven't been together is New Jersey, and I doubt she's there."
"What about Australia?" Duncan asked.
Joe shook his head. "She was sent to Australia as a penal colonist, I doubt she'd return there on her own."
Methos nodded in agreement.
A heavy silence fell and Duncan got up to pace.
"She'll come back, you know," he said after a few minutes.
Methos sighed into his beer. "I can't wait that long."
"Joe, I think I know where Sarah is," Richie said, drawing designs on the bar with the water from the condensation ring on his glass.
Joe nodded. "I figured as much. You were awfully quiet the other night."
"Do you think Methos noticed?"
"I doubt it, he's pretty distracted."
Richie nodded and drained the glass, pushing it toward Joe for a refill.
"Are you going to tell him?" Joe asked, pulling on the tap.
"I don't know. I mean, it's not like I have a street address or anything...I just have this hunch that she's somewhere in the Highlands."
"You think?" Joe handed him the glass and watched as he drained it halfway.
"Yeah. It's where I'd go, if I were her."
"And part of you is."
Richie nodded again.
"If he finds out you're holding back on him..."
Richie shrugged. "I can't help but feel like he just doesn't deserve to know."
"We're all pretty mad at him right now...but don't forget that *Sarah* deserves to know that he's alive."
"Why? So he can leave and pull the rug out from under her feet all over again?"
Joe smiled. He had the same urges to protect Sarah, only his were slightly less grounded.
"She's not a kid, Richie. She's perfectly capable of making her own decisions. And she's in love with him. They've been given another second chance and she has the right to take it."
Richie sighed and nodded, staring into his beer.
"You have more than just a hunch, don't you?"
"Yeah. She called me a about two weeks ago. She's in Glenfinnan."
"Right under our noses," Joe chuckled. "Did she leave you a number?"
"No. She just wanted to see how I was doing."
"Maybe I should send someone over to watch her."
Richie shook his head. "If she were ready to be watched again, she would have told you."
"It happens sometimes," Richie smiled.
"He deserves to know," Duncan said from across the desk in the dojo office.
Joe nodded. "Richie won't tell him, and I won't either."
"He's had a rough time as it is, I'm sure it wasn't easy for him."
"Well, it wasn't easy for us...and it certainly wasn't easy for Sarah," Joe said.
Duncan sighed and propped his feet up on the garbage can. "Joe, he's not perfect. He's as human as you and I...and he's paying for his mistakes. He knows he should have called her or sent word more often, but he had his reasons not to...and I think she'd understand."
"I can't say as I would."
"You're not the one great love of his life."
Joe chuckled, "No, I'm not."
"Thank God," Methos said from the doorway. "I can't say as you'd be pleasant to wake up with, Dawson."
Duncan smiled. "How much did you overhear?"
"Just the part about Joe being the love of my life," Methos said, cracking a smile and leaning against the doorjamb. "I take it you were talking about Sarie?"
Joe and Duncan exchanged a look that ended with Joe heaving a sigh.
"Richie knows where she is," Duncan said.
Every trace of casuality and humor drained from Methos' face in an instant. "Where?"
"I don't know. But she called Richie a few days before you showed up."
Methos inhaled deeply and let it out with a sigh. "Where is he?"
Duncan was about to tell him that he had no idea where Richie was, but they were distracted by the sensation of the young immortal's arrival.
"Hey guys," Richie got halfway across the dojo floor and stopped in his tracks as Methos turned to face him. He'd never seen the older man sporting an expression as serious and potentially deadly.
"Where is she?" Methos asked.
"Who?" Richie responded, hoping to buy some time while he figured out a plan.
Richie shook his head and took an involuntary step backwards as Methos strode across the floor towards him.
"You knew all along and you weren't going to tell me, you little..." Methos grabbed the front of Richie's coat and shook him. "*Where* is she?"
In a move that came instinctually, Richie wove his arms through Methos' and snapped the hold, catching his wrist in a strong grip and twisting hard. Much to his surprise, Methos dropped to one knee to avoid the pain of a broken bone.
"Why should I tell you?" He growled.
"I don't want to fight you, Richie," Methos looked up at him. "I just want to know where Sarie is."
"No way. You were off doing lord knows what with lord knows whom while *I* was here watching her grieve for you. You don't deserve to know where she is. You don't deserve to even walk the same streets as she does."
"You think I was enjoying myself? Having a little vacation?!" Methos snapped. "There wasn't one minute that I wasn't worried sick about her."
"Yeah well, how was she supposed to know that when she thought you were *dead*?"
Methos swept his left foot out to the side and Richie crashed to the floor. Before he could roll away--before he could even catch his breath--there was a knee in his back and a hand yanking his head upwards.
"I don't need you to remind me of my mistakes," Methos snarled. "And if you don't tell me where she is, we can take this to swords."
"Not in my dojo, you won't," Duncan said from the office door, holding his drawn katana.
"You can kill me, but then you'll never know," Richie said flatly.
"Don't tempt me," Methos responded.
"She's in Glenfinnan," Joe said from behind Duncan's shoulder. "Now let the kid up."
"Is that true?" Methos asked, digging his knee deeper into Richie's kidney.
"Go to hell," Richie groaned.
"I've already been there," Methos said, releasing Richie's head and standing.
"It's true," Joe said.
"Do you have her phone number?" Methos asked Richie.
The young immortal got to his feet and straightened his clothing before answering. "Even if I did, I wouldn't give it to you."
Methos looked to Joe, whose nod told him there was no way of reaching Sarah without getting on a plane.
"If she calls, tell her I'm on my way," he said.
[end part 3]
Sarah spent her first three weeks away from Seacouver sitting Zazen in a temple in Kyoto, Japan. Only the oblivion of deep meditation provided a place that wasn't still raw from the pain of losing Methos again. She knew she couldn't stay on holy ground forever, but the solace of replacing memories with echoes of temple bells was a hard one to leave.
>From Kyoto, she traveled to Lindau, Germany--the place she had lost him the
first time. Lake Constance was as beautiful and blue as ever and she spent days walking along the shores. She took the ferry to Mainau for an afternoon and sat up on deck in the cold wind while her fellow passengers huddled in the cafeteria for warmth. Six hundred years ago it had taken her and Petey nearly two days to sail to the small island. He had been seasick the entire time, leaving her to deal with negotiating their fare and convince the ship's crew she was, in fact, not part of it. Mainau hadn't changed much in the six centuries since they had taught the Duke's son how to fight and ride. Strange winds from the Alps still allowed tropical fruit trees to grow at a latitude where it should be next to impossible.
The first time around she had been enchanted by the flowers that were so strange to her and could never grow in the Highlands. Petey had talked of another island, off the coast of Africa, where there were even stranger beauties to behold. The flower were still beautiful. Africa rang hollow.
She took another ferry to Bregenz, Austria--merely a stone's throw from Lindau--and ate an entire Toblerone while sitting on a stone bench watching school children make chalk painting on the cobbled sidewalk. Petey had complained about the food in the Lord's house in 1247, but she had always loved the stone city.
Sarah made a brief stop in Paris to visit with Amanda, but found the other woman's sympathy to be too much to bear. Her mood seemed to lend itself toward making pilgrimages to honor the dead and she found herself in Glenstrae, standing in the grassy mounds that hid the ruins of her village. This was where it had all begun. She had come riding over that hill one autumn day, laughing with her young husband, to find the village in flames. Men dragged them from their horses. There were hours of fear and pain and humiliation. And then she woke from the dead to find Petey smiling at her. If she wandered into the nearby trees, she could probably find the very spot he had be sitting in when he told her what she was and offered to teach her to fight.
For the first time since the day in the dojo, when Connor's phone call had changed her world forever, Sarah wept. What good was having all of Time at your feet if it could only move forward and away from what you loved?
Young Ethan MacGreggor recognized the solitary figure standing on the shores of the loch, but made no move to approach his kinswoman. Something in the set of her shoulders spoke of great sadness and he knew that she had not come home for any reason that related to his world.
Staying in Glenstrae was not an option. But there was an aching in her soul that could only be filled by time spent breathing crisp Highland air. So, she returned her hair to it's natural ashe blonde, let her burr return, changed her name to Deirdre Pierson and moved to Glenfinnan. Sarah knew that odds were high that Duncan or Connor would cross her path eventually. But that was all right. She wasn't in hiding; merely starting anew, like she had so many times before.
She rented the converted hayloft of a farm near the ruins of Connor's old home. It had a lovely view of the loch from her bedroom window and came partly furnished with a comfortable couch and huge oak desk. She bought a bed and some other essentials and told the locals she was a graduate student on leave. Not only was it true, but it was as good a cover as any when you were perpetually twenty something. Sarah planted a garden and spent time in Connor's ruins, trying to forget. Mostly, she poured through Petey's journals long into the night and remembered. Part of her rent was to tend the farm's horses, which provided a pleasant distraction from her grief and gave her the opportunity to take long rides into the countryside.
Rachel MacLeod told her stories of a mysterious man who had appeared a few years ago and defeated a Norseman in a series of events that played straight out of legend. She spoke of this Duncan MacLeod very fondly and told Sarah of the time a skinny Englishman had come to beg the MacLeod family sword from her to aide Duncan in some way. Sarah had smiled into her beer at the thought of Petey charming this stubborn woman into lending him the heirloom. She had been in Seacouver at the time, helping Richie pick up the pieces after his near death at Duncan's hands. And Adam Pierson had been traveling with the dying Alexa, trying to give the young mortal a taste of the world before she was lost to it forever.
Three months passed like a week and she began to forget the small details of Seacouver. She missed Duncan and Joe and the ease of their friendship. She missed Richie, who was as much a part of her as her own limbs. But the ghosts that had given her cause to leave town had begun to recede into memory at last. And that bit of peace was worth being lonely.
Rachel and she often rode together and Sarah listened patiently as the young woman pointed out landmarks and told of local legend and history. It was actually rather fascinating to hear them from her perspective. They often spent hours in conversation in Sarah's loft or down at the inn and were becoming close, despite the fact that Rachel felt there was a part of this Deirdre Pierson that she would never know.
It all became clear to her one afternoon in the loft as she spotted a stack of journals written in a man's hand sitting on Sarah's huge desk.
"You're husband was lost then?" She asked, turning the pages of one, but not reading.
"Almost," Sarah responded.
Sarah shook her head and set the teapot down on the coffee table. "Almost my husband."
Rachel gripped her hand supportively and decided that later would be a better time to ask more questions.
Sarah smiled. "Me too."
"I knew you had to have lost someone. No one as young as we are carries such a great sadness without reason."
Sarah shrugged and pointed out the window at the pasture, where the horses were galloping up hill toward the better grass. "How can I be sad when there are wonders like that to behold?"
"Had the strangest visitor today," Angus MacLeod, the local Historian and Librarian said.
"Really? Who then?" James Campbell, the Vet replied.
"A young man from the University down in London. Askin' if I knew a Sarah MacGreggor."
>From her spot at the end of the bar in Rachel's inn, Deirdre Pierson's ears
"An' what did ye tell him?" James asked.
"That the only Sarah MacGreggor I knew of was hung during the Jacobite Rebellion."
"An' what did he say to that?"
Angus shrugged. "Nothin'. He just laughed an' thanked me."
"Strange," James nodded. "Care for another pint?"
"Don' mind if I do, thank ye," Angus said, draining his glass. "Tis fit for neither man nor beast out there tonight...what better way to pass the time?"
Sarah scowled into her beer. This was not good. Odds were that young lad from London was either a Watcher, or another immortal looking for Methos. She was tired of telling people he was dead and having to kill them anyway because they didn't believe her. Maybe it was her Watcher, finally catching up to her. Good old Roger.
All hope for that was dashed as a buzz ran through her head, followed by the sound of the door closing and boots tramping off rain and mud in the entryway.
"Well, I'll be," Rachel said.
"What?" Sarah asked without turning around. She wasn't in the mood for a fight, though certainly it was inevitable. And her sword was at home.
Duncan and Connor, and most especially Petey, would undoubtedly chastise her for that, but they weren't here. And she was tired of tucking it inside trench coats and worrying about someone seeing it at the wrong time and place. And maybe, just maybe, she was tired of carrying it all together.
"Haven't seen that one in a while."
Sarah wondered if it might be Duncan and spun on her stool to see. Her half empty glass shattered loudly as it hit the floor.
A tall man with three weeks worth of beard on his chin stood in the doorway. His dark hair spilled over the upturned collar of his trench coat by an inch or so and he was scanning the room, looking for the source of the ringing in his head. When he found it, the duffel he was holding crashed to the floor and a slow grin spread across his face.
Sarah wanted to fling herself into his arms, but disbelief held her rooted in place. Instead, he wove his way through the locals and took both her hands, kissing them alternately.
"Hi, Sarie," he said.
"Oh Petey, this had better be good," she answered.
Methos smiled and pulled her into a hug, reveling in the fact that she still smelled the same. Sarah was too busy trying to keep her emotions in check to notice that he was sniffing her neck repeatedly and people were beginning to stare.
Rachel cleared her throat and smiled. "Deirdre Pierson, you never told me ye knew the skinny Englishman."
"Pierson?" Methos whispered in her ear with a chuckle before releasing Sarah.
"Come to charm me out of the deed to my estate this time?" Rachel asked.
Methos smiled. "No, I've found what I came looking for this time."
"I can see that," Rachel smiled again and nodded at Sarah, who was looking dazedly at the pattern on Methos' sweater. "Now, get out of here, the both of you, before more of my good glasses get broken."
Sarah snapped back into the present. "I'm sorry Rach, I'll get it." She stooped down and began to pick up the shards.
"Don't you be doin' that when it's obvious yer Petey here wants to be alone with you," Rachel said, "Go on, get out of here."
Sarah smiled another apology and grabbed her coat as Methos pulled her toward the door.
"Where's your car?" He asked, flipping up his collar again as they stepped outside.
Sarah pulled up her own against the rain and glanced around as lightning flashed. "I walked down. Where's yours?"
"I took a bus in. So, you're close by then?"
Sarah shook her head. "About four miles."
"Four miles?! Sarie, it's pouring!"
"If decapitation in Rio didn't kill you, I doubt a little rain will either," she said, starting up the road.
Methos hefted his duffel, but stopped short and pulled her into another hug. "You're not mad?"
"I'm furious," she said, resting her chin on his shoulder. "But right now I'm still in shock, so you had better take advantage of it."
He squeezed her tighter. "I didn't know you thought I was dead. I just found out. God Sarie, I'm so sorry you had to..."
Sarah pulled back and put a finger to his lips. "We'll sort it out later, okay?"
They walked in silence for most of the way. Sarah was taking long strides that flung mud up onto the back of her jeans and kept her back to him, leaving Methos to wonder if it was a product of the horrible weather, or if her shock at seeing him was wearing off and being replaced by anger. He shifted the duffel on his shoulder and lengthened his own stride to catch up.
Sarah stopped suddenly and turned to face him. She seemed about to speak, but shook her head instead.
He looked more than a little bit like a drowned rat and was a tad leaner than he had been when they last saw each other. Sarah had never seen him with anything more than a few days worth of stubble on his chin...if she didn't know the depth of his eyes so well, this could be a perfect stranger standing before her in the middle of a thunderstorm. Maybe it was. Methos was dead. Connor had seen the body.
"It's just around the bend now, " she said finally, and turned back to the road.
Methos shrugged and followed. He guessed that he would be reacting the same way, were he in her shoes. And the only one who had been instantly happy to see him since his return from the grave had been Amanda. Even MacLeod had lectured, though the Highlander was prone to pontificate.
A few minutes later they arrived at the farm Sarah was living on and she led him through the stables and up a rickety flight of stairs into the loft.
"There are towels in the bathroom," she said. "Do you have dry clothes?"
Methos nodded and looked around the room as she took the stairs to the lofted bedroom two at a time. The apartment was spacious, but cozy, with a polished hardwood floor and plants on the window sills. To his left was a small kitchenette with dirty dishes stacked on the counter. Across the room and near the wood stove sat a huge desk strewn with papers and books that buried the keyboard of a computer. A neat pile of split wood sat stacked near the hearth and he had no trouble imagining her outside with rolled sleeves and a splitting axe.
Above his head, he heard the sound of wet jeans hitting the floor and a dresser drawer opening.
"The bathroom is to the left of the door we came in," Sarah called, eliminating all hope of him taking the stairs and falling into bed with her.
She came thudding down them moments later wearing fresh jeans and a sweatshirt and smiled at him tentatively.
"You're just going to stand there dripping on my floor and gawking at the place?"
"I have to go check on the horses, I'll be right back," she said over her shoulder as she disappeared out the door.
Twenty minutes later he had changed and gotten halfway into a bottle of beer and she hadn't returned. Another ten passed while he thumbed through a copy of "Franny and Zooey" that sat on the arm of a chair. There were notes in the margins, but he wasn't particularly interested in symbols that college students would build papers around. Methos paced around the loft twice, then decided to go find her.
He didn't have far to look. Sarah was sitting three steps from the bottom of the entryway with her head in her hands. He descended quietly and sat down on the step above her.
"You let your hair go blonde again," he said.
She nodded. "It's been this way for about three months now."
Three months ago he had been in Greece, sipping coffee and watching the sunrise, while she was picking up the pieces of her life.
"Did you get the postcards I sent?"
Sarah nodded again. "They stopped coming after..."
"I know. I'm sorry. Things were crazy for a few weeks and I was all over the place."
Sarah sighed and turned to lean against the wall, stretching one leg out across the stair and tucking the other knee under her chin. "And I don't suppose there were any telephones anywhere along the way?"
"If I had called you, I wouldn't have been able to stay away. And I couldn't put you in that kind of danger."
Sarah's expression hardened. "I killed three people in Seacouver, one in Japan and another in Germany, all of whom were looking for you. Don't talk to me about putting me in danger."
"I've killed more people in the past year and a half than I had in the previous three centuries. Almost every single one of them mentioned you. Do you have any idea what it was like to have to wonder if you were still alive?"
As soon as the words came out, he regretted them. But, to his surprise, a smile found its way to her lips.
"A slight idea, yes," she said.
Methos chuckled. "Sorry."
"So," she said after a moment of silence, "who are you this week, Petey?"
"Well, since you took the name Pierson without my help, I guess that means I should be a MacGreggor," he smiled.
"Methos MacGreggor," she chuckled, thinking of the Gathering in Glenstrae. That had been a pivitol point in their relationship.
"Actually, that's probably not the best choice for a first name right now. How about Peter?"
Sarah smiled for a moment, then quite suddenly burst into tears. He moved down to pull her into a hug, but she held up a hand.
"It's not that easy, Methos."
Sarah stood suddenly and wiped her eyes on her sleeve. "I need to take a walk...I'll be back."
"Let me come with you."
She shook her head. "You haven't been here to walk with me for over a year. I don't need an escort now."
Methos sank back onto the step, stung by her words. He looked up at her and chewed on his lower lip for a moment, then heaved a sigh and got to his feet, trudging back up the stairs.
Sarah shoved her feet into the green wellies she kept at the base of the stairs for barn chores and grabbed her raincoat from the peg on the wall. Her sword was upstairs next to the bed, but she couldn't face Methos again right now. She slipped into the barn and out the back door, heading up the hill toward the ruins of Connor's old home.
>From an upstairs window, Methos watched her stride up the hill, illuminated
by lightning flashes. When she vanished over the rise, he sighed again and looked around the apartment. With the exception of his journals, there was nothing there that had come from their life together. There wasn't much there at all really in the way of creature comforts; she must have left Seacouver carrying minimal baggage.
He sifted through the papers on the desk and realized that she was knee deep in a thesis about the changing themes in WB Yeats' poetry as he railed against the aging process. He had met Yeats once, at a lecture in California in the mid 1930's when the poet was already an old man. Sarie had known him well in his youth and Methos harbored suspicions that some of the poems believed to be written for Maude Gonne were actually for Sarah, but she wouldn't comment on it.
He scratched his chin and looked at a picture of Thoor Ballylee that had cryptic notes scrawled on it in Sarie's handwriting. This beard was getting annoying, maybe it was time to shave. Maybe she would be more receptive to him if he looked more like himself. He wandered into the bathroom and searched the shelves.
It took him close to an hour to return his face to its' normal state, during which the storm finally broke. He borrowed some lotion that smelled like her from the cabinet and wandered around a bit more before settling into the kitchen to do the dishes. After he had washed and dried them and hunted around for their storage locations which were, as always, in the least logical place she could find to put them, Methos glanced at his watch. It was after midnight and there was still no sign of her. He considered going out after her, but there was no telling where she was or what kind of mood she would be in. It was better to wait and let her return on her own. He opened another beer and sat down at the desk to read through her paper.
Sarah arrived home three hours later, soaked to the skin and freezing. She entered the apartment to find Methos asleep at the desk, his head buried amidst books and drafts of her thesis.
Sarah smiled, it was extremely familiar and natural to see him asleep over a desk. She removed her coat and boots as quietly as possible, turned off the overhead lights, and ducked into the bathroom for a hot shower. When the water ran cold she pulled on her pajamas and robe and tiptoed out into the living room, still shivering.
Sarah spun at the sound of his voice behind her and struck out instinctively, but he grabbed her fist before it could make contact with his body.
"God Petey, don't do that!"
"Sorry," he said. "Your hands are still cold."
Sarah shrugged. "Highland rainstorms will chill you to the bone."
"Want me to light a fire?"
Sarah shook her head and pulled her hand away. "I'll be fine."
He sighed and let his hand drop to his side. "Are you going to shut me out again?"
Sarah echoed his sigh and clicked on the nearest lamp, inhaling sharply at the sight of his clean shaven face.
"My God, it really is you," she breathed.
Methos smiled. "You were expecting someone else?"
"I was expecting you to be *dead*."
"Well," he smiled again, "I'm not."
"I can see that." She crossed over to the couch and flopped down, drawing a blanket around her shoulders.
Methos hovered at the foot of the couch, wanting to wrap his arms around her and apologize until the sun came up.
"I'm exhausted," she said suddenly. "All this back from the dead stuff is pretty draining."
Sarah sighed and stood. "I don't know. I guess you can come upstairs with me, if you want."
There was, in fact, nothing he wanted more.
"No. I'll take the couch. You need time to think."
Sarah bit her lower lip, not sure whether to thank him, or beg him to come upstairs. Her mind wandered back to the first cold night of the time they had traveled together.
She had been shivering, huddled in three blankets and a fur lined cloak; a light snow dusting her hair and settling into the folds of her blankets. Nearby, his teeth were chattering and he was stomping his feet against a tree stump. The fire had long since died and there was no wood to be found.
"Whyin' the hell did I let ye talk me into goin' to bloody Norway in the bloody Winter?" She had complained.
"You're the one who wanted to see the fjords," he answered, blowing on his hands. "You know," he added a few moments later, "we'd both be a lot warmer if we shared the blankets."
Sarah had cocked an eyebrow at him across the cold ashes that had been their fire.
"You can sleep with your sword if you like, but I won't try anything."
Of course, she had capitulated. Even back then, with only six months of immortality under her belt and her dead husband Alan still fresh in her mind, Petey had been able to charm her into just about anything. They awoke the next morning with an inch of snow on the blankets, but reasonably warm. After that, they had taken to sleeping back to back while traveling. But he had always given her the bed in any place that had one.
It seemed silly to make him sleep on the couch now, after all the time they had shared both blankets and more. But the Highland autumn always brought chilly mornings and he was looking like her Petey again. It would be a little too cozy in her bed for her to think straight if he were there too.
"Sarie?" He repeated. "Can I have a pillow please? Or do I have to use one of the logs?"
"Sorry," she shook herself out of thought and dropped the blanket back onto the couch. "I'll toss one down for you."
The following morning Sarah awoke to the sounds of knocking at her door, followed shortly by the momentary disorientation of a buzz. She got out of bed and leaned over the railing to see Methos was still sound asleep on the couch.
The knock sounded again.
A glance at the alarm clock told her it was almost ten. Damn. Angus. She dashed down the stairs, making it halfway to the door before spinning and doubling back to the desk to grab the book she had borrowed.
"Miss Deirdre?" A voice came through the door.
Sarah crossed the room hastily, tripping over his shoes, and yanked the door open with a smile. "Angus! I'm sorry, I've overslept. Here's the book, though."
"Aye then, did ye find out anythin' about yer ruins then?"
Sarah laughed. "Just some legends about a MacLeod that came back from the dead."
"The stories some folk'll tell, eh?"
Sarah smiled and handed the book to the old man, who craned his neck to see over her shoulder and into the apartment, where Methos stood stretching.
"Aye then, Miss Deirdre, you've got a fellow? Won't my Meg be pleased to hear this? She's been sayin' you needed one and tryin' to get young Rachel to fix ye up."
Methos chuckled and crossed the room to stand at Sarah's elbow. He wrapped one arm around her waist and extended the other hand.
"We wouldn't want that now, would we? Peter MacGreggor, sir."
Angus winked at Sarah and shook hands with the immortal. "MacGreggor did you say? Funny, I had someone askin' me just yesterday about a Sarah MacGreggor. Any relation?"
"No, sir, not that I know of," Methos answered with a grin.
"Well then, I'll just be leaving you two youngsters to yer day. 'Tis a chilly one, best stay close for warmth," he grinned and bobbed his head at Methos knowingly. "Deirdre, if you need any more books, ye just let me know."
"I sure will, Angus, thanks."
He gave her one last wink and turned down the stairs, whistling.
Methos closed the door with a smile that faded quickly as he caught the glare Sarah was sending his way.
"You could have at least put your shirt on!" She said. "Now the whole town will be talking."
"What? The Spinster Pierson took a fellow?" He laughed. "And would that be so bad?"
Sarah ducked out from under his arm and started toward the kitchen, but only got three steps away before stopping short.
"You've never met Angus before?"
She swore loudly.
"Last night, just before you showed up, I heard him tell Jim Campbell that a student from London had been asking about me. When you came in I just assumed it was you."
Methos shook his head. "I got off the bus and headed straight for the inn. I wasn't even really sure you were here."
Sarah sighed and ran her hands through her hair. "You should hightail it then."
"Because that student is either a Watcher, or one of us. And if he's an immortal, I'm not the five thousand year old man he's looking for."
"You forget, Sarie, Methos died in Rio."
"No, I'll never forget *that*," she spun and brushed past him, heading for the stairs.
The day did indeed prove to be a chilly one and he spent most of it curled in front of the wood stove, pouring over her thesis and being amazed at how articulate she was in writing. When they had met in Glenstrae, she could barely read and could only write enough to sign her name, though there had never been any doubt that her intellect was capable of much more. This was the first thing of hers that he had ever read and it was eloquent and intellectual to a point that left him baffled in some spots. He had never really understood the Irish Poet anyway. Ginsberg was more his style.
Sarah, on the other hand seemed to have a good handle on the man, and chose to spend the day outdoors doing various chores around the barn until another thunderstorm brought her in. The evening passed in a strange, yet comfortable silence that was broken only by the sound of keys tapping at the desk and pages turning on the couch. There was much to say, but both were content to procrastinate and revel in the solace of the other's presence.
Over dinner, he asked her how many of his journals she had read.
Sarah seemed a little embarrassed by the question and apologized for reading them at all, but he assured her that the statute of limitations on privacy expired when you believed someone dead.
"I started in 1927 and got all the way up to just before we went to the Gathering in Glenstrae," she said.
"So you read about Alexa," Methos said, reaching for his beer.
"And Nadine and Susan and Melanie..." she teased.
"They were not in the same class as Alexa."
He nodded. "And what about you?"
"I told you, I stopped when you wrote about going to Glenstrae," she answered, looking down at her plate. "I wish you and Alexa had stuck around in Seacouver, she sounded like someone I would have liked to know."
"You two would have gotten along smashingly," he smiled. "But it wouldn't have been fair to her if we had stayed. I knew you would be there when I got back...and she had so little time."
Sarah sighed and used her fork to push a green bean around through the lake of cold gravy on her plate. "How do you do it, Petey? How can you love so much when you know they are dying? Especially Alexa. I saw what that did to you."
"There are two different kinds of love, Sarie. The kind that is brilliant and bursts upon you, drawing you in no matter what the cost or outcome. And the kind that grows slowly and steadily over time until it's so much a part of you that you can't even begin to function without it."
She smiled. "Mortal love and immortal love. Nice analogy."
"Hey, I have a few degrees of my own, you know," he winked at her. "And don't tell me you've never fallen in love with a mortal."
"Of course I have. And, you're right, there is a difference. But you know, it's almost easier to love one of them that it is one of us."
"How do you figure that?" Methos stood and took her plate to the kitchen.
Sarah waited for him to return and took the beer he offered before speaking. "Because when you fall in love with a mortal, there are no fantasies of spending all of eternity with them. It's all right out there on the table. They will die. You will live on."
"But we're not supposed to die," he offered.
He reached over and took her hand. "I'm sorry, Sarie."
She sighed and got to her feet. "I have to get back to that thesis, before I lose my train of thought."
"You have centuries to finish it..." he said, tugging at her hand in the hopes of continuing the conversation.
"I could lose my head tomorrow." She responded, pulling away and crossing to the desk.
[end part 4]
Methos awoke the following morning to find Sarah standing over him holding his sword. She was eyeing it down the length of the blade; the point poised just above his throat.
"You're not thinking of using that, are you?" He asked.
She laughed and took a step backwards, swinging it a few times to test the balance. "A little heavier than the old one. Where'd you get it?"
"I had it made in Spain," he sat up and ducked as she swung it again. "You're making me more than a little nervous, Sarie."
"Can I try it out?"
"Isn't that what you're doing now?"
Sarah shrugged and examined the hilt closely. "I meant in a spar. You can use my rapier if you want. Or, my old long sword is around here somewhere."
He stood and took the sword from her. "I'm not so sure I want to spar with you using swords right now."
"Afraid I'd beat you?"
"More like afraid you wouldn't be sparring," he smiled. "But, if you have the urge to beat the crap out of me, I'll go hand to hand with you."
"Well, license to beat the crap out of you, that's one I can't pass up," she grinned. "Get dressed, I'll meet you out back in a few minutes."
"I didn't say I wouldn't fight back," he called as she vanished down the stairs.
He joined her a few minutes later, pausing to watch her stroke the forelock of a huge workhorse whose head was hanging over the fence.
"You sure you want to do this?"
Sarah took off her coat and hung it on a fence post. "Beat the crap out of you? Hell, I haven't done that in a long time."
"I'm in better fighting shape than I have been for a while," he pushed up his sleeves.
"I've got anger on my side," Sarah said, crouching into a fighting stance and raising her fists. "Now, are we brawling, or sparring?"
Methos chuckled. "Let's at least keep it polite."
"Okay, Petey-san," she pulled up and bowed slightly at the waist.
He mirrored the bow and was about to say "ladies first", but her palm slammed into his jaw before he had the chance.
Rachel MacLeod arrived at her friend's house to hear the sounds of a struggle out near the paddock. She grabbed the nearest implement of destruction,--a shovel--and stalked quietly around the side of the barn.
"Didn't yer mam ever tell you it's not polite to strike a lady?" She heard Deirdre say.
"I don't remember my mother," came the answer, followed by the unmistakable sound of air rushing from someone's lungs as their ribs came in contact with a well placed fist.
"You'll regret that, Petey."
Rachel rounded the corner in time to see the skinny Englishman take a swing at Deirdre's head. He fell to the ground with an agonized groan as her shovel slammed into his kidneys.
"Christ," Methos moaned.
To Rachel's shock, Deirdre Pierson broke into peals of hysterical laughter.
"Are ye all right, Dee?" She asked.
Sarah waved a dismissing hand and doubled over, shaking with mirth. On the ground, Methos rolled slowly onto his back and took a deep breath, blinking up at her.
"Did he hit you, Dee? Should I call the police?"
"No, Rach, I'm fine," Sarah said, finally bringing her laughter under control. "Not so sure about Petey here, though."
Methos sat up and ducked reflexively as Rachel brandished the shovel again.
"It's okay, Rach, we were just playing."
Rachel eyed her skeptically, but lowered the shovel. Just playing? The skinny Englishman had a bloody lip and there was a large scrape on Deirdre's elbow. She watched as Sarah helped him to his feet and dusted off the back of his shirt.
"Thank God she doesn't carry a sword," Methos muttered.
"You're just grumpy because you were losing," she countered.
"Are ye sure everything's okay, Dee?" Rachel asked.
"Everything but my kidneys," Methos said.
"Everything is fine, Rach," Sarah added. "What brings you out here?"
"We were supposed to go for a ride. Do you still want to?"
Sarah smiled. "Of course I do. You were going to tell me more about these MacLeods that come back from the grave."
"So, you took his name then?" Rachel asked, nearly an hour later as they walked along a wooded trail.
"Pierson. You took his name, even though you were never married."
Sarah nodded and dropped her reins to adjust the chin strap on her riding helmet.
"Can I ask why you call him Petey? His name is Adam, isn't it?"
"Petey is a nickname," Sarah said. "And he isn't using Adam Pierson anymore."
"And you know Duncan, don't you?"
"Why didn't you tell me instead of letting me ramble on about him like a schoolgirl?"
Sarah smiled. "It wasn't that important."
"You all are a strange lot," Rachel said with a frown. "Family swords, secret identities, almost husbands back from the grave..."
Sarah laughed. "I'd tell you that we're all spies, but then I'd have to kill you."
Rachel laughed as well. "He's a handsome one, though."
"No....your Petey. Well, Duncan too."
"Duncan too!" Sarah laughed loudly. "Will *that* ever go to Petey's head!"
"It must be hard for you, to have him walk in like that after thinking he was gone."
"Oh Rach," Sarah said. "You don't know the half of it."
"Still, it's obvious that you should be together. So you should tell him you love him and hold on tight."
"You do still love him?"
"Of course I do. I'm just really furious right now."
"And you have every right to be, so long as you get past it before he thinks you don't care anymore."
Sarah looked over at her young friend and smiled. "And how did you get so wise, keeping an inn in Glenfinnan?"
"You'd be surprised what one can learn about the human condition from behind a bar," Rachel answered.
Later that afternoon, Methos met Sarah at the gate to the farm and held it open as she rode through. He flashed a smile and a wave at Rachel as she trotted past.
"You're looking more like yourself every minute," Sarah said, sliding from the saddle.
Methos latched the gate and ran his hand over his freshly shorn hair. "You like it? I think it makes me look like an RAF officer."
"It makes you look like Adam Pierson," she responded. "Who, by the way, Rachel MacLeod finds more handsome than Duncan."
"Wait till I tell him that!" Methos grinned and ran up her left stirrup.
Sarah smiled at him and resisted the urge to wrap her arms around his neck, but not before he read the thought in her expression.
"I won't bite, you know," he said, catching her elbow lightly.
"You've been known to," she smirked and pulled away to flip the reins over the horse's head.
"You started *that*."
"Did I?" She asked innocently, leading the mare toward the barn.
Methos thought a moment, remembering the occasion quite vividly. It had been his first chance to learn that quickenings left her more than hungry and just about every flat surface in her apartment had been thoroughly explored while the dinner he had prepared in anticipation of her return grew quite cold on the counter. There was, he thought, a definite upside to the ordeal of taking a quickening.
Sarah removed her tack and sent the mare off into the paddock with a gentle slap on the flank, then spun suddenly, looking for the other immortal she knew was near. Moments later, Methos was at her side, reaching into his coat for the longsword.
"Hello, Sarah," Kevin Drake said, stepping out from around the corner of the barn.
"Drake," Sarah spat, pulling off her helmet.
"This wouldn't be the legendary Methos, would it?"
"Methos is dead, Drake," Sarah said.
"Ahh....I didn't think I had that kind of luck," he smiled thinly. "But you and I both know that he's not dead."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Why is it that I am the only one not in denial about this?"
"You didn't stay in mourning very long, from the looks of things," Kevin said, gesturing to Methos.
"Him?" She laughed. "He just came to learn how to fight."
"And maybe the nine hundred year old Highlandress needed a young lover to ease the pain of her great loss?"
Methos bit back a smirk and looked down at the toe of his shoe.
"And what if I did?" Sarah asked.
"Why take a child when you could have one of the greatest lovers of all time?"
"I had him," she smiled sweetly, "but now, Methos is dead. And if you were referring to yourself, I'd rather sleep with a goat."
Methos scratched his chin to cover another smirk and glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. Greatest lover of all time?
"What do you want, Drake?" Sarah asked, sounding very bored with the conversation.
"I told you...Methos."
"And I told you, several times now, he's dead."
"Maybe you'd tell a different story with my sword at your throat."
"Don't get any ideas," Methos said, drawing his sword.
"Oh, aren't you the brave one?" Kevin sneered.
Sarah lay a hand on Methos' shoulder to stop him from advancing. "If you're challenging me, Drake, then do so."
"I think I'll wait until your boy here is napping," he answered.
"Fine, you know where I'll be."
"Indeed I do," Kevin swept a bow and walked away.
Methos started after him, but Sarah dug her fingers into his shoulder.
"Let him go," she said.
He lowered the sword and sighed. "Why did you do that?"
"Habit, I guess."
"Well, I can fight my own battles, thank you."
She stood exactly his height in her riding boots and used that fact to look him dead in the eye. "So can I."
He was used to looking down at her, if only ever so slightly, and backed away a step. "Drake's not your battle to fight."
"If you didn't want me taking challenges for you, you never should have left Seacouver, because not *one* of the heads I've taken since then belonged to someone looking for me."
"You're the one who kept telling me to leave," he said, wishing immediately that he hadn't.
In a heartbeat, there was a searing pain in his ribcage and he found himself on his knees with his own sword biting into the back of his neck.
"Oh God, I didn't mean that, Sarie."
Sarah pulled the sword back to strike and Methos squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable. Instead, he heard a loud thud and the sound of her boot heels on the gravel driveway. When he finally found the courage to open his eyes again, he saw that his sword was still quivering, embedded about six inches into the barn wall.
"Maybe you should have done it," he said, finding Sarah staring blankly across the field a few minutes later.
She leaned against the fence and sighed, but made no response.
"Promise me something?"
Sarah set her jaw and turned to look at him.
"Promise me that if he does challenge you, you won't take it."
"You know I can't promise that."
"Sarie, I have no doubt that you can beat him. But not in the emotional state you're in right now," he reached out to lay a hand on her elbow, but she stepped away.
"Don't talk to me about emotional states."
"Come on, be rational. You can't fight your best fight if you're strung out and wrung dry."
"I was doing just fine until you showed up," she snapped.
"Do you want me to go?"
Sarah's brow furrowed in an attempt to fight back her emotions. She met his eyes briefly, then spun on a heel and walked away.
Methos watched with some amazement as Sarah swung the axe expertly at the giant tree limb they were removing from its spot on top of the stone wall of the northern most pasture. The branch had come down in the most recent storm and had crushed the wall in a large spot, making it entirely too easy for the horses to escape into the greener hills--as he had discovered when she dragged him out of sleep at five am to help catch the missing herd. They had been working for the better part of the day at clearing it and he was re-stacking stones while she chopped the branch into manageable size pieces.
"I still can't believe they don't have a chainsaw," he said. "That would make things so much easier."
"This is the Highlands, Petey, nothing is easy," she grunted, hefting the axe again.
"And how do you plan to get this wood back down to the house?"
"Both of the Clydesdales know how to drive and there is a wagon in the back barn," she said.
"Do the good people of Scotland simply refuse to come into the twentieth century? Don't these people have a tractor?"
Sarah laughed and watched him pile an armful of stones onto the wall. "My god, how did you ever survive before the industrial age?"
"By becoming a nobleman with serfs to do this kind of thing," he grinned, pleased that they were finally slipping back into their old dynamic. The previous evening had been a tense one.
Sarah scowled. "Yeah, well, while you were playing Lord of the Manor, some of us were fighting wars and breaking our backs in the field," she snapped.
"Tell you what," he said, dropping a stone and wiping sweat from his forehead, despite the crispness of the day. "Why don't you give me a list of topics that I'm not supposed to talk about and I'll memorize them before our next conversation."
"Don't give me shit, Methos," she snarled, slamming the axe into a chunk of the branch and sending the two halves flying.
"Oh Christ, Sarie, I've said I'm sorry. What more do you want?"
"I want to forget what it felt like to hear Duncan tell me you were dead," she said, slamming the axe into the tree again. "I want to forget the expression on Connor's face when he handed me your broken sword and told me how sorry he was. Most of all," she paused and swung the axe a third time, "I want *you* to know what it felt like to think you lost the one thing you loved most."
"I do know what that feels like. I lost you in Germany all those years ago."
Sarah looked up suddenly and the axe almost crashed into Methos' leg.
"Watch it!" He exclaimed, grabbing the handle just above her hands to stop the blow.
"Did you feel that?" She asked, looking around warily.
"I almost felt my leg get chopped off."
"No. The buzz. Did you feel it?"
"There wasn't a buzz. We can see for miles, Sarie. There's no one around," Methos took the axe from her and set it against the wall, having no desire to test her temper again while she was armed.
Sarah shook her head and pointed down the hill, where two figures could be seen cresting a small rise.
"They're too far away for you to feel," he said, squinting against the sun and hoping that her instincts were wrong. They were both too tired for a sword fight.
Sarah shaded her eyes with her left hand and stood on her toes.
"It's Richie!" She exclaimed suddenly, taking off at full speed down the hill.
Methos watched for a moment, then jogged off after her. If that really was Richie, then it would be likely that the other figure would be MacLeod and maybe he could talk some sense into Sarie.
He was a good twenty yards behind her and stopped short as she flung herself at Richie. Their laughter echoed through the field as her momentum sent them toppling to the ground in a twisting heap of arms and legs.
Wasn't that supposed to have been how *he* got greeted?
"Did you get a reception like that?" Duncan asked with a laugh as Methos reached him.
They both watched as Sarah and Richie got to their feet and hugged one another.
"Hardly," Methos answered.
Duncan chucked him affectionately on his shoulder and smiled. "Richie was the only thing that kept her going for a while there. That's all there is to this."
Methos shrugged. "It's none of my business what went on between them while I was gone."
"Nothing went on between them. You asked him to take care of her and he did."
Methos shrugged again and started to walk back up the hill. Duncan lengthened his stride until he caught up and ducked in front of him.
"She won't even let me touch her, MacLeod. She barely even looks at me. What am I supposed to think?"
"You're supposed to think that she is trying to re-adjust to the fact that you are still alive. You can't just expect to walk in her door and pick up where you left off."
Methos sighed and looked skyward. "I just want everything back the way it was."
"Give it time," Duncan said. "Give *her* time."
"So, MacLeod, will you be staying with young Rachel?" Methos asked with a smirk as Sarah set a tureen of beef stew on the table in front of them.
"Isn't that like incest or something?" Richie asked, reaching for the ladle.
Sarah chuckled and took her seat across the table from Duncan.
"We're not related," Duncan sighed. "And there isn't much of anything going on between us anyway."
"You're both MacLeods," Richie said.
"Not by blood."
"You didn't answer my question, MacLeod," Methos prompted as Sarah passed him the salad.
"Well, looks like I'll have to stay at the inn, Sarah certainly doesn't have room for all of us," Duncan smiled.
"The couch folds out," she offered.
Methos frowned. He hadn't been told that and had spent the last two nights with his feet hanging over the end of the sofa.
"I'll stay, if you don't mind," Richie said.
"Sure thing," Sarah smiled at him.
Methos tried to catch her eye, but she avoided his gaze expertly and concentrated on her dinner.
Richie chewed a piece of carrot thoughtfully. "Have you guys ever wondered where we come from? I mean...this whole MacLeod by blood thing...we have to come from *somewhere*."
Sarah shrugged and continued to avoid looking at Methos, but Duncan was in the mood for a distraction. The tension in the room was almost tangible and it was ruining a perfectly good stew.
"Actually, I heard a rumor once that we might not be sterile after all," he said.
Methos looked up from his bowl and cocked and eyebrow at the Highlander.
"Just suppose," Duncan continued, "that we can have children with other immortals."
"It hasn't happened to anyone I know," Sarah said.
"Maybe it can only happen under special circumstances."
"Such as?" She asked.
"Full moon. Fertility rites. Aligned planets," Methos joked, soliciting a smile from her.
"No..." Duncan shook his head. "Suppose female immortals go through some kind of phase every few years where they can conceive."
"Mac, I think I'd remember it if I had had children," Sarah said, reaching across the table for the salt.
"Maybe not," Methos handed it to her. "Maybe that's part of the whole thing. Think of how it would effect the Game if you knew you had children in it...if you knew you had brothers and sisters in it."
"Selective memory lapses?" Sarah snorted. "Regardless, nine months of pregnancy would hinder one in a fight."
"Maybe it all happens faster than that," Duncan said. "Maybe it happens in days instead of months. Our healing is really excellerated tissue growth, if you think about it. It's not too hard to project from there..."
"Still..." Sarah reached for her glass. "Don't you think someone would have caught on by now?"
"Maybe you find someplace to hide while it's happening," Richie suggested.
Sarah took a long gulp of her water. "What am I, a marsupial? Come on guys. Think of all the female immortals you know. Can you see any of us as mothers? Me? Amanda? *Kristin*? Not one of us has a maternal bone in our bodies."
"And not one of us were raised by our natural mother," Duncan said.
Methos was wondering what a child of his and Sarah's would look like and entertaining images of her changing diapers, but thought it best not to mention it. He watched her slice into a piece of potato and did some mental projecting. The child would most likely be tall and lanky with his dark hair and eyes...and hopefully *her* nose. And, of course, would have a wicked sense of humor...a boy maybe. Or a girl. Or both. Twins perhaps. The could take holidays rafting on the Orinoco. Oh, wait. He got seasick floating on a tube in a pool. Safari in Kenya then, kids love animals.
"Where do you think we come from then?" Richie asked.
Sarah shrugged. "Another planet? The Faery kingdom? Elves? How should I know? We're all just *here*."
"You're awfully defensive about this, Sarie," Methos teased. "Maybe there's truth behind the rumor and you women are holding out on us."
Sarah met his gaze for the first time since their fight on the hill and smirked at him. "Now why would I do that, when there would be tons of money to be made from paternity suits? I'd never have to call my stockbroker again."
Privately, she was wondering about those times in her life when her memory gapped for no apparent reason. She wished Rebecca was still alive...the older woman might have had an interesting opinion on this idea.
Sarah thought back on all the various immortal men she had been with. If Duncan's theory were true--and she had to admit it was the most plausible origins theory she had ever heard, she could have any number of children in the Game. She and Mac had been together once, in Paris after the war. It had been a wild union, fueled by what she thought was the joy of the day. But perhaps this mothering instinct would lead female immortals to seek out men in ways similar to how animals mate: find the most suitable male and mate with him repeatedly during your peak cycle, thus increasing the chance of conception.
A child from that union would be approximately fifty now. And would no doubt have a yen for things Scottish. Her Genetics classes told her that such a child would likely have his dark hair and eyes, but maybe her wit and lithe frame. Certainly odds were high said child would be more than handy with a sword. She wondered how he--or she for that matter-might have died their mortal death and hoped it wasn't too traumatic.
"I think we've got her nervous," Methos said, drawing her out of thought.
Sarah shrugged. "I learned over nine hundred years ago that there was nothing to be nervous about in that respect."
Two hours later Duncan asked her to walk him to his car as he headed back into town.
"How are you?" He asked.
Sarah hugged her coat flaps together and shrugged. "It's all very strange, Mac."
"I'm sure it is," he hugged her. "But I would have given anything for Tessa to walk back into my life. I still would."
Sarah nodded and picked at his lapels. "I know. And part of me is so happy that I want to burst. But the other part is so *mad* at him."
"We always get angry when we think we lost someone. I'm sure you were furious at him for dying on you. And you never got the chance to deal with that anger before he came back."
She nodded again and rested her head on his shoulder. "Half the time I'm not sure if I want to throw myself into his arms or gut him with my sword."
Duncan chuckled and rubbed her back. "Do both. Just don't take his head."
Upstairs in Sarah's loft, Richie was clearing the table of their wine glasses and watching Methos toss some clothing into a duffel bag.
"It's obvious which one of us she wants to stay here," Methos responded.
Richie sighed. "You know, for the world's oldest man, you sure can act like a child."
"Excuse me?" Methos looked up sharply. Only Sarie said things like that to him.
"Get this through your head, Methos. She's not in love with me and I'm not in love with her. Nothing happened between us while you were gone and nothing ever will."
"You think this is about me being jealous? Of you? Hardly!" Methos laughed, then heaved a sigh.
"So what's your problem then?"
"My *problem*," he threw the duffel down in frustration, "is that she looks to you for things I used to give her. She flung herself into your arms and all I got for a greeting was a 'this better be good, Petey'."
"Sounds like jealousy to me," Richie grinned. "Just not the kind I thought."
Methos rolled his eyes and shook his head, shouldering the bag. "Have you been talking with that elder MacLeod again?"
"Going somewhere?" Sarah asked, closing the door behind her.
"I thought I'd leave you and Richie alone," he said. "You seem to have a lot to catch up on."
"Don't be stupid, Petey," she frowned. "I don't know what you think happened between us, but I can assure you, it wasn't anything romantic."
"And how am I supposed to know that there aren't little MacGreggor-Ryan kids running around somewhere?" He smirked.
Richie flushed at the thought, but Sarah laughed.
"Not funny, Sarie."
"Not meant to be," she wagged her eyebrows at him and took his bag. "Now, do you guys want to draw lots for who gets to share the bed with me, or would it be more manly to duel with swords? Or..." she poked Methos playfully in the shoulder. "Maybe you two would like to share and *I'll* take the couch."
"I can go into town..." Richie said.
"Now don't you be stupid either," Sarah turned to him. "We're all adults here."
"Flip a coin?" Methos asked.
Richie shrugged. "I'll take the couch."
Methos looked to Sarah, who smiled.
"It's settled then," she said, handing the duffel back to him.
Sarah nodded. "I trust you. And I keep my sword by the night stand, should there be any need to fend off wandering hands."
"I promise to be good," he said.
She smiled again and gestured to the stairs. "I'll be up just as soon as I get Richie settled."
"I really can go into town," Richie said, watching Methos climb the stairs.
"I want you to stay," Sarah answered.
She pulled some sheets from a nearby closet and helped him take the cushions off the couch.
"But you guys need to be alone."
Sarah shook her head. "Not yet, we don't."
Richie watched as she made the bed for him, remembering Tessa doing a similar thing long ago. He felt safe and comfortable; like simply being in the same room with her again eased everything that had happened over the past year. Maybe there was more to this mixed quickenings thing than he thought, for certainly he was feeling more whole now.
"Everything moves in circles," he said.
"What?" Sarah asked, jerking a pillow into its case.
"Circles. You guys were together, then you thought each other were dead. Then you were together again. Then you thought he was dead. Now you're back together."
"Guess it's my turn to die next," she joked.
"Don't say that."
Sarah shook the blanket over the bed and watched it settle into place, then spread a quilt on top. Richie helped smooth it down and caught her hand.
"I'm glad you're here," she said. "I missed you. It's like I'm not really all in one piece if you're not around."
Richie nodded. "I was worried about you. There was this guy named Drake..." "Oh, he's here too, looking for Petey."
"Does he know?"
Sarah shook her head. "I told him Petey was a student of mine and not worth his time."
"Do you think he'll leave?"
"I doubt it. He believed me, but he doesn't buy that Methos is dead. And Drake is nothing if not persistent, the pompous bore."
"Do you think they'll fight?"
"They'll never get the chance to."
Richie frowned. "You shouldn't take on Drake while Methos sits idly by."
"It's not that simple, Richie," she sighed and sank down onto the bed. "If someone like Drake gets Petey's quickening, it'll change the Game for the worse."
"And what if he gets yours? You don't think that would change things?"
"Nine hundred years is a drop in the bucket compared to five thousand," she said.
"Well, I'd rather have you around than him," Richie grumbled, jerking his thumb toward the loft.
Sarah smiled and hugged him. "He only did what he had to."
"So you forgive him then?" Richie asked into her shoulder.
"Not yet, but I will."
"I suppose I should too then," he sighed.
Sarah laughed and thumped him lightly on the back. "Eventually, but not on my account."
Richie sighed again and gave her a squeeze, then pulled back.
"I suppose I'll have to be in the wedding."
"The note. Remember?"
Sarah nodded. Of course she remembered.
"Just please don't make me wear a skirt."
"Relax, I doubt there will be any weddings in the near future," she said, getting to her feet.
"You don't think he'll..."
"Who knows what goes through that ancient brain of his," she smiled. "Now...we both need some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yeah. Good night."
Sarah arrived at the top of the stairs to find Methos sitting on the edge of the bed wearing his walkman and examining the blade of her sword. She changed quickly and moved over to stand in front of him.
He smiled up at her and clicked off Van Morrison, removing the headphones.
"You're not thinking of paying me back for that little scene in the yard?" She asked.
"You'd gut me before I could lift the sword," he grinned.
"I'm sorry about that."
He nodded. "I deserved it."
Sarah sighed and ran her hands through her hair, trying to find words to explain the torrent of emotions she had been experiencing. He was right, she was strung out.
"This is really lovely," he said, flashing another smile.
"Isn't it funny how they become such an extension of us?" She asked, taking the sword and sitting down next to him with the blade across her knees.
"They are just about the only constant in our lives," he said.
She nodded and studied his hands for a moment. "I gave your old one to Joe, for the Watcher Archives."
"I figured it found it's way back to you somehow."
Sarah sighed yet again and sheathed the rapier, crossing the room to lean it against the dresser. She paused there a moment before returning to the bed and pulling down the covers.
"I can sleep on the floor you know."
"Don't be silly, Petey. We've done this thousands of times."
His smile was one of genuine relief and he sighed contentedly as he climbed in next to her. Sarah lay there for a few minutes, staring up at the ceiling and trying to ignore the fact that he was so close. She sat up suddenly and swung her feet to the floor, slouching over her knees to rest her head in her hands.
Methos rolled onto his side and propped himself up on one elbow. "I'll go."
"No, don't." Sarah flopped back and tucked her legs up to her chest.
She flung one hand out to the side, reaching for him and squeezing tightly when she found his fingers.
"I can do this, Petey, I just need more time."
Methos smiled. "Luckily, I have some of that to spare."
[end part 5]
Sarah looked up from her notes about Yeats' relationship with Maude Gonne and sighed, her head ringing with the sensation of another immortal nearby. Duncan and Rachel had gone riding along the shore and would likely wind up back at her house. Richie and Petey were off somewhere, hopefully straightening things out between them.
So this was Drake. Come to challenge her at last.
She peered out the window to see him standing in the driveway with drawn sword. Drake used its tip to point up the hill toward Connor's ruins in a gesture that was eerily foreboding in the coming dark of early evening. He nodded at her and strode off.
She thought about leaving a note for Petey, but decided against it and grabbed her sword on the way out the door.
"This can all be avoided, if you'd just tell me where Methos is," Drake said from a top a pile of stones as she arrived.
"I told you, Methos is dead."
"I don't believe you."
Sarah sighed. "Believe what you want, Kevin, it doesn't change the facts."
His smile sent a wave of ice down her spine. "I believe that your *student* is really the world's oldest immortal. And I believe you'd die to protect him."
Sarah raised her sword and narrowed her eyes. "Drake, if you're going to fight me, then do so. Otherwise, I have a thesis to write."
"I'll kill him after I take your head," he said. "And then we'll see what's to be believed."
She crouched into a fighting stance and motioned for him to get on with it.
Drake leapt down from his vantage point and advanced on her rapidly. It only took three blows for Sarah to realize that this would not be an easy fight. Drake's skill had improved dramatically since their last confrontation in Australia all those years ago and she was emotionally stressed from recent events. No matter. She had to keep her wits about her, or the wrong head would roll.
Ten minutes into it, when she was beginning to tire from fighting off his superior strength, he scored a deep cut on her right thigh and the tide turned for the worse. The wound went to the bone, leaving her bleeding heavily and unable to support her weight on that leg. She staggered backwards, throwing her sword arm up to protect her head from his repeated blows.
Methos arrived in time to see Drake run Sarah through, twisting hard. He stood motionless, transfixed by the sight, and watched with horror as Drake withdrew the sword, flipped it in his hand expertly, and used the hilt to crush her temple. Sarah would have crumpled to the ground, but he caught her by the hair, yanked her head back, and lay his sword against her throat.
"You're too late, Methos."
"Your fight is with me. Let her go," Methos answered, drawing his sword.
"Ahh...but her quickening would help me get yours," Drake smiled and his sword left a red line of blood on Sarah's neck.
"Let her go," Methos repeated, advancing on him.
"Why should I? You can't interfere."
"If you kill her, I'll carve out your heart and hand it to you before I take your head."
Drake shrugged and let Sarah fall to the ground. "Maybe after I kill you, she'll want to be with me."
"I doubt it, and you won't live long enough to find out."
Just as practically every opponent Methos had faced in the past two years had, Kevin Drake seriously underestimated the seemingly mild mannered man standing before him. And Richie had been grievously wrong so long ago when he thought that Sarah and Methos sparred all out. True, he did engage her in a more realistic fight than any other sparring partner, but it was always as Petey and never as the world's oldest immortal.
He knew she was holding back as well, and he prayed that it never came to swords between them. The scene in the stable yard had shown him that she had the same kind of instincts that had kept him alive so long and frankly he wasn't so sure he'd want to experience her's full out. Yes, he and Sarie were pretty evenly matched skill wise. But, in a game where life was the ultimate prize, it was the sheer animal instinct for survival that kept you alive for nine hundred years and allowed you to be ruthless enough to win at any cost. It was something even more primal which allowed you to live for five thousand.
Drake would have slaughtered Richie in a quick fight, and could have done just that back in Seacouver, had that been in his plan. He would have given Duncan MacLeod a run for his money. And he had defeated Sarah on a stroke of luck that had more to do with her emotional state than his skill with a sword. But he didn't stand a chance against the man who had been taking heads since before metal weaponry had been refined.
Four strokes. Drake swung. Methos blocked. Drake pulled back and swung again. Methos severed his arm at the elbow. The fifth stroke sent Drake's head spinning across the grass and Methos sat down next to Sarah, waiting for the quickening.
Twenty minutes later, Sarah gasped for breath and struggled to sit up, trying to figure out why she still had her head. A gentle weight on her shoulders pushed her back down.
"Lie still, Sarie, you're not healed yet," Methos said.
"I just saved your neck," he smiled.
Sarah looked up at him and returned the smile. "As I recall, I've done that more than once for you."
"You have. We're even. Clean slate. Now, lie still, or I'll knock you out."
She chuckled and leaned back against his leg. "Circles."
"Here you are again Petey, covered in my blood and bringing me back from the dead."
"Like I said," he squeezed her shoulder, "I can't think of anyone else's blood I'd rather be covered in."
Close to an hour later, Sarah came out of the bathroom toweling her hair and still moving a bit stiffly. She crossed the room to where Methos was sitting on the couch, his head thrown back and eyes closed. His feet were stretched out onto the coffee table and he looked to be asleep, though the lack of snoring told her otherwise. She looked down at him for a moment, then planted a knee on either side of his hips and straddled his lap, laying a soft kiss on his chin and another on his lips.
"Mmm," he smiled. "What was that for?"
"That was for saving my head."
Methos smiled again, but his eyes remained closed, determined to enjoy the moment before she ran cold again. "I assure you, it was for purely selfish reasons."
Sarah chuckled and grabbed his shoulder as he shifted underneath her, changing her center of gravity for a moment. His cheeks were flushed slightly from the after effects of the quickening and she could almost feel the excess energy racing through his body, but he looked extremely worn down.
"You look exhausted," she said. "You should get some sleep."
Methos shrugged and shifted again, not so much because he was uncomfortable, but rather because he enjoyed the sensation of her weight moving with him. A little too much, actually.
"You probably shouldn't be sitting like this so soon after a quickening," he said with a sigh.
Sarah examined his face for a moment, trying to decide if his eyes were still closed due to exhaustion, or because he knew she could read them. She started to get up, but he grabbed her knee.
"Thought you were worried about raging hormones due to the quickening," she said.
Methos opened his eyes and looked at her for a moment, then dropped his gaze to the red line that was the remains of the wound on her thigh.
"Don't ever do that again," he said, recalling the image of Drake's sword at her throat.
"Do what?" Sarah asked, pulling her robe to cover a more decent portion of her leg.
"Don't ever take a challenge that was meant for me. He would have killed you if I hadn't shown up."
"I've spent the last year and a half taking challenges for you," she said.
"Well, I'm back now, so you won't have to do it anymore."
"What makes you so sure of that?" She asked, sharper than she had intended to.
"Oh Sarie, can't you just let me take care of you?"
She frowned and started to get up again, but he tightened his grip on her thigh.
"Don't shut me out again," he said. "We can work things out, but not if you keep walking away."
Sarah sighed loudly and craned her neck back to stare at the ceiling for a moment. She ran her hands through her hair, dropped her head forward again to stare at his hand, then looked up at him and began to speak.
"I have spent the last seven months trying to turn off everything that I ever felt for you, just so I could keep my head above water and force myself to get out of bed in the morning. It was finally beginning to work. I finally stopped looking for your face in crowds. Now...here you are on my couch, back from the dead. Petey, if I turn that tap back on, I think I'll just drown."
"Open it slowly then," he said. "Let it drip. Just please don't shut me out. I can live without you being in love with me, but I can't live without your friendship--not after everything that we've been through together."
Sarah smiled. "Oh Petey, I swear you are every woman's ideal man. Where do you come up with lines like that?"
"It wasn't a line," he said. "It's the truth."
"And how am I supposed to stay mad at you when you say stuff like that?"
"You're not. That's the point."
She smiled again. "I'm sorry I've been acting so crazy. I've just been vacillating between pure joy and utter rage. Half the time I want to throw myself into your arms and the other half I want to gut you. Duncan said I should do both."
Methos laughed, then reached up and turned her chin into the light. "I think your scar has faded since the last time I saw you."
She nodded. "Mac said something about it back in Seacouver...I think all the quickenings I've been taking are healing it. Thank God."
"It never was that bad," he said, moving her robe so he could see the end of the thin seam where it trailed off onto her collarbone.
"I suppose I'm lucky it healed better than the one Kalas had," she sighed.
Methos nodded. Kalas' scar had been jagged and ugly, even after centuries of healing. Sarie's had always been a clean line and only remained livid for a few days after its infliction. Still, she had always been sensitive about it and had worn high necked clothing for the first few years he had known her.
"Excuse me, Petey, but the scar ends about four inches *above* where your hand is."
He flushed and looked up at her, "Sorry. You know how I feel about your body."
Sarah smirked at him. "Sure that's not the quickening talking?"
"Positive. This is the first time you haven't jerked away when I touched you."
"Maybe I *should* get off your lap, before you ravage me," she laughed.
"Oh Sarie," his expression softened, "I am so sorry for all the pain you had to go through."
Sarah leaned down and rested her forehead against his, bringing her hands to his face. "I would do it all again if it meant that you'd still come back."
He was about to kiss her, but she jerked her head up suddenly, wearing the familiar expression that came with the buzz. Moments later, he felt it too.
"Richie," she said.
Methos reached behind his head and turned off the light. "We're not home."
"He'll know we're here," she said, a smile evident in her tone.
"I don't care."
"But we can't just leave him with no place to sleep."
"He can sleep in one of the bloody stalls, or in his car. He's young, he'll recover," Methos said, shifting so she slid off his lap and rolling her down toward the cushions.
A loud knock shook the door. Seconds later the lights blazed on as Richie burst into the room, asking if everything was okay and babbling about the light show he had seen from town.
Methos groaned loudly and thunked his head down on Sarah's shoulder.
"Oh God, I'm sorry," Richie flushed a very dark shade of crimson. "Oh man...I'm...I'm gone. I was never here."
Sarah laughed and got to her feet, straightening her robe as she noticed where his eyes fell.
"It's okay," she said.
"No...you guys were...I'm gone. See you."
"Bye," Methos waved.
Sarah shot a mock glare his way. "Richie, it's okay, really."
"Nope. I'm outta here," Richie backed out the door with an embarrassed smile and closed it firmly.
Sarah stood looking at the door frame for a few moments, her back to Methos. She heard him sigh and get up, pacing across the room to the window.
"Petey?" She turned around and looked at his back.
"Can you see my reflection in the window?"
"No. There's a glare, why?"
"Just humor me."
"I don't feel like playing, Sarie."
The next thing he knew, something hit him in the back of the head, crashing his forehead into the window pane and blocking his vision. He swore and pulled the tangled object from his head, grinning widely as he realized what it was...her bathrobe.
The first time they came together that night was fueled by the unadulterated lust of being separated for so long and compounded by the power of the quickening that Methos had so recently taken. Mortals would have come out of it with bruises and fingernail marks on both parties. But Sarah and Methos just wound up starving.
The second time was less wanton and more playful, with the cold air from the open refrigerator door pouring down her back and lending an icy quality to his ordinarily warm hands. Afterwards, they sat cross-legged on the counter eating cold chicken and sharing a beer.
He carried her upstairs, albeit thrown over his shoulder like a sack of grain, and they fell into bed in a heap of uncontrollable laughter. The third time came several hours later after a long conversation that ranged from ancient shared memories to modern day topics. It was slow and deliberate and he touched her so tenderly that Sarah found herself sobbing into his shoulder, finally releasing all the anger, fear, and sorrow of the previous two years. When she had finally drifted off to sleep, Methos closed his eyes and stopped stroking her back long enough to say a silent prayer of thanks to whichever deity it was that had seen fit to bring them back together again.
The following morning, he was roused from a wonderfully cozy sleep by a persistent knock at the door, followed by a buzz that was powerful enough for him to guess that both Richie and Duncan stood on the landing. Sarah was sleeping soundly and he slid out from under her, grabbing some jeans and pulling them on on the way downstairs.
To his surprise, Joe's face was the first he saw behind the door. But sure enough, the two immortals were not far behind.
"What brings you to Glenfinnan, Joe?" Methos asked, stepping aside to let them troop in.
Joe looked around the apartment, his eyes falling on the pile of discarded clothes near the coffee table and the rumpled state of the couch.
Richie was looking around too, wondering where Sarah was and what had come from his ill timed interruption the night before. He grinned when he saw her bathrobe laying in a heap by the window.
"I came to see if I could help," Joe said.
Methos gestured to the kitchen and set to making some coffee and breakfast as the other three settled themselves around the table.
"Help?" he asked, pulling a carton of eggs out of the fridge.
"We've been trying to figure out what happens next," Duncan said. "And we think there's a way to capitalize on the Methos and Adam Pierson are dead rumors."
Joe nodded. "I've made some calls and only one of the Watchers of the guys that you've met up with in the past two years recognized you as Adam Pierson."
"What about Sarie's Watcher?"
"Miller? He's been reassigned. She'll have a new one, once we figure out what's going on. Rumors are still flying around about Methos," Joe continued, "but most think he's dead and some think he never even existed at all."
"What are you going to do about the one guy who recognized him?" Richie asked.
Joe shrugged and sipped at the coffee Methos handed him.
"Wait for him to die, I expect," Sarah said, tying her pajama bottoms on the way down the stairs. "It'll only be fifty or sixty years at most."
Methos looked up from the omelet he was cooking and smiled at her. "And whatever will I do for all that time?"
"Sarah! You look wonderful!" Joe got to his feet and engulfed her in a bear hug.
"It's good to see you, Joe." She kissed him on the cheek and smiled. "Wow. We have a nice little reunion going here. What time does Amanda arrive?"
Duncan laughed. "Amanda has gone to Cairo, something about doing an appraisal on some artifacts."
"An appraisal, sure." Sarah laughed, hopping up onto the counter near Methos' elbow. "Hey, Petey."
He smiled a good morning and pointed to the kettle, which was about to whistle and be ready to pour for tea. "Hi, you."
"So, I take it things worked out okay last night?" Richie asked with a raised eyebrow.
Sarah nodded over the muffin she was munching and smiled at him. "But I'm getting new locks put on the doors."
Richie grinned, it was good to see her happy again.
"So, what do you think is going to happen between those two?" Rachel asked, looking across the moderately crowded floor of her inn to the corner table where Methos and Sarah were sitting.
Richie smiled as he watched Methos pull a sheet of paper out from under Sarah's elbow and point to something on it. The table was littered with empty glasses, a plate of chips they had shared, and a jumbled pile of papers, books and a large map. Sarah had been trying to work on her Yeats thesis, but Methos was insistent upon picking a place for them to move to.
"I imagine they will work things out," Duncan said. "That's pretty easy to do when you're in love."
"I've known her for three months and had never seen a real smile from her until he walked in," Rachel said with a sigh that proved she was not as immune to romance as she'd like everyone to think.
Joe nodded into his single malt. It was good to see them back together. And good to see Methos alive and well, despite the anger he had experienced upon his initial return.
At the table, Methos was doing his best to distract Sarah from her notes.
"Guam?" He asked.
She shook her head without looking up.
"How about Java?"
"Java? I don't think so, Petey."
He decided to take a different tack.
"Hypothetically speaking, if we were to get married, who would you ask to give you away?"
"I'm not chattel, Petey," Sarah said, flipping a page in her book. Then she looked up sharply. "Married?"
Methos grinned. "Now that I have your attention, we really need to pick a place, Sarie."
"Who's we? I have a place to live."
Back at the bar, Richie was still smiling. "They will work it out and live happily *ever* after."
Duncan shot him a look that told him to watch the immortality jokes around Rachel, but smiled. "What makes you so sure of that? I thought you'd rather he never came back."
"No. I just wish she didn't have to go through all that."
Amen, thought Joe. He'd never forget the look on Sarah's face when she handed him Methos' broken sword and told him how sorry she was that he'd never get the chance to know the real man. Even now he doubted that he would have the pleasure. It had taken her nine hundred years to crack that shell; he had another forty or fifty at best before he would die and they would live on.
Rachel smiled and wiped the bar in front of Richie, setting down a full glass of lager. "True love is never easy. We all have to walk many a stony path to find the garden."
"Is that an old Scottish proverb?" Richie laughed. "It's corny enough to be."
Rachel scowled at him and thwacked his arm playfully with the towel.
Duncan leaned back against the bar and sighed contentedly. Maybe now he could finally relax. A broad smile crossed his face as a momentary lull in the noise level of the room allowed him a glimpse into the conversation at the table.
"Gombe then? You could study the gorillas," Methos said.
"They're chimps, Petey."
"Why are you so keen on all these tropical places?" Sarah asked, finally giving up on her notes and craning her head to look at the map.
"I'm tired of being chilled. How about Rio?"
"No." Sarah said flatly.
"Right. Sorry." He grabbed her pen and made a large X over South America.
Sarah slapped a hand over her eyes and jammed her finger down on the map. "Norway?"
"Too bloody cold." Methos said, draping an arm around her shoulder.
"Petey, I'm Scottish, if it's not cold and damp, I can't survive."
Methos smiled and squeezed her, scooting closer. "You never answered my question."
"About marriage?" She laughed. "You said it was hypothetical."
"Indulge me in my old age."
Sarah sighed and looked up at the wall where the MacLeod sword hung. Duncan would be honored to give her away. Connor would do it just to get Petey's goat. Richie would be the most logical choice. Or Joe maybe. But this was hypothetical. And even if it wasn't, he wasn't going to get off that easy.
"If you ever worked up the nerve to actually ask, I'd walk down the aisle alone, wearing only a hip sarong and a smile," she said.
"Java it is then. Should I book the Honeymoon Suite?"
"Be serious, Petey. We should at least go somewhere remote enough to live in relative peace while this whole looking for Methos thing finally dies down."
"I was being serious."
"I told you, not Java."
"Well, I don't think the local ladies would take kindly to a topless wedding in Glenfinnan," he grinned. "But I'm sure the men wouldn't mind. You could use some color though...I'm all for the tropics."
Sarah flopped back against the booth and threw up her hands. "You win. Have it your way. Just pack lots of sunscreen."
Methos flipped over the nearest sheet of paper and began to jot down some notes.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
He winked at her mischievously. "Making out a guest list. Do you think Amanda would prefer to sit on the bride's side, or the groom's?"
"Amanda would be the Maid of Honor," Sarah said.
Methos looked up and cocked an eyebrow at her.
"Hypothetically speaking, of course."
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