No Good, Very Bad Day
Disclaimer: No one in this story belongs to me; credit must go to Panzer, Davis & Rysher. University of Seacouver doesn't really belong to me either; the name belongs to the same gentlemen/company above and the description is an amalgamation of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.
Further Hoopla: Oodles of thanks to Joe for the many conversations we've had about bad days-- it got me to thinking: what if this all happened to one person? Unfortunately for Methos, WritingMuse decided to make him the person in question. Feedback, as you all know, is craved; lots of feedback results in spontaneous applause and a spot on a super-duper, nifty keen-o ultra-kewl and lovely pedestal. Oh yeah, hope eveyrone had (and are still having) happy holidays!
"I am thankful that this day is over," announced Methos gustily.
Richie, Duncan, Joe, Amanda and Connor sat blinking at him, their goblets still half-raised in a toast.
"What the hell kind of Christmas toast is that?" Duncan asked.
"One that comes straight from the heart," replied Methos. He took an appreciating glug of the merlot. Seeing that no one was about to carve the turkey-- it was so massive that everyone agreed Amanda either charmed it from the butcher or stolen a serum that could mutate animals into creatures three times its size-- Methos made to wrench a drumstick off.
"Come on, Old Man!" Richie said with a laugh, "You can't say something like that and not explain yourself."
"I can do a great many things, youngling, many of which are still illegal in several countries."
Joe almost snerked his merlot out of his nose.
"Come on, Methos." Amanda nudged him with the dull butter knife. "Give." She slapped his hand not-so-lightly.
Pouting, Methos withdrew and crossed his arms. "No. Just thinking about it might bring all the bad luck back."
Connor half grinned. "Now, now, Amanda. It's understandable that people his age develop some eccentric superstitions."
"People my age?" Methos levelled a glare at the older Highlander that would not have looked strange on a Viking berserker.
Connor shrugged and looked away, hiding his grin.
Lifting his nose to the air, Methos put on a hurt manner. "Very well then. Seeing as you're all so eager to see to my demise, I'll tell you."
The way everyone squealed and clapped like a bunch of kindergarteners at Story Time did not appease him at all. Sighing melodramatically, Methos began.
"It all started when I woke up with my cheek plastered to the toilet seat."
Things only went downhill from there.
Granted it is extremely difficult to top waking up with one's nose practically snorting the dubious contents of said toilet but Methos's karma would be damned if it let him get away with having a full three months of no hassles that easily.
With a grunt, he pushed off the porcelain altar and promptly proceeded to crack his head against the wall. After letting out a series of expletives that would have gotten his ear nailed to the pillory in Medieval France, he glared at the offending wall. As a posing grad student, his bathroom was small, true, but not cupboard-sized. Which only meant one thing.
This was not his bathroom. Ergo, this couldn't be his apartment. But for the life of him, Methos couldn't remember whose apartment it was. In any case, his stomach roared that it was much too empty to spare any blood cells to his brain and sent him off into the world for anything that could be mistaken for food.
"Ragnarok" was the only description that Methos could find for what he saw when he opened the door. Tables upended, splintered chairs (those annoying plastic ones that Methos could never get comfortable in; he didn't really grieve for their demise), shredded papers in every conceivable corner, shattered glass, and dried ink stains all over the floor and the walls-- the list went on and on like Egyptian rites for the dead.
"Oh, my giddy aunt," Methos moaned, slumping against the wall. Now he remembered.
He'd been doing some late-night inventory work to plump up Adam Pierson's reputation and bank account. Cataloguing and cross-referencing seventy-five years' worth of presently-useless-but-possibly-ground-breaking stuff for the archaeology department was so boring it bordered on meditative. Usually, Methos didn't mind it-- he loved the musty smell of the basement, finding little treasures and snickering madly at mistaken conclusions-- but some daft fool who, by some freak of Nature, managed to survive his infancy had interrupted his reverie.
The six-hundred-year-old village idiot had barged in waving a broadsword in the same way Emeril Legasse brandished jalapeno peppers uttering some nonsense like "Fight me and die!" or "Me Conan, you dinner" or maybe even, "Which way to Over-Compensators Anonymous?" Unfortunately, since he was busy dodging fifteen pounds of steel at the time, Methos hadn't had the opportunity to really listen. Oprah would have admonished him soundly.
Escape hadn't been an option; the room was fifteen feet square with wall-to-wall filing cabinets and a good-sized desk. The exit was blocked by Krull the Clodpate. All-in-all, he hadn't been that difficult to defeat but, dammit, Methos hated taking Quickenings! And this man's had reeked, literally and figuratively. Then there was the entire business of taking a Quickening in a small, enclosed space filled with sharp-edged, steel filing cabinets and a sturdy wooden table. It was no wonder he'd passed out singing a multicoloured aria.
Methos picked up a scorched bit of paper. "--ref. no. 62--ridge to--Smellings and Cor--1950" were the only legible words. He had been organizing these files for six weeks not including the time it took to research various footnotes and references. Another two and he would have been finished. Now with his binder blown to bits as well, he was going to have to start from the top. Mistaken conclusions were only funny the first time around; after that, they were usually annoying at best. He wanted to bring the idiot back to life just so he could kick his ass all over again.
He really wasn't in the mood to start researching again so Methos decided to go home, grab a bit to eat and have a proper nap under his lovely down-filled duvet. Smiling lightly at that thought, he wound his way out of the basement, up four narrow flights of stairs and through endless rows of bookshelves in order to exit U of S's main library.
Of course, with Seacouver being in the Pacific Northwest, it would be raining. Not just any type of rain, oh, no, not for him! It was a welcome-winter deluge where the clouds dumped moon-sized buckets of glacier water upon the Earth so that a hawk wouldn't be able to see a foot in front of its beak. When he finally reached his car-- conveniently parked in the cheapest, muddiest, farthest parking lot-- the freezing water had completely soaked Methos' jacket and jeans. A combination of numb fingers and haste made him drop his keys.
"Did I forget to mention that the parking lot had turned into a giant mud puddle?"
Connor nodded, a smirk on his face that was uncharacteristically free of malice. "I did manage to catch that."
"Good," said Methos, "Just wanted to make sure."
When he bent down to try and find it, his backpack's zipper gave. That damned thing had gone through several years' worth of obscure tomes being stuffed in them and four or five cross-country hikes and now of all days when he had practically nothing in them, it decided to give out.
A few papers fluttered into the mud and quickly proceeded to get soaked. Methos managed to rescue one and flipped it over to try and read the rapidly disappearing ink. From what he could deduce, he'd just managed to soak the stamps right off of his beer card at the Den, Seacouver University's most poplar watering hole. One more pint and he would have gotten a free six-pack of Brains Dark. Dammit!
Meantime, while Methos was busy swearing at himself, the ground decided to swallow his keys. He had to spend another couple of minutes digging for them, positive that he handled something that came out of the bad side of a rabid mutt. Then when he finally retrieved the errant keys and gotten into the car, the damned thing let out an ominous cough.
"Please, oh, please, oh, please work, you damned, worthless piece of tin!" Methos slammed the flat of his hand against the steering wheel but only managed to (a) smash his thumb and (b) anger the Vehicular Gods. The engine sputtered, whined and died a peaceful death.
The University of Seacouver was on top of a high hill. Granted, it was relatively small in comparison to the Rocky Mountain Range just a few hours' drive northeast but apparently just high enough that public transit, in its dubious wisdom, deemed it practically isolated and thus only sent buses in frequently during rush hour. Any time outside of those three-hour time frames, they only came every hour-and-a-half. Methos muttered under his breath as he trudged through the rain to the bus stop whose meagre Plexiglas protection was nothing in comparison to a storm in a snit.
He waited a full two hours before he saw a tiny note stuck to the bus schedule with the words "No buses will be available today due to the transit strike" in faded, running type.
Wolves could only ever hope to howl as loudly.
"How could you forget about the transit strike?" Richie demanded, "It's only been on every channel and radio station for the past two weeks."
Amanda patted his knee distractedly. "Hush, darling, let him go on. It's just getting interesting."
The taxi driver was probably a pirate in another life. He was also the only taxi driver in who wailed nasally along with the country music station. Feeling distinctly uncomfortable in his drenched clothes, Methos tried to block out the horrendous lyrics. The late twentieth century had spoiled him horribly; he couldn't reach a higher level of consciousness with damp underwear on.
Because of the transit strike, everybody and their donkey was driving. There were even some people who hitchhiked, the "kind souls" who picked them up slowing traffic down even further. While it would normally take Methos a mere thirty minutes to drive home during rush hour, that morning the ride in taxi stretched out to a full sixty-seven minutes.
He finally arrived at his apartment, forking over way too much money to the grinning urban cowboy. Once inside, he made a beeline for the fridge. There was a wilted head of lettuce or cabbage or bok choy and a pizza with penicillin as its main topping. There was no beer.
Methos pulled back, his brows furrowing. That wasn't possible. How could there be no beer?
He went into the various cupboards. There were shelves and shelves of canned soup, canned veggies, canned tomato paste and an industrial sized pack of toilet paper but no beer!
Now, he started hyperventilating.
Methos glared at Duncan who was doing his best not to inhale a mouthful of stuffing. "I hope that gets stuck in your windpipe and we have to call the ambulance and you have to explain to those nubile young nurses that you choked because you were making fun of the only friend you have in this world."
Duncan fell back out of his chair, stuffing flying out of his mouth, laughing so hard he was convulsing.
"Uh, shouldn't we help him?" Richie asked Joe.
The Watcher only gave his former assignment a brief glance. "He'll be fine. Shut up and let the old man talk."
He nuked a can of soup for breakfast. Except for some bizarre reason, he forgot to take his spoon out of the bowl while he microwaved it. The ensuing fire was bad enough to completely destroy both breakfast and microwave oven. He couldn't use the stove because it had been broken for the past few days and no one had come in to repair it despite the fact that he'd called twice the past week. Methos settled in front of his computer with a can of cold tomato soup and a temper that was bordering on "Caspian" on a scale of "Darius" to "Connor MacLeod with a hangover."
"Thanks for the compliment."
"You're welcome. Mashed yams?"
His computer had a virus. Methos knew this because as soon as he turned it on, funny bands of colour danced on the monitor and the CD-ROM drive burped. He pressed CTRL-ALT-DEL. The computer made a sound akin to "phweeethbblllt" and blacked out. He pressed the restart button. Again and again and again. The computer stayed dead. He contemplated threatening it with his Ivanhoe.
He tried to remember the last time he made back-ups; he usually did every week. But then he remembered that with the end of the term fast approaching and the number of essays and exams he'd yet to correct, he had put off backing his system up for the past three weeks in the belief that his trusty old computer would never crash.
If he had ever doubted before, Methos was now a firm believer that Bill Gates was Evil in its concentrated form.
"You've had worse days, right?" he told himself, "That night you woke up in bed with the Sultan's prize goat. Or maybe when you were trapped in that prison cell with that diseased transvestite serial killer. Or the entire run of the Spanish Inquisition. Today is nothing! There have been worse days in your life!"
If he sounded a bit hysterical near the end of his rant, he ignored himself and stalked to the bathroom. Maybe a nice hot shower would refresh him.
"Y'know what?" Duncan said pointing his knife at Methos. "You don't even have to continue that train of thought. I've heard complaints about the lack of hot water enough times that I know when one's about to come."
The corners of Methos' lips turned up and it was a frightening sight indeed. "Oh, but I can top your ratty old dojo apartment hands down."
There was hot water. There was a lot of hot water. There were loads and loads and loads of smoking-hot water. What wasn't available was cold water. After cooking Methos to a juicy medium-rare, the plumbing system decided to add further insult to injury by beaning him with the showerhead.
"All right!" he yelled, waving a fist to the heavens. "You've had your laugh. Let's pick on the old, skinny duffer with the excellent wardrobe and see if he gets so miserable that he cuts his own head off to end the pain! Well, I won't give you the satisfaction, you hear me?! I won't--"
Methos paused in mid-rant. He was talking to the ceiling in Farsi again and it was only one o' clock in the afternoon.
He looked around the room, slowing taking in any other accident possibilities. Didn't eighty percent of all accidents occur at home? Not that he was safer outside where there were freak lighting strikes, cars with faulty brakes and birds with full bowels.
So basically, he had to survive the next four hours until MacLeod's Christmas feast. All of this without a single drop of beer. It was a daunting mission indeed.
Amanda rolled her eyes. "Oh, however did you cope?"
"Good question. Right up there with 'who built Stonehenge?' Of course," Methos paused to swallow his forkful of turkey, "if any bothered to concentrate of the proper clues, maybe they'd get closer to the answer."
Joe's eyes lit up brighter than Richie's stereo system.
Connor patted the Watcher's arm. "Down, boy. You know he's just teasing you."
"Oh, am I?" Methos sent them all an enigmatic gaze, one brow arching up ever so slightly.
Joe whimpered. If he'd had a tail, it would be wagging at fifty kilometres an hour.
Duncan glared at his friend. "Methos, stop teasing the mortal. It's cruel."
Methos pouted. "Oh, you never let me have any fun."
"What happened next?" Richie asked.
"Well, naturally, they abandoned Stonehenge and--"
"Naw, with the rest of the day!"
Despite having prosthetic legs, Joe was able to lunge across the dining table and wrap his hands around Richie's throat.
Since he had no beer and had nothing better to do, Methos opted to take a nap as planned. Theoretically, a nap is supposed to be a peaceful reprieve from daily stresses. His was anything but. He dreamt that he was Prometheus chained to a rock but instead of a vulture eating his liver, he'd had various everyday objects attacking his person. He was just about to get his eyes plucked out by a set of eyelash curlers when a hard shudder jerked him awake.
Something was wrong with the temperature in his hole-in-the-wall. Methos gathered his covers about his body. It was a comfortable enough provided one was a polar bear. He rang the superintendent only to find out that the power was out for his block and only his block; something about flooding the underground wires. Keeping himself ensconced in a duvet cocoon, the only way he could get the warmth back into his hands and feet, Methos took his journal from his bedside table and began to write.
After a good portion of the hour had passed, Methos' bladder began to make demands upon him, forcing him to venture out of his nice, soft, edge-less, warm, dry bed to go to the toilet. He lay down his journal (which was stained with blue, black and marbled green ink) and his pen (the fourth one in a row that had leaked said ink on the journal) on the mattress space to his right.
He could just envision the toilet spitting its contents at him or a mass attack of silverfish. Whispering a prayer he'd forgotten he'd known, Methos inched towards the sinister door. A quick check of the floor revealed no puddles that he could slip on. Everything electrical was unplugged. The light fixture seemed to be screwed in properly. Just to be on the safe side, he hugged the wall to keep out from under it. He managed to reach the toilet unscathed.
Letting out a sigh of relief, Methos proceeded to empty his bladder. It didn't take as long as it usually did considering he still hadn't had a drop of beer --between further injury and beer, injury just barely won. A bit distracted by the fact that he hadn't encountered any hostile household appliances yet, Methos hurried to zip his fly and rush back into the safety of his bed.
Catching one's genitalia in a zipper isn't fatal; it only made one wish that one were dead.
All the males dining compulsively crossed their legs and hissed in sympathy.
The lone female had to excuse herself to the bathroom where, seconds later, the sound of demented giggling floated out into the dining room.
Immortal healing took care of the injury but not quickly enough in Methos' opinion. He hobbled slightly as he left the bathroom. A quick look at the clock told him that he still had a little less than two hours until dinner. And he still had to prepare a dish to bring; Duncan had declared a potlatch feast this Christmas.
As the elder of the group, Methos had generously offered to lug along something exotic and, preferably, beer-basted. Unfortunately (or fortunately) his stove was still broken and the power was still out. Methos decided to just bring plain old beer and maybe some nachos and salsa from the nearest grocery store.
"It's a testament," the Immortal told his journal as he put it away, "to how much I think of those people that I would risk life and limb to go out and buy them food that they will only make fun of later on. Hmph." He grabbed his coat from its hook, one of his many swords from its hiding place, slipped the blade into the specialized sheathe and cut a three-foot slit through the material.
"Of course." Methos sighed and tried again with a different sword and coat, this time taking just enough care to make the most meticulous of brain surgeons jealous.
One of the bonuses of living in a college community was the generous peppering of corner stores to cater to the whims of the students. Methos managed to buy his nachos, salsa and sour cream in under an hour, an especially remarkable feat considering he dropped a jar of salsa, went back to his apartment get his wallet, knocked over a display case of poinsettias, went to an ATM machine to put money in his wallet, went to yet another ATM machine because the first one swallowed his bankcard, and slipped on the slushy sidewalks on the way back to the corner store.
Then, it was off to MacLeod's hideously well-decorated apartment where everyone would be undoubtedly well dressed and smelling of expensive cologne. "With gourmet dishes, too." Methos sniffed. "Bah, humbug. I liked the Roman version of this feast better. At least they didn't make any religious excuses for gorging yourself all night and showing off your riches by buying every little acquaintance a present they probably wouldn't like. Damn department stores and so-called Christmas sales and Martha Stewart, too," he added as his feet fell out from underneath him yet again. This time, the Ivanhoe's hilt stabbed him square in the middle of his left buttock.
I don't need his aggravation," he continued as his fellow pedestrians gave the slender, muttering madman a wide berth, "I'm just going to dump these crushed bags of nachos and these chemically preserved, artificially coloured, insecticide drenched vegetables and herbs at MacLeod's, grab the nearest bottle of alcohol and curl up in his bed.
"Surely," he rolled his eyes, "no gods of bad luck would dare touch the bed of golden boy of existence! Why, even lint doesn't dare rest upon any of his dark clothing. Not a strand of hair has the audacity to be out of place even in the midst of a vigorous sword fight against ten of the world's best martial artists. I'll bet he even looks perfectly, Playgirl attractive in bed with Madonna Ciccone hersel--oof!" He scrambled for purchase against an invincible patch of ice and just barely managed to save himself by hugging a snowman. Its misshapen head rolled off.
Methos grunted at the headless figure and continued on his way, not bothering to swipe away the icy evidence of his crime. "And since when has the owner of two failed businesses been able to afford to buy and renovate a three-bedroom house anyway? Can you say 'discretion,' MacLeod? I know it'll be a little difficult considering you've been raised to gargle your consonants.
"At least he had the presence of mind not to invite that paranoid psychopath he call his kinsman." Methos turned the corner and slammed his shin against a newspaper dispenser that had tipped over. "I can just imagine what he'd bring over for dinner. Haggis." This was said with the same tone that one would use to describe bodily waste. "And because no one wants to hurt MacLeod the Younger's feelings or spark MacLeod the Elder's temper, everyone will take a generous helping of the vile stuff and I will look the villain when I refuse.
"Next time, I'll take the initiative and spend Christmas in New Zealand. How can anyone not be merry sipping margaritas in a semi-isolated beach?" He moved to avoid a small puddle only step into a deeper one that was hidden by an oncoming family of seven. "Yes, New Zealand is definitely the way to go. Just me, my laptop and Amanda in the lower half of a Gautier original bikini."
By the time he finished the thirty-minute walk to MacLeod's, Methos' collective bruises and minor lacerations wouldn't have looked out of place on a medieval torture victim. Wearily, he dropped his groceries and let his head thunk hollowly only the door, leaning all his weight on it. He pressed the doorbell and didn't release the button until the door opened. Only paying the slightest of attentions at the buzzing presence of another Immortal-- and perhaps feeling, in the back of his mind, that having his head cut off would be a nice respite-- Methos fell into the arms of his greeter.
"And are you another fine example of the kind of scumbags Duncan lets into the backdoor?" asked a man with an unfamiliar accent.
Methos held back his groan until he opened one hazel eye to confirm his suspicions. When he saw the lanky man with dirty-blonde hair and a Columbia University sweater that had gone one too many rounds with the washing machine, he admitted that his day just got topped.
Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod was hugging him.
Connor snorted. "You think you're disturbed? I'm the one who had your cheek snuggled in the crook of my neck and my hands perilously close to your skinny arse!" He threw a nacho at Duncan after the younger Scotsman kicked him in the shins.
Richie, generously slathering salsa over his nacho, said, "Hey, I liked what you brought!"
"Thank you, Richard," Methos said with a regal nod. "Well, then, there's your Christmas story for the year. I hope you all enjoyed it and thanks ever so for laughing at my mishaps."
Oh, poor Methos," Amanda cooed, reaching out to ruffle his hair. "Don't worry, I'm sure it'll only get better."
It can hardly get worse," added Joe. Saying that, he lifted his goblet. "Merry Christmas, folks."
"Hear, hear." Duncan raised his own glass. "And a great new year to everyone from paranoid psychopaths to sex deities to people who are just guys." He stood, as did everyone else, to touch glasses.
Unfortunately, Duncan's other hand came down on Connor's still-full bowl of soup, sending the whole thing splashing into the younger Highlander's new cashmere sweater. Amanda, reacting on instinct, reached out to try to catch the bowl before it broke. She forgot that she was still holding her goblet. A healthy helping of merlot splashed all over Duncan's face. Even as he tried to get away from both wine and soup, Duncan slipped on the remote control car that Richie gave Connor as a gag gift. He fell with a hearty thwack on the hardwood floor with his forearm exactly on the spot where Connor would soon slam down his chair.
Methos smiled, full of grateful relief. "Merry Christmas indeed." He tipped his chair back...