Johannesburg, South Africa 2096
Connor MacLeod stomped his shovel into the thick African sod and wedged it forward and back twice, glancing at his companion out of the corner of his eye. She was down on her knees with an old, dull dagger ripping straight cuts through the turf with methodic precision and he could see beads of sweat running down from the nape of her neck and disappearing into the wet cotton of her grey tank top.
This was her house, though he'd moved many of his things there after their return from Japan two weeks ago, and he was helping her put in a bed for a garden--flowers, she'd said. Connor scowled. Japan. What a fiasco that had been. He didn't want to think about it. At all.
It wasn't the fact that he'd wound up in need of rescue. Or even the fact that he had been wrong about Duncan's whereabouts and the whole thing could have been avoided. No, everything that went wrong in Japan could be summed up neatly in the livid bruises that were evident on Sarah MacGreggor's face when she'd broken into the room where he was being held hostage. She was immortal--they'd healed almost instantly, of course. But, for Connor, the shadows were still visible, reminding him that his mistakes could have cost her her life. Japan was not a safe place for anyone to be. Not any more.
"You're brooding," Sarah said, tossing a wide strip of sod to the left.
Connor watched it land neatly atop the growing pile they were generating. "No."
"You are," she answered, grunting slightly as her dagger caught on a particularly stubborn bit of thatch.
He stomped the shovel in again. "I don't brood."
She looked up suddenly, amusement evident in both her smirk and the twinkle in her murky green eyes. "Right. Neither does Duncan. I forgot."
Connor offered her a small glare and returned to his task.
Sarah rocked back onto her heels and ran her right forearm across her forehead, studying him. She'd known Connor for centuries and was fairly well versed with his moods. This, though, this sharing a home and a bed was new to both of them. "You're not going to talk to me about it, are you?"
He stomped again. "About what?"
She snorted out a sigh of defeat and flipped the dagger neatly into the ground, standing. "Okay. You win. And it's getting too hot for this, let's stop for the day."
Connor glanced at the sky. The sun was much higher than it had been when they started and all of the shadows in her yard were gone. He wasn't wearing a watch, but guessed that it was already late morning. "Yeah," he said, stomping the shovel in one last time and offering her a hand up.
She took it, but tugged downwards instead, urging him to join her on the ground. A brief tug of war ensued, but he capitulated quickly and dropped into the dirt with a small grunt. Sarah waited for him to get situated, then moved around behind him and wrapped both arms around his torso, resting her chin on his shoulder.
They sat in silence for several minutes and Connor took the opportunity to linger in the curious mixture of scents. Earth, roses from the nearby bush, sweat--both his own and Sarah's--and the slightly tangy scent of her shampoo. Bottle it, he thought, and you might just have the best selling fragrance in the world. Call it...Luck. For despite all his guilt about what happened in Japan and despite the fact that he knew this couldn't last forever, Connor MacLeod was keenly aware of the fact that he was, perhaps, the luckiest man alive.
"What are we doing, Sarah?" He asked.
"We're sitting in the dirt, Connor."
He chuckled, but it faded into a slight frown. "That's not what I meant."
"I know," she squeezed him lightly and planted a quick kiss on his jaw. "What are you worried about?"
It took him a while, an eternity, maybe, but Connor finally got the words out. "Your Skinny Englishman."
Sarah got up abruptly and paced away from him, leaving his back cold despite the African sun. She got three steps away and turned suddenly, flinging both arms out in an all-encompassing gesture. "Look around, Connor. He's not here. He's never been here. I haven't even seen him for almost fifty years." Her hands fell flat to her side, making a sharp crack against her thighs.
Connor nodded. He knew all that. He knew that there was not one single trace of the world's oldest man in Sarah's house. No pictures. Nothing of the life they had lead together as man and wife in London. She'd left it all behind on a summer night in 2058. He knew that because he'd been there. But Connor also knew that, eventually, Methos *would* walk through Sarah's front door. And he didn't want to think about what would happen then.
"*You're* here, Connor," she said. "And you're not here as a substitute or a consolation prize. I thought you knew that."
He nodded again, getting to his feet. "I do."
"Okay, then," she smiled suddenly. "So let's leave him to his life--wherever that may be--and concentrate on ours."
Sarah's smile was lop-sided and had been since the day they met. It crinkled her nose and was, more often than not, rather infectious. Connor had always liked it--even when he'd only had eyes for Heather.
Ours. Our life. Together. He liked the sound of that. He liked it enough, in fact, to wad up all his doubts about their relationship and shove them aside. She was, for the time being, anyway, his. And he liked the sound of that, too.
"Come here," he said, opening his arms.
She crossed the distance in one impossibly long stride and was kissing him before Connor could even recover his balance from the force of her landing in his embrace.
He liked the way she kissed, too. And there was that smell again.
Sarah pulled back from the kiss and gave a slightly breathless smile. "You smell like dirt," she said.
He glanced at the spot they had been working in, seriously considering dragging her down and making love right there in the soil. "So do you," he answered. "I like it."
She followed his gaze and read his thoughts clearly. "Seriously painful sunburn, Connor MacLeod."
"Maybe," he pulled her closer and ran both hands up under the back of her tank top. Her back was slick with sweat and his thumbs glided along her shoulder blades easily, sending a slight shiver down her spine that made him smile. "But I don't care."
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