A Postcard from AdamAuthor lferion
, aka Oh, Like I'm Going To Tell You?Written for:
Methos, Alexa Rating:
First of all, vast thanks are due to my betas without whose input and commentary this would be not only much shorter but not nearly as good. Any infelicities left are all my own.Summary:
A challenge in CairoDisclaimer:
Not mine. So not mine. The launch-point for this story is "Postcards from Alexa – Postcards from Athens" by Gillian Horvath. I'm not Gillian, and this story in no way is intended to be anything but a sincere homage. Everyone else belongs to Panzer/Rysher/Gaumont etc.
The rest of the notes are to be found at the end of the story.
A Postcard from Adam
-- A Missing Scene from "Postcards from Athens"
HLH_shortcut story for DameMehri
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Alexa loved Cairo even more than Adam had hoped she would. He hoped she would still love it after tonight.
Deflect the blade striking at his face with the dagger. Chop with the short-sword at the back of the idiot's knee. Remember to breathe, to stay low, keep moving.
The earth beneath his feet was familiar: still warm from the sun, packed by many feet, the dust a distinct slide, a smell and a bite in the back of Methos' throat. That earth had not changed in thousands of years. The blade in his hand was not familiar enough. He wasn't traveling with the Ivanhoe – that had been left in Paris because he really didn't want to explain to Alexa why he was taking a sword on vacation – but he had brought his long dagger. Once it became obvious the young idiot wasn't going to let him go without a challenge he'd retrieved the Roman-style gladius from a stash he'd left in a vault of the Banque du Caire, in the 1970s when it was a branch of Credit Lyonnais. Alexa had been delighted at the idea of 'iron safes' in the modern world, and hadn't wondered at his doing an errand for MacLeod. Methos was glad that the Middle East still valued 'precious things' enough to provide long term storage with few questions.
He hated fighting children. This one was only a little more than 200, and as far as Methos was concerned, he was no older than Richie. The boy (not really a boy – he'd had his first death in his early 30s – but still) only had a few moves but was fast and very energetic. Methos parried again, hard, slamming the longer blade away from his face, but the short-sword did not have the reach of the Ivanhoe, and the return-stroke with the gladius only sliced the boy's jacket, did not reach flesh.
He'd tried to leave the hotel room quietly, and he hoped Alexa had not woken to find him gone; but could not allow himself to worry about that, or he would not be able to get back to her to find out, and that was simply unacceptable. He hadn't wanted this fight at all, and under any other circumstances he would have avoided it by the simple expedient of not being there to meet the man … boy. Methos had no compunction whatsoever about walking away from a challenge.
But Peter Kemp-Pascoe knew what hotel they were staying in. Knew what Alexa looked like and that they were together. Had strongly implied that he was not averse to involving her to bring him to the point. Unthinkable.
**A rasp of Presence shivered down his nerves as he watched Alexa admire the façade of the Coptic Museum. Methos deepened his scholar's slouch, aware of the weight of the dagger sheathed at the small of his back, the light, unweighted movement of his swordless jacket. He kept his face still, refusing to look around, his eyes following Alexa even as his other senses sharpened. There were too many people present.
There was no immediate danger. Cairo was a large city. It could merely be a local. The hairs on the back of his neck refused to believe him. The sense of Presence crested and a shadow fell over him where he sat.
"Enjoying the view?"
Adam allowed himself to startle and shrank a little further into his jacket. He looked up to face the stocky man standing a little too close with an erect bearing that spoke of military habits and an accent not far south of Hadrian's Wall. Cold blue eyes stared back at him. Not a local. The hairs on the back of his neck had been right. "Oh, yes. Egypt is wonderfully full of history. The pharaohs and the pyramids, the Coptic manuscripts and the Rosetta stone, all worth seeing, don't you think?" Harmless. I'm harmless and not worth the effort. The smile that answered this sally was as cold as the eyes.
"And the Battle of the Nile? Does that interest you as well?"
"Not really my field," Adam answered carefully, letting a little bewilderment color his tone. "Languages are more my thing." We don't have to fight, really.
A hard smile curved the man's mouth. "Ah, but battles are my 'thing', boy." The smile broadened. "Peter Kemp-Pascoe, of the Bellerophon."
"Adam Pierson." Methos did not disguise the reluctance he felt, knowing the other would read it as fear. Let him underestimate me. Let him think me wet behind the ears. Let the child of twenty-two decades think himself the man, and Adam the boy.
Pascoe barked a laugh. "1:00am tonight. Meet me." He named a place in the older, more industrial part of the city on the edge of the Eastern Desert.
Alexa was finished with her pictures. She looked across the plaza and waved at him, radiant with happiness. Oh gods. Alexa. "We don't have to fight. Please." Let him think me a coward. Just let us get away without a fight.
"I think we do."
"Tomorrow, then, not tonight." He offered without much hope. He was going to have to get a sword. This one was far too young to be willing to walk away.
"I could come to you, if my location is too much trouble. We could meet in the roof-garden of the New Palace hotel. Nothing like the elegance of the old Semiramis, but merely up a flight of steps for you." The menace was unmistakable, for all the lightness of his tone. Pascoe's hand was heavy on his shoulder.
"No!" Gods no. Not at the hotel. Methos swallowed hard, breath caught in his throat. He wanted to run, vanish, be somewhere else. Not an option. He needed to get to the bank.
Alexa had paused on her way toward him. She seemed to be helping a pair of older ladies find something in a guidebook. Methos remembered the wonderful fin-de-siècle Semiramis well. Alexa's eyes had danced at his description of the modern tower-block version that had replaced it, laughing at the idea of staying there. She was very pleased at the older, smaller, still gracious hotel he had found instead. They'd had breakfast on the roof this morning. She was smiling at him now as she approached, the ladies helped on their way. Pascoe followed his glance.
"Quite the girl you have there, Adam. I'd take her somewhere special this evening, if I were you." The hand left his shoulder with a patronizing little squeeze. "Until tonight then. Enjoy your day." He nodded at Alexa as he passed her.
Adam shivered in the sunlight. Methos shook off the chill and grinned at the woman he loved past sense.
"Who was that, Adam? Someone you know?" Alexa sat next to him and threaded her arm through his. Her fingers were warm in his cold hands.
"Nobody. Just passing the time." He kissed her nose and tugged her back up. "Let's find some lunch."
The jolting force of the blows against the dagger was beginning to tell in his wrist and elbow. Pascoe was getting frustrated at not finishing him quickly, and he was hitting harder as a result. Harder and starting to get sloppy. Methos waited for the strike he knew was coming and cross-blocked with the sword. Metal grated in his ears. Quicker than thought he slipped the dagger under the blades to pierce the boy's throat. There was just enough time for Pascoe to realize what had happened, that he had lost
, as Methos followed through the parry and brought the gladius full circle in a backhand blow with all of his not inconsiderable strength.
In the preternatural silence he clearly heard the dull clatter of the longsword and the muffled thump of the head falling to the packed sand, and then heard nothing but the scream of lightning as the quickening took him. The gladius was too short to ground with, but the earth beneath his feet was forgiving. Breathe. Accept. Release. Breathe.Peter Nicholas Kemp-Pascoe, Nick to his friends. Born in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1778 in a northerly gale. Survived the battle of Aboukir Bay as Lieutenant on the Bellerophon, died Captain of the Ardent seven years later when she foundered in a squall. Egypt had always been lucky for him, before.
More than two hundred years without the need to endure a quickening and now two in less than six months. This one at least had been mercifully brief, and did not come freighted with the malice that Kristin's had.
It was too much to hope that the quickening would settle before he got back to the hotel.
… … …
It was Methos who returned to the New Palace hotel and the lovely, quaint room with the lattice-work screens that let in the night breeze. Methos who threw off the coat that was too heavy for the climate and not heavy enough to hide either his loathing for the fight or his charged ecstasy at winning and surviving to come back. Methos who stripped off sandy, sweaty clothes with silent, jerky haste and crept into the bed, into Adam's place, unable to bear not being near her, with her. Methos who was afraid that she would be distressed by his distress, and so held himself still beside her.
Let her be asleep. Let me not have woken her. Let her never know how close the danger came. He curled more tightly under the light coverlet, close enough to feel her warmth, not quite touching. He was safe. They were safe. He could feel the tremors beginning, waves that shivered through him, shaking him as he tried to be quiet, to be Adam, to let the exhaustion carry him into sleep without disturbing her.
And then Alexa reached out to him; gathered him close; took him in and held him. She surprised him, again, with her acceptance and eager response to his ragged need. Matching him, meeting his fierce desire with her own strength."I love you. I love you. I love you." Two voices, one thought.
After he brought her to climax and found a measure of relief himself, he held her as she slept. Electricity still ran under his skin, making him want to start at every noise and movement. Holy Ground. He needed Holy Ground.
They could leave in the morning. They could go to Jerusalem, where every stone in the old city was sacred, and he could fit himself back into his skin, back into Adam. Back into the person who could be with Alexa.
For now, for this night, he was alive, they were together, and that was enough. For tonight, she was his holy ground.
… … …
Alexa loved Jerusalem even more than Cairo.
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Alexa's point of view on the events of this story are to be found in Highlander: An Evening at Joe's
edited by Gillian Horvath, inthe story "Postcards from Athens" by Gillian Horvath and found starting on page 145. My story would never have come about at all if Gillian hadn't written hers and made the book it appears in happen.
'Iron Safes' are to be found here
on the Banque du Caire webpage.
The Battle of the Nile (also called the battle of Aboukir Bay) was fought on the first of August, 1798. There is a link here
that tells about the battle and the part the Bellerophon played.The first Semiramis hotel