Author: Wee Willy Winkle aka jinxed_wood
Written for: hafital
Characters/Pairings: Methos/Alexa, Methos/Duncan
Author's Notes: My brain told me this was totally the story I should write, despite damning evidence to the contrary. I hope you enjoy it all the same.
Summary Sometimes, love is messy, and often it is cruel...a tag fic of sorts for Indiscretions.
"It's like he's gone, Methos,” Joe said, on the phone. “Like the lights are on but it's a burglar in the house.”
He came to a halt in the middle of the square and felt the warm fragility of Alexa's hand in his as she squeezed slightly. He summoned a smile and she smiled back tentatively, her finely drawn features showing the telltale signs of illness that she tried so desperately to hide. He felt his mouth go dry.
“Hello? Methos? Are you still there?”
“Gotta go, Joe, we'll talk later,” Methos said, trying to keep his voice casual as he hung up.
“Is everything okay?” Alexa asked.
Methos hesitated. “We should go back to the hotel.”
“Of course you should go,” Alexa insisted. “Duncan is your friend...a good friend.”
Methos knew what the hesitation meant. He could see it in her eyes, an acknowledgement of things left unsaid; Alexa was nothing if not observant. Methos looked down at his hands, feeling the weight of the lies between them. He had spun her a tale with only a kernel of truth within it. Duncan was in trouble and he needed help. He felt the bed dip as she sat down beside him
“You're going,” she declared.
“But we're supposed-”
She laid a finger on his lips. “No buts, Adam,” she said. “I'll be here when you get back. I'm not going anywhere.” Another lie. Guilt crawled inside him. It had all seemed so simple at first. He had figured out pretty quickly he loved them both. He had left self denial behind him a long time ago - but Alexa was mortal and Duncan could wait. It had been almost an easy decision to leave Seacouver.
Except now it seemed Duncan wouldn't wait. He had taken a dark quickening and, unlike Joe, he wasn't sceptical about its existence; he had seen one once before. Caspian had never been an angel, but the changes wrought in him after he had taken that head in Thebes seemed to wipe out what little humanity he had left. He tried to imagine Duncan's eyes lit with that same gleeful madness and shuddered.
“That's it” Alexa said, getting to her feet. “I'm packing your bag while you book your ticket.” She nudged his knee. “Get moving, Adam, I'm not taking no for an answer.”
He watched her as she bustled over to the wardrobe, trying to disguise her faltering steps. She and Duncan were so different and yet, in some ways, exactly the same. If their roles were reversed, Methos knew Duncan would be packing for him too.
“Two thousand francs,” the farmer declared, hands on hips, a challenging look in his eye.
Methos eyed the old Station Wagon warily. “How long has it been since you've turned the engine over?” he asked.
“My wife used it just yesterday,” the farmer lied cheerfully. “Do you want it or not?”
“Seventeen hundred and it's a deal.”
Methos smiled wryly. The car was many things but a deal wasn't one of them. Daylight robbery was more like it, but beggars couldn't be choosers and it was a Sunday. The car rental agency he'd used at the airport wasn't able to replace his car until tomorrow and that was time he didn't have. He counted out the francs and put out his hand for the keys.
The engine, amazingly enough, sprung to life. Now if it only lasted until he got to Le Harve...
His mobile rang, and he cradled it between his ear and chin as he drove. “Joe, any news?”
“He was thrown off the boat,” Joe said.
Methos braced himself. “Anyone got eyes on him?”
There was a long silence, and then, “It's not pretty, Methos.”
“Has he killed anyone yet?” The yet hung between them like a threat.
“No, but... Methos, get to him quick,” Joe said.
“That's the plan,” Methos said grimly.
“Don't take this personally, old man,” Joe muttered, “But your plans aren't worth shit.”
“Later, Joe.” Methos hung up. Joe wasn't wrong, of course. Lately, his plans bordered on the disasterous; he suspected it was because his heart wasn't in it.
His phone rang again. It was Alexa.
“Adam,” she said, her warm voice flooding though him. He allowed himself a moment to bask in it.
“Miss me already?” he teased.
She laughed lightly over the phone. “Of course, lunch isn't the same without your running commentary on the historical significance of every single item on the menu.”
He smiled into the phone. “Well, if you read it to me, I can still oblige,” he said.
She laughed again. “I was just phoning to tell you I need to go into hospital for a few tests. Nothing serious, they just want to check my bloods.”
His hands tightened on the wheel. “Shall I come back?”
“Don't be silly. It's only a few tests. I just didn't want you to think I'd run off on you if you rang. They won't let me use my cell on the ward.”
“Hmm, maybe I should be suspicious...”
“Oh, you,” Alexa said, “I'll call you as soon as I get out. Bye Adam, I love you.”
She hung up, and Adam looked at the phone. He didn't know what to be more upset about. The fact she'd lied to him, or the fact he'd let her. He wondered how bad it was, if she had weeks or days. She'd said she loved him. He swallowed, ignoring the tightness in his chest. He had made his choice, it was too late to back out now.
The wind pulled at him mercilessly as he chased after Duncan out of the church. He should have known it had gone too smoothly at Le Harve, even with the gunfire. Things never went smoothly for him.
He watched as Duncan opened the door to the red sports car he'd appropriated and looked up at him. Christ, the smile Duncan beamed in his direction spoke volumes. He'd naively thought that if he got the Highlander on holy ground, he could get through to him but, even in the church, he had seemed somehow diminished, somehow... wrong.
And it wasn't just the nine o'clock shadow.
He hurried back to his car. He knew he didn't have a hope in hell of catching up to him in the old rust bucket he was driving; he needed to find out where he was going to next.
Time to call Joe again.
Duncan MacLeod, of the clan MacLeod, had killed Sean Burns.
This couldn't be happening.
Methos blinked the tears away and looked up at the sky, which was still ominously dark. He didn't think he could do what needed to be done; he wasn't strong enough to kill him, not in mind, not in heart. For the first time, in a long, long time, he didn't know what to do.
He had a feeling this just might break him.
Sighing, he looked around for his blade and found it buried in a drift of leaves, He stared at it, wondering why he still even carried it around. It was a good blade, he'd had it for nearly two centuries and had taken a grand total of three heads with it. Maybe he had been too long out of the game. He had looked at Duncan and all he'd felt was pain and loss. The Highlander was a threat, he should have taken his head.
The truth reared its head.
He had reconciled himself to losing Alexa, but he didn't think he could handle it if he lost Duncan as well. Ironic really, all that hate in his life, all that fear and despair, and it was his ability to love that might kill him in the end. Kronos might have the last laugh after all. Maybe it was time to turn over a new leaf, find a new blade. Learn how to kill again.
But then there was Alexa, still holding on for him, and Duncan...
He stared at the blade in his hand and a glimmer of a thought came to him. It was a crazy, wild hope, but what else had he left? He pulled out his phone and rang Joe.
“Did you find him?””
“He just killed Sean Burns, Joe.”
“Jesus, Methos.” There was a pained pause. “The Watchers know you were going to Sean Burns' place. They'll ask questions. I'll try to cover for you as much as I can but...”
Methos sighed. “Don't worry, I'll make myself scarce, but I need your help – I need Rachel MacLeod's address.”
“What? Why? You don't think he'll go after her...?”
“Think of it as a last Hail Mary, Joe,” he said. Because that's exactly what it is, he though ruefully.
The road from Glasgow to the small village Rachel lived in was treacherous to say the least, and it was nearly closing time when he entered the pub. He hadn't called ahead as he wasn't sure how to broach the request over the phone, but as he eyed her chatting with the locals at the bar, he came to the conclusion that the direct approach might be the best. He sat in the snug and waited for her to make her way over.
“What can I do for you?” she asked.
“Duncan MacLeod needs your help,” he said.
Her eyes flickered. “We close in half an hour.”
He nodded. “In that case, a pint of bitter, please.”
It didn't take much to convince her to hand over the blade. He suspected that Rachel MacLeod was more than half in love with her kinsman.
Look at me. See me as I am. Not as I was, or what you want to me to be.
Nothing stings quite like the truth but, still, there he was in Darius' church. Had Duncan been drawn here for some some mysterious reason? Did it really matter?
“Come with me,” he'd asked – no, begged.
And Duncan MacLeod, of the clan MacLeod, did.
They weren't going to make it to the well before dark and and it had been nearly two days since Methos had slept. He was going to go off the road if he didn't catch a few winks soon but he didn't trust Duncan among other people, so an inn or a hotel were out of the question.
Duncan, grim and silent, stared into the darkness, lost in whatever hell he'd conjured up for himself. Not for the first time, Methos wondered what he'd gotten himself into. Kronos had long ago accused him of having a death wish when it came love, and he was beginning to suspect there was an element of truth in that.
An abandoned farmhouse loomed into view, more than half its roof caved in, and Methos came to a decision.
“I need to sleep,” he said aloud.
Duncan stared at him with deadened eyes, and Methos wondered how long it had been since he'd slept.
“You're willing to sleep with me by your side?” Duncan asked, and Methos felt a thrill of unease run down his spine.
“I don't have a choice, do I?” he said lightly.
“Oh, we all have choices, Methos,” Duncan said smoothly.
Methos ignored him as he pulled into the short lane that ran up to the farmhouse. He eyed the old building warily, wondering if he were better off trying to sleep in the car, but the thought of being asleep in such close proximity to Duncan filled him with dread.
He got out of the car, and tried not to show the wariness in his face as Duncan got out after him.
“You're seriously going to make us sleep here tonight?” Dark amusement laced Duncan's voice.
“A nice fire, a few throw cushions, I'm sure it'll be very cosy,” Methos said lightly.
“Yeah, well, you're collecting the firewood,” Duncan said, and Methos nodded.
“I'll see you inside,” he said, as he sidled over to a clump of trees to the left of the building and tried not to look like he was tempted to run. He needed space, room to breathe; what had made him think this plan would work? He wondered if he could make it back to the car before Duncan caught up with him. He could be back in Athens by morning, basking in the fading light of Alexa's love.
But, oh, Duncan.
His shoulder was slammed into a tree, and Methos felt his breath closed off as Duncan's rammed his forearm into his windpipe.
“You know,” Duncan half whispered, half hissed into his ear, “I never understood your fascination with me. I'm barely four centuries old and you're over five thousand....and I amn't that pretty.” Methos felt consciousness slide away from him as Duncan shifted his weight again, pressing deeper into his throat. Slowly, he reached into his coat as Duncan glared into his eyes.
“Isn't there that pretty barmaid waiting for you?” Duncan muttered, “Or has the cancer taken her already?” His eyes pulled away, and Methos felt the abrasive scratch of Duncan's beard on his cheek before his mouth, harsh and demanding, plundered his.
For a moment, Methos forgot everything, forgot Alexa, forgot the dark quickening, forgot the threatening horizon of loss and death.
The pressure on his throat eased as Duncan pulled away. “I think I may have to kill you, old man,” he muttered. “How else can I be rid of you?”
And that was when, through his coat, Methos shot him point blank through the chest.
Another three miles to go. He didn't think he was going to make it. He revved the Station Wagon's engine as he turned down the dirt road. The car jolted violently as he encountered potholes that made a mockery of the suspension.
Methos risked a glance at Duncan, who was still slumped against the passenger door. He still hadn't moved, which meant he had to be faking it. It didn't take an immortal that long to revive from a gunshot, dark quickening or no dark quickening. It was more likely he had spotted the glock on the dashboard above the wheel and had decided to play possum.
“I know you're awake, you know,” he said.
Duncan's eyes slowly opened, and Methos almost faltered under the gaze. He looked so bewildered and lost.
He looked back to the road, and felt relief flood through him as he realised they'd arrived at last.
“Right, we're here....”
It was over and he was himself again.
He was Duncan MacLeod, but Methos suspected something inside him had broken. He watched him warily are he rolled up the climbing rope. Duncan was leaning against the bonnet, his hair damp and clinging to his shoulders, the MacLeod sword cradled in his hands.
“Mac?” he asked softly.
“Methos,” he said brokenly, “I killed Sean.”
Methos could only look at him. there was nothing he could do about the truth. “It's time to go home,” he said eventually.
“Didn't you hear me?” Duncan burst out.
“I heard you,” Methos said softly. “But answer me this. Do you think Sean would want you to tear yourself apart with guilt or to go on and live your life to the best of your ability?” Methos caught his hand, ignoring the flinch.
“What if I can't do it, Methos?” he asked quietly. “What if I'm not strong enough?”
Slowly, Methos leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips before resting his forehead against his. “Then you have friends who will help you, who love you.”
Duncan closed his eyes, but nodded and pulled away. “Time to face the music.”
Rachel at the barge had been a surprise but, Methos thought in reflection, one that was probably for the best. If she hadn't been there, he wasn't sure if he could have left, and he had Alexa to think of.
Alexa who had never made it out of the hospital.
He took a deep breath, and walked onto cancer ward, eyeing the numbers on the doors until he reached the right one. He pushed the door open and felt something stop inside him as he saw her, so pale and small, her eyes closed. In that moment, he knew she'd never leave this bed. That Alexa, his beautiful and bright Alexa, was nearing the end.
He pulled a chair up to the bed, and gently picked up her hand, pierced with an IV drip. Her fingers tightened incrementally in his, and Methos looked at her face, startled. Her eyes had opened.
“Is he safe?” she asked softly.
Silently, he nodded.
“Good, I'm glad.” Her eyes closed. “He's the kind that knows how to love.” The machines hummed as she drifted off in a haze of morphine and borrowed time, and Methos blinked as tears smeared his sight.
“He's not the only one,” he said gently.