Messing with LazarusAuthor:
Double Duty Author aka merrimanWritten for:
Joe, Methos, OMC WatcherRating:
PG for some languageAuthor's Notes:
The title is taken from the song Po' Lazarus. Than you to D for taking a look at it on short notice.Summary:
Watcher politics, a book of folklore, a couch with bad springs and a night spent making notes.
It wasn't the first time Joe had been called into his superior's office and he was damn sure it wouldn't be the last, but that still didn't make it a barrel of laughs. Especially not when the Watchers kept putting such pricks in positions of authority. Young pricks too. So not only were they obnoxious, but they were always glaring at him like he should have been retired ten years back. Joe only barely managed not to roll his eyes while the latest in a series of temporary regional directors - a 30 year old kid named Something Something Keller the Third - berated him for allowing MacLeod to wander off unchecked.
"He's hiking in the Urals!" Joe finally snapped. "Do I look like I hike? He's got a satellite phone with him. He calls, okay? I know it's not procedure, but he's good about it and unless you'd like to send someone to Siberia, that's what you're getting. Or hey, you could ask the Russian office to send someone after him out there."
Joe could tell that comment had hit its target square between the eyes. This twerp had a reputation and that reputation involved some pretty nasty history with the current Russian regional director. Rumor had it he'd tried to get her ousted within twenty-four hours of arriving in Moscow and she'd had him packed up and deposited in Paris with a note stating that she'd shoot him herself if he ever set foot in Russia again. There were advantages to being an old fart and a ready supply of inter-departmental gossip was one of them.
They glared at each other for a few minutes before Joe won the staring contest. He sat back and relaxed a little then. Whatever they had for him to do while Mac was climbing, he'd made his point.
Keller tossed a small leather bound book at Joe. "You started in research," he pointed out. "Research that. Some of our people think there's something to it. That should keep you out of trouble until your buddy returns."
Joe didn't bother actually looking at the book until he got back home and when he did it was tempting to go right back to Keller and throw it in his face. But that would cause more problems than it solved, so instead he grabbed his phone and called Methos.
"What?" Typical Methos greeting. At least he'd answered.
"Hey. It's Joe."
"I know that, Joseph. You called my cell. I did look before I answered. I'm a little busy at the moment. Could you call back later?"
Joe realized Methos was whispering. "Yeah," he assured him. "No problem. Make sure you've still got a head to answer with."
"That is the plan," Methos muttered before hanging up.
Great. One Immortal friend off in the Russian wilderness and the other hiding from a challenge. Helpful. Really fucking helpful. Joe looked down at the book again and opened it to the first page. It wasn't the original journal, but a rewrite of it with a note stating that the original had been found half-burned, missing the first sixteen pages, and was currently in the climate-controlled vault in Marseilles. Fine. He didn't need the original. Yet.
The man proclaimed that he had never been caught before and would never be taken alive, whereupon the sheriff did order his archers to let loose their arrows. He was not alive when they took him, with forty and five arrows in his chest and legs. His body was displayed in the town square, but by sunrise, he had vanished.
He was fiendish in appearance, with wild hair and torn clothes, but he had spoken rationally, aside from naming himself Lazarus. After his disappearance, stories circulated about his ghost wandering the hills nearby.
It was dated 1121 A.D., which meant whoever had rewritten it had modernized the language and Joe spared a derisive thought for whatever well-meaning preservation specialist had done it. But the gist would have been the same regardless. Lazarus, shot down by some overzealous sheriff and his men. And now he was supposed to research these stories? The book was full of every rumor that had gone around at the time, with new ones added in a different script near the end of the volume. By the time Joe finished reading it was dark out. He hadn't even noticed the sun going down. He'd just gotten up to turn on another light when Methos came through the back door.
"Here," he said, handing Joe a bottle wrapped in paper. It was wine, which suggested the fight had gone well and Methos wasn't dwelling on it. Joe tossed the paper at the trash and handed the wine back to Methos when he returned with a corkscrew and two glasses. "So. What did you need earlier?" he asked as he poured.
Joe accepted one glass and handed Methos the book in trade.
"Tell me what you think of that," he said, nodding towards it. "Apparently," he drawled, "I'm supposed to research
Methos set his glass down and took a seat on Joe's couch so he could flip through the book. He paused a few times, reading a page here and a page there, then closed it, set it on the coffee table and picked up his glass again.
"I think someone's sent you to catch a wild goose, but expects you to come back having stepped in goose shit instead. Why do you need my help on this? Isn't this Watcher business?"
Joe nodded. "Yeah, it is, but listen, I haven't been in Research since '71. You only got out of there a few years back. If you ever ran across something about this guy when you were making up stories about yourself, I'd sure appreciate knowing where."
"You weren't in Research long, were you," Methos sighed. "Listen, Joe, there are some stories that the historians regard as, well, as in-jokes. Lazarus is most assuredly one of them. Most of the historians agree if the man ever existed, it's unlikely that any uses of the name outside of the Bible are related. And anyone using the name later on? Well, you know there's a reason I
don't go by my real name. I'd guess he's the same."
"That pompous little ass," Joe muttered. "This is punishment for letting Mac go on that trip. He thinks he'll have me chasing my tail in the library in Marseilles until Mac gets back. I should just go right back there and tell him to stuff this book up his ass."
Methos shrugged and sipped his wine, making himself comfortable on the couch. Joe watched him, waiting. There were several reasons he didn't sit on that couch and when he heard five twangs in succession he knew they'd all just poked Methos' rear. Yet the man still sprawled there, somehow shifting around the loose springs. Joe shook his head. Apparently when you were that old, you knew how to make do. Or just how to appear not to care about it so as to save face.
He picked up the book and flipped through it, turning to a story about a man who'd been living in some mountain caves and who returned to them again and again even after hunter after hunter claimed to have killed him. Supposedly it was the same man from the first story, but there was nothing linking the stories together. Against his better judgement, Joe pulled over a pad of paper from the table and started to make some notes. There had to be some common theme here.
When the sun rose, Joe realized he'd nodded off in his seat with the book and note pad still in his lap. Methos was no longer draped over his couch like an afghan but was apparently now in the kitchen swearing at the coffee pot in a long low stream. Joe looked down at the note pad. He'd figured something out. He remembered that, but then he remembered thinking it was nonsense and that he should go to bed. Clearly, he'd never made it there.
"You know they don't have anyone officially assigned to Lazarus," Methos told him as he emerged from the kitchen, hard-won coffee cradled to his chest in a battered mug. "There's a team of mythology and religion experts who take on anything mentioning names like that, but they shelved his files ages ago. No leads. Just stories and rumors and dead ends. Sort of like me, except I'm special."
Joe snickered softly as Methos very deliberately avoided the couch when he sat this time. "Yeah, you're special all right. So you really think I'm chasing a figment?" Joe tossed the pad to him across the coffee table. "I think you don't want me really looking into this."
Methos didn't even look at the pad or at the notes Joe had worked on all night. Joe figured he didn't need to. Methos knew him and Methos knew the stories in the book and he probably knew exactly what Joe would have concluded.
"I will tell you three things, Joe," Methos said after taking a long sip of coffee. "One: Anyone using the name Lazarus these days is not someone to be trifled with. They're either like that fool who was using my name or they are quite dangerous and inviting a fight. Two: I only wrote three of those stories and only one of them is about myself. I'm really quite disappointed that the new Methos scholar hasn't found it yet. And three: I never actually used the name. As I said, it'd be as good as using my own."
Joe felt a slow burn of triumph wash over him. "Maybe I'll put in for the job when they kick me off MacLeod's case." He could tell by Methos' narrowed eyes that he was hoping that wouldn't be for quite some time. Joe reassured him with a wave as he made the effort to get up so he could go see if the old man had left him any coffee or if he'd have to do battle with the coffee pot himself. "I'll just toss him the one story in a week or so. Send him scurrying after that. That should stir things up enough that they'll leave me alone until Mac gets back. I did get the story right, didn't I?"
He looked back out into the living room, catching Methos looking at his notes now. Methos looked up and smirked at him. "Oh no, Joseph. You'll have to figure that out yourself. I can't go about giving up all my secrets at once, can I?"