|The Cookie Story
Jane clicked on the 'x,' closing Adam Pierson's report on Methos in first century Rome. She stretched, trying to get out the kinks created by four hours of trans-Atlantic flight. Leaning back against the seat, she grimaced in frustration. She'd read Pierson's personnel file, and three quarters of his reports on Methos, and she still didn't have an answer. Why was a, by all reports, sweet, but somewhat geeky, academic taking Duncan MacLeod to dinner? She could understand him being drawn to MacLeod, lots of people were, but what would MacLeod see in him? Pierson wasn't a Watcher anymore, and anything MacLeod needed from the Watchers Dawson would undoubtedly give him.
There was an obvious answer, but Jane dismissed it. MacLeod's fondness for women was notorious, and while Pierson was attractive enough, he wasn't that attractive. Pierson didn't have any apparent inclinations in that direction either. After all, he'd taken a leave of absence to care for a dying girlfriend. Not that that necessarily meant... Wait a minute.
"Kevin, do you have the final report on Sean Burns?"
Kevin glanced at her from his seat beside her. "Yeah."
"Read me the part where he talks about the other man showing up."
It took a moment for Kevin to pull up the report. "A second car pulled into the drive and parked some distance away. A tall, dark-haired man got out, and approached slowly. I learned later that it was Adam Pierson, one of our people sent by Dawson to try and help MacLeod."
Jane raised a hand, and Kevin stopped reading. "Why would Dawson send Pierson?"
"According to Dawson's report, Pierson had stumbled across an account of a DQ."
"Dawson didn't say, at least I don't think he did." Kevin pulled up the report in question and skimmed it. "No, there's no reference."
"I haven't found anything in Pierson's reports, but I haven't finished them all." Jane paused, thinking. "You're the librarian. Why don't you see if you can find Pierson's supposed dark quickening story, and I'll keep going through the Methos stuff."
"He didn't file a report on MacLeod's DQ, did he?"
Jane shook her head. "He was on leave. Do we have anything on Alexa Bond?"
Kevin gave her a quizzical look.
"Pierson's girlfriend. She's the reason he was on leave; she had leukemia."
Kevin shook his head. "We don't have anything on her. Why would we?"
"It shouldn't be too hard to get her passport records."
"I don't know. There's something there. I just can't quite figure it out."
"Maybe that's because you're not using logic."
"Thank you, Mr. Spock."
"Spock and Mulder. There's a combination made in hell."
Duncan spotted Adam easily. He was sitting with Joe and Andrea. He walked over, grabbing a chair from a nearby table as he passed and placing it next to Adam's.
"Feel free to rearrange the furniture, MacLeod."
"I will, Joe. Thanks." He gestured for the waitress. "Glenlivet and another round of whatever these folks are having."
"Good day?" Methos asked.
"I sold the dojo. Closing's in two weeks."
"Did you find a boat yet?" Andrea asked.
"Not yet, but I'm sure I will."
"Where will you stay in the meantime?" Joe asked.
Joe looked at Methos.
"Turnabout is fair play is that it?" Methos asked, as the waitress delivered their drinks.
Duncan raised his glass to his lips, his eyes on Methos' face. He took a sip, tilted the glass in Methos' direction. "Candygram."
Joe raised an eyebrow.
"Long story," Duncan explained.
"They always are."
"Remember how we wanted to do something to honor Charlie?"
"Yeah," Joe answered.
"I've been thinking about using some of the money from the sale of the dojo to fund a martial arts program at the community center."
"Good idea. Much better than boxing," Methos said.
"Charlie liked boxing," Duncan answered. "But I seem to have lost my taste for blood sports."
"It feels like a lifetime ago," Joe said softly.
"It was," Duncan said, so quietly that the others barely heard him. No one mentioned whose life it was.
"What was?" Andrea asked.
"A couple of years ago Joe and Duncan took me to watch a boxing match. They were thinking of sponsoring a boxing program for kids in Charlie's honor," Methos explained.
"So, when's the band start?" Duncan asked, and his friends allowed the change of subject.
The band wasn't bad, but it proved to be less of a distraction than Methos. He was dressed in a black turtleneck sweater and black jeans. It was a look that suited him.
Duncan tried to concentrate on the music, but Methos was sitting to his right and slightly ahead of him. The back of his neck was all the more tempting for being partially concealed by his sweater. Duncan's fingers twitched with the urge to touch, and after holding out through three songs, he gave in.
He raised a hand to the back of Methos' neck, fingertips brushing sensitive skin.
"MacLeod," Methos hissed.
He leaned close to his lover. "Yes?"
"Cut it out." The words were said in a tone of voice that allowed no room for argument. Stung, Duncan removed his hand.
"My place or the loft?" Methos asked as he turned the car out of the parking lot.
"The loft, if that's okay with you."
"Fine with me."
"Do you really not want anyone to know about us?" Duncan asked.
"I'm willing to tell people about us."
"You are? Then why-"
"I don't like public displays, that's all. But we can tell people if you like. We should probably start with Joe."
"I do feel like I'm taking advantage of our agreement."
"I don't know. You only agreed to tell him about things which impact the Game."
"In exchange for not being watched all of the time. But can you honestly say our relationship doesn't impact the Game?"
"It hasn't yet."
"Our relationship has impacted the Game since the day we met. And you know it."
"I suppose it has, but our being lovers doesn't change it any more than our being friends did. It's our caring for one another which affects the Game, not how we express it."
"You should have been a lawyer."
"I am a lawyer, remember?"
"Why don't you want me to touch you in front of other people?"
Methos sighed. He should have known Duncan would never let this go.
"It didn't seem to bother you with Alexa. Why is it a problem with me?"
Methos moved away from him, to the edge of the bed. "Alexa was Adam Pierson's lover; you're not."
Methos began pulling on his jeans, acutely aware of Duncan's eyes on his back.
"But you are Adam Pierson."
"Adam Pierson is a character, a persona I created, the same way an actor does." Methos stood, fastened the jeans.
"But you loved Alexa."
"And she loved Adam."
"She loved you," Duncan answered, watching Methos from the bed.
"She only knew Adam." Methos went to the bar, and poured himself a snifter of brandy. He took a drink before looking back at Duncan. Duncan was still watching him, waiting for more. "Part of me went into the creation of Adam Pierson, but he isn't all of me."
"I know that."
"Not all of Adam is me, either. Adam has characteristics, personality traits, which are not mine, parts which are wholly invention."
"So not all of Adam is real."
Methos moved to the couch. Instead of his customary sprawl he sat with his knees drawn up, one arm wrapped around them. He rested his head on his knees.
The need to hide warred with the need to respond to the concern in Duncan's voice. Duncan won, the usually did. Methos looked up. "I loved her. Adam was something, someone I could give her. She needed him." His voice dropped, and he looked away. "She deserved him."
"Why didn't she deserve Methos, deserve you?"
"Alexa would never have loved Methos."
"How can you say that?"
"Methos isn't exactly lovable. He has survived five thousand years as a player in a game in which one survives by killing." Methos unfolded himself, returned to the bar. "Can we change the subject, please?"
Duncan left the bed and settled onto the chair opposite the couch. When Methos returned he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "You still haven't explained why I can't touch you in public."
"Why can't you just roll over and go to sleep after sex like a normal man?"
Duncan ignored the barb. "I'm willing to stop, but I would like to know why."
Methos stared into his glass, swirling the amber liquid once again.
"It isn't simply because I'm male."
Methos took a drink before answering. "It is, partly. Two men together attract attention."
"And the rest?" Duncan prompted when Methos didn't continue.
"Incredible sex, sleep. It's supposed to be like a switch; release the right neurotransmitters and the male brain shuts down."
"Fine." Duncan rose and returned to the bed.
Methos watched him as he pulled on his pants. He could see the hurt in Duncan's jerky movements, just as he had seen it in his face earlier that night when he'd pulled away. "I can't hide my reaction." Duncan went perfectly still. "I can't hide how you make me feel." Duncan turned around, and Methos forced himself to meet his gaze. "I can't hide."
Duncan walked to him and dropped to his knees in front of the couch. "I won't touch you in public."
Methos dropped his knees from in front of his chest, placing one leg on either side of Duncan.
"Of course, I'll have to touch you twice as much in private to make up for it."
Methos smiled. "Half the time I'm convinced you think I'm a life-sized teddy bear as it is."
Duncan returned the smile. "I think those neurotransmitters you were babbling about are kicking in." He stood, extended a hand. "Come to bed, Paddington."
Methos reached up and clasped Duncan's hand, letting his lover pull him to his feet.
He waited until Duncan was almost asleep before whispering, "Paddington wasn't a teddy bear; he was real."
Kevin shifted in his seat, trying to get comfortable. He hated airports, and he really hated long layovers. Jane didn't even seem to notice. She was too engrossed in the files she'd downloaded as soon as they landed. A child cried, and he glanced around, looking for the source of the noise. Jane whistled, drawing his attention. "What did you find?"
"Guess where Alexa Bond was living when she applied for her passport?"
Jane ignored him. "Seacouver, Washington." The corners of her mouth began to curl slightly. "And she applied for it on November 1st, the same day Adam Pierson requested leave, and less than two weeks after Kristin was killed."
"By a tall, dark-haired man," Kevin added. "Too bad her Watcher couldn't have gotten closer. I'd love a better description."
"What are the odds MacLeod has two male friends who match that description and who both happened to be in Seacouver when Kristin was killed?"
"We don't know Pierson was in Seacouver."
"His girlfriend was. Do you really think he wasn't?"
Kevin sighed. The coincidences were starting to pile up. "Why are you so determined to investigate Pierson?"
"His friendship with MacLeod, it doesn't make any sense."
"Yeah, kinda like wondering what a babe like Lois Lane was doing with Clark Kent."
Their eyes locked for a moment, and then Kevin rose and started to walk away.
"Where are you going?"
He stopped and looked back. "To change our flight."
Jane smiled. It was a triumphant, I-knew-you'd-see-it-my-way smile. As much as gloating had always annoyed him, Kevin found himself smiling back.
Methos' whispered Paddington remark had pulled Duncan back toward wakefulness, and the realization that Methos was lying awake beside him, unable to sleep, had brought him the rest of the way. They'd been lying side by side, not talking and not touching, for some time now. Methos was a thousand miles away, and Duncan was growing weary of waiting for him to return. "Methos." He said the word softly, calling his lover back.
"Do you know when I realized I was lost?" Methos asked the question without turning to look at Duncan.
Duncan knew he was talking about the Horsemen. "When?" he asked, more because Methos needed him to than because he wanted to hear the answer. It had been painful enough to listen when Methos told him about Cassandra, about enslaving her, and handing her over to Kronos when Kronos demanded her. He didn't want to hear anymore, to know anymore about Death; he knew enough already.
"After Cassandra got away, I took another slave. She was young; too young for the stuff we were doing to her. I don't even remember her name, or what she looked like, beyond being beautiful in the way all adolescents are beautiful. I kept her with me for... I guess it must have been a few weeks. I was very gentle with her. You would have approved." Methos paused, but Duncan didn't say a word. " I made certain she enjoyed it, wanted it. One day when I returned to camp she was waiting for me. She'd gained enough confidence to take the initiative, and I rewarded her. I let her set the pace, control what followed. The next day, I sent her to Kronos."
Duncan held his breath, not sure what to say, not sure there was anything he could say.
"Her life had no value, not to me. I could fake it, convince her I cared, even win her affection, but she wasn't a human being. She was cannon fodder."
"Why are you telling me this?" The words came out harsher than Duncan had intended.
"You want to touch me, to let people know we're together. I want you to know exactly what it is you're touching."
Duncan reached out, resting a hand on Methos' shoulder. "I know what I'm touching, Methos, I know."
Methos didn't say a word, but he did shift a little bit closer.