Interlude
by Lisa Hughes

 

This piece takes place three weeks after the events in Bordeaux.


Methos walked along the Seine in the rain. It took most of his concentration to remain upright. He was hot, which struck him as odd for some reason. He groped around in his mind for the reason, and after a moment he remembered. The rain! The rain was very cold and it couldn't be above 40 degrees out there. Now why had he been thinking about the rain? No matter. He stumbled over a rough bit of cobblestone. He was so hot...

He passed a couple walking the other direction without looking at them. The man turned around, startled, recognizing him. He called after him.

"Adam. Adam!" But the man they knew as Adam Pierson kept walking as if he hadn't heard. The two exchanged looks.

"That was Adam, wasn't it?"

"Yes. He looks really bad."

They looked at each other for a long moment.

"Maybe we ought to call Joe Dawson." The woman pulled a cell phone out of a coat pocket, dialed quickly, and raised it to her ear. As she did so, her coat sleeve fell away from her wrist, revealing a Watcher tattoo.


MacLeod's phone rang at the barge. He picked it up. "Mac? It's Joe. Hey, I just got a very strange call from a couple of Watchers I know in Paris. They said they just saw Methos... well okay, they said Adam Pierson, walking along the Seine."

"And what has that to do with me?"

They said he didn't recognize them."

Silence.

"They said he was soaking wet and shivering, but that his face was flushed."

Silence.

"Look Mac, they said he wasn't far from you and that he was walking your direction. Couldn't you at least take a look?"

Silence.


Methos stumbled again. He was so tired. He'd have to stop soon. What had he been looking for? And where was he anyway? He looked around wildly for a moment, causing his head to spin briefly, and then saw Notre Dame a short way ahead of him and on the opposite bank. Oh. Paris. What was he doing in Paris? He searched his mind but could find no recollection of how or why he had come to be there. Had he been looking for something? Someone? He was so hot. A man's face flashed before his eyes. Long dark hair, dark eyes. He strained for the name and found it. MacLeod! MacLeod was in Paris. Maybe he could help him. A doubt niggled at the back of his mind, some reason not to see MacLeod, but he couldn't seem to catch hold of it. He started walking again. MacLeod...


"C'mon Mac!" Joe said, getting frustrated now. "He's your friend!"

Silence.

"Look, I know you two haven't sorted things out, but he could be in real trouble."

More silence.

"Fine. Then look at it this way, he's my friend and I'm your friend. As your friend I'm asking you to check on my friend to see if he's all right. Okay?!"

There was a long pause, and then, "All right, Joe. I'll check on him." and the connection was cut.

MacLeod put the phone down slowly. The last thing he wanted to do right now was see Methos. There simply hadn't been enough time yet since Bordeaux. And yet... well, Joe was right. If Methos was in trouble, he couldn't just leave him to it. He grabbed his coat and started for the door. He stopped, however, as the unmistakable presence of another immortal impinged upon his senses. He turned his head slightly until the direction of the other immortal clarified.

Methos' head snapped up when he felt an immortal's presense, the shock momentarily clearing the fog of delirium in his head. He eyes locked on the barge in front of him. What on earth was he doing here? He didn't want to see MacLeod yet, the time wasn't right. Methos turned to leave quickly, and in doing so caused his head to start spinning again. Everything around him went from gray to black as he crumpled to the ground.

MacLeod got to the window in time to see Methos turn quickly away, and slowly collapse into a boneless heap.


MacLeod watched the man in his bed. He had retrieved Methos from where he had fallen, and then gotten him out of his soaked clothing and dried off as best he could. Methos had revived enough to walk a little, but was speaking only in bits and snatches of nonsense. MacLeod could feel the sick heat of a fever baking off of him. He bundled Methos into his bed, and sat down to think.

Immortals were rarely ill. MacLeod wondered what Methos could have been doing to let himself get run down enough to get this sick. When he had peeled off the wet clothes, he had been shocked to see how thin the man was. Always lean, the ancient immortal's bones now protruded alarmingly from his flushed skin.

MacLeod jumped to his feet and strode to the galley. The first order of business was to get some fluids into him. Some juice, perhaps, and some chicken broth. While he busied himself in the barge's small kitchen, he wondered at his immediate response to aid a man who, less than a half hour ago, was the last person he wanted to see. Well, he thought, it wasn't as if he didn't care about Methos, he just wasn't ready to talk to him yet. He smiled to himself. That was something he'd needed to know... that he still cared about Methos.


The next three days passed slowly, MacLeod caring for the sick man with all the tenderness of a father succoring a seriously ill child. He helped him drink the fluids he brought him. He changed soaked sheets. He sponged him down gently when his fever got too high. He cleaned him. He watched over him and gentled him when he thrashed about in his delirium.

During this interlude, he had a lot of time to think. He was startled at the difference in Methos' face. The planes of his face seemed harsh as he lay unconscious, unanimated by the old man's wry humor. And that curious intensity, the subtle power which had radiated from the man had been replaced by the waves of fever which seemed to emanate from every pore.

MacLeod had far too much time to think about he and Methos, the past and the future. His thoughts ran in a circle from the good times they'd had, to the many times Methos had been there for him, and finally to the revelations about Methos' past forced by the arrival of Kronos and Cassandra. He had been trying for weeks now to reconsile the man he knew with Methos the Horseman, but he'd made no progress. He couldn't forgive, and yet, did he not owe Methos the benefit of the doubt? And where did that leave them now?


On the morning of the fourth day, Methos' fever finally broke. MacLeod looked up from the book he'd been reading to find Methos looking about his surroundings in confusion. MacLeod waited, and the man's searching eyes found him, widening in surprise. Methos stared at him for some time, closing his eyes, giving his head a little shake, and opening them again as if he thought they would show him something different. MacLeod smiled at that.

Methos laid his head back on the pillow, closed his eyes, and asked, "What happened?"

MacLeod walked over to the bed. "You've been sick."

Methos' eyes flew open, and he looked up at MacLeod in surprise. "I've been what?"

MacLeod chuckled and then gently told him what had transpired over the last three days, and what little he knew of how he had ended up there.

"I don't remember anything past five days ago. I don't even remember how I got to Paris," Methos said, puzzled.

"Look, I'm sure you'll remember eventually. Right now, let's get you into the shower and I'll change the sheets."

MacLeod helped Methos out of the bed and wrapped him in an extra robe of his. With a little assistance, Methos was able to totter his way into the bathroom, and assured MacLeod that he would be able to handle the shower himself. MacLeod had just finished changing the sheets when a very wobbly but clean Methos emerged from the bathroom. MacLeod helped him back into bed, and exhausted, he fell asleep immediately.

When he woke late that afternoon he looked better. Weak still, but much improved. MacLeod fed him, and when he'd finished, he slept again. The next day he was able to get out of bed for a short time. Methos seemed a little tense, but MacLeod deliberately kept the conversation light, avoiding any topic that that might lead to any real discussion of the events at Bordeaux. After dinner Methos went back to bed. MacLeod watched him for some time. He decided that Methos would probably be back on his feet the next day, and that they would have to talk then. He wasn't ready yet, but they couldn't avoid it forever.


MacLeod woke with a start. He'd dozed off in a chair, and couldn't place the sounds at first. Then he realized it was Methos, and strode quickly to the bed. Methos was thrashing about in the grips of a nightmare. He cried out a name. Silas. MacLeod touched him, fearing a relapse, but there was no fever. Methos rolled onto his side, facing away from MacLeod. He continued to shudder in his sleep, although his thrashing had stopped.

MacLeod took off his robe and slipped into the bed. He heard Methos say, as if from the depths of an agony too great to bear, "Duncan? Duncan, where are you?" MacLeod closed his eyes against the pain in that question. Methos continued to shudder.

MacLeod moved toward him, gently placed his hand on the other man's shoulder, and whispered, "Rest easy now, my friend. I am here." Methos gave a deep shuddery sigh, and relaxed into a deeper, quieter sleep. MacLeod bit his lower lip, and a tear slipped unnoticed from the corner of his eye. He gathered the sleeping man to his chest, wrapped his arms about him, and fell into his own exhausted sleep.


Methos woke in the twilight before dawn. At first he thought he must still be dreaming, and a pleasant one at that. He felt warm and safe. He inhaled deeply and could smell the Highlander's unique scent. With a shock he woke fully, and realized he was indeed lying in MacLeod's bed, wrapped in his arms, his cheek pressed against MacLeod's chest. He lay still, thinking. A moment later he regretfully extracted himself from Duncan's embrace, careful not to disturb him. He found his clothes and dressed quickly. He moved to stand next to the bed, watching Duncan, so childlike in repose. He sighed heavily, and closed his eyes against the longing which rose in his throat.


MacLeod stirred in his sleep, and reached out to find only cold sheets instead of a warm body. His eyes flew open and he sat up abruptly. There was no sign of Methos. His searching eyes finally lit upon the piece of paper on Methos' pillow. He picked it up, knowing beyond prescience what it would be.

Thanks, Mac. I'll be back when the time is right.
--Methos.

MacLeod lay back against the pillows and sighed. Well, he thought, Methos would be back. For now, that was enough.


End