Methos' Journal: February 1996
by Lisa Hughes


following events in the episode "Deliverance"

The last few days have been terrible. Terrible and wonderful and fearful and hopeful. I've coaxed and coerced. Despaired and rejoiced. I've risked it all, and won. My part in this affair started with a phone call from Dawson. Alexa and I were in Greece. She loves the islands. She loves crawling around in the ruins. She loves exploring the shops in the marketplace. She loves walking on the beach. And she loves me...

Joe was worried. No, he was scared. MacLeod had taken a Dark Quickening. He'd tried to kill Richie, and was on his way to France aboard a cargo ship. My heart twisted. For weeks my world had revolved around Alexa. Reveling in her excitement, showing her all the places I've known for thousands of years... having them seem new again in her eyes. But as Joe spoke, a plan began to take shape in my mind and I knew that I would leave her to go to MacLeod when the time came. He needed me. And I would go.

I took Alexa to Athens three days before MacLeod's ship was scheduled to make port at Le Havre, left her there and flew to Edinburgh. The next morning I drove to Glenfinnan. There aren't many places in the world my feet haven't trod, but MacLeod's home village was one of them. Just walking in those hills and breathing that air made me feel closer to Duncan than at any other time. I could hear his footsteps in the wind, feel his presence among the rocks...

Rachel MacLeod resisted the idea of lending me the clan sword. But I was incredibly persistent (and charming) and finally the idea that Duncan MacLeod was in trouble was enough reason for her to part with it. And I left that place in the highlands where I half-expected to see Duncan around every corner, and began the trip that would end in France, not knowing who or what I'd find there.

I called Joe from Edinburgh, only to find that MacLeod's ship had docked a day early. I landed in Paris at two in the morning, picked up the car and drove to Le Havre. In my mind I went over and over my plan. The idea of MacLeod taken over by evil was difficult to get my mind around. I had to force myself to examine the risks, because in the back of my mind a little voice kept insisting that MacLeod would never hurt me. I had to keep reminding myself that if Joe had not been there, MacLeod would have killed Richie, his student, his son. I needed to focus. I was willing to risk my life to save him, but a risk it would be and I had to face that.

I found the house where MacLeod had spent the night only just in time. My first sight of him was a shock. Instead of the grace and agility I'd come to expect in him, he came lurching out the door and down the steps. I should have anticipated that, I suppose... I did hear the gunshots. He barely made it to the car. As I recall the moment, I am still struck by his eyes. Although they were dark with suspicion when he looked up at me, I could see recognition in them as well. The problem was that I didn't know him at all. It was as though someone else had taken over his body and was animating his limbs, but the Duncan MacLeod I knew and loved was nowhere in sight.

Fortunately for me he was dying when he got into the car and I had time to get him to Holy Ground. Time to think. I couldn't just accept that Duncan was gone. He had to still be there somewhere. Lost in there perhaps, but not gone. I know I will lose Alexa in the not too distant future... but I had counted on Duncan to be there when I came back. (If Alexa lived to be a hundred I would be with her every day until she died... and then I would return to Duncan.) But to have Duncan, that lovely maddening Scot, be gone would be more than I could take. He had to still be there. I need him far to much for him to be gone. So, I had to go carefully.

When he woke in the church I offered my help. I spoke gently, telling him I understood what had happened, and that I could help if he'd let me. I spoke directly to the Duncan I knew, believing as hard as I could that he was still in there and could hear me. Ignoring the stranger I saw before me. But it wasn't enough. He very nearly took my head on Holy Ground, deep in the grip of the dark quickening. He stood there holding me by my shirt with one hand, his sword in the other, and for a moment I thought he would really do it, even though we stood in a church. I looked into his eyes and saw nothing I recognized. They were the same deep chocolate brown. They had the same thick dark lashes. But they were the eyes of a stranger. And I knew, knew in the depths of my terrified heart, that I was dead.

But, he didn't do it. In the end, he let me live. I took it as a good sign that I was able to reach him even that much, although he tried to run me down in a stolen car minutes later. He let me live, and that was something. He got away from me though, and I had to find him again. And for that I needed Joe. Joe was worried about me, however, and wanted me to stay away. But how could I do that?

I coaxed the information that MacLeod had called Sean Burns out of the Watcher who picked him up at the docks. Sean Burns... immortal psychologist and a good man. I knew that MacLeod had met him during WWI, and that they were good friends. If MacLeod was reachable at all, Sean certainly had the skills to do it.

And I thought that maybe he had reached him when I first arrived. They were both still alive. MacLeod did then pull his sword, but Sean kept talking, trying to convince him to take one step toward the light. And he came very close to succeeding, as I hoped/prayed for the Duncan I knew to listen to him, but... the evil drew MacLeod back, and he took Sean's head.

I looked on in agony as the quickening glanced off of me. He was gone, then. There was nothing left to save. He had looked into the light, and had chosen the darkness. And he was lost to me forever. The pain of that knowledge rose up inside me until I thought my chest would burst. I despaired. All at once my hope was gone. Instantly and utterly. I wanted to scream in protest to the gods, but I had a purpose: to end this. And if I couldn't save him... I would have to take his head. To finish it. But as I tried to say good-bye, tried to express that this would be yet another regret I would carry with me, he started talking. It threw me off to have this stranger walking around in MacLeod's body, speaking in MacLeod's voice. Like and yet unlike. I know he thought that I hesitated because I was afraid of the dark quickening, but he was wrong. It just hurt too much to think of killing Duncan, even with that stranger staring me in the face. That hesitation cost me my chance... but saved me from having to kill him.

I found him again in Darius' church. (Darius. Darius should have been the one to help him, to save him. But Darius is gone.) That he was there gave me hope again. Maybe there was still time, still a chance. I had to try... And I saw that Sean's quickening had already helped him. I could see it in how he warned me of my danger. But he was still on the brink, stuck in the space between darkness and light. Unwilling to choose the one, unable to choose the other.

I told him that he wasn't alone. I asked him to let me help, to let me show him the way out. To have faith in himself and in Sean... and in me. For one long horrible moment, I thought he would refuse. I could see Duncan and the stranger warring for control, each flicking in and out of his eyes. And Duncan won, for the moment, and came with me.

That night, on the way to the spring, we stopped at an inn to rest. I hadn't slept in 48 hours and was running on empty. I didn't want to stop, but I had to sleep. I locked the swords in the car... I didn't want him to be tempted. But Duncan... lost control. Not totally, not enough to try and kill me, just enough for the stranger to... hurt me for a while. It was nothing new, of course, I've been tortured before. But... it frightened me. He frightened me. I love Duncan... but it wasn't Duncan that night, no matter whose body was there. Some malevolent stranger was wearing his face and... well I suspect the nightmares will last awhile yet. Last night's was pretty bad. My screams scared Alexa out of her wits.

I did manage to hold it together through the night, enough to get him into the car the next morning and to the head of the trail. I tried to keep MacLeod distracted on the way there, forcing myself to be bright and cheery. But his control slipped again and he came after me. I thrust the clan sword in his face and demanded that he remember who he was. I knew I'd be taking an awful risk giving him access to a sword, but this was the last trick I had up my sleeve, my last shot. When I saw the change come over his face, I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew MacLeod was back in control with his family honor to reinforce him.

MacLeod lowered himself down to the Holy Spring, and I waited nervously above. I knew that the Spring would force a confrontation between MacLeod and the stranger, all of the evil ones melded together, but I didn't know how the contest would end. And if the evil were to overwhelm the good, I would have to finish it. Even on Holy Ground, it had to end. To hell with the consequences, it had to stop. For hope, I held tightly to the knowledge Duncan could defeat the stranger, if he held on to who he was. And I waited, images of the good times we'd had flickering across my mind.

When the sky darkened and the lightning flashed, I knew that the contest was over, and went to see, MacLeod's katana behind my back, ready. I called his name and he looked up at me. To my joy and relief, I saw Duncan in his eyes again. Only Duncan. All the worry and strain lifted from me and my soul rejoiced. I felt like laughing and singing and crying and dancing all at once. What I did was take his hand.

The drive back to Paris was difficult. MacLeod was relieved, but tense still. I did my best to jolly him along, chattering on about all the places I'd taken Alexa, and our plans. When we finally reached the barge, he stopped me with a hand on my arm before I could get out of the car. "Did I hurt you?" he asked, eyes full of pain and guilt. I told him that it was all right, that it wasn't anything new. And that I forgave him, because that was what he needed to hear. I couldn't tell him that I didn't forgive him because there was nothing to forgive. He needed my forgiveness, and so I gave it to him. And I told him that it wasn't him who did those things. That reminder was probably even more important than the forgiveness for Duncan's peace of mind.

Rachel MacLeod was waiting for us at the barge. She'd decided to come and see if she could help. It was an awkward moment, but I was relieved. She would stay to see him through the transition back to normal life, and I could get back to Athens that much quicker. With MacLeod recovered, I was aching to get back to Greece, to Alexa, and to what little time we had left.

Alexa. She is perceptibly weaker since I left just days ago. We'll have to finish seeing Greece quickly. Or, we could just find a beach she likes and stay there until our time is up. Time. There just isn't enough of it. Alexa asked me once if I ever wished that time would just stand still. It's a strange thing for a 5000 year old man to be wishing for more time. But I love her, and I'm going to lose her soon. There just isn't enough time for us.