It's Probably Me 3:
Leaving
by JiM

Disclaimer: The characters, except for Morgan, belong to P/D and Gaumont and Rysher and everyone but me. No copyright infringement intended; this is a work of speculative fiction intended only for the enjoyment of the fans. Lyrics of “It’s Probably Me” by Sting, used without permission but with much respect.

Author’s note:  Thanks to Juanita, the Awesome Beta-reader Chick and to Leila, who encouraged, begged and threatened until this was finished.

Feedback:  Please send any and all constructive criticism and feedback to: JiMPage363@aol.com.


MacLeod’s hands cupped Methos’ head, fingers threaded through the dark strands, as his lover gently caressed the head of his cock with his closed lips. At his touch, Methos glanced up at MacLeod, an eyebrow cocked. The mischief in his expression said plainly, “Did you ever expect to find me here?” In that moment, he looked like an unrepentant child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. MacLeod burst out laughing and pulled him up to kiss him soundly, chuckling into Methos’ mouth. That laughing kiss soon slid into something deeper and more heated. Lying side by side, their straining erections rubbed hotly together. Duncan wrapped his large hand around them both, stroking slowly, watching Methos’ face. “Together,” he said


The hazel eyes had darkened and were fixed on his. Methos’ lower lip was caught between his teeth and his breath hissed softly out as MacLeod tightened his grip fractionally. One unsteady hand came to rest on the Highlander’s chest, fingers slowly pressing into the firm muscle. “Finish it,” he ground out.

His lover’s hand tightened a little more, then speeded up, teasing no longer. The Scot suddenly leaned in to capture Methos’ lips; the hot velvet tongue thrusting into his mouth pushed the older man over the edge into the hot hurricane that Duncan always raised around him. The younger man followed him fearlessly into the maelstrom, shouting in pleasure.


MacLeod’s larder was woefully understocked, according to Methos. The complete lack of beer was met with a silent look of reproach, such as a foundered camel might give as it watches the caravan abandon it to the desolate mercies of the desert sun. Left without the barest defense against even the older man’s teasing, MacLeod gave in and dressed.


The bar was quiet; it was early on a weekday night and the incessant rainy weather had thinned out even the regulars. Joe was in his office; the single visible waitress took their order and promised to tell the owner that they were asking for him. But Joe himself stalked out, slamming the door behind him, before she had finished bringing them their beers.

“Something for you, boss?” she asked as he sat down.

“Soda with a twist, Kathy,” he said shortly.

Mac and Methos exchanged looks. The tension was rolling off their friend, although he had constructed a false, pleasant facade for them. Emotional and expressive as Dawson was, neither of them had ever seen him this upset before.

Coming to a silent accord with a glance, the two Immortals decided that MacLeod would venture into the lion’s den. “Joe? What’s got you so...” while the Scot fumbled for the right word, the answer to his question came out of Joe’s office.

Morgan closed the door with quiet precision, the very antithesis of Joe’s exit. She shrugged into her jacket, looked around and spotted the three men. Joe’s back was to her, so he didn’t see her approach. His friends saw him jerk at the sound of her voice.

“Gentlemen. I’m glad I’ve got the opportunity to say goodbye to you.”

“You’re leaving?” MacLeod asked in consternation. Joe hadn’t turned to look at her; he was stubbornly keeping his eyes on the table top. What was going on here? Methos merely cocked an eyebrow and awaited developments, watching.

“I’m leaving for Paris shortly. Off to raise hell at Watcher Central.” Her expression was a terrible mockery of her usual quicksilver grin.

“I thought your flight wasn’t until next weekend.” Methos watched Joe’s fingers grip the edge of the table, nails and knuckles whitening until the Immortal began to fear that the musician might break his own bones.

“Goodbye, MacLeod,” Morgan said shortly, not answering his question. She leaned over to kiss his cheek. “Thanks for everything. We made a good team.” She slipped out of his concerned grasp and looked across the small table at the older Immortal. “Methos.” Morgan ignored the startled look MacLeod gave her at that. It was harder to ignore Joe’s coldly measuring gaze turned suddenly on her. Methos touched two fingers to his forehead in a half-mocking salute. “Joseph.” She stared at him until he was forced to meet her gaze. “Remember -- this is your choice, not mine.” They stared at one another for a long, wordless moment, then his eyes slid away and down. Morgan turned on her heel and strode out of the bar.

When the world's gone crazy and it makes no sense,
There's only one voice that comes to your defense,
The jury's out and your eyes search the room,
And one friendly face is all you need to see

Their food arrived. MacLeod waited until Kathy was gone. “Joe?”

“Leave it alone, MacLeod.” The Watcher’s voice was midwinter granite.

“You sent her away. Why?”

“Because we’re not right together. Any fool could see it.”

“I guess I’m not just ‘any fool’, then. I thought she was great.”

“Then you date her, OK, MacLeod?” The Watcher got up and left.

The two Immortals ate in pensive silence and watched him slam glassware around behind the bar for a few minutes. Finally, Duncan opened his mouth. Before he could speak, Methos held up a hand and said, “You want the easy one or the tough one?”

Duncan, expecting another lecture on the perils of “Being a Boy scout” or the “Standard Response -- Do Nothing” variant with which he had become so familiar, gaped at him. “Close your mouth, MacLeod, and go talk some sense into your Watcher. I’ll find Morgan.” Methos crammed the uneaten half of his sandwich into his mouth and washed it down with the remaining beer in his glass. “But it is going to cost you one of the best dinners this city has to offer.”

The Highlander grinned for a moment, then reached across the table to lightly grip Methos’ wrist. Methos remembered how that hand had held him only that afternoon. The touch was casual, yet strangely intimate, belying the slight annoyance in MacLeod’s voice as he said, “Just get Morgan back here.”

Their eyes met for a long moment. Anxious not to betray how deeply he could be affected by a mere touch from his young lover, Methos grabbed his coat and left quickly.

If there's one guy, just one guy,
Who'd lay down his life for you and die,
It's hard to say it,
I hate to say it,
But it's probably me.

MacLeod sauntered over and took a seat directly in front of where Joe was polishing a beer tap, running a rag over it again and again with ferocious concentration. “Something you want to tell me about, MacLeod?”

“No. I want to know why you just sent Morgan away.”

Joe shook his head. “Back off, MacLeod. Let’s dissect your love life instead. What’s with you and Methos?”

MacLeod shot his Watcher an innocent, counterfeit, and intensely irritating grin. “Why nothing, Dawson. Whatever do you mean?

“Since when do you two practically kiss each other ‘goodbye’?!”

“Since when do you rip apart the best thing to happen to you since I’ve known you?” MacLeod retorted.

Dawson hurled the rag onto the bar. “Where do you get off interfering in my business, MacLeod?”

“Come on, Joe -- we crossed that line a long time ago. I’m your friend. And you’re my Watcher.”

“She’s a thief, MacLeod. She lies with astonishing regularity. She spends half the night reading my encrypted files -- all my private journals, reports -- anything she can get her hands on.” Joe’s recitation of Morgan’s sins was curiously flat and emotionless.

“She also prefers cheap beer to good Scotch, borrows your clothes, and listens to New Age music. None of which bothered you last week,” MacLeod pointed out.

Dawson remained stubbornly silent. MacLeod sighed, counted to ten in three languages, then smiled slightly as an idea came to him. “Here’s the deal, Joe. You tell me the real reason  you kicked Morgan out, I’ll tell you about Methos and me. Otherwise, you can ask the old man yourself...,” The Scot let his voice trail off meaningfully. Methos was many things, but overly truthful was not any of them. Joe would get many entertaining tales, but no real explanation from him.

Under other circumstances, MacLeod might have enjoyed the sight of Dawson torn between his Watcher’s curiosity and his own very private nature. But when the mortal finally spoke, the rawness of Joe’s voice bled any pleasure MacLeod might have from the success of his ploy.

“She deserves a chance to be happy. And that’s not gonna happen with me.”

“She loves you, Joe. I thought you loved her.”

“I do,” he whispered.

MacLeod drummed his fingers on the bartop in irritation. “Is this about your legs or your age, Joe?”

The instant the words were out of his mouth, MacLeod knew he had made a big mistake.

“Don’t patronize me, MacLeod!” Dawson’s eyes were blazing. “My life cannot be reduced to a couple of primitive talk-show dilemmas.”

Duncan reached across the bar to lightly grip the fist Dawson had slammed onto the bar. “That was stupid of me. I didn’t mean to patronize you. It’s just ... I thought you were happy with her. I was glad for you; I don’t want to see that end.”

“It has to, Mac, can’t you see that? She’s got skills and talents that could take her to the top of the organization. I can’t let her bury herself in this backwater, helping me run a bar and doing data-entry for the field office.”

“Did you ask her what she wanted, Joe? You can’t make her decisions for her. I think we all learned that with the whole Karnauer thing.”

Joe met MacLeod’s rueful grin with a split-second one of his own. Then it faded. “She deserves more than I can give her,” he insisted with quiet intensity

There was no answer to that; MacLeod met his friend’s somber gaze with his own. He remembered Dawson’s grief when they had thought her dead, killed by Karnauer’s pet assassin. He saw again the moment that he had looked up from his glass to see Morgan folded in Joe’s arms, restored to them through her own overly-clever machinations. He thought about how lonely the Watcher had been before she had come...

When your belly's empty and the hunger's so real,
And you're too proud to beg and too dumb to steal,
You search the city for your only friend,
No one would you see.
You ask yourself, who could it be?
A solitary voice to speak out and set you free.
I hate to say it,
I hate to say it,
But it's probably me.

Methos caught up with Morgan several blocks from the bar. She was striding down the empty street, bare-headed in the rain. “Morgan.”

When she saw Methos come up abreast of her, her lips tightened and she picked up the pace, refusing even to look at him. Finally, he settled for the inelegant tactic of simply stepping in front of her and letting her crash into him. He steadied her with a light grip on her shoulders.

“Get out of my way, Pierson.”

He shook his head, a slight smile on his face. “No. Come back to the bar and let’s talk about this like adults.”

“There’s nothing to talk about. Joe’s not interested in a long-term relationship. I’m leaving for France. End of story.” She side-stepped him and tried to walk away. He grabbed her arm and was only half-surprised when she twisted easily out of his grasp -- somewhere she had learned some jujitsu -- and kept walking.

He sighed. She was very... determined. Standing here on a night-empty street, rain streaming into his eyes, dripping off his nose, creeping down his neck, the word ‘pigheaded’ suggested itself with knife-edged clarity. He didn’t know if he wanted to apply it to Morgan, Dawson, or the Highlander who had sent him out here in the first place. Duncan -- Methos sighed again -- he could be back, warm and dry, at Joe’s, enjoying MacLeod’s attentions and refueling for the night’s kinetic agenda. Instead...

His patience had become waterlogged;  taking three long paces, he stepped in front of Morgan again. Drawing his sword, he held the point steady, right beneath her chin. “Now. We are going back to Joe’s and the two of you are going to talk.”

“You know, some people might misinterpret this as an unfriendly act,” Morgan said, eyes carefully estimating the distance between his sword and her body. “But I see it for the warm gesture of human compassion that it really is.” She took a step backward.

“Good. Start walking,” he said, in a pleasantly uncompromising tone.

You're not the easiest person I ever got to know,
And it's hard for us both to let our feelings show,
Some would say I should let you go your way,
You'll only make me cry,
If there's one guy, just one guy,
Who'd lay down his life for you and die,
It's hard to say it,
I hate to say it,
But it's probably me.

Loneliness, that was it, the answer he had been searching for, to give to Joe. The other man had turned away, making fruitless, busy motions among the bottles behind the bar, but MacLeod knew that he was hearing every word. “Dawson -- have you thought about what it must be like for her now? Her father’s dead, she has no other family. Karnauer took everything away from her -- even her identity. She can never go home to her friends; they all think she died weeks ago. She’s alone, Dawson.

“Do you remember what she said, that night she came back? She said that she had stayed away until the Mob figured she was dead, until ‘it was safe to come home’ -- to you.

“She hides it well, under all the sharp talk, but it’s there for anyone to see. Don’t you see that you’re more important to her than any position she might have in the Watchers?”

“He’s right, Joe,” Morgan’s voice said softly from behind him. When Dawson turned, she was there, hair plastered to her head, sopping wet and dripping onto his floor. Methos was behind her, hand just coming out from inside his overcoat -- Joe wondered briefly why he had drawn his sword.

“You OK?” he asked her, not coming out from behind the bar.

“About as good as usual, Joe. Soaking wet, freezing, homeless and dripping on your floor. Again. Did I mention being accosted by a lunatic with a sword?” She shot a disgusted look at Methos, who merely smiled angelically, gaze locked on MacLeod.

“Yeah, that sounds like the ‘usual’,” Joe sighed. “This is crazy,” he explained to her. “Joseph Dawson -- show me one part of your life that isn’t the stuff of a madman’s daydream; Immortals, swords, beheadings, lightning strikes, musicians -- it’s all crazy.

“Stop trying to choose my life for me. Concentrate on running your own; that seems like enough of a challenge for any man.” She put her hands on her hips and looked at him squarely. “Answer this honestly, Joe. For yourself, not for me, or what you think I might need or want or any other twisted reason you’ve come up with today.

“Do you want me?”

He stared at her, willing the words not to come, gritting his teeth against the truth. “Yes. I want you.”

“Then -- here I am.”


It was too soon for them to celebrate; too many words had been said, too many raw nerve-endings were still exposed. But the two mortals sat very close to one another, not touching, every movement speaking of connection.

Mac and Methos shared a quiet drink with their reunited friends in the now-deserted bar. Then MacLeod happened to glance up and catch Methos’ eye across the table.

That look was as tangible as a caress. //I want you now.//  The sheer heat of it washed through him and he felt himself flushing like a raw boy. Embarrassed, he tried to look away, then realized that Methos was just as badly off, and not afraid to show him. Catching his breath, MacLeod nodded once, then began pulling on his coat.

Methos silently followed suit, waiting with well-concealed impatience, as Mac made late breakfast plans with Morgan and Joe.

Just as they reached the door, Joe called to them. “MacLeod! We had a deal, remember?”

The Highlander smiled, the mischief rising now. “So we did, Joe.”

Methos had also turned back at Joe’s call. Mac reached for his hand and swung him into his arms with a theatrical flourish, bending the slighter man back into a shallow dip.

“MacLeod, have you gone mad?” Methos asked quietly. As private as he was, as he preferred to be, he recalled that there was no one in the bar except for the two friends who already held his greatest secret. The trivial fact of his altered relationship with MacLeod was nothing in comparison. He decided to allow his lover his moment of cheerful lunacy.

“Joe wanted to know what was going on between us; I promised I’d tell him if he told me about Morgan. But it would be quicker if we just showed him.”

“I am not a ‘Show and Tell’ item,” Methos protested, laughter and desire already sparkling up between them, sharp and bright as a Quickening. The Scot’s body was hard against him, memory and reality warring to be the first to make the older Immortal lose control. Then the Highlander’s lips were upon him. Whisky and silk, he decided. That was what it was. Whisky, silk and lightning. Duncan’s tongue chased his, coaxing it out with supple ease. One large hand was gently cupping the older Immortal’s jaw, the fingers warm against the hammering pulse in his throat. With a final lick at Methos’ lower lip, MacLeod released him. The two of them straightened and Methos hoped he wouldn’t fall.

“Seen enough to get the picture, Joe?” Methos asked, his voice calm.

“Yeah, I think I’ve got the general idea,” the Watcher sounded breathless.

“Good night,” MacLeod returned Morgan’s grin and the two Immortals left the bar, dangerously close to one another, as far as Methos was concerned. The Highlander’s smoky scent was coiling around him, choking off rational thought again. He made an effort to speak normally.

“Well, that should make for an interesting entry in your Chronicle. Or his personal journal.”

“Dawson keeps separate records?” MacLeod sounded intrigued, but not by what he should be, in Methos’ opinion.

“Do you want to hear about Dawson’s second set of books, or do you want to know what I’m going to do to you when we get home?”

MacLeod suddenly fumbled the keys as he was reaching for the car door. Methos smiled tranquilly and began with the Hindu phraseology for the first seduction technique he planned to use.

Some would say I should let you go your way,
You'll only make me cry,

“MacLeod. I think I should go back to Paris with Morgan.”

The words slid across the chessboard coolly. The younger man stopped in the middle of placing his bishop. Dark eyes met hazel eyes and tried to divine all the possible shadings of meaning behind the deceptively simple statement. Methos waited patiently for the explosion that did not come.

MacLeod thought about all that he knew of his friend and lover. About how he had been a lone wolf for thousands of years longer than the Scot had been alive. About how he had once said he would never marry another Immortal because of the boredom of permanence. How he openly disapproved of Duncan’s tendency to try to save or protect anyone who needed it. How easy it was for Methos to slip out of one persona and go to ground when danger threatened. About how they had never spoken of what was between them. Perhaps the last was because there was nothing between them.

“I understand.”

“What do you understand, Highlander?” Methos asked shortly, finally succumbing to temptation and twitching the forgotten bishop out of MacLeod’s hand, placing it on the board in the only position he had left open in his elegantly constructed trap.

“That you need to leave,” he said evenly.

“Do you understand why?” Methos asked with some asperity. He was tired of the half-truths and misunderstandings that had plagued them for most of their time as friends. He was unwilling that they should poison their increasingly short time as lovers as well.

MacLeod finally shook his head.

Methos sighed and half-reached across the board to touch his lover, then drew his hand back. “It isn’t you. Or us. These weeks have been...,” he smiled gently, a shockingly open expression on his too-mobile face, “wonderful.

“But I wonder if either of us can afford the luxury of permanence here.”

MacLeod said nothing, but his eyes were fixed on Methos’ as the older man tried to explain. “There’s more. You’re an Immortal magnet. I’ve met more Immortals, both head-hunters and friends, in two years with you than I had in the previous four hundred years. I like anonymity, Duncan. It’s peaceful and it has no sharp edges.”

“I know,” MacLeod said again, eyes sad with agreement. He smiled, a split-second effort, then looked down at the board again.

“We will see each other, Duncan. You spend half the year in Paris anyway.”

MacLeod nodded, not looking at him.

“Permanence isn’t really our specialty, you know.”

“I know,” MacLeod said, looking up. “I just wish...”

“So do I,” Methos said, and took his bishop.

If there's one guy, just one guy,
Who'd lay down his life for you and die,
It's hard to say it,
I hate to say it,
But it's probably me.

Morgan was gently stroking his belly, fingers meditatively pressing the flesh. She was enjoying Joe's unique texture and feel under her fingers, luxuriating in the imperfections and beauties that were his alone. She was also trying to store up memories against the long separation to come, the months to be spent training at the Watcher Academy.

Joe loved the feel of her hands on him but he was becoming uncomfortably aware that his physique was no longer that of a young man. There was a gut there now, and he wryly blamed it on opening the bar. If only he didn't have to taste every new batch of beer...

"I'm getting fat," he grumbled, unaware that he had spoken aloud. Morgan's hand stopped for a long moment and she thought hard about what he had, and hadn't said.

"Maybe you should take up jogging."

Joe froze, not believing what he had just heard. In his life, he had had lovers who were matter of fact about the loss of his legs, lovers who had tried to adjust, and, worst of all, lovers who had pitied him. But he had never had a lover who felt comfortable enough to tease him about them. Never.

Suddenly, he grabbed her wrists and flipped her onto her back, pinning her with his body. She gave an undignified yelp, then started helplessly giggling as he nuzzled her neck, tickling her with his beard. He began the torture in earnest, kissing and sucking a trail of fire from her ear to her breast. She was squirming and gasping when he moved back up to kiss her lips.

"Or," she suggested shakily, just before his lips touched hers, "you could just try more push-ups." The two of them wound up laughing into one another's mouths, even as their hands got down to serious business.

If there's one guy, just one guy,
Who'd lay down his life for you and die,
It's hard to say it,
I hate to say it,
But it's probably me.

They stood shoulder to shoulder at the gate, watching Morgan and Methos striding down the gangway, away from them, to board the plane for Paris. There had been few people to witness their leave-taking, this late at night.

Joe and Morgan had said almost nothing, all the words having been said before. Methos and MacLeod had said almost nothing, too. For them, there was nothing to say.

When the flight was called, Joe had wrapped Morgan in his arms and whispered softly in her ear for a time. When he released her, her eyes were shining and she smiled even as tears streamed down her cheeks.

MacLeod had looked at Methos and nodded, once. The silence crackled between them; constrained by the public nature of the place, even at midnight, they did not embrace. They clasped forearms and Methos looked deeply into MacLeod’s eyes. For a brief moment, he allowed that terribly vulnerable, loving expression to bleed into his gaze; he had nothing left to give but honesty. Then his usual mask of jaded amusement slid into place and he turned away to shake Joe’s hand. Then they were gone.

The drive home was silent; they had not stayed to watch the plane take off. MacLeod pulled up in front of Dawson’s house and shut off the engine. They sat for a moment, not speaking.

Then Joe rubbed his hands over his face and said, “There’s something about the two of them loose in Paris together that worries me.”

MacLeod smiled a little. “I can’t imagine why, Joe. With the kind of trouble that Morgan habitually gets into, Methos is going to have his hands full.”

“Why worry about the inevitable? I’m more concerned about what she might pick up from Methos. She already has enough bad habits for several lifetimes, while he...”

“Don’t start, Joe. We both know him far too well.”

MacLeod smiled a little more broadly, then said speculatively, “I think they’ll both need some watching. Maybe a spot check or two, just to make sure they stay on the straight and narrow.”

MacLeod turned to look at his friend; the Watcher had begun to grin. “How long do you figure you can hold out?”

“About a month.”

“I’ll make the reservations tomorrow.”

The two men smiled at each other in perfect understanding.

Epilogue

If there's one guy, just one guy,
Who'd lay down his life for you and die,
It's hard to say it,
I hate to say it,
But it's probably me.

The late Adam Pierson taped down the last label on the last crate of books and reached for his beer. The movers would collect them, along with the rest of the furnishings, in the morning. The furniture had already been sold; the crates would be shipped to a man he knew who had an abiding interest in rare books. He tried to imagine the look on Joe’s face when he caught a glimpse of some of the treasures lurking behind undistinguished calfskin covers.

He checked his watch. Yes, he was now officially dead. It had been a week since the midnight auto wreck at the deserted gas station. The car had plowed into the pumps and the resultant explosion had set off the holding tanks below, turning the entire site into an inferno that had blazed for three days. His car had been reduced to slag and the authorities had held no expectations of finding a body.

Methos had hopped the night ferry to England and awaited the summons as Adam Pierson’s next of kin. He had taken the opportunity to update his wardrobe, hairstyle and identity. As the wealthy and dilettante artist Matthew Smyth-Pierson, he could indulge his taste for finer fabrics and better hotels. Matthew Smyth-Pierson had been shocked and distressed to hear of his young cousin’s tragic death. He had traveled to Paris, arranged for a private and understated memorial service to be held in a few days time, then had settled in to sort his cousin’s few effects.

It was easy to see that the Watchers had skillfully turned over his apartment; manuscripts and notes of his various projects were missing. But the real prizes, Methos’ private journals, were hidden deep beneath the closed book shop now owned by Matthew Smyth-Pierson.

Methos sighed and drained his beer. It was getting harder and harder to disappear, to cash in each identity and move on to the next. It used to be enough that a man might have one name when he rode into the west at nightfall and another when he rode out of the east at morning. Now authorities wanted bodies and eyewitness accounts and birth records and passports and gods’ knew how many other bits of colored paper. The necessary papers, including shipping bills and his plane ticket, were spread across the coffee table he had his feet propped on. But the clever man knew where and how to get those colored bits of paper, and how much to pay for them. He saluted himself as a clever man, a very OLD clever man. Then that ringing sensation of another Immortal hit him and his self- satisfied Cheshire grin slid away. He uncoiled silently from the couch and moved to stand beside the door, drawing his sword out of its sheath in the coat rack. There was a soft knock.

“Come.”

The door opened and someone stepped inside. Methos’ blade was stopped by MacLeod’s inverted katana, held to block the anticipated slice at his throat. An instant’s frozen tableau, then both men sheathed their swords and stared at one another.

Then, a little clumsily, they moved together. Their lips touched gently, then shy desire turned nearly brutal with hunger and need. Strong arms gripped one another fiercely, as if refusing to ever be parted again. When they broke apart, the two Immortals stared at one another, panting.

“MacLeod. What the hell are you doing here?” Methos’ irritated complaint was belied by his bright eyes and gasping breath.

“I came with Joe. And what do you think we found when we got here?” MacLeod’s voice was just as irritated.

Methos had a finely-tuned sense of danger and he saw the storm gathering in the Highlander’s eyes. There were two options here, he decided. One, he could just tell the truth and take his lumps. Two, he could dodge and obfuscate and lead the Scot away from the real issues. Five thousand years is a long time in which to develop bad habits. Recent experimentation in openness and truth telling with lovers notwithstanding, he dodged.

“I couldn’t imagine,” he drawled, yanking his forearms out of MacLeod’s grip.

“Joe gets paged and told that he needs a dark suit to attend a memorial service for an ex-Watcher. One Adam Pierson. Ever hear of him?”

The Scot was blazingly angry and working himself into a truly impressive rage. Methos decided that strategic retreat was his best tactic right now. Retreat and distraction.

“Want a beer?” he asked, crossing to the kitchen with unhurried haste.

“No, I do not...” the Scot stopped stalking his lover and stood, staring.

“What did you do to your hair?” Methos uncapped two bottles anyway and handed one to MacLeod, who took it mechanically, still staring.

“I got it cut, MacLeod.”

He didn’t much like it, really, but it was a trendy and fiendishly expensive style. And it made him look as little like the impecunious graduate student Adam Pierson as he could have hoped. As did the elegantly tailored, extremely correct suit he was now wearing. In fact, he looked as sleek and moneyed as his persona called for. He was rather enjoying it. Taking a sip, he said, “How was your flight?” Methos grinned as he took in the Scot’s wondering stare.

MacLeod, trying desperately to hang onto his anger rather than give in to the frighteningly soft emotions that threatened to drown him, was now staring around the apartment. He noted the sealed boxes, labeled for shipping, the packed flight bag by the door.

“Where are you going?”

The one question Methos had been hoping to avoid. He shrugged and took another swig of his beer. “Nowhere special.”

The outrage was rekindled in MacLeod’s eyes and it warmed Methos as much as it unnerved him. “You were just going to disappear again, weren’t you? You weren’t even going to tell m... any of us, were you?” MacLeod was fascinated as he watched the sudden bobbing of Methos’ long throat as he swallowed nervously.

“MacLeod...it wasn’t like that...” Damn, why did it always come down to that damning sentence. Why did this man always make him feel like an unruly teenager?

“Then tell me...where are you going?”

“To the kitchen, for another beer.” Ignoring his friend’s glare, the older man escaped.

Why couldn’t he just tell him, Methos wondered. He was old enough that he ought to have the maturity to admit when he’d made a mistake, he argued with himself as he uncapped another bottle and flipped the cap over his shoulder. Fear, he decided. That’s what it usually was. Simple fear of making another monumental mistake, of laying himself open to another, vulnerable to someone who could hurt him so badly. To risk or not -- that’s the question, Old Man, he told himself.

But when he came back into the living room, he found the issue already decided for him. MacLeod had Methos’ airline tickets in one hand and the shipping manifest for his books in the other. Both pieces of paper told the same damning tale -- Methos was shipping everything of importance in his life to Seacouver. Including himself.

“Well?” Duncan asked shortly.

Methos wouldn’t meet his eyes. “What do you want me to say, MacLeod?”

“Answer the question. Where are you going?” The Scot’s voice was gentler but no less compelling. It was impossible not to answer that soft demand.

“I was coming to the States.” Methos said flatly, hands clenched around the bottle in his hand.

“Where?”

“Seacouver.” Methos’ voice was getting desperately quiet.

“Where?”

“To you, dammit!  Is that what you want to hear? To you!” He slammed the bottle onto the table and turned his back on his tormentor. He wrapped his arms around himself, mentally slipping into the psychic armor that had protected him so many times in the past.

MacLeod’s arms slipped around him, pulling the tense body back against his own. Warm lips touched Methos’ cheek, then came MacLeod’s low whisper, “Yes. That’s what I wanted to hear, Methos. Was it so hard to say?”

The oldest Immortal nodded, unable to trust his own voice.

“Why? Because you’d have to admit you do need someone? Because you thought I might not want you any more? Because...”

“Just because, OK, MacLeod? Let’s leave me a little mystery here.” Methos’ tone was his most irritating and flippant and didn’t fool MacLeod a bit. He tightened his grip on his exasperating and ancient lover

“When do we leave?”

He felt, rather than saw, Methos’ reluctant smile. In time, he would learn Methos’ secrets. Eventually, he would know what scared the old man so much, why permanence threatened him so, why he feared what he wanted most. Methos would learn why MacLeod had to help those who needed him and why he would never let the sun rise again without Methos beside him. MacLeod started to smile himself, thinking about all they had to discover about one another. He shrugged -- they had all the time in the world.

If there's one guy, just one guy,
Who'd lay down his life for you and die,
It's hard to say it,
I hate to say it,
But it's probably me.

 


The “It’s Probably Me” series ends here. They all lived happily ever after.

The End