|Acquainted with the Night
Standard Disclaimers Apply: I don't own Duncan, Methos or the concepts of Immortality. No harm, no foul.
Authors Note: The section written around "Timeless" takes a great deal of mood and feeling from elynross' amazing _Hold Fast to Dreams_. As I've told Ellen, her story forever changes the way I'll see that ep, and parts of this story are a reflection of that. Thanks, Ellen! But, please, don't blame her for any of it.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
When people talk about appearances being deceiving -- well, Methos, I can't help it. I think of you. And no, I don't mean that in the pissy way you'd immediately assume I did. And it's not my fault either; you go out of your way to encourage the phenomena. Have you been paying attention to yourself today? Puttering around the bookstore, waiting on customers, no matter how irritating or annoying their complaint with an 'Oh, please, no bother at all.' Reshelving volumes, absolutely oozing nonchalance. And I'm supposed to keep a straight face watching all of this?
And, somehow -- without ever looking directly at me, you've managed to keep your eye on me all damn day. Pretty impressive actually, you look so young and naive right now. An unspoiled innocent without a care in the world-if only they knew.
You drug me in here with you, fed me some crock about how the grad student that works afternoons with you has the flu or some such and you'd really appreciate my help, blah blah blah. Yeah, right. There haven't been ten people in here all day. You know, you really needn't have bothered. I like, no, I crave being where you are. I wonder what you'd think if you knew that? Something else for me to mull over this afternoon; I haven't got anything better to do anyway. Even if I hadn't told you I'd stay, I would. You see...I don't have anywhere else to go....
Amanda's gone again, and from what Joe's told me, she's probably gone for a while this time. That friend of hers is Immortal now. Joe gave me the entire story, complete with pictures; he's actually been worrying about Amanda. After listening to his story, I am too. I hope she hasn't gotten herself in over her head this time.
I don't think that Amanda will try to be Nick's Teacher; but I'm sure she'll hover over whomever she recruits for the job and annoy the hell out of both of them in the process. Oh well, give Nick a while, say fifty years or so and he'll probably see her side of things. Until then, nah, I don't think I'd want to live nearby. I bet her neighbors will be treated to a few true crowd-pleasers though.
You know, once upon a time she would have brought Nick straight to me to me the same way I sent Michelle to-no, stop! Don't go there, MacLeod. Don't even start down that path. Think about something else, anything else. Right now.
Amanda: yeah, think about Amanda and Nick. Her newest friend, project and...lover? Almost certainly. And even if they're not lovers now, surely they will be soon. Amanda hasn't admitted it to herself yet -- but she does love him. I know that look; I've seen it before. Seen Amanda direct it at me. This time though, this time I think those two may last longer than anything we ever managed.
I remember the day I met Nick. He spent the first part of the afternoon glaring at me, warning me off. Then he spent the rest of the day sighing over Amanda. Then, abruptly, right back to glowering at me, hotter than ever when I wasn't paying attention to him and he caught the satisfied grin I'd sent their direction. Honestly? I couldn't have cared less how I looked; I was too busy being happy for Amanda because Nick is so obviously smitten with her.
And you know what else? However strange it sounds, even to me sometimes, I actually don't mind. Nick could be the poster boy for besotted lovers everywhere; he looks like he' ll charge into hell itself if that's what it takes to watch her oh-so lovely back. I really hope they work it out, for both their sakes. I don't care how cool she's trying to play this; Amanda's got it bad for him. Even if she hasn't admitted it to herself yet, and I don't think she has, she really does love him.
I can't help worrying though. Worrying that Nick's discovering his Immortality will drive him away. That he'll blame Amanda for causing it, for not stopping it, for not being able to fix it, somehow, so that he never had to face this situation in the first place. I don't want to see it, but I don't have any trouble at all picturing Nick allowing his anger at Amanda to drive an unbreachable wedge between them.
Just in case these happy thoughts don't keep me busy for the entire evening, I can always spend time worrying about something that's possibly even more deadly. It is very possible that Nick will suspect, someplace quiet and hidden deep inside, that Amanda only befriended him because she knew about the prize of immortality hibernating inside him and stayed close to ensure that his promise was birthed into being.
If I thought Amanda wouldn't take my head as soon as she found out, and she'd find out, make no mistake about that, I 'd try talking to Nick. See if I couldn't help him understand that his Immortality is the very least of the qualities that Amanda finds fascinating and enchanting about him. I'm way too familiar with that beaten-down look of his too -- if he goes into a dive over this, he'll take off for someplace where he can be alone so he can think things over in peace. Fortunately, Amanda won't leave him be. If for no other reason than that he's not safe alone until he's learned more about the Game, she'll be hot on his heels.
If things weren't already weird enough around those two, naturally I found something else to spend a bit of time thinking about. In some inexplicably bizarre way, something about Nick reminds me of Cory.
Of all people.
I can't really explain it -- and, God, I hope I never have to try. There's no way I can make sense of it; he just does. I understand rationally, on the surface, it doesn't make any sense at all. Cory's a clown, constantly joking, and making an ass out of himself, and Nick's always brooding, or glaring -- but it's there nonetheless. Maybe it's something about the way they both look at her....
I really hope Nick figures this mess out before we all go crazy. Amanda knows how much I love her; I'll always love her. And I want the best for her -- I really really do. But no matter how much I wish it was so, we're just not meant to be together like that. We love each other too much to lie about something this important. But I do want her to be happy; I want her to be loved. Amanda needs that permanence in her life -- we all do. Maybe, with Nick, she's found hers. And maybe...just maybe, I know where to go looking for mine.
Speaking of which...I'm sure there are many worse ways I could have spent my day. Personally, I'm enjoying sitting here studying Adam Pierson. Unbearably cute, totally harmless post-grad student.
But I know better. I know you. I know Methos....
Five months ago -- funny, it seems a lot more like five days, someday, like five minutes...you went wading through the dark corners in my soul to drag me back away from the edge of the abyss.
How many more times can you bring yourself to do that for me, Methos? How often can you watch me ignore what my head and your mouth are telling me, while I follow my often foolish, sometimes gullible, heart? How many more times can you watch me look away, dodge the issue, unwilling or unable to offer you an explanation that we can both understand? How often before you lose the ability to stand me? And to stand yourself, for putting up with me....
Remember the time you saved me from Liam O'Rourke and 'his band of merry men'? What am I saying; how could you forget? You did everything you could to stop me from going to meet O'Rourke, then when you couldn't stop me -- you followed me and saved me from myself.
One more time.
These very un-Methos-like actions are becoming a bit of a habit. You need to be a bit more careful though; someone might decide you care about more than just my head. God knows you've given me enough examples to develop my own theories on the subject. What I want to know now is why you keep doing it. Lust alone just doesn't explain it -- you've risked too much for this to be simple sexual desire.
And love.... I can't think about that possibility all by myself. Can't risk being wrong. You have so much of my heart already. I can't bear to give you anymore without knowing for sure that you love me the way I think I might love you. It's a big scary thing, the way I feel about you. But not scary enough to frighten me away; I have too much to lose for that.
You haven't let me out of your sight, day or night, since you found out David Keogh was skulking around town. I suppose I could tell you that I won't let him take me -- that I 'm a much better fighter than he is and you'd probably agree with me on both counts. But that's not what you're worried about is it? You're not sure that I'll be able to handle-hell, you are sure I won't be able to handle finding myself unable to avoid having to kill one more lost friend. Another old friend, or lover, who has decided to seek me out, knowing that I'll stop them even if they can't stop themselves. Someone whose pain and despair issues from a wellspring of darkness that I know and understand only too intimately.
You're terrified that some day the seductive, siren-song of the darkness, that silent place where I can go and shelter from the harsh reality and cutting illumination of the light won't just shadow me; someday it will swallow me entire. If I let that happen, I'll have no way to find my way back to the light. Since you mention it-I'm not sure I'd even be interested in looking for the path. 'I have been one acquainted with the night' indeed. The night and I aren't just acquainted, we're best friends.
Tell me something, Methos. I marvel at the light glowing from someplace deep inside you -- the grace with which you bear your years. More years, more darkness and death, and life and joy, more of everything than I can imagine, never mind comprehend. How do you do that, Methos -- what's your secret? How do you find a way, time after time, to pull yourself out from the deepest of darkness's?
Alexa's too-short life and too-lingering death, Kronos' madness suddenly appearing out of nowhere, dredging up a past you'd long left behind, utterly destroying the quiet, ordered life you'd made for yourself. Silas' death at your own hand, Byron's bright genius and subtle insanity-and the death of another of your lovers, and still you go on, you endure.
Oh, and let's not forget when I begged you to kill me: even in the blackness that was my entire being at that moment, when I thought nothing else could touch me, my breath caught at the sharp pain that I felt lance through you. The shocked betrayal of the trust you have in me, whipping like one last flare of Quickening fire through that tiny thread of awareness we've shared since Bordeaux.
But still, despite all that -- and that's a bleak track record that almost matches mine over the past few years, you find your way back again-and yet again to the light. You show up in the barge, or the loft, or at Joe's, mooching beer, offering caustic comments, and...just, living. Finding a way and a reason to go on, to press forward. Staying connected, being a part of us and our lives. Yeah, you disappear...for a few months, every now and then. But you always come back, to us-to me. Do you have any idea how humbling and amazing that is?
Kalas almost did you in; and what was that all about anyway? What -- or who, caused you to feel that sort of despair? I've spent untold hours worrying that one over, old man. You did your very best to trick me into killing you-and I still don' t really understand why. So you couldn't beat Kalas. Okay. You were out of practice; you had a bad day, whatever. You could, however, have beaten him the hell out of Dodge, or Paris as the case might have been. Instead, you came straight to me. Offering me your life, your power and your Quickening, everything that makes you what you are. I thank God every day that I managed to see through your insidious little deception.
Then, just a few short months after that you were back in the fray, helping Joe sort out that mess with Christine Saltzer. Looking over my shoulder, challenging me, daring me not to give up, and watching my back. My front too, if I remember that look of yours right.
One of these days I'm going to make you put up or shut up, old man. Days like today -- when I know you're thinking about me every moment...I can't help thinking about you as well. Thinking about how your body would feel, spread over mine, your thighs straddling my hips, your face flushed, your eyes glittering with desire. And if I don't stop thinking about that soon, I'm going to embarrass both of us. A flushed face I can explain away, an erection trying to poke its way out through my jeans -- umm, no, I don't think so.
Where was I? Oh yeah. Not long after that I discover you on my doorstep in Seacouver, warning me about Kristin, then, doing what had to be done when I couldn't bring myself to end her life. Then, so suddenly it felt like the ground just disappeared out from under me, you've fallen like a rock for Alexa. Do you have any idea what seeing you worry and fret over whether or not she'd like you, did to me? I'm sure you don't. How could you have known something about me that I didn't even know myself?
I'd no idea that I loved you -- well, certainly not like that. Then, overnight you're not only infatuated with one of Joe's waitresses, you're head over heels in love with her. And before I can catch up, never mind try to decide what, if anything to do, you're leaving to take Alexa around the world, to show her as many of its wonders as you possibly can before her already too-short time runs out. And there is nothing I can do but stand in the shadows and try very hard not to let you see the pain I never expected from an injury I never saw coming. And pray that when it's your turn for the pain to come, you'll allow me to be there, to offer you my support. And, of course you did. Too bad I almost blew it.
Once it was over you came to me, but my life was in a major upheaval, again. Do you know I still lie awake at night thinking of new ways to punish myself for not finding a way to make room for you? Not that I can change that mistake any more than I can change any of the others I've made in my long life. Warren had gone off the deep end and I had to try and help him. But, God, if I'd known what was coming in our lives I'd've taken your advice and cut his foolish head off. Maybe that way I might have had a few extra days to help you cope with Alexa's loss.
But, instead, I spent far too much time worrying over someone I haven't been close to for centuries, and ignoring you -- and your pain. He was a compatriot, a friend, and a brother in arms. You're-I don't know quite yet what you are to me, Methos. But I know what I'd like you to be, and I know how it feels to be let down when you're hurting. Tessa wasn't so long ago. I should have dropped everything and been there for you -- deluded old comrades in arms, and their addled heads be damned.
Then, it was one thing after another. And, Methos, to tell you the truth, the more layers of you I discovered, the more I pulled back. I never intended to stay there; I was just being cautious...all right! I admit it. I was somewhat unwilling to see just how different the Methos I'd constructed might be from the real one. And you certainly never went out of your way to disabuse me of my notions, now did you?
Then one sunny day, when I almost had my courage in hand, ready to search out answers to all my questions, we went to a stupid quiz show taping, and I found Cassandra and Melvin Koren, and you found Kronos, and our lives haven't been the same since.
Did we step into a cursed circle or something on the way back? From that point on, it's seemed like fate itself has conspired to keep us apart. Kronos, Byron, Keane...Ahriman, O'Rourke: if ever there was a gauntlet set out for two Immortals to run, that period in our lives surely qualifies. And through it all you've kept your wits and your abilities about you, and somehow you've held my head above water; even when the effort almost drug you under with me. You were being pulled down yourself, but even so, you've kept us both afloat.
Do you not understand how you amaze and astonish me? We're both acquainted with the night, Methos, but you always find the day so simply, so artlessly.
How can I confess my fears to you, the fear I battle every day, that someday the darkness will swallow me entire, when you can still find your way to the light after all this time. What does that struggle cost you; and why do I never see you pay the price?