The Spaces Between My Worlds
by Maxine Mayer

 

3/24/97


There’s an old ritual I perform sometimes, when the night looms long and dark, and time asserts itself as endless, opaque and terrifying. I examine the worlds I’ve lived in, my memories, as many as possible, and I search very carefully for the spaces - the spaces between my worlds.

It is there, in those spaces between lives full of joy and adventure, that the growing occurs. There, in those spaces, that I achieve Immortality. The remainder of time, those years of action, conflict and love, are my Mortality, my humanity. My deaths.

Duncan MacLeod is facing the spaces between his worlds right now. He is going through the motions of Mortal life, but a deep stillness and a vast timelessness have invaded his spirit. We’re out of phase, of course. I am astride my Mortality while he has dismounted and walks Immortal through an unimaginable glass kingdom….

Already twice since we’ve known one another he’s tipped the glass and the wine of Immortality poured out over his life, drenching him in its sweet textured liquid, so very like blood, yet not.

His time of the Dark Quickening nearly destroyed his Mortality entirely. His clash with the Horsemen seeped him in time, unbalanced him utterly, called forth his Immortality. And it’s not over yet.

He walks between the spaces of his worlds, dazed and afraid, clinging to every shred of familiar territory, familiar friends, familiar things - in terror of time.

An Old Immortal. He does not wish to be an Old Immortal. But he is one now. He now must learn how to be.


He never asks where Amanda goes when she leaves him. He never asks where I go. He doesn’t wish to know. This time, he will find out and cry aloud.


"Why don’t you go after her, MacLeod? I know you miss her. Yet you never look for her. Try to bring her back."

"Amanda’s life is her own. When she’s ready, she’ll come back. She always does."

"You chase your Mortal women - Tessa, Anne - you’re the aggressor. You bind them to you." I was afraid I’d said too much, but he didn’t react. He simply replied.

"It’s different, Methos. Amanda is one of us. Her time - her time is her own to do what she wants. Mortals have no time. If I want to be with a Mortal woman, I’ve gotta seize the moment. There’s no time to lose. No time to play games. Before I turn around, they might be gone."

"And Amanda’s different?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"Methos - you’re being blind on purpose!"

"Maybe I am. I simply don’t see the difference. She’s a woman. She loves you. Why don’t you behave as though you love her in return. You do love her, don’t you?"

"Of course I do! She knows that!"

"I think," I drawled slowly, as I made my way from the couch to the refrigerator, grabbed another beer, and returned to the couch, "I think you should look for Amanda. Don’t you miss her?"

MacLeod stretched out his hands on the kitchen counter and leaned his body forward on them. "Yes, I do. As a matter of fact. If you must know."

"So -"

"So, nothing." Then, changing his tactics, he said, "I wouldn’t even begin to know how to find her, where she’s gone. Last time she left, she was headed for Paris, I think. But she’s not there now."

"Joe could find her."

"I’m sure he could."

"What - are you afraid she’s with someone else, another man?"

"Maybe," he replied, with a grin. "Maybe I am."

"She’d come back with you in a minute, you know that."

"Maybe she would - and maybe she wouldn’t thank me for interrupting whatever love affair she’s pursuing. Amanda’s her own person, Methos. I can’t simply drop in on her. She’s Immortal."

"For goodness sake, MacLeod, what on earth does that mean - she’s Immortal? That she’s unavailable? That she wouldn’t appreciate a wake-up call from Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod?"

"What’s your game, Methos? Why are you telling me this, saying these things?"

I was surprised it’d taken him this long before he asked me that. "No game, MacLeod. I miss Amanda. We have fun together, when she’s with us. Alone with you, it’s boring."

"Nobody’s chained you to a radiator here, Methos - you don’t need to stay if you’re bored. Why don’t you find Amanda yourself, if you miss her so much?"

This was not a serious suggestion on MacLeod’s part, I knew. He was rarely jealous of anyone, but Amanda usually managed to flick that switch in him, whenever she wished to do so. "I don’t go looking for her because she’s not in love with me. She’s in love with you."

"That’s a bit strong, Methos. She loves me. I love her. We’ve known each other a long time. You can pretty much get used to anybody, after so many years. But - in love? I don’t think so."

"If you don’t believe me, ask anybody - Joe, Richie, the cop on the beat -"

Mac pushed away from the kitchen counter. "Okay. I’ll do it. You twisted my arm. I’m gonna go to Joe’s and ask him to tell me where she is. I’m gonna follow her to wherever that is, grab her by the hair, and drag her back here! You satisfied, Methos!"

I grinned, took a sip of my beer, and said, "Perfectly."


I knew where Amanda was, else I wouldn’t have goaded MacLeod into finding her. He would not be interfering with any love affair, when he arrived there. Amanda was on one of the Greek Islands, a tiny one. She had a small cottage there. She was laying on a beach, soaking up sun. She was studying several disciplines: the ancient game called "Go;" the language called Hindi; a phenomenal martial art derivative I’d invented and entitled "Subterfuge;" the poetry of Blake; and the history of Scotland. She was walking slowly and very carefully in a fragile glass kingdom, examining the spaces between her worlds.

And a small part of her, no larger than the diamond stud in her nose, was missing Mortality, missing Duncan MacLeod. It was time to take his hand and walk more quickly in the glass kingdom, bond with him there, achieving Immortality once more. Not the first time, for Amanda. But a real first, for MacLeod.


We three - Joe Dawson, who is our Mortal Watcher, MacLeod, and I - left together the next evening, on a long flight to Greece, with three changes of plane. Joe was tickled to be along. He told me that, the last time he’d taken a vacation was when he was invalided out of the service. Duncan was beginning to get into the mood of the trip. He’d bought some colorful shirts and shorts for the warmer climate, and a new pair of sandals. I was expecting to find everything I needed at Amanda’s, where I’d left my hot-climate clothes last time I’d borrowed her cottage for a short time, to check out my own not inconsiderable spaces. Not with Alexa. We two had traveled first class all the way.

We were tired by the time we changed planes in London. But when we landed in Greece, we perked up. You can’t beat the sun out there, you know. It’s exhilarating, energizing and enervating, all at the same time. Makes you want to eat and drink and sleep and fuck and swim and laze about on the beach. Makes you want to sing and dance all night, like a fool. Like a Mortal.

I watched Dawson bloom in the sunshine, as he tanned and the white in his hair and beard was bleached even whiter. I watched MacLeod’s slow grin simply take him over, in minutes, after we landed. For almost all the rest of the trip, he wore that grin. They tell me I grinned a bit too. Don’t I know it!

When she saw the three of us coming up the beach from the landing dock, dragging our sandal-shod feet through the sand, Amanda jumped out of her chair with a laugh and ran to us. She squealed, "MacLeod!" and hugged him and twirled him around. She kissed Joe’s cheek, hugging him too. Me, she just looked at, and shook her head. "Methos, you devil! How’d you know I was ready? I was fine till this morning!"

"I knew. Isn’t that enough?"

"You betcha!" She kissed me too, but it was more formal, as befits our relationship, which has changed so much since we decided it should. "You all right, Methos? Sleeping?"

"Mostly. I hang onto MacLeod." I shrugged. "Seems to work."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. He can bore you to death. Greatest sleeping potion since morphine!"

"Hey, hey, you two! Enough whispering. Aren’t you going to show us your house, Amanda?" MacLeod asked. "I could use a drink."

We walked up to the house slowly, for Joe’s sake. Amanda’s liquor cabinet was enviable, as always. We ate, drank, and talked half the night, and depleted her liquor supply as best we could.

Duncan couldn’t get enough of Amanda. His eyes were never off her, and he took every opportunity to touch her. For a while there, I thought we’d wasted the trip, that he’d squeeze past the glass kingdom yet again, and walk straight back into Mortality, through the doorway of Pleasure, dragging Amanda after him. The way I was feeling about her myself, I wouldn’t blame him. The woman looked good!

But Amanda was moody. Happy, but moody. I’d taken her by surprise, and she sensed I had plans for us. I didn’t know why I’d wangled an invite for Dawson, except for the very fact of who he was: MacLeod’s Watcher. It seemed appropriate that he should be there, when the action went down.


In the morning, while Mac and Joe prepared breakfast and drank fruit juice, I took Amanda for a walk on the beach. She was tense, wary, and excited.

"What evil scheme are you concocting now, Methos? Playing games with Mac is fool’s work, you know."

"No games, Amanda. Time to take him up, to the next level, I replied evenly."

"No. Not yet. He’s too young!"

"You’ve been saying that for years, Amanda. He’s no Green Boy any longer."

"Green Boy or not, he’s too young, Methos! He’s enjoying himself. He’s still - working things out. Figuring things out. Treading the Mortal road. You can’t just grab him and force him to leap," she replied earnestly. "Come on, Methos, give him another few decades, at least." She was wheedling. Almost, she could wheedle even me out of my plans, so effectively did she do ‘wheedle,’ our Amanda. But not this time.

"Too late, my love, the wheels are turning, the others are on their way, even as we speak."

"No! Methos, no!" Then, a huge breath, and a sigh. "Who? Who’d you ask to come?"

"Let it be a surprise, even for you, love."

"Methos! You know I hate surprises! They frighten me!"

"This one will turn your head ‘round, like in ‘The Exorcist.’ As you once told me, ‘have a little faith!’ It’ll work out perfectly. I promise you."

Amanda walked on ahead of me for a bit, scuffing her bare toes in the sand, her head down, her neck a delicious target, sweet and slender in the morning sun, her hands behind her back, fingers twined together, utterly without fear of me. That was a heady sight, I admit. It frightens me to know how very much I care for Amanda, and how very happy it makes me to know she doesn’t fear me.

Finally, she turned and asked, "Why did you bring Joe? He can’t be allowed to see the glass kingdom, to walk in the glass city, towards Immortality. He’s Mortal. It’d most likely kill him - the Light."

"I’m not so sure. Joe’s MacLeod’s Watcher. He has the right to observe. What he makes of it all is up to him. Frankly, I think it’ll go right over his head. They’re blind to it - same as they don’t sense us coming."

"Hmm, that could be true. Nothing in the Chronicles about it?"

"None of them. Nothing I’ve read in all the years I’ve been a Watcher - before, and now. Stands to reason, some of the Watchers must have witnessed the Walk. None speak of it. Either they can’t see it, or their memories get wiped, somehow."

"Methos - it’s not too late. Let’s go home. To Duncan’s flat. Forget this. For now. Please, Methos."

I grasped her shoulders firmly. "Are you sure, Amanda? Sure that’s what you want - to throw this chance away? His last chance for God only knows how long - before he’s ready again? You sure of that?" I do ‘serious’ well. Slightly over the top, I grant you, but effective.

She looked into my eyes, then away. Then she murmured, "You’re right, I suppose. But he’s gonna hate it, hate you for it. You’ll be giving him up for God only knows how long. Are you ready for that?"

"No. I’m not. But it’s time." I shrugged, took my hands off her shoulders. "Who ever said I was meant for happiness, anyway? Did you read it in a book somewhere?"

"This is nothing to joke about, Methos. You’re worth something, too. Your happiness is worth something."

"Not anymore. I wouldn’t give two cents for my happiness now."

We were both silent for a few moments. Then Amanda put her arms around me, offering a comfort that wasn’t mine to take, of course, so I didn’t take it. But God, was I tempted!

"Listen, child," I told her, "just for tonight, try to be less physical. Distance yourself from him, just a little. Let’s take a stab at making this work."

"You’re a pain in the ass, Methos Valerius, you know that?"

I stared at her. "No one’s called me that for years. I’m surprised you remember."

"Darius always did."

"Darius is gone."

"Fuck you!"

"He’s gone, Amanda. If he weren’t, we could let MacLeod play his Mortal games for another century or two. But we lost Darius. There’s nothing I can do to bring him back. So -"

"Okay." She put her hands on my chest and lightly pushed me away. I stumbled backwards a few steps in the sand. "Okay."

She went all determined and serious on me, possibly the sexiest thing Amanda does. I paid careful attention to what she said and did next. She lies very well, and has no conscience. I didn’t want her to fool me, not now, not this time.

Reading my thoughts, Amanda said, "I promise I won’t interfere."

I shook my head. "You’ve got to do more than that, my girl."

"I promise I’ll go along."

"More than that."

"Damn you, Methos - I promise I’ll walk the glass city, through the whole goddam glass kingdom, with Duncan MacLeod of the damn Clan MacLeod, and take him to the next level! Is that good enough for you!"

"Yes. Yes, it is. Thank you, Amanda."

"You’re welcome, Methos Valerius, old friend."

"Still, ‘old friend,’ even now?"

"Always." It wasn’t her biggest grin. Fact is, it was sickly. But she grinned. Then she giggled. "Ah, hell! Maybe it’ll be fun!"

"And maybe bears don’t piss in the forest! Fun it won’t be."

"Depends who’s coming. Old ones?"

"Two. And a young one."

"Can I guess?"

"Sweetie, you’ll never guess!"

She lifted an eyebrow, grabbed my hand and dragged me towards the water. "Then tell me! Or I swear I’ll throw you in!"

"I can’t tell you - you know that!"

"You’re going in, Methos! You’re gonna drown! You know how you hate the water!" She continued to drag me toward the sea, and I hadn’t the heart to stop her. Just thinking of what was ahead for her, for all of us, made me weak.

"You’re going in, old buddy! Last chance! Tell me who’s coming, or you’re sopping wet, your lungs filling with water! I’ll hold your head under - I swear it!" She’d already brought us both up to our waists into the sea. "Meth-os - tell!"

I grabbed her and dunked us both, holding her under and holding my breath. Finally, I let us up, and she came up sputtering and fighting. But she knew I wouldn’t tell. So she floated on the water, squinting into the sun. This time I didn’t try to resist. I kissed her lightly on her mouth. She turned over lazily and put her arms around me, treading water. "Methos, Duncan will see. You don’t want him to see, do you?" she asked wickedly.

"Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn," I replied, kissing her again.

"Oh, but you do. You do give a damn! And so do I."

She pushed off and away and swam back to the shore. I watched her walk up the beach, away from me, as she’d done over and over again, for a millenium. I rubbed my nose, shook the water from my hair, shrugged.

"If it’s worth having, it’s worth waiting for," I muttered. "But - ten centuries? Isn’t that slightly absurd?"


We passed the day quietly. Mac and I went down to the village and picked up supplies, while Amanda showed Joe all her souvenirs - the ones she kept with her wherever she went. Later, before supper, Joe told me he was impressed. "She’s got a really old edition of Marcus Aurelius’ ‘Meditations,’ Methos! And what’s more, she’s read it! Who would have believed it!"

"There’s more to Amanda than meets the eye, Joe. Simply because she likes a little romance and excitement in her life, doesn’t mean that’s all she needs or knows. Don’t forget, she was Rebecca’s student."

"Yeah, I shouldn’t be so surprised. I’ve been studying you guys all my life, and there ain’t one of you who isn’t more than he looks to be."

"Must be the age," I said, laughing.

"Yeah. There’s that. But it’s something else." Joe shook his head and took another sip of his Scotch.

"What’d you mean?"

He shrugged. "I dunno. Mac’s pretty straightforward. Oh, he’s got his pensive moments. He’s older than he looks, I grant you that. But he’s not the best example of what I mean."

"No?"

"No. You Old Ones, something’s different about you guys. I don’t know so many of you. But even just the two of you - Amanda, you - something’s not right."

"You mean - we’re Immortal?" I grinned.

"I think that’s exactly what I mean. You’re Immortal. You’re - timeless. You’re not like Mac. Maybe you’re just too old. Like us. Like Mortals. When we get old. We don’t care the same way, anymore, about anything. Can’t get all worked up and passionate, the way young people do. You two, you talk a good game. But you seem to be - not in it - not out of it, but not in it, either."

"You’re one perceptive man, Joe Dawson. I gotta hand it to you."

"What?"

"Not in it. We’re not in it, not the same way MacLeod’s in it. I don’t think there’s any other way to put it except - we’re old, Joe. Really really old."

He looked at me, and smiled. "You don’t look it. Neither does Amanda."

"It takes a lot to jump-start us, Joe. More than you can imagine. You’ve seen it in some of the others - the ones who go down the Evil Path. The killers. The ones who embrace perversion. Lots of us do that. Immortality can take the heart out of a man. The spaces between our worlds can become very dreary, very dreary indeed."

"But you and Amanda - you’re okay with it?" Joe’s concern - you couldn’t put a price to it.

"We stick with MacLeod. Before him, Darius. The live ones. Keeps us alive, keeps us going."

Joe was quiet for a few minutes. Then he said, "Thanks, Methos. Thanks for telling me. It’s a privilege to know you. Can’t buy it, can’t steal it. Gotta get it as a gift. I want you to know, I do appreciate it, buddy."

"It’s good to be able to trust somebody, Joe. A real gift." I hesitated, and Joe noticed.

"There’s something more, something going on. What is it? Trouble? Let me help. Please."

I shook my head. "It’s not like that, Dawson."

"MacLeod. He’s in danger."

"No. Not like you mean."

"Something’s going on with him. Something’s happening to him. These - terrible times - the Dark Quickening, the Horsemen, Tessa’s death, Anne’s leaving him, Darius’ murder -"

"Something like that." But it wasn’t all. He didn’t mention what was worst for MacLeod. Killing the Old Ones, the old Immortals. That’s what had made MacLeod an old Immortal before his time. That’s what was wrong, what needed fixing. But I couldn’t, mustn’t explain that to Joe.

Dawson looked at me, imploring me with his eyes to tell him everything. "I can’t explain, Joe. But you’ll be here. I don’t know how much you’ll see, or understand, or remember. But you’ll be here with MacLeod. Whatever you can do to help, you’ll be permitted to do."

"Permitted?" He thought for a minute. "It’s some kind of ceremony, an initiation, isn’t it?"

"Joe, that’s enough." I stood, put my drink down, and walked to the door. "MacLeod’s an old Immortal now, Joe -"

Dawson finished my sentence. " - And he’s gotta accept that."

I turned, my eyes wide. "That’s right."

"Okay, old friend. I got it. I’ll help. Much as I can." I didn’t answer him. "Whatever the price," he added. I nodded. He’d gotten it, all right. Only too right. For the first time since I’d set things in motion, I really began to worry. If we Immortals paid a price, that was our business. But Joe wasn’t part of this. It wasn’t his fight. He’s Mortal. The price he pays could be his life. I didn’t like thinking about that. But I couldn’t push the thought away.

Then I heard the helicopter land, and I knew it was too late to stop what I’d started. And much too late to send Joe Dawson home.


Quentin of York. Lamartin of Bordeaux. Those names mean anything to you? They’re not their real names, of course, though they used them for hundreds of years. They aren’t even the names they use today. Long ago, they were called by different names. The records some of us Immortals keep among ourselves are a little vague about the old days. But on one thing they’re clear. On one thing, the records all agree. Methos Valerius is most certainly not the oldest living Immortal. Quentin of York is, and Lamartin of Bordeaux follows close behind. Six thousand years - give or take - a piece. Sixty centuries each. That’s a long time. I’m a Green Boy to Quentin. Lamartin persists in calling me ‘mi figlio,’ the equivalent of ‘sonny,’ you might say. Honestly, I wasn’t sure they’d come when I asked. But I’d underestimated the rumors about MacLeod. I must give over doing that - underestimating anything about Duncan MacLeod. Will I never learn?

You’ll want to know what they look like, Quentin and Lamartin. They look young. Fit. They both made First Death very young. When they were still Mortal, people didn’t live to a ripe old age. A man of forty was an Elder. Quentin looks like an adolescent, a beautiful blonde youth of seventeen. He appears to be younger than Richie. Lamartin is bigger, beefier - a real Latino type. Looks about twenty-five. It takes a real effort not to let their looks deceive me. Until I feel their ancient "buzz."

Before today, I hadn’t seen them for more than fifty years. They’d come out of retirement to fight in the Second World War. At the time, I found their enthusiasm incredible. Now, I’m not so sure they weren’t right to take sides. Be that as it may, only God knows how many times they each died in that conflict, or to what lengths they went in order to continue fighting - their Immortality undetected - to the bitter end. I do know they watched each other’s backs to keep their secret from Mortals. It was an episode in their Chronicles they permitted me to write. They have no real Watchers.

If you’re surprised to have found out that I’m ‘just a guy,’ then those two would floor you. Even Amanda couldn’t quite get her mind around their modernity. They’re like no other Immortals I’ve ever known. Absolutely without any sign of age. Absolutely fearless, as if they were on drugs. Always high. Always up. When I spoke of their retirement, I realized it might put some people in mind either of an old age home or a monastery. I merely meant, they were as far out of the Game as they could place themselves. They lived for Pleasure, and I do mean with a capital ‘P.’ Rich as Croesus, they were modern to a fault. In their minds, they lived in the twenty-fourth century, and that’s a minimal estimate. You’ve got to appreciate the cunning, the cleverness of those two, to survive so long. But they didn’t spend all their time surviving. They invented things - no, not themselves, not simply themselves. Real inventions. Real technology. Some they sold. Some they gave away. I suspect, some they kept for themselves. They once told me that they crammed their Mortality with so much activity that Immortality seemed like a dream to them. A nightmare they avoided at all cost. They walked in the spaces between their worlds as infrequently as possible. They walked the glass kingdom only when they must.

From this you’ll gather, it’d take a lot more than my fancy footwork to convince them they must. Yet they agreed to come, quite gaily, when I’d gotten in touch. "Absolutely, old sod," Quentin sang into the speaker phone. "Just tell me your coordinates, Val, I’ve got pen and paper in hand," Lamartin seconded. I gulped and responded. But I couldn’t have been more astounded had they each grown two heads!

Goes to show! Life’s a wonder, when even I can be surprised!

"Inviting anybody else, Methos?" Quentin had asked. When I told him we’d be staying with Amanda, he seemed quite pleased. When I told him who else was coming, I could hear the frown in his voice. Nonetheless, despite their misgivings about the other Immortal I’d invited, they accepted with pleasure. "Wouldn’t miss it, my boy!" Quentin said. "Absolutely marvelous fun, I’m sure," Lamartin agreed, his turn of phrase clashing with his slight European accent.

And now they were here, getting out of a helicopter, being greeted by Amanda and MacLeod. I hung back. Stayed in the house with Joe.

"What’s up, Methos?" he wondered aloud. "Who’s that in the ‘copter?"

"Just old friends. I’ll introduce you," I muttered.

"Immortals?"

"Yes."

"If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you look like you’re afraid of them," Joe said, joking.

"I am afraid of them."

He struggled out of his chair and started for a window. "No! Come on. You’re pulling my leg! Look at them! Couldn’t be older than Richie! What’s there to be afraid of?"

"They’re older than Richie, Joe. Trust me. They’re really really old guys." I couldn’t bring myself to shatter all Dawson’s illusions, so I didn’t tell him they’re older than me. A man’s gotta keep some secrets.

Joe bit his lip. "They know I’m here?"

"By now, they probably did their homework. I’m pretty sure they know."

"That gonna be a problem, Methos? I’ll leave, if you want me to."

"Absolutely not."

"Okay, then. I’d like to meet them."

"You will. Oh, you will." He did.


Amanda assigned two tiny upstairs guestrooms to Quentin and Lamartin. The old Immortals sauntered down to dinner dressed to the nines in white linen summer suits. They managed to look both elegant and out of fashion at the same time. We were all wearing shorts, shirts and sandals. Quentin and Lamartin carried their swords in plain sight, casually laying them on an empty chair near the sideboard before joining the four of us at the large round dinner table.

MacLeod stared at them. While his own katana was within easy reach on the sideboard, I think he found the fact that they were carrying theirs openly somehow rude. I’d put my sword out of sight under the table earlier. I wasn’t sure where Amanda kept hers. Still, Mac seemed put out that the old men hadn’t left their weapons in their rooms.

"Don’t look so surprised, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," Quentin said. "This idyllic time may be a vacation for Mr. Dawson, but death never takes a holiday. And neither do Immortals."

"I’m sorry you feel that way," Mac replied evenly, with a great deal of dignity. "For me, any friend of Methos’ is a friend of mine."

"Until proved otherwise," I chimed in.

"Well said, MacLeod," Quentin admitted. "But we mustn’t lie to ourselves, or to each other. Ritual Combat is what we do, the spine of who we are. We’d be foolish if we weren’t prepared."

I felt nervous, as though I’d brought a friend to meet my parents. Felt responsible for Duncan, somehow. Anxious for him to make a good impression. It was foolishness, I grant you, but that’s how I felt. I tried to change the subject, but ended up putting my foot in it. "Our last guest should be arriving in the morning. Then our party will be complete."

"Just who else is coming, Methos?" MacLeod asked.

"It’s a surprise," Amanda said quickly, saving my neck. "Don’t you just love surprises?" She turned to Lamartin, who hadn’t said a word so far, but was studying Amanda’s charms with undisguised admiration. "Lamartin, how about you? Do you like surprises?"

"I’m sure I would, but nothing surprises me anymore, I’m afraid, mi figlia." Oily continental charm. Pity he was so attractive.

"Just how long have you been around, Mr. Lamartin," Dawson asked. "Most of the Immortals I’ve met still find life full of surprises. Even Methos here."

I always anticipate that Quentin and Lamartin will be contemptuous of Mortals. They’ve distanced themselves so thoroughly, that I forget what they’re like when I don’t see them for a long time.

Lamartin replied, "You’re right. One thing persists in surprising me. Mortals. What they do, how they think, how they love - so passionate, so urgent. I do not mean to insult you in any way, Mr. Dawson, but with time, you’ll be the same as we are. Disengaged. Disconnected."

Joe laughed. "I don’t think I’ve got that kind of time."

"Perhaps not," Quentin said seriously. "Nor is it in your nature to be disengaged. I think you are a passionate man, Joe Dawson."

"No doubt about that! Maybe too much so, for my own good."

"That could never be. Never." Quentin spoke decidedly, with authority that ill befitted his youthful looks. But his voice was low and strong. Nobody seemed put out with his pronouncement.

MacLeod asked, "What’s your line of work, Mr. Quentin? And you, Mr. Lamartin?"

"Please call us Quentin and Lamartin, Mr. MacLeod."

Duncan nodded. "Same here - Duncan’s fine."

"We’re inventors. That’s our work, our study, and our business as well. Right now, it’s computers. We’re working on various possibilities for viewing one’s partner in a conversation on the internet."

"Don’t forget spacecraft, Quentin. It’s really hush hush, for now. But down the road - if we’re granted the time - we’ll have something valuable to offer, I believe," Lamartin added.

"Methos tells me you’re older than you look," Joe said, smiling. "So you must be ‘survivors extraordinaire.’ But you both seem pretty uncertain how much time you’ll have, pretty sure death’s just around the corner. How come?"

"Dawson -" I interrupted.

"No, let me reply," Quentin stopped me with a gesture. He picked up his glass of wine. "Look at this wine, Mr. Dawson."

"Joe. Call me Joe, please."

"Very well. Joe. Look at this wine. Such a lovely color, delicate flavor - a delicious wine, which will only improve with age. What could go wrong with it? Yet we know careless storage could ruin the rest of the case. And a moment’s bad weather could ruin next year’s vines. The wine grower knows. Every farmer lives in dread of bad weather, which is death to his crop. We Old Ones are the same. We’re lovely, we improve with age, but we’re very delicate, very vulnerable. One stroke of the sword can destroy us forever. How could we not be aware of that fact of our existence? Immortal or no, death is always present to us. We’re less likely to forget it or avoid thinking about it than you Mortals, I believe."

"When you put it that way, I can see where you’re coming from. Just how old are you two?" Joe asked curiously.

"Methos - shall I?" Quentin asked.

"Round figures will do," I replied.

"Very well. Fifty centuries, more or less. Each."

"Wow! I’d no idea there were others like him," Joe said, waving in my direction. "I kinda thought he was the only really old guy still around."

I glanced at MacLeod. He was studying his wine glass, determined to avoid my eyes.

"Boys, boys," Amanda finally broke the silence. "Can’t we talk about something less gloomy than old age and death? MacLeod’s an antique dealer. That ought to interest you, Lamartin. Methos told me you love beautiful things."

"I am interested in beautiful things, antiquities. But my passion is people. In our partnership, I am the salesman; Quentin the scientist. I travel widely. We’ve collected a great many objets d’art over the centuries, fine things, but mainly our own personal belongings, which turn into antiquities as time passes."

"I’ve noticed that myself," MacLeod said, for the first time that evening lightening up a bit. I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe it would be all right. He never took to Immortals easily. Mortals, yes. He’s a sucker for Mortals. But he’s got a suspicion of Immortals that won’t let go. I prayed my two old friends would sense that and try to put MacLeod at his ease. Otherwise, God alone could say in what terrible ways my plan would be ruined.

We talked a bit longer, over coffee. I had a couple of beers, and so did Joe. MacLeod stuck with the wine. Finally, he said he was tired, and went up to bed. Dawson soon followed. The four of us - Amanda, Quentin, Lamartin and I - were finally alone.

"Methos, this isn’t going to work! You can see that, can’t you?" Amanda whispered urgently.

"It does seem - premature - Val," Quentin added, and Lamartin nodded.

"You’re wrong. It’s time. I was never more certain of anything in my life."

"However do you retain such enthusiasm, such passion, Val?" Quentin asked, his unlined face a study in disbelief. "If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were a Green Boy still."

"Not ‘retain,’" I muttered, for the hundredth time in a hundred days, or so it seemed to me. "Not ‘retain,’ redeem!" I was angry.

"What’s that mean, Methos?" Quentin asked. "Quibbling over a word?"

"Words are who we are. They define us. ‘The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us.’ ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ When I say I’m redeemed, I’m not quibbling, I’m damn near praying!" I sighed. Then I shrugged. "You’ll see. In the blink of an eye, you’ll see MacLeod for what and who he is - and you’ll know I’m right. That it’s time."

Lamartin leaned towards me and placed a hand on my shoulder. He spoke quietly, gently. "Methos, it’s all very well to admire the man, even to love him, but that won’t change the fact that he’s only four hundred years old. He’s a Green Boy. Ask anyone. He’s fairly quivering with Mortality, still. He’s virtually indistinguishable from Dawson, spiritually. He’s a child, Val. It’s not time. Pray believe me, not yet."

"I’m not deluded. You’ve made my point for me. Yes, I agree. He’s as Mortal as Joe. He’s also as Immortal as Quentin or you. Or me. It’s time." The angry edge to my voice simply emphasized the conviction I felt. These men had read the private Chronicles I’d prepared over the past couple years. But reading about Dark Quickenings and the Horsemen and the death of MacLeod’s friends was one thing. Living through it was another. Experiencing the difference in MacLeod from when I first met him until today was something I couldn’t pass along the line.

At last I spoke into the vast silence the others maintained. "Okay, guys, just humor me. Let’s simply give it a whirl. Our last guest will arrive in the morning. Tomorrow night we’ll start. Amanda will start," I amended. "We can stop at any point along the way, if you all agree that’s the right way to go. Or we can continue on into the glass kingdom. All I’m asking is that you trust me. I’ve been around a long time. Granted, I may be wrong. Yes, I may be deluded by friendship. Yes, Duncan MacLeod is a very charming man. So, yes, I may be deluded by love. But I’m not. I know it. And you’ll all know it, in a few days."

Amanda, Quentin and Lamartin exchanged glances. I hoped they’d decide in my favor. After all, they were here, weren’t they? But I hadn’t realized I had so little faith in their judgment. I’d grown accustomed to MacLeod. To Dawson. To their unerring morality, their incredible instincts. I’d forgotten what life was like when you hung around with dispassionate Old Ones. I seemed to have lost the knack of distancing myself from my lives, and that realization disconcerted me. But I kept my mouth shut until they nodded their agreement to try. Then I said goodnight, grabbed my sword, and went up to bed. I didn’t know I’d been holding my breath until I closed the door to my room and let it out.

"Where’d you find those two, Methos? In a home for the emotionally challenged?" Duncan asked. "Talk about the dead leading the utterly deceased!" he said, mocking me.

I switched on the light. He was sitting in a rocking chair near the window, his katana across his knees, a can of beer in one hand, a glass of wine in the other. The house was so full of "buzz," I hadn’t noticed how near he was.

"Close your mouth old friend - you’ll catch flies," he told me. Then he laughed out loud. "Come on, Methos, don’t look so surprised. Here - have a beer."


I tried to regain my composure. "You shouldn’t be here, MacLeod."

"Really? Since when do you tell me where to go and who to see?"

"That’s not what I meant. You should be with Amanda. Or Joe."

"Why? Why one friend rather than another?" When I didn’t reply, Mac stood up, and put down his wineglass. His katana held in a loose grip in his left hand, he walked to the window, moved the curtain aside, and looked out. Then he looked at me again. "You gonna tell me what’s going on, Methos, why we’re here?"

"Just a holiday, that’s all, MacLeod. Friends greeting friends." I smiled up at him from the easy chair I’d flopped into. "Why so suspicious?"

"Those two men are your friends? Is that what you’re trying to tell me? So why are you so scared of them that even Joe noticed? Why’s Amanda scared? What’s going on, Methos? Why’d you bring me here?"

"It’s not fear. It’s respect. Can’t you tell the difference?"

"No. I cannot! It smells like fear to me!" Then, before I could move, he’d crossed the small bedroom, swiveled his katana in a wide arc, and sliced downwards towards my throat, holding the edge of his blade an inch from my Adam’s apple. His voice was low and raspy, his face a study in hot anger. "Respect? Tell me, Methos. Tell me now. Why are we here? Who’s coming tomorrow? What’re you planning? Now, or you’re dead!"

I stretched my hands out, as if to push his body away. Hunching my shoulders, pulling my head as far away from the blade at my throat as I could, I answered the easiest question first. "Connor’s coming. I’ve asked Connor." If I thought that would be enough to save me, I was wrong.

"Why?"

"It’s a long story, MacLeod -"

"Then you’re lucky I’m Immortal, aren’t you? I’ve got lots of time to hear it. Give over, Methos. I want to know."

"It’s for older Immortals - a kind of - spiritual quest - a way to center oneself. We call it, a walk in the glass kingdom. It’s not a bad thing. Really."

He kept his blade at my throat. "Who’s it for, this time? You? Amanda? Or Connor? Is that why you’ve asked Joe and me - for moral support for one of you in this - quest?"

"MacLeod, take your blade away from my neck, and I’ll tell you."

"No. You’ll tell me now, Methos."

"It’s not for Amanda, or Connor, or me. It’s for you, MacLeod."

"But you said, ‘older Immortals’." He sounded bewildered. "I’m not in that ballpark. Not even in the league."

"I think you are."

"You’re insane."

I shook my head. "No, I’m not. But get in line. The others agree with you."

MacLeod whisked his katana away from my throat and went to the rocker. He sat down again and lay his sword across his knees. He picked up his glass and took another sip of wine.

I adjusted myself in the easy chair, put one knee up, and started to search around for my beer. Then I noticed my hands were shaking, so I just sat quietly, waiting for his next question, and his next. What a mess!

"And Connor? Why’d you invite him? I didn’t know you’d even met him."

"For you."

"As moral support?"

"As a kind of - Second - like in a medieval duel."

"I thought you said you believe Chivalry is dead. ‘Trendy in my youth,’ you called it."

"This is from long before the Age of Chivalry. I do ‘eclectic’ pretty well."

MacLeod put his head in his hands. "I’m not an old Immortal, Methos. Not even close. You’re way off, here." Then he lifted his eyes to look at me. "Besides, how could you bring those two - strangers - to something so - personal? If we met them at Joe’s, we wouldn’t give them the time of day!"

"The Ritual calls for four - a Companion on the Walk, Amanda - a Sponsor - that’s me - and a Judge, Quentin -" I broke off.

"And - and. What’s the fourth for? Why’s Lamartin here?"

"An Opponent, a Challenger. Call it what you will!" I saw his incredulous look. "Look, MacLeod, there’s a lot of history here. This isn’t something I thought up on my own. This was around long before I became Immortal. It’s been a source of strength and peace for Immortals for - millennia." When he didn’t reply, I asked anxiously, "You do understand, MacLeod? This is a good thing. Quentin and Lamartin would never have joined us in the first place, if they hadn’t known enough about you to think you were ready."

"Where’d they get their information, Methos? From you? You been doctoring the Chronicles? Because there’s nothing in my life so far which isn’t ordinary, for an Immortal. I’m no different from others my age, even older. Fitzcairn never went through this ‘Quest,’ did he?"

"No. Too young."

"Right. And I’d have known, wouldn’t I? You, or somebody like you, would have called me to be his Second." Contempt dripped from his voice. "Connor?"

"Not yet. But Amanda’s walked the glass kingdom, MacLeod. She’s all right. She survived."

"So why’s she pushing me away, as if she’s already saying goodbye to me. As if I were as good as dead."

I shook my head. "That’s my doing."

"Your doing? I don’t get it."

"Readiness is a fragile thing. You can slip into your time of Mortality again, in the blink of an eye. Particularly if you - imbibe - enough Pleasure. I asked her to distance herself. She’s an old friend. She agreed."

"Amanda? Amanda agreed to distance herself from me for the sake of some game you’re playing? I don’t believe it!"

"I know. The Amanda you love wouldn’t consider such a thing for a moment. But the Amanda we love - I love - is an old Immortal. She knows the ropes. She wasn’t happy about it, but she went along."

"That’s why you asked Dawson to come to Greece with us? Because he’s my Watcher?"

"He has the right to see whatever he can see. It can’t be much." I shrugged. "There’s no mention of the walk in any Chronicle I’ve ever read."

"I see." MacLeod stood. "And this ‘walk,’ is it a one time deal?"

"No. We renew when we must." I shrugged. "There can only be one first time, sure."

"And you’re certain I’m ready. No matter what the others think." MacLeod spoke thoughtfully.

"I’m certain."

"Okay. I won’t fight you on this. I’ll try it. I think it’s crazy. But I’ll try."

"You won’t fight me?" I squinted at him. "What’s the catch? What do you want in return?"

MacLeod looked at me, one hand on the doorknob of my room, ready to leave. "No catch, Methos. I don’t want anything. I’ve trusted you with my life before, several times. You always came through. By the skin of your teeth - but you always came through. You’re my friend. So I’ll trust you again."

I could hardly speak. I croaked out, "Thanks, MacLeod."

"Besides, somebody’s gotta watch your back with those two ghouls around," he said with a smile. "You may not have noticed, but they’re after your head." Then he left.

I muttered to his back, "Yeah, I noticed. Big surprise. What else is new?"

But I was very happy. Not because my plan could go forward. Not because of that. Because MacLeod trusted me. Called me his friend. Like I was worthy of trust. Like I was good, the way Joe was good. Nobody’d trusted me without question for so long - no Immortal - not even Amanda. Trusted me first, before I’d proved myself innocent. Maybe I’m sentimental, but just the thought of such trust made me want to cry. Oh, I was well astride my Mortality, no question. Completely out of phase. In that moment, I was happier than I could ever remember being.

I couldn’t have been more vulnerable if I worked at it.


I woke at dawn, dressed quickly and went to the kitchen. Sipping a fruit juice, I looked out at the beach. In the distance, up the coastline, MacLeod was doing morning exercises, his sword on the sand nearby. Amanda was still asleep - I’d checked her room, opening the door quietly. Joe’s too. I didn’t know where Quentin and Lamartin had gone, but they weren’t in the house - I’d sense their ‘buzzes’ anywhere. Probably went for a walk together. Or doing their own exercises and meditations, at another spot on the shore.

Sure enough, when I went outside and stood on the porch, sword in one hand, juice in the other, they came walking slowly along the beach towards the cottage. This time, they were dressed in swimsuits, and they were wet.

"Been for a swim, Methos," Quentin called out to me. "Water’s cold, but bracing. You should go in."

"I will. Later. When it’s hot." Something felt wrong inside me. I felt almost sick. It couldn’t be physical, of course. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But I was sweating strangely, a cold sweat, unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I decided that I’d talk to Joe, when he came down for breakfast. "Connor should be here soon," I told the other Immortals. "He’s due in at noon."

"Very well, Methos. We’ll begin tonight, after dinner." Quentin squinted at me. "Are you well?"

"I’m okay. Too much to drink last night."

"You’re up early. Maybe you should lie down again," Lamartin suggested.

"No. I’m okay." Suddenly, I needed to get away from them. I pushed past them off the porch. "I’m gonna see what Mac’s up to. Help yourself to breakfast."

I put my glass down on the porch railing and walked across the sand towards the shady place under a few trees where Duncan was working out. The sun was already blinding, but I felt chilled. Dizzy. Despite the heat of the early morning sun on my skin, I felt clammy, sweaty. Strange. I tried to shake it off. "You’re Immortal, you idiot," I muttered to myself, trying to keep focused on MacLeod’s figure in the distance. "You can’t be sick. You can’t be dizzy." I reached for Mac’s buzz. Grabbed hold with my own. Then the next thing I remember, I was lying on a couch in Amanda’s living room, concerned faces everywhere I glanced.

"Methos, you all right?" Joe asked. He held a basin of water. Amanda was washing my face with a wet cloth. Duncan stood just behind her. He looked frightened to death. Quentin and Lamartin’s faces were hovering portraits of anxiety and puzzlement.

"What happened?" I asked.

"You - fainted. On the beach. I carried you back here," MacLeod replied.

"You’re putting me on. I don’t do ‘faint,’ I said. "That’s absurd."

"Absurd or not, good buddy, you fainted," Joe said with a smile. "Been out a good twenty minutes or more. I didn’t think Immortals could get sick."

"We can’t," I muttered automatically.

"Well, my boy, if it’s surprises you were after giving us, this was a gift without price!" Quentin answered. "I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Not in - fifty centuries!"

"Val, tell me. What’s it like? Being sick?" Lamartin is a ghoul - Mac’s right.

"Hey, boys, that’s enough questions. You two, clear out of here. Leave us alone with Methos for a while. He needs air." This was Amanda.

Quentin and Lamartin left the room without a word. Immediately, I felt better. I could breathe better too.

MacLeod nodded to Joe and Amanda, and they left us alone.

"What’s going on, Methos?" Mac asked.

"Beats me," I croaked, with a sickly grin. "Something I ate?"

"You’re really sick. I don’t understand this at all." His dark eyes were serious. Fear pulsed in his aura, making me dizzy again.

I tried to make a joke. "Hey, I’m not alone. That’s what’s important. If I die, I die. Better than a swift stroke to the neck! Food poisoning! Who would have imagined it?"

"I don’t think it’s food poisoning, Methos."

"What’d you mean? We’re vulnerable to drugs, drink, poison. We just - revive again."

Mac was quiet for a minute, thinking, his aura vigorous, intense. It shook me. I felt nauseated. Then he said, "This quest, this Walk - what did it do to you, when you took it?"

"Nothing. I mean, it accomplished its purpose, centered me." I shrugged. "What’d you mean?"

"When was the last time you did this - for yourself?"

"Oh - what day are we - 1997? Six centuries ago. Darius was my Second. It was lovely."

"Seems like a long time between walks."

"Does it? Maybe so. Haven’t felt the need, living the quiet life I’ve been."

"Not so quiet lately, Methos."

Instantly I saw what he was getting at. "Oh no, don’t even go there, MacLeod! I’ve gone a thousand years without a walk in my time! I don’t need one!"

He smiled. "Don’t you? Could have fooled me!"

"No. Mac, no."

"I’ll be your Second. Connor can help too. Joe’s with us, he’s a good man. He’s your friend. You won’t be alone." He grinned. "Not out here." He lightly touched my chest. "Not in there."

"No fair, MacLeod! When did you become a lawyer, using my own words against me!"

He grew serious again. "Something’s wrong, Methos. You’re my friend. I can’t just watch you sicken and die like a Mortal! I’m counting on you to be around a long time. I won’t let you go without a fight."

"You were ready enough to take my head, last night," I joked.

"Methos -"

I sat up, pushing him away. "So. It was me all along." I shook my head. "Survivor. Planner. Idiot! I’m an idiot!"

"No, you’re just an old Immortal, in need of a fix. Peace. Serenity. Centering. You should train more. Then maybe you could go longer without."

"Don’t start. You’re not my mother!"

"No. I’m your friend. And I’m asking you - friend to friend - will you take this walk with us? Without holding back - without reservation?"

"I don’t know if Amanda can do it with me."

"She’ll do it. She’s tougher than she looks."

"And I’m weaker than I think."

MacLeod patted my shoulder. "We’ll have you fit and ready to slay dragons before you know it, old friend!"

"I don’t want to slay dragons! I’ve avoided dragons all my life!"

"Really? You could have fooled me."


Connor MacLeod. Connor MacLeod. An old soul if ever I met one. From the moment I set eyes on him, striding across the sand looking ridiculous in a long tan raincoat and white sneakers, I knew I’d be well. This one was a cynic, and a comic, and as serious as Death. A born loner. Nothing like as emotional as Duncan. A most delicate aura. A good man to have with you on a quest, for certain.

"You must be the infamous Methos, the oldest Immortal," he said, gripping my hand strongly.

"And you must be the famous Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," I replied, smiling widely. "I’m afraid I’ve got bad news for you."

"What might that be?" he asked, returning my smile.

"There’s been a change of plans. I hope you won’t be too disappointed."

He stared at me, piercing blue eyes deeply recessed under a high broad brow. "What sort of change?" He had a strange accent which I couldn’t place.

"The subject of our little adventure."

"I thought Duncan was a little young for a walk in the glass kingdom. Who will it be instead?"

"Me." I bit my lip. "Seems I’ve been through one too many exciting escapades of late. Everyone agrees, I’m the one who needs anchoring."

"I was surprised you thought he did. Or that he was ready for it. Duncan anchors himself. Besides he doesn’t need magic."

I thought back to the Dark Quickening and the Holy Spring. Everyone needs magic sometimes. But I didn’t contradict Connor. "Well, if you don’t want to turn right round and go home, I’d be grateful for your support. I can use all the friends I can get."

"It would be an honor, Methos. Duncan’s spoken of you often. He couldn’t admire you more."

"Admire me? That’s odd. We’ve been through a bit together. Seemed to have come out the other end okay. Survived."

"He told me. A little. You’re a brave soul, for a man who’s survived five thousand years."

"Think so? Brave? Wouldn’t be the word I’d use myself. At any rate, come up to the house and meet the others. Let me warn you, we’ve got two really old guys, one middle-aged female, and a Mortal. Not counting MacLeod and me."

"Bouillabaisse. Always loved it," Connor said with a quick grin.

"Really? Always hated fish myself. Reminds me of the sea."

During lunch, Quentin and Lamartin were civility itself to Connor. Apparently, his reputation preceded him. Amanda flirted dreadfully, casting glances from Connor to Duncan, as if she were trying to compare the two Clansmen. Duncan himself looked like the cat who’d eaten the canary. He was awfully pleased Connor’d arrived. He must have been terrified for me, poor child. I was frightened, myself, but tried not to advertise it. Too much truth can bring down the house of cards we call a life.

I thought I’d have more time, that we’d begin the walk that night. But soon after lunch Quentin and Lamartin took charge. I had no say whatsoever, from then on.

"Very well, friends," Quentin said, "we begin now. Joe, please try not to worry. Amanda, stand straight. Duncan, be alert. Connor, be cautious. Lamartin, be strong. Methos Valerius, be yourself!"

Quentin shepherded us across the sand to the shoreline. We must have been a strange sight to Dawson - six Immortals carrying swords, striding purposefully towards the water, to perform some ancient Ritual never mentioned in the Chronicles. He followed us slowly, his cane in one hand, a bottle of Scotch in the other. Duncan carried a beach chair for Joe. We Immortals would sit on the ground, when we sat.

I stood in the center of the circle the others made. I was frightened and anxious, my stomach still ached, and my skin was cold and clammy. Quentin intoned the simple opening words of the Ritual, which he’d translated thousands of years ago from the original tongue:

"We are here for Methos Valerius, Immortal. We beg the Spirits to guide him. We beg the Spirits to help him. We beg the Spirits to grant him a redemptive walk in the glass kingdom."

Then he introduced our company to the Spirits, in the words of the Ritual. He’s really quite fine, Quentin. Hits the nail on the head every time.

"May the Spirits favor Amanda, who joins the walk with Methos.

"May the Spirits favor Lamartin of Bordeaux, who fights Methos’ demons.

"May the Spirits favor the MacLeods, who Second Methos’ journey.

"May the Spirits favor Quentin of York, who Judges the fight.

"And may the Spirits favor the Mortal, who observes and records and will not interfere."

Joe lifted his bottle of Scotch a few inches, to acknowledge the admonition.

Quentin produced a small vial from his pocket and offered it to me. "Methos - drink!" This was the acid test. To accept an unknown concoction from a fellow Immortal, knowing full well it would render me unconscious, vulnerable, and weak.

I hesitated. Amanda took my hand. "Take it, Methos. Drink." she said urgently. "Courage. Courage."

I felt Duncan place his hand on my back. It burned like fire. "I’m here," he said quietly. "Whatever happens, you’ll get through this. I won’t let you come to harm. I promise."

I looked around. Each face radiated encouragement, except Lamartin’s, whose demeanor remained serious. Dawson nodded and smiled at me, as if to say, "What can it hurt?"

It can hurt. Very badly. Not the potion. The walk. I’d lied to MacLeod. It’s never lovely, not while you’re going through it. Not afterwards.

I took a deep breath. Then I put out my hand and grabbed the vial from Quentin. I took out the stopper, gulped down the vile tasting liquid, and threw the glass into the sea.

From then on, as I know from assisting at other Immortals’ walks, I appeared to be unconscious. Those whose buzzes are strong enough, can walk with me. I would feel their auras, and they would comfort me. Someone like Dawson - a Mortal - would need to be an empath or a psychic or a telepath, to experience anything other than one Immortal laying on the ground - to all intents and purposes, out cold - with his friends standing around him looking serious.

At least, so I thought. But when I woke in the glass city, and stepped into the glass kingdom, the first face I saw was Joe’s. Quentin was controlling every thread of the walk expertly, guiding my searching, picking up on my thoughts. Judging what questions in my mind were best to explore, what questions better to leave be. Unerringly, Quentin knew that Joe’s gifts were vital to my well-being.

Joe spoke to me quietly - of Alexa, her beauty, her goodness, and her pain. He told me about all the letters she’d written to him while we traveled, and how he’d been surprised by what she’d said about me. How she’d written of her fear of dying. And how I’d made her forget death. How she’d fallen in love with me, in spite of herself. He told me Alexa worried about me, that I’d be crushed when she finally went away forever. And she told him the strangest thing of all - that she believed I’d live forever.

Then Joe seemed to fade away, and for the first time in my walk, I noticed my sword in my hand, and Amanda by my side. I took courage from her presence. Her aura was stronger than it ever seemed to be, in life.

We walked further into the glass kingdom, it seemed to be miles. For a time, I saw no one but Amanda. The glass surrounded us. It was everywhere, even underfoot. We stepped on a road made up of glass squares. The trees were formed of twisted sculpted glass. There were glass castles and glass flowers. There was no color to anything. It was neither light nor dark, neither opaque nor transparent. It was simply - there.

But Amanda and I were not truly walking - we were searching, with our swords at the ready, turning and seeking, waiting for a challenge, waiting for an opponent. With Amanda guarding my back, I felt secure. Her wily temperament matched my own, and her skill with a sword is rare. I was deeply satisfied, having Amanda with me.

Finally, Amanda and I came to a crossroads. To the left, Lamartin’s dark face confronted me. He held his sword high above his head, in a two-handed grip. Instinctively, I raised my own sword.

Then, to the right, I saw two Knights approaching us on horseback, as if from a long way off. One was fair, one was dark. Their auras were hot, young, vigorous. They held their swords high. As they came closer, I could hear the steady beat of their horses’ hooves, and a wild primitive yelling. Lamartin turned from me and ran towards them, brandishing his sword, screaming a fierce challenge!

They reined their horses in and dismounted quickly, the fair one behind, the dark one in front. Lamartin raised his sword high, sent it crashing against Duncan’s sword. I was pulled from my reverie and amazement by the sound of the clash.

"You cannot fight my battles for me, MacLeod!" I shouted.

"Nor you for me!" Duncan responded, his Scots accent thicker than I’d ever heard it.

"I’ve never tried to do that," I protested.

Amanda said, "Yes, you have, Methos. Over and over again."

Lamartin raised his sword again, clashed it down against Duncan’s with all the power of his years. "Let the Highlander struggle, he will die in the end!"

"No! Your battle is with me, Lamartin! It’s my head you want! Leave MacLeod be!"

"Don’t do it, Methos! You can’t fight Duncan’s battles for him! You’ll die if you try!" Amanda said, pulling me back with all her old strength.

Connor added, "Why do you do this, Methos? This man challenged Duncan, not you! It’s not your place to interfere!"

"I’m not interfering. Lamartin’s after me. Let him come for me. I won’t permit him to go through Duncan to reach me!"

"No!" Lamartin insisted, "It’s the Highlander I want! His head, his young blood, his strength and courage!"

"Come and get it, then, Lamartin!" Duncan answered with a grin. He raised his sword high.

I despaired. "You mustn’t! They mustn’t! Amanda - stop them! They’ll kill him! Then where will we be? He’s too important to lose!" I collapsed on the ground, my sword fell from my hand and chipped a glass square. I couldn’t watch the battle.

"Look, Methos, look!" Amanda grabbed my face with both hands. "Look at it! Have a little faith! He’ll survive - he always does!"

"No. I won’t look," I said, pushing her hands away. "I’m sick of watching him fight, worrying, despairing, crying. I’m sick of the anguish. I tell you, I won’t watch!"

"If you won’t look," Quentin of York finally interrupted my tirade, "you’ll never see, never learn. You can’t protect him from everything. And you can’t protect yourself."

Duncan and Lamartin’s battle raged on. The air was rife with the deafening clang of their swords. Connor stood quietly, holding the horses’ reins, without giving a sign that he was interested in the outcome of the battle.

I shouted at Connor. "How can you do it? How can you bear it? I know you love him! How can you watch?"

"It’s what we do, Methos. It’s the price we pay. We lose beloved Mortals. We lose beloved Immortals. We lose time itself, for as long as we live," Connor replied.

Quentin continued, "If you wish to have a heart, to come as close to Mortality as that - then you must take the pain and the fear as well, Methos."

"I cannot. It’s too much! I cannot." I sank to my knees and sobbed.

"Then give up love, damn you, for once and for all!" Amanda cried. "Give it up now! Join the Old Ones and die!"

I lifted my head. I watched for some time, as Duncan and Lamartin fought bitterly, to the death, the way we do. I tried to be indifferent. I tried not to care. I couldn’t manage either. So I closed my eyes.

Then, for an instant, Joe’s face swam in my mind. I could barely hear his words, something about, "This is what it takes, what it’s like, to be Mortal." Then, another phrase, "It’s worth it." Definitive. Final. I had only to agree, and I’d be whole again.

But I couldn’t agree! Not while the ones I loved were in danger. It wasn’t worth it! Nothing was worth it! I’d rather be like Quentin or Lamartin - not caring for anybody. Anything, to stop the pain!

The moment I thought that, Quentin put up his hand and the battle between Lamartin and Duncan ceased. They each lowered their swords and stepped away from each other.

"How dare you, Methos Valerius? How dare you imply for an instant that Lamartin and I care for nothing, for no one! How dare you?" Quentin’s anger was fierce. I didn’t know he had so much anger left.

"You don’t, do you?" I shrugged. "Better I should be like you, wear white linen suits, and walk along the beach. ‘I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me’."

"We do care. For each other. For you. For many others, whose names and faces you do not know. We’re old. That’s true. But we’re not dead, Val," Lamartin added, his voice a deep baritone bouncing off the glass. "You mustn’t think we are. It gives you a whole wrong picture of what Immortals are about. Why we exist at all."

"Why do we exist?" I asked bitterly. "For this?" I gestured around me. "To fight, to kill, to watch those we love die? Over and over again. Forever."

"No, Methos," Duncan said quietly, "we exist so that we can love, so that we can do, so that we can care, when those we love die. So that we can remember them. Carry them in our hearts, for as long as we survive. You know that. We’ve both learned that. Why do you doubt now?"

Good question. Why did I doubt now, rather than before, or later? I looked around, slowly taking in the place where I was - a glass kingdom, a glass city, whose only life was in the people who stood near me. There were no books in this glass kingdom. No beer. No cars or planes or railway trains or subways. Only glass and people. Did I truly prefer the glass? Did I really want to be left alone in a glass city, walking a glass kingdom, with no people in it?

Did I truly need to make a choice? Hadn’t I already made my choice?

I didn’t like living with fear. But living without love had to be worse. Even a fool like me knew that.


When I woke I was laying on my back on the beach. Amanda had my head nestled in her lap. It was dark except for a kerosene lamp set in the sand nearby.

I sat up quickly, ran my fingers through my hair, touched my neck. I was exhausted but no longer dizzy, nauseated, or sweating. Then I noticed how late it was and felt my face redden. "Sorry. Didn’t mean to keep you all so long."

"Don’t apologize, Methos. It took as long as it took," MacLeod said.

Joe asked, "You all right, good buddy? You look a little pale."

I took a deep breath, then let it out. "Yeah, I’m okay." I looked at Dawson. "You see anything? Remember anything?"

Quentin laughed. "Always the scholar, Methos. Why must you know?"

"’Cause I must, is why," I answered angrily. "Joe, tell me."

"A little. It’s vague. Like a dream. It’s fading fast. I doubt I’ll be able to write much about it, for the Chronicles." I could only imagine that one of the others - Quentin, probably - had managed to pull Joe into the walk with his superior empathic powers. I myself have all the empathic capabilities of a doorknob, so I knew it wasn’t any of my doing.

"Even if you remember everything, Dawson, I ask you not to write of this for your Watcher Society," Quentin said. "It’s private business."

"Whatever Methos says, I’ll do," Joe replied. "He wants it in, it’s in. He wants it out, it’s out."

"I want it out, Joe. All of it. Unless you want to write a passage about visiting Amanda in Greece."

"Okay by me," Joe said cheerfully. "Whatever you say."

Duncan helped me up to the house, and the others followed. He offered me a beer but I refused. "I’m tired, MacLeod. I’m going to bed."

"Tomorrow, when the others leave, let’s the four of us go island hopping, get some sun," MacLeod said hopefully. "Give Amanda the run of the shops with my credit cards."

"Yeah, you all deserve a little holiday, after what I’ve put you through." I spoke softly, scarcely able to get the words out. I was exhausted.

"Good!" MacLeod patted my back, then squeezed my shoulder, not too hard. "Good. You sleep now, old friend. I’ll watch your door. Wouldn’t want the Old Ones to get you while you’re down, would we?"

"Not funny, MacLeod," I said bitterly. "But - thanks for the thought. Good night."

There’s one last thing that happened to me, although it had nothing to do with the spaces between my worlds. It was more about my Mortality than my Immortality. Yes, you might put it that way.

In the night, Amanda came into my room and watched while I slept. I’d tested her loyalty pretty severely, I guess. But she was game, our Amanda. She always is. When I woke the next morning and found myself in her arms, I was tempted once more, to try for her love. Clearly, I was fit again. Even for that.

"Not a word, Methos," she said, placing a finger on my lips. "Not a single word."

"We won’t live forever - you don’t know what you’re missing! Five thousand years of tricks!"

"We’re Immortal, remember? It’ll wait another day."

I’m sorry to tell you, I’m still waiting.

 


End