Luxembourg Gardens
by Maxine Mayer

 

6/15/97


We'd been sitting on a bench in the Luxembourg Gardens for nearly two hours now, without saying a word. Amanda's arm was linked in mine, and we sat hunched over a bit, very close together, staring into the middle distance, looking at nothing at all.

It was a trifle warm for what we were wearing, I could tell. Passersby sported summer outfits - shorts, tee shirts, sandals. Amanda wore a car-length black poplin jacket in which her sword was concealed. I was still wearing my long black raincoat over jeans,and a heavy Irish cable-knit sweater. Secreted in my raincoat's folds were not one, not two, but three weapons - my sword, my short-sword, and MacLeod's katana. Despite my promise to him to give his precious katana to Joe Dawson, his Watcher, for the collection, I retained it on my person. I suppose it was just the final straw, to ask me to give it up forever. Some things even I cannot do. Maybe some day. Not yet.

Amanda said, pointing to a couple wearing swim suits under their shorts, "Look at them - it must be awfully hot. Why am I so cold?" She shivered, as if to make her point.

"Inside. You're cold inside," I replied, shivering myself. "It'll pass."

"Sure. I know that." Being an old Immortal herself, of course she knew it would pass. The question was, when. She smiled at me mechanically, then asked, "Why don't we take a walk? We can stroll over to the Eiffel Tower - great view from up there."

"You don't mean that, do you, blossom? I don't think it's wise to pick at the scab."

"Oh, come on, Methos, you told me you promised to forget about him - let's test how far you've gotten." She wasn't really bored, simply antsy, mischievous. Being good didn't suit her. With MacLeod gone, she couldn't keep up the pretense that it did.

"You misunderstand, Amanda. I promised something utterly different. Not, to forget him. Simply, not to love him."

"Should have made the first promise. The second's impossible," Amanda retorted, tossing her head. Then she let go my arm and jumped up in front of me. "Come on, Methos, let's go. I'm starved!"

I sighed. "Sure. I suppose we could eat something. It's nearly supper time."

"We'll go back to your place. I'll cook!"

"Don't even think it. My place, okay. But I'll do the cooking. Gotta shop first," I reminded her.

"Whatever you say, Mike." She called me Mike when she felt sorry for me. It was the name I'd worn when we'd first met, centuries back.

Amanda took my hand and pulled me up from the bench. The expression on her face was one of sympathy mixed with skepticism. Not about my cooking, I was certain. About my love for Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. Whether I could disengage totally. Ever. I was somewhat doubtful myself. But I'd promised. Fate of the World, and all that jazz. Noble cause. Gotta take a stab at it, else I'd never rest.


Never rest anyway, the way things were going. Neither of us. Amanda or me. We'd been keeping each other company for several weeks, of late, since MacLeod defeated the Demon with the assistance of an Archangel, and my prayers and promises. Amanda'd slept next to me in my bed, chaste as a virgin, all that time. Actually, both of us were that. Chaste. Although in the mornings I'd waken to find her wrapped around me, in a position I'd seen her take with Duncan, on the odd occasion when they'd fallen asleep on the barge and I'd slept on his couch. The memories evoked were disturbing. Extremely so.

My own body, in the mornings, persisted in its natural response to the feel of a woman's body next to mine. But the moment my mind cleared and I focused, the Spirit of the Natural Path dissipated, my heart plummeted and my eyes filled with tears. It would be longer than a few weeks before I'd accept that Amanda was "free to date," even though Duncan wasn't dead. And the same went for her, in spades.


We shopped and I cooked and we ate a fine supper. Drank wine, as well. Afterwards, I put in a call to Joe Dawson, who'd shipped back to Seacouver after Richie's death and hadn't returned to Paris since then.

"How're things going, Joe?" I asked, when I reached him. I put our call on speaker phone so Amanda and I could both hear Joe's side of the conversation.

"Methos - good to hear your voice. I'm okay. Everything's peaceful. No bad news from Carmel, if that's why you're calling."

"I'm not calling to ask about Duncan, Joe. Just to ask how you are." I cast about for something more to say. "Amanda's with me. She'd like to say hello." I relinquished our phone duties to her, and sighed with relief. Talking to Joe got worse each time I tried. I couldn't endure his warmth. It made me physically ill, an odd, unprecedented experience, to put it mildly. I certainly hated it. But I didn't want to cut myself off from the Watcher entirely. For his sake. And for my own.

"Joe, Amanda here, how's tricks?" She was as 'up' as she could make herself sound. Playacting for Dawson's benefit. Why, I couldn't imagine. It wasn't as if the Watcher didn't know how she felt.

"No tricks, little lady. We could use a few out here. The bar's like a tomb, what with you gone and Methos away and Duncan gone and Richie - gone. We've got a high-stakes poker game going, some of my friends in the Watchers, and me. Could use some new blood, new cash."

"Not quite yet, Joe. Maybe later," Amanda said. "Keeping the old guy company, for the time being. Keeping an eye on things here. In case Duncan changes his mind...." she let the sentence trail off.

"Sure. I understand. Would you put Methos back on, Amanda? It's been great talking to you. When you do come back home, to Seacouver, there's a drink waiting for you, on the house."

I took over from Amanda, bracing myself for another jolt of Joe's concern. "I'm back, Dawson."

"Would you take us off speaker phone for a minute, Methos."

"Why? Never mind. I'll do it." I reset the phone for private talk and glanced at Amanda, rolling my eyes. She shrugged and went to my bar to make us more drinks. I sat down in my favorite chair, picked up the receiver and spoke again. "Okay. Nobody can hear but us, Joe. What's the problem?"

"No problem, Methos. Just a little Watcher business I didn't want Amanda to hear."

"I'm not in the Watchers any longer, Joe. Why tell me?"

"Because I know you care."

"About what?" I responded wearily. "I'm past caring about much of anything."

"About this, you still care. I know you, pal. Can't fool me."

"Something's wrong with MacLeod?" I was instantly alert, the muscles of my stomach tightening in a knot of fear. For him, Duncan, damn his eyes.

"Not wrong, exactly. I heard from the abbot at Carmel, where Duncan went. The abbot's a Watcher, you know."

"No, I didn't know. But it doesn't surprise me much. What did he tell you?"

"That MacLeod's fine. Very serious. Studying Greek, at the moment. Spending his free time in the chapel, meditating."

"Sounds good."

"But the abbot says, he's not doing his exercises - his kata - you know."

"Well, that's not so good." It wasn't. Not for MacLeod. Duncan in mourning, no place to release his energy, his grief and guilt, not even doing kata - the mind boggled.

"No, it ain't."

"What else, Joe?"

"Hasn't spoken of his life before, not once. Even when asked."

"Why should he? To a Watcher, a Mortal?"

"Father Abbot ain't just a Watcher, Methos. He's Duncan's superior in the monastery. His confessor, too. Duncan's supposed to be frank with him. Open. No secrets. You know the drill."

"It's only been a couple months, Dawson. Give him time." Now I was apologizing for MacLeod's un-monastic behavior! Cripes! I had to get a grip, soon, or I'd lose it myself.

"Not the point. Father Abbot doesn't think MacLeod's gonna make it, Methos. He can almost feel the restlessness, the anxiety. Mac's unhappy, and it shows. Even if he is doing everything he's supposed to be doing, on the outside."

"Make your point, Joe, and be done with it." I was angry. This wasn't fair. Dawson knew the whole story, how Duncan and I resolved things, finished off the Demon. This simply wasn't fair.

"I know, Methos. I'm doing it again - sacrificing you for him. Forgive me, old pal. But - Mac could probably use a visit. Company. You. Amanda. Whoever."

"I can't! You must be out of your mind. I simply - cannot! Not now. Not yet. Probably, not ever!"

"Okay, okay. If you can't, you can't. Just a thought. Maybe I'll visit Duncan myself. Getting pretty boring here, anyway, with all of you over there."

I knew the Watcher didn't want to see MacLeod again yet. Richie's funeral had been one of the worst experiences I'd ever had, and it was the same for each of us. Duncan'd been like ice during the entire week we'd spent back in Seacouver, going through the motions of tying up the loose ends of his life. Going through the motions of the funeral with a face carved in stone, like some old Indian. If I wasn't certain he was Immortal, I'd say he'd aged twenty years.

He and Dawson had barely acknowledged each other's presence in the city. At the funeral, Dawson broke down. Cried like a baby. Amanda cried. I cried. Duncan didn't show any sign that he'd even known the deceased. It was as if MacLeod had died, not just Richie.

Therefore, Joe was begging me to do for his old friend, his old assignment, what he couldn't bring himself to do. Watch him. And watch out for him. Though that was certainly not part of the Watcher Society charter. Au contraire.

I looked at Amanda. Then I looked into my heart. I knew I had to do it, like it or not.

"Okay, Joe, I'll visit him. See what's happening. Help. If I can."

I could hear the relief in Joe's voice when he spoke. "Thanks, Methos, I owe you one large, for this."

"I'll collect, never fear," I joked, to hide my despair. This was not the way it was supposed to go. I shook my head. Nothing ever goes the way it's supposed to go. Why should today be any different from the last fifty centuries? "Talk to you again soon, Dawson. Bye."


"When do we leave, Methos?" Amanda asked, life in her eyes for the first time in weeks.

"You want to go with me? I'm not certain they'll let a woman visit him, so soon. He's just a postulant, you know."

"I know. They'll let me in. I'll wheedle the old abbot until he lets me see Duncan, or know the reason why." I didn't doubt that for a moment.

"Okay. In the morning." I nodded. "We'll take Duncan's car and drive out there."

"They might not let you in either, Methos. Even if you are a man. For the same reason."

"That's why I'm bringing you along, cherry blossom. Nobody knows locks better than you."

Amanda stared at me hard. Then she laughed. "You are one calculating sonofabitch, Methos Valerius!"

"Practical, is all. Simply, practical. I promised Joe I'd see MacLeod. Can't let a monastery lock keep me out."

"Of course not," Amanda replied, grinning. Then she jumped out of her chair. "What should I wear?"

"Nothing. Wear nothing at all. While you mesmerize the abbot, I'll leap over the wall!"

"Methos! You wicked, wicked man! But I think you've got the right idea. What I'll wear, I might as well be sporting nothing at all!" She rushed to my closet and began inspecting the garments she'd already stashed there, over the months. "How about this?" she asked, holding up a dress the length of a shirt. Black, silk, tight-fitting, high-cut neckline. "What do ya think?"

"Perfect. They'll either invite you in or call a gendarme. Either way, it'll be a distraction."

"Bastard!" But she laughed.

"I am that," I admitted. "Certainly, minimally, that."


We arrived at Carmel before six in the morning. We'd neither of us been able to sleep so we'd started out early. The trip wasn't long, an hour or so. It took me forty-five minutes to make it, driving at a speed that would have been impossible later in the day.

The monastery was awake, of course. Six was late for them. I asked for the abbot, giving my name to the brother at the cloister window grille. The abbot joined me and Amanda within five minutes.

"Methos? You say you're really Methos?" Cripes, a fan! Watchers!

"Yes, Father. I've - we've come to visit Duncan MacLeod. Your new postulant," I added unnecessarily.

"I'm Father Ambrose. It's good to meet you. Who is the young lady?" Already I could see he was going to make us sing for the privilege of seeing MacLeod. Marvelous!

"I'm Amanda, Father, a very good friend of Duncan's. I'd just like to speak with him for a minute, to see he's all right."

"Hmm. And you, Methos. You also came to see that Duncan MacLeod is all right?"

"Joe Dawson asked me to look in on him. Duncan and Joe are old friends."

"Is that what they are?"

"I know that's not what they're supposed to be, but it is what they are. Were," I amended.

"This is highly irregular. But I'll ask Duncan if he wishes to see you. Either or both of you." The abbot hesitated. "How much do you know about the circumstances under which MacLeod joined us?"

"Everything, Father Ambrose," I said simply.

"Yes. Well. It's very soon to say, of course, but I think he has no vocation to be a Carmelite. Or any other kind of contemplative monk. Not even a Benedictine of the most modern sort. The fact is, I wouldn't give odds he'd make a reasonable success as a teaching brother."

"He's not here because he has a vocation, Father. He's here because he made a vow. You must give him time, time to adjust, get the hang of it," I stammered, gesturing ineffectually. "He'll be good at it, after a while. He's good at anything he tries." Why I chose to defend Duncan's non-existent vocation, was beyond my comprehension.

"Methos, I've been at this for forty-two years, since I was a boy. I know a vocation when I see one. And I know a man who doesn't belong in a cloister when I see one, too."

"Is he - disruptive, Father?" Amanda asked, her eyes wide, all innocence and humility.

"No. Certainly not. He's doing everything expected of a postulant. Particularly, considering his age." I think the abbot actually was referring to Duncan's apparent age - thirty-five, or thereabouts - rather than his true age. "His will is firm. It's his heart that isn't in it," the abbot replied.

"May we see him for a moment?" I repeated my request. "If he's willing to see us, that is."

The abbot looked at me for a long time. Contemplated me. "Your reputation precedes you, Methos. Why are you involving yourself with Duncan MacLeod? His manner of life can only bring you danger. Anguish."

I blinked. God, how I hated these spiritual types, the ones who see through me like I'm Swiss cheese. I didn't reply. None of his damn business, I thought.

"He's a good friend of ours, Father Ambrose," Amanda said, for me. "Like a son to Methos. A brother, to me. We care about him. That's why we've come."

And they call me an actor! Amanda was unrecognizable. And not lying. Not really. Part of me did feel like a father to Duncan. Part of her did love him as if he were her brother. Relations! They're the ones who have to take you in when you come home, whether they want to or not! We felt like that about MacLeod. He'd always seemed to feel that way about us. Certainly, the pain of losing him was closer to the anguish of losing a brother or a son, than to that of losing just a friend. Or not. Not having made many friends in my long life, I probably wasn't in a position to judge.

"Very well. I'll ask Duncan if he'll see you. He's in choir now. Would you care to go into the chapel and listen through the grille? You can wait there. I'll send word."

"Love to, Father. Thank you."


From the shadows of the visitor's room, a lay brother joined us and took us to the chapel. The sun shone in through lovely stained glass windows. The smell of incense was everywhere. The floors were waxed to a high shine. The pews were light wood and comfortable. There were vases filled with fresh flowers placed in every corner, and on the altar. The sanctuary lamp was lit. The place was as different as it could be from the abandoned old chapels where Immortals usually meet to talk to one another, when we need to be on Holy Ground, for self-preservation.

"It's lovely here," Amanda whispered, and sat beside me in one of the middle pews. "All those candles! Reminds me of my childhood, when everybody still believed."

I nodded."Yes. The townspeople probably come here for mass on Sundays. Some, even, to morning mass, before they go to work. Feel closer to God, when they're so close to his servants."

"His servants," Amanda murmured. "Duncan's always been God's servant, with his rules and his right and wrong, way of thinking. You'd imagine he'd fit right in, here." She wasn't petulant. Simply, disoriented.

"Everybody serves God in a different way, Amanda. According to their gifts. Duncan's gift is not - this." I lifted my hand to indicate the altar. "Doesn't make him less God's man. Just, another sort."

"I know, Methos. I know." Amanda sighed. "But I'd like to see him happy, for once. Not just having a good time for a minute, between miseries. Really happy. At peace. For once."

I was astonished. But then, Amanda always could surprise me. I keep forgetting she was Rebecca's student.

"Peace may not be the answer for him," I replied, after a moment. "He'll have peace enough when he's dead, which God forbid. Sometimes God demands not peace, but a sword." I surprised myself, too. Is that what I really believed? Who could know? I certainly didn't.

"Sssh. I want to pray for a minute. And light a candle."

Amanda took some money from my pocket and slipped out of the pew. She went to a large wooden statue of St. Joseph - a really fine one, I thought - and knelt on the prie dieu in front of it. She dropped the money in the poor box and lit a candle with a long taper. The wisp of smoke when she blew out the flame lingered for a moment. I stared at her. When she bowed her head in prayer I turned away.

For the first time, I thought what it might be like for me if Amanda left me as well. That is, if Duncan really kept his vow and remained in Carmel. Amanda might enter someplace, too. I didn't think she'd keep up the round of nightclubs and cocktail parties with which she'd diverted herself while she and Duncan were an item. Already, she'd stopped doing that, while she "comforted" me. If he didn't come back to her, leave Carmel, she might go someplace, too. That would be death to me. There wasn't anybody still living - any Immortal - who knew me as Amanda did. Who cared about me the way she did. I'd be absolutely alone. Only Joe Dawson would remain, who cared about me. And he was on his way out. Mortal. Not anybody I could count on to be around. Cripes.


"Sir? Miss?" A lay brother approached us in the chapel. "Please come with me. Brother Duncan will see you now."

Amanda and I exchanged glances. "Brother Duncan!" Our reactions were the same. May God have mercy on our souls! Silently, we followed the lay brother out of the chapel and back into the visitor's parlor. Somehow, I'd imagined we'd see Duncan on the grounds, walk about with him, and talk. I'd forgotten where we were, and who we were. I wasn't Brother Michael any longer. And Amanda never been a nun. We'd see MacLeod through a cloister grille, and like it. Or we wouldn't be seeing him at all. No special rules for Immortals, not here. We were lucky the abbot was willing to transmit our request.

Not to mention how lucky we were that Duncan was willing to speak to us! He could say no, and we'd never get to him. All jokes about locks and leaping over walls aside.

The lay brother left us sitting where we'd been when we met with the abbot. After a moment, the sliding door on the cloister side of the grille was slipped aside, and Duncan was there, also on the cloister side. Seated. He nodded to me, then to Amanda, but didn't speak.

Finally, I said, "How've you been, Duncan?" My words stepped on identical ones from Amanda.

He smiled. "Fine. I'm fine. You two?"

There was great warmth in his voice. His face was the same as always, his eyes dark and intense. But he didn't look angry. And he didn't look old. He looked - calm. His aura seemed quiet, too. I sighed.

When I didn't answer, Amanda spoke. "We're just ducky, MacLeod. Couldn't be better. Living in each other's pockets, since you went to this - place. About time we got down to it, after all these centuries, Methos and me. We're fine."

I turned and stared at Amanda. I was shocked. This was a complete about-face from what she'd said to me not five minutes earlier. How she wanted him to be at peace. She was lying to Mac, telling him she and I'd become lovers! Unbelievable! But I didn't stop her, or contradict her. She was sticking to some script she'd written in her mind. Trying to accomplish something only she could imagine. Trying not to betray my true purpose, as she understood that. I let it play itself out.

"That's wonderful, Amanda," Duncan replied. "You two were meant for each other. A vaudeville act whose time has come."

Somehow, I had expected a different response, a different tone. Clearly, Amanda had, too. She was put out. She didn't let well enough alone. She went on, sticking the dagger in deeper.

"You left. What's a girl to do? Sleep alone?"

"Amanda!" I exclaimed. "Remember where we are!"

"No, Methos, it's all right," Duncan said. "Nobody's bugging the place. Only we can hear what we say to each other." Then he turned in his chair a little and answered Amanda. "You haven't taken any vows, that I know about. You're free to do as you please. With my blessing, if you need it."

"Your blessing! Who the hell needs your blessing, MacLeod! Go to hell!"

"Amanda!" I shouted, "keep your voice down!"

"Place is soundproof, Methos. She can shout all she likes."

"God, MacLeod, you're a pain in the ass!"

"Give the girl a chance to say what she wants to say, Methos. Maybe you should leave for a minute. I'll speak to Amanda alone."

"I don't want Methos to leave!" She stood and quickly walked the few steps to my side, putting her hand on my shoulder. "There's nothing I have to say to you that he can't hear."

I shook my head. This was absurd. I needed to put a stop to it, right now. I stood. "Amanda, wait outside, please. I'll fetch you again shortly. Please."

She tossed her head. "Very well." Then she left us alone, MacLeod and me.


I sat down again. "You know she's lying, Mac. We're not - we aren't -" I ran my fingers through my hair. Amanda and I were sleeping together, just not the way Amanda made it sound.

"I know, Methos. I know. It doesn't matter. Amanda's Immortal. She's not subject to those Mortal rules I make up, from time to time. She's - free to date." He grinned, remembering, and reminding me, of our conversation so long ago, when Kalas threatened us all. I didn't want to think about those days, so I shifted gears.

"Dawson sent me. He can't bear to see you himself, but he can't bear not knowing how you are." I lifted my shoulders. "We're all in the same boat, I guess, Mac. Can't live with you, can't shoot you."

"I'm okay. Tell him, I'm okay."

"But you're not, are you?" I asked, trying to trick an admission out of him by overstating things.

He shook his head. "Not perfect, no. It's not easy for me. We knew that going in, that it wouldn't be easy. I've got no vocation. Even Father Ambrose knows that, after two months. I'm not here for the right reasons, in his judgment. But I'm here to stay. That's what counts." Our promises were what counted.

"You don't need to stay, Duncan. We - we miss you. All of us. Especially -" I was about to say, especially Amanda. But I changed it. "Especially, me. Badly. Come back home. To the barge, if you don't want to go back to the dojo." He'd understand I meant, if he didn't want to see Joe for now.

"You promised, Methos. Not to do this. Not to ask it. That's part of what we did."

"I lied."

"No. You didn't. Please don't weaken now. We've got a long row to hoe. Who knows how long, with me on Holy Ground. Don't do this to me. Don't ask."

"I wouldn't have come, or asked, if Joe hadn't begged me to see you."

"I'm glad you came. Just tell Joe I'm fine. I will be fine. If I can't make it here, in a contemplative monastery, I'll find someplace else. Where I can do a job of work that suits me and helps people. Anything, so long as I stay out of the Game. That's the deal, Methos. Don't ask me to break my word."

"I could really use a beer about now, MacLeod," I said. "This is dreadful. Amanda's miserable. I'm miserable. Joe's miserable. You're miserable. What are we doing?"

"You didn't expect this to be easy, did you? Life's not a musical comedy, as you've pointed out to me often enough. Stretch, Methos. Stretch harder. You've done it before. It's never easy to grow. To change. We've got to get past this. You too." Tears fell down his cheeks without him even taking a stab at wiping them away, or hiding them. His will was strong, all right, as Father Ambrose recognized. Stronger than ever, I believed. Damn your eyes, Duncan MacLeod!

"Okay. I'll try harder," I said brusquely. I'm gonna bring Amanda back in here. I hope she'll keep a civil tongue in her head."

"Let her rant, Methos. Give her a break. I never did. Maybe I should have."

"Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod - Amanda loves you! It's all very well for you and me to fuck about, sacrificing ourselves over the Fate of the World! But don't expect Amanda to do it! She's a woman. She loves you. She's not about to 'stretch,' simply because you have a Cause!"

"Then, you take care of her now, Methos. She's free to date. Do whatever you've got to do, to get her past this." He stood up then, behind the grille, and leaned over so he could see me. He'd become angry. "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod is every bit as dead as Adam Pierson. Got it? Good."


I brought Amanda back into the visitor's parlor. She'd calmed down. She apologized profusely to Duncan for losing her temper. For lying to him. For everything but the color of her eyes. She clung to the bars in front of the grille and cried. She blew kisses at Duncan through the grille. He smiled at her and forgave her and told her he loved her over and over again. It was embarrassing to watch, and so touching I could scarcely endure it. Finally, Amanda ran out of the visitor's parlor and Duncan and I were alone again.

I decided to put on strength I didn't possess. "I'll tell Joe you're okay, Duncan. That your will is strong. That you send him regards. Anything else you want me to take care of for you?"

"Methos - thank you. Do what you want with my things. If you want to live on the barge. If you want to go back and live in the dojo. Whatever. It'll give me - joy - to think you're taking care of those places."

"Duncan - please!" I was crying now.

"Sorry. Thanks for coming. Write, when you have the time, and the inclination." He left abruptly, before I had a chance to say goodbye. Suddenly, his aura was gone, and I knew he'd disappeared into the cloister, so far from the visitor's parlor and the grille that I'd lost all feel of him. Awful.

"Write?" I muttered to the empty room beyond the grille. "And your aura, your buzz? You gonna send that back, in a letter? Who you really are, that's gonna come back to me via the French postal service? Is that what you think?" I stood there a while longer. Then I spoke to the empty room again. "You don't even know what you're doing, Duncan MacLeod! You think you're will is strong? You don't even know what will is, Green Boy! Don't have a clue! Think you can break my heart and not pay for it? Think again, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod! Adam Pierson may be dead, but Methos Valerius still lives! And Duncan MacLeod still lives! You'll know it, soon enough!"


Fortunately, Amanda didn't feel like talking on the journey back to Paris. She was too busy crying into her handkerchief. I drove at the best speed I could manage, considering the morning traffic, without saying a word the entire trip. My anger hadn't dissipated by the time we got back into the city.

"I need coffee, Methos. Let's stop at a cafe."

"Fine."

"What? What's the matter?"

"Nothing. Nothing at all."

"Methos - what is it? What happened at the end, after I ran out? He been slapping you upside the head again? I thought he'd finished with that."

"Nothing happened, Amanda. We're going to correspond, is all. Write long newsy letters back and forth - I imagine they'll permit him to receive and send post on his saint's day, at Christmas, Easter, and so forth. That's the way it used to be, as I recall."

"What's wrong with that?" She'd noticed my bitter tone. Have to be dead, not to.

"Nothing. What could be wrong? I'm sure, in time, Duncan will make a wonderful correspondent. He's so good with words." My voice dripped sarcasm.

"Methos -"

I pulled over to the curb near our favorite cafe, not far from my flat. "Get out of the car, Amanda. We'll have breakfast here." I got out myself and strode into the cafe without looking back to see if she was following me. I didn't care if I got a ticket, or the car got towed.

"Methos -" she began again, after we'd seated ourselves and she'd ordered coffee and croissants for us both.

"For cripes sake, stop calling me that! Methos is dead. That's what he thinks. Who are you to say him nay," I spat out, scarcely keeping my rage from raising my voice.

Amanda stared at me. "You're angry with him," she said, always mistress of understatement.

"You might say that."

"You're not going along, are you. You've got a plan." Not questions, conclusions.

"What makes you think that?"

"He set you off, with that letter writing business. No buzz in a letter. That's it, isn't it?" Quick, our Amanda.

"Forget it, Amanda. It's none of your concern. I'll survive. I always do."

"I want in. Anything. Anything at all, to get him out of that place. Beg, steal, borrow, cheat, kill. Whatever it takes, Methos. Oh, pardon me - whoever you are. I want in." She was tense with determination.

"I don't have a plan. I haven't a clue. I only know - he's not going to get away with this!"

"With what? Breaking your heart?"

Unbelievable! Not only could that decrepit old abbot read me like a book, now Amanda could too! I didn't reply.

"You can do it, Methos," she said, abandoning any attempt at not calling me by my stupid name. Five thousand years and I hadn't come up with a better one. "You can do it. I know it. Think of something."

"First of all," I said, "I've got to calm down. Rage is not an appropriate state of mind for planning. Merely, a great incentive."

"Fine. What can I do to calm you down? How about we go back to your place and fuck."

I laughed out loud. "Now there's a thought! I'm sure fucking you would certainly calm me down!"

"Whatever works! I could give you a massage -"

"And we all know how those end!"

"Look, Methos, I'm not good at planning, but I know an objective when I see one. This is mine! I want him out of there. I want him to recognize his place in the Game. Behind cloister walls isn't it."

"Changed your tune again, girl?"

"Consistency is the hobgoblin of tiny minds. Now, I want him out of there. You want that too. Make a plan!"

"What we want, we already know. How to get it, is the question."

"If there's a will, there's a way, Methos."

"Oh, there's a will, all right. Trouble is, Duncan's got will, too." I'd calmed down enough to admit that.


Back at my place I made coffee for us while Amanda took a quick shower. I think she'd really decided to get me into bed. Anything for the Cause. Even that.

After eight centuries, I had my shot, and didn't want it. Or - didn't want it this minute, at least. Always such fun, irony.

I considered. At least I wasn't depressed any longer, and neither was Amanda. Just furious. Wonder if that's what Duncan had in mind when he'd asked me to help her "get past it." Probably not.

Amanda came out of the bathroom wearing a lovely silk robe, beige, with huge purple and black flowers printed all over it. She looked luscious. Smelled delicious too. But nothing could rouse me now. I was planning.

"More coffee, Methos?" she asked, going into my kitchen.

"No. Not yet."

She came out and sat down in my favorite chair. I was sitting in the open kitchen nook, pen and paper in hand. "Buttons," I muttered. "The only way is to press his buttons. All of them at once, if possible."

"What'd you mean?"

"I mean - his buttons! Chivalry, protecting the weak, the innocent, whoever. Those he loves. Maybe, Mortals. Or Immortals. Saving somebody. The hero bit. Something to get him out of there. Once he's out, he won't go back, not after he's had a taste of what it's like, these last months."

"So - what do you suggest?"

"Who can we call on to put someone he cares about at risk? We need both - an Opponent and a Victim."

"How about me?" She meant, as the Victim.

"No. Too easy. He'll guess it's a plot. And besides, he knows I'd protect you, if need be, if I must."

"Thanks a lot! First of all, I don't need protection. And second, thanks for the enthusiasm!"

"Amanda, please! If you want to do this with me, I can't be watching my every word, so's not to step on your toes. You know what I mean. That ought to be sufficient."

"Okay. Sorry. But Methos, what you say about me is true about everybody else MacLeod cares about. If Joe Dawson's in trouble, Duncan knows you'd protect him. Who's left?"

"I don't know. Let me think a minute." Dutifully, Amanda sat quietly, sipping her coffee, watching me as if I were an Oracle. "I've got it! Anne. And her baby. Mary."

"You think he'd believe you wouldn't protect them if you saw they were in danger?"

"I think he'd believe it was his job to protect them, not mine."

"But he wouldn't believe that about me?" she asked indignantly.

"You're different. Duncan knows we go way back. I don't know how he knows, but he does. Anne and Mary are Mortal. He'd trust Richie to watch out for them, if he were still - around. But me - he knows I don't give a hoot in hell for Mortals, except for Joe. And I've never even been introduced to Anne or her kid. Now, get packing. Get Joe on the line. Tell him something or other. Get airline reservations. We're going home."

I went to the bedroom and started tossing things into a dufflebag while Amanda made the calls we needed to make. I heard her tell Joe we were coming home. She didn't say a word about why. I hadn't spoken to him to let him know we'd seen MacLeod, so she told him that. And said Duncan was fine. She sounded so sincere, so genuine, I almost laughed out loud. Amanda was a schemer like no other I'd ever met. Mac was right. We're a vaudeville act whose time had come. Only, he wasn't expecting us to perform for him. Irony. Gotta love it, as Joe would say.


"Dr. Lindsey?" I asked, when she opened the door of the lovely house on the outskirts of Seacouver that MacLeod had renovated for her and her daughter.

"Yes?"

"Dr. Lindsey, I'm a friend of Duncan MacLeod. May I come in?"

Anne hesitated for a moment. I stood there, trying to think Adam Pierson-like thoughts and school my expression into harmlessness. It amazed me how difficult I found that to do now. At last, the good doctor decided I was probably harmless. Or curiosity got the better of her. At any rate, she opened the door wider and asked me in.

"Would you like a cup of coffee, Mr. -"

"I am Methos. Yes, I'd love coffee." I smiled my most charming smile. I detested this woman, who'd hurt Duncan so badly. Detested her smug way of thinking. Detested her conviction that modern medicine was the be-all and end-all response to every problem. Detested even the fact that she'd accepted this house as a gift from Duncan, though I knew it would have caused him greater anguish had she not.

She puttered about in the kitchen after showing me into a parlor decorated in early-conventional. At last, she brought coffee for two on a silver tray. I stood when she returned to the living room. She'd expect that, I knew.

"Thank you, Dr. Lindsey."

"You're welcome - Methos." She hesitated a moment, then said, "That's a strange name - Methos. Is it Greek?"

"It's Immortal, if that's what you're asking," I replied, trying to keep testiness out of my voice.

"Oh. Oh. Of course. I remember. You were at Richie's funeral. But you stood near Joe. And Amanda. Not by Duncan."

"That's right. I stood with Joe Dawson. He needed me more."

"Why is that, Methos?"

"Because the one person who might have been a comfort to him, was the person who'd killed Richie. Made for an awkward show all around," I said bluntly.

"The one person? You don't mean - you can't mean that Duncan killed Richie!" She was horrified. She put down her cup when she realized her hands were trembling. "No!"

"Yes. Oh yes. MacLeod killed Richie. He was not himself at the time. He's better now."

"Better?" She appeared dazed by my news.

"Oh, much. He's in a monastery in France. Busily atoning for his sins. You know the drill." I pressed hard. I couldn't bear to spend much time in this woman's company. I wanted to accomplish my purpose and get the hell out of her gingerbread house, away from her gingerbread personality. She hadn't even asked me to call her Anne. My God - she wasn't even pretty!

"You Immortals - I don't suppose any of you gave a thought to telling the police about the murder. Having a trial. Maybe a judgment, a verdict. No - it's up to you what you choose to do after you kill somebody - take their head! If you feel like it, you 'atone.' If you don't, you simply go your merry way, without a care in the world, and nobody's the wiser! It's - vicious!"

"If that's what you think, Dr. Lindsey, I won't disabuse you. But know this - nobody gets away with murder - nobody. One way or another, we all pay."

"You don't pay - you don't even know what that means! You're outside the law! You're outside human decency! You kill and you kill and you go on with your lives! Drink, eat, go to the opera, meet women, make love! And nobody knows who you are, what you are! You don't pay! You only think you do!"

It was all I could do to hold back from murdering the woman on the spot! I took a deep breath and continued my intended speech. I wasn't going to let this - woman - push me off my course, spoil my plans.

"Dr. Lindsey, am I to understand from what you say that Duncan MacLeod no longer means anything to you? That what happens to him is of no concern to you, any longer?"

"No! Of course not! Duncan is - different. He feels. He cares. He loves." She stopped for a moment. "If he killed Richie, he must be suffering terribly. I wish I could do something to help him."

Yeah, right. But I had her where I wanted her. "There's an Immortal - a very Evil Immortal - someone like you described just now. He's after MacLeod. Wants him out of the monastery, off Holy Ground, so he can Challenge him."

She frowned. It didn't improve her looks a bit. "But, nobody can make Duncan leave the monastery, if he wants to stay. Can they?"

"No. But this Immortal is a little like your old nemesis, Kalas. He's a long-term planner. He tracks Immortals. Finds out their weaknesses. Discovers who their friends are. Those they care about. He attacks those people, forcing his target Immortal to come out of hiding, to protect his loved ones. Forces a good man like MacLeod to accept his Challenge.

"You mean, he'll come after me and Mary? That's it, isn't it?" I had to hand it to the woman, she made the connection fast enough.

I nodded. "Sure as night follows day, Doctor."

"So - what should I do? What do you think?" Good. She trusted me. Turned to me for advice. I'd gotten her confidence.

"I'd leave Seacouver. Leave my job, if I were you. For a time. Get out of the line of fire, with your child. Stay with friends."

Frantic, she protested, "But I've got no friends like that - that I can go to with Mary, stay with for God knows how long! All my friends are connected with my work, with the hospital! Anybody could track me down through them!"

She was panicking. Better and better. I was sure that by now her concern for Duncan had been overwhelmed by her terror for the safety of her child. She'd take any offer, grab any straw, to ensure her child's safety.

"Dr. Lindsey, that's why I've come. You remember Amanda?"

"Of course. Why?"

"She has a place, a safe place, in the Greek Islands. You and your daughter can stay with her indefinitely. Safely. I've come to take you there."

"I don't know. I don't know." The woman's eyes filled with tears. Was she vacillating over leaving her damn job at the hospital? My God!

"There's not much time, Doctor. Kinsey is a very determined man." Giving the Evil Immortal a name would make him more real to her, I was sure. "He's not far from finding you, I know. Dawson's got sources who're watching Kinsey. He's close."

"Okay. Okay. But I can't just leave. Mary's with her babysitter. They've taken a trip to visit the woman's family for the day. She won't be back for hours."

"That's unfortunate. The sooner we go the better," I replied, putting urgency and concern in my voice.

"Tonight. I'll meet Amanda tonight. We can leave then. It'll give me time to let the hospital know, so they can cover my shift. Make arrangements for the next - few weeks?"

"At least that long, Doctor."

"Where can I meet Amanda?"

"Joe's Bar would be good. Go in through the alley door. Don't bring too much luggage. Just you and your child. We'll see you have everything you need. You'll be safe."

"Okay. I'll be there at nine o'clock." She stood, obviously hoping to get rid of me quickly so she could pack, I supposed.

"Nine, then. Amanda and I will be waiting. Don't worry, Doctor. You'll be fine. This will blow over in a few weeks, a couple months at the outside. Most important, you won't be a liability to MacLeod. He'll be able to think clearly. Not need to worry about you and Mary."

"Good. Thank you, Methos. It's very kind of you to do this for us. And for Duncan. You're a good friend."

"I try." Oh yes, I try. I may not succeed but I try.


"What did you say that Immortal's name is, again? The one who's after Duncan?" Amanda asked me. We were in Joe's Bar. It was nearly nine o'clock. We were waiting for Dr. Anne Lindsey and her daughter to arrive.

"Kinsey."

"Kinsey. Is there such an Immortal?" I rolled my eyes. "Okay. How long do you think this will take? I don't really like the idea of babysitting Anne and the baby."

"I don't know, Amanda. But it'll take some time. We've got to filter through God only knows how many sources to get the rumor of Anne and Mary's disappearance to MacLeod. He's not exactly on the telephone exchange right now. I don't want him to become suspicious. We can't just let Dawson tell the abbot in Carmel that they've gone missing, and pass it along the line."

"I know. I know." Amanda sighed. "I kind of liked her, when I met her, you know. Anne."

"Fine. Then you'll have a smashing good time with her in Greece."

"But she dumped Duncan. He was so fragile after that, I thought he'd break."

"Bit maudlin, are we? Bit sentimental? How many times have you packed your bags and flown away from the dear boy yourself, Amanda, my love?"

"How many times have you?" she retorted. "That was different. He never needed me. Never was in love with me, not like with her. Because she's Mortal."

"Remember that, when you're tempted to weaken in your resolve. You do still want him out of that monastery and back in your arms, don't you?"

"I want him happy, Methos. I'm not sure he'll be happy, if he breaks his vow. I'm not sure he'll be happy, if he needs to mourn out here." She waved an arm around, indicating the world. "I'm not sure he'll be happy, when he finds out this was all a ruse, a plot of ours, to get him out of there." Kind of her to call it a plot of "ours." It was all mine, A to Zed.

"He'll be happy, blossom. He's miserable in the monastery. But he'll keep on trying. Then, a decade or so down the road, he'll try something else, another sort of religious order. Doing something else. Teaching in Africa. Planting trees in Palestine. Saving souls in the Inner City. And none of it will work. But he'll keep trying. He's got to get out, take a head or two. Accept that he's not meant to be a religious at all. Ever. That he's meant to be in the Game. In the End there can be Only One. That's him."

"Yeah. You're right. I know that. But I also know we're doing this because we're selfish bastards who want him where we can lay our hands on him. Where we can suck in his aura, to keep us alive."

"Irrelevant, immaterial, inadmissible, and totally aside from the point! Just because it's good for us, too, doesn't make it bad for him. Amanda -"

"I'll do it. I'm doing it. Just don't make me pretend it's for his sake. At least, not with you." She looked around impatiently. "Damn it, where is she? Where are they?"

"Don't worry - I put the fear of God in the woman. They'll be here. Trust me. They'll be here."


It was all mine, this glorious plan. A to Zed. All mine. Only - it hadn't worked. Anne didn't show with her baby.

All right. Fine. We'd try something else.

But when Amanda and I'd broken down and told Joe the sad tale of our perfidy he'd been furious and disgusted, by turns. He was worried about Anne and Mary beyond what I'd ever expected. Even Amanda insisted we at least make certain Anne and Mary were all right. So did Joe, when he'd learned what I'd done.

Anne and Mary weren't "all right." Not as far as we could tell. They'd disappeared, as planned. But not with me and Amanda.

With the help of Joe Dawson and some retired Watcher friends of his, Amanda and I searched high and low. We made inquiries at the hospital where Anne worked. We spoke to all her friends. Then, we returned and really interrogated them.

Nobody knew where she'd gone.

She hadn't done as she'd told me she would. Hadn't informed the hospital she wouldn't be coming on duty that night, or for a while to come.

She'd simply disappeared.

I hadn't a clue where she might have gone. Or even if she'd disappeared of her own volition.

Truth to tell, I was frightened. No, terrified. If anything happened to Anne Lindsey and her child, Mary Lindsey, because of this scheme of mine, I'd be the one to tell Duncan. I didn't want to be there when I did. Grille or no grille. Holy Ground or no Holy Ground. Three weapons in my hands, none in his. I absolutely didn't want to be there when I told him. No way.


"Methos, we're wasting time. We've got to let Duncan know," Amanda finally insisted, when it became clear we couldn't find the woman with only what we knew about her. "He's the only person close enough to Anne to have any idea where she might have gone, if she went on her own."

"No. I'm not telling him. He'll know instantly that I had a hand in her disappearance."

Amanda snorted. "A hand?"

"You afraid of him, Methos?" Joe asked.

"Damn right, I am." I looked at the Watcher. Raised an eyebrow. "You wouldn't be? Under the circumstances?"

"Me? Never. But then, I'd never try a fool scheme like this, to get MacLeod to do something he doesn't want to do. For no reason at all, except that I'm missing him."

"It wasn't for our sake. It was for his."

"Damn you, Methos, who do ya think you're talking to? A baby? You'll never get me to believe you did this for MacLeod's sake. Don't even try it."

"But I did, Joe. You've got to believe me."

"Bullshit. Bull shit! Something he said or did when you visited him made you angry. You decided you'd show him who's boss. Who makes the rules and plans the plans. What the hell were you thinking, involving innocent people like this! Ordinary people! Mortals! A woman and her child! Are you nuts?"

"I wasn't thinking, Joe. I was -"

"Yeah, what? What were you doing, Methos? If I didn't know better, I'd say you were thinking with your dick! Come on, tell me. I can't wait to hear."

"It isn't all Methos' fault, Joe. I wanted Duncan out of that monastery. Back with me. I wanted things like they used to be. I made Methos do this." Amanda was valiant, selling her heart out in my defense. Joe wasn't buying.

"Amanda, Methos." Dawson shook his head, sighed. "Don't you know things'll never be the way they used to be. Never again. Not for MacLeod. Don't you know that?"

"They can be, if we try," Amanda insisted, begging Joe to agree with her.

"Amanda, Amanda." The Watcher sounded weary. "Duncan MacLeod killed Richie. His own student. A boy he raised from scratch. You think he's just gonna get over that? This decade? This century? You think he's gonna wanna tango sometime soon?"

"Joe, his heart isn't in this monastic business," I declared. "Even Father Ambrose sees that."

"Methos, Duncan's heart ain't in anything. Not any more. His heart's broken. Why couldn't you let it alone? Let the man grieve in peace? Where's your sense of justice? Of love? Haven't you got any compassion at all?" He looked at me like a wounded deer. Then at Amanda. "I'm talking to both of you. Who the hell do you think you are, futzing around with Duncan MacLeod like he's some kind of - of - broken computer you could fix. And if you can't get it working, you just put in a new motherboard or something."

"Joe -"

"Shut up, Methos, I'm not finished. He's a man, damn it, not a wind-up toy! Let him be. You two are altogether too ready to make things happen. You bored or something? When you gonna learn to just let things take their course. In their own time. You'd think two people as old as you guys would know better."

I tried to answer him. "We should, Joe. You're right. We should know better. But we're blinded -"

"Don't you dare try to tell me you're blinded by love!" Joe shouted. "You're selfish! That's the beginning and end of it. You don't want to do without him, where you can see him. And that's the God's honest truth. So you don't give a damn who you hurt to get him here, where you can see him, touch him."

"Okay, Joe. Okay. I'll do it. I'll tell him Anne's gone missing. With her baby. I'll do it. Will that satisfy you? Think I'll suffer enough to atone for my sins, if I'm the one who tells him?" Now, I was shouting.

"Maybe. Maybe. Just, you three find Anne and Mary. Oh yeah - Duncan's not innocent in this, either. He never shoulda got mixed up with a Mortal woman. You find them, or you'll answer to me. I'm a Watcher. I know who you are. I know where you live. I know who your friends are. And I know how to kill you. Don't think I'll hesitate, if anything happens to Anne and Mary. I'll kill you all. If it's the last thing I do."


I must say, Duncan took it very well. Like a Stoic, not like the great hulking emotional Scot I knew him to be. Simply sat there, behind the visitors parlor grille, and asked me questions.

"How'd you know she's missing, Methos? I didn't know you'd met Anne."

"I met her at the funeral, remember?" I don't know why I was trying to hide what really happened from MacLeod. What I'd done. And why. Prolonging the inevitable, I suppose. He'd find out, soon enough. Either from Dawson. Or from Amanda. Or from Anne herself - God willing - if she was safe.

I decided to play it straight, just this once. "Look, MacLeod, there's something else."

"Yes? What?"

"It wasn't - fortuitous - that I discovered Anne and Mary were gone."

"No?"

"No." I looked away. Suddenly, I couldn't even find the words to reveal my part in this. It had become horrific to me. Unspeakable. Done in the present, not three thousand years ago.

"Methos, what have you done?"

"Bad things, MacLeod. You don't want to know. Bad things."

"You wanted me out of here, is that it? And your plan to make that happen backfired." The stillness in his buzz was terrifying. The controlled fury in his voice made me glad he was behind the grille, and the bars, and on Holy Ground. Not that I really believed that would stop him from killing me, if he decided I deserved to die. Right where I stood. I didn't think I'd have the heart to raise my sword. Or to stop him from reclaiming his.

"Yes. It backfired." I couldn't look at him.

"You're a fool, Methos. But not as big a fool as I am. I actually trusted you. Again. After the Horsemen. Trusted you."

"I'll find them, Duncan." I was crying, but I had to say something. "Just give me a lead. I really don't think anybody took them. I just think what I said to her frightened her into running away, hiding."

"Just what was it that you said to her, Methos?" Duncan asked, furious.

"Only - that somebody - an Immortal like Kalas - would try to get at her and the baby to get at you. To get you out of here, where he could Challenge you." I gestured. "She believed it."

"Why shouldn't she? How could she know what you are, who you are? How could a decent woman like Anne Lindsey conceive of a person like you?"

I ignored the truth of his ugly words. "Just give me a lead, Mac," I repeated. "We'll find her. You don't have to do anything. Go anywhere. I'll find her myself. Make sure she's safe. I promise you."

"Methos, you know what your promises are worth to me?"

I didn't reply. He didn't need to explain.

Finally, I said it for the third time. I was desperate to get away from him. "Give me a lead, MacLeod."

"You got a car, right?"

"Yes, of course. I drove your car here from Paris."

"Is Amanda with you?"

"No. She's home. I mean, she's at my flat."

"Fine. I'll be out in a few minutes. Wait for me in the car."

"No - Mac - please! It's bad enough I did this. Don't let it work, for God's sake! Stay where you are! Do what you vowed to do! It's enough I've reneged on my promise. You don't need to do it too!"

"Methos, you knew what I'd do if I believed Anne and Mary disappeared. Knew how that would push my buttons. That was the plan. Your plan. Well, you were right. Even if it didn't go down quite like you planned, you got me to leave this place. I found a little peace here, no matter what the abbot thinks." I looked at him. I couldn't believe that was true. "Yeah, I did. The abbot doesn't understand what happened. He doesn't know where I'm coming from, so how can he know how far I've come?"

"I didn't realize, Mac. I thought you were unhappy here."

"I'm unhappy period, Methos. That's not about to change any time soon. But - there's peace here. Time to think. Time to heal." His tears flowed unchecked and unheeded. "That's over now. Maybe I wasn't meant to get away so cheap." He stared at me. "Wait in the car, Methos. I'll be right out." Then he left me.

I waited in the car.


Duncan MacLeod is a very strange man. Maybe he wasn't strange, when he was young. Before he met me. According to his Chronicles - and my own brief observations over the centuries - he wasn't in the least bit strange, as a boy.

When he was a Green Boy, as we call young Immortals, he was ruled by his emotions. Love, hate, fear. Anger, revenge, jealousy. Lust, pleasure. Everything about him was in primary colors, or black and white. Of course, with age comes a certain dampening of the spirit. It's only natural. Older Immortals - and he is one, despite his relative youth - ordinarily lose some of that fire, that passion.

Not MacLeod. Every ounce of passion and fire is still there. But now things are different with him. Very different. Now, he controls his emotions, not his emotions him.

Which explains how he was when he got into the car, on the passenger side, and indicated I should drive back to Paris. He was all business. As if he'd never felt the disgust for me I knew he felt. As if he never was angry about what I'd done to Anne and Mary. As if he never was hurt that I'd betrayed his trust again.

All business. Just as if we were a couple old friends united in a mission to help some unfortunate Mortals. On the same page, with the same goals and desires.

It was disconcerting, though I should be used to it by now.

"What have you and Amanda and Dawson tried so far, to find them?" Duncan asked me as I drove.

"The hospital staff. Her friends from the hospital. Her babysitter. We spoke to her grandfather. He's in a nursing home. Lucid, though. He had no idea where she might have gone. Her neighbors. The priest at the church she attends." I took my eyes off the road to glance at him. "We tried everything. Believe me. I didn't want to have to bring you in. Not when it became for real."

"Not when you knew you'd be telling me this, for real, you mean." All right. Not entirely "all business."

"I'm sorry, MacLeod. Truly sorry."

"I know you are, Methos. For now. Until next time." He shook his head. "I don't know why I bother. Let's get on with it. Did you speak to the baby's father?"

"What'd you mean?"

"The baby's father. Mary's birth father. You know that's not me."

"I didn't think about it. Somehow, I thought -"

"What - that she'd gotten pregnant by somebody she met in a bar someplace? Tried to palm off the baby on me, make me think it was mine? Anne knew, Methos. That I'm Immortal. That I can't have children."

"You know who the father is?" I asked, skirting the issue of how and where and why Anne Lindsey got pregnant in the first place. Or why she chose to keep the child, who was not conceived with the man she supposedly loved.

"No. But he was an old friend of hers. A trusted friend. She turned to him once, when she was frightened and alone, when she thought I was dead. I think she'd turn to him again. Now. For the same reasons. Because she trusts him. And because he loves her."

"How will we track the man down, if you don't know who he is?" I asked. I wasn't at my best, I admit it.

"Research. We'll go back to everybody you questioned, only this time we'll have the right questions to ask. Her friends at the hospital, her records from medical school, where she interned, did her residency. Maybe her priest again. Anne's obstetrician. Mary's pediatrician. Hospital records. Birth certificate. You should be good at that part - the paper trail."

"And you? What'll you do?"

"I'll go through her private papers, in her home. And talk to people. I'm good at that." He sounded bitter. "Put my talents to good use. Should've been a cop. I'm a real good tracker."

"Mac -"

"Skip it, Methos. I heard you the first time. You're sorry. I know. Amanda's sorry too. You're both sorry excuses for people. And I'm the worst. I'm just stupid. A fool." He looked at me then. The intensity of his stare drew my eyes from the road again. "Well, it's the last time, with you two. Maybe there are more like you out there, though that's hard to imagine. With my luck, if there are, I'll run into them. But it's the last time, with the two of you. I'll never trust you again. I've learned my lesson now."

"You're gonna hold Amanda to the same gold standard you test a male Immortal against?" I couldn't help stabbing back.

"Absolutely," he replied without missing a beat. "Absolutely."


In a way, I was grateful for this incident. The way my plan backfired. Misfired. Amanda and I would have MacLeod with us again. And Joe Dawson, too. We'd be working together again, like when Kalas threatened all of us. The ugliness we'd all felt for one another at Richie's funeral would be swept away in the wake of the greater ugliness of the new situation. Only I could see a silver lining in this. Couldn't help myself. We're none of us perfect. Near MacLeod, I felt alive. Apart from him, I felt - not dead, no, not that, not so lucky. Apart from him, I was a mass of anguish. Nothing more. Nothing less. Anything was preferable, in my estimation. Anything.

By the time MacLeod, Amanda and I arrived back in Seacouver and joined Joe in his bar, Dawson'd done a bit of tracking of his own. On his computer. He knew everything there was to know about Anne Lindsey's life story. It was short enough, by our standards. We all now knew where she'd gone to medical school, done her internship, her residency. We had lists of the men she'd studied with, trained with, worked with. We broke up the lists and started tracking the men by phone, looking for Mary's father. When we'd narrowed things down to those men who still resided in Seacouver and environs, Joe and Amanda went one way, Duncan and I another, each "team" planning to visit every person on their half of the short-list.

It was dark, three long days later, when MacLeod and I finally found them - Anne and Mary - at the home of a former medical student who now worked as a full-fledged medical researcher. Dr. Lindsey answered the door herself, and when she saw who it was, she came outside and walked down the front steps with us, leading us away from the house, taking us out of earshot, as it were, at the same time she spoke. I assumed she hadn't told her friend the whole story. Irrelevantly, I noticed that the front garden where we spoke, was lovely. Much prettier than Anne's.

"Duncan! You're all right! And Methos - how good to see you again! I hope you understand - I couldn't risk going with you or Amanda, or going to Joe's, once I had time to think about it. You're all friends of Duncan's. Anybody looking for people he cares about would find you. And me and Mary. I simply couldn't let that happen. And I couldn't get in touch with you, for the same reason. You do understand, don't you?" I was nauseated by the woman's concern over my supposed feelings, when I'd lost track of her. I could sense that MacLeod was not.

"Anne, you're all right? Mary's all right?" he asked, with the tender love a father might show to his daughter and granddaughter.

"Of course we are! Philip is a good friend. He and Mary get along wonderfully well. It's been - good - for me too." She looked at Duncan with an expression I immediately read. She was sleeping with this Philip again - Mary's father. And she wanted MacLeod to "understand" and forgive. Blast the woman to hell!

"I'm happy for you," Duncan replied softly, his pain twisting in his aura. It made me faint.

"Thank you, Duncan," Anne said, totally unaware of how Mac felt. Then she turned to me. "But what about this Immortal - this - Kinsey - that's his name, right? The one who's after Duncan."

Duncan cut in before I could reply. "There is no Immortal looking for me, Anne. It was a story. A lie. Methos told you a lie. You don't need to be afraid. Nobody's looking for me. Nobody's after you or Mary."

"A lie?" Anne appeared bewildered. "I don't understand. Why?"

"Because - because of personal business between Methos and me. Unfinished business. It was Methos who wanted me out of the monastery. There is no other Immortal, Anne. You understand? You don't need to be afraid," he repeated.

Anne stared at me. "You told me that, frightened me so, because you wanted Duncan to leave the monastery?" Her face crumbled into lines of incredulity. But not anger.

"Yes." I knew Duncan told her the truth and expected me to do the same, not for any reason of vengeance against me, to give me pain, but solely for Anne's sake. To put her mind at ease.

"But why? Why did you want him to leave?" I could understand for a moment, what Duncan saw in her. She'd grasped the enormity of my sin, extrapolated that I must have committed it for a cause truly important to me, and needed to know what it was. It never crossed her mind that I might have wanted to kill MacLeod. She imputed pure motives to me. All this in an instant, upon my single word, my "yes." A fine mind. A good heart. She was concerned for me, not angry with me.

Nevertheless, the answer was none of her business. I didn't say so. I said nothing.

MacLeod responded for me. "Because he's a bastard who can't leave well enough alone! Because he wants what he wants, when he wants it, and won't rest until he gets it! Because he's a five thousand year old baby who doesn't care who he hurts, who he destroys, to get what he wants!"

"MacLeod!"

"Duncan, don't say that! He must have had a good reason to do something like this," Anne insisted. "He told me he's your friend. Is he?"

MacLeod was silent. But he didn't deny our friendship.

"Dr. Lindsey," I said, "none of this is to the point. There is no Immortal - nobody named Kinsey, nobody of any description - searching for you, to do you harm. Or your child. That's all you need to know. You can go home. Feel safe. You are safe. Forgive me for frightening you. I didn't think. I knew Amanda and I would be able to take care of you and Mary. I didn't realize how frightened you'd be."

"I know that. I understand. But what I don't understand - what I'll never understand - is why, after you've told me so much, you won't answer this! Why did you do it?"

"Anne - you don't need to know!" Duncan cut in.

"What is this, some spy story? 'I don't need to know!' Maybe not, but I want to know, I deserve to know, after what you two put me through! Now tell me, one of you - damn it!" Clearly, the Lady Anne had been down this road with Duncan before, and she liked it no better this time around.

"All right," I said. "I'll tell you."

Duncan turned and stared at me. Almost, expectantly. As if he wanted to hear the truth from me, too.

"Good," Anne said.


In a way, it was easier to speak about all I felt with a stranger present. Even a woman. A Mortal woman. Even this woman, his Anne.

Easier.

But impossible, too. Because I didn't know the answer to her question. Not until I spoke.

"I love Duncan MacLeod," I said. Then I paused, waiting for my heart to stop racing.

Anne's eyes opened wide. I could imagine what she was thinking. She was human, after all.

What MacLeod was thinking, I hadn't a clue. His aura went still and cold. But it didn't fade. If anything, it became stronger. More intense. Awful.

"Yes?" Anne said finally, encouraging me to say more.

"For reasons that are not your concern, we - made vows, promises to God. Duncan and I made vows. Duncan's was, to abandon the Game. Lay down his sword. He could only do that if he went to Holy Ground, and remained there. Otherwise, it would be suicide," I said simply. "I promised to abandon my attachment to him. Lay down my heart, so to speak."

Again, I was quiet for a long time. Again, Duncan said nothing, his aura still and cold. Again, Anne finally said, "Yes?" to encourage me to continue.

"In our own ways, we were both doing all right, I think. We were both resigned. And then we met again. And I couldn't go on. I let something he said make me angry. I determined to teach him a lesson. About whose will was stronger. I made a plan to pull him out of the monastery, knowing that he wouldn't go back, not once he'd left. Knowing that he'd be forced to return to the Game, once he'd come off Holy Ground." I took a deep breath.

Anne said, "Yes?" one more time.

"I was - mistaken - about Duncan's state of mind and heart. I thought he was as miserable as I was, while he lived apart from me."

Anne frowned. "Mistaken?" She turned to Duncan. "Was he mistaken, Duncan? Were you happy in the monastery?"

"I was all right, Anne. My reasons for going there were good. I was doing the right thing."

"But you weren't happy - apart from the Game, apart from your friend?"

MacLeod turned away, a quarter revolution. Walked a few steps from Anne and me. "I don't know," he mumbled, at last.

"Duncan, this man says he loves you. Do you believe that?"

"I know it, yes." Bitter, angry. But not denying what he knew.

"And you, Duncan?" Ah, Anne, you're a hard one, aren't you? I thought. The soft light from the porch shone on her face. It made her seem almost beautiful, in that instant. Force an answer from him, will you? Oh, definitely. A hard one.

"And me, what?" he asked, stubbornly resisting the question.

"Were you happy, apart from the Game, apart from your friend?" She didn't ask, Do you love him? She let him off the hook after all. Not so hard a woman, then.

"How could I be happy?" MacLeod answered at last, angry, loud. "I'd just killed Richie! For God's sake, Anne, what do you want me to say? I'm not happy. No. I'm not. Being with Methos - or anybody from before - won't help."

"Being with friends who love you might help," Anne ventured softly. She walked over to Duncan and put her hand on his arm. Lightly. Very lightly. "It might help. Being alone with strangers - that won't, Duncan. Not a bit."

He turned to her. "Anne, you don't understand - I made a vow! Methos made a vow! We can't just break those promises! Ignore them!"

"Maybe you made them under duress," Anne said. "Even God wouldn't hold you to a promise you made when you weren't yourself - when you were threatened, or tortured, or tormented, Duncan. God doesn't ask those kinds of sacrifices from us. You should know that."

I was crying now. The anguish in MacLeod's aura was like a dagger in my heart. I knew exactly what he was thinking. That Anne was the Devil, tempting him to break his vow, to make things easy for him. He was getting ready to struggle against that temptation. I could feel it.

"MacLeod," I cut in, "it's getting late. Dr. Lindsey, thank you. For your kindness, your generosity. Your forgiveness. I won't forget. I've got a long memory. If you ever need someone, anything. Any help of any kind, remember me. You can always find me through Dawson. I'll come."

Anne smiled. "Thank you, Methos. Good night."

"Good night. Duncan, I'll wait for you." I started towards the car, then turned to watch them together.

He didn't say anything more to Anne. He just took her in his arms and kissed her hair, then turned away and left her. Got into the car with me while Anne stood on the lawn and watched until we drove away.


I didn't speak for about quarter of an hour, concentrating on following the side streets back onto the main highway leading into Seacouver. Then I said, "Where to, Mac? Back to Joe's?"

He sighed. "Yeah, I suppose. I'm so tired."

"You're exhausted. Do you want me to drop you at the dojo? I can meet up with Joe and Amanda after, tell them everything's okay."

"No. I couldn't sleep. Not now. I need a drink. Drive to Joe's."

"Fine."

I was perplexed. What he'd suffered during that interview was gone from his aura which had turned quiet, tired, the way he'd said he felt. Neither hot nor cold. No longer intense. Not blank, either. Kind of - strange.

"MacLeod, are you sure you're all right? You've got plenty to drink back at your place. Let me take you home."

"No." He sighed again. One more time, and I'd ask him what he found to sigh about. "She's right, you know," he said finally.

"Who, Anne? About what?"

"Friends. Being alone. Among strangers. With grief. With anger. With guilt. It doesn't help, being alone."

I nodded. "That's why Amanda and I stuck together. Wish Joe could be with us. He needs somebody too."

"Yes, he does. Too bad the person he needs is the person who made him unhappy to begin with."

"Irony. Ya gotta love it!" I quipped. I didn't know what I was saying at that point. I was past understanding what was going through MacLeod's mind. I hadn't a notion what was going through my own mind.

"Yeah. Gotta love it." Duncan smiled. He actually smiled.

I was emboldened to ask him something I'd never had the nerve to ask about. The way things were going, it appeared we wouldn't be doing much talking in the future. Might as well find out now.

"Duncan, how could you forgive Anne for leaving you the way she did? Even today, how can you forgive her for this thing she's got going with that man Philip? She needn't have told you. But she did. It hurt you. But you plowed through it like it was nothing."

He was quiet for a while, thinking about my question. Then he said, "I had to fight for Anne. All the way. She didn't come easy, or easily. And the one thing she wanted to know - the truth about me - was the one thing I knew instinctively would drive her away. Which was why I let it be difficult between us for so long, rather than tell her."

"What's your point?"

"She stuck it out with me. Oh, we had our quarrels. She hated not knowing. Suspecting me of unspeakable things, which her reason asked her to consider, even when her heart told her they weren't possible. It drove her crazy."

"Yes?"

"So, if you want to know why I make allowances for her now, and forgave her for leaving me, back then, that's why. I owe her. She helped me through really dark times. Maybe not the way an Immortal woman could have helped. But she did her best, even before she knew the truth about my Immortality. Everything she could do for me, she did. And that wasn't shabby. She's a good person. Honest. Worthy of respect. She really didn't need forgiveness - I did. For what I put her through. I forgave her because she needed the certainty that things were still good between us, even if we weren't together. That we were friends. She was out of her league, with Immortals, Methos. And I don't mean that we're above her. Just the opposite."

"We're not so bad. Present company excepted."

"Maybe not. But we're not so good. We kill to survive. The rest of the human race is trying to get beyond that. Working towards peace. We're stuck with killing. But I don't have to like it. Or think it's good. It's what I've got, not what I want."

Before we went into Joe's Bar, after I parked the car out back, I asked the question that had been churning around in my mind since I'd found out Anne and Mary disappeared, several days back. In light of what he'd just said, maybe it was a foolish question, but I needed to know.

"Is it gonna come to swords between us, MacLeod? Is that where this whole thing's been heading all along?"

He frowned. "Swords?" He sounded bewildered.

"Yes, swords. As in, Ritual Combat, to the Death. What we do. That kind of swords."

"Swords?" he asked again.

"You forgive Mortals. Okay. I'll buy that. But me, you cannot forgive. You won't even forgive Amanda. So, is it gonna come to swords between us? I'm past caring, myself. I don't want to live any longer. I've had it. No more surviving for me. If you go back into the monastery, if we can't be friends any more - well, I don't want to go on. I'm through. If it's not you who takes my head, it'll be the next guy who comes along. No heart to fight, MacLeod. Might as well give you my Quickening, such as it is. Don't want to waste it on a stranger."

"Are you serious?" he asked.

"Deadly. No pun intended."

"You expect me to take your head? Do you plan to put up any kind of fight at all?" He sounded as if he was curious rather than interested in my Quickening.

"Haven't I made it clear I won't put up much of a fight?" I shrugged. "I can't go down without something, of course. It's not done."

"Why?"

"Why what? Why isn't it done?" Two can play at obtuse.

"No. Why does it matter to you if I'm in a monastery or on the barge. How does that make a difference? If we're friends, we're friends. No matter where we are."

I shook my head. "It's not the same, MacLeod, believe me. Darius -"

"Darius was a monk when you met him. And you loved him. And you were friends, even while he stayed on Holy Ground and you wandered the world."

"That's true."

"Why not me? Why won't you accept it in my case?"

"You saying you want us to be friends, MacLeod? In spite of this - fiasco - with Anne Lindsey?"

"As a hypothesis. For the moment. What's the difference?"

"The difference is - I don't know what the difference is."

"Oh, you know, Methos. You know! You just won't tell me."

"You wouldn't understand," I muttered. "Let's just go inside and tell Joe and Amanda the good news. That we've located Anne and Mary."

He touched my arm lightly to stop me walking away. "Please. I want to know. What's the difference, whether I'm on the barge or in Carmel? Tell me, Methos. Please."

I finally blurted it out. "I can't feel your goddam aura when you're in the monastery and I'm in Paris!"

"My aura?"

"Yes! What do you think I love about you? Your Chivalric code? Your wealth of knowledge? Your taste in music? What the hell did you think I meant, when I said 'you're too important to lose?'"

"I never knew - never was sure."

"I'll give you a hint. Have you ever known me to concern myself with the Big Picture? The Game? No? Well, I meant - you're too important to me, to lose!"

"I thought you felt comfortable with me - liked my company," MacLeod said tentatively. "Our friendship."

"I do. But I wouldn't spend a tenth of the time I spend with you, for your entertainment value. If it weren't for your buzz."

"What about my aura?" he asked, indignant.

"It's - I don't know! I love it! I can't get enough of it! It's like a drug! To me!" I gesticulated wildly. "What should I tell you! It's - everything! And I can't get to it while you're there and I'm here!"

"Oh." Duncan smiled. "I see."

"What do you see now, Green Boy?" I asked with a sneer.

"I see now why you'd put a woman you know I've loved deeply, and her child, at risk, to get me out of there. You've become addicted."

"Nothing you're likely to excuse - in an Immortal," I retorted.

"Oh, I dunno."

I stared at him. "What!"

"I kinda like your aura too, you know."

"What!"

"We both met, Methos," he said gently. "We both met. Each other. At the same time. You have an aura, too."

"Of course I have an aura! I'm Immortal," I declared.

"You think I like your taste in music, your philosophy? You think I hang around with you to learn survival techniques?"

"No, I don't think you hang around with me at all. I think you let me hang around with you."

"Well, my wise old friend, you're wrong. That's what I was missing, in the monastery. Your 'buzz,' as you call it. Badly."

I closed my eyes. Turned away. "Let's get a drink," I said.

"Sure. Let's. You don't want to talk any more, now that we've hit pay dirt. Coward."

"Later, MacLeod. I need a drink." Then, "Maybe I'll get drunk."

"Lead the way, old timer," he said, shaking his head as if he couldn't believe I'd run away from the good stuff. Just when we'd hit pay dirt, as he put it.

Couldn't figure out why he was so surprised. He'd seen me run from danger from the day we met. Or had he seen that? Had I hidden from danger? Or stopped hiding, the day we met?

Lead the way to a drink? I sure would. Fast as my feet could carry me.


Joe's air conditioned bar was a cool relief after spending the day in the summer heat. Four o'clock in the morning, but they were still sitting there, waiting for us, Dawson and Amanda.

"MacLeod, Methos, we've come up empty," Joe said in greeting. "You guys have any luck?"

"We found Anne and Mary. They're okay," Duncan replied, taking a seat next to Amanda at a round table.

"Thank God! I was beginning to think we'd never track them down," Amanda said, squeezing MacLeod's hand. "Methos, join us." I'd stopped at the bar. "Come on!"

"In a minute." I wasn't ready to sit down and regale them with the tale of our meeting with Anne. "I'm gonna see if I can locate a beer."

"Joe, can I have my sword back?" Duncan asked, out of nowhere.

"I ain't got it, Mac," Joe said.

"I have it."

Duncan turned and stared at me. "I thought I asked you to give it to Dawson," he said.

"You asked. Sure. I've got it."

"Well, I want it back."

"This minute? What's the rush?"

"What do you mean, what's the rush? Where is it?" He stood, already quite angry again. His control over his emotions was slipping, and the longer he was off Holy Ground, I saw, the harder time MacLeod had keeping a grip on himself in a natural way. Without forcing it, holding himself like a stone Indian, the way he did at Richie's funeral.

"I've got your katana. It's safe. You're safe - in here - you don't need it quite yet."

Amanda said, "Give him his sword, Methos."

"Stay out of this, Amanda," I said coldly, not taking my eyes off MacLeod.

"Let's take this outside, Methos," Duncan said.

"Hey, whoa, wait a minute. What's going on here?" Dawson asked, genuinely puzzled. "What's the problem? Methos? You got his katana?"

"Yes. Oh yes. I've got it."

"So - give it to him. It's his."

"Maybe later."

"Methos, I said let's take this outside." Duncan was in my face now, his hand gripping my arm.

"No. I'll hold onto it. You won't be needing it where you're going."

"And where might that be?" Duncan asked coldly.

"Back to the monastery. Carmel. Show that Watcher-abbot a thing or two about Immortals he can't figure out from the Chronicles."

"You said it yourself, Methos - once I left, I wouldn't go back."

"Well, I was wrong. First flight out of here in the morning, we're on it. I'll run interference, in case."

"You? You'll run interference for me? And I'm gonna travel without a sword?"

"You got this far without it. You'll make it back to Carmel."

"What makes you think I'm going back there? Maybe I don't want to be a monk. Maybe I want to take you up on your offer."

"Hey, fellas, what'd I miss - what offer?" Amanda asked.

"Man offers me his head, who am I to refuse?"

"Man refuses, who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?" I retorted.

"I never refused. Just asked you some questions."

"He offered you his head?" Joe asked. "Why?"

"Like I said, Methos, let's take it outside." Giving me a chance for privacy. I was too far gone to want it.

"I told MacLeod I didn't want to go on, if he went back into the monastery. Figured, might as well give him my Quickening, as anyone."

"Methos! You're the survivor I always wanted to be! You're gonna commit suicide? Not any day this week!" Joe said.

"That's right, Joe. Thought it over. I can wait. Probably something good on television tonight. Wouldn't want to miss it."

MacLeod said nothing, simply stared at me as if I'd suddenly grown two heads. Felt the same, myself. Like I didn't know who I was.

"Am I going nuts?" Joe said. "What's with you guys? First, Methos wants to commit suicide if you go back into the monastery. Now, he wants to guard your back while he pushes you back in. Talk to me, folks. Mac? I'm your Watcher. Inquiring minds want to know."

"Don't ask me, Joe. I'm lost. Talk to your boy here."

"Methos?"

"It's an ancient Immortal thing. Nobody under fifty centuries could follow."

"Try me," Amanda said coldly. Me pushing MacLeod back into the cloister wasn't her idea of a plan.

"We promised. We'll fulfill. That's all." I was being cryptic, I knew. Above all things, I didn't want MacLeod to understand. Just to do what I told him to do, for once in his life. "You know, Duncan, you're a real pain in the ass. Try this - do what I say, just once. Just one time. How about it? Think you can put one foot in front of the other without a diagram and instructions in five languages you can't read?"

"Yeah, I could. But why should I?"

"Because I ask you to."

"When you gonna tell me why?"

"I'm not."

"This is great!" Joe said. "Just dandy! Mac, you wanna spend your life on Holy Ground? Is that who you think you are? Who you think you were meant to be?"

"I don't know, Joe. I don't know anymore, who I am. Who I was meant to be," Duncan replied quietly.

"Maybe it's time you found out," I said. "What better place to steer clear of other Immortals, while you're looking for answers, than a Carmelite monastery, God's own vacation spot."

MacLeod grinned. "What about you? You finished your journey? Gonna let the first bad guy who comes along take your head, with me not there to protect you?"

"Nope. Not this really old guy. I'll give them all a run for their money."

"Is that another one of your promises, that I can't take to the bank?"

"That's the one promise you can take to the bank. I'll survive, MacLeod. Long enough to give you lots more trouble before I'm done."

"Then let's go," Duncan said, starting for the door, his buzz happier than I'd felt it in years. Positively singing.

"Methos!" Amanda called out.

"Stay put. Both of you," I ordered. "I'll be back." I followed MacLeod into the Seacouver night.


Two days of grueling air travel and waits between connecting flights later, we were back in France. Three hours later, we were sitting in Duncan's car outside Carmel.

"What was it, Methos? What changed your mind?" MacLeod asked.

"Something you said. Gave a whole new meaning to the word 'sacrifice,'" I replied.

"What?"

"You said you missed me too."

"You didn't already know that?" He sounded dumbfounded.

"How was I to know?"

"Common sense!" he replied, exasperated.

"Well, common sense is not my forte, I admit. We're none of us perfect," I added, grinning.

"You felt like you were going it alone. That I'd forgotten about you. Didn't care."

"Seemed a reasonable assumption, at the time. After all, how could I know what was going on inside your head? A creature like you - so different from me. Night and day."

"When you gonna learn, Methos? We're not so different. None of us. Not even the bad guys."

"Apparently, never."

"So, what difference does it make, if I miss you too? You still miss me."

I shook my head. "All the difference in the world, MacLeod. All the difference in the world."

"You knew I was suffering -" he began.

"I knew you were suffering. Yes. Because of what you'd been through. What you'd done. Richie."

"Methos - do you know how many times you broke my heart? Have you any idea?"

I stiffened. "What'd you mean?" I asked, as casually as I could.

"I mean, every time you walked away. You got any idea how many times you walked away from me? From us? Dozens."

I didn't reply. I got out of the car and started walking down the road. He got out and followed me.

"You're doing it again, Methos," he said, when he'd caught me up. "You even did it outside Joe's. Walked away."

"It doesn't mean anything. Doesn't change how I feel," I said.

"I don't think you even realize when you do it."

"Survival instinct," I muttered. "Too much pain, I shut down."

"Every time you do it, it hurts me. I'm only human, you know."

"Really? Could've fooled me," I mumbled under my breath.

"What - you don't think I'm human? That I've got feelings? What exactly do you get from my buzz?"

"I get it all, MacLeod, I get it all. But not for me."

"I see."

"I'll ask you again. What do you see, Green Boy?"

"I see that you're an idiot! We both met, Methos," he said earnestly. "We met each other. And nothing's ever been the same since. Not for you. And certainly, not for me. So you can stop thinking you're alone out there with the pain. You're not. You never were. Not while I breathe."

"Well, that's what I figured. Why I brought you back here."

"As long as you know you're not alone with the pain, you can take it? Keep your promise? Help me keep mine? Is that what I'm supposed to be seeing?"

"Bright boy."

"Okay." MacLeod thumped my arm gently. "Okay. Walk me back. Walk me in. Say goodbye. Promise to write. To visit." When I didn't move, he added, "Come on, Methos, help me out. Please."

I helped him out. Then I drove back to Paris and phoned Amanda. And asked her to meet me in the Luxembourg Gardens, and help me out. She was on the next plane.

 


End