|A Quickening of Friends
by Maxine Mayer
The dojo storey of Duncan MacLeods building, which accommodated his living quarters, is rank with the smell of sweat. Its close to midnight on a spring evening. MacLeod and his Immortal friend and sometimes lover, Amanda, dont notice. Each is intent on the others sword strokes, as they practice the same combinations of fight moves again and again.
"Half speed, half power," mutters MacLeod, and Amanda nods. Sixteen steps, sixteen strokes, advance, retreat, turn then turn again, first Mac the aggressor, with Amanda defending, then the reverse.
"Okay, okay, stop now," Mac shouts. "What are you doing?"
"What?" Amandas eyes widen, and she lets her sword arm fall.
"Youre not concentrating, Amanda," Mac shouts hoarsely, impatiently.
"I am, I am."
"No - youre not. How many times must I tell you - your upper body isnt strong - its a females weakness - youve got to compensate, by skill, by strategy."
"I do - I am."
"No, youre not!" MacLeod grabs her shoulders. "If you go up against a man, any man, the way you just came at me, hell take your wrists and force your sword out of your hands, and you wont be able to stop him. Any man, Amanda - maybe not Methos, skinny like that, but no, Methos, too, hes got height. Amanda, any Immortal with any upper body mass at all, and any training, will get your sword away from you - Richie, me, Kallas - how many times have you had that happen?"
"Im tired, MacLeod." Amanda tosses her head. "And youve got a nerve! Ive lived twice as long as you - I must be doing something right!"
MacLeod grabs a towel and dries his sweaty hair. He sits on a bench along the wall, pushing Amanda away with his foot when she makes to join him. "Were not done yet."
She whacks his foot away, then sits on the floor in front of Duncan.
"How many men have you killed in a fair fight, Amanda?" he asks, with a smile.
"Enough." She pouts. "Some." Then, "A few."
"Not drunk, not drugged, not tied up spread-eagled on a bed -"
"Amanda, those days, theyre gone." Reasonable. "The days when feminine charm and wiles won you protection from men, or gallantry. Nobodys going to let you live, now. Its the time of the Gathering. Youre one more obstacle to plow through. Chivalry is dead -" Mac stops speaking.
Swords at the ready, both Immortals are on their feet instantly, acknowledging the "buzz" of another Immortals approach. Its an old familiar "buzz," the cracked cackle of more centuries of living than any other Immortal had survived.
Simultaneously, relaxing, they tell each other, "Methos."
"Whats this I hear, MacLeod - chivalry is dead - this, from you?" He saunters in, a tall thin drink of water of a man, smiling his sunniest smile, wrinkling his nose, sniffing the air. "Disgusting odor in here," he says, giving Amanda a hug, and lightly punching MacLeods upper arm. "Glad youve come around to my way of thinking, good buddy."
"I didnt mean it the way it sounded." Flustered, MacLeod turns and goes to the freight elevator, beckoning the others to join him upstairs. "I was just trying to work a little with Amanda on her sword technique. Shes really good, Methos. Better than youd think."
"MacLeod," Methos interrupts, "no decent Immortal would kill Amanda, and anyone not decent, who would and could, she cannot stop, not with all the tricks you can teach her. Youll only give her a false sense of security. Her safety lies elsewhere, as well she knows."
"You tell him, Methos," Amanda says, laughing. "And chivalry or no, Im showering first. Im glad youre here. I was exhausted, and Duncan doesnt know when to call it a night. Bor-ing!" she adds, her voice ringing out in the loft.
"Well have a drink at Joes, if you like," Methos calls after her back.
Amanda turns and nods, "Absolutely!"
"Whats up, Methos," MacLeod asks, eyeing the tuxedo his friend is sporting. "Been to the opera?"
"You wish! No, Im going to a funeral."
Instantly serious and concerned, Duncan asks, "Whose? When?"
"Mine. Probably tomorrow." Methos drops onto the sofa, stretching out. "Toss me a beer, would you?"
"Thats not funny, Methos. Someones after you? Joe hasnt said anything."
"He doesnt tell you everything, you know, MacLeod. And he doesnt know everything."
"You look relaxed for a man expecting to die. What kind of joke is this, Methos?"
"No joke. Edward Rasmussen, formerly known as Erasmus Minor, heard about our little contretemps with the Horsemen this winter, and decided he wants a piece of the action."
Amanda comes in, already dressed in a slinky black dress, her hair gleaming under the fluorescent kitchen light. She gets a beer and joins Methos on a sofa arm, runs her fingers through his short dark hair, drinking her beer. "What does that mean - a piece of the action?"
"Dont fool around, Amanda," MacLeod advises. Amanda gets up quickly and goes to stand near the window.
Lazily, Methos replies. "Rasmussen figures if he takes me as well as you, hell get more old power, and young vigor, than hell ever find in one place again."
"And, better fighters. He must be a fool, to try for both of you."
"Not a fool, Amanda. And he wont be the last to try. Yes, were good. But so is he. Old as the hills. Quite calculating, too."
"Wait a minute," Amanda interjects, excited, "I think I remember him now - he was a monk -"
"He managed to get away from Kallas with his head, even though Kallas had the advantage of surprise." Methos offered.
Duncan says, "But he didnt kill Kallas."
"No - Kallas scooted back to Holy Ground. Rasmussen didnt follow him."
"You know that -?" Mac asks, surprised.
"I wrote it up for the Watchers. It was a long time ago."
"Why didnt you go after Kallas back then?"
"What - and blow my cover?" Methos grins. "I havent survived this long by looking for trouble."
MacLeod sits and buries his head in his hands. Amanda and Methos exchange bewildered glances.
"What?" Amanda asks.
"First Grayson, then Xavier, Kallas, Coltec - now this one, this Rasmussen - all old Immortals."
"Not stronger than you, old sod," Methos chimes in, to comfort.
"Thats not the point," MacLeod replies bitterly.
Amandas voice rises as she speaks. "Duncan, youll take his head and like it! I dont give a damn how old he is!"
"What am I missing here?" Methos sings out.
"He doesnt like to kill you old ones - thinks its disrespectful."
"No," Duncan explains, "not disrespectful. Its like - vandalizing a church, or a museum - its destroying something valuable, and beautiful, thats lasted so long - its - its killing our history."
"I dont like the sound of that, MacLeod. Im not a bit of history, and neither is Erasmus. Were alive. Now. And besides, you take all we are, when you get our Quickening - everything valuable -"
"I dont believe that," Duncan replies. "Who you are is more than your spirit, your power, and your memories. Who you are is - its you loving Alexa, and making her laugh, its you drinking a beer with Joe, or listening to Springsteen, making fun of opera. Who you are is a man who says candygram when he comes to my door. Not an ancient relic from before the time when men walked upright. And that cant be replaced - or received - in a Quickening. Death wont ever replace life."
"Bravo, MacLeod, and thanks. But Ive had my run, you know. In the end there can be Only One. It certainly wont be me. And it wont be Rasmussen or Amanda here. Maybe itll be you, MacLeod, or Richie, or someone who hasnt even achieved First Death yet. But its what we do - and we accept the losses, we fight to the death. Dont cry for me, Argentina!"
Amanda goes over to Methos and hugs him, then kisses his cheek. "God, Methos, I love you! But you date yourself so, with those outlandish musical references!"
"Yeah, I know." A dreamy look comes into Methos eyes. "I once told somebody I felt as though Id left my heart in San Francisco. The worst thing about it, is that the man I said that to understood the reference!"
Curious, Duncan asks, "Who was it?"
Methos grins. "Kronos."
MacLeod makes a face. "Im taking a shower. You two stay here. Dont get yourselves killed before we have a chance to talk with Joe. I want to know more about this Erasmus, Rasmussen, whatever hes calling himself now. And not what he did a thousand years ago."
Behind Joes Bar, in a private back room, the three Immortals, and MacLeods Watcher, Joe Dawson, stand in hostile silence.
"I dont believe this, Joe," Mac says, finally.
"Believe, Mac. Im a Watcher, not your personal spy. Theres no reason in the world for me to give you guys information on Edward Rasmussen. Hes in the Game, so are you three. Hes no danger to anybody outside the Game. Hes an Immortal. He doesnt kill Mortals. Ive no right to reveal anything about the guy to you."
"Joe," Amanda says, "pretty please. We just want to know where he lives - his hangouts - nothing really personal."
"Why? So you can kill him before he even challenges you? On the strength of a rumor? No soap, guys. Youre on your own."
"Lets go, kiddies." Methos turns and starts towards the door.
"Wait a minute. Youre telling me you wont help us. Why? How is this different?" MacLeod asks.
"Its different, is all. Think about it, Mac. This mans done nothing to you, nothing to anyone. Hes a law abiding citizen. Hes just an old Immortal, living quietly, not bothering anybody. Let it play itself out, Mac. Its the way to go."
"Damn you, Joe."
"Im sorry, MacLeod. I call em like I see em. This one isnt even gray, from where Im standing."
The three Immortals look at each other. Amanda is the first to go, pushing past Methos, and out the door. Duncan quickly follows her.
Before he leaves, Methos says, "Youre wrong, Joe. And youll be in this up to your baby blues before its done."
"Maybe so. Im sorry. I really am. I just cant help you here."
"Gotcha. Take another look, then call me. You know Ill be with MacLeod. He wont talk to you, so ask for me."
"I wont be calling, Methos."
"Yes. Oh yes. You will."
The three Immortals walk along the river, back towards the dark neighborhood MacLeod calls home.
"So - what do we do now, fellas? Wait and see?" Amanda swings around in front of them, walking backwards.
"You said it. Or - we could get drunk someplace else. Joes is not the only gin joint in this town. Theres a really nifty jazz club over on -"
"Methos, how well did you know this Erasmus?"
"Nothing deflects you, MacLeod, does it? I knew him well enough, a thousand years ago. He wont be challenging one of us, not while the three of us are together."
"Nobody would," Amanda retorts.
MacLeod shakes his head. "Thats not necessarily true. Most Immortals know their prey by reputation. None of us would take a mans head when hes down, after a Quickening."
"Speak for yourself, Duncan," Amanda says, smiling wickedly.
"Yes, you would. But Methos wouldnt let you, and neither would I."
"That never stopped me before."
"It would, if both of us were there with you," Duncan replies, smiling. "So we know he isnt trusting."
"Thats right. Hell want to see for himself," Methos muses. "Look, MacLeod - Erasmus has survived a minimum of two thousand years. Hes good, hes clever, and hes patient."
"And determined?" MacLeod asks, looking Methos in the eye.
"Well, we wont be together forever," Amanda quips. "He can wait."
MacLeod puts his arm around her, looks at Methos, and smiles. "But we can stand each other for one more night at least. Lets go back to my place and have that drink."
Edward Rasmussen walks out of the shadows behind Joes Bar. Seen by the dim light of a halogen street lamp, hes a lean, hard-bitten looking man. His hair is silvery white. Deep grooves line his long, handsome Scandinavian face. Hes an attractive man. By all appearances, serious. Crafty.
He watches as several of the bars help leave, calling out their goodnights to their boss. He waits until the lights inside are off, and the neon sign outside is off as well. He waits with patience, absolutely still and silent, as Joe comes out, locks the outer door of the bar, and turns awkwardly, transferring his cane from one hand to the other. He waits until Joe reaches his car. Then he speaks.
Joe turns in the direction of the voice, and sees Rasmussen. "Yeah, thats me. How can I help you?"
"Ive been told youre a friend of Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander. More than that. That youre his Watcher."
"Jeez, aint there nobody left, who doesnt know that?" Joe replies, with a rueful smile.
"I think there are many, who dont know. But I do know. My sources are - reliable. Like yours."
"Who the hell are you?"
"My name is Edward Rasmussen."
"My God !"
"Yes, I imagine you were expecting me."
Joe smiles. "Actually, I wasnt. Actually, Ive got more egg on my face right now than I care to admit. You gonna kill me, now - to get MacLeods attention?"
"Thats not my plan. Or youd be dead right now. I was hoping our relationship would be less hostile than that. I want you to give MacLeod a message. Him, and his friend, Methos. Its a short message. Would you do that for me?" Rasmussens voice is calm, quiet, nearly hypnotic. Intense. But relaxed, as well.
"Youre a strange one, Rasmussen. But then, you old ones always are."
"Yes, we are. It comes with the territory. Cant be helped."
"What the hell - whats your message - a meet?"
"Yes. A meet, with both of them. Holy Ground. St. Johns By-The-Sea. The cemetery will do fine."
"Let me guess - by Haresh Clay and Carter Wellans graves."
"That doesnt matter."
"No, of course not. Youll sense each other coming."
"Mr. Dawson, I wont fence with you. Those men experienced something rare and wondrous, recently. A special kind of Quickening. Simultaneous, and extremely powerful. From two very old Immortals."
"You dont understand. Let me explain. They shared their Quickenings. They didnt simply happen at the same moment. It was - exchanged, shared. They are - one person - now."
"Couldve fooled me."
"Apparently, they have."
"If they did become one person, neither Mac nor Methos knows it. I think youre wrong, Rasmussen."
"Perhaps. Yes. Perhaps I am. Ill find that out. My message - you will pass it to them?"
"Tomorrow night good for you?"
"Very good, Mr. Dawson. I thank you."
"No, I thank you, Rasmussen. Youve vindicated me."
"I told them to let it play itself out."
"I see. They wanted you to break your vow, reveal my whereabouts, my habits, perhaps. That is unworthy on their part."
"Not really. They just got a little overexcited, they havent recuperated so well, yet, from - things."
"Months have passed," Rasmussen muses, "but theyve not recuperated yet? Oh yes, a very special Quickening, I think."
"Whyd I tell you that?" Dawson asks, almost to himself. "I cant believe I said that."
"Dont concern yourself, Mr. Dawson. I shant use it against them. Nor shall I expose what weve said here to your friends. As to why youve told me all you have - its quite simple, really. I am a very old Immortal, and you are a very special Watcher. Youd give your life for any one of us whos worth his salt, I think."
"Yeah - whatever."
"Goodnight, Joe Dawson. And thank you."
"That was Joe," Methos says, hanging up the phone.
"What does he want?"
"MacLeod, you know you cant stay angry with Joe, so why do you bother trying? You cant want to hurt him."
"Its not your business, Methos, my friendship with Joe."
"Hes my friend, too. I dont like seeing you hurt him -"
"Boys, boys - no fighting. Methos, whats the message. What did Joe say?"
"Hes on his way over."
"No. I dont want to see him," Duncan says quickly.
"Oh yes you do. He just had a face-to-face with our friend Erasmus - Rasmussen. In the parking lot behind his bar."
"Is Joe hurt?" MacLeods about-face is so immediate, and so predictable, both Amanda and Methos burst out laughing.
"This isnt funny, you two. I take it, Joes not hurt."
"Yes, it is funny, MacLeod. If you could see your face."
Amanda adds, "Duncan, theres nobody quite like you! Youd make me laugh while somebody shovelled dirt on my grave!"
"Which God forbid!" says Methos.
The elevator up to the loft rises, and Joe Dawson struggles to open the gate when it stops.
"Sorry, Mac. I know youre angry. But youll want to hear this."
"Im not angry, Joe. Not any more. What did Rasmussen want?"
Joe sighs. "A meet, what else? Tomorrow night, Clays graveyard."
"Whats he like, Joe?" Duncan asks.
"Its not really a question of what hes like, Mac. Its how much he knows, what he believes - about the two of you." Joe points his cane at Duncan, then at Methos.
"He knows youre a Watcher, my Watcher."
"Thats the least of it. Im getting used to every Tom, Dick and Harry knowing that." Joe chuckles. "We used to be a secret society. Now, we might as well have put an ad out on the Internet."
"Things are tough all over, Dawson," Methos cuts in. "Tell us about Erasmus. I havent seen him in a thousand years."
"Hes - quiet. His voice - its like he hypnotizes you. Hes skinny, like you. No, leans a better word. Hes like a vampire. Bloodless, intense."
Amanda says, "Sounds scary. Lighten up, Joe. Hes like any of us. Hes just a guy."
"Yeah, Amanda - just which guy?" Duncan responds angrily. "A guy like Luther -"
"Below the belt, MacLeod -" Amanda responds.
"- Or like Kallas, or like Kronos. Or maybe, just maybe, hes like a mild-mannered Watcher guy, I know, like Methos here!"
MacLeod is growing angrier by the minute.
"Hey, Mac, thats not why I came over - to discuss this fellows personality quirks."
"So, why did you come, Joe?"
Joe sighs. "Can I get a drink, somebody?" Hes hesitating. The Immortals tension rises.
Methos says, "Uh oh."
"Yeah, sure, you can have a drink." MacLeod pours a Scotch for his friend.
Joe downs it in one gulp. "Thats good stuff, Mac."
"Thanks. Now - whatd he say?"
"Imaginative, Ill give him that," Methos says, grinning. "One person, - has a nice ring to it, dont you think?"
Mac asks, "You dont believe thats what happened, do you?"
"What, that you two guys shared the Quickening? That you each got the guts of both of those guys you killed?" Amanda asks.
"Not that," Duncan answers. "That we were open to each other, too, during the Quickening. Got each others - guts - along with the rest."
"Fellas," Joe interrupts, "get real, here. The guys a crackpot. Have you experienced the slightest thing to make you believe youve become one person?" Joe looks at each of them. "Any evidence at all?"
The two male Immortals look at each other intently. Their silence fills the loft. "The same taste in beer, maybe?" No response.
Amanda, puzzled, says, "What is it, guys? Duncan?" She turns to Methos. "Methos? Say something."
Slowly, Duncan nods his head, and Methos speaks. "Its nothing absolute. Really not. Just - dreams."
"You mean, some kind of nightmares you two are both having?" Joe asks.
One word at a time, Methos croaks out, "Not that sort of dream."
"What sort, then?" Joe is skeptical.
"The hope kind. Like in, all my hopes and dreams. Like in, wanting the same things. Like in, stepping on each others words, finishing each others thoughts. Knowing, before we speak, what each of us is going to say."
"And thats your evidence? How long has this crap been going on?" Joe is angry.
"You mean, without us letting the Watchers in on it, Joe?" Duncan replies. "Its not your business to know us intimately. Its an accident. Not meant to be. Watchers watch, you observe, record. If you can get close enough to one of us, even listen. But no Watcher is expected to read our minds, Dawson. You cant watch all the time. Youre not voyeurs. And youre not meant to be our friends -"
"Or our psychiatrists," Methos adds.
Joe turns and walks towards the window. "Well, isnt this just great. Isnt this dandy. This son of a bitch is after the two of you - my friends, I dont care what you say - for the Double Quickening. And I laughed at him, laughed at his theory. And now, I find out the S.O.B. is right!"
"It doesnt matter, Joe," MacLeod says. "His theory doesnt matter, because hes not gonna take our heads."
"Not any day soon," Methos follows up quickly, as though hes reading Duncans thoughts.
Amanda looks at Dawson. "Theyre not going to keep the meet. Theyre going to run."
"Youre kidding!" Joes incredulous. "MacLeod, you havent run from anyone in years. Methos, maybe -"
"No. Both of us. Were outta here," MacLeod says tightly. He and Methos rise as one, grab their coats and swords, and leave by the back staircase.
Amanda and Joe stand rooted to their places, looking at each other, as though theyd been struck by a bolt of lightning.
"Did I just see what I think I saw?" Joe quips, finally.
"We both saw it. I just dont believe it," Amanda answers. "They just want us out of the way, safe. And Im gonna prove it. Before Im done, Im gonna prove it. And get that sonofabitch Erasmus, too. You believe that, Joe. Believe."
"I do, Amanda, I surely do."
The two Immortals reach the cemetery within the hour. Methos parks himself atop Carter Wellans headstone, while MacLeod sits on the ground and stares at Haresh Clays epitaph. "Even thats a lie, false date of birth, false name. Everything - lies."
"So, MacLeod, those were dark days for Richie, were they?"
"Fallout from my Dark Quickening, Methos." MacLeod looks straight at his companion. "Clays death made it right between us, Richie and me, but Im sorry it had to happen the way it did."
"You didnt mention Clay as one of your old Immortals, those worth saving. He was about Amandas age, as I recall."
"Give or take, yes, he was. But thats not why I didnt speak of him. He - and one other - they were unusual men. Brave. Honorable, in their way. Their deaths were - bad. I regret them. I always will. But I treasure something noble, something fine, I got from each of them, in the Quickenings."
"Ah, yes - about Quickenings - what do you make of that last insanity?" Methos studies his fingers as he speaks.
"Methos, something did happen. That never happened before - at least, not to me. You know it did. Something different."
"You think so?"
"Why, dont you?"
"MacLeod, Ive lived five thousand years, give or take. Nothing as awful as that moment - nothing as frightening or glorious - ever happened to me before. I felt your soul, and it confirmed me in my path." Methos gazes up at Duncan. "And you? Was it - dreadful - for you?"
"It was incredible, Methos, my friend - and you know it. Absolutely unbelievable. Im still in shock."
"Are you?" Nonchalantly, Methos asks, "Might I know why?"
Duncan turns away, stares out at the sea. Finally, he looks at the older Immortal. "Methos - youve got - I felt - it was - oh, all the memories, the ugliness, the deaths, the blood - that was all there. And your age, your pain, the losses. Such deep sadness. It felt like I was riding the current of a very deep river. But - there was something else, something Ill never forgive you for keeping from me, all this time."
"Ah - the unforgivable. Back to that, again. Im sorry, MacLeod - I didnt plan it that way. For us to - share - that way. Truly not."
"You dont understand, Methos. What you gave me, what I found - was innocence, your innocence! The soul of a child. Clean as snow. Fresh - like spring flowers. How could you hide that from me, from all of us, tell us all those lies?"
"That might have been Silas -"
"It wasnt Silas, Methos - it was you - you - as distinctive as a fingerprint."
"Youre right. Silas was slow-witted, not innocent. Youve found me out at last, MacLeod. Im really a ten year old with a high I.Q."
"Dont belittle yourself, Methos," Duncan says earnestly. "Its a remarkable achievement, to retain your innocence after what youve seen, what youve lived through -"
"What Ive been, what Ive done?" Methos mocks. "What you cant forgive?"
"Dont knock it - Richies not as clean inside as youve managed to keep yourself."
"Not keep, MacLeod - restore. Take back. Wash in the Blood of the Lamb. Redeem."
"Whatever, Methos, whatever you want to call it. Its worth saving, worth knowing, worth having. Youre worth saving."
"So, youve found me out at last. Not just a guy, much worse, a child - but I always said I had no words of wisdom for you."
"Innocence after fifty centuries! How much wiser do you want to be, Methos? In the end, there can be Only One -"
"In the end, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," Methos says, standing up, "there can be only love. Yes. My first insight, and the one I remember best, you see. It shouldnt surprise you. Its what I discovered in your heart, long ago."
"That man, that Rasmussen - he mustnt get your head, Methos. Ill die before I let that happen."
"My heads worth nothing, MacLeod - you are the One whos too important to lose!"
"I dont want to kill this man. I dont ever want to kill at all," MacLeod says, tears in his eyes. "Ever again."
"Not up to you. Up to him. Youll find, I think, good reason to kill Erasmus, once you get to know him."
"Joe says hes harmless. Quiet."
"Youre forgetting - thats what Joe said, before he met Rasmussen. Now, he dropped an uglier word. Vampire. Not exactly a term Id use, if I wanted to describe somebody harmless."
"There is that," MacLeod agrees.
"Come on, MacLeod. Lets get some sleep. Weve got a big night ahead. We cant go back to your place. Gotta keep Amanda and Joe out of this."
"Where, then?" Duncan asks wearily.
"Ive got a hidey hole down by the docks. Dont look so surprised - just because I say Ive no place to stay, thats no cause for you to believe it. My flats not elegant, but it is mine own."
Duncan gets up. "Why do I feel so horrible, Methos?"
"Like therere ghosts walking on your grave?"
"Yeah. No. Worse."
"Haresh Clay wants his fight, to the death. Its what he did. Hes there, in you, along with all the others. They take their toll, the Warriors, MacLeod, believe me."
"If they wont let me rest, what should I do?"
"Ah, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, what should you do? Drink in the heady brew of spring and innocence you say you got from me! Trust it! Itll put you out like a light, my friend!" Methos smiles, and wanders towards the car.
Duncan follows, answering with a laugh, "You trying to tell me your souls boring, Methos, that itll put me to sleep?"
"If the shoe fits -"
"Yeah, Im wearing it, been wearing it for months."
When they get to Methos loft, MacLeod marvels. Its huge, painted white, as his Paris apartment was. Hed set up only a small portion of it, with bookshelves, which caught ones eye first, and a kitchenette, a computer work station, and two Army cots, situated about ten feet from each other.
"That ones yours," Methos tells Duncan.
The sheets are silk, the quilts high-piled and soft. Several pillows are heaped atop the blankets. But the bed is an Army cot, however disguised.
"Im beat," Methos says. "Theres beer in the fridge, if you want it. Stronger drink in that cabinet there, over the sink. Im turning in - dont wake me before midday."
"Yes, sleep, friend."
But when Methos wakes at dawn, suddenly, shivering and frightened, from a nightmare, Duncan isnt sleeping. Hes sitting in lotus position on top of his cot, watching Methos. Immediately, he goes to Methos side, sits on his cot, grips his hand strongly with both his own. "Its all right now, its just a nightmare."
"Im freezing, MacLeod, Im freezing," Methos repeats again and again.
"Aye, I know." Duncan fetches another quilt from his cot, and wraps it around Methos. "Try to rest, Methos. Youll need your wits about you, tonight."
"Its the nightmare again," Methos replies through clenched teeth. "I see Silas face, Kronos - and Cassandra, as she was long ago."
"You did what you had to do, Methos. We both know that."
"You forgive me, then?"
"Theres nothing to forgive. I know that now."
Steam hisses gently from the radiators. The loft is warm and cozy. MacLeod takes off his jacket, then sits down again, at the foot of Methos cot.
"Dont leave me, MacLeod. Im so cold."
"I wont leave you. I promise. Rest now."
"Dont leave," Methos mutters, drifting back to sleep.
"I wont leave you. I wont leave you. Not in ten centuries. Not in a thousand. Were in this together now, my friend. Together."
Night falls. Methos and MacLeod return to the cemetery, St. Johns By-The-Sea. They stop and glance around, feeling for the source of the "buzz," ancient and ugly.
"Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. Edward Rasmussen at your service."
"We dont have to do this, Rasmussen. Theres no reason. Walk away."
"MacLeod, we must," Rasmussen replies simply. "This happened once before, to me, I had a friend. We shared a Quickening. Became like brothers. Hes dead now, but I still remember the feeling, the power, the glory of that Double Quickening, the knowing of my friends soul. Id risk anything, to savors such a moment once again."
"Youre not gonna savor anything, Rasmussen. Youre just gonna lose your head. Give it up. Walk away. I dont want to kill you."
"Methos," Rasmussen calls out.
Methos emerges from a darkness behind a tomb. "Greetings, old friend. You dont have to worry - I wont take your head while youre down. Ive developed a conscience in my old age."
"You mean, youve received one, from the Highlander."
"You said it." Methos smiles. "How about, we start with you and me, then. You trust MacLeod to do things right, dont you?"
"Ill start with him. Hes worth my while, alone. I dont need your old carcass, Methos. MacLeod, first."
"Come and get it, then," Duncan replies, walking rapidly off Holy Ground. The other two Immortals follow.
Turning and saluting each other, Rasmussen and MacLeod begin their fight. The swords clank loudly in the silent night, sending fiery charges flying across the sky. From a distance, Methos watches anxiously as the minutes pass, evidence that Rasmussen is stronger than he looks. Duncans hair escapes its clasp, his sweat is tangy in the wind. He charges, lunges, retreats, circles. Cannot seem to finish Rasmussen. The man is strong.
At last, Rasmussen trips, tumbles down a small hillock, is hidden behind a gravestone. Duncan cautiously approaches the spot where hes last seen the other Immortal. Steps round the area in ever decreasing circles, trying to sense Rasmussens "buzz."
Suddenly, the skys alight; explosion upon explosion burst in the night, filling the air with thunder, fireworks, enormous surges of power and light. Duncan and Methos both turn away from the Quickening - which someone else has taken.
At the same moment, Duncan and MacLeod say, "Amanda," as the sparks die out, and the night is quiet once more.
The two Immortals rush to the spot where Amanda kneels, exhausted. Slowly, Joe Dawson makes his way to join his friends.
"She told me shed make him pay. She stole his Quickening, MacLeod. He fell on a rock, was out like a light, for an instant. She seized the moment. I never would have believed it!"
"She was always a thief, Dawson," MacLeod replies. "Always. This isnt the first time shes stolen a Quickening."
"Wont be the last, either, I think," Methos adds.
Duncan looks down at Amanda, and lifts her into his arms. "You little thief, youve stolen what was mine, Amanda."
"Id do it again, MacLeod, if I got the chance. He was one powerful sonofabitch. Worth a little petty larceny. Worth your disapproval."
Joe says, "I dont know about you guys, but I need a drink. How about you follow me in your car, MacLeod, and Ill open the bar early."
"You go ahead, Dawson, weve got some cleaning up to do. Meet you later."
"You clean up, MacLeod," Methos puts in. "Ill take Amanda to the car, look after her."
"You said it!"
MacLeod stands alone on the hillside looking down at the dead body of Edward Rasmussen. "How long did you live, to come to this, in the end. For nothing. For no reason. How long? Why?" He hoists the body on his back, grabs up the head, and walks heavily down to the river. He wades out as far as he can go, until the water reaches nearly to his neck. Then he dumps the body into the river and turns back to shore.
When he stands at the shoreline he turns and stares back out at the sea. There are tears in his eyes. Finally, hes ready to leave, to join his friends. He whispers a few words before he walks back to his car. An epitaph for an old Immortal, no different than the words hes said for others. There arent any better ones, not that Duncan can think of. "Rest in peace, Erasmus Minor. Rest in peace."
- Methos/Adam Pierson,