Thoughts on Living by the Sword
by RuaMor


Maybe it comes with the territory - being an Immortal - but some seem to relish the danger more than others. And what could be more dangerous than a sword pressed snugly, ominously against your throat? What could give more of a threat to an Immortal than the touch of the blade poised to remove your head, ending your life once and for all? Yet, there's one who seems to find even more in the touch of cold steel against his vulnerable neck. One who sometimes seems to caress the contact with a lover's touch. One who seems to frequently find himself in this position. And that one is Methos.

Oh, granted he's also exhibited the expected fear when a sword has come too
close unchecked until the last moment or by someone out of control. For instance, when Duncan MacLeod had taken the dark Quickening and the wicked sword rested at the base of Methos' throat in "Deliverance", ready with a sharp flick to separate his head from his throat, there was genuine terror in spite of the alleged sanctity of the church. It seemed Methos truly questioned that the holy ground would sway the dark spirit in control of his friend and his pleas would not reach Mac in time. Thankfully, even evil Mac wouldn't risk the repercussions.

Again, in "Judgment Day," MacLeod's unexpected swing at his friend who barely identified himself before the katana came too close nearly frightened Methos out of his wits and left him clinging to himself in shock. If MacLeod didn't have such sharp reactions, the world might very well be looking at a different oldest Immortal instead of Methos. But the old guy had his sword out and didn't let MacLeod nearly as close at their next meeting as they both bounced out from behind trees outside the Watcher headquarters only to find a friend at the other end.

From "Revelation 6:8" came an encounter in a difficult and terrifying fight against Silas' ax that Methos instigated with an unwilling tap of his own sword against the ax haft. Methos gripped the hilt of his own weapon tightly, fighting not for Cassandra but for his friendship with MacLeod. Then later, Cassandra threatened Methos with the very same ax but the old Immortal only continued to sob, indifferent to the threat, so caught up in grief and emotion that he seemed unaware of her. Here, MacLeod stepped in to save Methos' head, a fortuitous event given the circumstances leading up to this point.

An attempt to repay that debt came in "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" as Methos met Keane in MacLeod's place. In spite of a slip that took him to the ground, Methos blocked the attack, almost relishing the moment with the sharp blade coming so near and using a concealed knife against Keane, killed him. But he was stopped from completing the job by Mac who only vowed retribution if Methos completed the task instead of saying "thanks for caring." Yet, this moment can be contrasted with a similar moment as Kalas had Methos bent backward over a bridge railing, his sword pressed hard
against Methos' own sword. That Methos was fighting for his life, intent on preserving his Quickening against the evil that was Kalas.

Then there was "Methuselah's Gift" where Methos almost lost his head to a mortal, the worst fate that could happen to an Immortal. His Quickening would have been lost, no one benefiting from his long years of life and the Watchers who took it totally unaware of what they would have done. Securing his hands so he would offer no danger and forcing him to kneel as for an execution, the Watchers were poised to take his head. Defiance would gain nothing--another bullet would allow them adequate time to do the deed and he would rather go out aware. Even as the sword hung over his neck, ready to end his life, he was accepting --knowing this was the way his life would end, at the sword. His only sorrows then were that his Quickening would be lost and that he would not be with Alexa at her passing. And, of course, the hope that the cut would be clean so it would be a quick death. Mortals were not as skilled in this area as his own kind.

Even the reprise when the Watchers determined they could trade him for the Methuselah stone didn't take him out of danger. On the bridge, he once again found a sword at this throat. With his hands tied behind his back, he had little chance to do anything about this except rely on MacLeod and Amanda to have a plan to extricate him from this situation. And if that wasn't bad enough, the sword was replaced with a gun aimed at his neck which might have accomplished the beheading as well as a sword.

And again in "Forgive Us Our Trespasses," Methos met Keane at Mac's barge, secure enough in his own judgment of the man that he didn't even try to defend himself against the already drawn sword. A few moments of fear, perhaps, when Keane's blade was pressed against his throat and, in spite of Methos having fought unfairly against him - at least, from Keane's viewpoint, Keane didn't press the attack. Again, relief with the removal of the sharp edged weapon, yet almost a sense of pleasure afterwards. Was this a reaction to the blade or just that his own judgment was sound?

Amusement with the sword sometimes takes an unexpected turn as well and even Methos showed a healthy respect for a woman with a sword who arrives as an avenger in "Till Death" as Gina De Valicort catches him unarmed. Oh, he knew he shouldn't get involved in Mac's silly scheme to reunite the quarreling lovers and he actually seemed to relish the staged battle with Robert, getting carried away a little at the climax and stabbing deeper than necessary. But there wasn't a threat until Gina came looking for him and only his quick reflexes saved him that time.

Other moments with swords have revealed a different nature in Methos. Beginning with the episode bearing his name when Methos first brought MacLeod's sword to his throat, it was as if there was a moment of desire, a need for the touch of the sword. It was heart-stopping moment when he bared his throat, his soul, to MacLeod and offered all that he was for the taking. Was he really willing to give up his head or just testing the waters with MacLeod, confident in his own judgment that Mac wouldn't take it? After all, he later told Richie that the false Methos may have offered his head knowing he wouldn't take it. And knowing that the offer was enough to gain trust.

Yet, when Methos came to MacLeod in "Chivalry" he had a different viewpoint in mind and took Mac's own katana for an object lesson. Losing the spar, he ended with Mac's sword at his throat, a moment of shock, then lifting his throat trustingly to his friend. And next the first caress into the steel that suggested a need for the feeling this gave him, the sudden burst of adrenaline firing more in his spirit-- perhaps rekindling flames that had been cooling for centuries. And after, the light brush of his hand against his throat where the blade had teased him, as if a moment of passion had touched him yet left him desiring more.

A sublime sword caress came in "Comes A Horseman" when Kronos held his sword against the oldest Immortal's neck at the docks of Seacouver. Instead of withdrawing, Methos leaned into the caress, almost rubbing his neck against the blade as if it offered a lover's touch. The long slim neck arced, nudging itself against the steel, fearless in his knowledge of his destiny for that moment, yet savoring the touch. He looked almost bereft when the blade was pulled away, a wistful look filling his eyes.

Perhaps these sword caresses tell us more about Methos than appears on the surface. Is Methos an adrenaline-junkie, taking a certain pleasure in the sensations, the heart-pounding minutes when life is delicately balanced on the edge at his throat, the race of his blood in the moments of fear, and the cool touch of the steel against his vulnerable flesh, that these close-encounters evoke? From an observer's stand point, it seems that the old Immortal's neck is on the line more often than any other Immortal's. A gentle nature, for the most part, seems to be his salvation. Truly, if his identity were known to all, he would have more than enough steel seeking him to end this flirtation and force him to fight in earnest. In the meantime, we can watch with amusement and fascination as Methos continues this unusual love-fear relationship with the weapon that rules his life.