|Days of Beer and Dandelions
by Rachael Sabotini
CYA: All standard disclaimers apply, whatever they might be. I don't own these guys -- we just fool around every so often. I make no money off this; I mean no harm.
The two men slumped on the couch, staring at the flickering light of the television screen, the room transforming itself from light to dark as the lights on the screen changed. The faint sound of rain pelting against the window glass was only vaguely discernible behind the garbled noise of the program.
Methos took a swig of beer and flipped the channel.
Mac picked up the remote once Methos set it down and changed the channel back. The original program returned, and Duncan set the remote down on the couch between them. He growled when Methos' hand edged toward the device. "Don't."
Methos quickly pulled his hand away. "Touchy tonight, aren't we?"
"I want to watch one program for longer than five minutes, that's all. That's not too much to ask, now, is it?"
They sat in silence, their attention back on the screen, the rain counterpointing the flickering light for another few minutes.
"They've got the history all wrong, you know." Methos pointed at the screen with his beer. "Rome was never like that. There was a lot more dust everywhere, for one thing, and Caesar was certainly taller than that actor is." He paused to take a drink form his beer. "Plus Caesar looked nothing at all like Cupid."
Duncan sighed a long-suffering sigh of deep exasperation, the kind only a studied brooder could perform. "Shut up, Methos."
Methos sat up and turned on the couch, facing Duncan. "I knew Caesar, MacLeod, and I lived through the time this," he gestured at the screen, nearly slashing beer on the screen in the process, "program" -- he made the word a curse --"was supposedly set. And it was nothing like that."
Mac pointedly ignored him, his eyes fixed on the television screen. "It's a fantasy, Methos. It's not supposed to be real. I suppose you'll be telling me how Xena and Gabrielle weren't like that as well."
Methos shook his head and held up a hand. "No, I won't. They were just like that, actually." He paused mid-rant. "Really amazing casting when you think about it. Only Xena was an even bigger pain-in -the-ass than you are."
Duncan finally turned away from the screen and stared at him. "And Gabrielle?"
"The woman could out-perky Kathy Lee Gifford." Methos thumped the seat cushion, sending a little cloud of fabric dust into the air. "I never could get that woman to shut up."
"Come on, Methos. Xena's not real. That would be like saying that Hercules was real."
"Don't get me started about Hercules. The man was thick as a brick. He was lucky Iolaus kept track of his ass for him, or the nincompoop would have been walking all the time."
"Huh?" Duncan looked confused, and Methos sighed.
"It was a joke. You know, donkey...ass..." He slumped down into the couch and closed his eyes. "Oh, nevermind. Just watch your program."
Mac cleared his throat, catching Methos attention. "Okay, so you knew Hercules, and thought he was an idiot. But you liked...Iolaus...right?"
Methos shrugged. "Oh, he was all right, I suppose. Though he did have this thing for women's clothes. Used to dress up as his own aunt. And Herc was so thick he never caught on, just kept wondering where 'Iolaus' Aunt' kept disappearing to..."
Mac just stared. At least his mouth wasn't open this time.
"You don't get it, do you?" Methos sat up, his arm over the back of the couch, his body turned toward MacLeod. "Times were different then. I was different then. The whole bloody world was different. Gods walked the earth, MacLeod. They interfered in the lives of men."
Duncan finally found his voice, even though there seemed to be a definite squeak of astonishment in it. "You knew gods?"
Methos nodded. "Of course I knew gods. Who didn't back then? You had to pray to twelve different ones just to get the crops to grow properly. And they were always getting pissed off..." He hitched himself closer to Mac, his voice dropping to conspiratorial levels, ignoring the way Mac's eyes were starting to glaze over. "I remember this one time when Aphrodite and I got into it about Cupid's idiot son--"
"Blah, blah, blah." Duncan interrupted. He shook his head as if to clear it, and intelligence returned to his eyes. "Has there ever been anyone of any historical import that you actually liked?"
A Mona-lisa smile arched across Methos' lips as Duncan took a swig of his own beer. And right before Mac swallowed, Methos responded. "Well, I liked Joxer."
Mac spewed his beer all over the hideous puce-green afghan Anne had knitted as a "thank you" gift before the baby was born. Methos always suspected that her pregnancy had made her color-blind, but it was nothing he could prove. Maybe he could bribe the dry cleaner to lose it this time...
The coughing fit subsided and Duncan gestured at the TV. "Joxer? You liked Joxer?"
Methos sat up, a little affronted at Mac's attitude. "Yes, I liked Joxer." He nodded to emphasize his point. "I'll tell you. MacLeod, I knew Joxer. Joxer was a friend of mine." He stabbed a finger toward the TV. "And frankly, that actor is no Joxer." He sank back against the back of the couch. "Joxer was clean. He was tidy. He was...Joxer the mighty..."
Hooves thudded against sand, their dull echo the only sound in the still desert night. Methos sat, his arms wrapped around his knees, patiently waiting for his lover to arrive. Six months they'd been apart; six months that Methos had spent in libraries around the world, in different civilizations and tribes, learning everything he could about the weakness of city defenses, and the wonders of warm, communal baths.
Joxer was going to love baths. He was a very tidy person.
The hooves slowed and stopped, and there was the sound of a body hitting the earth. Methos stood in the moonlight, waiting for his lover to arrive. He smiled joyfully as he caught sight of Joxer leading his prized white horse around the dune, but the smile faltered and failed when there was no answering response.
The wind whispered among the dunes, the only noise as the two men studied one another, noting the changes that time had wrought. Joxer was still lean and compact, but more muscle seemed to peek out from behind the intentionally ill-fitting armor than Methos remembered. His face was tan, making his delicate bone structure stick out, and his eyes clear and honest.
No one else in the world looked as gullible as Joxer; it was one of his more endearing qualities. "You look well," Methos said finally.
"As do you." More silence, and then, with a sigh, Joxer turned away. "It's no good, Methos. I should never have come. I'm in love with some one else."
Anger and jealousy clawed at Methos heart. Trying to keep himself calm, he ground out a response. "Who?"
Joxer responded with guileless ease. "Ares."
"The god of war?" Methos spat. "The one who creaks around in black leather, trying to look macho all the time?"
Joxer smiled, and his voice filled with pride. "None other."
Methos couldn't believe the change that had come over his normally compassionate friend. He spoke slowly, as if to a child, trying to drive home his point. "But, Joxer, Ares kills people. That's what he does -- he's the god of war. And it isn't just one person he's killed, either. He's slain hundreds...thousands...maybe tens of thousands in his time. He's destroyed whole villages and laughed at the devastation. He enjoys killing. He's good at it."
Joxer glanced away to look at his feet, then looked back up at Methos out of the corner of his eyes. His voice was soft when he spoke. "I know." He said, and swallowed. "I...I like it."
Stunned, Methos grabbed Joxer's upper arms and shook him, unwilling to believe what he had just heard. "You're saying death excites you?"
Joxer nodded, refusing to look at Methos' eyes.
Methos dropped his hands in disgust. "You want me to go around slaughtering people, is that it? So you can get your jollies?" He stormed to the edge of the dune and whirled back around to face Joxer. "You want me to be a god, is that is? Would you come back to me if I were Death?"
Joxer shrugged, his voice placating. "Methos --"
Methos held up his hand to stop the apology before it could start. "Enough." Cold rage filled him, overflowing the empty spaces that had once held warmth. "Give me your horse. If I can't be your lover, at least I will take that."
Joxer petted the horse's nose once, then nodded. "A great warrior has no need for horses." He handed the reins to Methos. "Besides, if I need one I can always borrow Argo." A thought seemed to strike him. "Hey! I could ask Ares to give me one. He has a lot of horses, all of them battle trained." He paused, considering, then looked at Methos. "Do you think I would look better on a brown horse, or a black?"
Methos pointedly ignored the babble, quickly swung up onto the horse's back, and immediately urged it into a gallop. He rode hard and fast, running as far away from Joxer and his dreams as he could, ignoring the steady fall of tears that coursed their way down his wind-reddened cheeks.
He would find some way to make the world pay for his broken heart.
"So, after he ditched me, I found Kronos and we started the Horsemen. By the time we were through, Ares and all his kin had been forgotten. It only seemed fair..."
Mac was staring at him. "You started the Horsemen, not Kronos?"
Methos nodded and finished off his beer.
"And you did it because Joxer ditched you?"
Methos nodded again and sat the empty bottle on the tabletop.
"For the god of war?"
Duncan seemed to be having a difficult time with the concept, and Methos' exasperation finally broke free. "That pretty well sums it up, yes. I started the Horsemen because of a lovers' quarrel. Are you satisfied?"
Duncan collapsed against the sofa. "I don't believe it."
"Believe it or not, MacLeod, that's what happened."
Mac held up his hands in defeat, a small smile on his face. "All right, Methos. If you say so. " He stood and stretched, his shirt riding up to expose his tight stomach muscles. "I'm for bed, I think."
"Sounds good to me." Methos uncurled from the couch and gathered up the remains of dinner from in front of the TV. He balanced the plates in his hands and gestured at the kitchen with an elbow. "I'll just rinse these first."
"All right." Mac pulled off his shirt and tossed it toward the hamper. "Don't be long."
Methos trundled to the kitchen, and turned on the water. He glanced up for a moment and shook his head; there would be a lot of cleaning up to do in the morning. On a tidiness scale, Joxer certainly had MacLeod beat. A place for everything and everything in its place had almost been Joxer's personal creed.
He turned to face Mac. Across the room, light form the streetlamps illuminated golden skin, highlighting taut muscles and now-naked thighs. He could vaguely make out Mac's partly-erect cock, nestled in the dark hair between his thighs.
"Don't be too long," Duncan growled suggestively. "I don't want to wait."
Methos turned off the water in an instant, and threw the dish towel onto the counter top. Who really cared about neatness? He tore off his sweater as he crossed the room, and tossed it next to Duncan's shirt. Tidiness wasn't everything, after all. And besides...
He pulled off his jeans and left them in a heap next to the bed, then crawled predatorily over the comforter. He loomed over Mac's naked form, pressing their lengths together, and kissed his lover savagely.
In many ways, Joxer was no Duncan MacLeod.