Command Performance
by Taselby

 

This story contains very mild spoilers for "Intervention" by Merry and "Highlander Anonymous" by Merry, MacGeorge and Maygra de Rhema. Read at your own risk.

Rated PG-13 for implied m/m relationship and language.

Methos, Adam Pierson, Duncan, Joe's Bar and the concept of Immortality are all the property of someone else with more lawyers than me. I don't own anything, I'm not trying to horn in on anyone's space, and I'm for damn sure not making any money here, so even if they sue me, all they will get is my Visa bill and my piano.

The following story is based on actual made-up events. Any similarity to actual persons, living, dead, made-up, or on their way to Nevada to kill me are purely intentional. If you really stretch some innocent statements made to me, once, in passing, as a joke, you can assume that all of the actual people appearing here did in fact give their consent to be so represented. But you'd really have to stretch it. So before I name any names (you will know who you are) I would like to say that all of this is just for fun, and might be interpreted by generous readers as an expression of my affection for said unnamed real persons. I never parody my enemies. All of my skewers are reserved for friends alone!

Extra-special thanks to Juanita, my unwitting accomplice and Beloved Beta-reader, who had no idea what she was opening herself up for when she agreed to do this. She is innocent here.. All the blame is mine alone.

Send questions, comments, silly remarks and death threats to me, <taselby@tenebris.org>


"Well?" she asked expectantly. "Is it done yet?"

Taselby swallowed against the sudden dryness in her throat, hating to do this, but not seeing any alternative. Merry was usually such a sweet, understanding woman, but this... This promised to be ugly. "I'm sorry, Merry, I really tried..." she spoke very slowly, as though trying to soothe a small child.

Merry took a step back and looked at the other woman suspiciously. "What do you mean, tried?"

Taselby made a brief, frustrated gesture. "I mean just that. I tried. I really tried. He just wouldn't co-operate, kept babbling about circus acts and strawberries...." The words died as Taselby got a clear look at Merry's face. It was a terrible, frightening thing to watch the disappointment in those hazel eyes transform slowly into a steely, glinting rage. Merry spun on her heel and stomped toward the door.

"We'll just see about this."

Taselby called out after her as she left. "Merry... Merry, wait! Don't leave like this, it doesn't have to be this way... I'm sure we can work something out..." Taselby's voice rose in a note of panic. "Merry, please don't do this! Whatever you are thinking, it can't be worth it!"

But the other woman was gone.


It was a quiet evening at Joe's Bar. The eponymous owner himself was not in attendance, but that had not dissuaded Duncan MacLeod and Methos from stopping by for a beer on their way home. They sipped slowly, enjoying the comfortable warmth that good friends, good conversation, and a familiar place can evoke in people at the end of a long day.

MacLeod ordered a second round, and the two friends relaxed into a comfortable silence, savoring the gentle wash of blues guitar and the muted thrum of voices filling the smoky room.

When suddenly, without warning, the door burst open, banging against the wall with a noise akin to thunder, and every head in the room turned in unison to look at the glowering figure that stomped across the threshold. The woman's posture clearly advertised her anger. Her eyes were bright and fevered like a small forest mammal's as they scanned the room and found the target of her ire.

"YOU!! Pierson!" She pointed accusingly at the lanky, sweater-clad man at the bar. The mug of beer in his hand was suspended motionless, frozen halfway to his lips in surprise. He retreated slightly, leaning back against the relative sanctuary of the bar, and looked at her questioningly, his hazel eyes wide with shock at her explosive entrance.

The smooth baritone voice betraying none of his unease, he asked mildly, "Can I help you?"

"What's the meaning of this?" She said, her voice now low and threatening, as she stalked across the floor, brandishing a sheet of paper.

He glanced at the sheet, filled with fragments of words and scribble marks, and looked at the woman, recognition dawning. He relaxed a scarce millimeter, and tried a disarming smile, "Ah, nice to see you again, Merry." His eyes danced with a bit of amusement the charming smile couldn't quite mask completely. "I admit I didn't recognize you at first in your current... state." He said dryly, as his sweeping glance plainly appraised her disheveled appearance and brightly flushed face. The tops of her ears darkened to a deep red at the frank gaze, and the muscles of her jaw clenched in irritation. Methos wondered briefly if she might spontaneously combust.

"I assume you remember Mac," he continued amiably in a sunny tone, nodding toward his companion. MacLeod was watching the scene before him with morbid fascination, like a driver craning his neck to gape at a car accident.

Merry was not to be distracted by mundane pleasantries. Her eyes narrowed dangerously and she rattled the wrinkled paper like a saber, fairly growling. "That's not going to work, Methos. I want some answers, and I. Want. Them. Now." She bit the words off savagely, her teeth glinting coldly in the dim light. Methos swallowed thickly, momentarily unnerved by the impression that this small, irritated woman was going to lunge for his throat.

He cast aside that notion and gazed at her measuringly. He took a long drink of his beer before replying. "I've already had this discussion with Taselby, and explained my position to her." His voice darkened slightly as some of his own indignation at having to repeat himself crept in. "Now, I will tell you, too," he said slowly, effortlessly asserting command of this conversation in the space of a breath.

The ancient Immortal leaned forward into the words, drew himself up to his full height there on the barstool and overtopped the smaller woman without ever having to rise. "I am not some trained seal that will perform on command every time someone on that over-sexed, estrogen-glutted list has a birthday! There are over a hundred of you, for gods' sake."

"110," Merry corrected absently.

"Whatever," he snapped, irritated that he'd been interrupted. He took a deep breath, expelled it in a huff, then continued in a stern but quieter voice. "In any case, there are a fiendish lot of you, and some of you have fairly... ah, unusual ideas about what constitutes fun."

Merry's rage was beginning to subside in the face of his stern lecture. Control of this conversation had shifted, and she struggled to reassert herself as she felt her grasp of the situation slipping.

"You did it for Kimberly," she added desperately.

He was not moved by her reasoning. "Yes, I did. It was fun, it had been awhile since I got to do something like that, and I happen to like Kimberly. She's a lovely woman. In fact, I like all of you, but the answer is still no."

Duncan leaned in slightly, and laid a possessive hand on Methos' shoulder. "Besides, Merry, he is sort of spoken-for."

The icy rage descended once more as she fixed glittering eyes on the Scot. "Back off, kilt-boy," she threatened. The two men tensed as she reached into her jacket with ominous deliberation and pulled out a gleaming, silver...

Pen.

Duncan gasped, visibly paling. "You're that Merry?"

"Yesss..." she hissed, "so I'd advise you to put away the Alpha-male routine before you even get started. Finish your beer," she said with a dismissive flick of her fingers. "The Old Man and I have something to discuss." She turned the diamond point of her attention back to Methos and slapped the pen solidly into her palm.

But Methos was resolute. He set down his beer and folded his arms as though preparing for a siege, undaunted by the threat implicit in the baldly displayed ballpoint. "Read my lips... N. O."

Merry flashed a tight grin. "All right, have it your way," she said too cheerfully, in a tone that made Methos' hair stand up. "All I wanted was a little 'MarySue', a chance encounter, ships passing in the night. But we can do this the Other Way, if you make me." She stared at him flatly, the challenge plain. The ball was in his court.

He scoffed, and called her bluff. "Hurt/comfort? You wouldn't dare, you love me too much to ever really hurt me."

Her truculent stare became a diabolical smile. If not for the feral gleam in her shadowed eyes, she might have appeared almost beatific. "Oh, I wasn't talking about hurting you..." She trailed off and looked significantly at Duncan, who seemed to be paying close attention to his beer.

"Duncan? But..." Methos was less sure now. He chanced a quick glance at the Highlander, who gripped his mug with trembling hands. The dusky color of Mac's face seemed unusually pale under the neon beer lights.

Merry ruthlessly pressed her advantage. "I took him out once, and I can do it again. If I have to." The dreaded silver pen was leveled like a weapon.

Methos looked like a caged animal. He appealed to the only place left. "Taselby! You can't let her do this, we had an agreement!"

Taselby's voice filtered in softly, but compellingly from the ceiling. Merry, put that thing down before it goes off, and quit grandstanding. You said yourself you never had the knack for subtlety.

"No! I want my birthday story!" She looked as though she might stamp her foot in a fit of temper.

Methos looked around, searching for the source of the voice. "Where are you?"

The disembodied voice paused. I'm off-frame, it stated apologetically. Anyway... As I was going to tell you, Merry, before you ran off half-crazed like that...

"Half?" Duncan asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Stay out of this!!" Three voices snapped in unison.

"Okay, fine, forget I said anything... Geez, fic writers!" He grumbled into his beer.

AHEM! As I was saying.... Methos and I were working it out before you had to go charging off like the Green Berets.

Merry faltered, unsure. "Working it out? But he said no."

Methos gave her a pained look. "I said I wouldn't be trotted out like a party favor. That's what all those Bandwagon clones are for, to keep you degenerate fic writers from getting into any more mischief than you already do." He took a drink from his fresh beer. "I never said I wouldn't do any birthday appearances. I like all of you ladies (and gent, hi Kevin), but if you want birthday stories, a few things are going to have to be understood."

He took another drink and a deep breath before continuing. "I do not perform on command. If you want this, you are going to have to work at it. A little romance never hurt. And another thing. Don't go crazy with this! You can take care of birthdays as they come along without having to catch up on the previous year first. 109 women (and one gent, hi Kevin) is more than two a week. I am Immortal, but really!"

Methos got a sly look in his eyes, and spoke with careful nonchalance. "One last thing.. If you want the happy occasions to be, ah, memorable, you might want to slow down on those List Challenges. You are wearing me out."

No, sorry, but the Challenges stay. Taselby's voice was firm.

Merry grinned. "Yeah, too bad Methos, but the Challenges are too much fun to give up. They stay," she confirmed. "you just better get lots of sleep and take some multivitamins."

Methos couldn't fight the smile any longer. "Easy for you to say sleep after I had to get your Betas to badger you into letting me have just a few hours in 'Intervention.'" He gave a long-suffering sigh. "Well, all right. If you must have the Challenges.... I suppose it's the least we can do to co-operate. Eh, Mac?"

"Oh, excuse me. Am I part of this conversation again?"

"Not for long if you keep up that tone." Merry waved the pen threateningly.

"Taselby..." Methos pleaded tiredly.

Hey, I can't help what she does to him in her own stories. My influence ends at the bottom of the manuscript. He's on his own.

"I suppose you are right about that," he said reluctantly, "I just hope she doesn't get crazy and do him permanent harm. I am fond of him."

Merry interrupted again. "Hey, speaking of stories... I would have thought you'd be a little more... cooperative after all we meant to each other in 'Highlander Anonymous.'"

Methos' grin was pure mischief. "That's the beauty of it. Taselby hasn't finished reading it yet, so I don't get to remember it all." The hazel eyes narrowed a bit. "But speaking of that... I don't seem to remember that kiss scene quite the same way that you told it.."

"What do you mean 'not quite the same way'?" She squeaked, indignant.

"We'll discuss that one later," Methos said, draining his glass and setting it aside thoughtfully. He changed the subject. "I had an idea.." he began.

Yes, Methos?

"Way back when, villages celebrated everyone's birthday on the Summer Solstice. We could get the whole list together and.."

No, Methos.

Merry shook her head firmly. "No."

"No? But just think..."

"No, Methos." Duncan gave him a mock-serious scowl. "No."

"It was just a thought," he added as Merry turned to leave.

"Hey, um, Merry?" He smiled.

"What is it now, Methos?" she sighed wearily.

"When did you say your birthday was?"


Finis