Timing: Just before Forgive Us Our Trespasses
Methos, Adam Pierson, Duncan MacLeod, Amanda, and the concept of Immortality are all the property of someone else with more lawyers than me. So, to cover my butt, I claim no ownership, declare that I am making no money here, and swear that this is all for fun. Ok? "Sorrow" is copyright 1987 by Pink Floyd and appears on the album "A Momentary Lapse of Reason," from that same year. It is used without permission. The whole album is definitely worth a listen, especially to those angst-junkies among us.
Special thanks to my Beloved Betas(tm): Juanita, Maygra, Methosgrrl, Sandi, and Beth (ekanavy, not ehatcher), who have risen to the call of accuracy and speedy turn-over yet again. (My goodness, how on earth did I wind up with so many Betas for such a little story...? But I love 'em all!) Any correct spelling, punctuation (especially punctuation), or continuity you find here is entirely their doing. Any mistakes are, of course, my own. Mea culpa.
Let me be clear: this is not really a story (you know, with a real plot and all the frills), it is a vignette, a brief interlude just before "Forgive Us Our Trespasses." This got started as a moment of madness between myself and JiM. The Pink Floyd was playing, the challenges were flying, and the tiny breath of sanity I can normally lay claim to was apparently on vacation. So thanks also to her, for the idea. You have already seen her half of this endeavor.
There was no movement to betray him. No quickening of breath, no increase of tension in the long limbs splayed easily across the mattress. Neither was there any slow transition to wakefulness. He shed the soft embrace of sleep between one heartbeat and the next, his senses straining for some clue as to what had awakened him.
Only when the silence sang in his ears with a bell-like intensity and his pounding heart had slowed to a more reasonable pace did Methos open his eyes, satisfied that there was no immediate threat from a mundane intruder or another Immortal. There was no motion in the quiet room. The darkness was absolute and impenetrable, without even the dim glow of a clock-face to ease the blackness.
The power must have gone out. Just as he made a habit of never sleeping in the nude, Methos likewise didn't rest easily in a completely dark room. Night-lights were, in his opinion, one of the greatest inventions of this century. He sighed, only slightly irritated at his hypersensitive nerves which reacted to any change in the environment. They had, after all, saved his neck more than once. And truthfully, he couldn't blame all of his sleeplessness on disreputable power companies and tightly wound nerves. He had found himself pacing the early-morning darkness on more than one occasion lately. The reasons behind that uncharacteristic restlessness were numerous, and this night, at least, he wasn't inclined to examine them too closely.
Methos glanced around the room, noting with mild irritation the lack of any light coming from the windows. The whole neighborhood must be out. He flipped back the blankets with a grunt, feeling his skin creep at the sudden, unwelcome caress of cold air. There was no real reason to get up, but neither was there any reason to lie awake in bed. Self-deception was pointless; there would be no more sleep tonight.
His jeans were lying faithfully at the foot of the bed where he had left them, but the discarded shirt didn't come easily to hand, and he didn't bother fumbling in the dark for it. Three careful steps to the right was his old-style wrought iron book stand, complete with candles. A little more groping and he even found the matches.
He only burned his fingers once trying to reach the half-buried wicks. Placing the abused fingertip in his mouth, he fished the wristwatch from the pocket of his pants. 4:30 a.m.
Somewhere across town, below the moonlit spires of Notre Dame, Duncan MacLeod was sleeping. Then again, with Amanda in town... maybe not.
That didn't bear thinking about.
Oh, Mac... If, like he had told MacLeod, Methos had a thousand regrets, then the shattered trust between MacLeod and himself was surely the thousand-and-first. Even now, if he closed his eyes and concentrated, Methos could almost feel the shared Quickening thrumming between them. Tonight it ached like a sore tooth he was reluctant to pull. The pain itself had become a strange kind of comfort, a twisted reminder of what had been. He smiled bitterly. Souvenirs from his own private Hell.
It was only wishful thinking that Duncan might feel the same way; that Mac might miss him the way he missed Mac. Certainly Duncan wasn't yearning for his company tonight, not with Amanda to warm his bed. That wasn't fair, Methos had never (really) begrudged Amanda her place in Duncan's heart, mostly because his own place in Mac's life was secure. But now she was there, and Methos was not. And gods help him, for all that he had never shared MacLeod's bed, he felt like a jilted lover. Methos felt displaced, and it hurt.
He didn't need MacLeod in his life. Methos had done quite well for himself for 5000 years without the Highlander's moralistic denouncements and absurdly high-profile activities. Methos was better off alone. Friends were only a liability, and love was a weakness he couldn't afford. Just look at the times his neck had already been on the line because of his association with MacLeod. He could count them, if he had to.
Methos breathed deeply, and forced himself to stop pacing. The candlelight was really very beautiful, soft and golden, throwing restless shadows over the walls and ceiling. He hated this apartment. For all that he moved easily in its spaces, sat comfortably on the furniture, and slept soundly in the bed, he hated it. It was a shell, an outward, daily reminder of how much he had lost over the millennia. He likewise despised and resented the chain of events that had brought him here, compelling him to play roles and assume identities, to wear false skins like an ill-fitting suit. This apartment kept the rain off his head and the wind off his back; it was shelter, but not sanctuary.
He wasn't sure if it was an improvement over his last Paris flat or not. It was less Adam Pierson, but it was no more Methos. At least Adam had been a definite identity, with established tastes. With him removed from the mix, the apartment was empty, soulless. There was nothing of him here, of Methos, of who he was beneath the layers of deception and defenses he shrouded himself in.
How could he really blame Mac for being angry, for being hurt? Mac had been good friends with Adam Pierson, had trusted, and yes, loved him. Only to discover later that Adam hadn't really existed, that he had been a figment of Methos' imagination, a dream of sweeter times that might have been.
A more innocent man, perhaps, than Methos had ever been.
The sun would be up soon. Methos opened a window and stood shivering, shirtless in the cold, pre-dawn wind. Paris smelled wet, moldy like old stone. It was a sweet smell, dank and corrupt like a rotting corpse. The night decayed around him like a rotten dream, falling away into the fathomless past.
It was easy in theory. The distance was not so great. Just across the city was the Seine, stinking of dead fish and drowned lovers, and there on the water, in the shadow of the Cathedral, would be the barge. All Methos had to do was walk up the gang plank and knock on the door, or even just go inside and help himself to a beer. He could smile irritatingly and ask Mac how it was going, and pretend that Bordeaux had never happened.
Or he could even just apologize.
No. He folded his arms around himself, chafing his shoulders against the chill. He would not apologize for things that had happened over 2000 years ago, not even to mouth the words in the name of peace. Mac deserved better than that. He deserved better.
Duncan wasn't a stupid man, not in any sense of the word, but he was young, and stubborn. Doubly so when he felt betrayed. Mac had no real understanding of the time, the weight of all the centuries that Methos could feel pulling on him, the choices and changes that those same centuries had put Methos through. Or the changes that Methos had forced himself to undergo. And there was no way that understanding could be given. The insight had to come on its own, and Mac was so rigidly bound to his own viewpoint that Methos despaired of that understanding ever dawning.
The dark Quickening should have done it. It had shown Duncan his own black shadow, the taint of evil in his own soul. Methos had accepted that other MacLeod like he accepted everything else, without unnecessary analysis or introspection. Accept, forgive, change if you must, and move on. There was nothing Mac could show him that he hadn't already seen, nothing Mac could do to him, short of taking his head, that had not been done before. And been done more severely, with more brutality, than even Duncan's shadow-self had been capable of.
But when the tables were turned, and Methos needed understanding, acceptance, trust... well, that was just a little too much to ask.
The sky was silvery in the early dawn, the streets and buildings no more than pale shadows emerging from the dusk. Methos closed his eyes, imagining that somewhere over the sweet scent of beeswax candles he could smell smoke, and the taint of decaying fish.
And that somewhere in the Paris dawn he could feel MacLeod stirring.
The sweet smell of a great sorrow lies over the land,
He's haunted by the memory of a lost paradise,
His blood has frozen & curdled with fright,
One world, one soul,
And he talks to the river of lost love and dedication
There's an unceasing wind that blows through this night,