Kindred Spirits: Three
by Lillian Wolfe


continued from part two...

He was standing in the roadway, if you could call the pathetic path scattered with uneven stones, creeping weeds and a bared line where footsteps had worn down the slim vegetation a road. He was happy, content with his life and he hefted a heavy club over his shoulder as he started out down the path. A zephyr brought in a hint of salt sea air that refreshed him on this warm day. His step lightened even more. It was a fine day...

...he was running, fleeing down the bumpy path over the hill toward the sea. Behind him, a small band of cutthroats pursued him, catching up with him as he lumbered to get away. Furiously, he sought an escape, somewhere to hide, some way to evade the hunters. His heart pounded, thumping wildly with the unaccustomed exertion. He felt heavy, so heavy.

...thud...Thud...THUD!! Noises of feet hitting the ground grew louder, closer. They were gaining on him, almost on top of him now. Arm aching with the weight of carrying the club for so far, he brought it over his head in a furious wave, then whirled around to face his pursuers.

"Arrragh!" he bellowed, a sound of pure fury and fear. The hunters slowed, spread out to surround him. There were five of them, none too small but none as big as he was. He was a giant amongst these miserable men.

They moved in warily, brandishing spears and clubs. The animal skins slid down the lead man's arm revealing a red, uneven scar across his breast. The man grinned darkly at him, believing he had the upper hand. He would kill this one first.

With a roar, he attacked, the club swinging in wide arcs back and forth, forcing them to keep a distance from him, then he was the hound, moving in to harry them. He took one bold man out with a swing to the head, but the lead man danced back, agilely hopping away from the overhead blow that threatened to bash his head. pain in his side. A spear... wet as blood trickled down his side. The fight continued, more hits, more punctures. He was bleeding like a stuck boar, these miserable creatures fighting him as if he were a wild animal. He raged, the club making contact with another and knocking him senseless.

A flash of an object coming toward his face, then impact. His knees gave out... he crumpled...

Methos groaned, rolled and grabbed the extra pillow on his bed, yanked it to him, fist pounding into it as if he could murder it. A moment later, his mind registered the softness, the yield of the feathers then his eyes popped open. His breath came quickly, harshly and his heart pounded wildly at the intensity of the illusion.

//A dream,// Methos realized, unclenching his fist and slowly relaxing. The sheets over his bed were tangled around his legs, had slid up over his neck, and caught on the arm that had slammed the pillows. The dream had been vivid with the colorful depth of a remembered event. Only it wasn't his memory, he realized with a shudder. He took deep, slow breaths and began unwinding the sheets, concentrating only on getting his body calmed.

Death dreams had a tendency to increase the adrenaline, raise your heart rate and generally frighten you. He recalled that medical experts claimed that a death in a dream couldn't actually kill you. But it could sure as hell give you a heart attack and that could do the job. Even if that hadn't been his own recall, he felt as if he had been the one being pursued and killed.

By the time he'd gotten free of the sheets, his heart had slowed to a more or less normal rate and his breathing was under control. Still feeling a little unsteady, he headed for the bathroom and bathed his face in cool water before he even allowed himself to contemplate that dream.

He poured a short glass of Irish whiskey, swallowed half in one gulp, then placed both hands against the counter to brace himself and closed his eyes. He pushed as hard as he could, flexing his muscles, then relaxing them until the last of the tension had gone out of them. Refilling the glass, he returned to his bed where he sat, crossed his legs and tried to clear his mind to let the dream play itself through again.

The setting, the clothing and the whole feel were old -- ancient. They weren't the memories of anyone who'd recently gained Immortality. It was early Bronze Age, or maybe even before that. Animal skin tunics, sleeveless. -- they were a hunter tribe, maybe nomads.

He'd felt large, much bigger than he actually was. That "bear of a man" he'd joked about in the Methos chronicles, he thought wryly. Judging from the effort he'd experienced in running, he was massive, far broader of shoulder and chest, probably overweight and not used to having to run from anyone. The swing of the club had felt easy and comfortable, strong muscles in the arms, most likely. The heft of it wasn't far removed from an ax.

Silas? He'd never talked with the giant man to learn how his first death had occurred. None of the Horsemen ever talked about inconsequential matters like that, not when there was a raid to think about or wealth to be gained or games to play.

So, if the memory was from Silas, then his former friend's Quickening was asserting itself a bit here. That made Methos decidedly uncomfortable. It wasn't that he hadn't had a dream or two of someone else's life, but it was usually just after he'd taken the head and it wasn't like it was his memory. There were always flashes of the person during the Quickening, like running their lives past at very high speed. Most of it was incoherent with only a few brief flashes of clarity in which events made sense. He shuddered and rubbed his arms against the sudden chill that sent little bumps crawling all over him. Reliving Silas' memories was not a pleasant prospect. He sincerely hoped it was a one-time shot.

Uncurling, he crawled under the covers and tried to settle down again. Sleep was evasive and his mind too alert to actually let go. So he turned his thoughts to the other problem -- the one of who might want him dead enough to hire someone else to do the dirty work.

He'd crossed Ceirdwyn off his list almost as soon as he'd written her name down. Yes, she had a grudge against him. He'd run into her shortly after she'd become Immortal and he'd rejoined the Roman legions stationed in England. She saw him as one of the enemy-- one of the Romans who was responsible for the mayhem that had befallen Cymru. Of course, he hadn't helped the perception any, behaving for the most part, like the monster she perceived him to be. More water under the bridge. But he hadn't run into the Celtic warrior since those days when the Romans were sacking Wales and he'd had his own problems to worry about. Besides, she wanted to remove his head personally and if she still held a grudge, she wasn't likely to let anyone else have that pleasure now.

On the other hand, Rafaella would gladly hire someone else to do her dirty work... always had. That was, in fact, how they'd met. She'd needed someone more experienced than she was with a sword to take care of an annoying problem. He was willing to take a few mercenary jobs to pay the bills while he waited out the winter in sunny Italy before heading north. That plan had backfired a bit and she never forgave him for the consequences. Yes, she definitely had cause to hate him.

That was the problem, every lady on the list he'd given Joe had cause to hate him, possibly to want him dead. And there were probably others to a lesser degree who might like to see him lose his head. Maybe even a couple of others like Niam , the pre-Immortal girl he'd had to leave behind in Wales, who harbored hate for him that he didn't even suspect. //All right, I haven't been the nicest guy to know,// he admitted grudgingly. So much had happened in five millennia of living, so many changes, so many lives he'd encountered... so many mistakes. But he'd changed so much in just the last thousand years.

Maybe it had nothing to do with a grudge at all. Maybe some deranged woman just wanted him out of the way permanently. He frowned. Not likely. If anyone wanted him because he was Methos, they would want the Quickening that went with it. That wouldn't be forfeit to a bounty hunter. It didn't make sense. Sighing, he gave up. He was worrying himself over this prematurely. First find out who was in town, then worry about why.

Duncan MacLeod tapped his fingers in a syncopated rhythm against the counter and glanced at the clock for the fifth time in the last thirty minutes -- nearly one and still waiting for Methos. Mac's eyes tracked across the counter to the bowl of tossed salad, noting the lettuce leaves were starting to droop. Most likely the ham strata was drying out in the oven where it was still keeping warm.

Had Methos forgotten again? The older man was rarely late to an invitation, especially one that included a meal. Mac had prepared a special luncheon, even choosing a splendid Pouilly Fuisse to accompany it. Admittedly, he was still trying to make up for whatever had upset the old Immortal a few days earlier. For some reason, he wasn't communicating with Methos lately. Words meant to mend fences seemed to be hitting like stones against them, tearing them apart instead of making them whole. Their friendship had been nearly shattered and Mac had abruptly realized how very little he knew about the man that he called friend. He thought they'd moved past it a few months earlier when he had confirmed that Kronos had tortured Methos, had forced him into the Horsemen.

Then that vision had come when he'd had the opportunity to see what Methos could have been like -- would have been like if the Horsemen had been truly reunited and he hadn't been there to intervene. Was that a true glimpse of what might have been or simply his own fears of what would have happened? MacLeod wasn't sure, but it had felt so tangible... Fitzcairn had been there as real as he ever was, showing him an alternate world. Of all he'd experienced in that reality, his vision of Methos killing Richie haunted him more than any other thing. Even seeing Amanda as a murderess hadn't bothered him as much as seeing that almost gleeful look in the five-thousand-year-old man's eyes as he took the head of a man Mac had loved and nurtured. He'd wanted nothing more than to kill Methos then, to kill that Methos. The anger he'd felt had stayed with him even when Methos had awakened him on that train engine.

Anger, yes. But there was his friend once again saving his life. Once again throwing his own self-preservation rule out the window and coming to his aid even when he'd told him not to do it. He wouldn't be alive now if Methos hadn't taken that risk. How many times did it make that Methos had made that choice to stand by him when he was in trouble? Three? Four? And in spite of that, he now found himself questioning Methos' motives, uncertain why he would take risks for him. That was something Mac had never done before Bordeaux.

With a deep sigh, Mac picked up the wine bottle that had been "breathing" for the past forty minutes and poured a glass. Idly, he picked a leaf from the salad and nibbled at it, barely even noticing the raspberry vinegar dressing he'd taken such pride in preparing earlier that morning. Methos had accepted this invitation. At least the previous day he'd still had Amanda to keep him company when Methos failed to show for dinner and that hadn't been a firm acceptance anyway. But today, Amanda had her own business to attend and he was looking forward to spending a couple of hours with Methos.

He wasn't irritated with his friend; mostly he was concerned. Too much had been wrong between them for too long. He missed their friendship, the security he'd felt in the ease of their relationship. He knew it was his own misgivings that drove the insecurities, that Methos had not changed. He had. His perception of who Methos was had been shattered with the dark image of the man. He'd glimpsed someone he didn't know at all, someone who could manipulate people, including him, to his own design, someone who made him question everything he thought he knew about him. He realized he'd seriously underrated the oldest Immortal and even that glimpse of who Methos had been had shaken him badly.

It had taken a long time for Mac to delve into the past any more than that brief conversation he'd had with the former Horseman in the churchyard in Bordeaux. Even then, he hadn't gone too deeply into history, hadn't asked Methos to tell him the whole story. Perhaps he was afraid it would shatter even more of that fragile image he now held and he didn't know if he could handle it. Even learning about Methos' past with Byron had been another crack in the surface, something else he hadn't expected from him. Damn, he was even hesitant to ask what Methos had done or where he had gone while he, himself, had been regaining his focus in Malaysia.

But through it all, Methos hadn't really changed. //He still was my friend,// Mac admitted. //He still put his life on the line for me. He tried to protect me... always.// It was as if it really dawned on him for the first time that even while Methos was manipulating him, he was trying to give him the advantage. So why, in his vision of the realm without him, had Methos returned so easily to life with Kronos? Why had he become the cold-hearted bastard once again? Could bitterness and anger turn him that easily?

Frowning at the clock, which had advanced another twenty minutes, MacLeod refilled the wineglass, then reached to pull the strata out of the oven. No point in letting it go any longer. Methos wasn't coming and he was hungry. As he cut a slice of the thick, pudding-like cheese dish, he felt the tingling in his mind, the touch that indicated another Immortal was near. //Methos... late, but here.// Relieved, he glanced toward the door expectantly.

Then the tingle vanished, sliding away without full realization. Mac's eyes reflected alarm. //Another Immortal? And no Methos?// Now he was worried. He set the plate down and started toward the barge's door, not certain what he could find out, but ready to go looking for his friend. As he almost reached the door, he sensed the presence again, strong and growing. Without another thought, he swiveled and grabbed his sword, readying it as he positioned himself by the door.

A sharp rap, then the familiar voice, as the door pushed open. "Mac?"

Methos pulled up short at the sword that was just now being lowered. "I know I'm a little late, but isn't that a bit drastic? Or did I cause you to burn the soufflé?" The words were light, but his countenance failed to match the tone.

MacLeod relaxed, gave him a sheepish smile. "Sorry. I thought it might be someone else."

"You expecting someone?"

"Only you. But I thought -- Never mind. I'd almost given up on you."

Methos nodded. "I know. I was checking on something and lost track of time. I'm sorry."

Mac forced a smile. "Just don't blame me if the main course is a bit dry." He set the sword aside, made a swift path to the wine and refreshed his own glass while he poured one for Methos. He watched as Methos removed his coat and settled into the recently acquired futon couch. He sat a little straighter than usual, but still managed to slump into it some. A small smile tugged at Mac's lips as he recalled the ease with which the older man appeared to be totally relaxed. Like a cat, stretched into laziness but with a subtle tension running through him that could respond in an instant.

As Mac handed him the wine, he noted the little details he hadn't seen earlier. Methos looked tired, his lower eyelids slightly puffy, his smile of thanks seeming a bit forced and there was a general weariness to him. Something was definitely wrong. He resisted the urge to ask him about it, opting instead to get lunch on the table and see if Methos would get around to it on his own.

"So, Joe told me he had a really hot band in last night. Did you like them?" Mac started, trying to keep the conversation casual.

"Yeah. They were pretty good." Methos picked at the salad, retrieved an artichoke heart and popped it in his mouth, chewing thoughtfully. "The singer was really good... uh... Marx, I think her name was. June? Jane? Something like that."

Mac nodded as he dished out the main course, added a couple of slices of cantaloupe to the plate and refilled the wineglasses. //Don't make a big deal out of this,// he cautioned himself, but he was struggling to keep from cutting to the problem.

"I only caught one set. The place was pretty packed. Too bad you missed them. You would have enjoyed them." He took a bite of the strata and nodded appreciatively. "Delicious, Mac. I approve of the beer in it."

"I thought you might notice," Mac acknowledged with a laugh. Then the conversation died significantly as they both turned their attention to eating. Where usually a story or two might accompany the meal, both men were unusually silent. The Highlander was reluctant to bring up what was troubling him and Methos seemed to drift in his own thoughts.

As Mac removed the dishes and Methos settled back into the couch again, his eyebrows raised in question and he asked, "So what is it that you're not saying, Mac?"

Not really surprised by the query, the younger man turned to him and studied his face a moment. "I think that should be my question. What's going on with you?"

"Nothing much, really," Methos replied easily, evasively.

"What was that fight about the other day?" Mac tried to make the question casual.

"I told you. It was a challenge. I won."

Mac sighed. "Methos, there was a time when you could tell me more than that. How did you know that guy?"

"You're not listening to me, Mac. He was a total stranger. Never saw him before. It was a rough Quickening. It happens." Methos kept his eyes on his wineglass. His tone was flat, final. It clearly said, //I don't want to discuss this.// Very carefully, he twisted the glass stem in his fingers. "Besides, you already know the details. Your Watcher filled you in."

"Joe was concerned," Mac interrupted defensively. "We all were."

The slim fingers tightened on the stem. His rich voice was low, yet showed exasperation. "When exactly did my life -- my battles -- become such an interest to everyone? Do I grill you on who you fight? Do I drop in and say, 'Hey, MacLeod, who'd you decapitate today?" His eyes came up then, fire blazing in them.

"No, you don't. But you have interfered with my fights -- "

"Only when I was trying to save your life. When you go all noble and try to throw it away, someone has to interfere!"

Hackles rising, Mac started to answer, then abruptly bit off his response. This was what Methos wanted... misdirection. Take the conversation away from him. Well, it wasn't going to work, not this time. He took a deep breath and waited for a few heartbeats as he framed his next comments. "Methos... it's not your fight we're worried about. It's you. Fine, so an Immortal decides he's going to take your head. It happens. I've had a couple come after me just because I'm Duncan MacLeod. Tell me, was this one looking for Methos or 'Adam Pierson?'"

Methos looked slightly startled by the question, almost as if he didn't understand it. "What? I really don't know, Mac." His face reflected his uncertainty.

"You don't know?" Mac's voice carried the disbelief. Was this another evasion? "Methos, is it so difficult to tell me anything?"

He shook his head, a touch of uncertainty in his face. "No, Mac. It's not that. I honestly don't know who he thought he was challenging. I guess it's possible Adam Pierson's name might be on the Immortal roll call. But he never addressed me by my name and I didn't tell him. He could have been looking for any one of several identities."

Mac nodded. "Oh, that's right. You have enemies under many different names."

"At least I change my identity now and then rather than making it easy for people to find me by keeping the same name. How many generations of Duncan MacLeod has the world seen so far? You must be at least Duncan MacLeod the eighth or ninth. Tell me, how many people have seen you die in battle and then you just change cities and go on being yourself? Most of us use a different identity unless we want to advertise our Immortality. I mean, you might as well hang a shingle on the barge declaring -- Duncan MacLeod, Immortal. Just invite--"

"That's enough, Methos," the subject of the unexpected tirade interrupted sharply. "How I handle my identity and my life is none of your business."

Methos took a deep breath, nodded his head in agreement. "And mine is none of yours. It's my life, MacLeod, and I've got a lot of experience at handling it." With that, he shoved to his feet and grabbed his coat. "I think I'd better go. Thanks for lunch. "

Mac glowered at him, angry with himself for letting Methos tag him. Damn, the old man could turn the tables on you quickly. But his concern was real and he managed a strangled-sounding, "Methos--?"

He paused on the top step, turned to meet Mac's gaze. Annoyance still blazed in the hazel eyes as he barked, "What--?"

"Be careful. I don't want to lose you."

His face softened. "Always, MacLeod. I'm not suicidal." With that he was out the door.

Methos wasn't really angry as he left the barge; he was more disappointed. He'd hoped for a pleasant lunch with Mac, not one that ended up in an argument or accusations. Dammit! The Highlander was always ready to believe the worst of him, ready to condemn him for a few mistakes in his past like he was the only one who made any. Not true, he corrected with honesty. Mac acknowledged he, himself, had made mistakes, erred in judgement, but his failures were immature poor decisions whereas he saw Methos as a monster and every mistake he ever made as a calculated plan.

Okay, so he encouraged that concept frequently with the way he manipulated situations. It had saved his life more than a few times and it kept his enemies as well as his friends off balance. It was also an effective way to get a point across to young firebrands like Duncan MacLeod. Forced them to think, to reach conclusions they would never have come to on their own. Byron had been a lot like that also, although at least more honest about his feelings than that stubborn, eagle scout who couldn't come to terms with their friendship.

It didn't help that he'd spent -- no, wasted two hours of the morning at the police station reporting his stolen wallet, an ordeal no victim should have to endure. Then he'd spent another hour getting a new driver's license, proving he was who he said he was -- thank the gods he hadn't carried his passport with him -- and generally feeling like he was the criminal rather than the injured party. With almost the same attitude from MacLeod, it was no wonder he was in a bad mood.

Enough of that, he decided as he pulled the Range Rover into a parking lot near the Louvre, locked it and set out at a fast pace toward the museum. With a respectable, but comparatively small antiquities section, the Egyptian exhibit here wasn't as good as the British museum, but it had the advantage of being in town. Not that he needed much to remind him of Egypt, but he was hoping some of the artifacts might jar his memory and provide some miraculous insight. He almost laughed at the thought, then nearly froze where he was.

A sudden feeling, that familiar sense again. Another Immortal. Not showing alarm, he checked out his surroundings, listing the details in a quick mental catalog for reference if needed. His sharp eyes noted the different people in the area while his brain analyzed them quickly as possibles or an immediate dismissal. An old couple on the corner, barely able to hobble along. Dismiss. The perky, petite young woman who was crossing the road to meet another girl. Dismiss both. The tall, lanky man in the cashmere coat standing next to a bus stop, casually reading a newspaper. Possible.

In less than a minute, Methos had a good idea of who was or was not likely to be an Immortal and what kind of retreat he might have in the vicinity. With the same determined pace, he crossed the road and made his way to the entrance of the Louvre just beyond Wu's stylized pyramid. This was an open square, bustling with people, but the alerting tingle stayed with him as he made his way to the entry kiosk. He glanced behind. Two possibilities there, but neither one had been in the parking lot. His skin crawled with anxiety, then, just as suddenly, the sensation vanished. Damn! He hated this. This was the third time today. The first as he was getting a coffee that morning, then again just before he'd gotten to the barge and now, here at the museum.

Even though he was reasonably certain that nothing would happen in a crowd of people, he still didn't like that he was being followed, that someone was getting near enough to be detected yet lingering out of sight or notice. He hurried into the museum and joined a small group of people heading toward the Egyptian exhibit.

Perhaps a dozen people made their way from exhibit to exhibit, pausing now and then to gaze at an artifact and ponder its use in the ancient world or marvel at the similarity to a modern day equivalent. "Look, Mommy, a safety pin," an astute child pointed out as she recognized the item that looked nearly identical to its present-century counterpart, unless you counted the plastic-covered ones with pink elephants on them.

Under other circumstances, Methos might have found this more amusing. He took his time, studying the display of artifacts with more than a casual interest. He knew what these items were, could describe exactly how they were used, yet his memory was curiously bereft of any specific moments associated with them. Even the safety pin didn't call forth any distinct memory, only the knowledge that he'd used-- and misplaced-- them. The hieroglyphics still were familiar enough that with a little work, he could recall what they represented and could translate them. Not that they were particularly interesting, being mostly household accounts and inventories.

Nearly two hours later, he sipped coffee at a small table in the café within the Louvre and considered the startling lack of recall of any concrete incidents in his past. This situation was a rare occurrence when usually his memory was easily triggered by familiar objects. Like Rome and Greece, Methos had often been in Egypt and circumstances had varied from visit to visit.

Neti had come to mind when he was looking for possible enemies because she was one of the few women he'd known who irrationally hated him, but would also resort to hiring someone else to do the job. Neti-- small, dark and emotionally unstable -- not a good trait for an Immortal. Of course, she hadn't always been unstable.

He'd first met Neti when she was pre-Immortal, an employee of a wealthy Egyptian woman in -- what was it? 83 BC? -- when he'd taken a job as an accountant in the woman's household. That had been Anateli and she had been an extraordinary woman. She'd married once, an older man who'd died and left her his trading business. She'd taken Neti as a servant and her lover, an arrangement that had gone along smoothly until the day Methos walked through the door. Anateli had eventually taken him to her bed, which had not pleased Neti, but with a little work, they'd come to an understanding.

Until the day that Anateli had died while he was on a business trip to Phonecia and Neti had become her tomb-companion. She'd become Immortal in the burial chamber and had lost her sanity. By the time he'd returned to Egypt and arranged to get her free, she was beyond reason and he'd left her on her own to find out what she was or be killed. Maybe not a nice thing to do, but he wasn't in a position to help her.

Although he hadn't seen Neti since that last day in Akhenaten, he knew she'd eventually regained her sanity. She'd found a niche in society, established a pattern of marrying, then terminating, her mates. The Watcher Chronicles read like a bad romance novel when it came to the Egyptian woman. She might be dead by now, but the last time he'd checked, she'd been alive. And killing was her specialty, both vocation and avocation. She had been a paid assassin for several centuries now, her skills centering around exotic poisons and undetectable methods of delivery.

Even if records didn't show that she used her techniques on Immortals, it wouldn't be impossible to assassinate one. She didn't have to get close enough to be detected to use any number of weapons from a crossbow to a gun, then just waltz in and chop off the head while her victim was still helpless. Would she stalk him, make him nervous? He honestly didn't know. At one point, she wouldn't have bothered with subtlety but now he wasn't so sure. Would she use someone like Belvedere to kill him? Maybe. Or maybe she just hired the hitman to locate him, knowing the man quite probably wouldn't win in a fight against him, but she would have the opportunity to finish the job. It wasn't a comforting thought and his skin crawled just thinking about it.

As he left the museum, Methos found he was studying the background more, looking for hidden people or places where someone might observe him from a distance. In a city like Paris, his stalker could be anywhere. He had an undeniable urge to put a wall to his back and make his way to the car in a less direct route, but he forced himself to keep a straight, albeit cautious, path back to the parking lot.

Duncan MacLeod fumed for a full fifteen minutes after the oldest of their kind had left the barge. When he finally calmed enough to think about it, he marveled at how easily Methos had controlled the situation... how he'd avoided talking about himself or his problems, yet again, and had turned the issues on the Highlander. It seemed that no matter what he said, he always gave Methos the opening to jump in and turn the table, alter the focus of the issue. And he didn't really know a single thing more than he knew when the old man had arrived.

As he thought about it, he realized that Methos was always pretty self-contained, always keeping his life private, not sharing much detail with anyone. It was this very trait that had made it so easy for him to believe the worst about his friend when Cassandra had shown up. Even then, Methos wasn't willing to include Mac in the details of his plan, preferring instead to lead him along like a horse to water. And he was gullible enough to drink. Afterwards, they'd talked in the cemetery, on holy ground, as if the old man had felt he needed it. But he still hadn't told Mac much about Kronos and him, just a short explanation of what had happened when he'd left the Horsemen and why Kronos had come for him. But to give him credit, Methos had also made no excuses for what he had been.

But now-- Now he seemed to be even tighter about information. He was constantly on the defensive, masking any real feelings or needs with sharp remarks and annoyance. Where he used to find amusement in Mac's shortcomings, he now found fault.

There was a certain sense of irony that this new defensiveness and isolation had come at a time when Mac finally felt he was ready to learn more about Methos, wanted to hear more about the oldest Immortal's life and rebuild the bridges that had been almost destroyed. And, like Joe, he had a gut feeling that something was seriously wrong.

MacLeod gave an exasperated sigh as he cleaned up the dishes from lunch. He'd said it to Amanda and it was no less true now. They couldn't help Methos if he didn't want help. If he does need it, he'll let them know in his own way. He wiped off the last glass, then reached for the phone and dialed. A warm smile spread across at his face as he spoke. "Amanda, hi. I'm just confirming dinner tonight..."


continued in part four...