|Kindred Spirits: Six
by Lillian Wolfe
MacLeod was only a few blocks away when the first glow of the Quickening started. It looked like a sudden electric storm, blue-white streaks of lightning filling the sky, then the eerie glow rose like a tremendous fog above the area. Little glowing sprites of red-gold and green danced through the haze like rampant elements unleashed.
His stomach did a flip-flop. No matter how you interpreted it, this wasn't good. He'd never seen a Quickening that looked like this and the implication frightened him. "Methos," he breathed in what was as much a prayer as anything else he might say. The single word was drowned out by a loud crash as if something had exploded or lightning had struck the ground.
By the time he found a nearby place to park his truck and had run the two blocks to the center of the storm, it was pouring rain and the forces of the Quickening were dissipating, leaving nothing more than an ordinary storm in its wake. Then Mac rounded the corner and slowed to a near stop, his limbs suddenly feeling like lead weights. The area resembled a war zone, pits of smoking asphalt in the street and the old small church looking as if a bomb had dropped on it.
With legs that felt like wooden logs, stiff and immobile, Mac made his way slowly to the entrance to the church. His gaze quickly focused on the twisted, melted lump of bronze and steel that had once been a sword. //Methos' sword,// he realized numbly as he recognized a piece of the ornate pommel that had somehow survived. He lifted the still heavy oblong mass, wondering at the intense heat that it would take to reduce the metals to this. He turned slowly as his dark, worried eyes searched the area for any sign of either the victor or the loser. //Did a fight on holy ground totally destroy both combatants?// he wondered with a sinking feeling. //What on earth was Methos doing? Had he totally lost his mind?//
As Mac rotated back toward the wall that faced the church, a sheet of lightning turned the darkness to light for a moment. Long enough for him to glimpse the huddled figure that blended into the deeper shadows. A feeling of dark foreboding accompanied the Highlander as he crossed the road, a feeling that quickly mutated to relief when he realized Methos was moving. That, too, shifted swiftly when it registered that the battered man was still flailing his arms over his head trying to cover it... to protect it... unaware that the maelstrom had ceased.
"Methos!" Mac cried hoarsely, kneeling by the trembling man. He was bleeding from several deep cuts where glass shards were still embedded in his arms, his side and his legs. Gently, Mac caught his arms, lowered them from his head. Pale pink fluid dripped from his ear, making a trail down his throat and a rivulet of blood ran from his nose over his mouth and chin. Even in the darkness, his face was visibly ashen, strained looking and he appeared to be dazed. With great care, Mac turned Methos' face toward him, keenly aware of the sharp pain the movement caused in his friend as Methos whimpered slightly and winced.
"Methos, it's Mac," he said softly, gazing into the unblinking hazel eyes that stared sightlessly ahead as if they looked upon another realm. He seemed completely unaware of anything that was happening around him. Mac's stomach flip-flopped as he acknowledged the significance of the injuries. Usually, healing occurred during a Quickening, a side effect of the energy, unless it was like the one Methos had experienced earlier where he was still skewered by Belvedere's sword when it commenced. But this was totally different, no healing and it seemed to cause even more damage.
//Concussion,// Mac diagnosed quickly. //A bad one, at that.// His fingers probed gently at the back of the injured man's neck, noted the swollen lump and spongy feel even as Methos drew another ragged, pained breath. //Probably a skull fracture... that pink fluid suggests that. Possibly a wrenched neck or even a damaged vertebrae.// Mac didn't think his neck was broken. But Methos was alive and that alone was a comfort. The injuries would heal. Mac had been terrified he'd lost his friend.
In the distance, a klaxon sounded, drawing gradually nearer. Emergency vehicles, Mac acknowledged, and glanced over his shoulder again at the destruction behind him. The church was nearly completely destroyed and a stream of black smoke rose from the middle, looking as if it had blown up in an explosion. //Well, it did,// Mac thought grimly, but not one that anyone would understand. //A Quickening on holy ground...the stories are true.// In another flash of lightning, he spotted the gleam off another lump of metal lying in the grass across the road. No doubt the other sword in this drama, he surmised.
Turning back to Methos, he reached to pull him to his feet. He slid an arm across his back and under his arm and started to lift. "Come on, Methos. We need to get out of here."
The expected effort on the old man's part didn't materialize. Methos didn't move, didn't respond in any way.
"Methos?" Mac repeated, trying to get a response. Nothing. He lifted again, straining to pull him to his feet. He was dead weight, his body not helping. Mac changed tactics and, with a grunt, shifted Methos over his left shoulder in a fireman's carry and grabbed the remains of the sword in his other hand. Staggering under the weight of a six foot Immortal who was built surprisingly solid, he hurried as fast as he could toward his car.
He'd barely cleared the corner and turned when the sound of the emergency vehicles seemed to be on top of him. With a determined effort, he kept the pace to the car, opened the door and deposited Methos on the front seat, positioning the long limbs inside the cab and carefully easing his head against the headrest. A sharp, pained hiss escaped from the tight lips, but no other sound.
By the time they got to the barge, Methos had recovered some. Blood no longer dripped from his nose and ear, his head seemed steadier on his neck and many of the wounds on his arms and legs had healed. But he still stared blankly ahead and he had said nothing. The only sounds coming from him were little whimpers or hisses of pain when something jarred him.
"Come on, Methos. It's only a short way to the barge," MacLeod encouraged him gently, guiding him out of the car and hoping he wouldn't have to carry him again. While he did move with Mac's urging, he didn't exactly respond to what he was saying. //At least he's moving on his own power, // Mac thought gratefully. Concussions were bad, more difficult to recover from than other injuries, especially when coupled with a neck injury. And he had no idea what additional effects there were from the holy ground aspect although he was beginning to fear that the lack of verbal response and dazed look might not be from the physical impact.
Mac guided Methos directly to the shower, braced him against the wall and turned on the water. Quickly stripping to his shorts, he stepped in as well, then began removing the unresponsive man's clothing. He took a washcloth to the bloodied face, gently wiping the streaks of red away. Mac shivered with the unwelcome chill that shot through him as he gazed into the unresponsive eyes. They were dull, not flashing with the fire that usually burned in them, and the pupils were dilated as if he still stared into darkness.
He turned Methos and carefully washed his head and neck, his fingers probing lightly at the still-tender spots on his scalp, the swollen lump at the base of his skull and the barely fading bruises all down the back of his neck and across his back, mentally cataloging the injuries as he went. Carefully, Mac worked his way over the body, removing an occasional shard of glass, some that cut to the bone, as he wiped him clean. Methos said nothing, did nothing - not even a gasp or a whimper in response to the pain some of his ministration must have caused.
Treating him like a small child, Mac guided him back out of the shower then reached for a towel to dry the old man off. He took care, especially with his head, pulling Methos close to him, and patting the towel against his hair and neck. Wrapping the towel around him, he walked him into the main cabin and put him into his bed, pulling the covers up over the now trembling body. Worried, he perched on the side of the mattress, combing his fingers through the damp, almost black hair, waiting for the tremors to stop.
//Where is he?// Mac wondered, spreading another blanket over Methos. //He's definitely not here... not with me.// Gently, he laid his hand over the unfocused eyes and pushed the lids closed. The shivers were nearly gone as his body warmed again, although his face and forehead felt very warm as Mac touched him. //A fever, most likely from the injuries and the shock, but it should go away soon. At least, he appears more relaxed with his eyes shut//.
"Try to sleep, Methos. You're safe now," he murmured, more for himself than for the indifferent body on the bed. No matter what he said to convince himself of that statement, MacLeod wasn't sure if Methos was safe or if he would recover and that frightened him more than he would ever admit to anyone.
Holy ground was an unknown quantity for Immortals. The stories were scarce, a whisper of the disasters that had occurred when a fight occurred in a sacred place... shattered swords, fires, storms, insanity. Most of what anyone knew came from tales told from one Immortal to another. Tales as steeped in myth as Methos himself was. Until five years ago, he'd thought Methos was nothing more than a tall tale, only a wishful thought that there should be a surviving Immortal from the distant past. All the rest were gone, or so they thought. Hell, how old had the rest of the Horsemen been? That was probably three other ancient Immortals right there. Were there others out there as old as the man who had become his friend?
Fighting on Holy ground was a taboo, they all agreed to that doctrine. Even Methos, who probably knew more about it than anyone. And if he believed it to be a sanctuary that could not be violated, then his opponent obviously had not agreed or he wouldn't have been taking that risk.
MacLeod started as the phone rang and jumped to grab it before it rang a second time.
"It's about time you're there! What happened?" In spite of the gruff tone, Joe's voice was filled with concern. "How's Methos?"
Only now did Mac notice the three blinking lights on his answering machine. "He's here. Sleeping... I think."
"Yeah. Joe, I don't know if he was on holy ground or just near it when he took her head, but he's not exactly back to normal. In fact, he hasn't said or done anything since I brought him back here. But he's alive." He was reluctant to tell Joe how bad it really was.
'Jesus! He fought on holy ground! What the hell happened?" Joe was clearly shocked.
Mac gazed at the man in his bed, thinking...hoping... that he looked more relaxed. "I'll tell you tomorrow. What time is Montgomery getting in?"
"One-thirty-five. Keep an eye on him. I'll stop by in the morning." Joe broke the connection, leaving Mac to wonder about his excess concern for Methos. Reasonably, they should be accepting that if Methos had his head, he'd be fine...eventually. Only he didn't seem fine to Mac and that had apparently come across in the conversation.
Turning off the lights except one, he settled down on the futon couch, pulling a blanket up and closing his eyes. Niggling at the back of his mind was the slight insecurity of having a man who was clearly not behaving normally in his house. On a conscious level, he trusted Methos not to harm him, but he couldn't totally ignore that subconscious warning. Something was very wrong with his friend. He drifted off into a light sleep, his mind alert for any movement or sound.
Soft-voiced mutterings woke Mac from his restless slumber. Getting up, he followed the sounds to the bed where Methos was mumbling in his sleep. Most of what he was saying was incoherent, muttered in an archaic language or just jumbled. The dark-haired head rolled on the pillow and he groaned with the movement. Mac sat by him, laid a gentling hand on his shoulder. "Methos? It's all right."
"Destruction... total destruction," he murmured. "God... not holy ground. Please, Agnetha..." Then he lapsed into a language Mac couldn't follow, possibly Old Norse or something even older. As gradually as the muttering had started, it ceased about ten minutes after Mac sat by him. Although he stayed by Methos another half hour, the older man seemed to have quieted down, rolling onto his side and tucking into a comfortable curve. Taking this for a positive sign, Mac returned to his own nest on the couch and pulled the blanket up, trying to regain sleep. But his mind was troubled with the implications of those few words. //Not on holy ground...//
True to his word, Joe came by a little before ten the next morning, knocking sharply on the barge door and waking Mac from his much-needed sleep. Dragging to his feet and tugging at his wrinkled shirt, he spared a quick glance at the bed and noted that Methos was sprawled out across it now and undisturbed by the knocking. A second rap at the door encouraged him to move quicker before the knocking did awaken his guest.
"He's still asleep," he informed Joe as soon as he saw who it was. His voice was low, clearly indicating he didn't want to disturb Methos.
Joe nodded, spoke quietly. "How's he doing? Does he seem normal?"
MacLeod appeared puzzled by the question. "Normal? He hasn't seemed normal for the past few days and I can't say he does now. But he certainly seems better than when I first brought him home last night. At least he seems to be sleeping normally instead of being in a trance."
It was Joe's turn to produce a questioning frown. "Trance?" He stepped into the room, his eyes going to the bed, then his face seemed to reflect relief at seeing Methos.
Mac headed for the kitchenette and the coffeepot. He waited until Joe caught up before he spoke. "Yeah. He was pretty dazed last night. I...uh... I was kind of worried, Joe. He wasn't really responding to anything when I first found him. He was badly hurt and the church was a mess."
Joe nodded. "You haven't heard the news reports then?"
Mac shook his head, dark eyes asking for more information.
Joe sat on a barstool. "The weather bureau reported a freak storm last night, about eleven o'clock. They thought it was some kind of electrical storm that somehow focused over this one section of Paris and struck a church, destroying it. They've been coming up with all kinds of explanations for it and there are a dozen reports of seeing strange lights in the sky." He paused for a moment and chuckled. "A few people are claiming they saw a UFO in the middle of it. But the official word is a 'focused electrical storm with severe lighting strikes' that dissipated into a normal rain storm."
"Sounds like a reasonable assumption," the Scot commented. "Thank goodness for a scientific explanation, huh?"
"They showed pictures of the church, Mac. It looked like it had been bombed. The roof had exploded out, glass everywhere. What'd it do to him?"
Too easily the image of Methos huddled against the wall with his bleeding arms over his head came to mind. He tried to shake it off. "It pretty much had the opposite effect of a normal Quickening. No healing at all. It took him a while to heal. And he had a concussion, a bad one."
"He hasn't been awake this morning?"
"No. Not since I got him into bed last night. What is it, Joe?"
He shrugged, face non-committal. "Just concerned, that's all. You know, you get so used to instant, or at least very quick, healing with you guys that it's kind of worrying when it takes time. I mean, you're looking at what? Nine hours or so here? It's kinda worrying."
Mac handed him a cup of coffee. "Well, he's essentially healed. The physical injuries anyway. That only took a couple of hours. If there are other effects, we'll just have to wait and see. What do we really know about this kind of situation?"
"True." Joe slid off the barstool, picked up the coffee and repositioned himself on a chair near the bed.
//What the hell?// Mac thought with surprise as he watched Joe settle in. //He's going to sit by the bed waiting for him to wake up?// Okay, he acknowledged that Joe and Methos were friends and he understood, but this almost fatherly tendency seemed a bit strange, even for Joe. Shaking his head, Mac retreated to the bathroom.
"How are you feeling?" Joe's voice was asking as, showered and dressed, Mac emerged to find Methos sitting up slowly, frowning as he did so.
The elder Immortal looked a bit confused as he braced himself up and leaned back against the wall. "Sore, stiff. I have a headache. What happened?"
"What do you remember?" Mac asked as he came closer.
The frown made furrows in his forehead as Methos searched his memory. He shook his head slightly. "Not much. A fight? I was hurt... I shouldn't have been, should I?"
"No. Want some coffee?"
"Coffee?" He squinted his eyes as if he wasn't placing the word. Mac felt decidedly uneasy. Methos wasn't exactly responding well here.
"Coffee," Joe repeated holding out his own cup for inspection.
Methos gazed curiously at it, then sniffed the dark liquid, eyes widening slightly at the scent. He nodded. "Yes. I'll try it."
Exchanging a concerned glance with Joe, Mac moved into the kitchen to fix it. His gaze shifted back to the bed where his guest was scrutinizing the barge, his attention moving from one object to another in a thorough inspection. He lingered for a few beats on the portholes, then shifted to Mac as he returned with the mug and handed it to him.
After he took a tentative sip, followed by a more enthusiastic swallow, Methos looked down at his naked chest, lifted the covers slightly with his free hand for a moment, then he looked first at Joe, then Mac. "Where are my clothes?"
"I'm afraid they didn't make it," Mac replied with a bit of a smile. "I'll loan you a sweater and jeans. They'll be a bit large, but it's not the first time, right?"
"Excuse me?" Methos gave him a look that clearly said he didn't know what Mac was talking about.
//There was a bad head injury,// Mac reminded himself. //It's probably going to take a little longer before he remembers everything.// He headed for the dresser and pulled out the needed items, along with a robe, then set them on the bed. He pointed across the barge. "Bathroom's in there."
Methos followed the gesture, then oblivious to both Mac and Joe, slipped out of bed, wrapped the robe around him and went to the indicated room. He paused at the door, looked back at them. "This isn't my place, is it? I'd like to go to my home. Will you take me there?"
"Are you sure you don't want to stay here?" Mac answered quickly, a touch of anxiety in his voice.
"No, I insist on going home. If you can't take me, then perhaps you'll be good enough to call a cab?" His voice was firm, expecting compliance.
"It's okay. I'll do it."
Methos acknowledged with another nod, then stepped inside.
As soon as the door closed, Joe face screwed into a look of disbelief and repeated sarcastically, "'...good enough to call a cab?' I don't like this. He's acting really weird."
"Yeah. Let's hope Montgomery can do something. He doesn't seem to remember things like coffee! Did you notice he was looking at the barge like he'd never been here before? And his speech pattern is so... so... formal."
Joe nodded thoughtfully. "I'm not sure he knows who we are. I got a bad feeling here. He's awfully confused, Mac. I better get going. You get him home and I'll bring Montgomery to his flat. Call me if anything changes. And you be careful. "
Methos said very little on the way to his flat. Mostly, he stared out the window as if he were a tourist in Paris. He seemed disinclined to have any conversation; all Mac's comments were answered with as few words as possible. Physically, he seemed fine, no indication of the severe injuries of the previous night.
Eventually, Methos spared him a glance and asked, "Is it really necessary to continue asking these inane questions? Is a running babble of conversation vital at the moment?"
"Fine," Mac replied a little too sharply. Something blazed for a moment in the eyes that met his, then Methos tilted his head up and turned his attention back to the passing scenery.
When he stopped the car outside the renovated but unremarkable building that housed the small flat, Methos stared at it a few heartbeats, then, uncertainty in his face, asked, "Is this it?"
"Don't you know?"
He hesitated. "I don't-- That is, I seem to not recall this too clearly."
Mac was already opening the door. "Come on. I'll escort you up." //Not recall too clearly?// Mac thought with a snort. //Hell, he's looking at the place as if he's never seen it before.//
"That's not necessary. I can certainly find my own place." His voice had that commanding tone again, as if he was talking to servant, not a friend.
"Humour me," Mac muttered as he opened the door to the building. Once inside, Methos hesitated, looking at the row of mailboxes, mostly unmarked. Mac passed him, started up the steps, only pausing a second to see if Methos was following him.
On the third floor, he opened the fire doors and led him to the door marked 3B. He handed the key he'd retrieved from Methos' clothes to him. "Your key, sir."
Methos took the key uneasily and stared at the door. "You're sure about this?"
As he opened the door and stepped in, his expression shifted from surprise to shock. "Is this a joke? This isn't my place. This can't be my place."
"No, it's your flat all right."
He ran a hand across a stack of books on an end table, frowned at the sparse décor and utilitarian kitchen. Swiftly, he crossed to the closet, opening it and frantically sliding clothes along the rod, then kicking a box aside. "This isn't right... This isn't ... right. This... isn't... RIGHT!!" He whirled around, charged out of the closet and began opening drawers and spilling them onto the floor. He picked up a letter, frowned at the address. "Adam Pierson? Who the hell is Adam Pierson?!!"
Nervously, Mac licked a lip and stepped back toward the door, giving the now angry man a little more space. "Do you know who you are?"
Methos stopped mid-rummage in the desk and glared at him, then he snapped, "Of course, I do, you imbecile. I'm Duke Ambrose of Mowbray."
A great whirling boulder hurled across the room and struck MacLeod squarely in the stomach... or at least that's how it felt at that moment. Who the hell was Duke Ambrose of Mowbray? Was this a hallucination, a past identity or someone Methos had known? Whatever it was, it wasn't good.
Shocked, Mac could only stand by and watch Methos go through the flat like a tornado, yanking out drawers, throwing papers, pens, even kitchen utensils, all over the floor. He was ranting, muttering about the situation when he suddenly turned to MacLeod, his forehead wrinkling in a dark frown. "These are not my apartments! Do you want to explain what the hell is going on here? Who are you anyway?"
Thinking quickly, Mac improvised, "I'm MacLeod, your guard, my lord. After last night's attack, I was assigned to assist you. Perhaps you don't recall the conspiracy that forced you to take refuge in this inferior residence."
The Highlander was not reassured by the haughty look as the "Duke" absorbed this. "This is really disgusting," the familiar voice sneered, looking at the very utilitarian flat as if was little more than a cell. "Very well, MacLeod. How long am I expected to stay in this hovel?"
"That's difficult to say. I am waiting for word to arrive shortly." Silently, Mac prayed for Joe to return soon with the psychologist. He needed all the help he could get. He was way beyond being out of his experience now. From thinking Methos was suffering from traumatic amnesia to facing him exhibiting an alternate personality was nothing he had ever encountered, not like this. But the older man seemed to accept his explanation for the moment, although he didn't think it would hold long.
With a frown, the Duke took a couple of quick steps to the window and peered out for a few minutes. "The city is Paris, is it not? What are these metal carriages? Where are the horses?" He turned to gaze directly at MacLeod. "What is this place?"
What kind of answer could he give him? Mac wondered. He was facing a man who didn't recall who he was, where he was or evidently, when he was. He'd started out closer to Methos when he first woke up, but now the oldest Immortal had slipped to someone and someplace else. Mac could sense the building fear and panic in the man who looked to him for an answer. He chewed at his lower lip, looking for something.
Abruptly, Methos winced, squeezing his eyes shut as he detected what MacLeod registered at almost the same time. Another Immortal. His own presence hadn't seemed to bother Methos, possibly because he'd been with him all along. But the arrival of another seemed to register painfully, reminding Mac that Methos was still sensitive following the head injury.
Mac started for the door before the knock confirmed what he already knew. As he opened the door, he glanced back at Methos to confirm he had now recovered from the sharp alert and was watching uncertainly. Then he turned to greet Joe and Montgomery. The slender blonde man who stood just a bit behind Dawson looked familiar and it only took Mac a couple of heartbeats to place him. He'd last seen him at Sean Burns' grave before he'd left for Malaysia.
"Mac, this is Dr. Miles Montgomery."
"We've met," he replied, ignoring Montgomery's smile and extended hand.
"How is Adam?" the blonde asked without preamble. "Dawson filled me in on the way over."
"There's a new development or two," Mac said, stepping aside to let them in. "He thinks he's someone named Duke Ambrose and he's in a different century."
Joe shot a sharp glance of alarm at Mac, then caught his breath at the total destruction of the flat. "My, God!" he whispered under his breath.
Instant concern in his face, Montgomery stepped around him, his quick gaze going first to the tall, slender man who looked decidedly apprehensive at the new arrivals, then shooting around the room to take in the mess, and returning again to his friend. He took a deep breath, slowly held his arms out a little from his sides to show they were empty, and offered a friendly smile before he spoke. "Hello, I'm Miles. Would you like to talk?"
The hazel eyes narrowed. "I don't know you. Why are you here?"
"I'd like to help you." His voice was soft and even, non-threatening. He took a cautious step toward Methos. Every move was careful, designed to be reassuring to his friend. MacLeod had mixed feelings about the man, an inherent distrust that had originated with his first encounter with him, yet a sincere hope that he could help. But it was readily apparent that Methos didn't recognize the psychologist any more than he did MacLeod.
"Unless you're planning to escort me to my own apartments, there's little you can do to assist me." The deep baritone voice was rude and arrogant.
"I don't think that's true. Aren't you feeling a little disoriented? You're not sure what's going on, are you?"
What should have been comforting. sympathetic words had the reverse effect. Methos moved forward, sudden tension evident in his body. "Leave!"
Miles stepped back, retreating slightly while trying to still reach him. "Please. Let's talk..."
Eyes going wide, Methos gasped. "Damnation! It's you! You're the threat!" He dashed for the open closet, grabbing a sword from the back. Before anyone realized what was happening, he had the weapon in his hand and was charging toward Miles.
Startled, but no fool, Miles backed away quickly toward the door. Mac grabbed Joe, pulling him out of the pathway into the hallway and away from the path to stairs. As Methos pursued the blonde, Miles made a break out into the hallway to gain a little leeway, then whirled, shouting in an effort to still get through to him. "Hold it! We don't have to fight! Look! I haven't even drawn my sword. I don't want to fight you!"
The man on the other end of the very nasty-looking broadsword seemed indifferent to him. His nostrils flared with the scent of the hunt. Lunging into reach, he swung at Miles, the sword barely missing as the blonde jumped back. Fumbling anxiously within his coat, Miles hurried to get his sword out. The look on his face said it all - he was scared.
"Shit! Do something, MacLeod!" Joe cried out.
The Scot's hand moved automatically to his sword. Part of him was saying he couldn't interfere while another part of him had the awful feeling that he had planted the seed in Methos' mind that Miles could be the enemy. "Duke Ambrose! Wait!" he called.
But the Duke ignored him, continuing to pursue Montgomery down the hallway. Miles managed to block another swing of the sword, then bolted further away. He was heading for the stairs, Mac realized. Without more dliberation, he ran down the hall, his sword held in front of him. Methos was vicious in his attack on the smaller man. Miles was fighting for his life, all of his energy going into defending himself. An exquisitely executed feint and thrust made it past the doctor's defense, slicing into his side and drawing first blood.
Still Mac hesitated. It was against all honour to interfere in a fight. Something that wasn't done, one of those "rules" of the game that was so important to the Highlander. Even Methos hadn't interfered when he'd taken an unarmed Sean Burns' head as Burns tried to help him. Unexpectedly, he was struck by the similarity of the situation. He'd been overpowered by a dark Quickening, killing his own friend as Methos watched, unable to do anything. Now Methos was in the almost identical position, but could he stand by and let Methos kill his friend?
Another skillfully executed move sliced into Miles' right arm and his sword thudded to the carpeted floor as he could no longer hold onto it. Clutching at his injured arm, Miles cast a quick glance down the steps just as Methos brought the sword up, slashing across the blonde's stomach. With a pained gasp, he threw himself down the stairs. Like a vulture, Methos perched at the top of the stairs, ready to swoop down after his prey. A whisper of a sound, almost like a muted sneeze sounded behind Mac and Methos stiffened suddenly, leaned a hand against the wall as he half-turned to face Mac. A second bullet stuck his chest and he dropped his eyes to look at the wet pool covering his shirt. Then he slid slowly down the wall and landed face down.
Turning to look behind him, Mac saw Joe still holding the silenced automatic. The Watcher glared at him. "Now go make sure he doesn't come to again, then see if Montgomery is okay." He pocketed his weapon, the look on his face clearly expressing how he felt about having to handle this himself.
Responding to the growl in Joe's voice, Mac hurried down the hall and knelt by Methos, rolling him onto his back. Blood strained the borrowed white sweater, but beneath it, the wound had already healed. Mac hesitated a second or two, pained by what he needed to do, then plunged his sword into Methos' heart. He straightened, his head dropping forward and bit at his lip as his shoulders drooped. As much as the Scot hated doing that, at the back of his mind was the fear that he might have to make it permanent if he, Joe and the man, who had tumbled down the stairs, couldn't help Methos.
Even though he distrusted the psychologist, they needed his help. Methos needed his help. Mac bounded down the stairs. Montgomery sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, half draped across the two bottom steps, an arm and a leg twisted under his body as he groaned. MacLeod knelt by him, rolled him onto his side revealing the pool of blood beneath him. He shoved the hand away from his stomach to get a look at the wound. It had been deep but it was almost healed now. Montgomery coughed, wincing as he sat up.
"You okay?" MacLeod's tone was neutral.
He nodded, rubbing at his shoulder, then glanced nervously up the stairwell. "Adam?"
"Quiet for now."
Understanding was clear in the deep blue eyes. "Jesus, I thought I was a goner. I didn't stand a chance against him. Why'd he react like that? Who the hell did he think I was?"
Mac offered him a hand up. "An assassin."
"I'll explain later." Mac started back up the stairs with Montgomery following less enthusiastically behind him. As he neared the top, he spotted Joe hovering over the motionless man. The sword protruding from his chest looked somewhat obscene.
Joe turned his face toward Mac, the anxiety showing clearly. "We need to get him out of this hall before someone comes."
"God!" Montgomery breathed as he stared at the impaled figure. He went a little pale and grabbed the handrail for support.
Compassion flickered across Joe's face. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah," Miles replied, recovering enough to respond.
"Good. You can give me a hand," Mac said evenly, not letting his own emotion creep out. //He's going to be okay,// he kept repeating to himself as he moved to grab Methos under his arms.
To his credit, Miles pulled himself together and caught the dead man's legs, struggling to lift his end of the body. Staggering a bit under the uneven weight, they carried, slid and bumped their burden back to his flat. Before they even lowered Methos to the floor, Joe was on his cellular phone issuing orders to get someone over to clean up the hallways immediately.
Mac quietly closed the door, leaned back against it and found his eyes were back on the bluish-tinged face and his own katana. Montgomery had dropped into the nearest chair, visibly shaking with the shock of what had transpired. He forced his eyes away from the body and stared at MacLeod. "You want to tell me what the hell happened? How did Adam end up like this? And I want every fucking detail!"
Mac ignored him for the moment, crossed to the kitchen and found a bottle of whiskey in the cupboard above the sink. Glasses were easier to find with the cabinet door still standing open from the Duke's rampage. He poured three glasses, then returned to hand the first to Joe and another to Montgomery.
"Well?" The doctor prompted as he took the drink.
"I'll tell you everything, but right now, I think we need to figure out what we're going to do with Adam," Mac replied practically. That sword couldn't become a permanent fixture. He glanced at Joe for support.
Joe's face was scrunched up in thought, but he caught the look. "For starters, you might replace the sword with something smaller, Mac. Something less conspicuous."
Grimly, Mac surveyed the debris on the floor for a knife. He knew Methos had a collection of some very good blades that he'd gathered over the centuries. Spotting one half-hidden under the small bar, he leaned down and flipped it into his hand. It was a seventeenth century Italian blade, one Mac recognized from his own experience with a similar weapon. He took a steadying breath before he reached to pull the katana from Methos' chest and replaced it quickly with the smaller blade. When he straightened again, he was a shade paler.
Montgomery was staring intently at him, his face reflecting the horror at what he had seemed to do so easily. "Believe me, it's necessary. He's out of control." Mac sat down heavily, resting his eyes on Methos and began speaking quietly. "There were some problems from a Quickening. He didn't handle it well..." In the same quiet tone, he told the psychologist all he knew about what had happened over the past few days, including how he'd found him the night before. The man went ashen at the suspicion that "Adam" might have been on holy ground when he took his adversary's head.
//God in heaven!// Rory thought as he pulled out his cellular phone and dialed. //This can't be happening! "Adam has a problem," Joe had said. I guess the hell he does!// His stomach still throbbed where it had been sliced open and his shoulder was sore. He was lucky he hadn't broken his neck in that tumble down the steps! Luckier still he hadn't lost his head against Adam. He knew he couldn't take Adam in a fight let alone who Adam thought he was. This was a mess.
"Dr. Montgomery here," he said in French as soon as the phone was picked up. "I'm bringing a patient down in about an hour. I want the private cell for him... I don't care who you've got in there. Move him!" He terminated the conversation and turned to see both MacLeod and Dawson staring at him with essentially the same expression... that of query.
"I have a clinic about fifty kilometers south of Paris. We can take him there where I can try to help him. I believe this will probably require your help as well."
"A clinic?" Joe echoed, clearly uncertain that was a good idea. "Are you sure about that, man? I mean, he's not your normal patient."
"I know that. I have a special facility that I can use. No one does anything in there unless I order it. He'll be safe and no one will know he's Immortal."
"Can you help him?" MacLeod asked. His face reflected his reluctance. Frankly, Rory was puzzled at the distrust the Scot seemed to have. Although it might be well placed in his regard, it was definitely not a factor when it came to Adam. Even now, Rory might want revenge on the Highlander for his betrayal of Sean Burns, although that had cooled somewhat after talking to Adam about it, but he'd given the man no cause, yet, to doubt him.
//I'm not going to beat myself up convincing him,// Rory resolved instantly, but he wasn't about to leave Adam in MacLeod's hands. He took a calming breath. "I won't know that until I can get an idea of what exactly the problem is and how severe it is. Eventually, yeah, I think I can help him. How long it will take, I don't know. But he'll be better off where he can be taken care of, where he can't hurt anybody or himself."
Reluctantly, Mac nodded. "We can take him in my Rover. It's downstairs." Decision made, he moved into action, grabbing a heavy blanket off the bed and bundling Methos in it. Rory bent to help, tucking the ends around his feet. Together he and MacLeod managed to pull the wrapped body into an upright position, then the Highlander hefted him over a shoulder.
Joe checked the hallway, making sure it was clear before he motioned them out. Rory went on ahead, checking to insure no one was on the stairwell. MacLeod took the steps as quickly as possible, covering each landing and waiting for the okay for the next. Behind them, Joe trailed along, making much slower progress as he worked his way downstairs.
They placed Methos on the floor at the back of the vehicle, being careful to cover his face. "I hope we're not stopped for anything," Mac muttered as he closed the back door. He glanced toward the building's door anxiously. There had been quite a few people on the street but no one had been particularly concerned with the heavy blanket-wrapped bundle the two men had dumped in the back of the Range Rover.
"Just be glad Parisians aren't particularly nosy," Rory commented. "This would definitely be hard to explain."
The expression on MacLeod's face shifted to relief and Rory turned to see Joe Dawson emerge from the building. As the Scot went for the driver's seat, Rory opened the front for Dawson and offered a helping hand before climbing into the back seat.
"Southwest toward Draux. Take the N10 road. The clinic is about mid-way. " Rory settled back, giving some serious thought to how he was going to handle this situation. All rules and conventions of psychiatry went out the window when you were dealing with Immortals. They didn't have mental problems in the same sense mortals did. Any problems they had were purely trauma related, situations they couldn't deal with, horrible experiences that refused to be banished from day-to-day life -- the mental breakdown that sometimes came when they could no longer cope with what they were, with the reality of living forever unless someone takes your head. Then you add in a little factor like holy ground and all the parameters change again. //Shit! Holy ground for cripes sake! What the hell do I know about holy ground?// This was one of those moments when he deeply wished for Sean's guidance and he fervently hoped there was something in his partner's notes to help him.
As they made their way south, Rory insisted that MacLeod and Dawson go through the whole story again, in detail. He needed to fully understand what had happened with the first Quickening, what behavioral problems they'd noted and any other bits of information that might have some bearing. It was hard for him to hear some of the details without cringing at the thought of it happening to his friend.
After MacLeod had gone through the previous night's events for the third time, he finally thought to ask, "What about the other Immortal? The woman? What was her name-- Agnetha?"
The Scot shook his head. "I don't know. I didn't see anything of her body. There was a completely melted lump of metal, which, I think, was her sword and the partially melted one, which was Adam's sword. Did you hear anything, Joe?"
"No. Nothing. I listened to the news reports and you'd think that if there was body, it would have been mentioned. They certainly covered the freak storm aspect of it."
Rory caught the surprised glance that MacLeod gave Dawson, as if he had expected a different answer. Curious, he ruminated, wondering what either of these men might be hiding. He leaned back, gazed out the window thoughtfully for a few more kilometers, then advised MacLeod to turn left at a road that intersected the highway about a kilometer further on.
The road was narrow, but paved and led through a vineyard to a copse of trees. Nestled within the privacy of the trees was the clinic. A low whistle emerged from Joe as the clinic came into sight. "Would you look at that! That's your clinic?"
A beautiful old manor house that had been converted, it still had the look of its noble eighteenth century construction and the grounds were well-maintained to the same period look. Barely visible to the side of the house was a hedged garden that had the look of being a maze.
"That's it," Miles confirmed, then added, "Park around back. I have a private entrance back there and I have a couple of men I can trust to help us get him in."
"I'd rather not involve anyone else," MacLeod objected. "Even if you think you can trust them, I don't think we want them to see a dead man, unless..."
"They're not Immortal," Miles cut in quickly, understanding fully the objections. "But with Adam wrapped up, they won't know. They'll just help us get him on a gurney and to his room. Once he revives, they'll be part of the nursing staff assigned to him." He'd barely gotten it out before he saw the objection starting in MacLeod's face. "I know what you're thinking, but we can't do this without help. He could be here a few days or a few months. I don't know yet, but I do know the people I assign, I can trust. Now I'm going to ask you to trust me on this."
Although MacLeod didn't say anything immediately, he pulled the Rover up to the back, then turned to face Rory. "I don't know you, Montgomery. But if anything you do costs Adam his life, you'll pay for it. Is that clear?"
//Abundantly. And who pays for Sean?// he thought angrily. In a tight voice, he answered, "I understand. Now you understand something. I care as much about Adam as you do. I'm not going to do anything that will put his life in jeopardy." With that, he practically threw himself out of the vehicle and hurried to the door where he motioned to the men who waited for him.
The clinic may have looked elegantly renaissance on the outside, but inside, it was a modern, technologically-rich facility. The staff was friendly and lacked the medical look, clad mostly in the casual wear uniforms that were becoming more and more popular. Security stations monitored the building through full color cameras positioned around the building and the grounds.
"This is some set-up," Dawson muttered to himself as the gurney with the heavily-wrapped body rolled past one of the nursing stations toward a small wing off to the right. He had to admit that he was impressed. It was far more modern and elegant that he would have given the psychologist credit. He was, he realized, caught once again by the youthful appearance of an Immortal who had more resources, education, training and finances than he looked like he could possibly have. It wasn't so hard to expect it when the Immortal at least looked in their thirties, but when they looked barely a year or two older than Richie, it took a stretch of the imagination.
Montgomery was speaking rapidly to the men who wheeled the gurney along and they nodded in understanding. MacLeod kept pace with the them, staying just behind and leaving Joe to make his way as quickly as possible to the room.
The hall they entered dead-ended quickly into a single room and the first sight of the room shocked the Watcher. It was a padded cell. He gasped audibly.
Montgomery glanced toward him. "It's the safest place for him right now." He turned his attention back to the men who lifted Methos onto the low, single bed. "That's good. Just get him on the bed. He's heavily sedated," Miles informed them. "No, no, don't remove the blanket just yet. We'll take care of him for now. That'll be all for the moment. Merci." He smiled reassuringly at the men who were obviously uncertain about the instructions. But they followed the doctor's orders and left them alone with Methos, shutting the door behind them.
Joe turned slowly around the small room, taking in every unremarkable detail. It was a pale blue, padded room, no windows, a toilet in one corner, the plain bed, a night stand, and a couple of straight-backed chairs. The bed looked only slightly more comfortable than a prison bed although, on closer inspection, he conceded that the mattress was thicker and in fact, it was a hospital bed. But the bottom line was that this was a mental ward and Methos was in a padded cell. "He's not gonna be happy about this."
"Yeah, you're right," Miles answered easily. "But given the state of mind he's in, I don't think he would be happy about anything we do. Right now, I just want a safe place where he can wake up and not hurt anyone or himself."
He pulled a chair over to the front corner, climbed up on it and reached up to flip a switch on what looked like a recessed light in the ceiling. "Camera," he supplied. "Don't want anyone watching or listening in until he's awake. Once we get settled in, no one will have access to the monitor station for this room except me."
"You can do that?" MacLeod asked, surprised by the authority that Montgomery seemed to have.
"Yes. I can do that. This is my place, MacLeod. My clinic. I own it. A few other doctors use it for their patients, but it's mine."
"Sorry. I just didn't realize. I thought maybe you were one of several partners."
Montgomery's face clouded a moment. "I had a partner when we opened this nine years ago... he's dead now." Abruptly, he jumped down and moved to the bed. "Okay, let's get him back amongst the living. I suggest we get him into pajamas before we remove the sedative. MacLeod and I can handle this, so why don't you just have a seat, Joe?"
With a grateful nod, Joe lowered his body into one of the chairs as Mac began helping Miles remove first the blanket then the clothes from their patient. A few minutes later, Methos was clad in white and blue striped pajamas with the top left unbuttoned so the protruding knife was easily visible. The normally pale skin was a pale, marble-looking blue. He'd been dead almost two hours now.
The blonde man rummaged in the second drawer of the bed table for a few moments and extracted several gauze pads in readiness, then leaned across to remove the knife. MacLeod's hand fell over the haft of the weapon, closing around it. Startled, Montgomery looked up at the intense face.
"I put it there, I'll remove it," Mac stated calmly, the clan chief asserting himself. Then he withdrew the weapon with a quick, smooth move.
Immediately, Miles covered the wound with a thick pad of gauze to absorb the dark blood that followed it out, replacing it a couple of times before it slowed. Within a couple of minutes, the wound sealed over leaving no indication it was ever there.
"Now we wait," Mac mumbled as he picked up one of the pads and wiped the blade clean. Without a word, Montgomery gathered up the soiled gauze pads and left the room.
MacLeod's eyes tracked him out the door, then he looked back at Methos. "It's probably going to be about a half-hour or so," he said for Joe's benefit. "Blades through the heart do quite a bit of damage, although I imagine those bullets of yours didn't help."
"You don't like Montgomery, do you?" Joe asked. He didn't quite understand Mac's dislike of the man. Maybe it had something to do with their first meeting at the cemetery almost two years ago. He'd heard Miles' side of that event, but not Mac's. "He do something to you?"
"No, not really, Joe. It's just a feeling I have about him. I don't trust him and I don't think he likes me very much either. He doesn't know about you, does he?" MacLeod kept his voice low, not trusting the sound and picture devices to be off in the room.
"You mean what I do when I'm not doing music? No, he doesn't know. He knows I'm a friend of Adam's and that I have a club. He'd been in a few times for the blues. Really a big fan. St. Louis boy."
"What do you know about him? Do you know how Methos meet him?"
"I know he likes the blues," Joe repeated with a laugh. "I have a gal on him now, but I didn't when he and Methos first met. Didn't know he was an Immortal he's so low key."
"Oh." The single word was flat, as if Mac had expected something different.
"The important thing here, Mac, is that he's the only one in a position to help Methos. We need him."
Any response Mac might have given was stopped by the return of the subject to the room. He was carrying a light blue garment, maybe a shirt, over one arm and a filled hypodermic in the other hand. The latter item he set on the bedside table, then sat down by Methos and pulled the limp body up to a sitting position, leaning him against his shoulder.
"Can you give me a hand here?" Miles asked, not looking at MacLeod.
"What is that?" Joe asked as the Scot moved in to help keep Methos upright. Then he saw... extra long sleeves with clasps on them, locks already attached. "A straight jacket?!" he asked incredulously. This was getting worse by the moment. "Shit, man, is that really necessary?"
Mac didn't look any happier about it, deep frown etched into his forehead while he watched Montgomery guide Methos' arms into the sleeves. "Is it?" he echoed. "Do you think you have to do this?"
"Yes, I do. At least for the first twenty-four hours. We'll see how he does. If he's calm, then we'll remove it. If not, it's for his protection as well as my people. I can't have him strangling my staff." The soft voice was matter-of-fact, assured.
Mac pushed Methos forward while Montgomery secured the locks. "Okay. Your point's well taken. So, what's in the hypo?"
Miles checked the locks, tugging at them to make sure they were set, then motioned for Mac to lower him back to the bed. "A very strong sedative in case he's really violent. I won't use it unless I have to." He hesitated a moment, ran his hand through Methos' short, dark brown hair. "There's always a disbelief about this, when I have a hard time accepting that an Immortal will come back. There's always that little doubt..."
"I've seen it dozens of times and I still have trouble believing," Joe said sympathetically. "But then, I'm still gobsmacked when you guys take a bullet and revive in less than five minutes."
Montgomery looked at him curiously. "Dozens of times?"
//Made a mistake there,// Joe realized quickly. //I must be tired or my mind is on the skids.//
"Yeah," Mac jumped in. "Joe's known several of us for quite a few years. He's seen more than most mortals."
Montgomery seemed to accept that. "Of course, I know you knew Adam and Amanda. I didn't realize how well. Maybe we can talk about it sometime."
MacLeod's face looked like a raincloud about to storm, a frowning dark look that said something had unnerved him. Joe puzzled over it a moment, then connected the dots. The Scot didn't know that Montgomery also knew Amanda and was surprised to hear her name. //Shoot! Sooner or later one of us is gonna have to fill him in on the story, but it ain't gonna be me if I can help it,// Joe resolved.
"You know Amanda--?"
A choked-sounding gasp for air followed by a drawn out groan interrupted Mac's question as Methos stirred on the bed. //Good timing, Methos,// Joe thought appreciatively, although this recovery was painful to observe.
The slender frame contracted in pain as his body began functioning with his blood flowing sluggishly through the veins and pumping through the newly-repaired heart. Flat lungs struggled to get air into them as he remembered how to breathe just as every nerve ending in his body sent sharp little electrical singles to his brain to inform him they were functioning.
//Another note for my report,// the Watcher recorded mentally. //The longer the body has to wait before recovering, the more difficult... // Another sharp gasp of pain from the direction of the bed. / ...and the more painful.// He compressed his lips together, a worried frown accompanying the concerned expression on his face.
At last, the eyelids blinked, opened and the hazel eyes gazed up at the dark-eyed, anxious face leaning over him.
"Welcome back. How're you doing?" MacLeod had moved close as soon as the recovery had started.
Methos twitched, tried to move his arms and found he couldn't. A look of panic exploded on his face, probably as he realized he was practically helpless with two other Immortals in the room. "What--?? What's going on?" His voice was weak and confused.
"Take it easy, Adam," the soft, southern voice said as Montgomery touched his shoulder. "You're doing fine."
The panic gave way to confusion as Methos stared from Montgomery to MacLeod, uncertainty growing in his eyes. He tugged against the sleeves of the straight jacket, kicked his legs and twisted sideways to try to sit up. Rather than fight him, Montgomery helped him, sliding his arm behind his shoulders and lifting.
As soon as he was sitting up, Methos pulled away from the doctor, glanced uneasily at MacLeod, then focused on Joe. "What is this? What's going on?"
Stiffly, Joe got to his feet, took a couple of cautious steps toward Methos. //This doesn't look promising. He doesn't seem to know either Mac or Miles and I'm not sure if he recognizes me either.// "You doin' okay, buddy? It's me, Joe."
"Joe?" Methos repeated the name softly, his mind working to place it to somewhere.
"Joe Dawson. We're old pals, Adam. Don't ya' remember?"
He drew an uncertain breath, eyes shifting nervously from Dawson to MacLeod, then to Montgomery. "I-- I'm not... Adam? Adams?" He squeezed his eyes shut in concentration. "Yes, Adams. Benjamin..."
Raising a questioning eyebrow, Miles slipped away to fetch a glass of water as Joe moved closer, pulled the chair over and sat down. Joe continued, "That's right. Benjamin Adams. Doc Adams." It was a start. At least he remembered that much, although which memories he actually recalled Joe couldn't begin to guess.
Miles returned, held the water glass in front of Methos' face, directing a bent straw to his mouth as he informed him, "It's water. You're probably a bit dehydrated."
With a nod, Methos bobbed his head forward, caught the straw and swallowed the liquid as quickly as he could. He cast a beseeching look at Joe. "I don't understand what's going on here. Where am I? Why the straight-jacket?"
"Where do you think you are?" Miles asked, his voice carefully neutral.
Joe caught his breath. Okay. At least he had a reference and he knew this memory definitely belonged to Methos.
MacLeod chewed at his lip, his curiosity about the Doc Adams statement obvious. He cast a questioning glance at Joe who shook his head and mouthed, //Later.//
"New Orleans," Miles repeated. "That's very good, Doc. And what year is it?"
The hazel eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Eighteen-oh-eight. What's this about? I'm not going to answer any more questions until you tell me why I'm trussed up like a mental patient. I want out of this... now!" Panic was rising again in his voice.
"Keep calm. You've had an accident and your mind has been a little unstable. The jacket is just precautionary..."
Montgomery's voice trailed off as he realized that Methos was looking past him, really seeing the room, seeing the pale blue padding on the walls, the lack of windows, the starkness of the room. His breath caught sharply and Methos exclaimed, "This is a padded cell! I'm in a mental institute. Isn't that the kind name you call this place?" His panic grew and he pulled away from Miles, staying clear of Mac as he pulled his feet up on the bed and tried to turn to the other side of the bed to get further away from them. "I don't know you! I don't know any of you!! Leave me alone!"
Mac made a grab for him even as the doctor tried to signal to him not to do it. As soon as MacLeod's fingers made contact, Methos went over the edge, mentally and figuratively.
"Don't touch me!" his voice was a harsh, scared shout that even stopped Mac. Methos jerked so violently away from the Highlander that he slid over the edge of the bed and landed with a heavy thud on the floor. Quickly, he rolled to a sitting position and walked his way on his hips to a corner, taking a defensive position with his long legs folded and ready to kick anyone who came near him.
"MacLeod, get outta here," Joe said suddenly.
"What?!" Mac's voice was startled at the sudden order.
"Don't you see?" Joe said lowly. "He doesn't know you or Miles. All he knows is that you're both Immortal and he's frightened. I figure you're more threatening than Montgomery. If your leaving doesn't help, then he may have to go as well."
"Or I may have to sedate him," Miles added softly. "I think Joe's right though. He might calm down if you're out of sensing range."
The Scot's eyes reflected the hurt at this suggestion, but he nodded and quietly left the room. Cautiously, Methos' head turned to follow the man out, then he focused back on Miles. He definitely knew who the Immortals were.
Miles sat on the edge of the bed, hands pressed flat against the mattress where Methos could easily see he was unarmed. There was a slight shift in the darker man's posture, he seemed less fearful. "That's better," Miles said encouragingly. "My name is Miles and I'm a doctor. You already know Joe. We want to help you."
"Help me what?" The voice had shifted to a different cadence, not quite sounding like Benjamin Adams or Methos.
But it seemed familiar to Joe. "Dr. Adams?"
The eyes shifted to Joe, a cold hard look in them. "Adams? Yes, I'm looking for him... the dishonorable coward. I'll have his head."
"Walker," Joe muttered, recognizing him now. At least this was a recent kill. Morgan Walker had kidnapped Amy and held her hostage, demanding Joe exchange Methos for her.
"You know him, Dawson?" Montgomery asked.
"Yeah, I know him," Joe growled back.
"Dawson? Where is Adams? You were supposed to bring him to me," the voice said accusingly.
"You'll have to learn to live with disappointment, Walker," Joe said as caustically as he'd said it to the man in reality. He glanced at Montgomery. "You do what you have to do here. I'll wait for you outside." With that, he made his way wearily to the door, leaning heavily on his cane. It reflected the disappointment and despair he felt at that moment.
Duncan MacLeod paced the small lounge area restlessly. Less than two hundred feet away, a friend was in trouble and there was nothing he could do about it. Helpless was not a word that would describe him and he was frustrated with that fact. Why was he out here when a man, another Immortal man, whom Methos had known only a short time, was with him? He should be there...
As he heard footsteps coming toward him, MacLeod turned to see Joe Dawson and started toward him. Even though he'd recognized the cadence of the Watcher's pace, Mac was a bit surprised that he came without Montgomery. He didn't like the idea of the doctor being alone with Methos. "What's happened, Joe? Why'd you leave?"
Looking very tired, Joe finished the trek to the small foyer area where four homey-looking easy chairs faced an antique coffee table. He sat down with a thud, shoulders hunched and his hands gripping his cane. "He's decided to be someone else for a while. Someone I don't like."
MacLeod frowned, not pleased with that piece of news as he sat across from Joe. "Who?"
"A real jerk named Morgan Walker. Methos took his head a few weeks ago."
"When? I didn't hear anything about this."
"You were in London visiting Claudia Jardine, Mac. This guy was a real slime ball. Deserved to die. I'm just sorry Methos had to regurgitate that particular personality."
Trying not to let his bruised feelings show that here was another piece of the history that Methos and Joe shared without him, Mac commented, "Well, at least we know that the personality is one he got through a Quickening, not an hallucination or an alternate identity."
"Yeah. Although he seems to be coughing up prior identities as well. Interesting though... he was Doc Adams when he first met Walker in New Orleans. Do you suppose that was what triggered the Walker personality?"
Mac shrugged. "Or the other way around. Maybe Walker was trying to assert himself and Methos responded with Adams."
"Or it could have been me calling him Adam," Joe muttered with a touch of depression in his voice.
MacLeod ran a finger along the edge of a magazine as he thought. "Don't blame yourself, Joe. Apparently Montgomery doesn't know who Methos is?"
Joe shook his head. "I don't think Methos has told him,."
"How much do you trust the guy, Joe?"
The Watcher pursed his lips a few moments, then replied, "Montgomery's got a pretty solid grip, Mac. He's not a violent man and he's been a doctor for at least six decades from what I've been able to track down. He doesn't have a list of known kills although I'm sure he's taken a few heads along the way. I can't say for certain that you can trust him. Gut feeling says yes, even though I think he might be hiding something. But Methos trusts him."
Mac gazed at Dawson a moment or two longer, his dark eyes reflecting his thoughts as he considered this. "That just it. I also think he's hiding something and I'd like to know what."
With a little laugh, Joe puffed out his cheeks a moment. "Well, like it or not, Mac, we're going to have to trust him now. Neither of us has a clue how to deal with what's happening to Methos."
"I know," he concurred in a soft, unhappy voice. "I don't think Montgomery does either. Just because he has a degree doesn't mean he knows how handle a situation like this."
Joe rubbed at his lower lip as he thought, then finally spoke. "You know, Mac, Miles is at a real disadvantage here. He's trying to help Adam Pierson. That might be a hard road to travel with someone who can't read the road signs."
Eyes going wide as it dawned on him what Joe was saying, Mac asked incredulously, "You're not suggesting that we tell him...?"
"So what do you propose? That we let him sit there trying to talk to Adam, who may be only a small part of that long life, hoping that he'll connect with him?"
"But, Joe! Telling him about Methos? If Methos hasn't told him, why should we?" Mac argued, trying to keep his voice low. God! If Methos trusted the man, wouldn't he have told him? Then again, Methos hadn't been anxious to tell Richie until he'd forced the issue when the false Methos showed up. But that was Richie and this was-- this was a man Duncan didn't know.
"Maybe it's a need to know situation. Montgomery hasn't needed to know he was Methos. Or maybe he just didn't want to get into it with his friend. Maybe it was safer for both of them if he didn't know. But, Mac, we gotta give the guy a road map. We can't try to help Methos unless we use his real name. If Montgomery's in the room with us or he's monitoring the room, then we can't use his name either." Joe gave him that "you know I'm right" look.
"Let me think about it, Joe," MacLeod muttered.
Joe glanced up at the ceiling, then leaned a little more onto his cane. "The old man may not be too happy about it if we do it, but calling him Adam is not going to help matters. I think he'd understand. I just hope Methos is his real name."
Mac shot a startled glance at him. "That wasn't even funny." Was Methos really his name or was there an even older name associated with the man?
But MacLeod didn't have long to ponder that before he detected an Immortal moving into range and got to his feet.
Montgomery wasn't in a hurry, taking his time as he came down the hall. He stopped for a minute or two at the nurses' station to talk to the woman on duty. She was middle-aged with champagne blonde hair pulled back into a twist and cat's eye shaped glasses that slid down her nose when she looked down. She appeared somewhat startled at whatever the doctor had said to her, then nodded her head in understanding and pushed a paper toward him. Quickly, he signed it, then continued toward them.
"How is he?" Mac asked as met the blonde man.
"Okay, for now. Let's go in my office where we can talk," he said before either Mac or Joe could say anything else. Without waiting for an answer, he led them through a set of security doors into the main part of the facility.
Here, the clinic retained the charm of the original building. It looked like an elegant residence hotel, beautifully furnished with quality antiques and plush carpeting. Even the admissions desk had the look of a hotel registration desk and the clerk behind it seemed more like the concierge. Montgomery caught MacLeod's amazed look. "It makes some of our clientele feel more at ease. They can convince themselves they're checking into a health spa."
He led them to a room off the main entry, ushering them inside. Nearly a full wall of floor-to-ceiling windows faced the maze on the south side and a huge mahogany desk was set at an angle to it. Like the waiting area, four plush chairs clustered around a squat, oval coffee table of great vintage. The entire western end of the room was occupied with built-in bookcases that utilized every square inch while the eastern end was as fully occupied with cabinets, at least of dozen of them.
"Have a seat," Miles offered, motioning to the chairs, then heading for one of the cabinets and opening a door that dropped forward to form a shelf. "I don't know about you guys, but I could use a drink. I can offer you coffee, tea, scotch, Irish, vodka, brandy-- what would you like?"
Mac shook his head, crossed to look out the windows at the flagstone patio with steps leading down to the garden. One of the window sets was actually a sliding door.
"What kind of Irish?" Joe eased his body into the chair next to the Highlander.
"Tullamore Dew or Paddy's." He paused a moment as Mac turned back to the room. "Beautiful view, isn't it? This used to be a solarium."
"I'll have the Dew," Joe replied appreciatively, flashing a brief grin at the blonde, before his face grew serious again. "So, how's Adam?"
"Adam isn't doing too well," the doctor answered as he poured the drinks. "However, Walker is doing just fine. Pissed off, but fine. He was cursing me roundly when I left, swearing he'd get even for this abuse and just generally being obnoxious. He didn't have any kind words for you either, Joe. I thought I'd give him a chance to calm down." He passed the drink to Dawson, then took the seat directly across from Joe. MacLeod preferred to stay on his feet..
"You didn't sedate him, then?" Mac asked, not certain if he was relieved by this or not.
Montgomery shook his head. "No. I don't want to use drugs if I don't have to. If he gets really violent or extremely agitated, then, yeah, I'll give him something to calm him down. As much as possible, I want him in a position so I can work through the problem with him. It seems like we had Adam for a few minutes but he couldn't seem to hang on before he became someone else. You know this Walker, Joe?"
"Yeah. He had a run in with Dr. Benjamin Adams last century and came looking for him a few weeks ago. Adam took his head."
"Okay. That's good. It tells me the personalities have a source. You wouldn't happen to know about Duke Ambrose, would you?"
Joe shook his head.
As the doctor talked, MacLeod browsed around the room, his eyes taking in the details, then he sat opposite the doctor. He'd noted the copy of a medical degree on the back wall, knew the man was qualified to treat patients with serious mental problems. "Have you ever treated anything like this?"
Montgomery unconsciously flipped a strand of loose hair off his forehead. "Noooo. No, this is pretty unique from what I've experienced."
"But you think you can help Adam?" Mac persisted.
Montgomery leaned forward, an intense look in the dark blue eyes and a firm set to his jaw. "MacLeod, I will get him through this-whatever it takes. It may take time but I'm confident he can work through it."
Dryly, he asked, "Have you ever treated one of us before?"
"Yeah, I have," Montgomery replied. "Four of 'em. And... I had a partner who had also treated several. I still have his notes."
"What happened to him? Your partner?" Joe asked.
"He died... a couple of years ago."
Joe's voice trailed off before MacLeod interrupted bluntly. "You're a doctor. Why do you call yourself a psychologist?"
The blonde man looked a bit startled by the abruptness of the query, but answered easily enough. "Fair question, MacLeod. My practice in Paris is as a psychologist. I prefer it and I have a good, wealthy clientele there. Most of my patients have problems that just need talking out-- the kind of baggage you pick up during your childhood and adolescence. I'm a good listener, give them a bit of guidance and they do the rest. You don't encounter many patients who are seriously ill.
"Now this facility is for dealing with patients who need treatment, severe mental problems, chemical imbalance, that kind of thing. People who are not able to function normally in society and need to be monitored. I don't have criminally insane or extremely violent people here. That padded room is the only one I have like that and usually, it's a depressed patient occupying it."
"So where do these patients come from?" Mac asked.
"Consulting, mostly. I'm a staff consultant at two hospitals in Paris and I sometimes am referred to other facilities in France and Switzerland for unusual cases. That's where the psychiatry degree comes in."
This conversation made MacLeod uneasy. Mental problems were something that could happen to anyone, even Immortals, and he'd personally experienced one of the variety unique to their breed with the dark Quickening. He thoughts went to his friend, Michael Moore, who had borne a dual personality. Michael was one of several Immortal friends he'd had to kill because they'd had a problem or become mentally unhinged. In Michael's case, he had been schizophrenic, a condition that had existed before he became Immortal. But if Michael had seen someone like Montgomery or Sean Burns, could he have been saved? And now Methos ...
"Obviously, I need to keep Adam here until we can get him back to his own personality. I have no idea how long that might take. I'm hoping I can get an idea of the extent of what's happening within a few days." Montgomery said, drawing Mac back from his thoughts.
"Days? You think it's going to take days?" Mac asked.
"I don't know, MacLeod. It could take days, it could take weeks. I just don't know. But he can't leave here until he's back to normal. When I can talk to him and know I'm talking to Adam Pierson, then I'll feel it's safe for him to leave. Anything else would be a risk."
Joe's eyebrows arced up as he stared at the Highlander. Mac realized he would have to decide soon if he was willing to trust this man with Methos' real identity. In spite of his own feelings about the doctor, MacLeod was impressed with his confidence. He wasn't intimidated and the concern for Methos seemed real enough. Impulsively, he asked, "How did you and Adam meet?"
Montgomery's mouth pulled into a tight, unamused smile, then his eyes flicked to Joe's for a moment as the gray-haired man finished off the last of the Irish whiskey and set the glass on the table. His gaze returned to Mac. "Much the same way you and I met, MacLeod. Purely by accident. And no, we weren't instant friends, but eventually we made it to that." He paused, glancing to the window as he thought, then continued. "Look, I know you're unhappy about leaving him here. Maybe you're thinking I'm going to pull out a sword and whack his head off while he's sleeping. All I can tell you is if I wanted him dead, I've had several opportunities over the past year and a half."
The answer was evasive, yet surprisingly candid in that last remark.. No details, but enough to tell him that however Methos met Montgomery, it was between the two of them and not for the doctor to divulge. The Scot was quiet for a few moments as their Montgomery made another drink pass, bringing MacLeod a scotch this time.
He hadn't liked Montgomery from the moment they'd met. It had been just after Richie's death, just before he'd left for Malaysia. He'd gone to the cemetery to think matters over near Tessa's grave, then, on an impulse, he'd stopped by the headstone that read Sean Burns. As he'd meditated there, he'd sensed another Immortal and turned to find Montgomery approaching. The man had been cordial enough, even trying to be helpful. He hadn't wanted help, hadn't wanted anyone to try to reason with him. Perhaps he'd overreacted...
MacLeod studied the doctor, weighing the factors in his mind. Even if the man was harboring a secret, who in this room wasn't? The fact was, he'd dropped his plans and flown back to France because his friend needed help. Joe trusted him and apparently, Methos trusted him to a point. Still, he was about to reveal a very big secret about Methos, one that the old man hadn't told himself. He glanced across at Joe for reassurance, and was pelted with the strong urging in the blue-gray eyes. Joe's mouth moved to form the words, //Tell him.//
When Montgomery had settled again, Mac said, "Have you ever heard of an Immortal called Methos?"
"Sure -- One of those fine old legends - the five-thousand-year-old man. I think he represents the hope we all have for survival."
Joe scrunched up his face in amusement, but Mac remained serious. "It's more than a legend. Adam is Methos." He said it simply, hoping it would ring true with the psychologist.
"You mean Adam thinks he's Methos? A Methosian complex? I don't think so although I've heard of a couple of Immortals claiming that," Miles responded with a deep frown.
"No. I mean that Adam Pierson is the oldest Immortal alive. He's over five thousand years old."
Stunned, Miles stared at MacLeod for a few heartbeats, glanced toward Joe as if for confirmation before his gaze shifted to the glass of whiskey in his hand. Slowly, he raised it to his lips and drank. He finally said, "You're serious? Methos? Are you sure about this?"
Mac nodded affirmatively.
"You understand it is a well-kept secret?" Joe added. "I mean, he'd be a target for every punk or power-mad Immortal if this was known. But you need to know who he really is if you're gonna help him."
Mac forced a small smile. "His life is in your hands." //And yours is in mine if anything happens to him,// he added silently.
"Who else knows?" Montgomery's voice sounded a little shaky.
"Besides us? Amanda," MacLeod answered. "If he's told anyone else, we don't know about it. Then of course, there's anyone who might recognize him from his distant past." The Watchers were conveniently forgotten in that statement.
A deep silence filled the room for nearly a minute as Montgomery absorbed all this. He took a deep breath, sounding a bit shaky. "Well, this has certainly been a day for revelations. Any other bombshells you want to drop?"
MacLeod shook his head.
"Okay. How much of that long history of his do you know?"
"Very little," Mac answered honestly. Painfully little, he admitted to himself. But he wasn't going to go into any details about what he did know unless it became absolutely necessary.
"I see," Miles replied, leaning back in the chair. His face reflected doubt as to the veracity of that statement. "I'm really going to need your help here. I think that if we can get him into familiar memories, the more we can feed him of the situation, the better his chances of controlling it."
"You have it. Whatever we can do to help," Joe responded.
With a smooth movement, Montgomery got to his feet and walked behind his desk, opening the top left drawer. He leaned forward slightly, seemed to push at something and a section of the east wall moved back to display a group of four monitor screens. Only one displayed an image and that was of the room they'd been in a short time before. Methos paced the room, his gait awkward without the use of his arms for balance, but he seemed calm enough.
"This is an auxiliary to the monitoring station in the security wing. I have a recorder on it, so I can review the tapes if needed. For now, Adam is safe enough."
Mac stared at the screen, watching a friend, who now seemed a total stranger, circle the room like a caged tiger. "Is there anything we can do now?"
"Not unless you can tell me more about this Walker or the circumstances. He needs to work through this identity, then we'll see what happens next. I'm reluctant to try to push him to another one right away. I'd like to see what exactly happens."
Joe scrunched up his face a bit, "I only know a little about Walker." He briefly filled the doctor in on the same thing he'd told Mac.
Glancing at his watch, Mac was surprised at the time. Nearly four o'clock and he had an appointment he needed to keep. "If there's nothing else we can do, I have some business in Paris and Joe has a club to run. You'll call us when you need us?"
Joe's eyes widened in surprise, an objection forming on his lips.
"Absolutely." Montgomery caught the look on Dawson's face. "Don't worry. He'll be safe here."
As Rory watched the Range Rover turn the corner back to the front of the clinic and the main road, he leaned back against a post and considered what had just been said. A man he cared deeply about -- had slept with for crissakes! -- had turned out to be a legend. Christ! He knew Adam was old-- he just had no idea of how old. The hair on the back of his neck had stood on end when MacLeod had told him and it was doing it again now just thinking about it.
Rory bit at the edge of his lower lip as he considered the situation. He'd just put his head on the line for that friend and he knew it. If he'd interpreted correctly, and he was pretty certain he had, MacLeod would hold him responsible for anything that happened to Methos. Whatever relationship the Highlander had with Methos, it was clear he valued the old Immortal highly. //Not that taking my head would be much of a chore for MacLeod,// Rory admitted wryly. //God, I'm lucky Adam --no, Methos-- halted that foolish venture in Mongolia.//
Still pondering the conflicted nature of Duncan MacLeod's connection to the oldest Immortal, Rory returned to his office and planted himself in front of the monitor to watch his friend. He knew that body, knew the muscle structure and smooth physical lines, how it reacted when he touched it in sensitive places and how the muscles twitched enticingly. He'd thought he knew the person as well. Watching Adam's body lean back against the wall, head thrown back in the uncertainty and confusion of the situation, Rory felt a little awed. //Methos... the legend... five thousand years of life. God! Who are you?// And through the awe was the sense of disappointment and hurt that he'd had to hear it from Duncan MacLeod.
"We're just gonna leave him here?" Joe asked, the fury in his voice barely controlled. "What if he needs us?"
"Joe, there's nothing to be done right now." MacLeod pointed his Ranger Rover back down the tree-lined road. "We can't do any good sitting around here waiting for Methos to remember who he is and Montgomery needs to have time to evaluate his condition. You said you trusted the man. Is there a reason we shouldn't leave?"
Joe looked frustrated, but he shook his head. He did trust the doctor, but he hated to leave Methos right now. He was damned sure there was nothing like this in the Watcher records. There were only a few references to Quickenings on holy ground and none of them amounted to more than a few words. He folded his arms and stared out the window as Mac drove back to Paris.
Part of it might have been guilt because he could have given Miles more information on Walker. He thought back to that recent encounter with Morgan Walker. He'd been angry with Methos when he'd showed up at the club, sneaking into the backroom to use the computer to access the Watcher files. He wasn't so angry that Methos was helping himself to the information as he was at the idea, certain in his mind then and now, that the man would have gotten what he needed and left without a word. That hurt. So he'd struck out at him and Methos had reacted predictably, telling him off and leaving.
When Walker had kidnapped Amy, Methos was the only one he could turn to for help. Of course, the old man had been reluctant, and, looking at it now, Joe couldn't blame him. He literally dragged him into the matter and tried to lay the blame for the situation on Methos even though he was the one who'd gotten Amy into the field. But ultimately, he'd come through for Joe, not hesitating when he learned that Amy was Joe's daughter.
Since then, Joe had told Mac that Amy was his daughter, but not about the rest of it. He'd been friends with Adam a long time and sometimes Methos was such a contradiction to the person he'd once known that he was like a stranger. Yet the trust between them was still strong, like an ever-constant hum. When push came to shove, Methos was there, whether it was blocking a bullet with his body or fighting someone like Walker.
What Methos had told him about Walker had been private and he hated even having to tell Montgomery that much of it, but he definitely didn't want to tell him the rest of the story. For that matter, he wasn't willing to tell MacLeod either.
So he kept his face pressed against the window all the way back to Paris and kept the conversation directed away from anything to do with Morgan Walker.
Leaning back a little further in his chair, Rory observed Methos on the monitor screen in his office. The observation room was a bit too close to the cell and Adam could still sense him. He preferred to not agitate his patient any more than necessary, so he'd resorted to the screen in his office.
Inside the room, Methos pounded the wall, shouting and cursing in what sounded like a dialect of German. He'd been at it continuously for the last two hours.
Rory sighed. This was the fifth personality in the past day and a half. The one prior to this had been a quiet Chinese man who had tried to assassinate the orderly who brought him dinner. But, as near as he could tell, Methos had not returned to his own identity, whether it was Adam, Ben Adams or Methos, the five-thousand-year-old Immortal. Most of the time, he'd been angry, violent and uncontrollable. Rory had tried to talk to him, but he wasn't having much luck.
Rubbing tiredly at the back of his neck, Rory reached for the microphone and spoke again, as he had several times each day. "Methos, do you understand me? It's Rory."
The tall, slender man whirled toward the speaker in the room, eyes darting around as he looked for the source. Advancing toward the camera location, he shouted angrily, incomprehensible words tumbling out in a steady stream. He paused for a breath, his arms swinging out in frustrated anger and connecting with the food tray on the end table. The almost empty plate and spoon went flying to the floor, rattling as they settled. Abruptly, he threw his head back, thrust both arms out to the side and screamed as his body tensed in a move resembling a Quickening moment, then Methos hurled himself into the wall as hard as he could. As his head whipped back, another cry of rage escaped before he dropped down to his knees and huddled with his arms wrapped around his body.
Rory had reached for a tranquilizer gun as soon as Methos had pummeled the wall, ready in case he grew more violent, but he laid it back on the table now and leaned forward to study the scene. So far he hadn't had to use any drugs on his patient and he wanted to keep it that way.
Slowly, Methos raised his head and let it drop back against the wall wearily. Moving stiffly, he levered himself to his feet and staggered to the bed, then dropped onto it in an exhausted-looking heap. His shoulders sagged as he rubbed at them unconsciously.
"Adam? Methos?" Rory's disembodied voice flowed from the concealed speaker. "Are you all right?"
There was a moment of almost maniacal-sounding laughter. "Do I look all right? Just go away... let me be." His voice dropped to almost a whisper at the last. Methos rolled onto the bed, stretching his body out and pulling the pillow half over his head to try to block out any other sounds or voices.
Maybe it was Methos, Rory hoped. At least he was speaking in a language he understood, but to look at him this way was difficult. As a doctor, he wanted to do something to ease the terrible insecurity, fear and anger the man was undoubtedly feeling. As a friend, a lover, he wanted to offer comfort and to hold him. Unfortunately, he could do neither. "Methos? Are you listening to me? You have to concentrate."
But the man refused to acknowledge him, responding only by burrowing into the pillow a little more and flipping a rude gesture to the room.
Feeling more weary than he had in a long time, Rory pushed himself to his feet and left the room, locking the door securely behind him. He pulled out a radio communicator and keyed the code for the orderly near Methos' room. "I'm going for a walk. I think Pierson is sleeping, so he should be quiet for a while. If anything happens, page me."
With that he strolled out the back and into the maze garden. The geometrically designed maze was a favorite spot of Rory's, actually what had sold him on buying this particular piece of property for the clinic. Sean Burns had been enthused about the house and the vineyard, seeing the therapeutic value of having a place where patients would feel at home and even work out in the fields if they needed to feel productive or just close to the earth. He'd laughed that the one thing that had charmed his young colleague would likely cause the most consternation for the patients.
As he strolled, Rory could still hear Sean's voice teasing him, telling him they should remove the maze and replace it with a serene garden filled with flowers. He'd been ready to go to battle with Burns over that, but the older man had laughed, the skin around his eyes crinkling with merriment, then thrown an arm around Rory's shoulders and hugged him affectionately. Rory's eyes clouded over a little. The red-haired man had been like a second father to him, as well as a colleague and a close friend. Whenever he came down to the clinic, he still missed Sean, sometimes almost expecting to see him there. If it hadn't been for Methos, he would probably now be dead at MacLeod's hand as well. He had been ready to confront the Scot about Sean's murder, to fight him in retribution, but the sad truth was, he wasn't a very good swordsman. Adam had compared him to Amanda on that score.
Automatically, he threaded his way through the hedge paths. The bushes offered privacy and a sense of security, even though it would do nothing to protect him from one of his breed. But he knew it like the back of his hand-- better, in fact. Where he might not recall a freckle on a knuckle, he knew where every rose or lilac was in the maze.
At the very heart of the design, protected by a blind hedge and often missed by anyone going through it, was a reflecting pool and a stone lion's head bench. Here, too, set back in a nest of bushes, was a stone vault. To the passerby, it would be mistaken for a family burial chamber. Rory glanced around the circle of this garden, looking for any movement in the maze that might indicate he was not alone, then, satisfied, he extracted a key, opened the vault and stepped inside.
He switched on the lights and gazed at the interior in silence. It was clean and well-ventilated with slits set high in the walls that allowed air to pass through. One wall was lined with filing cabinets and the other had several bookcases. This was the private library, the place where both he and Sean had stored the secrets of their lives. Any records dealing with Immortals were here, including Sean's journals and his own few diaries. He hadn't been here since Burns' death.
When he'd told MacLeod and Dawson that he and his partner had dealt with a few cases, that was exactly what he meant. Most times Immortals with mental problems were locked away, their wild stories about living forever considered part of their dementia. There had been a handful who had come to Burns seeking help. The others, either he or Sean had encountered on a referral. A couple simply didn't trust another of their kind to deal with the problem and lord knows what happened to those two. Probably dead by now.
What was happening to Methos now was not a mental problem in the scope of defined psychiatry. It was unique to an Immortal and he wasn't even sure if it had ever happened before, let alone to someone that Burns might have encountered. Rory knew his mentor had been over a thousand years old and had been practicing psychiatry since he'd first encountered Freud. He also knew that Burns had developed his own theories of the human psyche long before that. He'd made volumes of notes and, in them, he sometimes speculated on the Immortal mind. Rory hoped that somewhere in those thoughts would be a clue to helping Methos.
With a regretful sigh, knowing it would be difficult emotionally to read Burns' words, he selected one of the journals from the mid-fifteenth century, one written in French, and took it outside to the stone bench to read.
"He's no better at all?" MacLeod asked with a slightly accusatory tone in his voice. He sat across from the blonde psychologist in the Montgomery's office at the clinic and stared at the monitor screen.
Across from MacLeod, Montgomery shook his head, rubbing at his tired eyes.. "Not really. This is a live feed and the sixteenth personality he's displayed in the past four days. Some of them, like this one, I can't even talk to. I don't know what language he's using and he's oblivious to English or French. It's interesting because even though Methos speaks the language I'm using, if the personality doesn't speak it, he's not understanding me. "
"And that means?" Mac prompted.
The smaller man shrugged. "I don't know. At the very least, it means that whatever knowledge Methos has is not available to the personality. It probably means that Methos is not in control at all... that his own identity is so regressed at this point that he's not functioning."
MacLeod felt the hair on his arms rise with that statement. He could see the shadow of worry in Montgomery's eyes as well as the general weariness in the man. "Have you talked to Methos at all?"
"I don't think so. There have been a couple that I thought might be him, but he never really responded or acknowledged me. I think that apart from when he first revived here, he's not been part of the conscious mind... nor evidently, the unconscious one either."
"Is there anything positive at all?" Mac asked dryly.
Montgomery nodded. "Actually, yes, there is. I've only had to sedate him once because he got too violent. He'd been out of a straight jacket since the second day here and so far, none of the personalities have repeated."
MacLeod shifted his attention to Miles, looking for an explanation or at least a theory. "So that means--?"
Getting to his feet, Montgomery walked to a service tray in the room, poured himself a glass of grape juice, glancing back at Mac. "Care for a glass? It's from our own grapes. Not all of them become wine."
MacLeod shook his head, waited impatiently, his dark eyes boring an imaginary hole in the doctor. Unconcerned, Miles drank down half the glass before he began speaking again. He paced as he talked, a casual, thoughtful gait from one side of the room to the other.
"I have a theory, but that's all it is. First off, I've called you and Dawson every time I was able to determine an identity on who he was. That was thirteen out of the sixteen personalities that would divulge a name to me. You hadn't heard of any of them; neither had Joe, but he could somehow find a reference to them that indicated they were real... not someone he was in the past or some deluded nightmare in his mind. Real people." Miles paused, his face reflecting the curiosity that burned in him. "How does Joe do that anyway? Find out all this information so quickly? Is he a genealogy researcher or something?"
"Something like that," Mac agreed. In a way, it was similar... just a different kind of research. Before Montgomery could ask any more, he pushed, "So what is this theory you have?"
Miles leaned back against the desk. "Okay. Here's what I think. The first Quickening really weakened his control. When we process another Immortal, we get not only the power - the energy - from that person but we also get the personality, an imprint with it. Most of the time, we absorb it all, not really getting more than a few highlights of who the person had been.
"Now, from what you've said, Methos began exhibiting some abnormal behavior after that first Quickening about two weeks ago -- little things like forgetfulness and uncharacteristic behavior. That could mean that he had something like a leak of these personalities at that point. Not necessarily anything major, but just influences from it. Tendencies or distractions from the most recently absorbed Quickenings slipping out."
Unconsciously, MacLeod frowned as he listened to the doctor's theory, thinking about the oddities in Methos' behavior. "Maybe..."
"Think of your mind as a huge vault with an infinite number of chambers, each with a locked door on it, " Miles continued. "We take in an Immortal personality, process it by whatever means we do it and shove it into one of these chambers. The main essence of the personality would be locked away from us. We might have a few residual memories from that person, but nothing concrete. Most of what we recall is what our own mind has absorbed before we shut the door.
"Okay, so let's say that there might have been some stresses going on with Methos, that he might have been physically or emotionally weakened prior to the first Quickening. The intensity of that one probably loosened some of those locked doors and let a bit of the personality slip out."
"And that would explain why he seemed to do things that were out of character for him." Mac concluded, thinking specifically of the assault on Josette. "And the forgetfulness?"
"A side effect?" Montgomery suggested, "Maybe he lost information when he wasn't totally in control. Anyway, when he took the Quickening near holy ground, it was not normal. The effects of it appear to have been almost the opposite of a normal Quickening. So, instead of healing, it hurt him more and instead of processing the newly acquired personality into the vault, it opened doors, releasing other personalities. And that's what we're seeing now."
"If this is the case -- and I'm not saying I agree, but that it's a reasonable theory -- what can we do to help him?"
"I think we need to continue trying to talk to him, to try to give him an anchor point where Methos can lock on to something and gain control. My problem is, I have a short history with him. I've only known him about a year and a half and I don't have too many strong memories with him that he could focus on. Now if you have something you can guide him to, then I think he might latch on to it."
'Like throwing him a life preserver?" Mac commented, without amusement. This was unnerving to talk about. It was a fear he'd had for quite some time now. Even before his dark Quickening, he'd begun to worry about maintaining his own identity after a Quickening. The what-if factor had weighed heavily on his mind. Methos had been a strong influence in reassuring him that it wasn't likely to happen. If the old guy had taken as many lives as he likely had over his five millennia and not had a problem, then it probably was an unfounded fear. Then he'd experienced the dark one and he'd known it could happen.
"Good analogy," Miles agreed. "Throw him a life preserver and pull him to shore."
Montgomery handed him a microphone. "He'll be able to hear you, MacLeod. Talk to him." As Mac took the mike from his hand, Montgomery gave him an encouraging look, then retreated to the back of the room and leaned against the wall.
Taking a deep breath, Mac spoke uncertainly. "Methos? It's Mac. Can you hear me?"
Inside the room, the pacing stopped and the dark head came up to alertness. Warily, Methos gazed around the room, looking for the source of this new voice.
"It's Mac. Do you remember me?"
The slender body shuddered, then Methos' voice replied, "Should I?"
The lean face crinkled in a wary smile. "I think not. I know my companions and none of them are called by Mac."
"Perhaps I'm mistaken then," MacLeod's voice replied contritely. "Tell me your name, stranger."
"Albert Richfield. Are you responsible for me being held here? I demand that you release me at once."
"Try to find out the date," the soft voice behind Mac whispered. He looked around, saw that Montgomery was writing the name down. He nodded, then spoke again.
"Richfield. The name is familiar. Are you sure we haven't met?"
"Were you at court within the last five years? Have you had audience with Her Majesty?"
The voice held a haughty tone and a trace of a more distinct English accent than Methos had. The cadence and phrasing were clues as well. Mac took a chance. "I regret Queen Elizabeth has yet to grant me an audience. I've come from Scotland to see her."
"Then perhaps I may be of service. I do have Her Majesty's ear. But, of course, you would have to grant my freedom." Methos looked more assured. He'd ceased pacing the cell and he gestured with his arms. Richfield had moved into his element.
"Indeed, perhaps you might help me," Mac replied, his own accent thickening as his phrasing reverted to the wordiness of an earlier period. "I seek information about a criminal. A man named Kalas. Have you heard of him?"
The dark head cocked to one side and the eyes narrowed as he thought. "Kalas? No, I don't believe I have ever heard of a Kalas. He has not been mentioned at court."
"Ah, then perhaps you might recall a beautiful woman, a Kristin Gilles." Behind MacLeod, Montgomery opened the door and slipped out, probably heading to call Joe about the latest name, Mac surmised.
"Kristin? Kristin Gilles..." The ancient face frowned as he thought. "Perhaps... perhaps. Let me ponder this for a moment."
MacLeod sat up straighter, anticipating a break through. Perhaps he could lead Methos to Seacouver through Kristin, bring him to the present.
Methos seemed to be struggling with something, his eyes shut tightly and he suddenly clamped his hands to his head as if he was trying to shut out an irritating noise. "No!" he shouted, then fell silent. His hands dropped to his sides and he lifted his head, eyes wide and a coy arch in his neck.
It was an oddly seductive look and MacLeod felt uneasy. This may have worked too well. "Kristin?" Mac repeated.
"Duncan? Is that you? What is this place?"
The voice was higher pitched than Methos' and had a sultry sexiness to it. "Kristin, it's a place to keep you safe."
Surprise reflected in the eyes as the eyebrows ached up in question. "What do you mean, darling? Is this a game you're playing?" She- MacLeod couldn't think of this as being Methos- stepped to the center of the room, a throaty, extremely feminine laugh coming from her throat. "Come on, Duncan. Come on out. I've missed you. You know I've always loved you."
Biting at his lip, MacLeod unconsciously leaned forward, studying the familiar body movements. Kristin had been about the same height as Methos and just about as slim. In the lose pajamas, she could easily be mistaken as the same size as Methos. But the similarity ended there and seeing the coy expression on that strongly male face was unnerving.
She stepped back, leaning against the wall, legs crossed in front and her arms pressed against the padding. "Don't you want me?"
"Kristin, look at your hands," Mac said thickly. "Do they look like your hands?"
The slim figure raised a hand in front and studied the fingers and the palm. "Yes, of course. What's your point?"
"That's not your hand. That's not your body. You're dead."
She laughed. "Don't be silly! Of course, this is my body! Aren't I still beautiful, Duncan? Come tell me how beautiful I am. Show me."
"You were killed almost five years ago by a man named Methos. Give him control, Kristin. Let me talk to Methos."
The face grew stormy, angry. "You're lying! You don't think I'm beautiful anymore! I hate you!" The voice rose in pitch to almost a shriek, then she looked around frantically, found a plastic glass to fling across the room, then she looked for anything else to vent her fury.
"Kristin! Stop it!," Mac said urgently, but trying to keep from shouting. "Please calm down. I think you're beautiful. You've always been beautiful."
"Lies! You keep telling me lies!" There was a catch in the voice.
"Kristin... I'm not lying." MacLeod spoke gently, trying to sound like the lover he once was.
Mac heard the click of the door just as Kristin let loose with another howl of anger. Miles came back into the room to find the tall slender man was in the middle of a full-fledged temper tantrum of epic proportions. He was beating up the bed, kicking and screaming, yelling curses in the higher pitched voice at Duncan MacLeod.
"What the hell happened?" Montgomery asked, shocked at the transformation.
"I made a mistake," Mac answered flatly. "I thought I could use one of the people he killed to get through to him. It backfired. He became her."
"Her?" His forehead wrinkled up in question.
"Her name was Kristin. He killed her because I couldn't." Mac's eyes grew sad as he watched Methos' body go through a tirade that wasn't his. "I can't get her to calm down."
Miles hesitated a few moments, staring uncertainly at the still raging person who now cursed MacLeod colorfully in French. Abruptly, she flung Methos' body face down on the bed and lay there sobbing into the pillow. He flipped on his radio and quietly issued orders to his medical staff. "Go in with Max," he added. "Pierson is very agitated."
He tapped MacLeod's arm. "I've ordered a mild sedative. He'll settle down pretty quickly. Come on, MacLeod. Let's get a bite to eat and you can tell me about Kristin." He started for the door.
MacLeod hesitated, watching Methos a few more moments until the orderly and a nurse entered the room. He couldn't watch any longer, turning away as a shriek of rage erupted from him.
Over sandwiches consumed without enthusiasm on the terrace off Dr. Montgomery's office, MacLeod filled the blonde man in on Kristin Gilles. "I first met Kristin in 1659. I hadn't been Immortal very long and I was a bit rough around the edges. She thought she could refine me and shape me into what she wanted. Essentially, Kristin collected men and if one tried to leave her, she killed them. I fell in love with a young mortal woman, a painter. In anger, Kristin killed her, then when I rejected her, she tried to kill me, but I got away. About five years ago, she connected with a student of mine and I couldn't stop him from seeing her. She grew jealous over a young model who was a friend of his and made one attempt to kill him. Methos tried to get me to do what I hadn't done before. It's very hard to kill a woman you've made love to, to put aside all those emotions and remove her head. I couldn't do it. So he did it for me."
"And that's who he is now? This black widow?" Rory's voice reflected his distaste. He was still appalled at the latest transformation.
"Yeah. I'd hoped her name would trigger a shared memory, but it invited her out instead." MacLeod looked depressed.
"Well, it was a try, MacLeod. Now we know what happens when we use that tactic. Maybe we just need to find a common thread in his past. One where whoever's talking to him has a enough history with him to catch him at the right moment." It was only a guess and right now, Rory didn't feel like it would work. The only positive thing he could say at the moment was that Methos wasn't repeating any personalities. He hoped that meant he was processing them and locking them away again.
Mac nodded. "Can we try again?"
"Not today. Let's do it tomorrow. We can start early."
MacLeod nodded. He stared out over the maze, then rose to leave. Montgomery followed him back into the office. Mac paused to study the scene on the monitor for a few moments. Methos had settled into a drug-induced sleep, face and body relaxed and normal-looking. Then he turned and left quickly.
Rory studied the now quiet form and thought about what the Scot had told him. It had been the first female personality Methos had exhibited, but it wasn't unexpected. The extent of the possession was much clearer with the change in gender though. He'd reviewed the tapes once MacLeod had left and had watched the seductively feminine moves in fascination as Kristin had taken control.
He closed his eyes. Somehow he had to get to Methos. He was in there, just waiting for a chance to get out. He knew it. All he had to do was give him an opportunity.